#Chapter 90 Leaving Asphodel
My small family is gathered in Drake Cavanaugh’s office. Selene and I sit across from the Eros Alpha with Lila balanced between our laps, preparing to announce our departure to Elysium. I was anticipating a scene, given the way things went when the other man found out i’d claimed Selene, however now I’m not so sure.
Everything was so chaotic after the kidnapping that I didn’t pay attention to the way Drake was looking at Selene, but now the difference is striking. Whereas he used to eye my mate with unrequited longing, now he studies her with nothing but friendly
I have a feeling I know the reason behind this sudden shift, and while I still harbor some resentment for the little she-wolf who helped kidnap my mate and pup, solving my Drake problem might just be worth my forgiveness. I know she was a victim in all this, but the fact remains that my pup almost died, and the father in me just can’t get past that. I know Selene feels the same.
“I presume you’ve come to tell me you’re leaving.” Drake prompts us, a sad smile on his handsome face.
“Yes.” Selene confirms, squeezing my hand. Before the week is out.”
“Well I can’t say I didn’t expect this.” Drake admits ruefully. “But I’m going to miss having you here.” He tells Selene, before looking down at Lila. “And what am I going to do without my Lila bean?”
Lila giggles and clambers down to dart across the room. Drake scoops her up and sits her on his knee, bouncing her enthusiastically while her peels of laughter ring out. This time last week the sight would have sent me into a green-eyed rage, but I’m not bothered now that I know Lila is mine.
Besides, when the girls were kidnapped Drake and I had to put aside our differences, recognizing that their safety was far more important than our pride or egos. I don’t think we’ll ever be friends, but I do consider him an ally. Our affection for the she-wolves unites us in a way politics never could.
“Listen Drake,” Selene broaches, sounding emotional, “I will never be able to repay you for everything you did for me. You saved my life so many times I’ve lost count, and in helping me you saved Lila too.”
She’s right. If nothing else, I have to be grateful to Drake for taking care of my mate all these years, no matter how badly the idea makes me want to throw something.
“You’ve been an incredible friend to me from the day we met.” Selene continues. “I know things are a little… difficult right now, but you have to know how grateful I am. And how much I care about you.”
Drake’s expression goes very serious, and he looks straight at me now, “I’m sorry for the way I reacted to your claim. It wasn’t right, and not only because of the disrespect it showed you.” His emerald eyes turn to Selene. “I was wrong. I thought I was in love with you, because you’re so wonderful my wolf couldn’t see anyone else.” He smiles, and I’d recognize that look anywhere. This is a wolf who’s found his mate.
*Sophie?” I suggest, causing Selene to stare up at me in surprise, before swinging her expectant gaze back and forth between us.
“Sophie.” Drake confirms, beaming. “She’s still recovering, but when the time is right..* Heat infuses his tone, and I can practically read his thoughts. They’re the very last thing any man should be contemplating when holding a pup. Clearing my throat loudly, I drag his attention back to the present.
Selene frowns with concern, “Drake, are you sure?”
Protectively cuddling Lila closer, he answers, “You know it was never her will to hurt anyone, don’t you?” His brow furrows with pain and anger, “Martin was hurting her for a long time.”
“I know that.” Selene says stiffly, “And I wouldn’t blame her if she’d only come after me.” A growl bubbles up in my chest before! can stop it, and my sweet mate leans into my side, bombarding me with her scent. “But I hope you understand why I can’t forgive her completely.”
“I do.” Drake concedes,“Just as I hope you can understand why I can’t hold her at fault.”
“I understand.” I announce before Selene can answer. My mate could burn down a convent and I wouldn’t be able to hold it against her. That’s the way of fated mates. The bond is wonderful and impossible all at once.
“Thank you.” Drake bows his head.
Selene opens her mouth to argue, and I drop my lips to her ear. “How would you feel if it were me?”
My mate throws me a sulky look, but settles without further protestation. “There’s one more thing I have to ask you before we can
put all this behind us.” I broach carefully
“Go ahead,” Drake encourages. “I don’t want us to part on uneven footing any more than you do.”
It’s amazing how much I can respect the other Alpha when he’s not drooling over my mate. “We’re still not sure what happened with the DNA test.” I explain, “Did you have anything to do with it?”
Cavanaugh looks every bit as concerned as I feel. “No, I didn’t know anything about it until the results came back.” He starts bouncing Lila again, distracting her as our conversation grows tense, “You had them run in Elysium, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I confirm, “And I know it wasn’t the courier.” Given that the courier was my mother, who just yesterday told me she’d figured out Lila was mine even before the kidnapping.
“Maybe the sample was simply contaminated in the lab.” Selene suggests, not sounding like she believes it.
Shaking my head, I caress her velvety arm. “I don’t think so, little wolf.” I wish I could shield her from this, but she needs to know what we’re up against. “Someone in Elysium has been undermining me for years. I think this is more of the same.”
“Arābella.” Selene immediately reminds me, “Arabella was undermining you for years.”
“She was already gone by the time the sample made it to the city.” I remind her.
“I know,” Selene agrees, “But maybe she wasn’t working alone.”
“What do you mean?” I ask in befuddlement, “She wanted you out of the way so I would be free to marry her, what good would it do to sabotage me?”
Selene’s brow knits up in thought, and I have to resist the urge to smooth out the wrinkles. She looks so cute, but I don’t want her to think I’m not taking her seriously.
“Maybe we’ve been assuming the wrong motive.” She suggests. “Arabella always seemed like she was more interested in power than in you..like you were simply a means to an end. If she wanted to control the Nova pack and you made it clear it wasn’t going to happen through marriage, maybe she would just try to get you out of the way completely – align herself with whoever has been working against you all this time.”
It’s an interesting thought, and though it goes against my preconceived notions, I have to admit it makes sense. Arabella stopped coming onto me a long time ago, after I rejected her one too many times. Did I misconstrue her advances? Did I really know so little about Flynn’s baby sister?
“Either way I think you’ve got a very serious situation on your hands,” Drake assesses, looking reluctant, “Are you sure going back to Elysium is the safest option?”
Selene instinctively snuggles close to me, her unease absolutely palpable. She’s watching Lila like she wants to grab the pup out of Drake’s arms, so I press a few reassuring kisses to her temple. “We’re a family.” I reply, we need to be together.”
Drake nods in understanding. “Well, you know you always have allies in Asphodel.” He grins at Lila, who is now playing with his wolf-shaped paperweight. And a second home, should you ever need one.”
“Thank you.” Selene says again, leaving the couch to go hug Drake and retrieve our pup, “You’re welcome in Elysium anytime.”
“I’ll miss you.” He squeezes her tightly and hands over Lila, “both of you.”
For the first time, Lila seems to realize she won’t be able to see her beloved uncle every day. “Uncle Rake’s not coming to Lysium?”
A pang of regret slams into me. We’ve told Lila that she’ll be moving, but I don’t think she truly understands. After all, what toddler could? How much is she going to miss Asphodel – the only home she’s ever known? What if she doesn’t like Elysium? We don’t have water and exciting animals, only caves and endless forests.
“No my darling,” Selene tells her gently, “but he’s going to visit. Isn’t he?” She questions pointedly.
“Absolutely.” He agrees, kissing Lila’s soft cheek. “And we can talk whenever you want.”
This seems to satisfy my pup, though I fear she still doesn’t realize what all this means. I’m the last to depart, hanging back with Drake while Selene takes Lila downstairs. “You’ll keep an eye out for the bounty?” I prompt.
“Every day.” He vows, shaking my hand. “But you can’t keep this up forever, Bastien. Sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with Blaise.” His gaze shifts to the doorway through which my mate just exited, “They’ll never be safe until you do.”
“I know.” I sigh with resignation. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”