#Chapter 97 The Last Thing I Want
“I don’t have the first clue what I’m doing.” I complain, throwing my hands up in exasperation.
We’re in the back of Selene’s cafe. Drake is sitting at the kitchen island watching me fight with a lump of dough on a floured cutting board, and unless I’m very much mistaken he’s fighting the impulse to laugh.
“It isn’t funny.” I huff, “I’m not a c**k. I’m not a baker – I shouldn’t be the one to take over this place.”
Drake arches his dark brows, “You didn’t want to move into the Pack House, and you didn’t want my money, which means you need a job to make rent.” He reminds me. “This is a job, and a good one at that.”
“Yes,” I confirm, agreeing with his logic, but I can’t do this job. I have zero qualifications – amateur or professional.”
We’ve already had this argument about eight times already, but it keeps resurfacing anyway. Drake knows I can’t boil water without starting a kitchen fire, so I’m a little suspicious that he keeps pushing the cafe on me. I think he’s trying to wear me down until I cave and accept his money or move into the Pack House – but the last thing I want to do is watch him moping around missing Selene, and I don’t want his pity either.
“Sophie,” Drake says gently, hopping down from the stool and closing the distance between us. He stops so close to me that have to tilt my head all the way back just to see his face. His lips quirk as he takes in my flushed face, “you have flour on your nose.
I swipe at my nose in frustration, “Is that what you came over here to tell me?”
“No,” Drake replies with a wide grin, taking my face between his hands and brushing the white powder from my skin with the pad of his thumb. “I came over here to tell you that you are smart and hardworking, and one of the fastest learners I’ve ever met. You might not be able to c**k now, but you just need practice.”
In all fairness, I would love to learn how to c**k – for basic survival reasons if nothing else, but learning to do it at home and doing it for a living are very different things. But why this job?” I press, “You’re the Alpha, there must be other businesses where you have sway. I’d do much better as a pet sitter or maid or something.”
“Well for one thing, this job is open.” Drake still hasn’t taken his hands from my face, in fact his thumb is stroking my cheek now. * And for another, this cafe has a knack for helping people get back on their feet.”
“Yes but I was never on my feet to begin with.” I mutter. I know Selene took in a lot of strays, in fact everyone who works here now has some sort of tragic past, but most of those people fell on hard times later in life.
“Neither was Selene before she came here.” Drake counters, making all my limbs tense up. Hearing her name on his lips does nothing but remind me that he’ll never be mine. He might get over losing Selene one day, but eventually his mate will come along and then where will I be? Stuck watching Drake build a life with yet another beautiful woman to whom I can never compare.
Goddess, what a miserable thought. Somehow I’ve got to find a way to break the spell he has over me. I don’t want to spend my life looking on from the shadows while other people find happiness. I don’t want to waste my best years loving someone who can never love me back.
I lurch out of Drake’s hold, turning back to my bread dough-though I doubt the lumpy mass will ever actually become bread. It’s somehow tough and soggy at once. “Maybe Selene had the right idea, maybe moving to a different city is the answer.” I breathe. “You know, a fresh start?”
“No.” The feral snarl makes me jump out of my skin, dropping my pathetic attempt at sourdough straight onto the floor.
I’ve heard Drake grumble and growl at other shifters before. After all, he’s the Alpha, ferocity is part of the job description. This is different. The sound was guttural and raw, so menacing it vibrated deep in my bones – and it was directed at me! My friend has never so much as raised his voice at me,,et alone show this kind of animal aggression.
My wolf should be cowering, I certainly am, but Rose is cool and calm as the big Alpha bears down on me. My back is flush against the island, and instead of looking guilty or apologetic for startling me, Drake is prowling forward with eyes aglow. He doesn’t stop until his powerful hands are gripping the island on either side of my body, caging me in.
#Chapter 97 The Last Thing I Want
“You are not leaving Asphodel.” Drake commands.
Blinking, completely taken aback and quivering beneath him, I scramble for words. … you.. it was just a thought.”
“Well it was a bad one.” He rumbles deeply.
What’s happening? I ask Rose desperately, I don’t understand, why is he being this way?
I don’t know. Rose hedges, maybe he thinks we really can’t survive on our own.
“Drake, you’re scaring me.” I finally squeak, though the truth is I’m less scared than confused. I don’t believe my friend will hurt me, but I’ve never seen him this way.
Light flickers in his emerald irises, the raging flames slowly dying down as my words register in his mind. Drake’s threatening demeanor softens, his white-knuckled fists unclenching and fangs retracting. Still, he doesn’t move away, he doesn’t free me from his arms.
“I’m sorry, little lamb.” Drake purrs, dropping his head and nuzzling my neck.
Well that’s new. Rose remarks.
Is he smelling me? I reply, loving his nearness and hating it all at once. It’s everything I want and everything I can’t have.
I can’t bring myself to speak, staying still as a statue until Drake straightens up. “I didn’t mean to scare you.” He tells me huskily, “that’s the last thing I want.” He thinks about that statement for a moment, then amends, “actually it’s the second last.”
“What’s the last?” I wonder aloud, my eyes wide as dinner plates.
“You just said it.” He growls.
Before I can ask what he means, Drake’s phone chimes in his pocket, and he promptly retrieves it. I might be offended that he’s abandoning our conversation so abruptly, but I immediately know why he prioritizes the call. I’d recognize that ringtone anywhere: Selene.
While the man I love strides out of the kitchen to speak with his beloved, his voice so full of joy that it breaks my heart, I’m left reeling against the counter. I don’t understand what just happened. And I don’t understand what Drake meant by his last comment.
All I can do is sink down to the floor – next to my so-called dough – and cry.
When my phone rings, I realize it’s already 4’clock and therefore time for the facetime date I promised Lila. It’s probably for the best too, because I was completely losing control in that damned kitchen. It happened so fast I didn’t even know what I was doing, I just responded out of instinct. My mate mentioned moving away, and my wolf roared to life – needing to stop that from happening at all costs.
I route the call through my bluetooth and hit accept a moment before stepping through the door to the main restaurant, greeting the little pup exuberantly, “Hello my love!”
Lila appears in Selene’s lap, both she-wolves visible on the screen though the toddler is taking up most of the frame. “Uncle Rake!” She exclaims, “I miss you!”
“I miss you too, angel.” I answer honestly, “It’s not the same here without you. How do you like Elysium.”
Lila apparently loves her new home, and spends a quarter of an hour telling me all the things she’s seen and done since they arrived, all about her new room and apartment, every detail her little brain can recall. When she finally runs out of information to share, Selene takes over, filling me in on the wedding, their dramatic arrival and her concerns about Bastien’s plans for the Calypso pack.
“Nothing’s decided yet, but he says he’s been thinking about a trip there for a few weeks.” She relays with a frown.
“I think he’s right to consider it, and probably he’ll be right to go.” I agree. “You’ve got to know what you’re up against.”
“I know, I just wish there was another way.” She sighs,
#Chapter 97 The Last Thing I Want
By this point Lila has gotten bored of the grown up talk and disappeared somewhere into the background, so Selene takes the opportunity to ask me something she clearly didn’t want to say in front of the pup.
“Listen, I’ve been going through my boxes and I can’t find Lila’s favorite puzzle for the life of me.” She relates in a whisper. “You know, the rainbow fish one? I know it wasn’t in the apartment because we cleared it out, but I remember we had it at the safe house, so I’m wondering if she left it there. I know it’s a trek but could you check for me the next time you’re out there.”
For a second I think I’ve misheard her, “Wait, what?”
“When Bastien first turned up, I took some of Lilas toys to the safe house so she wouldn’t get bored. We were distracted when we left so I wouldn’t be surprised if we missed something.” The she-wolf answers.
“Selene,” I state evenly,” what safe house?”
A flicker of unease enters her expression. “The one you sent me to, in the hills.”
“I sent you there?” I repeat, baffled.
“Yes, you texted me from a burner or something.” She pauses anxiously, “didn’t you?”
“No.” I sigh, “I couldn’t have. Because I don’t have a safe house.