Running From My Past.. Literally
Chapter 31: To be Mollycoddled
End of the Chapter 30
Silently closing the door behind me, I hoped I hadn’t been heard. I took a deep breath, relishing in the fresh air and listening to the sounds of nothing, but the endless forest that echoed every bird cry.
The only sound to be heard was the soft pad of my feet as I ducked and jumped as I ran through the dense canopy. I slowed, watching my breath frost on the air as I gasped from the exercise. I turned westward and strolled thirty metres before I came to a clearing.
Long grass covered the floor, skimming the tops of my arms as I trudged through. I walked towards the sound of water trickling into a small pond, a couple metres to the left. A small pool of water, barely a metre wide, was surrounded by little rocks; a tiny stream filtered into the pond, filling the clearing with a calming noise.
I waded forward, lying beside the small oasis. As I rested my head back, I mused,” If only I could stay here forever.”
Tranquillity. It was this that surrounded me, indulging me with peacefulness; helping me to think. Clearly.
I hated being coddled, hated being treat like a child, weak and defenceless. But I wasn’t defenceless, I was an adult werewolf. What did I have to fear besides hunters? Nothing. As I’d shown Mark earlier, even vampires weren’t a threat. I was at just as much risk as Jack, Lucas and Daniel... possibly less as they were much higher profile than I was.
And Mark? He disgusted me. Did I feel upset about it? Without doubt, but I was more angry with myself than him. Why had I trusted him? I’d known him mere weeks, and I barely knew anything about him. I gave out my trust like a company handed out flyers, I needed to learn otherwise I’d become a danger to myself. And that only made me more vulnerable...
Which only prompted Jack and Daniel to protect me more, to baby me. I didn’t want that. Protection was something I’d be better without, despite what the pack thought. I wasn’t a weak female, I was the female alpha of the entire race. That had to count for something? I couldn’t cower, I had to fight like the others. I had to prove to them I wasn’t weak.
Happy to come to that conclusions, I closed my eyes. As I was listening to the soft sound of the river, I didn’t realise until later when I was rudely awoken that I’d drifted off.
I felt a sharp pain in my back. Then I was surrounded.
By something ice-cold.
It was this that jolted me awake, drowning me in arctic temperatures. I gasped at the chill that shivered down my spine, swallowing a mouthful of water. I thrashed out wildly, realising I was submerged in deep water. The sight of flashing lights met my eyes, blurred colours just out of reach, I couldn’t tell which way was up or down. Frantically I reached out, desperate for a hold or grip. I was out of luck, my fingertips barely brushing slimy weeds that were impossible to hold onto.
My lungs burned for air, the flickering flame becoming a roaring fire. My head thrummed with the need. Deafening was the pressing silence. Cool was the feel of the water on my skin. The fiery instinct of survival was strong. How long had I been under the water? Seconds? Minutes? Time blurred.
The pain in my head forced me to try and breathe. Water surged toward me, filling my lungs causing me to choke. My fingers instinctively reached for my throat. Panic suffocating me along with the incoming water.
Suddenly a pair of hands hooked under my arms, swiftly followed by a powerful tug. Barely recognising the familiar touch that held me, I was faintly aware of someone dragging me from the water, felt my head break the surface. I tried to gasp for air, but ended up spluttering over the water in my lungs.
Cold. It was the only thing I could feel, due to shock or not I didn’t know. Hands moved me onto solid ground; I could hazily see my hands trembling violently in my lap. My stomach heaved, water pouring from my lips. I forced myself to curl up into a ball, squeezing my eyes closed tightly against the faces surrounding me.
“How can I-”
A chorus of voices echoed around the small clearing. My head thrumming as I cradled it in my arms. I felt something dry being draped over me. Fingertips trailed across my cheek, trying to attract my attention. I cringed away.
“Lei?” Jack’s voice.
Unconsciously, I pulled further away. I didn’t want help, I wanted to be left alone. I coughed, still trying to rid my lungs of water. As much as I loved Jack, I could only take so much help in one day. I was beginning to think I could barely look after myself.
“Jack, move away from her,” Jayden’s low tones murmured, a hint of puzzlement sparking his voice.
Jack promptly turned to face him, most likely shooting a look that asked ‘who was the professional?’ before turning back to me and once more endlessly attempting to attract my attention.
“Leave me alone,” I mumbled through chattering teeth, gently pushing away a hand that tried to grab for me.
“Give her some space,” Jack declared, as if Jayden hadn’t suggested the idea, shooing everyone back with a hand and turning back to me. Jack reached for me. I squirmed away, hissing softly.
“Please leave me alone.”
Jack froze, eyes locked on me, confusion furrowing his brow.
“But I need to check-“ Jack stuttered-
“I don’t need help,” I spoke quickly, my eyes still concentrating on my shaking hands.
Jack argued,“ But you-”
“Go. Away.” A growl. I finally glanced up, my sharp icy eyes colliding with Jack’s. He instantly stepped back. “Listen to me now,” I spoke quietly, deadly. “All of you.” My gaze searched the five werewolves surrounding me. “I don’t want help, I don’t need it. You’re all mollycoddling me-”
“But we-” Jack tried.
“I’m not a child any more. I want to be treated as an equal, but obviously that’s not happening so please... Just leave me alone.”
I resumed my position on the floor, curled up to tone down my shaking. I heard everyone stand and scuttle from the clearing. I heard Jack hesitate, tempting to step back towards me, but he sighed and walked away. One person remained in the clearing, standing and moving towards my side. I closed my eyes tight.
He bundled me up and pulled me onto his lap, my head wresting in the crook of his neck. Jayden stroked my hair softly, pressing his lips softly to my head, murmuring sweet condolences that I barley heard.
I felt Jayden’s touch through our bond as mates, felt the calm swirling from his fingertips and dancing through me, felt the strength in his muscles reassuring me I was safe. I inhaled his musky smell, quelling my panic. Jayden’s thumb brushed across my neck, and he let them trail softly across my skin.
“Have you calmed down yet?” Jayden’s husky voice whispered gently, his warm breathe causing my skin to tingle. I wrapped my arms around him in response, burying myself into him, hoping the world would go away.
“Do you want to go for a walk?”
I shrugged, biting my lip absent-mindedly as my mind wandered. Would they ever treat me like an adult? Like an equal? What would I have to do to prove myself? Leave again? Or would they see that as childish and drag me back with my tail between my legs? Sick to death was I of being dealt with like a toddler, like a nuisance. They all needed to wake up and smell the fresh air, I was no longer a defenceless child.
Jayden shifted beneath me, forcing me of his lap and bouncing onto the ground. Snapped out of my day dream; I glanced towards Jayden sheepishly, feeling mortified about my actions. As if sensing my shame, Jayden waved the topic away with a smile, assuring me that everything between us was okay. My fingertips were enclosed in his hand and he tugged softly, a gentle smile warming his face.
“Come on,” he murmured, a cheeky tone entering his usually playful voice. I perked up slightly, and he just laughed at me, amusement twinkling in his eyes. Jayden pulled me to my feet, and led me out of the clearing, making sure to point out hidden branches or stumps. I trailed behind him, my hand still in his.
We walked in silence, the crackling of frozen leaves underfoot the only noise to echo through the peacefully silent woods. His hand was strong and firm in mine, assuring me of our relationship, assuring me that he’d always be there for me. When I turned everyone’s help away, he knew it didn’t include him.
“I love you,” I murmured, my eyes cast downwards.
Jayden stopped in his tracks, unhurriedly pivoting around to face me. He lowered his head to mine, lifting my chin with his spare hand and forcing me to look at him. Piercing wolf eyes met mine.
“I love you too.” Jayden’s breath feather-like across my lips, as he leaned up and kissed me.