MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 17 No.17

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 21573

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:02


Four hours later Nyah was still alone in the house. It had taken a long time before she had been able to peel herself off the hallway floor, but once on her feet she had dragged herself upstairs, washed her puffy face and had then wandered back downstairs again to curl up on the couch. She had been so exhausted that even lying down hadn't felt restful enough and she wasn't sure if it was due to the emotion of what had happened or her wolf-less body fading further. All the benefits of her solid night's sleep had been wiped out and even though she'd wished she could lose herself in the nothingness of unconsciousness, her mind had refused to shut down enough to even let her doze.

After a long while she remembered her laundry and heaving herself up off the couch she dragged herself through to the small utility off the kitchen where she had transferred her damp clothes from the machine to the tumble dryer and once the dry cycle had run, throughout which time she had sat cross-legged on the floor staring blankly at the spinning drum, she had folded everything neatly and put it back into her bag. She had then sat at the kitchen table for another hour, staring out of the window that framed a pretty view of the distant mountains, before a short wander ended with her sitting on the stairs, facing the firmly-locked front door.

For a short while she wondered about the possibility of leaving the house – and the whole damned county itself if she could manage it – but the shadow intermittently passing over the small pane of glass in the front door told her it would be pointless to try; the Alpha's house was still being securely patrolled. Knowing she didn't have the energy to try anyway, she stayed put on the stairs, the silence in the house settling around her in a strangely comforting way.

When Dean returned later that was where he found her, sitting on the third step from the bottom of the stairs, her chin resting in her upturned palms. She didn't move as he took in her odd position, a flicker of concern crossing his face as he ushered a woman into the hall ahead of him before shutting the door.

"Taylor, this is Ellie, " he announced.

There was a definite tightness in his voice, as if he was still mad at her and trying not to show it. Why, though? Why was he mad at her?

"Hello, Taylor." Ellie looked to be in her late thirties. She was average height and had a slimness about her that said there was lean muscle hidden under her jeans and pale pink blouse. Her dark blonde hair was tied back in a sleek pony-tail and she smiled cheerfully, even though her eyes slanted with pity.

Nyah found her gaze quickly returning to Dean's face as she got to her feet. He'd brought back-up?

"I'm going to bring you to Ellie's house, " he said flatly, not moving from where he stood beside the front door. "I'm holding a pack meeting. You can stay with Ellie until I'm done."

"Okay, " she replied, her voice coming out in a hoarse croak. She cleared it quietly and stepped down onto the hall floor. Dean opened the door, but just as she moved past him and was about to step out onto the porch she stopped. Going outside was a bad idea; she'd be seen, maybe even be photographed.

"Everyone's in the meeting hall." Dean said from behind her. "There's no-one around to see you."

"And only a few of us know you're here, " Ellie added reassuringly.

Taylor continued to stall and Dean pushed by her, stepping out onto the porch where he turned to her and held out his hand, as if expecting she would take it. Taylor folder her arms and stepped out by herself, immediately squinting in the bright sunshine, her drained eyes highly sensitive to the stark light.

Carter Plains was massive compared to Blackwater Ridge, and its wide, leafy streets, as Dean had assured her, were empty of its inhabitants. Houses were set in neat little groups, each with its own garden, and further ahead, although it was a strain to make her watering eyes focus, she was sure she could see what looked like a children's playground beside a playing field.

It was a short walk to Ellie's house. Neither Dean nor Ellie said a word, although Ellie's silence seemed to be more in solidarity with her situation as opposed to Dean's obvious rankled muteness. His festering continued as Ellie welcomed her inside her home and brought her through to the kitchen, where she pulled out a chair and invited her to sit at the chunky table in the centre of the floor. Dean slunk across the room to hover at the window and trying to ignore him, Nyah focused on the six chairs around the table, wondering if Ellie had a big family.

"Taylor?"

She reluctantly looked over to see him pointing out the window.

"You see that hall?"

Following the direction of his finger she saw a white-shingled building across the street. Woven baskets stuffed with flowers hung beneath arched windows sitting either side of the red painted door.

"That's where I'll be, " he said.

She didn't particularly care where he was going to be, but she mumbled an 'okay' and it seemed to satisfy him. When he left the kitchen and closed the door gently behind him she let out a slow breath. Why in the hell was he so mad at her? Her eyes drifted down as she brooded over the question and she suddenly registered her fisted hands bulging out the front pockets of her hoodie. Maybe it wasn't him who was angry – maybe it was her. And she was angry, she realized. He had pushed her to the edge and finally got an answer to some of his damned questions and had then totally freaked out when he had heard the truth. Good. Maybe now he'd understand why letting her go was the best thing to do. Sighing, she uncurled her fingers and slid them free of her pocket, wedging them between her knees instead.

A plate with a scone suddenly appeared in front of her. When she looked up, a butter dish, a pot of jam, and small bowl of cream were being set down also.

"You look like you could do with something sweet, " Ellie said. "I've blackcurrant, too, if you'd prefer that."

"Um, no, this, this is fine. Thank you."

Ellie returned to moving around the kitchen as she waited for the kettle on top of the huge range to boil. Mugs joined the jam and butter on the table and after a few moments, with a steaming tea pot in one hand, she sat down.

Nyah wasn't hungry, but not wanting to be rude she cut the scone in half before setting it back onto the plate as Ellie plonked the heavy tea pot onto the table and took a few moments to butter her own scone before adding a generous dollop of jam. "I'll be deeply insulted if you don't even try it, " she said after a moment.

Nyah picked a piece off the side and popped it in her mouth. Despite how she felt, it tasted good. "It's delicious, " she said, breaking off another piece.

Ellie gave a smile and pointed towards one of the empty mugs. "Would you like tea?"

"Please, " Nyah said.

A semi-easy silence hovered as Ellie poured out the tea while Nyah took another bite. "Do you have a big family?" she asked, accepting her mug and reaching for the milk jug.

"Four children and a husband, " Ellie replied proudly. "My eldest two, the twins, Elise and Eric, are in Alaska at the moment – a field trip for their environmental studies course, and the younger two, Conor and Aaron are here, in Carter Plains."

"How old are Conor and Aaron?"

"Aaron is thirteen and Conor is sixteen."

Nyah decided to try the second half of her scone with a little butter. Now that she had started to eat her stomach was begging for more.

"Do you have siblings?" Ellie asked.

Nyah shook her head. "No, I'm an only child. Has Aaron been through his first phase yet?"

Ellie had finished her scone and scooped up her mug. "No, he's due to any day now though. Dean is watching him like a hawk; he even brought him over to the meeting." There was such affection in her voice towards her Alpha that Nyah felt a tug of loneliness for her father. He had been just as caring for the younger pack members when he had been Alpha. He had always said how being present for the first phase was a humbling experience. It also helped to create a strong bond between an Alpha and his newest wolf. She doubted Simon was even aware of which members of her abandoned pack were due to phase.

Ellie slid the plate holding two more scones in Nyah's direction. "One is never enough, " she winked.

Nyah took a second scone. "Thanks."

"Honey, you look exhausted, " Ellie said in a sudden rush of honesty. "Really, you don't look well at all. Are you not sleeping? How is your appetite?"

"I slept really well last night, " Nyah tried to reassure her; "it's just. . . earlier on, Dean and I. . ." She trailed off. Ellie didn't need to know what was going on in her Alpha's house.

"He's worried, " Ellie said gently. "He's trying to do what's right. That's what the meeting is about."

"Oh no." Nyah dropped the scone back onto the plate and looked out the window towards the pretty white building. "They're having a meeting about me?"

"Wouldn't your pack?" Ellie asked, her gentleness easing the tension Nyah could feel straining across her forehead. "You're Dean's responsibility, and your being here is – well, it's not exactly a typical rogue scenario."

Nyah didn't answer. But she did wonder how much Dean had told Ellie. "Does everyone know – I mean, is the whole pack in there?"

"Mm hmm."

"Everyone? Even the patrollers? They're in there, too?"

"No, no. The perimeters are being watched over, " she said confidently, and then added on 'sorry' with a little smile.

When Nyah frowned at her apology Ellie gave a light laugh and put down her mug. "No-one gets past the perimeter, " she explained meaningfully.

"I wasn't referring to me getting out, " Nyah corrected soberly. "I was referring to something getting in."

"Oh, honey." Ellie shook her head sadly. "You're safe here."

'I'm not safe anywhere' Nyah wanted to answer, but turned her attention to picking currants out of the scone instead.

"Dean won't let any harm come to you, " she continued. Clearly, Ellie was on Team Dean. "He'll do whatever it takes to protect you, I promise."

"In that case he should just let me go."

"He'll never let you go now, " Ellie answered, with such knowing that Nyah couldn't help but look back up at her.

"What do you mean 'now'?"

Ellie reached for the tea-pot. "Now he knows more about you and what happened to you, " she said quickly. "More tea?"

"No, no thanks – but don't you think that's the very reason he should let me go? Can't he see I'm a risk to his pack?"

Ellie slowly filled her cup as she carefully considered her reply. "Dean considers you to be part of our pack -."

"I neve

r agreed to that, " Nyah cut in crossly. "I told him I didn't want to join."

"But you're his responsibility, just like every other member."

Irritably, Nyah shoved her plate away. "Why can't he just get over this whole responsibility thing?"

Ellie laughed gently. "Dean only knows responsibility. Even as a boy he used to look out for his family and friends the way he does now. Before he turned ten years-old they had him picked as a future Alpha, you know."

And he was probably made Alpha on his eleventh birthday, Nyah thought. Mr Responsible.

"He was only twenty-one when he became Alpha, " Ellie announced. "The youngest Alpha the Carter Plains pack has ever had." It was said with such pride that Nyah found her attention focusing on Ellie's smiling face. She saw it then, the resemblance between Dean and Ellie; they were brother and sister. They shared the same hair colour, the same almond-shaped eyes, although Ellie's eyes were more a blue-grey than Dean's. His were a very pure blue, the kind of pale blue that an early morning sky sometimes displayed, the kind of blue that held a touch of warmth, except for when he was in Alpha mode, then they could freeze over into a sort of -.

"Taylor?"

"Sorry?" Nyah jerked upright in her chair. What in the hell was wrong with her? Dean's eyes were blue. Big deal. Get over it.

"I was just saying how he's been Alpha for five years now, and he's learned a lot in that time."

"Uh huh, " Nyah mumbled.

"So, maybe give him the benefit of the doubt. Put your trust in him, " Ellie suggested softly. "He'll do whatever he can for you."

Nyah returned to fidgeting with her scone. "Carter Plains is a big place, " she said lightly, wanting to change the subject. "Did I see a playing field and a playground?"

Ellie described Carter Plains in detail, leaving Nyah to change her estimation of it being massive to being super massive. The pack was huge, too; one hundred and seventeen members Ellie told her, most of which she saw when the meeting broke and they swarmed from the hall before dispersing beyond the view of Ellie's wide kitchen window.

Dean was quick to return to the house where he and Ellie held a long whispered conversation in the hallway, throughout which time Nyah cursed her lack of werewolf hearing, before he led her back outside. The walk to his house was another silent one. She was determined to make him talk as soon as they were back inside his house though. His reaction to what she had revealed earlier was really starting to bug her. She couldn't figure out why he had stormed off.

"Taylor, " he began as soon as they were inside and the front door was shut behind him. "You need to answer some of my questions."

She wanted to laugh just then – it was exactly what she had been about to say to him.

"What you told me sounds crazy, " he admitted, "I'm not saying I don't believe you, because I do, but seriously, if you want me to help you I have to know more."

"I never said I wanted you to help me."

"Well, there's a lot of stuff you don't say, but I'm guessing you don't want to be without your wolf for much longer."

"You can't fix that."

"I can try."

She snorted out a humourless laugh and looked away.

Choosing to ignore her he continued to push. "You have to tell me what happened. I've got all these tiny snippets of information and I really need to try and put them together."

She folded her arms in reply and looked down at her feet, but he rattled on anyway.

"Someone in your pack did this to you; that's why you won't go back. And they used a shaman, which means a Lycan has gotten into something pretty dark and dangerous. Your whole pack must be involved somehow, either voluntarily or not, 'cos otherwise, someone out there would be making a hell of a lot of noise looking for you. I'm starting to think that your Alpha is dead, too, or else completely incapacitated. So. . . here's what I think, How about I try to contact -."

"How about you do nothing at all."

"Taylor. . ."

"No. I'm serious. There's nothing you can do."

"Yeah, you're right, " he replied testily. "There is nothing I can do because I'm completely in the dark. My pack is asking questions that-."

"You told everyone about me?"

"I told them that - ."

"You – you didn't tell them about the magic stuff, did you?"

"No, I told -."

"Did you tell them that my wolf is gone?"

"No. I didn't, only Nick knows, but –."

"What is wrong with you?" she yelled, jabbing a finger in the space separating them. "Don't you know how every word you say can go right back to my pack? Do you want him coming here? Do you?"

"No, of course not. All I'm trying to do is help you!"

"You can't help me! No-one can!"

"Don't I even get to try?"

"Why do you want to?" she cried, unable to stop herself from shoving him in the chest. "Why are you so hung up on helping me? Just stop!"

"And why are you so hung up on not wanting to be helped?" he yelled back, leaning over her.

"Because, " she faltered, clamping her hands on to her hips with frustration, "I don't. . . you'll only. . . because it's complicated, alright?"

"I don't care how damned complicated is, " Dean replied, fixing her with such a determined stare that she backed away a little. "But if you don't start answering my questions I'll go find someone who will."

"Wow." Nyah gave a short, stunned laugh. "You really do have a death-wish."

"Oh, that's rich coming from you, " he replied with a snort, moving to tower over her again.

"Maybe so, " she agreed, in a low voice, "but unlike you, my death-wish only affects me. Yours manages to include your entire pack."

Dean visibly paled and although her livid stare held his, she could sense his whole body tightening as he loomed over her. Accusing an Alpha of neglecting his pack was definitely up there on the top ten list of 'How to Piss an Alpha Off'. Suddenly, she wanted to take the words back.

Dean remained still for a short moment before moving away, a slow exhale loosening his shoulders. She was drawing a breath to say 'I'm sorry' when, to her surprise, a smile broke out on his face.

"I was wondering what strategy you'd come up with, " he said calmly.

Her mouth formed the word 'what?' but no sound came out.

His grin grew wider. "Well, you've obviously figured out by now that you can't escape from my house – and even if you did, you wouldn't get very far – so I put my money on insistent begging, maybe even some crying, but I'll be honest, insulting me in the hopes that I'd throw you off my territory hadn't crossed my mind. Nice try, though."

An odd croaky sound trickled from her open mouth as he brushed by her and disappeared into the kitchen. When she remembered how to work her lungs and mouth again she followed him through. "That was a genuine insult, not a fake one, " she announced.

Dean chuckled. His head was hidden behind the open fridge door. "Do you like pasta?" he asked, emerging with a red pepper and a carton of mushrooms in one hand.

She stared at him, her expression demanding he retaliate to her comment, but he smiled instead, held up the vegetables and repeated his question about whether she liked pasta or not.

Nyah rolled her eyes and shook her head. "And this is your tactic, isn't it?" she realized. "Being nice so I'll give in and answer your questions."

"My being nice isn't a game, Taylor. It's for real."

He chose that moment to push back the loose lock of hair that was hanging over one eye and all the fight she had burning inside her went out. "Fine, " she sighed, taking the pepper and mushrooms from his hand. "I'll chop, you make the pasta."

There was a surprisingly long stretch of comfortable silence as they prepared their meal. Dean had made her sit at the table once the vegetables had been chopped and she watched him as he moved about the kitchen, his attention totally caught up in what he was doing. It seemed he really enjoyed cooking. He kept dipping a teaspoon into the sauce, his face setting into an intense frown as he considered the flavour before adding extra pinches of herbs, and on one occasion, a sprinkle of brown sugar.

He had a towel flung over his shoulder and every now and then he'd whip it down to wipe off his fingers or a tiny drop of escaped sauce that had landed on the work-top. The wayward piece of hair was attended to regularly, too, making her look away and even sit on her hands at one stage.

For some insane reason a memory of the unbearable meals she had been forced to swallow with Simon came into her mind. She was trapped in Carter Plains just as she had been in Blackwater Ridge, but yet. . .

"It's all ready, " Dean announced, jerking her back to awareness.

"Why did you get so mad at me when I told you about the magic stuff earlier?"

The question blurted from her mouth so unexpectedly that she winced. Dean turned around to look at her.

"I wasn't mad at you, " he replied softly. But then he sighed and gave his own wince. "Okay, well, maybe I was at first, but only for a short while. I got mad at whoever it was who did this to you then. And still am now, I'd like to point out."

He scooped her plate up from the counter and carried it over to where she sat, placing it down in front of her. "I'm not going to ask you any more questions, Taylor. It just ends up in a screaming match."

She smiled in agreement, but only when his back was turned to her as he crossed back to the stove to get his own plate.

"And believe it or not, I really don't enjoy it, " he added.

"Me neither, " she admitted quietly.

He sat down opposite her and picked up his fork, twirling it in his fingers as he marshalled his words. "Look – I'm responsible -."

"No." Nyah held up her hands. "Please don't give me another one of your 'I'm a responsible Alpha' speeches. Now that you know what this is all about, you should be catapulting me off your territory to protect your pack. That's where your responsibilities lie, with them, not with me."

"You're wrong, " he said quietly, the nameless look settling on his face again.

"And you're stubborn, " she sighed.

"Pot, kettle, black, " he smirked.

Allowing him to see her smile this time, she shook her head and picked up her fork.

"No more questions, no more arguments, okay?" he said.

"Okay."

"But you need to understand one thing; I'm not letting you go, so eventually, whoever wants you is going to find you, and the more I know, the better I'll be able to protect you and my pack when the time comes."

"Okay, " she said.

Dean lowered his fork. "Really? You're – you're okay with that?"

Nyah nodded.

"So you're going to stay? And let me help you?"

"Yes, " she lied.

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