It had been a year since David and his siblings had been accepted into the city. He changed Alice and her family into wolves and was now living in utter bliss with his love. He laid next to her on the bed, grinning at her sleeping face. She was so beautiful, so incredibly perfect that there were times he couldn’t believe he had got so lucky. “Alice, it’s time to wake up.” David said as he brushed his finger lightly over the tip of her nose. He watched her wiggle it, thinking she looked like an adorable little bunny. “Come on baby.” He leaned in and pressed his lips against hers, making her let out a little moan and wrap her arms around his neck.
“What time is it?” She asked sleepily once he parted their lips.
“Oh man, you let me sleep in.”
He chuckled. “Of course I did, you’re carrying my pups. You need the rest.”
She smiled lovingly up at him. “I’m not that far along, I shouldn’t be being so lazy.”
“I don’t mind.”
“I do, I still haven’t finished that painting. I need to get it done already.” He wrinkled his nose and she giggled. “What?”
“I don’t like the guy who asked for it, he’s far too interested in you.”
“David, he’s just a nice guy.”
He huffed. “He flirts.”
“He does not. He’s a really nice guy.” She held him a little tighter. “Don’t be jealous, I love you and only you.”
“I can’t help it, you’re my mate and ever protective instinct in me screams at me to chase him off when he’s around. I trust you completely, I just don’t trust him, he’s suspicious.”
“My silly wolf, I’ll be fine. Besides, you only ever leave me when you have to deliver my drawings and paintings.”
“i can’t wait until it’s done so he can be gone”
“then why dont you start on breakfast while I get back to painting?”
“deal” David kissed her then they both got out of bed. David had been laying down shirtless so he tugged one on before he started to make bacon, egg and cheese biscuits. Everything was still set up for Alice in her art studio so she just began painting, loseing time so it seemed like only moments later when David came in “breakfast beautiful” she set her paints down then walked to her kitchen table. “Oh thank you, I know making this is so much trouble’
“I don’t mind for you.”
“where is Daniel and Elizabeth? Out exploring again?’
“Yeah, I made them breakfast earlier. I just took my shirt back off and laid down with you as soon as they left”
“You’d barely think they lived here too”
“They’ve never been ones to stay inside”
“Our pups are going to be like that too huh?”
“good, i want them to have a sense of adventure”
Alice hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she started eating. The babies growing in her womb made her ravenous, something David had pointed out as normal. He had even told her about how his mother was when she was pregnant with his siblings. When they finished eating, David cleaned up while Alice got back to painting, David startling her when he came in and kissed her cheek. “Anything for me to take out today?”
“I have a couple of paintings I need delivered to the museum and my dad wanted your help with some trouble outside the wall. He said something about farms being attacked by raiders. Would you mind?”
“Not at all beautiful.” He looked slightly irritated and she started giggling. “What’s so funny?”
“Stop worrying about my client or your face will get stuck like that.”
He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry, just if he gives you any trouble toss some of that turpentine in his face and run to your parent’s house.”
“I will, just go, I’ll be fine.”
“I love you Alice and the babies, I just don’t want any of you hurt.”
“I know, I love you too.”
David kissed her cheek then collected the paintings she needed delivered “I’ll hurry with these then see your father.”
“and I promise to stay safe” He softly smiled at her then hurried out. Alice rubbed her stomach “You babies have a really good father. The three of us are lucky” That being said she went back to painting, humming to her unborn babies. David carefully handed off his mattes paintings and collected payment “I’ll have another order for her soon. Have her come see me next week at her earliest convenience”
“How is she feeling? She does know being pregnant I don’t mind if she goes over her deadlines right?”
“She loves painting. It’s not work to her”
“well, I know you’ll mind she rests when it’s needed”
“I just let her sleep in this morning as a matter of fact” The owner of the museum smiled and saw David off.
Gillies was waiting on the front porch of his home when David arrived. He had his whip coiled on one hip while his sword, newly polished hung at the other. “Alice sent me over, how long have you been waiting?”
“Not long, I knew she would have you run errands.” He stepped off the porch. “How’s my little girl?”
Gillies chuckled and slapped him on the back. “She gets that from her mother.”
David grinned as they headed out. “It seems to run in your family, even Amy is hard headed at times. She still won’t run with my siblings. They even brought Abram because they thought he was charming enough to get her to go out, but she refused.”
“How old is he?”
David gave a laugh that had Gillies arching his eyebrow. “Twenty-nine now, but you don’t have to worry about him starting anything with Amy, she’s seventeen.”
“Don’t wolves mate young or something?”
“It depends on the wolf and the region. In some packs sixteen is considered being an adult, in others you can mate at eighteen, but the pack doesn’t consider you a full fledged adult until your fiftieth birthday.”
“so, she’s seventeen” David shook his head “don’t you worry Gillies. He’s respectful of women, he wouldn’t do anything with her she wasn’t okay with. If he tries anything and she shows she has no interest that will be that and if she does show interest he’s a good guy”
“well you’re good to Alice so I guess I’ll relax”
“Believe me, if he did anything out of the way to my mates sister I would beat his ass, friend or not. You guys are my family too”
Alice was pulled out of her work by a knock on her front door. She waited, listening and when another knock came she put her brush down and hurried to answer it. She wasn’t surprised to see her client, Lee, when she opened the door. He was smiling and had a bag in his hand. “Good morning Lee.” She said as she let him in.
“Good morning, I hope cookies aren’t inappropriate. I stopped at the bakery and the woman there insisted I take these.”
“She probably likes you.”
He chuckled. “She gave me too many, thought I’d share them. How is the painting?”
“Nearly done, go ahead and look, I’ll get us some milk for those cookies.”
He laughed again. “That mate of yours won’t gut me right?”
She waved off his concern. “As far as I’ve seen all male wolves act that way and even more so since we found out I’m pregnant. Don’t worry about it, he’ll be good for me.” Even though David insisted he was a flirt, Alice herself had not noticed any bad behavior. He was always friendly and polite. If there was anything strange about him, it was that he didn’t talk much about himself.
Alice poured them each a tall glass of milk then took the cups to the living room where Lee was waiting. He had pulled the container of cookies out and opened them. Their smell wafted into Alice’s nose. They were perfectly baked and she hoped they tasted as good as they smelled. Alice took her first cookie, planning to enjoy it without dipping it in her milk glass. For her first bite she always liked to have that feeling of of firm cookie being crushed between her teeth.
Some people loved crunchy things but she just loved how it felt to bite down on a nicely baked cookie. If it was doughy or even a tad overcooked it wasn’t the same. The taste and the feel were just what she wanted and she said as much “these are perfect” Lee had just started to swallow his first cookie when the words left her mouth.
He smiled at her then said “Yeah, I’m glad she insisted.Hows it going with my painting?”
Good, I’m nearly done, but then it has to dry before you can take it home.”
“It looks wonderful, you’ve really exceeded my expectations.” He smiled kindly.
She glanced at him and then looked back at the painting. “I know you might not want to say, but who is it for? It’s kind of different, dark even.”
He huffed out a laugh. “I suppose so, it is a bit eerie.” He turned his eyes to her. “It’s for someone close to me, a friend I guess you would say. He likes things like this, the frighteningly beautiful.” He looked back at the painting, smiling as he took another bite of cookie. “He collects statues, paintings, drawings. He’s not dangerous mind you, he just likes things that are a bit haunting in nature.”
“You like him.”
Lee chuckled. “Maybe.”
Alice smiled. “Well then maybe I should come with you to deliver it.”
“Your mate seems keen on keeping you close.”
“He could come too, as soon as he gets back.” She picked up her paintbrush. “I’ll finish it then tomorrow we’ll take it to him. David wouldn’t be opposed as long as he goes.”
Okay, if David doesn’t mind I don’t mind you tagging along if you want.”Alice had Lee follow her into her studio and she continued talking to him as she finished her painting. He was blown away when it was complete “thank you so much”
“This is what I love” She rubbed her stomach as she said it. Lee pulled out the money he owed her and she took it then put it away. “why isn’t he back yet?” Lee asked and Alice shrugged “My dad needed some help this morning. Maybe it’s taking longer than expected or my dad decided to get help with something else. I’m not worried, those two can take care of themselves.”
“we could go check on them if you want”
“Alright, let me get them some water, I’m sure they’ll be thirsty.”
David and Gillies fought back to back as the bandits tried to close in on them. They had not taken the warning that they should leave the outer villages alone, thinking a werewolf and a retired soldier were nothing but a nuisance. They dispatched of them quickly then went to let the village head know where the bodies were so they could be burned. Leaving them had the potential of creating disease.
“I appreciate you accompanying me.” Gillies said.
“It was no problem, I enjoy helping.”
“well, lets get you back to my girl” Gillies and David walked together, planning to spilt when they got to Gillies home but Alice and Lee found them first. David’s heart quickened and he ran to her “what are you doing here and with him?” Alice huffed, not liking how he said that “I brought you both water. I finished his painting and wanted to go with him to deliver it to the person he bought it for. We wanted you to come too David”
David glanced at Lee, wondering if this had been his plan. His eyes moved back to Alice. “You’re pregnant.”
“That doesn’t make me helpless.”
“I didn’t say that, I just…” Gillies put a hand on David’s shoulder, silencing him.
“How far away do you live?” Gillies asked.
“Three, four days tops from the city.” Lee answered.
David wasn’t sure how he felt about Alice spending four days on the road. He started to open his mouth, but Gillies squeezed his shoulder. “How about transportation, my little girl is pregnant after all and I won’t have her put at risk.”
“I brought a carriage sir so I could transport the painting back, there is more than enough room for both of them.”
David looked at his father in law and could read that arguing with Alice would be a waste of time. She was Alice. He sighed. “Alright, we’ll go.” He said and Alice hugged him then handed him the water.
He quickly downed it and held his mate tightly for a few moments before they continued their way back home to prepare for the trip. While he wasn’t happy to be traveling with a man he trusted so little he wasn’t going to complain about it the whole way. Being with someone just as head strong as him this long had taught him it was better once they decided somthing just to go with it as happily as possible if it wasn’t the outcome he wanted. Compromise was probably the hardest part of being with someone but Alice was more than worth it.
David had Alice giggling when he insisted on carrying out to the carriage the next day after she had wrapped the painting. Lee loaded it while David climbed into the back, Alice still in his arms.
“David, everything’s going to be fine.” She gently massages the back of his neck.
“You don’t know that, it’s dangerous out there.”
Lee came up to the window. “You two ready? Have everything?”
“Yes, I even made sure to pack extra food.” Alice replied with a bright smile. “Please let us know if you get tired and David or I can take over.”
“You’ll be staying inside my love unless I’m with you. I know I sound bossy, but please give me this one thing.”
“I have to agree with him. Should something happen, the safest place is in here or with one of us. He and I can switch out, you just relax.”
Alice sighed and crossed her arms. “Oh alright, stop ganging up on me you two.”
David kissed her head and they were soon off. About an hour in David asked “is this making you nauseous at all?”
“Not really, I’ll let you know if I need to get out a minute. The weather is even really nice today so don’t fuss about me being comfortable”
“I will and you can’t stop me, you know that” Her smile widened a little “I love you so much David”
“I love you too Alice” When it came time to switch drivers Alice was surprised by her mate yet again when he sat up to drive by himself and let Lee sit with her. David was right there and could be in the carriage in an instant if he needed to be but she knew it took a lot for him to do it since he didn’t like Lee. Lee didn’t end up staying conscious very long though. He was out in less than a half hour after David took over.
David kept his senses completely open, his nose and ears picking up on the smallest scents and sounds. He could even hear Alice humming softly to herself and Lee’s calm heartbeat and breathing that indicated slumber. He stared straight ahead, watching for danger.
“Should we stop and eat?” Alice asked a few hours later, leaning halfway put the window so David nearly panicked. Her voice roused Lee and David heard him ask her to please come back in. He had to admit he was glad he hadn’t snapped at her. He knew he would have hated himself. He slowly pulled to a stop and hopped down to help her.
He offered his hand and helped her out of the carriage then immediately hugged her. His heart was beating so hard she could hear it “I’m sorry” she said and he just kissed her head. “I’ll get us something to eat. You just wait here” A small, apologetic smile crossed her face and he ran off. He was being so amazing and mature about everything and she would do something special for him when they got home. The amazing hunter he was he quickly returned and they were soon eating.
“do you need me to take another turn?” Lee asked as he neared finishing his portion of food. “No, wouldn’t be fair regardless. You took a much longer turn and you still seem tired.”
“Then continue sleeping when we set off again.”
“He’s very protective of you.” Lee said once they were off again and Alice smiled.
“He explained that wolves are like that and even more so when they’re expecting.” She laughed. “He’s also incredibly patient.”
“It can’t be hard, you’re such an amazing person.”
“So what about your friend?”
Lee sighed. “He’s incredibly important to me, my closest friend and confidant. I care about him a great deal and want nothing more than to see him smile. He’s a bit odd, not that it’s his fault, his parents sheltered him so he had quite a bit to learn when he came of age.” He chuckled. “They think I’m a bad influence.
Well you seem nice. If they sheltered him that bad they probably think anybody who isn’t them is a bad influence” Lee shrugged “They love him”
“Oh, I wasn’t trying to say anything bad about them. I was just saying they sound like over worriers” Lee grinned and looked off “well, maybe I am, maybe I’m not. What I can say for now is I’m grateful for your artwork Mrs Fraser. I can’t wait to see him smile because of it”
“well I love any reason to create art. I hope at least one of my babies will love it too so we can do it together”
David could hear their conversation and he admitted to himself that he felt a little bad for jumping to conclusions as far as Lee went. His over-protectiveness had caused him to dislike a person for no reason. He sighed and flicked the reigns to get the horse to go a little faster. He wanted to get as far as he could before they had to break and switch places. Lee allowed himself to fall back asleep after awhile and Alice started humming to the babies again as she drew. It helped pass the time while she waited for David to give up the reigns. She was just starting on a third sketch when the carriage slowed and then came to a stop. The lack of movement woke Lee who gave a long stretch then hopped out so David could get in.
“I’m going to let the horses rest for a few minutes, you two go ahead and get some rest, I’ll wake you if anything happens.”
“Are you sure?” Alice asked.
“Don’t be afraid to yell if something comes along you can’t fight off, I know the animals out here better than most and can chase them off if need be.” David added.
“I’ll let you know” Lee said just before David climbed in with Alice and Cuddled up to her. David took in her scent and tuned in to the heartbeats of his babies. He smiled “I love you” he was saying to both his mate and children. “I love you too David” Alice responded softly. He held her just a bit tighter then they both slowly drifted off. Lee kept alert as he sat outside with the horses. He knew an attack wasn’t likely but he’d rather be ready to call David.
The rest of the journey was spent in relative peace, with the exception of a large sand leopard that got a little too close. David frightened it off fairly easy, only sustaining a couple of bruises. Alice was happy to see that he seemed to be bonding with Lee. She could see it was his way of apologizing. “We’re almost there.” Lee said from the front of the carriage. Both Alice and David could hear the happiness in his voice. “I want to stop at my place to bathe if that’s okay.”
“Of course.” David replied. “Could we do the same, we’re a bit dusty.”
“You don’t even have to ask, my home is your home.” Lee flicked the reigns and the horse went faster.
They were all happy to be out of the carriage and Lee grabbed the painting in case someone decided to steal it while they were inside. He would feel bad asking Alice to paint another if it was taken. David wished that he could linger under the water with Alice, he knew she must be exhausted, but he also knew she was excited to help Lee deliver the painting. He couldn’t keep her from doing that, even if he was worried.
As they dried and dressed again Alice said “thank you for being more friendly”
“He does seem nice..I just worry about you and my pups”
“I’m hopeing we can all be friends after this” David nodded “Yeah, this area seems nice. We could maybe come for a weekend or somthing.” One of the babies kicked so Alice says “the kids seem to be for it” David chuckled and rubbed her stomach, smiling down at his unborn children.
Alice giggled when they came down and saw Lee standing there with the painting, looking eager to go. He blushed which made Alice laugh harder. “Don’t tease him too hard love.” David said with a smile of his own.
“Don’t be embarrassed, David does the same thing. You men and being so easy.”
“Come on, I brought you cookies.” Lee replied.
“Alright, I’m sorry. So what’s his name?”
“Tenjin, got it.”
Since they weren’t going far, they decided to walk. Alice had never been here, so it was nice to see the city from a leisurely pace rather than watching it zoom by from a carriage. Tenjin’s house was rather large and Lee explained, as they walked up the stone pathway, that his family had quite a bit of money and political pull. They were mages and advisers so Tenjin could afford to buy anything he wanted. He also told them he didn’t get out much, preferring his home to wandering around, though Lee had managed to get him to go out a couple of times. Lee tapped on the front door and David pulled Alice a little closer. It was a reflex and Alice kissed his cheek, hoping to ease the sudden tension in his muscles.
The door opened revealing a tall, white blonde man. His long hair was pulled back in a pony tail and he wore an expression that went from indifferent to elated when he saw Lee. His facial expression didn’t change very much but Alice could see the happiness reflected in Tenjins eyes. His eyes were almond shaped and soft brown. He wore clothes that looked a bit eccentric but it made sense. He looked about as Alice expected him to look. The white blonde hair was a bit surprising since typically only small children had white blonde hair. Most adults grow out of it.
When Tenjin hugged Lee she noticed the golden piece holding the pony tail in place. it came out on both sides resembling a bow though she knew that probably wasn’t it’s intention. She liked his style all in all and introduced herself when they were done hugging. “Hey, I’m Alice” Tenjin looked a little confused and Lee presented Tenjins gift “she is the artist who did this for me..well for you”
Tenjin looked at the wrapped painting and then back at Alice. “Thank you, please come in.” He moved aside, letting them pass through the front door. “The living room is this way.”
“Well, open it.” Lee said once they were settled and Tenjin pulled the wrapping open. Alice noticed he had a gentleness about him as his hands smoothed back the brown paper.
“Oh wow.” His eyes brightened again as he lifted the painting up to eye level. Alice had never seen a joy like his over her paintings. “I’ve never seen something so beautiful, thank you.” Alice had thought the picture of dark shadows moving through the woods stalking their prey to be morbid, but Tenjin found it to be beautiful and that really struck her as sweet.
“He really means that by the way, Tenjin here has seen a lot of art and spent a lot of money on it.” Lee said with a big smile.
“Thank you for this Lee.” Tenjin sat the painting down and moved to kiss Lee’s forehead. Lee’s happiness increased and David could hear his heart beating faster.
Tenjin looked at him with so much care that David would bet money he liked Lee as well. Tenjin stood with the painting and said “I’d like to go ahead and find a place for it”
“Do we need to go get anything or do you have stuff here to hang it with since you buy a lot of art?” Alice asked then Tenjin spoke again. “I have what I need” Tenjin looked at Lee before continuing “is there anywhere you think it should go?”
“I’m not sure where you have space?” Tenjin shrugged “I can always take somthing down and replace it with this. It’s going somwhere in my home where I can look at it frequently”
“Let me look around then.” He looked at Alice and David. “Will you be alright with them?”
Lee took the painting and started his walk around the house while Tenjin took a seat across from David and Alice. “So, Lee is nice.” Alice tried for conversation.
“Yes, he’s incredibly kind. He’s really my only friend, I’m not much for company.”
“He said you were a bit sheltered.”
Tenjin nodded. “It’s true, but he remains so patient. My parents have never really liked him, he’s so spontaneous and adventurous, they were so overprotective, but he was the only thing I ever demanded to have.” His cheeks were tinted pink. “Sorry, I’m rambling.”
“It’s fine. So you like uh dark stuff?”
Tenjin looked at his hands. “Yes, my parents work with a lot of different magic like necromancy and summoning, I saw a lot of morbid things growing up, zombies, demons, spirits. Lee says I collect some of the coolest stuff. If you would like a tour, when Lee gets back, I can give you one.”
“That sounds amazing” Alice replied and David spoke “You have good taste. Your house is nice as far as I’ve seen it” Tenjin looked up, his mind seeming to drift so Alice and David waited for Lee in silence. It was almost the instant Lee returned to the room that Tenjins attention was drawn back. He stood “they want a tour. Where did you decide to put it?”
“I’ll just show you when we get to that part of your home” Tenjin closed the distance between them “well let me carry it.” Lee handed it over and Lee headed the tour. Tenjins art, while very different really was amazing. Seeing Tenjin had art like this made his compliments earlier even higher.
“This stuff is amazing.” Alice said as she examined the paintings. Some of them could send a shiver up your spine with just a glance, but she loved the obvious care that had been put into them. “These brushstrokes were very soft.”
“You have a very good eye.” Tenjin replied softly. “You’re a lot like Lee, you actually appreciate it.”
Alice grinned at him and he looked away, his face heating up. “You should be proud of this collection.”
“Well, if you ever make more, I would like to see them first. I’m sure it’s not exactly what you usually paint, but this one is so amazing.”
“I’ll keep you in mind.”
“Here we are.” Lee said as they stepped into a large library. “I want it here above the mantle, then you can look at it when you come in here to read. I think the firelight and sunlight will create a lot of different shadows in it. It’ll seem so much more sinister.”
“That’s perfect.” Tenjin replied, a happy smile pulling at his lips.
Tenjin quickly left and returned with what he needed to set it there with assurance it wouldn’t fall and get damaged. When it was up and secure he stepped far back, admiring it “thank you so much Lee” Alice and David ended up staying the night then leaving shortly after lunch in a cart Tenjin paid for. David had fought with him about it a short time but Tenjin was stubborn and David eventually let him pay.
“They’d make such a sweet couple” Alice said, knowing her mate could hear her plainly “yeah” David answered. Alice’s mind stayed on why the two weren’t together until she drifted to sleep. The only times they stopped on the way home was to let the horses rest. David was just in a rush to get his wife in a proper bed again with his growing babies.
The day they arrived home, Alice was sleeping peacefully with her head against his shoulder and he couldn’t bring himself to wake her. He slowly shifted her around and carried her inside, thanking the driver. He put her in bed, pulled off both of their shoes and climbed in with her, snuggling close and letting his hand rest on her abdomen. He tuned into his pups hearts. There were two that he could hear, which wasn’t unusual for wolves, many of them had multiples. They sounded healthy and were almost in near constant motion. He had a feeling they were going to be a handful. He thought of many things as he drifted off, like his parents and how sad he was they would never meet Alice or their grandchildren. He thought about the reason why Lee and Tenjin were not together. It wasn’t like he could blame them, it had taken forever for him to actually talk to Alice and that had happened on accident. He also wondered what his siblings were up to and if they were safe. He even thought of names for their little ones.
The next day they checked on his siblings and spent a couple hours with them. Up until the day the pups were born they mostly hungout with family when Alice wasn’t busy painting. They ended up having a boy and a girl which elated the both of them.David was already talking over protective nonsense about their girl and Alice was either laughing or setting him straight. David couldn’t believe how far things had come. Years ago when he used to just watch her from a distance he would have never believed he would be living in the city with her, have a wonderful relationship with her and be blessed with two healthy pups with her. He loved Alice and appreciated his life with her beyond words. No matter what he would always keep her and their two children safe and close to his side.
~ The End