Updated: Mar 28
“Calm down,” I whisper. I pull Harper in for a hug, waiting for her to stop crying. This is the second time this week that I’ve been called in due to her being upset, and it’s upsetting my wolf as much as me. Without our dad, Caden and I are meant to be protecting her.
“I don’t want to stay here,” she gasps out. I nod and pick her up, kissing the top of her head. My mum is busy today, getting ready to head over to our aunt’s, so I’m happy to keep her with me for a little bit. I’m going to need to mention this to my mum, though, so that we can find out what’s actually going on. I hate that Harper is struggling, and my wolf is in protective brother mode.
“Are you taking her, Alpha?” Judith asks.
“Yes. For a little bit,” I reply. Harper sighs, but with the new human arriving, I don’t really have a choice. I really need to be around in case anything happens, and unfortunately for my sister, she’s safest here. “We’ll go get some food, and then she’s got come back for a little bit so I can do some work.”
“That’ll be fun,” Judith exclaims, her fake cheer not having the intended effect on my little sister. “See, Harper, you can go have some lunch with Noah, then come back, and we can play some games. What do you want to do?”
“Go home,” she snaps, and I mouth sorry at Judith. Her attitude has definitely come from Caden. I’m far more mellow than this. Judith grins, and I shrug.
As much as I usually give in and keep her, that’s just not on the cards for today. Harper sadly has no choice but to go back. As much as I love my little sister, I can’t keep letting her stay with me all day. She needs to spend time with kids her own age.
I wave as I carry Harper out of the pack house, and she clutches at my neck as if I’m going to change my mind and leave her behind. Once we’re further away, I sit down on one of the chairs and she groans.
“Why are you, sorry?” I ask carefully. I let her gather her thoughts as I tighten up the bobble in her hair.
“Things are really hard.” I nod, although I’m confused. She’s five years old. What can be hard when you’re five? “The other kids won’t play with me anymore.”
“What?” Why the fuck won’t they play with her?
“Nobody wants to play with me,” she whispers. “I have to sit on my own with my dolls, or sometimes Judith will read to me. That’s it. It’s horrible, and I never want to go back.”
Fuck. I kiss her forehead. “Did you know that sometimes the other kids wouldn’t play with me?”
“But you’re Alpha.”
I nod. “I know. Even Caden was mean sometimes and refused to play with me.”
“What did you do?”
“I found other people to play with. I asked other people if I could join in, and they said yes.”
“You’re such a liar!” Harper exclaims, but she’s grinning. I hate that she’s right. What do I know about little girls not wanting to play with each other? I always had Caden, but we also had Warren, Dillon and River. I never went through the bullying stage, or the loner phase. Can you really have a loner phase at five? “But thanks for trying.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, pressing a kiss to her temple. “But just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean I can’t help you.”
“I don’t know what to do,” she says, twiddling her fingers in mine. “I want to move pack.”
“No. We’re not moving packs, Harper. Caden and I are Alphas here. We can’t just leave. Why don’t we ask mum? See what she says.”
“She said I was being a baby,” Harper mumbles. My mum is brilliant and an amazing mum, but she can be very dismissive of Harper’s feelings a lot. It pisses both Caden and me off, and her argument is that we coddle her. Coddle her.
“Well, you’ve got to remember that sometimes mums don’t understand. I used to fight with dad constantly.”
“Really.” She giggles, and I smile at her. “Caden and dad used to be even worse.”
“But in the photos…”
“We didn’t fight all the time,” I say, shaking my head. A photo is a snapshot of a moment; it doesn’t necessarily tell the truth. “I’m just trying to say that we’re allowed to fight with each other. It’s normal. When mum isn’t listening or doesn’t understand, you can always call Caden and me. You know that, right?”
“I,” she starts before sighing. “You guys are always busy, and you don’t have time for me anymore.”
“Hey, that’s mean,” I argue, smiling even though her words hurt. “I came and broke you out of daycare twice this week. You swore me to secrecy on Monday, so I haven’t even told anyone.”
“Caden saved me on Wednesday,” she mumbles, a cheeky grin on her face. “And Warren on Tuesday and Thursday.”
I groan, even though I’m impressed with her. She’s definitely going to be a handful growing up, and I don’t envy my mum one bit. She’s devious. Absolutely devious. She has all five of us wrapped around her fingers too, so of course, we haven’t mentioned this to each other.
“I’m sure you are,” I say, tutting her. “Let’s go.”
She nods, and I pick her back up and head over to the pub. I know that Caden and Warren are at the vet’s office, but hopefully, we can get something to eat for Harper then I can drop her back at daycare. I’m already preparing myself for the crying she’ll do.
We enter the bar, and she rushes over to greet River, who immediately stops serving the customer and picks her up. Her infectious giggles are the only sound I focus on. She’s definitely got us wrapped around her fingers, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I watch River tease her before bringing her over to me.
“Let me place your order,” River says. “Then you can explain why you’re not at daycare.”
Harper groans, but the slight smile on her face shows she’s happy. I connect with him and explain why, as he’s processing her order, because I know the little sneak will once again try to charm her way out of this. He comes back, and we sit and distract her for a little while, and I’m pleased she eats something.
“Okay, it’s time to go,” I say softly. It’s been nearly an hour,
“But—” she protests.
“You’re staying with us tonight,” River reminds her. “Go back to daycare, and once you’re done, we’ll do something fun together. But you have to go back to daycare so we can finish our work first.”
“Liar.” Harper pouts, and my wolf tenses. My wolf is very protective of Harper, and he struggles to understand the difference between a fake pout and a real pout. Hell, he even struggles to understand the difference between us doing something for her own good and doing something that will make her happy.
“I’m lying?” River asks, an eyebrow arched.
She nods eagerly, revealing, “Mum says that there’s a new girl coming today. You want to meet her.”
River sighs and turns to me. I shrug because it seems Harper is jealous about River liking her. That’s got nothing to do with me.
“You know that you’re my favourite,” River says, grinning at her. “You’re always going to be my favourite.”
“But now you’re going to fall in love with this new girl and never talk to me again,” Harper cries. I turn away because this shit is hilarious, but I also don’t want to let her see me laugh because I know it’ll upset her. My wolf is ready for a fight… with River. I swear.
“Harper, I’d never not love you,” River responds. He pulls her onto his lap, and I pull out my phone to take a photo. “Even if, and this is a really, really big if, I fall in love with the new girl, I’d never ever ever forget about you.”
“What about Warren?”
“What about Warren?” River asks, confused. “Warren’s my brother…”
“Will he forget about me?”
River shakes his head. “None of us will. Not me or Noah or Caden or Warren or Dillon. We love you, sweetheart, you know this. What do you want to do tonight? Anything you want.”
“Princess tea party,” she decides. River groans, and I burst out laughing. “You said anything, and you need to prove you’re not going to leave me for the new girl.”
“She’s got you there,” I say, grinning. “Have fun playing princesses.”
“We’ll all play,” River promises, and I roll my eyes. Fucking cop-out. “But first, head back over to daycare.”
“Fine,” Harper mutters. “Bye.”
She gets off his lap and wanders away from the table. We both watch her head as she starts talking to a girl who goes to her daycare—Jenna, I think.
“I’m going to talk to my mum,” I say. “She’s called one of us every single day this week to rescue her from daycare.”
“We’ll do it tonight,” River promises.
“But look, she’s fine with her,” I say, and he nods. “Fuck, I don’t know what’s going on with her.”
“We’ll talk to your mum about it,” he repeats, squeezing my shoulder. “Get her back to daycare.”
I nod and walk over to Harper, taking her hand. “Let’s go.” She says bye to her friend who got giggly and shy with me there, but there was no hostility. Again, they’re five, so of course, there’s not going to be. We walk silently until we reach the town centre, and Kai, one of our enforcers, heads my way.
“Do you have a second, Alpha?” he asks.
“Of course,” I agree. “Harper, do you want to go sit on that bench? I’ll be two minutes.”
She groans but nods and moves to the side.
“We’ve started working on getting the fence up to try and avoid the human going onto the open lands,” he tells me. “But she’s here now.”
“Already?” I ask, confused. “She wasn’t—”
I cut myself off when a tingling sensation takes over my skin, causing my wolf to perk up in my mind. I can feel him surveying the area, trying to identify where the feelings are coming from. I can’t help but grin because I know with one hundred percent certainty what this is whilst I’ve never felt this before.
My mate is here.
“Yes,” he agrees, not fazed by my sudden stop. “She drove over to the clinic earlier and then went to her cottage. We’ve got people tracking her, but she’s on her way over here now.”
“Fuck, okay,” I sigh. I look around, trying to spot her, but I can’t see anyone yet. I need to get Harper back so I can find her and spend some time with her.
It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.
It doesn’t even matter that she’s human.
She’s got to be my mate.
“Get the fence up as soon as possible,” I say. “She’s got to come collect her keys at some point, so we’ll make sure to point out that she can’t go onto those lands. I’ll speak to Caden, and we’ll look into a more permanent solution.”
“Thank you,” he replies. “We’ll get that sorted.”
I nod and turn to Harper, but she’s gone. Fucking hell. I merge with my wolf, having to push him back a little because he tried to take over for a complete shift and lock onto the voice of my sister.
“Hi,” I hear her say. Clearly, she’s located the human. Despite not having her wolf yet, her senses are developing. It’s something that’s highly annoying for parents because their kids start getting better senses of smells and hearing when they’re still young. Both boys and girls have it start around the same age, five or so, despite girls not getting their actual wolf until they turn sixteen.
“Hello.” Fuck. That voice. It’s soft and sweet, with a distinct southern accent. I love it already. Of course, Harper managed to locate my mate—breaking her out of daycare was definitely a good idea. I start heading over there, listening to the conversation as I go.
“My name is Harper,” Harper says, forcing her voice to sound posh. “I’ve not seen you before.”
“Charlotte, but people call me Lottie. I’m new here, but you will see me around town more often now. Are you alone?”
“No. My brother is around somewhere.” I groan, and as I turn the corner, I see Charlotte crouching down in front of Harper. I can’t see her face properly, but she’s wearing a smart outfit and has long blonde hair. I want to see her. My wolf is whining in my head, the need to claim her already strong.
She’s human. But that doesn’t matter to my wolf. He’s found his soul mate, and he wants nothing more than to bond with her.
“Oh.” Oh? She seems tense, based on her body language, but I don’t get why. She glances around, sadly not turning fully, but her uneasiness only has my wolf prowling in my mind. His whining is annoying because he wants me to shift and find the threat, but I don’t think us shifting will do anything but cause her more panic.
“You smell funny,” Harper says. I hold in my laughter because she’s not wrong. Humans do smell different to wolves, and since Charlotte is the first human that Harper has ever been around, of course my sister is going to be confused by it.
“Could it be my perfume?” Charlotte responds. Okay. I need to save her now. I don’t know which her I’m saving, but I really do need to intervene. My sister’s lack of tact is not going to dig me into a hole with my mate. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
“Harper,” I call. She grins over at me, and Charlotte stands and turns. Fuck. She’s beautiful. Bright green eyes, rosy red lips, and dimples in both cheeks. She’s short, which I love, and really slim. The disapproving expression on her face only makes my wolf want her more.
“Hi, Noah. This is my new friend,” Harper says. The smirk on her face is something only little sisters get. It’s the “I know better than you” smirk. Despite her only being five years old, she’s got this perfected.
“Nice to meet you,” I say. “Has she been bothering you? I turned my back for thirty seconds, and she disappeared.”
She blushes and shakes her head, the disapproving expression disappearing. Her blush only adds to her appeal, and honestly, one person shouldn’t be allowed to be this pretty. “Hi. No. She hasn’t been bothering me.”
“Good. What are you doing?”
“Trying to find out where I go to collect my keys for my house,” she murmurs, her blush still covering her cheeks. It’s adorable. She’s adorable.
“Want us to show you?” I offer.
“Noah is the…,” Harper begins.
I growl low in my throat, and Harper sighs. Lottie doesn’t hear anything, though, the benefit of our heightened senses.
“Harper,” I warn, and she nods. I hate needing to use my Alpha tone to admonish her, but we’re not revealing ourselves to the human on day one. Especially now that I know, she’s my mate. I can’t scare her away. “Sorry. You’re the new vet, right?” Hopefully, playing it cool like this will mean she doesn’t think I’m a major stalker. I am, but she’s my mate. She doesn’t need to know the level of my obsession yet.
“Been over there yet?” I ask. See, I’m totally pulling this off. She doesn’t seem suspicious, and it’s not like I’ve had people reporting on her whereabouts all day. Caden and Warren have been over at the clinic, so I’m hoping they’ll tell me what happened there. I hope it went okay. I need her to be happy here.
“Yeah. There were three wolves hurt.” I know, but thanks for telling me. She’s adorable.
“Who?” Oh fuck. She’s not going to know they were people, so she won’t know their names. I glance over at her, but she doesn’t seem weirded out with my question. I’m going to need to be more careful, though. At least until we have introduced her to the supernatural. It was a gamble earlier when we allowed her to come, but I’m never letting her leave me, so it really has paid off.
“Um,” she mumbles, biting her lip as she thinks. “I know Billy was the omega. Not sure about the middle wolf. The Alpha of the pack was there too. Do you know the wolves?” How did she know that? Did Elroy say something? I swear to fucking god, he had one rule when we let him hire someone. Do not reveal our secret. Super simple.
I’d like to think I’d care this much about scaring her off if she weren’t my mate… but I can’t say that for sure.
“We love the wolves!” Harper exclaims.
I can’t contain my grin, despite Lottie’s unease. She doesn’t get the inside joke, but her mind is sharp enough to recognise it was a loaded statement. I don’t know a lot about my mate, but what I do know, I already love. Wolves aren’t known for taking it slow—as in, we usually mark our mate within a week of meeting, and the bonding comes not long after, if not at the same time. It’s going to kill my wolf to wait, but I already know we’d do anything for her.
We reach the town hall, and I lead her up to my office, waving at Hannah on the way. She doesn’t flinch at the name on the door, which makes me happy and makes my wolf puff up. I motion for the girls to take a seat and head over to my chair.
“So Charlotte,” I begin. I know she prefers to go by Lottie, which I’ve been calling her in my head, but I want her to correct me. I can’t say I know that because I only heard it due to my enhanced senses. Fuck, this is going to be hard keeping this from her.
“Lottie. She likes Lottie,” Harper snaps, a frown on her face. Already fierce over her new friend. I turn to Lottie for confirmation, and she nods.
“Sorry,” I reply, laughing. “Lottie. Here are your keys. When is your stuff arriving?”
“It should be here in about an hour.”
“Want some help?” I offer. “I have friends that can give you a hand setting things up.” I hope she doesn’t say no. I really, really want to spend more time with her.
“Do you not mind?” My wolf hates that she asked that with a nervous tone. She should never, ever be worried to ask me to do something or about spending time alone with me.
“No,” I reassure her. She nods, and I smile. “We’ve just got to drop Harper off at daycare first, if that’s okay with you?”
“Yes, of course,” she responds. “As long as I’m not keeping you from something here…”
“You’re not,” I promise. “I want to help. Let’s go.”
I mind link the others and tell them they need to meet us at Lottie’s cottage—Warren and Caden were happy enough, but it took some convincing for River. I don’t get his unease with humans.
I pocket Lottie’s keys before standing and stealing Harper from her lap. Once Harper’s settled on my hip, I extend a hand to Lottie. She frowns a tiny furrow in her brows but takes it. The tingles I get from the movement has me never wanting to let go, but I can sense her unease growing as we walk. Damn it.
I drop her hand, ignoring the cries from my wolf, and continue the walk over to the daycare. Harper carries the entire conversation, rattling on about some princess, and it’s nice to see my mate engage. It’s giving my wolf ideas that are far too early for our human mate. Harper surprisingly goes into daycare easily and hugs Lottie goodbye. It’s a sweet moment, and I’m pleased Lottie doesn’t seem to mind spending time with her.
“So, tell me about you,” I plead.
She pales, much to my annoyance, and shrugs. “What would you like to know?”
“How old are you?” I reply.
I know this from the extensive research we did for her moving up here, but I need to not appear like a stalker.
“Twenty-five,” she replies. “You?”
“Same,” I say, smiling. “Favourite colour?”
“Pink. Boring and girly, I know. You?”
I laugh. “I’d never say you’re boring. Probably green.” The exact shade as your eyes. Before today, I would’ve said blue. Now, I know that nothing else will look as pretty as her eyes.
“What’s your favourite food?”
“Steak is nice,” she agrees. I’m so glad she’s not a vegetarian or even a vegan. I would’ve supported her if she were, but there is no way my wolf would manage without meat. “Oh, I have a fun one. If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be?”
“You first. I’m curious.” Would she want to be a wolf? A fairy? A vampire?
“Probably a wolf,” she shrugs. “Like a wolf shifter, I mean. Wolves run in packs. Like cats and cat shifters are big on solidarity, and I don’t want that.”
“You’d want a pack?”
“I have a small family. My two parents and then my best friend. That’s all I have. I don’t know. A wider community, a larger family, would be something I’d appreciate.” I smile, and she blushes. “Sorry, I got intense there.”
“No, I liked that answer. I’d go with the same answer. I live in a small town, and we’ve all been each other’s, extended family. I’d love for us to have a bond that connects us all together.”
Exactly like the one we do have. Being Alpha gives me a close bond with every single pack member, and it’s something I will cherish till the day I die. I really hope we can figure out a way to share this with her.
“Thank you for not laughing.”
“Ba… Lottie, I’d never laugh at you. Especially when you’re being honest with me.”
We reach her cottage far too soon for my liking, and I love getting to see her reaction. I really hope she’s happy here because, in the short time I’ve got to know her, I’ve already begun to bond with her. I don’t know how we’re going to deal with the human aspect, but I know we can do it together.
Let’s just hope she doesn’t freak out about me being a wolf first. I sense River approaching, and my wolf snarls, unhappy that we’re going to need to share her attention. I ignore him, though, because I can’t wait to introduce my mate to the most important people in my life. I wasn’t expecting today to go this way, but I couldn’t be happier.
Lupine Valley has just got a new Luna.