Chapter 8 Welcome To GrayCrest
Rose I had no idea where I was going. Earlier in the morning, Noah came over to see me and he told me that he was taking me home with him. It surprised me because I thought the pack we just left was his home and he was the alpha. But that was not the case. He told me he was visiting for work and was now headed home with me. I had no idea what to make of that or everything else that was happening to me. He said we were mates. I understood what that was supposed to mean and the idea terrified me to my core. I have had enough with Gordon and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to experience that again. It was what destroyed me to begin with and barely four days away from his cold grasp and I had a mate…again? But I don’t think again was the right term here. Gordon was still my mate because he never rejected me. Just got married to someone else and made her his luna. And that was fine with me, because the last thing I wanted was to have anything to do with him. I never complained once when he married Alana, even if a tiny part of me did feel the pain of his treachery. All I wanted was to escape that hell hole. And I did try twice, but my rotten luck always landed me straight in Gordon’s arms. And what came after that…I shivered at the dark memories, refusing to go there at all. And now that I was finally free from his clutches…I was still carrying a part of him with me. A part of him that I desperately wanted to hate and loathe but I knew I just couldn’t. Because this little life was not at fault here. He was innocent and pure and as much a part of me as he was of that monster. For a brief second, I did contemplate letting go of this child. I did. Because I knew every time I would look at him, he would remind me of the past I was desperately trying to leave behind forever. But at the same time, this child could also be my biggest strength. He could be the hope I needed to stand back up and build the life for myself that I always envisioned. He could be the one I live for and the one who will love me unconditionally. And even though I knew it had been just a few days since he came into my life, I knew that I already loved him more than anyone in the world. And I would move heaven and earth for him if I had to. But that was not just it. This child was going to be my retribution for all the pain and tears that alpha Gordon Vance inflicted on me. I knew how important this baby was to him. My child was the fated heir and the hundredth alpha of Eclipse Moon. He was going to be gifted with the strength and valor of the alphas prior to him and this was exactly what Gordon was waiting for. I knew he would have found some sick way to harness that strength and use that to cause destruction. But that was not going to happen. Not anymore. He will never find me or my child. I will raise him to be the perfect alpha away from the shadows of his so-called father. We will build our own happy life somewhere. A life where there won’t be space for even Gordon’s shadow. The thought brought a little peace to my already dead heart and I sighed, my hands reflexively falling on my belly. I could feel the tears tingling at the back of my eyes because this was really not how I ever wanted things to be. My wishes and dreams have always been really simple. I just wanted a mate who would love me unconditionally and with whom I could have built a small, happy family. Ironically, I had two mates but both of them wanted to have nothing to do with me. Gordon wanted to own me, humiliate and use me for his sadistic pleasure, and Noah…I don’t know about him. I barely know anything about him to begin with. But what I did understand was that he was anything but pleased about the fact that I was his mate. I might be a naive young omega girl who barely had the bare minimum education, but I have seen life and people and I know how someone behaves when you are unwanted. Because ever since my childhood, that’s all I have known…being unwanted. I risked a glance at the man beside me, maintaining as much distance from me as he possibly could, and sighed. It didn’t really surprise me that he wasn’t interested in me. He looked too regal and expensive to be interested in a broken, used mess like me. In fact, I was grateful to him for not expressing that so dramatically as Gordon. And also because of the fact that he was willing to help me without asking any questions. He has shown me more kindness in the last two days then anyone ever has in all my life. Hence, it would be really ungrateful of me to hold his obvious disinterest in me against him. I will find a way to pay him back somehow for his kindness though. “Are you cold?” his strong, masculine voice distracted my thoughts. I slowly risked a peek at him and I could feel my cheeks heating at the way his gray eyes gazed down at me. He was so tall that even in a sitting position he towered beside me. “No,” I lied with a shake of my head and I seriously wished he wouldn’t gaze at me the way he was, making me reflexively want to disappear somewhere. After a second, and much to my surprise, he shrugged off the dark brown leather jacket he was wearing and gently draped it around my shoulders. “Turn down the AC a bit,” he ordered the driver as he gave me a look before resuming his silent staring just like me. I blinked, again surprised by his uncanny ability to know what was going inside my head. Yes, I was cold. This car was weirdly cold and huge. Now, I don’t know if all cars were the same because I have never traveled in one before today, but that was not something I was going to admit and embarrass myself further. “Th…thank you,” I mumbled gratefully, inwardly marveling at how soft and warm his jacket was. And it smelled like him too. Like coffee and dark chocolate blended together. Yes, that’s what he smelt like and it was a very, very comforting smell. “No need to mention,” Noah answered. “We are almost there.” I slowly nodded and again that pin-drop silence fell over us. I don’t think he was the kind of man who likes to talk much. His demeanor was serious and brooding and strong, definitely a man of few words. After another half an hour, the car halted in front of gigantic black iron gates. Two men, possibly guards, quickly stood up and bowed to Noah, who reciprocated with a polite nod before the gates opened with a creek and the car steered along a smooth driveway with stunning lawns on both the sides. There was so much greenery around and I could see men and women tending to the trees and plants, everyone nodding as the car passed by them. After almost five minutes, I finally spotted a gigantic house looming at the top of what seemed like a small hill. As we continued to climb up, I could actually see hills and mountains all around with lots and lots of greenery. “This is the packhouse,” Noah said, finally turning to me. “My home and the largest and most powerful pack in the country. Welcome to GrayCrest,” What? I blinked at him, my entire body going still as soon as the words left his mouth. GrayCrest? Did…did he say Gray Crest? “Gr…ray Crest?” I whispered, bile rising to my throat. “Yes,” he nodded. “Have you heard of it before?” I had no idea what to say. Of course, I have heard of it before. Gray Crest was the pack Gordon hated to his core and was hell bent on destroying so that he could make Eclipse Moon the strongest pack in the country. He would never get tired of expressing how much he hated this pack. In fact, the only reason he tolerated me was so that I could give him the fated child and he could use him to destroy this very pack. But if Eclipse Moon hated Gray Crest so much, then surely that will go both ways, isn’t it? If Noah found out that I was from a rival pack whose alpha was my mate and was hell bent on destroying him, then he wouldn’t think twice before kicking me out. And I cannot afford that. I needed shelter for me and my baby. Some place where Gordon would never even consider looking for because I knew by this point, he had probably gone mad. If he finds me again…. No. I cannot risk that. “No,” I shook my head, trying to keep my face impassive. “I…I haven’t…” This was wrong. This man was trying to help me but here I was, backstabbing him. But I had no choice. He would not help me if he found out my true identity. There was no way he would let me stay after knowing that I could bring destruction to his pack. If Gordon ever found out I was here…there would be a bloodbath. He was crazy enough as it was. “Hmm. That’s alright,” he said as the car finally came to a halt. Up front, the gigantic building looked even more gigantic, made of solid brown stone and marble. “Stay here for a moment, okay?” I nodded and I could see him tensing up again as he climbed out first. And before he could take another step, a young woman scrambled through the open doors, a big smile on her face as she launched herself at him. I was amused as Noah twirled her around and my eyes widened as I noticed the smile on his lips. So he does smiles. And it was beautiful. All perfect white teeth and a dimple on his right cheek. His gray eyes twinkled as he examined the woman at his arms-length before giving her a hug. Who was she? Was she his wife or something? I watched as he mumbled something to her and the woman frowned, tilting her head to peek inside the car briefly. After a moment, Noah walked over and opened my side of the door. “Come,” he said, holding out his hand to me. I blinked, failing beautifully to hide my hesitation at the idea of holding his hand.I was just not used to such kind gestures from a man. “It’s alright,” Noah added, his voice kind and polite. “Don’t be scared,” I bit my lip and slowly placed my shaking hand in his enormous one. He didn’t really hold it but rather just touched it, as he dragged me over to where the young woman stood. Discomfort flooded through me like wildfire and I couldn’t stop myself from crouching behind Noah’s huge frame. “Whoa! Now who is that, Noah?” the woman inquired, looking highly interested. She was medium height with a slender build and shoulder-length shiny brown hair. She was really attractive and, like Noah, looked expensive too. I felt very self-conscious in my over-sized and over-washed T-shirt and pants that the kind doctor lent me as her brown eyes assessed me with curiosity. “She is Rose,” Noah answered, glancing down at me. “And Rose, this is my best friend and the luna of this pack, Cora. She is my elder brother Logan Gray’s wife.” Oh. “Rose, that is such a pretty name,” the luna smiled brightly. “Very fitting too. Nice to meet you, Rose,” She looked really young to be the luna of such a big pack, but then what do I know? I chewed at my lips and slowly nodded in response. “Who is she?” Cora asked, raising a brow at Noah. “What am I missing?” “Long story,” Noah answered. “Where is my little nephew? And my brothers and everyone else?” “Your nephew is asleep at the moment,” she answered, rolling her eyes. “And your brothers are in the living room waiting for you. Your parents are visiting your mom’s pack to invite them for the oath-taking,” “Oh…well, great. I have something important to talk to you guys about,” Noah said. “Oh,” she frowned. “Is everything alright?” “Yep,” he gave her a tight smile. “Let’s go and meet the other two,” The young woman gave him a look before shooting me a warm smile again as she trotted inside with Noah trailing behind and dragging me with him. “I need to talk to my brothers so that I can arrange a place for you to stay,” he added. “Don’t worry, they are nice people,” I nodded slowly, fascinated by the interior of the gigantic house. Everything looked so chic and expensive. Eclipse Moon sure was a big pack but it has got nothing against this one. These people were rich. I could see that. “This way,” Noah said, distracting me, and I really forgot how to breathe as he opened a half-ajar door and walked inside. It was a plushly decorated living room and I gulped, wanting to disappear altogether as two pairs of dark eyes peered at us, specifically at me. Now who were these men? They were both tall but still teeny bit shorter than Noah and the one to our left actually looked a bit scary, his dark brows furrowing together as he assessed us. He was well-built with a very striking face, dark eyes and an unkept stubble like Noah. The other one was on the leaner side with a shock of messy, curly hair, twinkling dark eyes and a recovering alcoholic kind of look to him. “Hey, my brother brought a girl home!” the curly one exclaimed, grinning widely as he walked over and gave Noah a hug. I quickly averted my gaze as he shot me a wink. “Ash, it’s nice to see you too,” Noah shook his head before turning to the other guy and giving him a hug as well. “It’s been long, brother,” the bulkier guy mumbled. “We missed you,” “So did I,” Noah smiled before turning to me. “Rose, this is my elder brother and the true alpha of Gray Crest, alpha Logan Gray. And that one is… well, that’s my youngest brother, alpha Asher Gray,” He pointed to the heavy-built man first and then at the goofy one. The former gave me a polite smile, his eyes still assessing me before quickly flitting to his wife, who shrugged, while the latter gave me another grin and a wave. “And everyone this is Rose,” Noah added. “Hi,” both the men muttered in unison and again all I could do was nod. To say this was uncomfortable would be an understatement. All these alien faces made me extremely wary and I crouched further behind Noah because, even though I barely knew him too, he felt more familiar than anyone ever had. “I need your permission to let Rose stay with us, Logan,” Noah said, coming straight to the point. The alpha blinked at him, his eyes widening before drifting to me again, a frown making its way onto his handsome face. “Oh…okay, but who is she?” he inquired. “Is she a friend of yours? You never told us,” “Right,” the curly-haired guy scoffed. “Noah having female friends, that’s not possible,” “Shut up, Ash,” Noah scowled. “And no, she isn’t my friend. She is….” he halted and took a deep breath. “I found her while investigating the slave auction,” he answered. “She was sold there forcefully but somehow managed to escape and run into me. Rose has no family and no place to go so…I brought her home with me. She can stay with us here and I will find some suitable job for her…I guess,” An eerie silence spread through the room as all three pairs of eyes zoomed in on my face. I also noticed he effectively skipped the part about me being his mate. But again, I wasn’t expecting him to accept me anyway. “That’s ghastly,” the luna exclaimed, looking angry. “You are really brave, Rose. Thank goddess you managed to run and Noah found you,” I was surprised as she gave me a thumbs up and a smile. I realized she wasn’t like Alana. Maybe all lunas weren’t bad and selfish then? “Oh okay,” the alpha nodded. “I understand. That’s grave and you did the right thing.” “So, she can stay here, right?” Noah asked. “Not in the main house,” he answered, looking uncomfortable. “Look, again, I think you did a great job bringing Rose with you, but you know the rules, Noah. Strangers aren’t allowed inside the pack house, let alone the main house.” “She is not a stranger,” Noah grimaced. “I know her!” “Do you know which pack she is from?” his brother demanded. “What’s her identity? Anything at all?” “No but…” “I am sorry. I know I am being a d**k here, but you know how strict the security measures have become these days,” he continued. “I cannot allow her to stay here until I confer with the elders,” “What harm could she possibly do?” Noah snapped, looking angry now. “Noah, it is not in my hands. The pack’s security cannot be compromised and you know that. I have to talk to the elders before allowing to let her stay,” the alpha answered. “I am sorry. Had you informed me before, I would have talked to them already. Now you have to wait at least until tomorrow. There’s been a lot going on in the pack and everyone’s busy. I promise I will talk to them as soon as possible and, meanwhile, she can stay at the omega shelter. Of course, you have your say as the next in command but we decided this mutually.” “She cannot stay at the omega shelter,” Noah scowled. “She,…” I clasped at his T-shirt before he could complete and slowly shook my head. “That’s…ok…kay,” I mumbled, not wanting me to be the one to cause a feud between the brothers. “I…I ju…just need a place to…to stay,” “Come on, Logan…can’t you make an exception?” the luna rolled her eyes. “You and your never-ending rules, seriously,” “Those are not my rules, Cora. And I cannot compromise with security. It’s just a matter of a day. I will talk to the elders ASAP and we will see what they decide,” alpha Logan replied before turning to me. “I am sorry. The pack has rules and protocols that need to be followed,” “That’s ok…okay,” I said. “It’s kind of you to le…let me stay,” “Everyone is welcomed here,” alpha Logan smiled and like Noah, it lit up his face too. “It’s just that…there are some rules that even bind us. I am sure if Noah brought you home he must have thought it through….” “Yeah, my brother usually stays a million miles away from anyone with an X chromosome,” the younger brother added, narrowing his eyes at Noah. I had no idea what he meant, but Noah surely wasn’t pleased as he shot him a glare. “Shut up, Ash,” alpha Logan rolled his eyes before turning to me again. “I am sure we will work something out soon. Meanwhile, welcome to Gray Crest. I hope you feel at home here.” “Th…thank you,” I whispered gratefully, surprised at how nice everyone was. Even the alpha was nice and polite. I have never heard of an alpha apologizing to a complete stranger. Gordon probably didn’t have the word sorry anywhere in his dictionary. He was as arrogant as he could get. “I will go and help her settle out then,” Noah grumbled, looking annoyed. “But she is not…” “I will talk to the elders,” the alpha assured. Noah nodded glumly and then glanced at me and I think I saw guilt in his eyes before he quickly averted his gaze. “Come,” he mumbled, turning on his heels and literally stomping out. “Bye Rose,” the luna smiled. “It was nice meeting you.I will see you again soon. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything, okay?” “Tha..nk you,” I said gratefully before turning on my heels and slowly following after Noah. “She is so f*****g beautiful! Oh my god,” I heard her exclaim, and it was really surprising, to be honest. Such an attractive woman thinks I was beautiful? She really was too kind. “Aren’t you going to ask me anything?” Noah’s guilt-filled voice distracted me. I gazed up at him with a frown. Ask him what? “Why didn’t I tell them that you are not some random girl but my…my mate?” he clarified. “They wouldn’t have uttered a word about letting you stay at the main house if I simply told them the truth. Aren’t you angry?” Oh. “I…just…need shelter,” I answered. “I..t does..n’t matter where I…I live. I am su…sure you have your reason,” Noah scowled in response and I had no idea why he was getting mad again. He was very temperamental for sure. We strolled along a gravel path in complete silence and, while I don’t know what he was thinking, I was just fascinated with the splendor all around. This packhouse seemed to stretch on and on. And it was so beautiful as well. I was amazed to see a cute little stream ebbing from under a tiny wooden bridge. There was also a little pond scattered with peebles and just so much greenery. There were people working everywhere and every five seconds someone or other would greet Noah, who reciprocated with a polite nod and smile even if he was still sulking about something. I just knew he was. “You don’t have to stay in the shelter though,” he muttered after a while. “I am pretty good at having my way and being the next in command, I have my own powers. Just one night probably.” “I…I don…don’t mind,” I replied. “I gre..grew up in an ome…omega shelter. It’s com..pletely alright,” “Well, it’s not alright with me,” he snapped, startling me. “I just…fuck, I don’t know how to explain this to you. But, here we are, the omega shelter. Let me make some arrangements for you. Stay here,” I nodded slowly and watched as he disappeared inside another gigantic building. I wasn’t surprised that their omega shelter was so big and sophisticated too. They were the biggest pack in the country for a reason I guess. “Alright, all set,” Noah muttered, reappearing after ten minutes. I could feel surprised eyes on us and, specifically me, as the people around appraised us with curious looks. He seemed completely oblivious as he explained rules and stuff to me, looking dead serious and still annoyed. “And most importantly, do NOT wander off during the night,” he ordered. “The shelter edges the pack boundaries and it is not uncommon for stupid rogues to slip in sometimes. Nobody will hear you if you are attacked, understood? So, just stay inside. I will come and meet you…tomorrow. And hopefully, have something arranged by then. If anyone gives you grief…well, nobody will. I warned them. But if they do, you know where to find me, right? At the main house.” “I…I will be fine,” I assured him, amused at his concern even though I was pretty sure it was driven by guilt. But still, it felt good to have someone worry about you. Noah stared at me long and hard and then sighed and nodded. “I am sorry for hiding your identity,” he mumbled, looking tired. “But I have my reasons and…that’s all I can say. Anyway, you should go inside and rest. It’s been a long day and you need to rest…it’s not good for your er health,” He looked embarrassed and I really wanted to disappear now because clearly…he knew about the baby. It makes sense now why he didn’t want to reveal my identity. Who would want to introduce a knocked-up mate to the family? And a family like that. “Th…thank you for…everything,” I whispered, staring down at my fingers. “I haven’t done anything,” he answered. I gazed up at him and his expression was soft. I bit the inside of my cheek as my heartbeat spiked up and my skin tingled with the need to feel his arms around me. They looked so sturdy and strong coupled with his warm coffee scent invading my senses. The mere thought knocked the wind out of me and I could feel my face heat up. Jesus, what was wrong with me? “Goodbye, Rose. In you go. I am waiting. There is someone inside who will help you settle in,” Noah muttered, looking equally uncomfortable, and I just really hoped he couldn’t peek inside my head. “Go…goodbye,” I said and quickly, before I embarrassed myself anymore or harbored anymore unwanted thoughts, I scampered inside, very aware of his eyes on me. It must be the matebond thing, but I knew better than that. And hence, it would really do me good to remember that all his kindness comes out of sympathy for me and nothing more. The fact that he hid my identity was enough of an evidence to prove that. But given he was at least kind enough to show me sympathy, it was more than enough for me. And I too would make sure that no one found that I was his mate and spare him the obvious embarrassment. But the thing was… Can a matebond really be hidden?