Authors: Harmony Raines
Tags: #General Fiction
The very same corruption that had pushed Kurt into making his mistake, a mistake that had torn their family apart. A memory which became more real as she reached her house.
“Hey, Mom,” she said as she took her helmet off and placed it on the table just inside the door. Mia ought really to have gone to the hangout first, but she wanted to speak to her mother first.
“Hi, Mia. How are you feeling? I was worried when you didn’t come home last night.”
“I’m good, thanks, Mom.” She kissed her mom on the cheek and noticed she had been crying again. “How are you?”
Mia went to the kitchen, trying to decide what to have for breakfast. “I’m starving. Have you eaten?”
“No. I’m not hungry, thank you.”
“I’ll make you something.” She looked up and this time she felt a pang or worry and guilt. “I would really like to spend the day with you. I thought we could have breakfast together … and then I wondered if you were going to visit Kurt.”
want to visit him?”
“I thought it might be time. If you’re going. Don’t worry if not, I can go another day.” Mia knew it wouldn’t take much for her to talk herself out of the visit.
“No. I go every day.”
“You do?” Mia asked, surprised. She had no idea.
“Yes. I take him some fresh fruit. Get a new book for him from the library. He likes to paint, too.”
“Yes, they persuaded him to paint, as therapy.”
She thought back to the finger paintings they used to do as kids. “That’s great.”
“It’s helped him a lot. He had a lot of anger inside him.”
“Don’t we all,” she said, wondering if she should take it up too.
Her mom looked happier, coming into the kitchen and saying, “I would love to have breakfast with you, Mia.”
“Thanks, Mom. Oh, I had better go and have a shower first.”
Her mom laughed, “Go on, you go and I’ll make us breakfast.”
“No. I said I would do it.”
“Go. Shower. I actually love cooking for you, but I never know when you are going to be in these days, so I will cook. I can make pancakes and then take some with us when we visit Kurt.” Her mom went to the cupboard and began pulling out the ingredients, humming happily to herself.
“If you’re sure,” Mia said, and was away and up the stairs and into the shower while her mom cracked some eggs, the smell of cooking reaching her just before she stepped into the warm shower.
Letting the water wash all her worries away, Mia felt a lot lighter by the time she got out and dried her hair. It was time to start putting her life back in order, the order she wanted it to be. Joel had shown her that there was a different life for her. If only she could find the courage to grasp it.
“You look perky,” her mom said as she placed a plate of pancakes down in front of her.
“Do I?” Mia asked, trying not to blush. Too late.
“Oh, my. Oh, my darling, you’ve met him.”
“Met who?” Mia shoved a forkful of pancakes into her mouth.
“Don’t play with me, Mia. Let me have something to look forward to.”
She sighed and chewed her pancakes, swallowing them down and then sipping her coffee. “Yes. I have. Although I’m not sure where I’m going with it.”
“What do you mean where you’re going with it? You’ve met your mate. There is only one way to go with it.” Her mom hadn’t touched her pancakes, but sipped her coffee, not taking her eyes off Mia.
“I’m not exactly the picket-fence type, am I? And Wolf Valley is not the kind of place to raise children.”
“It used to be. It can be again. We just need someone to take control. We need an alpha.”
“It wouldn’t matter anyway.” She looked her mom straight in the eye, wanting to gauge her reaction. “He’s from Bear Creek.”
“Bear Creek. Oh. Oh, now I see why you are hesitant. How does he feel? About having a wolf for a mate?”
“He’s OK with it.”
“Mom, he’s wonderful. He really is.” She put her fork down and covered her eyes, blinking back tears. “Why does it have to be so difficult?”
“Can’t you go and live there with him? It’s such a beautiful town.”
Her mom was right. Even though it was only on the other side of the mountain, it was as if it was a different world. Bear Creek was unspoilt, in terms of both scenery and people. It would be a perfect place to raise kids.
“What about you, Mom? And Kurt, for that matter.”
Her mom placed her hand on top of Mia’s and squeezed. “That is not your concern. You have to live your own life. I know you only began running with that godforsaken gang because of Kurt. Now it’s time for you to move on.” She reached up and stroked Mia’s cheek, where the bruises were still vivid. “
is not what I want my daughter to be.”
“I did what I had to do. I had to be strong.”
“I know, but now you have to find a different strength. Kurt is getting stronger each day.” Her mom hesitated and then took a deep breath before plowing on. “I would have him back here. If you would forgive him.”
“Forgive him? Mom, I want to try but what he did to Fiona, it was wrong.”
“We all make mistakes. But we can change.”
“I hope so, Mom, I really do.”
“Let’s eat. Then you can see for yourself exactly what kind of man your brother is now. Is that OK?”
“Sure. Great pancakes, Mom.”
“Made better by the great company.” They sat and ate in silence, and Mia could almost imagine the clock had rolled back and it was five years ago, she was on her way to school, Kurt was in college, and Wolf Valley had an alpha.
“And here comes our missing member.” Ethan looked up from the table. All the others were sat around drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and discussing plans for the day.
“Sorry, guys, got a little delayed.” Joel helped himself to a cup of coffee and sat down with them.
“A nice little lady to warm your bed?” Kris asked.
“Something like that.” He drank the coffee, feeling the caffeine kick in. “So what’s on the agenda for today?”
“We thought we might do some wolf baiting. You know, those bikers who came on to our territory?” Ethan reminded. As if Joel could ever forget.
“I thought we are done with them. They won’t be back this way and they weren’t doing drugs.” Joel kept his voice even, but his mind was working hard to see how he was going to persuade them to leave the wolves alone.
“We thought it was time to start a war. You know, get rid of the competition.” Ethan sat calmly eating.
“They aren’t competition.”
“It’s already decided; we took a vote before you arrived. We thought their president might need to be taught a lesson.”
He set his cup down. Was this it: the time he would have to choose sides, Mia or his brothers? Looking around the table, he thought of all the five of them had been through. And couldn’t believe it would come to this.
“Hi guys, am I late?” The door opened and Will came in.
“Will,” Joel said, “We don’t often see you around at this time of day. Not in your suit?”
“No. I have the day off. Ethan messaged me and said we were going to war with the mangy wolves. So here I am. You know I can’t miss a good fight.”
Joel stood up; he had to come clean and try to talk them out of this. “Look. I can’t. For my own personal reasons, I am asking you to drop this. The wolves won’t be bothering us again. I can guarantee it.”
“Really? Do you have some kind of inside information, Joel?” Will asked.
“Maybe an informant,” Ethan probed, sitting up, with his elbows on the table, studying Joel.
“No.” Joel looked around the table, taking the time to note their expressions. “You bastards, you knew.”
“Of course we knew. Hal let slip that you had asked to borrow his cabin. Then it all came together, the reason you disappeared on us,” Kris added.
“Especially when I passed you going out to meet your little she-wolf. I was in my car; you never noticed me as you sat waiting for her,” Will winked and then grinned as Joel confessed.
“She’s my mate. I mean, it’s not just a fling or anything.” Joel was suddenly bashful at having to admit to keeping it from them.
“We had our suspicions when you came out of the woods that night. We reckoned you had let her go.”
“Yeah, you had this spaced out, lovey-dovey expression on your face,” Ion teased, making a dazed face.
“I did not,” Joel snorted in derision.
They all laughed. “If it helps your pride, we’ll agree. But damn, I have never seen anyone like it. All gooey eyes and rapidly beating heart.”
“You could not hear my heart beating.”
“It was loud enough for us all to hear.” Ethan placed his hands over his heart and moved them in and out like the beat of a heart, whilst he rolled his eyes in a swoon.
“The question is, Joel, why keep it to yourself?” Will asked. “You know we would support you.”
“It’s Mia. Having a bear as her mate is going to cause trouble. She asked me not to tell. And I’m asking you to keep it yourselves. Until we have time to sort it out.”
“If that’s what you need, then we will be there for you,” Ion said, and they all nodded in agreement.
“Now that’s settled.” Will came and sat down. “When do we get to meet her?”
“Yeah, Joel, we are dying to meet your mate. Apart from Will, none of us have found our mate. We are happy for you. But you have to let us meet her so we can give her our seal of approval.”
“Seal of approval? Show me up, more like it. I remember when Ion brought a girl here; you dropped ice cubes down her dress and offered to get them out. Then pretended you had a few fingers missing.”
Ion laughed. “I had forgotten that. Yeah, Will, you lost me a cute lay that night.”
“Ahh, but that was different. She wasn’t Ion’s mate. Now, Mia, we will all be on our best behaviour for. You are our brother in arms, Joel. And always will be.”
“I’ll ask her, but don’t hold your breath. She wants this to remain a secret. Her gang have already given her a hard time. We took their merchandise, remember. So she got into a fight.”
“A fight? You mean, someone hit her?”
“Yes, although she beat him. The bruises, though.” Joel shook his head. “Made it damn hard not to go right over there and beat the crap out of him.”
“You mean you didn’t?” Will asked.
“She asked me not to. Because she already had.”
“That sounds like my kinda lady,” Ethan said, getting up from the table. “So are we sticking to coffee or is it late enough in the morning to have a cold beer and toast our brother here?”
“Beer. Never too early for beer,” Kris said.
“She is going to love you all,” Joel said, although he didn’t know how long it would take him to persuade Mia that they could be open about their relationship.
“I’m nervous,” Mia said, looking up at the building that towered up high in front of her.
“Don’t be. It’s really nice inside.” Her mom pushed the door open, and took Mia’s hand, as if she were a child who would run off given half the chance. A wise decision from her mom, because that was exactly what she wanted to do.
They walked inside, and went to the reception desk. “Hi, here to see Kurt?” the young woman seated behind a computer screen asked.
“Yes, Lucy. This is my daughter, Mia.”
“Hi, Mia, nice to see you. Are you in town visiting? We haven’t seen you here before.”
“No. I’m just really busy,” she lied, feeling a guilty heat creep up her face.
“Well, sign in, you know the way.” Lucy smiled at them both, but addressed Mia’s mom.
Her mom nodded, and they both signed in and then walked off down a long corridor to an elevator. Pressing the call button, her mom stood back and waited calmly for the elevator doors to open. Mia stood shifting her weight from foot to foot and wondering how quickly she could sprint out of there.
“Stand still, Mia, you are making me nervous.”
“What if he doesn’t want to see me?” she asked. Until they walked in here, she hadn’t thought how Kurt might be upset or offended that his sister hadn’t bothered to come and see him for months.
“He will be fine. He’s different now.”
“In what way? Because of the drugs?”
“No. In all honesty, I thought he had met his mate when I came in after he had changed back from his wolf. But he said not. Anyway, he kind of has this inner peace.”
Mia snorted. “Does he have to prove something to the doctors before he leaves? Because one thing Kurt has never had is inner peace.”
“No. He’s free to leave. It’s not an act, if that’s what you mean.” The doors opened and they got in. Her mom pressed the button to take them to the third floor. “It’s got a nice view of the mountain, his room, very nice view.”
“Great.” Mia leaned back against the side of the elevator, feeling rather conspicuous now in her dress. It was a long time since she had worn anything remotely feminine, but meeting Joel, and becoming his mate had made her want to be a woman, not a tomboy.
“You look perfect, Mia.”
“Are you a mind reader now?”
“Only where you are concerned, and only because you’ve changed. I’d like to meet this mate of yours. He’s taught you to let your defences down. That’s a good sign.”
“Not around the Wolf Valley MC, it’s not.”
They reached their floor, but before they exited into the corridor, her mom turned to her and said, “Then dump them. Leave them to get into their own mischief while you go and live a decent life.”
“Mom, I only took over to keep you safe.”
“I would rather be living in the mountains than have to see you come home with your face black and blue again.”
Mia put her hand to her cheek. “I’m sorry, Mom. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“I know, and I appreciate it, but I think it’s time this family got out of Dodge.”
“You mean leave Wolf Valley?” Mia was shocked; she thought her mom wanted to live here forever, in the house she had lived in with her husband, the place where she had raised two children.
“I think the change would do us good. That man of yours have a steady job?”
“He’s a biker, Mom.”
“Great.” They reached a door about halfway down the corridor. “Let’s leave that out here, shall we? You bring him round to see me and I’ll talk some sense into him. I don’t want that kind of life for my little girl.”