STAWP | Chapter 38

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YES IT'S A NEW CHAPTER AND GUESS WHAT?  I have 15 more chapters written!  

How often should I post them? 



I pull up behind the pack house and turn to face my mate. My Saffron.

I know I should at least try to think of her as Sofie, but I just can't do it. Sofie is this scared Omega, but Saffron... Saffron is a powerful wolf ready to break free. She's my mate. The wolf she was always meant to be. The wolf she would have been if her father hadn't destroyed her spirit.

"Come on," I tell her, unbuckling my seatbelt. I reach for the car door and hesitate. I need to teach Saffron to link. I promised Saffron that I could do it. I have to figure out how, even if I have no clue where to begin. Our entire future rests on it. A Luna who can't link... I shake my head at the idea.

"What?" Saffron asks.

"Nothing. Let's go." I step out of the car. I've been able to link since I first shifted and so has every other wolf I've ever met. Rogue or pack, the link is something we're all born with. So then why can't Saffron do it? Are there other wolves out there who can't either?

The one person who would know for sure is The Wolfsbane Luna. She's head of one of the most ancient and well-established packs in the country. There are dozens of scholars studying at Wolfsbane at any one time, and several remain on call to serve as advisers. Whenever father is stumped about something, he'll call the Luna to ask what he should do.

Like, a few years ago, there was a kid in our pack who couldn't shift. The adults tried everything they could think of, but nothing worked and no one could figure out why. All the kids his age shifted, and then kids who were one grade behind him. His parents were in a panic. Even us kids tried to help, taking him on runs, shifting in front of him, and even trying to explain how we shifted, but it didn't help. In the end, Father sent the kid to stay with the Wolfsbane pack.

Six months later, he was back and shifting just like everyone else. The Luna consulted her records—pack history texts and letters that span millennia—and found out there have been other wolves with the kid's exact problem; wolves who'd experienced trauma at a young age and were unable to shift.

Turned out that the kid just needed some therapy. The pack psychiatrist helped him remember the time he snuck out after his father and seen a rogue attack. He was only four. Apparently, the wolves had all shifted for the fight, and there had been so much blood that the kid became afraid of his own wolf.

Could Saffron's problem be psychological too? Is it possible that she's afraid of linking because of all the abuse she suffered at the hands of her asshole father? My wolf growls, as he always does at the mere mention of the rogue.

Saffron jumps and starts to edge away from me. I grab her hand before she can put too much distance between us, lacing my fingers through hers. She glances at me nervously and I give her a reassuring smile.

After what happened in the janitor's closet, I know that trying to get her to stand up for herself is the wrong way to go about things. I really thought that if I yelled at her and she saw that nothing bad happened, she'd yell back. I somehow imagined her standing up for herself, and then this light bulb going off in her head as she realized she was a Luna, not an Omega. I'm such an idiot!

I can't believe Saffron covered her face like she thought I'd actually hit her. It was horrible, watching how terrified she looked and realizing that she's grown up in a world where she needed to cover her face from the blows. What my mate needs now is to feel safe and to know that no will hurt her, ever again.

Maybe I should ask the Luna for help. What if Saffron isn't the first Alpha's mate who's acted like an Omega? If there are records of past Lunas with the same problem, maybe there's an easy way to help her. Plus, the Luna could tell me if anyone's ever had to teach a wolf to link, and where I should start.

The only problem is that our pack and the Wolfsbanes are close and I can't have word getting back to Father. If he found out I called the Luna without consulting him first, he'll be outraged. If he finds out my mate can't link, on top of her other faults, he might think she's a lost cause. He already hates Rogues, so that's points against her, and she's an Omega on top of it. I'm surprise he's overlooked all that, but a Rogue Omega who can't link?

What if Father tells me she's not good enough and I have to stop seeing her? What if he makes me choose between my pack and my mate?

My best option is to keep this new problem hidden from him until Saffron learns to link and only tell him after the fact. He thinks I'm helping her work on her self-confidence; he doesn't have to know there's any more to it than that. I can always call the Luna later, if nothing else works.

I wish I could talk this over with Saffron and share my worries with her. I wish I could tell her how much her being an Omega is affecting me and how I might have to give up being Alpha. I wish I could confide in her and admit I don't know how to teach her to link and that it might not work. I really wish I could talk it over with her and work out a solution together, the way a true Alpha-Luna team should.

I wish I could do all those things, but I know I can't burden my Saffron. She's already going through so much. She's an Omega who can't link staying at an unfamiliar pack house with a bunch of wolves she just met. On top of that, she's traumatized from her life with her father and she's constantly terrified. Her life is already in chaos and I can't just give her half-a-dozen new worries to top it off. She might break under the weight of them and be so overwhelmed by the pressure she'll never be able to stand up for herself. As her mate, it's my job to protect her from all that.

"Come." I give Saffron a forced smile, take her hand and lead her away from the pack house. Instead of taking the same route we did on our run yesterday, I pull her in the opposite direction, down a marked path. I have the perfect spot in mind for our linking lesson that's only five minutes away. Usually, it's packed with kids, but since we're cutting class there shouldn't be anyone there.

We enter the cover of the trees and walk for several minutes when I hear a twig snap to my left. I know it's most likely a small animal—a rabbit or a squirrel, since the forest has plenty of both—but my wolf doesn't agree.

Someone's following us, he tells me. Protect our mate.

I grip Saffron's hand a little tighter and keep walking. I try to act like everything's normal, not wanting to tip off our pursuer. Without turning my head, I throw my senses in the direction of the noise. I sniff, trying to catch a scent and listen carefully to the rustle of leaves, the crunching of gravel and the occasional snapping of twigs. My wolf is right. Someone's keeping pace... just like they did during my run with Saffron yesterday.

I get a whiff of another wolf, a male, but the scent isn't familiar. That isn't surprising, since it's a huge pack and I'm lucky if I can recognize more than half by scent alone. I sniff again and listen carefully, searching for our pursuer's exactly location. I think I hear faint footsteps near a cluster of trees about thirty meters away, but it could just be my imagination.

"Do you hear that?" I whisper, lean in close and nuzzling Saffron's ear. To an unsuspecting observer, we just look flirtatious, and no wolf could hear a whisper at that distance.

"What?" Saffron whispers back.

"I think someone's following us," I tell her.

"Yeah, the guard to your left." She shrugs. "He was waiting for us in the trees."

"What guard?" I demand.

Saffron shushes me and squeezes my hand a little too tightly. I squeeze her's back and feel more than hear the wolf who has been following us retreat. Saffron does too, and when she speaks again, she's no longer whispering. "Your dad has a guard following me."

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