Chapter 22: Scream

I don't know what could be anymore worse than getting lost in the forest, injured and unarmed.

Ok, so having a gun does not exactly count as unarmed but still…

I am sweating, panting and really starting to panic.

I cannot help that feeling from surfacing; it is just pure human reaction.

I have been walking for over an hour now or maybe even more. I lost track of time, typical if you are walking around aimlessly in a forest without a watch. It does not help that the forest canopy is blocking most of the sky, giving me very little advantage to make count of the time. Being alone sucks even more when you know there are more than just boars waiting out there to devour you, let's say for example—a bunch of vengeful bloodthirsty werewolves.

You probably don't understand what I am talking about so let me just rewind to a few hours back…

I was attempting at preparing breakfast when I heard the doorbell rang.

"Oh, hello Julian," I said when I opened the front door, seemingly unexcited to see him on my doorstep.

Julian looked stunningly handsome in a caramel brown button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbow and casual blue jeans tucked into a pair of sexy leather cowboy boots. His gorgeous black hair was tied in a loose ponytail; how amusing it is that he can look so simple yet so gorgeous.

Spread out on the bed was a very beautiful naked sun-tanned goddess, sweaty and panting from a certain previous activity; and on top of her with his back facing us and his long black hair let loose was my very own soul mate, Julian.

I felt my heart tearing up in the inside and a scowl forming but I shoved the memory to the back of my mind. It is not the time to think of things like these.

"Can't you at least pretend to be a little enthusiastic to see me?" Julian sighed exasperatedly as he sidestepped me into the house. He didn't even bother to wait for my invitation to enter the house ever since he made his own assumption that if his children lives here, this is his home too. I scowled at him but he took no notice my lack of warm welcome.

"What are you doing here?" I sighed, pinching the bridge of nose with my thumb and forefinger. I had a peek at the clock hanging on the wall just a second ago and it is only eight in the morning. What an ungodly hour it is…

"I am here to bring you all on a trip," His excitement was my horror.

There is no way on earth the children and I are going to go on a trip with him! It is not that I cannot stand being with him for a minute; it is the fact that I am not even sure it is safe to be out of the house! Oh wait, what difference does it make that people actually attack me in my own home? No difference from going out then. But I am still hesitant on letting him bring the kids out for the so-called bonding session.

Julian must have sensed my discomfort because he said in an impatient tone, "You can choose not to come along; I can bring just the kids." I stared at him, not in a million years.

"No, I think I will just come along," I smiled at him half-heartedly.

Julian returned my smile, "Perfect,"

"Who is at the—oh! Hey, Julian,"

Fragrance's less than enthusiastic voice reminds me so much of my own that I laughed; before stopping myself when I noticed Julian's warning glare. He cleared his throat, "'Julian' is not how you should be calling your father,"

"Oh, stop being so patronizing, Julian. She sometimes calls me 'Adele' too. Just live with it, will you?" I rolled my eyes at Julian which in return was given a glare.

"Is this how you bring them up?"

"Are you questioning me the way I raise my children?"

Fragrance had long left our presence, retreating away from her parents who looked like they are about to start a fight. I stood up in my full height, unwilling to feel intimidated by Julian's height and growled at him, "They turned out perfectly fine and if you ask me, I'd say I did a great job raising them up alone." Julian might not have hesitated to become a father, but he definitely has a problem with the way I bring kids up.

Julian sighed, probably tired of having to argue with me all the time. "Look, I am not here to argue with you, ok? I really want to spend quality time with you and our children, which is why I am here in the first place."

Somehow, I really like the way 'our children' sounds. It created a warm feeling in me that I never felt before. Don't ask me why but after hearing what he said, I lost all my anger and I became calmer, more willing to listen than argue.

"We are going somewhere?" Fragrance asked, this time appearing from the kitchen with Nathaniel and Lucky following behind. Instead of growling at Julian like how it usually does to unfamiliar werewolves, our family friend paddled over to Julian and snuggled against him, licking his hand and begging for a pat. When Julian scratched him behind the ears, the collie actually made a satisfied face, pleased at the affection he is receiving. I stared at the dog wide-eyed; oh, that traitor.

"You like that, buddy? Hmm? Aw, you like that don't you?" Julian cooed at the dog; funny seeing a man this size speaking in such a manner. Julian jerked a thumb towards my direction, "Now go and tell your mummy there to stop being mad at me and come join us for a picnic, ok?"

"We are going on a picnic?" there was irony in Fragrance's voice but Julian choose to ignore it. Instead, he said, "It is not just any picnic; we are going into the mountains. I already have everything we need fully prepared, I even made lunch!" Julian beamed at me, seemingly proud at his capability of producing a meal.

"You cooked?" I asked. I never knew he could cook; guess this means there are plenty of other things that I don't know about him.

"Oh, it's nothing special, just simple dishes like Caesar Sandwich, ham and Cheddar cheese corn dip with tortilla chips and marshmallow hot choc. Though, I hope you all fancies chocolate pie."

Simple dishes? Those sound hard enough to me.

"I love them," I smiled at him and he returned my smile.

"That was what I thought,"

Are we flirting?

"So cooking does run in the males, huh?" Fragrance nudged my elbow, laughing. I rolled my eyes at her. Isn't it ironic how the big males in the family can cook and not the girls?

So about half an hour later I find the four of us sitting in the car heading towards our destination with Julian behind the wheel. I can't help but feel a little nervous, like the feeling of a pre-storm. Somehow, there is this unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Julian is obviously enjoying himself; he was singing to a tune from the radio, something along the lines of 'highway to hell'.

I leaned my head against the cool window, trying to distance myself from the overly happy atmosphere Julian is giving off. I closed my eyes and even out my breathing, allowing my thoughts to drift away. I didn't understand why the only thing I could see with my eyes closed is a pair of brilliant blue eyes.

"Adele?"

I opened my eyes and came face to face with a worried Julian. He gave me a weak smile, "Are you alright?"

I looked out of the window. The car has already come to a stop at the entrance of the forest and the kids are already out of the car, examining the surroundings. I pushed myself up from my seat, "Yeah, I'm fine."

I went to unbuckle my seatbelt but felt someone's warm hand on mine stopping me. I looked down on the hand so much larger than mine before looking back up at the owner of the hand. I drew in a soft intake of breath when I felt that familiar tingles running up my arms. His eyes were a smoldering green as he stared into mine. He leaned closer and all I could smell was his breath on me. "Adele…"

My eyes automatically shut close at the way he breathed my name but oddly, it was not his eyes that I see in my mind. My eyes snapped opened and I immediately jerked away. I didn't miss the hurt look on Julian's face. I didn't even know why I did that. I just know that I shouldn't be kissing Julian now.

The memory of a gorgeous woman spread out on the bed, her hair fanned around her head like a golden halo as he hovered over her, both their bodies naked to the world and the look of horror on his face when he saw us….

I felt my heart tearing up in the inside. Why had he done what he did?

I know I was the one who said we are not anything to each other but…must he do something like have sex with a vixen immediately after I said those words? And here I thought he became a monk because of the bond the both of us shared. Seems like this certain bond was not as important to him as it was to me. I felt so insulted, so hurt and the worst of all, foolish. I should have screwed Dominic that night in front of him; that would have served him right.

"I am sorry,"

I nearly choked on my own breath when he said that. I had almost forgotten his existence. I still refused to look up. Blame my stubbornness; it didn't improve in the past sixteen years. I wiped the tears away with the back of my hand, hoping they weren't seen by him.

"What for?" I made myself sound as neutral as possible.

"I want us to go back to how we were back then," Julian whispered softly beside me. He was wise enough to not touch me or I might do something I would regret. I clenched my fist together; how does he expect me to forgive him after what I saw? Who does he think he is to ask for such a thing?

Before I knew it, both of my hands were held captive by his as he sincerely look me in the eye and said with a wavering voice that no longer held the confidence I knew of. "I know I hurt you and I am so sorry…I had no idea why I slept with Syida (Oh, so that is her name? Now I am even more pissed)…wrecking our relationship just because of a mistake I did is not worth it, Adele. You know how I feel about you so please…please forgive me, Adele."

Julian's hands were trembling and I could feel his heartbeat from his touch. His heart was beating so fast and hard that the doubts I had of him lying vanished immediately. For a moment there I really wanted to say 'Sure, let us all forget about it. It is no big deal after all,' but I couldn't. Deep down inside, a part of me was already hurt and will not heal. I know a part of me cannot just forgive and forget this incident. I cannot lie to Julian because lying to him would be lying to my own self.

Reluctantly, I removed my hands from his warm hands; the warm hands that I loved so dearly much. Julian didn't move away but he let me have my hands back. He gave off a small laugh; an easily see-through failure effort to ease the situation, "What foolishness am I saying? I understand you don't want to forgive me…I really am—" Julian paused for a moment, he looked skyward and I saw a tear threatening to fall, "I ruined everything, didn't I?" When Julian looked back at me, his expression was so heart-wrecking that I felt my own heart squeezed.

I immediately pulled him into an embrace; my own set of tears threatening to fall. "No—no…it is not your fault, Julian. I can't lie to you; I cannot lie that it didn't hurt me, I cannot pretend that it didn't matter and I cannot pretend it didn't hurt our relationship, because it did. I don't hate you, Julian…"

I released him so we can face each other, "I just don't think…I just don't think we can go back to how we were."

"I'm sorry," I told him but he shook his head while he pulled away.

"No, I should be the one saying sorry," He gave me another dejected look before turning around to open his door. My hand shot out to stop him. He looked surprised and so was I. I swallowed before giving him a faint smile, "I appreciate the effort you are putting in, Julian."

He smiled back; his smile however, was weaker than mine, "It's worth it when they are important."

My heart melted at his words and it melted into my smile. Maybe it is a soul mate thing or maybe it was because he is a wolf but I know he sensed it. He reached out and lightly, almost barely, caressed the side of my face and I let him. I didn't lean in nor did he linger for long. It was not a romantic gesture but a gesture that meant to let me know I am still important to him and him to me.

"The kids are waiting," he said.

"Yeah, let's go," I replied and unbuckled myself from my seat. I was about to turn to the door when a long blood-curling scream pierced through the closed doors of the vehicle and chilled me to my bones.

Blood drained itself from my entire existence and dread filled its place.

"The children!" I was vaguely aware of Julian's horrified voice but I was already dashing out of the car, my legs running at full speed towards the continuous bone-chilling screams and Lucky's vicious barking. The tree branches scratched at me, the dried roots threatening to trip me but I pushed forward, my lungs already begging for mercy but I ignored my body's calling. All I could think was for Nathaniel and Fragrance to be safe. But my weak heart filled with fear with each scream that tore through the forest.

"Nathaniel!" I shouted as loudly as I could as I pushed further into the woods, "Fragrance!"

I tripped, the palm of my hands scratched brutally across the forest ground but I ignored the pain and continued to run. Finally, my feet touched a small clearing in the forest. My lungs deprived of breath and yet I still managed to let out an estranged scream. Even from a distance, I can recognize the lump of a body crumpled into a pile on the ground.

"Fragrance!" Julian tore past me towards the body of our child but my eyes were no longer following them.

"Adele, no!" Julian tried to reach for me but I was already sprinting towards the retreating figure, running deeper into the woods. Another scream tore through the forests and my heart had a moment to contemplate who was it this time, is it Nathaniel or could it be Julian? Will Fragrance be alright? Is she still alive? Is Nathaniel still alive? My blood boiled and all I could see was red. Was it foolish of me to run after the perpetrator?

Maybe.

But right now, all I can think of is how pretty of a fur coat it will be when I tear the fur off those damn werewolves.