After a tense moment and a deep long breath, Chance finally answered my question with another question.
“What about the restraining order?” He asked.
We won’t let you get arrested if you‘re with us,” I assured him quickly.
I glanced around the room at all gifts Chasity had never gotten. There was a Chance could be a little obsessive.
“No showing up at the pack house without us: I cautioned him.
‘” And after I have a talk with my parents we can think about getting the order waved.”
I needed to see my parents’ reaction to Chance. I would never put them in danger. I would be present and so would my brothers in case Chance was unhinged. However, my wolf kept telling me that Chance wasn’t a danger to any of us, especially not to my Luna, Chasity. His love for her seemed genuine. His heartbreak over not being allowed to be a present grandfather for her was evidenced by his lifestyle. Hoarding was done in an effort to comfort the hoarder. Hoarders were hurting and stuff made them feel safe or loved or some other desirable feeling.
“l wanna help. I wanna help Chasity,” said Chance, nodding himself. “Yes,” he said.
I grinned. There was a huge smile on Calixs face wearing a frown and furrowed brow though.
“Wait!” Demanded F elix, “So where is Alexi -Franck and who is he to you?” He questioned.
To our surprise , Chance simply laughed. He began looking for something in the inside pocket of his snug blazer. He pulled out his wallet and slipped a card out of it, offering the card to Felix. Felix took it. Calix and I leant in, scrutinising the card. It was an ID was Alexi Chance Franck.
Oh,” said Felix softly. “Oh, it is you! But that doesn’t make sense. Our …. Informant said you were awful and it seemed as though Chalice had a huge gambling debt,” continued Felix, his eyes narrowed.
Chance fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair.
“She did have a huge gambling debt and did yell at her a lot,” admitted Chance, the shame and regret evident in his eyes. “She was a wayward child. I wouldn’t say I was awful but maybe she thought so,” mumbled Chance with a sigh.
Chance removed his sunglasses and wiped them with his blazer. The sunglasses were w*t from tears shed during our difficult conversation.
“Being a parent isn’t easy,” whispered Chance, looking away from us. “She was angry because wanted her to straighten up, She was doing drugs and being wild.”
I pictured Chalice as an older party-girl version of Chasity. Chasity could be quite stubborn. Perhaps, Chance had never really been able to discipline his daughter and by the time she had become an adult with a family of her own, it had been little late.
“l tried to get custody of Chasity and after that, she swore up and down the street I was the devil. I wasn’t able to get custody. I’m a single man and I own a casino. I probably don’t seem like a good guardian either. Chasity stayed with her mother and father till they gave her to luna and Alpha and there was no way I would win against them. They run the pack lands,” explained Chance.
His story was plausible. There was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. How could Mom do this? Why would Mom do this? Why would she take Chasity only to treat her like a maid when she could have been raised by her loving grandfather? Sure, he was not ideal but he would have undoubtedly cherished Chasity. Calix took the words right out of my mouth.
“Why would Mom insist on raising Chasity if there was an alternative? Why would she subject Chasity to.. “I said, trailing Off.
My wolf found this infuriating. I felt sick and deeply saddened. I was already mourning Chasity’s absence. Now I was mourning the childhood she missed out on. The childhood she could have had if Chance was telling the truth about Mom.
It was hard to admit that my Mom had been abusive towards Chasity, exploitative even. The two women I loved most might never truly be on good terms. When I got Chasity back (because I was getting her back at any cost),I would have to tell her what Mom had done. Chasity was my Goddess. I could not keep this from her.
Chasity would find out that she could have had a relatively idyllic childhood with her Grandpa instead of being the pack housemaid. Why would the pack house have a little girl for a maid anyway? What had Mom been thinking? We could have more than afforded a regular paid maid. We used to have several maids before Chasity had come to live with us and we had hired two new maids once Chasity became my mate.
“Subject Chasity to what”? Inquired Chance , momentarily snapping me out of my own inner monologue.
He didn’t know. Of course, he didn’t know. How would he?It had been common knowledge that Chasity had been made to “earn her keep” at the Pack House among well-connected pack members too but Chance lived on the fringes. Fringe-dwellers were member too but they were hardly in the know. The news would devastate him. It was devastating me. I was not the only one. My brothers and I all displayed our feelings differently. Alex held back could feel him holding back now. There were so many repressed feelings within, him it was like a dam filled to bursting. The last deluge of emotions had flown out back when he had discovered that Chasity was ours. Felix, on the other hand, rarely got sad, he got mad.
I was so f**kin g pissed. Were my parents maniacs or something? Who the f**k would grudgingly raise a child and make her feel unwanted when she was wanted by a living financially-stable family member? Chance could have probably paid Chasity’s “debt- cash and raised her himself. What was the point of subjecting her to years of toil? I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t just sit here while my Baby was missing and my Mom was sitting on a hugely relevant secret. My wolf was once again pacing. He needed to know if Mom was the culprit behind it all. even the kidnapping. I needed to get to the bottom Of this.
I got up and walked out of Chance’s pigsty of office without a backwards glance. He seemed like a decent guy but was done talking to him for now. I needed to question my parents.
“ What did I say ?” I heard Chance ask as I left.
Alex and Calix followed me and Chance followed them.
“Wait!” called Chance .” I wanna help Chasity!”
The old wolf was struggling to hold onto an armful of teddy bears and stacks of letters bound by rubber bands. He followed us out of the car.
“Felix! “ said Alex sternly.
I could hear the worry in my elder bro’s voice. He was always worried about me losing my cool. He gave me no credit sometimes.
“I need to talk to our parents!” I said as I got in the driver’seat.
Alex got into the passenger’s seat without another word. Calix and Chance sat in the backseat. I speed off, flooring the accelerator. I could hear the tires screeching but didn’t care. I was a man on a mission. Chance and my bros were silent for the entire trip tor which was grateful. There were so many loud racing thoughts in my mind, I didn’t need any outward noise.
I parked in front of the Pack House in one swift move. I burst through the front. Just the people I wanted to see. Mom and Dad. They weren’t alone though. Beta Keaton was there with his daughters, Roxie and Moxie. Moxie looked almost as pissed as I felt and Roxie was crying. She was my most reasonable ex. I cared about her but I didn’t have time for whatever was bothering her right now. My Baby Chasity was my reason for being and every second without her was painful. My eyes went back to Mom.
“Felix! How could you think of me as a suspect?” Cried Roxie, tugging on my sleeve to get my attention.
“Roxie, I don’t have time for this,”I said sternly. “Get over it! Are you in jail? No. Good,” I said dismissively.
Everyone was a suspect as far as I was concerned . My own mother was a suspect. Why should my ex think she would be exempt from the list? She would be grateful she was being let off after simple conservation. I had gotten a text from the private investigator, saying Roxie had set Chasity up to be confronted by Tonya and the girls…If Tonya had hurt one curl on Chasity‘s head, I would throw two of my exes in jail. Tonya herslf and Roxie. Calix’s dopey ex and Alex’s psycho ex would be joining them too.
“ Felix !” Chastised Mom
“Mother!” I hissed
I was not about let her distract me from the main issue at hand.
“DO you know this man?” I asked, pointing to Chance and scrutinising Mom’s expression as she finally noticed Chance hiding behind Alex.
Mom gasped. Dad looked livid.
“What is he doing here?” Shouted Dad, incensed.
He was one octave away from using his Alpha Voice.
“Yes, he’s, he’s a. ..a stalker!” Said Mom.
“Is he or is he not Chasity’s maternal grandfather?” I growled through gritted teeth.
Did they take me for a fool? The fact that they Were deflecting and not simply answering the question directly was very telling.
Mom spluttered, trying to find the words to say. Dad glared at me. They wanted to do this the hard way. FINE!
“IS HE?! I yelled in my Alpha voice, making the whole room shake.
I would let this entire pack house crumble to dust to the truth. It was all relevant. Every potential enemy of Chasity was guilty until proven innocent. Roxie and Moxie fled the room while they still could. Even Keaton got up to leave.
“Beta Keaton, stay, please.” implored Mom.
“Go!” I whispered fiercely, still using my Alpha Voice and eliciting a small tremor.
Keaton was compelled to leave. He could not disobey a direct order like that from one of his Alphas. He glanced back Mom and ‘ Dad, an apologetic took in his eyes. Calix and Alex were silently flanking me. We needed to put up a united front.
“Let’s sit down,” encouraged Mom. “Let’s compose ourselves.”
“l wanna stand,” I said, keeping my voice measured but curt.
I didn’t want this to be a shouting match but it would be if necessary.
“I’m gonna ask one more time. Mom, Dad, who is this man, and what is his relation to Chasity?” I asked, gesturing towards Chance again.
Chance was making himself small in a corner of the room. He was clearly intimidated by my parents, Mom and Dad did not look afraid of Chance despite Mom’s claim that he was a stalker.
Mom took a deep breath. She sat down in an armchair. facing my brothers, me and Chance.
He is the father of Chalice and Chalice is…..” she began.
“He was telling the truth,”I said, still laughing.
It was all I could do to keep from crying.
He was not a suitable guardian, said Mom, her eyes turning black.
I did not buy it. I had never seen her angry on Chasity’s behalf before. Why would she care enough to keep Chasity from an unsuitable guardian. She had been an unsuitable guardian. Before I could compose myself a little, my wolf took over.
“YOU WERE NOT A SUITABLE GUARDIAN!!!” We roared.
You’re out of control!!” Shouted Dad, his eyes now black like mine and Mom’s.
“No! No, I‘m not. What is wrong with the two of you?” I asked, empathising the word to describe this situation.
It was wrong. It was sick. It was inhumane. I pictured my beautiful Chasity going nine years without a single birthday gitf or Christmas present. Nine years of cleaning floors and toilets. Nine years of hand-me-downs.
“Ok. let’s say you didn’t want him to have custody. Did you stop him from bringing Chasity gifts and cards and letters? Did you?” demanded.
“We just wanted nothing to do with him,’ Mom.
“Oh my God, oh my I said, sinking into chair
I covered my face with my hands. My chest was exploding with literal pain. Chasity’s past psychological pain was like fresh physical pain to me, stabbing me all over. It was unbearable.
Felix was an emotional wreck and Alex was looking pale and stressed.
Mom, I said, looking her in the eyes, hoping it would be difficult for her to lie to me.
We needed the truth.
I don’t understand! Why would you do that ? Chasity was little. Why didn’t you just let her have the comfort of a relative? You never liked her very much, I said, keeping things honest.
I was trying to keep the hysteria at bay but my grieving wolf clawing his out. Instead of rage building, could feel the tears brimming in my eyes.
“l didn’t realise you…hated her,” I said softly.
“NO, no. I do not hate Chasity. She’s not my cup of tea but…”
Mom trailed off, ending her feeble denial of her past misdeeds. “What are you people saying?” Asked Chance, looking thoroughly confused and more than a little disturbed.
Everyone turned to him.
“What do you mean? Are.. .are you…are you saying that Chasity wasn’t happy here?” He asked, his eyes wide as he swiped his sweaty brow with a handkerchief.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Thankfully, Alex did.
“She was a maid essentially cooking and cleaning to work off debts. Gambling and drug debts that my parents said they paid off,” said Alex sadly.
“We did pay them off!” Bellowed Dad, his wolf at the forefront .” A quarter of a million dollars worth!”
I could have paid that! Yelled Chance, his wolf coming out too.
His eyes turned black and the angles of his face sharpened. He was close to shifting.
Dad stiffened uncomfortably.
Your casino is… “ Began Dad.
“I know it ain’t fancy but it makes money. I have my zombies.
They do nothing but gamble. I could‘ve paid that,” said Chance wryly.
Chance was almost breathless from the effort of holding back his wolf. I was furious with Mom and Dad but I readied myself in case I needed to Jump between Mom and Chance. I knew Dad could fend for himself but I couldn’t let my Mom light male wolf. She was still my Mom. That was the worst part of all of this. My own mother had hurt my mate.
“Then why didn’t Chalice go to you?” Shrieked Mom indignantly.
“BECAUSE SHE HATED ME!” Roared Chance, making Mom jump.
Chance sank down Onto the couch and gave way to sobbing. My heart went out to him. He had lost his only daughter and now his granddaughter was missing after nine years of them being kept apart. I patted his shoulder.
“Urn…uh… don’t cry, Grandpa,” I murmured.
I wanted him to ‘feel like a part of this family. We were lot more dysfunctional than I had ever realized growing up but we were still a family. We had to get through this together. If Mom wanted to redeem herself, she needed to put her all into helping us find Goddess.
“We‘ll get Chasity back! I promise. She’s everything to me. She‘s everything to me. She‘s my whole life !” I declared, getting choked up.
My, I!p quivered.
Then we’ll make sure she’s happy every single day and we’ll dust off those gifts and letters and she’ll be so excited to read them,” I said. smiling though there were tears in my eyes.
I had to onto to that future image, the one of Chasity happily reunited with us and receiving all the love she deserved.
Mom smiled at me, clearly grateful for my input. Chance slowly calmed down. We all did. Chance was taking deep slow breaths. He seemed pleasantly surprised at me calling him Grandpa.
“l can see Chasity whenever I want?” Clarified Chance, his eyes hopeful.
“Yes, Grandpa,” I said gently.
“And she can stay with me for a bit?” Added Chance.
I was not sure about that one. Once I got my Goddess back, I wanted to be joined at the hip every single moment for the rest of forever. I didn’t care how enmeshed that was, I was never letting her out of my sight again.
I had been Lost in my own tortured thoughts until heard Chance ask if Chasity could come stay with him in future. I was going to get Chasity back and then I was going to keep her by my side forever. I wanted to make that clear. I straightened in my chair.
“You can stay here for a bit to spend some time together if Chasity likes that idea but my wife doesn’t do sleepovers,” I said in a no-no-nonsense tone.
Chance looked a bit peeved but nodded wordlessly.
“So what was it about Chance that made him an unsuitable guardian for Chasity?” Asked Alex.
He had been quiet for a while now but he was livid. I could tell. I knew my brother well enough to know when he boiling up with rage on the inside but seemingly cool, calm, and collected on the outside.
I wouldn’t the blame on Mom, She was the greatest offender here but Dad could have stopped her. He was complicit. We were complicit too. We should have put a stop to the maid-work from the moment we had turned eighteen, three years before becoming Alphas.
Mom was silent. Was she refusing to answer the question.
Chance spoke up before I could repeat it on Alex’s behalf.
“She thinks I killed my own daughter and her mate, Ronnie’s stepbrother,” muttered Chance.
That was a heavy accusation. “Prove that you didn’t!” Hissed Mom.
Dad folded his arms, his jaw set.
“Prove that YOU didn’t!” Retorted Chance.
Huh?! My heart almost stopped. That had never occurred to me. My greatest fear had been that my own parents could have arranged Chasity’s kidnapping. However. I couldn’t bear to think they could have put some kind of hit out on Chasity’s parents. It wasn’t logical. They always acted as though she had been foisted upon them . Why would they orphan her only to find her burdensome orphan?
Mom and Dad sighed. Calix closed his eyes as he leant back on the couch. This was probably the hardest for him. He was so close to Mom. He was missing Chasity and his old relationship with Mom. In one day, the way he viewed her had changed. I could feel his conflicting emotions though our bond as triplets.
It‘ll be okay, I said to him privately.
I felt him nod over mind-link.
It‘ll be okay, I said again, including Alex, and trying to convince myself as well.