Chapter 4: Lost In Time

1495 Words
Emma woke the next day having dreamed about Dex. Guilt raced through her as if she'd actually cheated on Lucien. Emma was old-fashioned. If you were married, you were married. Then she remembered the woman he hung onto last night, right in front of her. If he didn't respect their vows, then why should she? When Lucien had stumbled in last night, waking her as he hopped into bed, he smelled like another woman. She swallowed her tears. He'd humiliated her last night on purpose. Dex would never have done anything like that. She suspected that as an Alpha his pack was his first concern and he would confide in his Luna. He'd share with his Luna because she was the only wolf in the pack that he could let his guard down with. Lucien treated her as an obligation. She sighed and rose to make breakfast. There were pack members that Lucien would have to attend to. Lucien didn't want her help or support. He wanted her to be his punching bag, even if he'd never raised a hand to her. She put steak on to cook, then scrambled up some eggs. Lucien would probably sleep in, but she had to be ready. As she made breakfast, her thoughts turned to Dex. She shouldn't be thinking about him or what might have been. She hadn't needed him to be an Alpha. That was just icing on a very yummy cake. Dex had always been tender. Always been supportive, wanting her to stand on her own before they committed fully to each other. She hadn't understood why he needed that, but to be a Luna you had to be strong. Or at least most Alpha's mates were. Lucien didn't seem to care if she wasn't that way. Dex had wanted her to start with standing up to her parents. She remembered the conversation well. “If you start with your parents, then you won't let anyone else walk on you, Emma," Dex had said. “Why my parents?" They were scarier than most people in her mind. “Because your parents will love you no matter what." She hadn't been so sure of that. Their love was conditional as far as she could tell. They would go for days without speaking to her if they didn't like her behavior. She hadn't mentioned that to Dex. “You think so?" Dex's parents had died when he was young, a teenager. What did he really know about having parents? The pack had disbanded and Dex had been raised by relatives, but he'd struck out on his own when he became old enough. He'd been independent for years when they'd had that conversation. She'd met him at a pack meeting. He wasn't part of their pack, but he'd been invited to join if he wanted to. When she'd met him, he'd still been deciding. “Yes, I think so, Emma." But she never had and the regret made bile rise in her throat. She shook herself. There was no use in wishing she'd made different choices. She couldn't go back. She heard Lucien rise and groan a little. Hopefully he wasn't hungover. He showered and arrived in time for breakfast. He didn't kiss her good morning, but he also didn't yell at her. She sat across from him, gauging his mood. He wolfed down his foot then sat back with a cup of coffee. “I have news." “Oh?" “Yes." She waited. She couldn't imagine what he would have news about. He rarely shared pack business with her. “There's an Alpha Council. Two weeks in Wolfington." Wolfington was a resort for wolves. A spa, pools, hot springs. Lucien would have a good time. “Okay." “I need an assistant, plus everyone is bringing their Lunas. It would look odd if I didn't bring you." Nice. He didn't really want her there, but he had no choice. Way to make her feel welcome. “I could be sick." He shook his head. “No. You won't get out of it. It's important and I need you there." Need, but not want. He sighed. “Sure." “I wasn't asking for your consent. I was merely informing you so you'll be prepared." “Okay. What do I need to bring?" He waved a hairy hand “Whatever you women bring to spa. I'll let you borrow my laptop so you can take notes when necessary." “What are you meeting about?" He sipped his coffee before he answered as if he were debating if he was going to tell her. “Just Alpha stuff." Right. That was all he thought she needed to know. “Okay." He pulled his wallet from his pocket and slid out some bills. He shoved them across the table at her “There is supposed to be some big dance at the end. You'll need a dress for it." Emma stared at the cash he'd laid on the table. He'd never given her a stack that large and now he was letting her have it. What was going on? Did he get someone pregnant? No, Lucien was not of the school of Happy Wife Happy Life. “Okay." “Don't spend more than what I gave you," he said, resting his hand on the dollars. “Got it." He let go of the green bills. She hesitated then took them in her hand. “Thanks." She didn't know if she would even look good in a dress that expensive. “I'll go shopping today. Anything you need while I'm out?" He studied her. “I need a tuxedo." His grimace said it all. “You'll have to get that because you need to be fitted for it." “Yeah, I know." He finished his coffee. “Get us some new luggage. Some designer brand." Then he left and Emma pinched herself. No, it hadn't been a dream. That's how she found herself in a boutique with Julia. “Thank you for coming out on short notice," Emma said as the salesperson pulled dresses for her to try on. “No problem. Even if I'm not getting the new dress, this is fun," Julia said. They sat with glasses of champagne on a crushed velvet couch. Emma didn't know what to do among such luxury, so she just sipped her champagne and hoped it wouldn't go to her head. “I have a selection for you," the saleswoman said. Emma rose and followed the woman to the dressing room. It was half the size of her bedroom. “Thank you." “I suggest the green one first. It'll bring out your eyes." The woman left and Emma put on the green gown. There were no mirrors in the dressing room so she walked to where Julie and the woman waited. They both smiled. Julie gasped. Emma stepped up onto a platform then got her first glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her mouth fell open. “Wow." “Yes, Emma. Wow. You may not have to try on anymore. You'll be the belle of the ball," Julie said. Emma couldn't take her eyes off of herself. She'd never seen herself as glamorous. Julie pulled a bag out of her purse. “Let me do something with your hair." Her friend stepped up behind her and began to pin up her hair. It was like watching an ugly duckling transform into a swan. When Julie was done, she smiled into the mirror. “There. You're complete." Emma's eyes widened. “Wow. Again." “You do look amazing. Fit for an Alpha," the saleswoman said. That was her job, but from Julie's reaction and how Emma felt in the dress, she wasn't lying. Emma looked at the price tag. Under budget. There was no reason not to buy it. “I guess this is it," she said. Did she have the confidence to pull this off? She wasn't so sure. “Do not second guess this, Emma. This dress was made for you," Julie said. “You need shoes." “I'll find a pair. High heels or kitten?" Emma didn't know the difference. Julie answered. “Kitten." The woman came back with a lower heel and Emma slipped them on. They were just high enough that the dress didn't drag on the ground but low enough that she could navigate in them. She might have to practice a little, but she had two days before they left. “Lucien won't know what hit him." It hadn't been Lucien that Emma had been thinking about, but she nodded at Julie's words. “Tongues and tails are going to be wagging. “I hope I'm not making a mistake. Lucien won't want me to upstage him." Julie leaned in. “Just buy it and wear it." Emma studied Julie in the mirror. What was her friend thinking? “Why?" “Because Lucien needs to be upstaged."
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