# — Convincing Isabel Ella
After concluding our three hour summit meeting, where the King, my hybrid family and I decided on a
few special events, we kicked off preparations for a welcome banquet, refugee camp visit, an open
forum for debate, and a grand ball.
I’m still brainstorming different ideas for other ways to engage the reluctant Alphas, while grappling with
the idea that I could play a pivotal role in convincing them to join our cause and wondering how I can
make up for my coldness to my mate.
Still I have plenty of time to sort out those issues — now my full focus is on the refugees.
I arrive at the airfield just as a flight full of new exiles from the continent lands, and I watch in horror and
heartache as they disembark the plane.
From the looks of it, this is the largest group to arrive so far, and they're mostly women and children.
We're losing more and more male wolves to this war, the ones who stay behind to fight or die protecting
I help the Vanaran volunteers usher the group into the camp, taking a screaming infant from one of the
guards who led the group out of Damon’s brutal empire.
"Her parents died just a hundred yards from freedom." He shares bleakly, gently transferring the pup
into my arms.
"I promised them I’d get her here, so that it wouldn't be in vain."
Tears well in my eyes as I rock the babe gently from side to side.I haven’t welcomed my own baby yet,
but my perspective on children has already changed so much.I’ve always loved them, always
connected to and felt protective of them, but now that I'm learning the depth of a parent’s love, I can
never look at a child the same way again.
I’m painfully aware of how much this precious girl must have meant to her mother and father, and I
know how much it would have meant to them that this man kept his promise.
"you did very well." I praise him.
"Her parents can rest in peace now, and one day she’ll come to understand what you did for her.She
has a future now — because of you."
His face is still downfallen, and there’s a haunted look in his eyes which I recognize all too well.
"Would you like to come with me to the orphan’s tent? So you can see where she'll be in case you want
He stiffens slightly, but there’s an flash of longing in his eyes.
"I doubt I'll have much chance.I’ve got to go back this evening."
"If you keep making these runs you ought to get to know some friendly faces here."
I suggest, even though I know the face he’ll likely encounter before he can actually see the orphans is
anything but friendly.
"I think it’s important you come and visit, so you remember what an incredible difference you’re
making.If you try to stay disconnected then you might stop yourself from seeing how much good you're
He still looks uncertain, so I make the decision for him.
I order, putting some of my newfound authority into my voice.I turn and carry the whimpering pup
towards the orphan’s tent, and a glance over my shoulder confirms the big man is trailing reluctantly
Sure enough, Isabel appears almost as soon as we enter.
She shoots the guard a suspicious look, but is immediately drawn to the baby in my arms.She moves
beside me with solemn focus.
We're hardly friends, but she seems to trust me now.
Isabel peers down at the squalling pup, clucking sympathetically as she traces a finger down her red
She murmurs, glancing at me for my professional opinion.
"About eight months?"
"Thereabouts." I assess, still rocking the distraught pup.
"She’s had a rough time of it."
"Do we know her name?" Isabel asks, clearing her throat to disguise the thick emotion in her voice.
The guard pipes up from behind me, his deep voice low and gravelly.
Isabel’s attention swings towards the rugged wolf, and her eyes narrow in suspicion.
At once I'm struck by how many of the women in my life have this response to strange men — of fear
and mistrust learned through terrible experiences.My heart wrenches with the sting of her pain, but I
know this man doesn’t deserve her suspicion.
"Isabel, this is..."
I trail off, realizing I don’t even know this man's name.
He offers gruffly, his eyes still on the baby.
"This is James."
I finish gently.
"He’s one of the guardians getting families off the continent.He rescued Sadie here."
Isabel’s accusatory glare turns suddenly wary, and I can see her rethinking her first impression of
She gives him an acknowledging nod that would seem very reserved for most people, but which I know
is a mark of great respect from Isabel.
"Thank you." She says softly.
James’ eyes lift to Isabel’s face, and his dark eyes widen almost imperceptibly.
Suddenly he’s looking at her so intently that I feel as if I’m intruding somehow.
Isabel turns her head away, but I see the slightest flush of pink on her cheeks.
I think, with a flutter of excitement.I relinquish Sadie to Isabel so that she can get to know her newest
charge, "Hello little one."
She greets her, and something in her voice makes me wonder if the child Isabel lost was a daughter…
perhaps one around this age.
"It’s okay.You're safe now."
As she carries her deeper into the tent, no doubt bound for a bath and a change of clothes that isn’t
flecked with her parents’ blood, James and I follow.
He remains silent, but I broach the subject I know I must.
"Isabel, I’ve been talking with the King.We want to move you and the orphans to the palace so you’ll be
more comfortable.There will be lots of amenities and extra hands to help."
Isabel listens quietly, not responding immediately.
Instead I’m surprised to hear James inquire, "You mean, they won’t be here much longer?"
"You'll be welcome to visit even after we move them.The palace isn’t so far." I answer, earning myself a
reproachful look from Isabel.
"Who will receive them here if we move?" She asks stiffly, clearly not liking the idea of change.
"Perhaps James could deliver any unaccompanied pups directly to the palace." I suggest slyly.
"That way you won't have to worry about them landing in anyone else’s care, and he'll be confident he’s
delivered them into the safest possible hands." novelebook Isabel pauses, going very still as if she’s
waiting to hear the Guardian’s thoughts on the matter before making her decision.
"I could do that." He agrees promptly.
"I mean, I’d like to, if it’s alright with you."
Isabel nods without looking at him, and even though I know I'm dealing with two people who are hurting
deeply, the hopeless romantic in me gets a thrill of excitement.
"Then it’s settled." I decide, before either one of them can rethink it.
"Though there’s something else." I add, pursing my lips.
Hearing my hesitance, Isabel turns her guarded features to me, clearly sensing bad news is coming.
"We don’t want to keep anyone in these awful camps. We want to bring them into the city and are going
to be asking for volunteers to host different families." Isabel's eyes narrow again, and I know she sees
where this is heading.
"I grew up as an orphan, Isabel." I state abruptly, changing tactics.
"I was in a group home with a lot of problems. But even before things got bad, I can tell you that I spent
my entire childhood wishing for a family of my own. These pups need someone like you to care for and
look out for them, but there are a lot of families with love to give, alot of parents who have lost their own
children. I think the best thing we can do for them is to place them with fosters."
She opens her mouth to object, and I hold up my hand.
"I would work with you to make sure only the best, most well-intentioned families are actually given
pups, and that a system is in place to check in on their welfare. It wouldn’t all be at once either. As long
as the war goes on, there will always be new pups coming in - as terrible as that is."
I shift a bit closer to her, speaking in a very soft voice.
"And if there’s anyone that you are interested in fostering yourself… we can arrange that."
Isabel’s eyes widen, and she clutches Sadie a bit tighter.
"You make a good point." She concedes stiffly.
"But I don’t like it."
I concede, reaching out to stroke Sadie’s soft hair.
"But parenthood is doing the right thing for your pups, even when it hurts.I know you understand that
better than anyone. thuy And I’ll be here with you every step of the way."
Isabel glances at James again, and I almost wonder if she’s shy to speak in front of him, or if she might
take some comfort in his steady presence.
"I won’t give them to just anyone." She finally agrees.
"And I won’t settle for anything but the best procedures."
"I wouldn’t expect otherwise." I assure her, feeling my victory within reach.
"When do we move?" Isabel inquires, with solemn resignation.
"James, how would you feel about making your first trip to the palace this afternoon?" I ask, smiling at
the big wolf.
"I know you've had a long day already but-"
"No," He interrupts, his eyes locked on Isabel.
"Of course I'll do it." Isabel nods, still not meeting his gaze, "I’ll get the pups ready."
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