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Chapter 39: Expedition

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"Celeste?"

I look over the back of my chair and see Elise leaning out of the butler's pantry. "Finished?" She questions.

"Oh, yeah, sorry. I zoned out." I get up and begin stacking plates. She joins me but takes the bulk of the work as I can't carry so much into the kitchen with one hand.

"So, we're leaving tomorrow—I don't know if you heard," I say as I place the dirty plates next to the sink.

"I didn't," she says, and disappears back through the pantry only to return with the wine glasses, "but I'm assuming you're going to see Alexa and the previous Luna."

"Yeah, for two nights." I stall momentarily, suddenly nervous to continue. "I want to bring Lily. Theo's sending her a message right now."

"Oh."

Elise starts the water and grabs the first wine glass to scrub clean. Worried she's against the idea, I add, "I think maybe it will be good for her. She's held up in that house all alone, so—"

"I agree. Maybe it will be good for her," Elise says and gives a taut smile. She rinses the wine glass and sets it aside.

I hand her the next glass. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"With the dishes or your sister? Because you shouldn't get your brace wet."

"Then with Lily. Is there anything I can do to make things easier on you?"

Elise sighs, her scrubbing slowing down until she isn't moving at all. "Just keep trying to help her. At least until she lets me."

"I told her that your intentions are pure, that you want to help with no ulterior motives."

She resumes cleaning. "And?"

"She didn't refuse o-or doubt it."

"That's a start," Elise says. Her smile flickers, but the longing in her eyes remains.

I can't help but wonder if Lily's struggle is at least partially due to the distance between her and Elise, not solely because of Ben's death. I know how the bond can be when mates avoid one another; it would make sense if Lily's having a harder time healing when she's suffering from two wounds and only attempting to treat one.

When Elise finishes for the night, I walk her to the front door, give her a hurried yet tight hug, and shut the door behind her. Corbin arrived sometime during our clean-up—I can hear his and Theo's voices like humming through the walls.

I yawn against the back of my hand and trek upstairs to change clothes.

I think Theo's plan to visit the Silva pack is a great idea—especially since a war with Belrose means sticking to Draven land—but I wonder if he's forgotten about my heat issue. If my tracking is accurate, it's due to happen as soon as tomorrow, and the thought of going into heat in front of his family is extremely mortifying. But I can't understand how Theo would forget about my heat now that he's physically involved in it.

After bringing a soft, satiny nightgown over my head, I face the bed and survey it as though I haven't been sleeping there for weeks.

Does he think tonight is the night? It's the only explanation.

My fingers fuss with the hem of my nightgown, rumpling and thumbing its thin lace trim. Rain patters against the roof above and grows rather rapidly to a light drum. My heart seems to match the beating of the weather as my head floods with a mishmash of Maude's explanation and what Theo's already done to me.

If I didn't know better, I'd be convinced he's in the room with me, standing behind me, his grasp inches from my shoulders or my hands or my waist.

I turn and look anyway, and once I see he isn't there, I stride to the bathroom and tug a robe off its hook. I cover my nightgown and wrap the robe extra tight so the fabric meets just below my collarbones, and then I leave the bedroom to check the status of Theo's meeting downstairs and to see if Lily's response to our message has come.

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