I went from table to table, greeting and thanking the Club members who were up here for this get-together. It wasn’t until this last week I had truly recognized the dangers I was in, and the sacrifices all these people had made to keep me safe. I could never repay that, and I would never overlook it.
It was fun seeing the couples together, sharing the kind of love I had with Adam that seemed to have appeared instantly. Humans weren’t like us; the bond with Adam had been instant, a hard pull turning into an all-consuming kind of love. I laughed at the old me, hoping I wouldn’t find my mate, that I wouldn’t get hauled off somewhere to live with him and his Pack. I’d follow Adam anywhere, I loved him that much.
“You guys look cozy,” I said as I sat at a table with Steven, Meghan, Michael, Natalie, Gabriel and an uncomfortable Mackenzie.
“I’m with my new friends and my man,” Natalie said. “I feel like I’m at home here, like we belong together forever.” Michael pulled her into his lap, kissing her deeply as Zee looked away.
“My God, Lee, you’ve known him less than a week! Even for you, that’s a little fast.” She shifted away from Gabriel, who looked a little hurt at the space. It didn’t last, it was like there were magnets that kept pulling them together, and he was touching her leg again.
“It’s different for werewolves, I’m sure they explained that,” I said. “If they choose you, they choose for life. There’s no reason to delay the inevitable. We don’t date, we don’t have long engagements, we find and claim.”
Zee looked at Gabriel. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.”
“It’s not because I want to, Mackenzie. I do, with every fiber of my being I want your kiss and more.” He reached his hand up and cupped her cheek. “You aren’t ready for me yet. Something has hurt you, made you not trust your heart. My wolf is in pain at the thought, but he is cunning. He will stalk you, learn your patterns, and wait for the right opportunity to make you his, willingly and completely.”
He dropped his hand and went back to eating his food, smirking a little bit as she reached her hand for her cheek. Her mind may not want him, but she was already falling for him, and missed the contact. Lee noticed and smirked. “All you’re doing is denying yourself amazingly deep love and hot sex,” she said. She turned to Michael. “Are you ever going to ask me to marry you, or are you waiting for an engraved invitation?”
We all cracked up at that, and Michael was blushing. “I can make you mine as soon as soon as you wish, but it does involve some of that hot sex,” he said. “I need to explain the process so you aren’t scared of it.”
“You fuck, he bites your neck, you bite his neck, BOOM! Mated for life,” I laughed. “At least as much as a werewolf and a human can be. It’s not going to be the same as my bond, but Meghan?”
“There’s something there, Natalie. He can sense my emotions, I can feel him in the back of my mind, like when you know someone is with you without seeing them, you just feel his presence.” She kissed him and snuggled down into his lap. “And she’s not lying about the hot sex, either.”
“I’m not rushing into a marriage with a guy I barely know,” Zee said. Gabriel was holding back his anger, he got up and walked off to get another beer. She watched him leave. “I hurt him, didn’t I.” She looked down at her hands. “I’m not ready to make babies with him.”
“But you’re not taking off screaming, even after you watched a man change into a huge wolf and back,” Michael said. “Has Gabriel told you the story of his mate?”
“No, he said she died a long time ago.”
“She did,” I told her. “He loved her like all mates do, it was all-consuming, and when she died he and his wolf kind of lost it. It happens sometimes, they can’t handle the loss of the bond, they wander into the wilderness and never come back.” She looked at me, wide-eyed. “Gabriel might have gone that way if he hadn’t been given a vision, a vision of Luna telling him I was coming, and how important it was that I survive. For two dozen years, that man has not dated, not kissed a woman, he hasn’t even considered letting someone back into his broken heart. When his vow ended, something shifted, and Luna has granted him a chance at love. Love with you, Mackenzie. Don’t toss away the greatest gift you’ll ever get.” I got up and walked off, leaving her to her thoughts.
Adam felt my emotions and waved me over to where he was standing with Alan and Alice. “What’s going on?”
“It’s weird, Lee has accepted Michael and they’ll be mated soon, but Gabriel is having a tough time cracking her shell.” He pulled me into his side. “I want them to be happy, like we are, like you two are.”
“It’s not quite the same, Eve. I don’t have a wolf, I gave him up long before whatever it is that Luna is doing now. We have a human love, it’s strong, but not the same.”
I moved over and gave my brother-in-law a hug. Taking his head in my hands, I looked up at him with a tear in my eye. “I wish you hadn’t made that choice to give up your wolf, Alan. I want you to have your wolf again, running with us over your old Pack grounds, like it was meant to be.” All of the sudden, my hands started to get hot. I tried to pull them off his head, but I couldn’t move them. “Something’s wrong,” I said.
Alan closed his eyes, his mouth opening in a silent scream. Blood started to drip from his ears and nose. His hands went up to mine, but he couldn’t pull them off. I started to feel the heat, it was burning my hands, moving up my arms. “Adam oh Luna aaaaah….”
I was about to scream when it suddenly stopped, my hands flew away from his head and I fell backwards. Adam leaped behind me to keep me from hitting the ground. The pain was gone, I looked at my hands, turning them over, expecting them to be charred or red but there was nothing wrong. “What happened?”
I looked up at Adam, he was staring open-mouthed at something. Nobody was moving or making a sound, then I heard bones crunching followed by a loud howl.
Alan had shifted into a striking grey wolf.
He sat back, howling in joy as Alice ran over to him. He licked her face, rubbing his fur onto her as she hugged him in joy. “You’re beautiful,” she said as she ran her hands over his fur. “You make me all tingly.” She let him go, and he ran over to Adam, dropping his front feed down before darting around him.
“I’m fine, you go with your brother,” I told him.
He pulled off his clothes and shifted. “What did you do?”
“I don’t know, I told him I wanted him to have his werewolf back and something took over. My hands got really hot and I couldn’t move them from his head.”
“He says thank you. We have a family bond, he’s over the moon with happiness.”
I didn’t know if the mate bond would overlap with his family bond, so I tried. “Alan, can you hear me? It’s Eve.”
”THANK YOU! Care for a run?”
I looked around, others would need an explanation. “They need to go run, could some of you go with them? Just in case.” A few of the guys stood up, stripped and shifted, and the small group of wolves ran off into the woods.
I stood up, brushing myself off, and was surrounded by the other werewolves. “What the hell was that,” Gabriel asked.
“I don’t know. I wished for it to happen, my hands got hot and I couldn’t move them, then it was like something popped and it was over. Next thing I know he has his wolf back.”
No one said anything for a while, until Steven finally moved next to me. “No one, I mean NO ONE not here today is to know about this. If she was in danger before, just imagine if they find out that she can get them their wolves back.” I had to agree, I was still in shock at what just happened.
“That’s not all,” I said. “Adam and Alan had their sibling bond immediately, but that didn’t shock me. Adam and I have our mate bond, he told me what he was saying. I decided to try something,” I said as I looked around. “I thought maybe since I was his brother’s mate, maybe I had a link too. It turns out I do.”
“Wow,” Michael said. “I miss the link, I wish I was part of YOUR family.”
I pulled him into a hug. “You’re family to me, Michael.” A shock passed between us, and he stepped back with his eyes open. “What the hell was that?”
“I can hear you, Michael. It’s a BOND! We just formed a family bond!” I was smiling and laughing as everyone looked at us like we were crazy. “I just adopted Michael into my family, now we have a family bond,” I said to their shock and amazement.
“How in Luna’s name did you do that,” Gabriel asked.
I walked over to him and gave him a hug. “You’re family to ME, Gabriel.” The shock passed again, and soon they were all lining up. In five minutes, all of my new brothers were able to talk not only with me, but each other. “Boys, you better run back here, something big is happening,” Steven sent.
“Steven? What? How can I hear you?” I laughed at Adam’s confusion.
“Just get back here, guys, I need to adopt a few more brothers.” I didn’t have to wait long. Ten minutes later, it was like we had a Pack again, but different. “What do you think this means, guys?”
“Packs are gone forever,” Gabriel said, “and good riddance. The structure led us to our doom, and Luna took it away. This is new, never before have we been able to form family bonds without sharing blood. I think Luna is changing our society, and for the better.”
“And she’s doing it with family, specifically the mother, at the center. I tried adopting Dumah, just as an experiment, before he got to you. Nothing happened. You, Eve, are the only one who can form this bond, the only one who can turn this group into a true family.”
I leaned back into Adam’s arms. “I love all of you guys like brothers, well, actually you were more like uncles because you’re so damn old,” I said as they laughed. “I’m just so happy.”
“That’s all we want for you, Eve. For you and everyone here, to be together and happy.” Gabriel raised his glass to me. “Charge your glasses, it’s time for a toast.”
“It better not be to me,” I whispered as we walked back to our picnic table to grab our drinks.
Gabriel raised his beer. “A lot of things have changed since we put the Knights together all those years ago, but some things have not. Alpha or not, Pack bond or not, you have all been my family and I love every single one of you. Now Luna has granted our family a bond, and through Eve we are all brothers. To Luna!”
“TO LUNA!” We raised our glasses and I chugged mine down. I looked around and smiled, I liked this. I liked it a lot.