“You ready?” Rage whispered in Willow’s ear. She was nervous. She had never been in front of a many people before.
She shook her head, leaning farther into his side. He only laughed, wrapping his arms around her.
“I’ll be right next to you, the whole time.”
Their conversation was cut off by someone clearing their throat. The sound bringing silence to the other side of the door.
Hunter was out there, ready to announce her name, introduce her to the pack after nine months.
Her heat was pounding so fast that it drowned everything out. She missed what Hunter had said to the crowd only catching her name. She jumped, eyes widening as she realized she was going to walk onto stage in front of an unknown amount of people. The only thing she was sure of was that when Joy said the whole pack was not here, she believed it.
Rage pressed his lips to her forehead before slowly leading her out the door. She squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to see the faces that were looking at her.
“Are you ready?” Hunter asked quietly as they stopped beside him. Both males chuckled when she nodded but did not open her eyes.
“Willow, Mate of my brother, my twin, Commander of the Wulf Army, Protector of our pack,” Hunter’s voice was monotone as he spoke more to the crowd than to her. “We welcome you to our pack and our family.”
When she opened her eyes she focused on Hunter and not the crowd in the room. He had a smile on his face that seemed fake and forced sending an uneasy feeling in her stomach. His face was too similar to Rage’s to be comfortable with the look, she never wanted Rage to make that face.
Finally she let her eyes wander off of the stage and to the audience. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought though. It was more like an elementary school auditorium than the huge amphitheater she had been picturing.
Rage whispered her name, drawing her attention back to what was happening. She looked at him, a small smirk on his face was all she got from the cold mask he was weiring. He nodded towards his brother where he stood with his arm stretched out, hand ready for her to take.
She felt a kiss on her head before Rage nudged her forward. She took a deep breath and grasped Hunter’s hand, allowing him to pull her from the comfort of her mates arms.
She focused on where Hunter was leading her as the crowd broke into whispers. They were getting their first look at her, the female that mated Rage, the Alpha Killer.
Her face was flushed as she was drawn to the very center of the stage. All of Rage’s family was there, except those who were still in Texas and Fury who was no longer in the state either.
There was a very ancient ceremonial feel to whole thing. The men were dressed well, dress shirts and slacks while the women wore floor length dresses. She felt out of place in the knee-length white dress she had been given. She was glad that it had a high neckline that hid the still healing marks on her chest.
Joy met them next to a stone pillar holding a bowl of fire. Her vibrant red dress matched the flames.
She pulled her into a tight hug, tears spilling down her face in happiness. She had made it clear to everyone that she was excited to have not only grandpups but a daughter as well.
After pulling away, she lead her over to the fire where Hunter was already standing. He held a old iron tool in his hand, the end forming a flat lateral swirl the size of a silver dollar.
Rage’s hand gripped her free one as he stepped beside her, lacing his fingers with her’s. He nodded in reassurance.
Joy’s gripped her elbow, holding her in place as Hunter placed the end of the metal tool into the fire. Her eyes were wide, focused on the metal changing, reddening as it heated.
Her eyes followed the tool as Hunter pulled it from the fire. It was not much longer than a hammer or spatula. It smoked as Hunter moved closer to her, away from the fire to where she stood, not even close enough to feel the warmth of the fire.
Without a word, he grabbed her wrist, stretching her arm out and baring her forearm to him.
There must have been a silent family signal because the moment Rage squeezed her hand Hunter brought the hot iron onto her flesh.
She screamed more at the shock than at the pain of the mark itself until moments later it was removed. She released a second scream, this one muffled as Rage pulled her into his chest.
The burn stung, felt like layers of her skin had been ripped off. She was sure that it had, her skin melting to the smoldering iron before being ripped away.
But that was kind of the point of the branding. Taking the mark, forever linking you to the pack, to the family.
Rage pulled her from the hug, taking her wrist and looking at the mark now two inches from her inner elbow. She was surprised to find that there was no open skin, but a slowly forming blister in the shape of the Wulf Crest, the same one Rage had tattooed over his heart.
Everything was silent as Rage brushed his thumb just below it before lifting her wrist and placing a soft kiss there.
“Welcome to the family, my new sister.” Hunter called with faux enthusiasm.
There were no chears, only silence as Joy pulled her into a hug, passing her off to Fang and than the rest of the family. The hug from Hunter was awkward, though not uncomfortable but she was relieved when Rage pulled her from him and back into his arms.
He cupped her face, bringing his lips down on hers in both a soft and agressive way, staking his claim on her in front of everyone. He wanted to make sure they all knew she was his.
She was not expecting Joy to step forward, speaking to the crowd with tears in her eyes.
“I would like to announce the coming of my first grandpups. Rage and Willow are expecting them six months from now.”
Joy frowned as the crowd broke out into whispers instead of chears and we’ll wishes.
After a few minutes, Hunter stepped forward, addressing the group again. They calmed, silencing to listen to their Alpha.
“Rumors have been spreading of Rogues and Turned, of fights and deaths and a possible war.”
He looked out over the crowd, all eyes locked on him, waiting on baited breath for his next words.
“It is all true...” the group broke, people yelling, whispering to each other, some even cursing at Hunter for “allowing it to happen.”
It took one growl from Hunter and everyone fell silent. They all knew better, the Wulf’s were not to be disrespected.
“Now,” he continued once silence blanketed the room once more. “The Rebel group is being dealt with, though is much bigger than we first thought. I ask that if anyone wishes to help in the fight against these Rebels, to contact me.”
No one said anything as they watched their High Alpha, waiting to be dismissed like children for recess.
“If I disorder that ANY pack is assisting these mutts: feeding, housing, protecting or in any other manner. You will be receiving a visit from,” he raised his arms, motioning twords Fury on his left and Rage on his right, “my brothers and I.”
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