COAL

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Be With Me

Brinley

I heard his words, but couldn’t quite wrap my head around them. In all the time I wondered who my father was, I never could have dreamed he was a Vampire King!

The thought was inconceivable, too fantastic for even my wildest imaginings. At the moment, I had no idea what to say to him, so I turned my gaze to the other male vampire. From his close proximity to Ryder, he had to be Aatos.

I then looked at the female, taking in her raven tresses, sparkling blue eyes, and full red lips. Even covered in blood from the battle, she was beautiful. What was her name? Had Coal told me?

I must have been broadcasting my thoughts through our mindlink, because Coal replied directly into my head, “Her name is Savannah.”

The female spoke, “Father, why don’t we take this conversation inside? I’m sure she’d like to get cleaned up.”

My eyes opened wide as I stared at her. I breathed, “Father?”

Her expression was kind. She warmly replied, “Yes...I’m your sister.”

I opened my mouth and then closed it again. What the hell was I supposed to say? I’d spent most of my life alone and now, all of a sudden, I was sitting in front of my father and sister. Who knew how many other relatives I had?

Marku replied for me, “Yes, I’m sure she’d like to shower and put on fresh clothing.” He looked toward the small cabin expectantly.

“No,” I blurted.

His gaze snapped back to mine.

I said stiffly, “I don’t want to go back in there.”

The cabin was the absolute last place I wanted to be. A low growl came from Coal’s Wolf’s throat. The vampire’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t ask any questions. Instead, his gaze flickered up to Coal’s Wolf. “Perhaps your mate would like to shift so we can work out some details.”

Even without asking him, I knew Coal’s answer. I replied evenly, “His Wolf is not ready to relinquish control.” Proof in point, his Wolf was virtually wrapped around me, his big paws on either side of my body, my back tight against his chest, his jaw resting on the top of my head.

“We can talk...I’d just rather do it back at the pack.”

Marku—I wasn’t quite ready to think of him as my father, even in my head—nodded and suggested, “Okay, I’m guessing it will take you several hours to return home. That will give us plenty of time to go to the hotel, clean up and change clothes, before meeting you. How does that sound?”

Coal’s Wolf gave a short nod. That works. It will take us five hours to get home, so tell him to come to the pack in seven hours.

Seven hours? I swiveled my head up to the Wolf and spoke through our mind link. What are the extra two hours for?

Coal nipped at my mark. There was no mistaking the desire in his tone. I want some time with you first.

Oh! I couldn’t help the blush that coursed through me as I understood. I looked back at the vampire and had to clear my throat before I could speak. “He’d like for you to join us in seven hours.”

Marku looked at Coal and me with a knowing smirk. “We’ll give you as much time as he needs.”

Oh, shit. Even without hearing Coal, the vampire knew exactly the context of our conversation. Heat crept up the back of my neck. My cheeks tinged pinker. How embarrassing.

Coal interjected again. Make that eight hours.

What? My head snapped around to look at him again. I was embarrassed enough as it was. I can’t tell him that!

A low growl came from Coal’s chest as he nipped at my neck again, and insisted, Nothing else happens until you are fully bonded to me. Tell him.

I gasped as I understood what he meant. I couldn’t help my racing heartbeat or the tingles that ran down my spine.

I faced Marku and coughed slightly to clear my throat again. “Um, he would like to make that nine hours.” I thought it safer to throw in another hour, rather than go through this torture of embarrassment again in five more minutes before Coal changed his mind again.

Coal’s Wolf hummed in approval at my back.

Marku chuckled, the sound coming deep from his throat. His eyes danced with amusement. “Of course, as you wish.”

Actually..., Coal began again.

I spun all the way around to face him and cut him off, huffing, “Oh no! If you have anything else to contribute, you will damn well shift and say it yourself!”

Laughter rumbled through Coal’s Wolf chest. I narrowed my eyes at him. I was glad he was getting so much enjoyment out of my embarrassment. I hissed into our mindlink, If you don’t behave, it won’t matter how many hours I tell him because you won’t lay a finger on me in the meantime!

His big furry head came down, nuzzling into my neck. The Wolf purred, Try telling me that when my cock is sliding in and out of that sweet little wet pussy of yours.

Oh, shit!

I stared at him with wide eyes, the visual playing in my mind. It has been clear the words came from his Wolf, not Coal. Shocking heat radiated through my entire body. I tried to control my breathing. The very last thing I wanted to do was start panting right in front of all of these people.

Thankfully, all attention was taken off of me when Jax emerged from the woods!

There was none of the normal humor and joking coming off of Jax as he warily eyed the vampires. He didn’t come any closer. His glance landed on me, and Coal behind me. He breathed, “He did it. He’s the Alpha now. I can feel he’s no longer rogue.”

“Shit. Langdon and Amber,” Ryder cursed and stepped toward Jax. “I’ll come with you to help get them back to the pack. They’ll both need a healer.”

Aatos placed a hand on Ryder’s arm. Ryder stopped and looked at him, eyebrows raised. Aatos murmured, “I’ll go with you. They won’t need a traditional healer.”

Ryder hesitated for just a moment and then nodded.

Ryder turned back to Jax and explained slowly, “Before...when I fought Coal, he...he mortally wounded me.” Jax inhaled sharply. Ryder continued, “Aatos gave me his blood. Instantly, my wounds closed.”

Jax’ intense gaze returned to me. His nostrils flared, and his eyebrows flew up, his Wolf uneasy in his eyes. He could smell I was a vampire now!

On instinct, I pressed closer to coal’s Wolf at my back. Coal gave a warning growl to Jax, sensing my increasing anxiety.

Ryder interrupted the tense moment and quickly explained, “No. Just taking their blood for healing won’t change Langdon or Amber. Brinley was too far gone to heal. There was no other choice to save her life.”


Ryder

Jax still looked hesitant, but he nodded his head. His gaze returned to Aatos at my side. Jax studied him for a moment and murmured, “Is this Aatos?”

Aatos’ glance cut to me. He raised an eyebrow, apparently curious as to what I’d shared about him. I ignored him and answered Jax, “Yes.”

For a brief second, Jax’ usual smirk returned. He gave an approving nod and spoke under his breath, “Not bad.”

Embarrassment flushed through me. I was going to have to beat the shit out of him later for that. Aatos, however, wasn’t uncomfortable in the least. No, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the moment.

All humor slipped from Jax’ expression as his focus turned to Marku. I understood his trepidation. I’d felt it as well. In the short time he’d been here, it was obscenely clear that Marku was not a vampire to be fucked with.

I volunteered the introduction, repeating what the vampire had said earlier, “He is Marku, King of the Northern Territories...and Brinley’s father.”

Jax couldn’t temper his surprise. His mouth fell open as he was stunned speechless. Marku gave a snort of amusement. Jax pulled himself back together and muttered, “Well...fuck.”

Aatos interjected, speaking to the vampire king, “I’ll go with him and take care of the other two wolves, and then meet you back at the hotel. The sun is going to come up soon. I’m not quite as immune to the sun as you and Savvy.”

The king nodded and turned back to Brinley. Her eyes had become wide and fearful. She whimpered, “The sun...I’m never going to be able to be in the sun again...”

Marku crouched in front of her and spoke soothingly, “Shh, little Wolf. Most vampires cannot walk in the sun. It’s actually quite rare. However, I am able to do so. And you are as well.”

“How do you know that?” she breathed.

“The mark on your hip. You bear my family crest. It became visible when you took my blood. I have one exactly like it in the same location; however, unlike mine which is defined by black lines, yours has white lines. This means the mark won’t stay visible. It will only appear when my blood is in your system.”

She reached her fingertips down to her hip absentmindedly but didn’t open the blanket to inspect it. She nodded her head hesitantly, “Okay...but what does it mean? What does it have to do with the sun?”

“I am a Bloodline Vampire, one of only a handful in the world. My family crest appears on my descendants. Most are naturally born vampires, like Savannah. She was born as a vampire. Her mark is black just like mine. However, when you were born, your vampirism was latent, hidden in your DNA, so no mark revealed on your skin. I suspect you showed some signs of being different, but you were not a true vampire. Maybe you were stronger or even had some healing capabilities.”

Jax interrupted, breathing, “That’s why Coal healed completely!”

Brinley looked in his direction, brow furrowed in confusion.

Jax continued excitedly, “When Coal claimed you, he bit you. His leg never should have that fast. Your blood must have healed him!” And then his mouth turned into a disappointed pout. “Damn, I guess you don’t have a magical pussy after all. That’s too bad.”

“You did not just say that!” Brinley gasped.

Savannah giggled. Marku and Aatos wore matching smirks, entertained by Jax’s antics.

A deep rumble came from Coal’s Wolf, his chest vibrating with laughter. He must have mindlinked something to Brinley, because she blushed and smacked him on the chest, chastising, “You! Shut up!”

I could only imagine what comment my brother added. Knowing his horny Wolf, he hadn’t held back on his thoughts on the matter.

The vampire king went back to the topic at hand. “When you get a chance to look at the crest, you will see there is a sun in the design.”

Brinley stared at him, wide eyes glistening with relief. She whispered softly, “Okay.”

“I’ll see you tonight.” Marku stood to his feet and then met Savannah’s gaze. Savannah gave him a nod, and they took off in a run, virtually disappearing into the forest.

As soon as they were gone, Coal shifted back into his skin. He stood to his feet, pulling her up with him, still keeping her pressed against his chest and his arms wrapped around her, holding her close. “I’m sure there’s a pair of shorts in the cabin or the truck. Once I get dressed, we’ll take the truck back.”

“Okay,” I replied. Then I remembered the handcuffs. I turned to Aatos and held my wrists up in front of my chest. “Please tell me you brought the key with you.”

Aatos nodded and extracted a key from his pocket, quickly undoing the restraint. I rubbed my wrists, glad to be free of them. My Wolf was as well.


We ran alongside Jax to where Langdon and Amber were still wounded. Aatos went to Amber first. He bit into his wrist and held it out to her. I was shocked when Amber took it without question but remembered she must have watched him heal me earlier. A blush wound up my neck, as I realized that wasn’t all she watched him do to me.

Aatos turned his head to me as she sucked on his wrist. He winked. Shit, he must have sensed my emotions. I flushed even redder and turned away, studiously ignoring him.

Instead, I went and crouched in front of Langdon and murmured, “It won’t be long now. You’ll be good as new.”

Langdon grunted, still in pain.

It only took a few moments, before Aatos finished with Amber and joined me next to Langdon. Langdon’s nose wrinkled at the taste of Aatos’ blood, but the relief was evident in his eyes as his back healed and his pain faded away. He stood to his feet slowly, taking a moment to steady himself.

“Just to catch everybody up, Brinley is now a vampire, and her father is a scary motherfucker vampire king,” Jax murmured casually as if just sharing the time of day.

Amber gasped. Langdon’s mouth fell open. Both of them waited for Jax to deliver the punch line to his joke. But it never came. Langdon finally closed his mouth.

Jax continued, “We’re too far away to mindlink with Daniel, but I’m guessing Alpha Wilder is probably at Coal’s Pack by now or will be there soon. The vampires are going to their hotel for the day and will reconvene at the pack tonight. We should probably be there as I’m sure Coal will need all the support he can get for the transition of him as Alpha. Given Brinley is the new Luna and now a vampire, I suspect more than a few of the pack members are not going to be happy.”

Aatos growled next to me, “What the fuck is he talking about?”

Oh, fuck. I forgot Aatos didn’t know everything the pack members and Alpha had subjected Brinley to. Anxiety trickled down my spine. I muttered, “Maybe it’s best if we let Brinley share.”

Aatos’ jaw clicked together. He didn’t like my response, but he didn’t push. Still, it was clear in his expression he had every intention of getting answers one way or another. Langdon interrupted the tension, “Um, yeah, we’re going to go to the SUV. Ryder, are you coming with us?”

I looked up at Aatos and mumbled to Langdon, “Yeah, just give me a minute.”

They left, leaving Aatos and me alone. His eyes darkened, voice tight, “You’re not coming with me when we leave, are you?”

My face fell, a knot forming in my stomach. I’d already given him this answer. I whispered, “I can’t...I don’t belong in your world. And I’m not willing to leave mine.”

I was shocked to see pain flash in his eyes before he smoothed out his expression. He stepped close and grasped the back of my neck with both of his big hands. I stared up at him frozen. He whispered, “If all I get is one more day, spend it with me."

“What do you mean?” I breathed.

“It’s clear your brother and Brinley will be occupied for most of the day. I can’t take you with me now because I’m going to have to run to get back before the sun comes up. So, go home with them, get cleaned up, but then...come to me. Come to the hotel. Spend the day with me. We can go together to the pack tonight.”

“I don’t...know,” I stuttered. I wasn’t sure exactly what Aatos was asking, yes, to spend time together...but doing what exactly?

He guessed at my anxiety and soothed, “No pressure...I’m not asking for you to have sex with me...just spend the day. Be with me. That’s all.”

“I—I’ll think about it,” I replied.

His shoulders fell. He stepped away. He thought my answer was no. Truthfully, I didn’t know what my answer was going to be, and probably wouldn’t until the very moment I had to decide.

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