Not Awkward At All
I emerged from the small bathroom, having shifted back into my skin. When I was seated, Coal wrapped his arm around me again, keeping me tight to his chest. In the back of my mind, I realized the entire pack was waiting for us, but I didn’t care. I still had a multitude of questions.
Marku had also returned to his chair. He was now holding a crystal glass with amber liquid. I noted he kept his upper body bare, not replacing the fur previously covering his shoulders and arms. I suspected he understood my Wolf wanted every other Wolf to recognize just who he belonged to. And it was clear Marku had no problem acknowledging her claim. Marku was our family, and my Wolf wanted everyone to know it. I didn’t disagree. For too long, we’d been alone. There was no more social environment than a Wolfpack. Wolves were driven to live as one big family, but not us. We’d been shunned.
Getting back to the task at hand, I asked, “What happened next? After you met my mother.”
Marku brought the drink to his lips, took a generous swig, and then placed it on a small side table. “Your mother was on the run. She’d gone to the Alliance Meeting in hopes of finding a mage rumored to be in my kingdom. She had a picture of him, but I didn’t recognize the male.”
“Why did she need a mage?”
“The pack bond,” Coal murmured next to me.
Marku glanced at him and nodded. “Yes. She’d heard he could break the pack bond, releasing her from the hold Victor had over her.”
“I’m surprised my father didn’t turn her rogue the instant she left,” Coal’s voice was edged with bitter disgust. But there was another underlying emotion I couldn’t put my finger on....was that guilt?
Marku didn’t comment on Coal’s statement. Instead, he continued, “He was there that night...Victor.”
I inhaled sharply. “Alpha caught her?”
Marku snorted, “No. He couldn’t touch her. Not with me there. Victor put on a possessive show, demanding she return with him because she belonged to him. But your mother had other ideas. Headstrong and determined to get away from him. Impressive goals. From what I’ve heard, denying the Wolf mate bond isn’t easy.”
“That’s for damn sure,” Coal muttered under his breath.
“We only had one night together. Your mother was not in heat. That much, I’m sure. And the rarity of such conception between our species is so low, I didn’t think precautions were necessary.”
“She wasn’t in heat,” I repeated in confusion. I’d never heard of a Wolf conceiving outside of heat. “How then?”
“Looking back, I think two things factored in. How much do you know about Bloodline Vampires?”
I blinked. “Nothing.”
“Okay. There are six Bloodline Vampires. I am one of them.”
Wow...It was hard enough to wrap my head around the fact he was a king, but he was also one out of only six, some type of unique vampire?
Marku lifted the glass and rested his hand on his spread thighs. He swirled the liquid absentmindedly. “Every bloodline is represented by a royal mark. All six royal marks have a unique predominant animal...mine just happens to be a Wolf.”
Marku paused, his expression silently asking if I was following along.
And I already knew Marku’s mark was a Wolf. I’d seen it on my own hip, etched in delicate, flowing white lines. Absentmindedly, I pressed my fingertips to my thigh over the mark that was hidden beneath my pants.
Marku glanced at my traveling fingers. “Since your vampirism was latent when you were born, my mark will only show up when my blood is in your system. It will fade over the next few days and disappear completely.”
I nodded my understanding.
Coal interjected, “How can a vampire have a royal mark of a Wolf?"
Marku shrugged his shoulders. “The origin of each bloodline is unique. A catalyst occurs to create something different. Wolf lineage may have been involved in the creation of my line, but not necessarily. It could also just represent a unique skill set related to the animal. Up until now, I had no explanation. In truth, I still don’t. Testing this theory to see if it is an anomaly or not is considerably difficult given the second part.”
I nodded again, remembering his comment about there being two reasons.
Bringing the drink to his lips again, Marku swallowed and wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “In addition to whatever unique Wolf heritage my mark provided, I believe the additional and necessary second component was my intercourse with Soleil’s Wolf that allowed her to conceive.”
A blush bloomed on my cheeks as I realized what he was referring to. It was almost unheard of for a skin-fur interlude to occur outside of mates. Our mother Wolf must have trusted him completely to have done such a thing.
Marku continued explaining, “I don’t think my mark was sufficient alone because, over the years, I’ve had several female wolves in their human form. Many were not in heat, and none achieved pregnancy. However, I’ve only had the rare pleasure of being with two Wolves. I think your conception occurred inside of her body.”
Well, that’s not awkward to know at all...
I bit my lip and repositioned myself in the chair, uncrossing and recrossing my legs the other direction. Coal picked up on my uncomfortableness and moved the conversation along. “After your night together, what happened?”
“I asked Soleil to stay. I wanted more time with her and her Wolf and even offered to help her find the mage she was looking for, but she told me no, she needed to do it on her own.”
I sat silently, processing his words. How close had my mother been to real freedom?
Obviously, not close enough.
“I also gave Soleil an out,” Marku interrupted my troubling thoughts, “I offered to kill the bastard. Watching him with her...she deserved better. But she rejected my proposal, not wanting to break up a family and leave two children without a father.”
A percussion of emotion ripped through my chest, so strong, it left me breathless. I quickly realized, it wasn’t my pain I was feeling, it was Coal’s! A cruel spasm, burrowing deep into the pit of his stomach.
Easily identifiable now...
So significant was Coal’s distress, I heard his inner chastisement, condemning himself.
All his fault...
If he’d never been brought into existence, then Marku would have killed his father, and I would have been spared.
My torment happened because he was my mate.
All his fault...
The profoundness of his silent, tormented cry startled me. My Wolf whimpered at his pain.
No! I wouldn’t let Coal take the blame for his father.
Ignoring everyone else in the room, I pulled out of Coal’s embrace and turned on the couch to face him. Coal looked down at me in confusion, blue eyes flat with agony. I gripped both of his hands and squeezed, speaking fervently through our mind link, “No you don’t! Don’t you dare think I would have been better off without you.”
His eyebrows snapped up. Apparently, he hadn’t realized he’d been broadcasting his anguish.
I leveled a firm gaze at him, my Wolf joining my eyes.
But my stubborn mate just shook his head and tried to pull himself free.
Oh, fuck no.
He wasn’t shaking me off that easily.
My claws emerged and embedded into his skin. I held him that much tighter, defiance burning in my eyes, daring him to push me on this.
Coal’s eyes went wide with the force I was using.
He could’ve broken my restraint, but he settled in my hold. Still...he refused to speak, mouth pressed into a tight line, thoughts silent.
He could just sit and listen then because I was pissed.
“Every bad thing that’s ever happened to me was a direct result of your father, not you! And I will not allow you to accept responsibility for his choices that you had no control over.” I inhaled to catch my breath even though I wasn’t speaking out loud and continued ranting, “I will also not let you to even breathe the suggestion that my life would have been better if you had never been born!”
Still, the stubborn mule didn’t say anything.
So I changed tactics. I asked flatly, “Am I not worth fighting for?”
That got his attention.
“What? Of course! I would happily fight..and die for you,” he replied fiercely.
“Then why aren’t you fighting now?” I demanded. ”Every relationship has problems. Everyone has to overcome obstacles to be together. Are you saying you’d preferred we never met and were never mates because the fight to get to where we are right now was just too hard? Was I not worth the effort and the pain we both endured?”
His expression turned stricken. He swallowed thickly. “You’re right...I’m sorry.” Raw emotion radiated through our bond. His eyes lowered. “I just want you to get something good out of being mated to me, not only bad.”
Releasing one of his hands, I trailed my fingers along the sharp edge of his cheekbone. His eyes flickered back up to meet mine. “You... are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t wish you’d never been born...I don’t wish you weren’t my mate. I wouldn’t trade you for the world. You...are the good thing I get from being mated with you.”
The tension released from his shoulders. Flat blue eyes morphed into burning obsidian as Coal abruptly snatched me into his arms and nuzzled into my neck. “Fuck. What did I do to deserve you?”
I held tightly, enjoying the love radiating through our bond. Until Coal took it upon himself to scrape his fangs right over his mark!
Searing heat crashed through my body.
I couldn’t help it.
Not when Coal’s teeth played with his mark. He might as well have been licking my pussy, the sensation was so intensely similar.
And if his teasing wasn’t bad enough, I felt his desperate struggle, animalistic and primal, not to sink them deep into my flesh. To mark me all over again.
I squirmed and tried to pull away.
That just caused his predator instincts to kick in. An excited growl rumbled in his chest, and his grip tightened.
My chest heaved as I worked to control my wayward hormones.
Okay. Avoiding extreme embarrassment was no longer an option. Everyone in the room could smell precisely how much I wanted Coal. But if I didn’t get him under control, quickly, I wasn’t sure just how far he was willing to go in his out-of-control aroused state.
Holding perfectly still, I reached through our mind link, soft and submissive, ”Coal...”
He continued tasting my neck but slowed down slightly.
I resisted the urge to curl my toes and murmured again, ”Coal, we can’t do this here.”
Finally, his clever tongue and teeth stopped tormenting my flesh. His head dropped to my shoulder. After a long moment, he gave a reluctant growl and released his tight hold, sitting back.
I found the entire group staring at us with amusement plastered on their faces.
My cheeks flamed with embarrassment. “I—I’m sorry you had to see...that.”
Aatos interjected for the first time, snorting, “Trust me. Your father has no issue with, um...public displays of affection.” The gleam in his eye and the smirk he exchanged with Marku looked suspiciously like there was more to his comment that he wasn’t saying.
Be that as it may, I bit back my curiosity. My father’s sexuality was not a subject I wanted more detailed information on. I’d already heard enough. So I moved on. “How did you eventually find out I existed?”
“It was quite by chance. During our last Alliance Meeting, I stumbled across the mage that Soleil had shown me a picture of so many years ago. Eager to find out what happened after she left me, we sat down to talk. And trust me, no one was more surprised than I when the man acknowledged he had indeed met Soleil, a pregnant werewolf, in need of his help.”
Coal rubbed gentle circles on my back while I listened to Marku’s story with rapt attention.
“I challenged the male on his facts, but he was adamant. The shewolf was pregnant. And he sensed it was not a typical werewolf pregnancy. There was something unique in her womb. Something special. I knew right then you belonged to me and began the search to find you.”