“I’m really looking forward to tonight, my love,” I said as John held me tight, still inside me after a post-dinner romp in our room at the Kstovo Pack house. I moaned softly as he shifted just a little, I was still sensitive from our fun time. “I’ve never been on a Pack run.”
“You’re going to love it,” he told me as his knot moved enough to send a new round of tremors through my body. The things this man could do with me… I never knew such pleasure could exist in the world. “They have a big area to run, Konstantin told me. It will feel good to let our wolves out.”
It was true, all the travel and the problems had kept our wolves in check for far too long. She wanted to run, to be with the Pack, and mostly to run with his wolf by her side. We had arrived the previous evening, and both Patrick and Konstantin were now fully healed. I taught John what I knew about healing, and he did most of the work, so I wouldn’t be so tired out. We knew he could form fireballs and heal, but what other powers he had gotten from me we did not know.
Finding a witch that we could trust to help train us was high on my list when things calmed down.
Larry was still an emotional mess, but the change of scenery and the kindness of Konstantin and Patrick helped. Konstantin penned a letter that we all signed, even his parents, formally asking the Council to extend mercy to Elizaveta and not to seek vengeance on our behalf. It also helped that this Pack didn’t look at him with a mixture of pity and disgust.
He looked over at the clock and kissed my forehead. “We need to go soon,” he said. “Moonrise is in twenty minutes.”
“Just enough time to shower,” I said as he finally shrank enough for me to roll off him.
“NO.” He grabbed my arm and kept me on the bed. “You are new here, and there are many unmated males. I need my scent to be strong on you and in you, so they know you are MINE.”
More wolfy stuff to learn, I guess. I’d had him to myself for so long on the island, I didn’t really notice how possessive he could be over me around others. “I have to clean up, you made a mess,” I complained.
“Stay here,” he said. He went and got some tissues, cleaning up most but also rubbing his scent into my skin. “It’s for the good of the Pack, the last thing they need is for a guest Beta to go nuts protecting his mate from horny males.”
“Will this be a normal thing? You rubbing your scent into me?”
“Only with new males around. Once we are established in a Pack and they know you, the men will behave.” He brought me a bottle of water as I watched the news coverage in Russian, hoping I could keep up with the language enough to figure out what was going on. The attack by Polina had faded, and I knew from the Council that the St. Petersburg pack was in tatters. The Council had sent Councilman Thomas and his mate Olivia, along with a contingent of Council Enforcers, to take control of what was left. It was a mess.
He sat on the bed with me, moving pillows around until he could lean back against the headboard before he pulled me so I was sitting between his legs and leaning back onto his chest. “Have you made a decision on the Pack?”
I pulled his hands around my waist. “We need to talk to Patrick and Mischa,” I said. “After the run, since this affects them too.”
“The Council will all be there for the funerals, well, except maybe Alpha Thomas. Alpha Stan is leaving for home afterwards. It is the last chance to get them all at once.” We watched the news as his hands spread over my lower belly. “I can’t believe we are having a baby,” he said.
“Just wait until I’m fat and hormonal,” I said.
“You will never be more attractive to me than with your belly rounded with our child,” he said as he kissed my head. “Come on, it’s time to go.” There was no point in getting dressed as we were going to shift as soon as we got out back, so we each pulled on a robe and sandals before leaving the room. I knocked on the door next to us, and Larry came to the door a minute later, dressed in shorts and an old shirt. “Let’s run,” John told him as he pulled him out. “Your wolf will appreciate it.”
“My heart’s not in it,” he said as he was pulled along the hallway.
“I know, but it is better than hiding in your room. Let the Pack strengthen you, they aren’t ours but they do care and you have friends here.”
Right on time, Sergey appeared in the hallway. “Larry, my brother from another mother!” He gave him a hug, they had bonded during the time they were watching and protecting Jessie her first time here. I had asked him to keep Larry close, but allow him time to grieve if he needed it. We walked out the doors to the back yard where the Pack was gathered, leaving our clothes on the rail and shifting into our wolves. John’s wolf was large, almost as big as Konstantin or Viktor, and a sleek silver grey. My white and grey wolf only came up to his shoulders, and I quickly rubbed myself along his sides. My wolf wanted to be drowned in his scent, and she wanted every bitch who got close to know this wolf was taken.
Viktor howled, and turned for the woods with Marina at his side. Konstantin, Patrick and Mischa were in a line behind him, and we joined the next line with his Betas since we were guests. The pace was easy, and in the glow of the moon the Russian countryside was beautiful; we were in the hills and mountains of a large nature preserve, and Viktor’s men had made sure no humans were around. I let my wolf take over, just watching the world through her eyes. She loved to run with her mate, playfully nipping at his shoulder or bumping against him as we ran.
Two hours later, the Pack was close to home and the groups started to break up on what must have been a signal from Alpha Viktor. “At the end of a run, our wolves tend to be riled up and horny. Pairs will break off to get some alone time, while the others return to the house,” he said.
“We need to follow Patrick and Mischa,” I said. Konstantin stayed with them as they headed back to the Pack House, the dutiful older brother making sure his underage sister was protected. When we got back to the house, we all shifted and pulled on our robes. “Can we talk somewhere private,” I asked them.
“As long as Konstantin is along, sure,” Mischa said. “Come on, my parents have a hot tub on their back porch, and I could use a good soak after the run.” That sounded really good, and soon we were relaxing in the steaming waters as the cool night surrounded us. Konstantin set down a cooler filled with bottled water and beer before tossing his robe aside and getting in; I was with John on one side of the eight-person tub, while Mischa was on my right, and Konstantin across from us.
I took a long drink of the offered water, then got out of the tub and sat on the edge since being in a hot tub too long wasn't good for the baby. I didn't want to wait, so I got down to business. “I wanted to talk to you two before anyone else,” I said as I leaned back on John’s shoulder. “We have decided to take the Alpha positions at the Moscow Pack.”
Mischa shrieked, and Konstantin and Patrick both smiled before Patrick held out his hand. “Pay up,” he told Konstantin.
“My wallet is in my room, I’m good for it,” he said with a laugh.
“You guys bet on me?”
Patrick nodded. “Easy money. I knew that the more time you spent there, the easier it would be to accept. Once I had the young ones on my side, it was over.”
“You guys will be great there. Patrick told me when he left for the Moscow Pack that it was only training for us, that our future wasn’t there.” She kissed him, then looked back at us. “Really, we’re fine with it. Mom and Dad will be thrilled because they will now have an ally to the West, and I’m happy because I get to see you guys more. They would never let me study in Moscow if Yuri was in charge, but now I can talk them into it.”
“This calls for a toast,” Konstantin said as he hoisted his beer. “To John and Jessie, the next Alphas of the Moscow Pack. May their reign be long and prosperous.” I held my water bottle out, clinking it against the beer cans and Mischa’s water before we drank to it.
The next morning came way too early, and I whined to John as he tried to wake me up. “Noooo…. Let me sleep!”
“We can sleep in the car,” he said. “We need to get going if we’re going to make mass in Sergiyev Posad.” I got up and got moving, I owed it to Father Kempechny to pay my respects. It wasn’t even six when we were on the road, having said our goodbyes the night before. I slept with my head on John’s legs until we arrived at the cemetery. John led me over to the simple headstone that marked his grave. I knelt down, leaving flowers, and said a prayer for him.
I owed him so much.
We walked in to the Russian Orthodox church that was only a few blocks from where my mother and grandmother had lived and sat near the back for the service. As we were getting up to leave, one of the older priests stopped me in the aisle. “Miss Donato,” he asked quietly, “May I have a moment?”
“Certainly,” I said, and he led our group to a side room. When we were sitting down around a table, another priest came in carrying a box which he placed in front of me. “What is this?”
“We do not know,” he said. “When Father Kempechny’s room was being cleared out after his death, we found this under his bed. It was wrapped in cloth, and inside was a letter with specific instructions. I’m thankful you are the one to receive it.” He got up and followed the other priest to the door. “May you use your powers wisely, young witches. May God be with you,” he said before he left us alone.
My mouth was hanging open. “He knows,” I said. “How could he know?”
“I do not know,” John said. “He must have known about Father Kempechny’s power, maybe even before he died. Who knows what secrets these priests have been hiding?” He shook his head. “I don’t know what to think of his farewell. It’s like he knew the Father passed his powers to you.”
“You have them too, you know,” I said as I sat back down. “In any case, he didn’t want to stick around and see what was in the package.” I opened the box, which was the size of a shirt box but thicker and heavier. Inside was a leather-covered book, embossed and marked with a title in Cyrillic letters. “What does it say,” I asked, written Russian still being difficult for me.
“Book of Spells,” my driver said.
I opened the book, the handwritten pages in a mix of English, Russian and Latin. “This is going to take some time,” I said.
“We can look in the car,” John said. “We have to leave soon if we are going to talk to the Council before the funerals at moonrise tonight.” He was right, our day was tightly scheduled. I put the book back in the box and held it under my arm as we got up again.
The trip back to Moscow went quickly as I looked through the hundreds of pages of the book he left me. Reading the portions in English, it was more of a training manual than a spell book; the writing was in several different person’s writing as I went through, and it probably had been handed down over many generations. I was near the back, in the last section of the book that was written with the Father’s distinctive penmanship, when my heart stopped.
“Binding of Werewolves,” the title said. I read on, learning things about my species I was not aware of. There were different spells, ranging from “freezing” a werewolf in their animal form to or preventing one from changing into their wolf form. The most intricate spell buried the werewolf so deep the person could not feel or use their wolf. The spell required the blood of the person being bound and had an ‘out.’
“The animal part of the wolf is completely bound, but it is not destroyed. In all ways the person will appear fully human, possessing no identifiable scent or characteristics of a werewolf. The mating bond remains, as no spell is more powerful than the link between souls the Moon gave the pair. The human’s mate will still sense his pair, and the mating will break the spell and release the wolf. The only true ‘cure’ for a werewolf is to kill the wolf with an overdose of wolfsbane. Kill the wolf and you kill the bond, cursing the mate to a lifetime of loneliness.”
My hand moved over my chest as I realized what he had done.
“Shit, that doesn’t help Larry at all,” John said. “I was hoping there would be a way to break the bond without killing his wolf.”
“We should talk to him about killing his wolf after she is gone,” I said. “At least then he has a chance at a normal human life.”
“Not the life he grew up with,” I said. “There has to be another way.”