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Chapter 42: Dead

The room erupted with the news that the Scrabble Sniper was dead. I sat back in shock, wondering how our enemies had taken her out so quickly. Sending a person into a hospital and killing a guarded prisoner, that wasn’t supposed to be an easy thing. Whoever they were, they had resources and reach. I stayed quiet, just trying to process things, but my body was beyond tired.

Ella poked me. “Rose, you’re falling asleep. Go, go to your mate. We can handle this,” she said.

“Don’t interrogate Luis without me,” I said.

“We have time, everyone except him is going to get a decent night’s sleep before we proceed. Nothing we have to do, has to be done right now,” Robert said. “Come on, love, you need to eat and you need to rest. I can see the strain our twins are having on you.” The Alphas stood and we all stood with them. I walked out of the room, ignoring the conversations of the others as they talked about what they needed.

I knew what I needed.

I needed Gunny.

I walked across to the clinic in a daze, my mind still trying to figure out how a simple hunt for criminals became a wide-ranging conspiracy. I pushed the door open and smiled; Charlotte had her face buried in his fur, gently snoring. Gunny’s drugs must be wearing off, as he was whining softly, and his legs were making the running motions as he dreamt of something. I walked into the adjoining bathroom, taking a quick shower and pulling on a robe. When I came out, Josh was standing next to the bed. “Doc says he’s doing better,” he said. “Vitals all good, it’s just time for his sedative to wear off and his body to heal.”

“I’ve got it from here,” I told him. “Can you take Charlotte to her room?”

“I’ve got her,” he said. I took off the robe and tossed it to him. Gunny was lying on the bed with most of his body exposed. He set the robe on a chair and uncovered his mate, then pulled the sheets to cover me as I tucked into his chest and stomach. He tossed me a pillow as I wormed my way between his front legs, seeking a comfortable spot. I could feel his hot breath on my head as the back of my head buried itself in the fur under his chin.

I was asleep before he had her tucked away in the robe and in his arms.

Gunny’s POV

I woke in the middle of the night, the smell of my mate filled my nose and relaxed me. I opened my eyes, my panther vision showing the dark hospital room clearly. I shifted back into my human form, gathering a sleeping Rose into my arms. I gritted my teeth against the pain in my neck and shoulder as I did so, but I need her closer. I need her like I need to breathe, she is my all, without her I have nothing.

She is warm against my chest, soft in the right places, made just for me. I bury my nose in her hair, letting her scent calm my cat. These brushes with death never used to scare me; I was a warrior, one who accepted death may be the cost of the life I chose.

I just never had something I loved more than my honor, my duty, my Marines.

I thought back to the battle, how close I came to being ended, how Lars was begging me to hang on. I did, somehow, for her. She is my everything, she and Charlotte my daughter. I would claw my way back from the pits of hell just to spend one more day with them.

She moved in her sleep, her shapely backside moving back to me. Her globes captured my rapidly hardening shaft. I moved my hips slightly, letting the skin move until I was comfortably sheathed between them. My hand moved up from her stomach, my fingers trailing softly over the skin on the underside of her left breast. She moaned in her sleep as I cupped it, squeezing it gently as my thumb flicked over her nipple. I teased the tip to hardness as my lips moved to her neck, kissing down past her ear and closer to her mark. Her legs parted, her scent of arousal started to fill the room even though she was still off in dreamland.

I moved my hand down her flat stomach, down to her neatly trimmed delta. She moved her hips towards me as my fingers dipped lower, parting her swelling lips. I moved slowly up and down as her moisture slickened my digit. I teased her for minutes, sensing her dream taking over as she started to move her hips to get more of me. I didn’t disappoint, I moved my hand down and hooked a finger, dipping into her needy core as she moaned my name in her dream.

I pushed in, then slowly pulled out as my hand moved up and teased her swollen lips and clit. She was wet as a jungle morning, easily accepting the second digit as I pushed it into place. I picked up the pace as her body surrendered to me, her moans and the wet noises from her sex filling our room. Her breathing was quickening and becoming shorter, and knowing she was close I bit down onto her mark as I pinched her clit.

She peaked instantly, her eyes popping open, her mouth forming an ‘O’ shape as words failed her. She bucked against my hand, her channel pulling me in and demanding more. “Guuuuny,” she finally whispered as the delightful spasms eased. “Take me, take me now.”

“I love you, Rose,” I said as I positioned my hard length against her dripping sex. She lifted her leg and I caught it with my hand, holding it gently as my hips moved forward. She moaned deeply as I filled her completely. “You’re mine as I am yours.”

Her eyes rolled back as I held myself deep inside her, she was gripping my shaft as I tried to withdraw. I pulled back and moved forward again, trying not to hurt my injured shoulder and neck as I did so. I had to let go of her leg, and I moved the hand over her belly. I felt how far up I was pushing inside her before her hand covered mine, pushing it down to her clit. “More, faster,” she begged me.

I gave her what she wanted, what we needed. Pushing in, pulling out, slowly building until we couldn’t stand it anymore. I moved my fingers, one on each side of her slit, moving around and down from her swollen clit. She turned her head, kissing me deeply as I started to slam into her with our combined need. She was close, she found my mark and bit down, sending us both over the edge. “Rose!”

She screamed into my shoulder as I emptied my seed deep inside her. I ignored the pain as I held her to me, preventing her from escaping as her body spasmed in pleasure. When we both settled, I could tell I had torn some wounds open again, the smell of blood was strong again. Rose pulled off of me, sitting up and checking my bandages. “Shit, we shouldn’t have done that,” she said. “You aren’t healed enough yet.”

“I’ll never regret a chance to make love to you,” I said.

“I’ll get someone to help.” She got up and went to the bathroom, coming back out dressed in scrubs. “You lie down and don’t move,” she said as she took a washcloth and cleaned me up. I accepted her kiss as she covered me in the sheet. She went out, returning a few minutes later with Nurse Wendy.

She removed the dressing from my shoulder and neck, cleaning the new blood and old. “You pulled out some stitches, but not too bad,” she said. “I’ll butterfly them for now and Doc will look at them in the morning. I want you to use the bathroom and then get back in bed. If you get up before noon I’ll have you restrained,” she threatened.

“I’ll keep him quiet,” Rose said. She went into the bathroom and took a shower before coming back to bed. I was on my back now, so she settled into my good side and we were out in moments.

Charlotte’s POV

I woke up in the morning after dreaming of Josh, but he wasn’t there. The pillow still smelled like him, so I hugged it to my face before getting up. I quickly dressed and went down to the Pack dining room, where a buffet breakfast was served from five to nine AM. I looked for Josh there, not seeing him, so I filled a plate with eggs, bacon and toast and sat down with some wolves my age. A few were from our pack, but most from Gila. They were a large enough Pack that they had their own school, and it was starting in thirty minutes.

Jane Spencer joined us just as I was finishing. “Hey, Jane, seen your brother around?”

Her eyes unfocused as she linked him. It made me jealous they could communicate like that and I couldn’t, since I was still human. It was starting to bug me, Mom wanted me to be eighteen to be mated, but I didn’t want to stay human until then. “He’s in the computer lab, working on the investigation,” she said. “He’ll meet us for lunch after we do our homework.”

“Crap,” I said. The Alphas had worked with the school back in Santa Fe to keep us up with our classes, since we couldn’t attend because of the threats and our home being bombed. We had homework assignments emailed to us each week, and we had to complete them, scan them and return them each day. “I was hoping to swim.”

“After lunch,” she promised. She finished her plate, then grabbed a bag and filled it with muffins and rolls. I followed her back to the spare office we were using for our classes, and we sat next to each other as we worked through our homework. Both of us were motivated to get done, but we didn’t take shortcuts. Our Alphas and my parents taught us to do our best, and take advantage of every opportunity. I finished before her, so I logged onto my Youtube account and started reading the comments.

There were links to stories about our house being bombed, and to the capture of the Scrabble Killer and Agent Luis. It was the more recent comments that were disturbing; no longer were they laughing at the perv who attacked me, they were praising me or threatening me for being with ‘the enemy.’ Some of the comments were positively frightening.

I thought about it for a while, then deleted my account. I was done with them, they could screw themselves if they thought I would turn my back on my mate, my parents and my Pack. Internet fame had brought me nothing but trouble and an excess of Nutcracker dolls.

I heard Jane packing her books away. “Come on, Josh will meet us at lunch,” she said. Lunch was also a buffet affair, this time it was fried chicken.

I ran to Josh as he stood at the back of the line, jumping up into his arms. He caught me and spun me around, kissing me senseless. “I missed you, love,” he whispered into my ear.

“Me too,” I said as he set me down. “We’re hitting the pool after this, can you come? Please?”

He looked sad. “I’m sorry, love, I have to get back to work. It’s important.”

“I know,” I said as he gathered me back in his arms. “Someday you’ll have time for me.” I know, it was a low blow. I knew he hated being away from me, so I let him off the hook. “It’s my fate for having such a talented and valuable mate. Can you at least escort me there?”

“Of course, if nothing else I have to scare those other males away from you.” He bit down lightly on my neck, leaving imprints in the skin. “Soon you will wear my mark, and everyone will know you are mine.”

“Maybe I’ll bite you first,” I said. “Would it work for me to mark you even if I’m human?”

“I don’t know.” We filled our plates, kind of. I took a breast, potatoes and green beans, and he was more like Jake Blues: four fried chickens and a coke. I looked at him, motioning at the vegetables. “Sorry, no room left for rabbit food.”

“Rabbit food is good for you, full of vitamins!”

“Then I’ll get them from the rabbits,” he said as he led us to a table. The lunch was fun, but over too soon.

We went back to our room to change. Jane and I were sharing since we were unmated females. I pulled out the bikini I had purchased before everything went to hell back home, it was low cut and sequined. I planned to torture Josh before he returned to work with a perpetual hardon. Jane had been disappointed not to find her mate here, but was looking forward to socializing. Gila was a big pack, a bunch of people were starting to arrive for Luis’ trial, and maybe she would get lucky. She wore a bright yellow bikini that showed off her toned form to perfection. We both put on long T-shirts over our suits, mine was one of Josh’s favorites, and grabbed beach towels and flip flops before meeting Josh back in the hall.

“You sure you can’t come?” We had set our towels on chairs next to the big pool behind the pack house, looking around the place was filling up with young mothers at the shallow end, and teens at our end. The baby boom at the end of the war was in full evidence from all the babies and heavily pregnant women taking advantage of the water to sooth their aching backs.

“I am.” His eyes got wide as I pulled off my shirt, posing a little for him. I crossed my arms in front, pushing my cleavage up and making it even more evident. I could see him tenting. “By the Goddess, Char,” he whispered as he leaned down, “You are making the time until your birthday torture.” He kissed down my neck, then sucked on my shoulder. I slapped him away, but he looked at the broken blood vessels with pride. “That should keep them away.”

“MEN!” He turned to go, just as I untied my top. I didn’t wear a suit at our Pack, and I wasn’t going to here. He gaped like a fish on the dock as I tossed my suit onto my towel before diving into the pool. I came up, he was walking off with a towel held in front of his waist to hide his erection. I grinned; I was playing with fire and winning.

We played volleyball and sunbathed for a few hours, before people started gathering by the door to the house. I rolled over to see what was going on, spotting Gunny and Mom walking through the crowd. People were thanking him for what he did, thanking Rose for her work in ending the threat to our Packs. I got up, pulling the shirt over my body before running to them. He looked good, his bandages were gone but angry red scars covered his shoulder and neck. Mom had her arm around his good side, she was glowing with happiness. I gave them both a big hug before taking his other side. “I figured a good soak in the hot tub would help his muscles relax,” she said as we led him over.

She found chairs and they both stripped, unconcerned with suits as we walked slowly to the big pool and slowly eased ourselves into the seats. “Here, you take this side,” Mom said as she got out again. “I can’t take the hot water. I’m going to shift and swim for a bit.” I shifted to his good side, helping him find a shelf at the right height to keep his neck and shoulder in the swirling waters. Mom shifted into her black panther to the fascination of many Gila members who weren’t used to our big cats. She leaped high into the air before splashing into the deep end, swimming easily around the pool. Panthers were natural swimmers, comfortable on or below the water. She was soon paddling over to the young ones, who were more than happy to play on the big black cat. “How are you feeling, Dad?”

“Sore. Happy. Anxious.” He looked around. “So far we have little to go on as far as who is behind Luis and Maitea. If he doesn’t give up information, we don’t have much of a choice but to do what they said and forget it.”

“You won’t, though.”

He shook his head. “No, we could never ignore a threat like that. We just have to be like our panthers- unseen, unnoticed and waiting for the right time to pounce.” I leaned into him, and the tub started to fill up with friends and others wanting to spend some time with us.

I loved the Pack life, being around people my age was fun, not the cliquey hell of my old school. We were family, we all helped each other, and there wasn’t jealousy because we wanted our mates and our mates only. I was starting to get pruney, and I knew he shouldn’t spend too long in the hot water. He was starting to nod off. “Come on, we should get you back to bed. You need your rest.”

I helped him up and Mom shifted and wrapped a towel around herself before coming over. “You all right?”

“Fine, love. I’m just tired.”

“Well, quit getting hurt and we won’t have to nurse you back to health all the time.” She took his hand as I continued to hold his good side. “Grab your stuff, Charlotte, we need to talk to you back in our room.”

I panicked for a moment, wondering if this was about how I had teased Josh earlier. I went over and dried off, yelling to Jane that I was going back with my parents. She went back to the volleyball game, so I quickly got my swimsuit and shirt back on. I met them at the door to the Pack House and followed them to their guest room. I waited while Mom got him through a quick shower, thankfully so quick they couldn’t have been doing it, and ready for bed. They both came over and sat on the end of the bed, hugging me between them.

“Charlotte, you can’t tell anyone what we’re going to tell you right now, not even Josh. It will come out soon, we have to tell the Alphas first, then we will have a Belden Pack meeting soon to tell the rest.”

I looked up at Gunny. “We’re leaving the Pack because you are Alphas?”

He kissed my forehead. “I should have known you would pick up on things,” he said. “Yes, we are both Alphas. We have been talking to Craig and Ella, also Robert and Renee. We need time to learn the job, to do things decently and in order. We won’t be kicked out, we will always be close to them. But, the island will be returned to us soon, and when Craig and Ella leave, some of the Pack will stay in Santa Fe with us and we will become a new Pack.”

“But Josh…”

“That’s one reason we have to keep things quiet. We need to approach people privately, let them know what is happening and give them a choice. Josh is an adult, he would never leave you, but we think his family will want to stay with him.”

We talked for a few more minutes, answering my questions until I felt good about the whole thing. I would miss some of my friends, but they promised we would visit each other often. Gunny couldn’t wait to show us the island.

“There’s one more thing that will be a big change for all of us,” Gunny said.

I looked at him, he was looking at Mom. “Baby… I’m pregnant.”

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