“Catch me, Lucian…”
Her soft giggles filled his ears.
The beast shot through the forest, chasing her. “You can’t run from me.” He scooped her into his arms.
Soft hands curled around his thick fur. “I love the way you smell. Like trees and rich soil.” He growled in appreciation when she buried her face into his muscled chest. Her fingers trailed down to his trace the contours of his roped muscles.
Ugh! The power this tiny creature held over his massive beast was still beyond his comprehension. No matter how hard he tried, always she won at the end. His beast was content despite the result. Her enthusiastic smile and the reward that followed made it worthwhile.
Suddenly the spring morphed into winter. Lucian slowed to a halt, staring at his empty hands. He had transformed into his human form. Barefoot and clad in only his jeans he breathed in confusion.
“Alexa!” he roared, whirling around. Where did she go? She was there a few minutes ago. Tall trees blocked his vision. The dampened ground swallowed his feet a good few inches. “Alexa!”
A rustle to his right had his swivel on his feet. “Alexa…” The relief didn’t last long as he took in her exhausted smile. She wore his favorite floral sundress and stood there cradling her swollen belly.
“When the time comes you must let go.”
She smiled sadly. “I’ll be gone for a long time, Lucian.”
He rushed to her side. “Don’t say that.”
“I don’t have a choice.”
He cupped the side of her face, resting his forehead against hers. “Don’t say anything.”
“Protect our sons.” She kissed his lips. “I named them after the first letter of our names.”
When she asked him about naming them, he had asked her to choose a suitable name. Tears welled in his eyes. He didn’t know why. He had her in his arms, but why was his heart so heavy? Shouldn’t this be a joyful moment?
“Adrian and Leandro.”
“It’s beautiful.” He kissed her temple. “I love their names.”
She nodded. Tears now streamed her cheeks. “I’ll miss you.” She cupped his face, staring into his soul with such a passion that melted his heart. “Remember, when the time comes you must let go.”
“Over my dead body!”
“I love you, Lucian…”
A thick fog surrounded them. He tried to catch her only to claw at the empty air. “Alexa!”
“Lucian!” Hard hands grabbed him. “Wake up.”
He shot up with a snarl, pinning whoever dared touch him. Stunning brown eyes stared at him. “Alexa…” Lucian removed his hand that gripped Abram’s neck tighter. His breathing came as heavy pants. “Abram?”
He clenched his fists. Sharp claws dug into his palms. The sting of pain and the metallic stench of blood did nothing to lessen the constant ache in his heart. Eyes painfully similar to that of his mate softened at him. The distant scent of Abram somewhat comforted his beast. After all, he and Alexa shared the same blood.
“I saw her,” he said in a small voice. The beast prowled in his mind, still confused. She felt real. He held her in his arms again. “She named them Adrian and Leandro.” His body sagged to the floor. “I wish I had seen them at least once.” Wished he had held them in his hands as he memorized their warm scents. Listening to their strong, rhythmic heartbeat every night as he slept had become a distant memory.
“Adrian…” Abram repeated. A soft smile spread on his lips. “Leandro…” he whispered as if uttering the names louder would hurt the boys. “So beautiful.”
Lucian nodded. “How do they look?” Only Abram saw the boys before they were taken away. Though he heard it from him several times, hearing him describe them comforted him.
“Beautiful and strong with dark hair just like you,” his brother-in-law said with a fond smile. His eyes grew distant as he reminisced the moment. “They have blue eyes unlike you or Alexa, so deep and intense. There was this strange aura that surrounds them and they smell like fire.” Abram bobbed his head as if he remembered something suddenly. “I remember now, that’s exactly how they smelled––hot, raging fire.” His gaze lifted to connect with the alpha. “Lucian, they were so damn powerful. They are nothing like you or Alexa.”
Lucian lifted a brow. Abram never spoke about their scent before.
“They burned my paw when I tried to help Serenity.” He stared at his hands. “Now that I think about that day…There was a fire. It burned the entire room. Serenity died.” His voice cracked. “She died and was born again. I saw it happening.”
“Tell me everything.” Calmer than before, his gaze narrowed at Abram. His memory was still vague, he only remembered his mate lying naked on the floor like a broken doll.
Abram crossed his legs with a sigh. “That day when the creatures attacked…we kinda merged.” He joined his hands. “You know, Nate and I.”
Lucian nodded. He discovered that when they accidentally became one during a training session. Later they figured the boys could do that at will. His father had explained it to him as the power of twins. They kept it a secret because if the other lycans found out they would try to kill the men. Twins by bite were a lethal combination in the supernatural realm. Together they could defeat an alpha. For this reason, their lives would have been in danger.
“So, in the middle of the fight, Serenity forced us to leave. The next thing we saw is a bright light bursting out of the window. We were fighting when I felt like someone ripped my heart off.” His voice started to tremble and Lucian thought he was going to cry. Abram rubbed his chest. “I ran inside, the light burned me. Our mate bond had severed.” His hands shook. “The light got too bright and she came back. It was like magic, one of those scenes you see in Disney movies.”
Abram laughed without humor. “Those small light balls took the shape of a woman. Serenity looked like an angel with huge, white wings. I knew Alexa used the soul binding promise on her. There was no time to comprehend what had happened then. Alexa was…” He exhaled loudly, his hands slightly shaking. “She forced me to cut the babies out…said they’re tearing her apart.” The first set of tears strolled down his cheeks. “She told me to tell that that she loves them so much.”
Lucian choked on a sob at the gut-wrenching reminder. Her broken form flashed before his eyes.
“Isadora healed Alexa and said Guinevere knew the children were born. She sent them away…and then you came.”
The mysterious woman in Alexa’s dreams, Isadora had told him that his mate was alive. But the fucking witch had her now. Every breath he took hurt. He swayed to his feet. “We need to find her…that Isadora.”
Abram stood with him. “For that, we must get Nate.”
Lucian’s determined gaze locked with Abram’s brown ones. “Did you locate him?”
He shook his head. “The human world is destroyed. We can only track him through you.”
Lucian tilted his head to the side. “Through me?”
“Yes, when you woke up I was able to connect with Nate briefly. He said he’s in some kind of research facility he didn’t know about.” He walked to him. “Uncle Dimitri has put together a team. We can leave whenever you’re ready.”
“I’m ready.” His response was instant. The sooner they found Nate better.
Abram regarded him for a moment. “Looks like your beast is in control this time. Can you handle it out there?”
Lucian straightened. “Yes.” The beast had calmed a bit. Though it still mourned it knew there was still hope and it was determined to find and protect his mate at any cost. “Any news about Serenity?”
“No.” Abram shook his head. “We didn’t search because I didn’t want Guinevere reaching them through us. Wherever they are…they are safe. That gives us time to find Nate and Isadora.”
“Good. I’ll be out in five.”
His brother-in-law nodded curtly and hurried out of the room. There was no mistaking the slight bounce in his footsteps. Of course, the beast wanted some action. After all, he itched to have some. Oh, how much he wished to have his claws buried deep in one of those creature’s chests.
“Remember, I’ll always come back to you.” Alexa’s words floated into his mind.
“I know. This time I’ll find you first.” His fists clenched by his side. With a silent promise to his mate, he set out.