Chapter 1 - Aubree (Part 1)
Book 3 - Souls Entwine
Life is taken in strides, remembering the good times and the bad. The laughter and the tears. Supporting each other and being supported.
Pack is Life. Without Pack, there is no Life.
Life is worth celebrating, and Aubree’s was just beginning with Stone and the Blauwald Pack.
The morning was filled with celebrations. As a human, Aubree’s acceptance of their wolf forms was a big deal for them. No longer did they have to conceal themselves from her. No longer did they have to walk on eggshells. The barrier separating her from them had been lifted and they could all breathe a little easier, laugh a little louder, and be a little bolder.
Five warriors from Hector’s pack arrived a few hours after the sun rose. While Gwen stayed inside on the couch in the living room, Aubree joined everyone outside the house as Hector made introductions and orders to the newcomers.
“Most importantly, you will show the same respect to Luna Aubree as you would to Luna Rosemary,” Hector told them. “I trust that you will as you have been specifically chosen for your trustworthiness.”
Each one of them was bent forward on one knee, three men in shorts and two women in simple slip-on dresses. Their faces were angled to the ground, necks bent to the side in what Stone explained to Aubree as a sign of their submission to their alpha.
They lined up in front of the house with the forest at their backs. A warm breeze ruffled the hair on their lowered heads as birdsong trilled in the distance.
“Our hosts, in turn, will pledge their protection to each of you,” Hector said.
Stone put his hand on the small of Aubree’s back and guided her to stand next to him while Alistair, Gunner, and Gavin lined up behind them.
“Follow my lead,” he whispered to her, “and put your hand on top of mine.”
Nodding her head, she followed as he stepped forward. His hand slipped from her back and reached out to hover an inch over the first woman’s head. Aubree placed her hand on top of his.
“You have our oath,” he said
“As you have mine,” she responded, her head still bowed.
Stone slid over to the man on the woman’s side and repeated the same words to him before the cycle repeated and each one had pledged their protection and services to each other. Alistair, Gunner, and Gavin repeated the process one after another after them.
Aubree noticed that the two females standing next to two of the males all bore identical markings on their shoulders to the one Stone had. Two sets of mates tasked with taking turns patrolling the border.
They stood back once more while Hector said a few more words, and Aubree found it interesting as she watched him take on the role of Alpha. He was serious and stern like Stone was before she got to know him, but he flashed the warriors a signature smirk when he was done, and they looked up to meet his eyes for a second with smiles all their own.
A mental message, maybe a joke, as his true self stood before them with all the formalities behind them now.
They rose up from the ground and one mated pair turned and walked side-by-side to the forest to begin patrol.
The remaining three were welcome to join their party in the living room, use the workout room in the basement, or hunt if they were hungry.
The solitary male opted for the basement while the remaining mated pair said they would like to go for a short run to stretch their muscles. The drive was a long one, a trip they weren’t used to making.
Aubree watched the second mated pair exchange glances and smiles before entwining their fingers together and walking hand-in-hand to the forest.
Fingers brushed down her arm to her elbow, sending a current of delightful tingles to dance across her skin.
Looking up over her shoulder, she caught Stone’s gaze and a rush of warmth filled her from her head down to her toes. He closed his eyes and leaned down to nuzzle his nose into her hair as his strong arms slipped around hers, holding her back against his chest. Leaning into him, she closed her eyes as peace enveloped her.
“You okay?” she asked as she listened to everyone else return to the house and Alistair’s boisterous voice calling for music.
“Yes,” he said. “I am relieved to know that trusted members of Rosenrot are here to help us while you and I are gone. I hate leaving them all here with Carina still out there, and Gwen still recovering from her injuries.”
She reached up and held his arms around her. She understood his concern. She didn’t want to leave them either. She’d gotten close to everyone, and leaving Gwen like this unnerved her too.
Then, there was Dan out there. Dan was a vampire because of her, and while she couldn’t do anything about that, she worried that if she left, he could be killed without her knowledge.
He deserved a second chance as much as she did in their new lives. While she wasn’t happy with the fact that he was a vampire now, there was nothing she could do about it. He’d have to figure out how to live his life himself, and she would have to move on and let him.
He wasn’t her concern anymore, as Stone put it. She asked the pack not to hurt him, unless it was in self-defense, and she had to trust them to keep their word. Everything else was out of her hands, and she had to accept that.
“When are we leaving?” she asked.
“Later this afternoon,” he said. “Originally, I wanted to drive us down there, but it’s too late now. We’ll have to fly. I have to let the Rosmi Maana Pack know that we’ll be flying into their territory instead.”
He nodded. “Lycans are territorial. We will be guests on their land until our business is done. It will be fine. Our pack hasn’t paid them a visit since the eighties. It will be good to see them again and strengthen ties. Alpha Eramis is already curious about you. I’ve asked him to keep an open mind, but it’s unsettling. You will be the first human to ever enter their pack house.”
She chewed nervously on her bottom lip. “It will be okay though, right?”
His lips smiled against her scalp. “Of course. You are human. They will be extra hospitable to you.”
His words eased her fears a little bit, but she was reminded of Vincent and the power he exerted due to his Alpha Bloodline.
“Is Alpha Eramis of the Bloodline?”
Stone nodded. “You don’t need to worry about him. If anything, he will be inclined to keep a vigilant eye on me to make sure I don’t mark you.”
He turned her around and brushed his fingers along her jaw, tipping her chin up. Her eyes met his.
“You know how much of a struggle it is for me not to do that and seal our bond. He knows that too. As much as he wants to trust that I can control myself, he feels it is his duty to protect you from me as well. He will exert his authority on me to help keep me in line.”
As he spoke, he continued to rub her jaw with his thumb. Her fingertips began to tingle and spread up her arm.
Would he stop talking and kiss her already?
“I can handle you,” she said, reaching up behind his neck and drawing him down. His breath blew in her face making her inhale and exhale shaky breaths as heat flared through his touch. “In fact, I have you right where I want you.”
His lips curled up in a grin before catching her own.
Leaning into him, she pressed her body against his as she tangled her fingers into his hair, deepening the kiss as her desire for him intensified on contact.
A growl tremored his throat, making her gut clench with need. Tearing himself away from her, he cradled her face in his hands and gazed into her eyes as his thumbs caressed her cheeks.
The windows to his soul.
If it weren’t for the connection of his eyes, the heat of his touch would have drawn her lips closer to his, but now she felt only the pull of his soul, drawing her deeper into those ocean blue depths.
Smiling, she closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to his.
“Let’s go inside,” he said. “Have some fun with everyone before we leave. They’re going to miss you.”
Her eyes pinched now as her smile widened. She’d miss them too. “We’ll only be gone for a few days.”
“Yes, but they’re still recovering from a century without you.”
“I’m not Adelaide,” she said, pulling back and brushing her nose against his.
His nose crinkled before he pulled her in for a chaste kiss on the lips. “You underestimate the strength of your soul’s connection with them,” he whispered as he tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.
Her heart fluttered. She loved the way he touched her. He was so gentle and love emanated from the skin-on-skin contact that made her heart surge with joy. She’d never felt so beautiful with such a simple gesture.
“They will miss your presence deeply. You’ll feel it too, I think. I’m not sure,” he said, placing his hand on the small of her back and urging her to head back inside the house.