Chapter 6 - Stone (Part 1)
Stone listened to Aubree disappear up the stairs before looking down at his pants.
Goddess, she just had to bestow him with her deliciously sweet juices all over his crotch. The smell of it swirled within him, tugging on his instinct to follow her upstairs and do what he said he would.
He had to hold out for two more days and one more night. Just a little bit longer...
He wasn’t sure he could make it.
The windows were all open to let in the fresh air, but her scent still lingered, dancing around him as the breeze picked it up and swept it around the room in a tantalizing slow tango to drive him insane.
Once he heard the water running upstairs, he followed her lingering scent up the stairs to their room where he changed his pants. A fruity fragrance seeped under the bathroom door. The soap would help to mask her naturally alluring musk, but it would only last for half the day if he was lucky.
Returning downstairs, he forced himself to eat his breakfast, appreciating the fact that Aubree took the time to prepare his steak the way he liked it. She could have left it sitting on a plate, raw, and he still would have eaten it. No, she took the time to lightly sear and salt it for him.
She was so getting it later.
While eating, he deliberated on whether he should tell her or not about Tiberius. He wanted to address the mystery at the meeting, and he wanted to keep Aubree informed so she wouldn’t be alarmed. Preparing her for everything she could expect was the only way to ease her into it while giving both her and him the upper hand. The inability to mind-link with her was such a hindrance and a weakness to them as an alpha and luna in charge of a pack.
When she came back down, he tried not to stare at her outfit. Jean shorts elongated her lean legs and the loose T-shirt draped perfectly over her shoulders, covering the bruises while showing the flawless, unbitten, state of her slender shoulders. A single word spread across the bust: Believe.
“I like that shirt,” he stated, averting his gaze and the lingering question of whether or not she was wearing a bra.
She walked up to him sitting on the couch and stopped a few feet away. “Good. I like this top too. Don’t rip it up later.”
A smirk met her gaze. “I’ll try not to.”
This time, she looked away as heat rushed to her face.
Rising, he stood before her and cupped her cheek in his large, rough palm, urging her to look up at him.
When her beautiful eyes met his, her heart did a cute little tap dance—music to his ears.
“I apologize beforehand if things get uncomfortable in the meeting,” he said. “There’s something about this pack that they haven’t told us. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it involves Eramis’ and Elena’s son, Tiberius.”
Aubree’s brows furrowed. “Who? How many kids do they have?”
“They have a big family, Love.”
He loved the way that word rolled off his tongue and the way she melted under his touch when he said it.
He had to pull away to keep himself from kissing her.
Pushing away the thought of caressing her lips with his, he continued, “Two daughters and three sons. They had a third daughter, their firstborn, but she died a long time ago. Their second daughter is Luna of the Alkatee Pack in West Texas. Dom is their third pup. Then comes Marina, then Tiberius, and then Laurencius. The Rosmi Maana Pack left Europe after Marina matured. Both Tiberius and Laurencius were born here.”
As she listened, she toyed with her hair, twisting it between her fingers. “So, what’s wrong with Tiberius?”
“I don’t know yet. His scent is different from the last time we visited thirty years ago. I just want you to know beforehand that I’m going to bring this up because it is a concern. There can’t be any secrets between our packs if Guinevere and Laurencius are to be mates. We deserve to know the truth about their pack, as they deserve to know the truth about ours.”
He closed his eyes and leaned down to press his forehead to hers. “Try and stay calm. They will be able to sense your unease, and it will make them uneasy as well and question the legitimacy of what we are saying.”
Aubree heaved a sigh. “Sometimes, I really hate being the only one without super-senses, but maybe this time, I’ll be glad for it.”
Drawing away, he grinned at her as he stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I know you’ll be my calm, strong Luna. I wanted to let you know what to expect. They’ll be curious about you, about what happened with Guinevere, and I don’t know what else.”
“Well, I’m definitely not a witch,” she said, her forehead wrinkling, remembering what Eramis accused her of being earlier. “Do they even exist?”
He nodded. He’d been lucky enough to not encounter too many in his life and managed to evade them and any ill-will they may have wanted to conjure upon him. “Yes, although I’ve never heard of a witch successfully convincing a lycan that she is his mate. I was surprised by that as well. Makes me wonder if perhaps a witch might be behind Tiberius’ odd scent.”
Aubree’s eyes widened. “That would seriously suck monkey-balls.”
As if reading the confusion on his face, she shook her head. “Never mind.”
Entwining her fingers with his, she tugged on his hand. “Come on, let’s get this over with. I want to go to the Grand Canyon when we’re done.”
He let her lead him across the room to the front door. Her eyes flitted to his crotch before darting away and pressing her lips together to stifle a giggle.
His lips quirked up a touch.
She was so getting it later.
The midmorning sunlight was hot on his skin, but a cool breeze blew, tugging on Aubree’s shirt and hair. She turned as he filled his lungs with fresh air.
Even with the added fruity-tang to her scent, he still felt the pull of the matebond. Especially when her eyes flitted up to his with a smile.
Dear Goddess, have mercy.
Her eyes, the windows to her soul, could ground him, lift him up, and break him all at once. He couldn’t wrap his head around it, but he could feel the connection intensifying, the pull of the matebond pushing him to the brink of losing control.
He craved her body more than ever as the bond forced itself upon him. To take her. To join themselves in mind, body, and soul. Fighting against it was killing him, but he had to. For her. To protect her.
She led him across the courtyard to the front door of the main house where she stopped and chewed on her bottom lip as worry and a hint of fear soured her scent.
He frowned at her. “What’s wrong, Love?”
Giving him a reassuring smile, she squeezed his hand in hers. “Just thinking too much.”
He took both of her hands in his and raised them to her shoulders as he leaned down to press his forehead to hers. “You don’t need to worry. They’ll be after me in there, not you.”
“It’s not them I’m worried about.”
He drew away enough to look into her eyes, making her heart pitter-patter as a faint blush warmed her cheeks.
Huffing, she pulled away. “Never mind. Let’s go.”
Before he could protest, she turned away from him and pushed open the front door.
He followed her in as her eyes flitted around the immaculate space. Uncertainty gripped her, as if she didn’t know whether to stand there and wait or go off in search of Eramis and Elena. She couldn’t hear the door open down the hallway on the right and Dom’s soft footsteps approaching.
It wasn’t long before Dom appeared and his gaze immediately flitted to Aubree’s shoulders before looking back up into her and Stone’s eyes. He exhaled, deflating a little as some built-up pressure inside was released.
Stone tried to remain impassive and push down a growl into his gut.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to him that Dom’s first instinct was to make sure Aubree hadn’t been marked. Still, it annoyed him that they thought so little of him. Of course, he would do everything in his power not to harm Aubree. He could never forgive himself if he did lose control and bite her.
You almost did last night, a small voice in his head reminded him.
Swallowing, he pushed down the rock-hard emotions that ground together within him into his gut and forced a neutral expression on his face.
“Glad you two could make it. A few minutes late, but...” Dom hesitated as Aubree quirked her brows at him. “Well, let’s go.”
As he turned to lead the way, Aubree tossed out casually, “Sorry about that. It’s so hard for him to keep his paws to himself.”
Stone’s eyes widened as she looked up to give him a mischievous smile. “What? It’s not like they don’t already know.”
Good Goddess, that was not appropriate conversation material at a meeting with an alpha and luna!
He didn’t want to scold her in front of Dom, though. He made a mental note to talk with her privately about what was inappropriate to say in front of other alphas and lunas, even if they did know what was going on behind closed doors and she said it playfully.
Was she trying to get back at him for embarrassing her in front of Eramis earlier?
Not like he wanted her to leave when Eramis started badgering him at the door. The Alpha needed to be put in his place. He had no right to treat Aubree like a common human female.
“You’ve been spending too much time with Alistair. You have that look in your eyes that he always gets,” he grumbled.
Please, don’t say something Alistair would say.
She giggled at both Stone and Dom’s expense but thankfully didn’t say more.
The back of Dom’s neck was red with embarrassment as he led them down the same hallway they went down the other day. They stepped into a much larger room this time with a long wooden table in the center with comfortable-looking office chairs all around it. There had to be enough chairs to fit two dozen people around the table.
As they entered, Aubree standing in front of Stone, all eyes turned to her and landed on her shoulders before an inaudible collective sigh fell.
All humor deflated out of her, making her huff.
Good. She noticed that too.
Throwing her head back, she groaned. “Yeah, yeah. Behold: the human is still human.”
She spun around on the spot slowly for good measure.
Stone pressed his lips together to keep from grinning at her.
Eramis coughed to break the tension that fell as everyone realized they were gawking.
A series of thundering heartbeats and a variety of lycan scents tainted with anxiety filled the room. Even with the windows open to allow fresh air in, they swept over him, but could not overpower Aubree’s bouquet of vanilla and roses. Hers continued to dominate his senses, teasing him as her little thread of frustration coiled around him.
“Yes, well, I apologize on everyone’s behalf for staring. Please understand that we are all concerned about your well-being,” Eramis said. “Please, have a seat.”
He gestured to two chairs in front of them. Everyone was standing around the table across from the door. Eramis and Elena at the head of the table with Dom on their left, followed by Marina and Laurencius. Next to Laurencius was another male and female, whom Eramis introduced as his beta male and female, with Alec next to them. Alec was their son and Dom’s anticipated beta when he became alpha.
If he became alpha. That was now a question no one knew the answer to.