Chapter 14 - Aubree (Part 2)
Dominius met them at the Gateway gas station around eleven with the cheekiest grin Aubree had ever seen play on his face.
They held their palms up in greeting before Dom shoulder-nudged Stone.
“The senses don’t lie, Luna,” he said, still grinning with a slight shake of his head. “I don’t know what you guys did, but you smell different. Not quite human but not quite lycan either.”
[Fully bonded,] Stone mentally stated before they climbed into the car. [He just won’t say it aloud.]
Her cheeks heated up. [Geez. It’s really no one’s business anyway!]
Stone chuckled as he climbed into the back seat. Aubree climbed in the other side. [It can’t be helped with our senses. It will only be awkward for a little while because it’s new.]
“So?” Dom asked as he buckled his seatbelt and turned in his seat to face her. “Can you mind-link now?”
Aubree nodded before she buckled her own belt. [Everyone is still going to be watching us like hawks when we get back to Rosmi Maana’s pack house, won’t they?]
[Most likely,] Stone replied as he took her hand in his and brushed his thumb over her knuckles. [It can’t be helped, Love.]
She sighed as Dom put the car in gear and pulled away from the gas station. [I know.]
“So, tell me what happened?” Dom’s curiosity got the best of him, and while Aubree didn’t mind sharing the details of the Spirit Walker’s ceremony... the rest remained with her and her mate.
[It’s going to be so hard to think of you as ‘my mate’ instead of... you know... boyfriend,] she said to Stone after they finished telling Dom the details of the ceremony. [I mean, I’m not British or Australian. That word just doesn’t come naturally to me.]
She hung her head in an attempt to hide the blush warming her cheeks. [Even ‘boyfriend’ doesn’t hold enough meaning to signify how much you mean to me.]
He touched her chin and tipped it up. He smiled as he gazed into her eyes. [I love it when you blush.]
Dom cleared his throat. “So, uh, I spoke with my parents about going with you guys. They agreed it would be fine. I’m going to take the scenic route with Alec, Dane, and Mari and stop at all the packs along the way in hopes that we will find our mates. We should make it to your territory in three or four days time.”
Stone nodded as Dom continued.
“We will help you in your fight with the vampires. We have to now that Lance and Gwen are mates. We can’t stand by and let you all battle this threat on your own.” Dom’s grip tightened on the wheel while he kept his eyes focused on the road ahead. “It’s the least we can do before Gwen comes back with us.”
Stone’s heart skipped a beat—Aubree noticed it for the first time while holding his hand and sitting next to him. She didn’t hear a word of his thoughts. Was he shielding them like he mentioned earlier?
She gave Dom a small smile. “Thank you. Hopefully, you will find your mate then.”
Dom glanced at them in the rearview mirror. “Even if I did, Father will want Lance and Gwen to come back here for training. Lance is...”
Aubree saw his jaw clench as he trailed off.
“Young and inexperienced,” Stone filled in. “Yes, we are aware of that.”
Aubree mentally reached out to Stone as he turned his attention to his window, but he didn’t respond. She could feel his conflicting emotions—worry, fear, guilt—and closed her eyes, picturing Gwen and Stone playfully bantering back and forth as she let the warmth in her heart overflow through her touch.
That drew Stone away from the window and the painful emotions he’d been experiencing dissipated.
He gave her a small smile as he lifted her hand to his lips. [Thank you, Love.]
[What’s wrong? What were you thinking?]
He sighed and lowered his gaze to their entwined fingers.
[Praying that everything will come together. I can’t protect my pup if she comes here, and I can’t stop myself from worrying about her wellbeing and happiness.]
Aubree gave his hand a gentle squeeze. She knew better than to tell him not to worry about Gwen’s future. Didn’t all parents worry about their children? [I’m sure everything will be fine. Lance seems like a good kid.]
He nodded as she leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder.
[Sometimes, you have to have faith in others, Love,] she told him.
He kissed her forehead and settled down for the rest of the car ride.
When they arrived at the pack house, Elena ensured a big hearty lunch was ready for them.
No one commented on Aubree’s changed scent, but that didn’t mean they weren’t still curious about it. More than once, she’d glanced over to see someone watching her before they looked away quickly.
Even Elena and Eramis were rather distant and formal in their congratulations in sealing the bond.
Skepticism was the feeling Aubree got from them as the hairs on her nape stood on end. Their gazes fell on her shoulder to the mark Stone left when it peeked out from her shirt.
Stone didn’t like it one bit, but he bit back the urge to snap at them. A few low growls reverberated through him, but he kept his thoughts to himself.
Lance was invited to eat with them but he was so anxious, he could hardly take a bite of anything.
“I’ve never been on a plane before...”
“Did you pack earplugs?” Stone asked as he stabbed a piece of his cut-up and bloody steak with his fork and lifted it to his mouth.
“Then relax. You’ll hear some strange noises but remember that those are normal noises that the plane makes.”
“What if we crash?”
Lance chewed on his lip, his eyes looking away from the food before him.
Dom walked into the kitchen then and went straight to the fridge. “Geez, will you just chill, Lala?”
Lance’s eyes widened before snapping over to his older brother and narrowing. “Stop calling me Lala.”
Dom smirked as he pulled the fridge door open and helped himself to a bottle of water. Cracking the seal, he turned toward him as the fridge door closed next to him. “I will when you grow a pair, Lala.”
Lance growled as his nails extended and dug into the wooden surface of the table.
“Boys!” Elena barked as she stormed into the kitchen.
An invisible force struck Aubree’s chest, knocking the wind from her and forcing her to sit up straight in her seat.
Stone, Lance, and Dom reacted in the same manner before Elena grabbed Dom by the ear and glared at him.
Dom grimaced as she tugged on his lobe and mentally chewed him out.
Aubree turned to Stone with wide eyes. [Damn, she’s scary when she’s pissed!]
[And a deadly fighter,] Stone added. [You do not want to cross her.]
Excusing themselves with a snarl, Elena hauled Dom out of the kitchen by the ear.
Lance dug his fingers into the sides of his head and heaved a sigh. After a few deep breaths, he straightened with a much calmer and determined expression.
“Okay. I’m ready when you guys are.”