Chapter 18 - Aubree (Part 1)
While Stone spoke privately with Gwen and Lance in the living room, the rest of the pack went into the kitchen and Aubree immediately filled the coffeemaker up and got it brewing before adding bread to the toaster.
Tensions were still high among the males, though it would seem less so for Gunner. He stood stoically by the sliding door, peering out into the backyard while Alistair engaged Aubree in telepathic conversation, and Gavin fidgeted, drumming his fingers on the counter and stealing glances toward the living room.
It would seem that, regardless of her soul being the same, being reborn in another body meant she still had to form the mental connections.
It was simple enough. Alistair did it when he jumped on her bed earlier that morning and pressed his forehead to hers. She felt a gentle prodding in her head and opened it without fully realizing what she was doing.
Gavin, it would seem, she had already made a connection the night they had to bring Gwen back from the brink of death. However, with her being human at the time and the bond with Stone not sealed, the only way he could make the connection was through touch. Now that her bond with Stone was complete, and she had lycan blood mixed in her veins, he could mind-link with her like everyone else.
As the coffee brewed, she and Gunner locked gazes before touching their foreheads together and forming the connection.
While she and Stone had been gone, the pack bought a new kitchen table and chairs, as well as a plastic patio set. She wanted to eat breakfast outside in the garden, but Stone called her and Gavin into the living room before the coffee was even done brewing.
After the four of them shared a moment together, Aubree and Gavin returned to the kitchen, while Stone spent more time with Gwen and Lance.
She ate two slices of toast for breakfast with coffee and chatted for a bit with Gavin, Alistair, and Gunner.
The oldest male welcomed her back home, asked her how she was feeling, and when she would like to start her training.
As the head warrior, he was responsible for training, and while Aubree groaned at the thought of working up a sweat, she knew she had to become physically stronger in order to be Luna.
“You’ll have to go easy on me. I’m still technically human until the next full moon and have my first shift,” she said as they sipped their coffee in the kitchen, while Gavin was spreading strawberry jam on his toast at the counter a few feet away, only to have Alistair steal it from him and shove the whole thing in his mouth.
Gunner nodded, his back to the pair as Gavin shouted, “Hey!” and lunged for his uncle, who sputtered crumbs with chipmunk cheeks and side-stepped Gavin.
“Of course. This month’s training will be strengthening exercises, focusing on your core muscles.”
She nodded, straining to keep her attention on Gunner and what he was saying, despite the fact that Gavin managed to get Alistair in a headlock and was giving him a noogie.
“Focus, Luna.” Gunner caught her attention straying.
She hung her head. “Sorry. So, what kind of core strengthening exercises did you have in mind?”
“Planks, squats, crunches, and push-ups mostly,” he listed. “Tomorrow, I will assess your abilities and go from there.”
Yikes, he’s going to work me to the bone.
Alistair slipped free of Gavin’s hold, and he ruffled the younger one’s hair. [Afraid so, buttercup.]
Aubree’s hand met with her face.
[Yup, we all heard that,] Gavin add.
She hung her head lower and peered up at Gunner through her lashes as she bit down on her bottom lip. [Guess I need to work on keeping my thoughts to myself too, huh?]
Despite the lack of emotion on Gunner’s face, the corner of his lips tilted up a degree and humor sparked in his blue eyes for a second before it disappeared. [Indeed.]
“Aubree, you want more toast?” Gavin asked and mentally added, [Say yes. It’s the only way I can get some without Uncle stealing mine.]
She pressed her lips together, but couldn’t stop the grin from spreading. “Sure.”
“I’ll have some more too,” Alistair chimed in, turning to the toaster and adding more bread.
As Alistair and Gavin toasted piece after piece of bread, spreading jam on each one until they toasted the entire loaf and made a tower on a plate, they laughed as they headed out to the patio to eat and drink their coffee. Aubree joined them when Gunner excused himself to go down to the basement and begin his daily workout routine.
Soon, the playful pair were yawning and yearning for their beds but didn’t want to admit it. They wanted to spend more time with Aubree and pick her brain, but she still insisted on talking normally.
“So, how have things been around here?” she asked, leaning back in her plastic chair with her mug of coffee in both hands on her lap. “I mean, with the vampires and everything.”
Alistair shrugged. “After we found their lair, we managed to kill some of them, but those that got away ran to Wisconsin and never returned.”
Gavin nodded. “It hasn’t been as exciting here as you might think.”
“Ja.” Alistair scratched the scruff on his chin. “We keep scouring the city all day and all night, but nothing has turned up since. Hector is thinking of returning to Rosenrot since things seem to have settled down and with the possibility of the vampires targeting Chicago, I don’t blame him. Even though they have a larger pack than we do, Chicago is a much bigger place to cover.”
Aubree swallowed, her thoughts turning to the safety of her parents. And what about her best friend, Brooke?
Reading her mind, Alistair shook his head. “Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll be fine. Tell them to carry pepper spray with them if it will make you feel better. That shit is strong and will immobilize them for a few minutes, which will give them enough time to get away.”
“Messes with their sense of smell for the rest of the night too, so they won’t be able to track them back down,” Gavin added as he dusted the breadcrumbs from his fingers.
Aubree nodded. “I think Brooke already carries pepper spray with her since she’s a barista at a night club and gets off work in the middle of the night. Can never be too careful in a big city like Chicago.”
They both nodded before Alistair cleared his throat. “Your male friend has disappeared with them.”
She froze, her heart sinking. “Dan?”
Gavin hesitated. “Once they leave our territory and pass into another, it’s out of our hands. We can’t control what another pack does, and we can’t ask them to spare him.”
She swallowed as her thoughts flitted to Dan. “So, Dan could get hurt out there is what you’re saying?”
Alistair was nodding while Gavin avoided her gaze. “You could try asking Hector and Rose to spare him if he crosses their path, but I’m not sure how they will feel about that.”
Her fingers tightened around the mug in her lap. “He won’t hurt anyone. I know he won’t.”
“He has to feed, Aubree,” Alistair said. “He won’t be able to fight against that instinctual drive.”
Hearing him call her by her name struck a chord. He was dead serious.
Eyes prickling, she looked down at the mug in her hands, not sure what to say. Guilt pressed down on her as memories flashed through her mind. The good along with the bad, but mostly the good. Simple things like his smile, his laughter, and the way he held her.
The ache within her brought forth whimpers from the two males who quickly looked away.
Heat rushed to her face as she took a deep breath and pushed the images aside. “Sorry guys. I keep forgetting to shield my thoughts from you.”
“No worries, babygirl. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.” Alistair got up and excused himself before going into the house.