Chapter 19 - Stone (Part 1)
With the news that the vampire threat had passed and moved east, Stone and Aubree went into the city to check it out for themselves.
They met with Hector, Colten, and even the vampire slayers to not only confirm that it was true, but to discuss the next move.
Stone agreed with Hector that he and his lycans should return to their pack. If the vampires moved into their territory, they needed all of their pack members there.
Plus, Dom, Alec, Mari, and Dane would be arriving later the next day. If they needed help, Dom had already offered theirs if it was needed.
The vampire slayers had a fourth member in their group and assured Stone that they could handle the downtown core from then on.
“We’ll give you a call if we need your help. Otherwise, we got this,” Davis said.
Stone gave him a curt nod.
The alliance members eyed Aubree in silent curiosity but were otherwise polite and business-focused.
“With the Goddess’ blessings with us, we will need no further meetings until our annual Winter Solstice gatherings,” Colten said.
Stone nodded. “I am already counting my blessings.”
They parted and Stone and Aubree had an early dinner at a barbecue steakhouse. Stone ordered nearly everything on the menu because he couldn’t decide between the full-rack of ribs, the ten-pound monster steak, and the multiple flavors of chicken wings. The waiter was more than happy to fill such a large order—no doubt looking forward to a huge tip—and was happy to pack everything up at the end for them to take back home to the pack.
Everyone was ecstatic with the assortment of food when they woke up for the nightly hunt, but there wasn’t enough to go around. There were fierce growls and snarls, curled lips exposing teeth, and claws extending as hands grabbed the food.
Aubree stood back, her eyes round as saucers at the animalistic behavior taking place before her on the plastic patio table.
[It’s not every day I bring home seasoned meat,] Stone whispered into her mind as Alistair grabbed Gunner by the shirt, exposing his canines and asserting his dominance over the older male.
[You don’t say?]
Gently, he turned Aubree away as Gunner shoved Alistair off him and flipped the table over, sending the food flying across the lawn.
Alistair, Gavin, and Gunner all lunged for it, shifting into their beasts in one quick movement as they bound after the meat.
It was going to get ugly now, he knew, as he guided her into the kitchen. She didn’t have to see that yet. When she was physically stronger and more capable of holding her own ground, he’d let her in on the kill. For now, it was perhaps too much for her to handle.
They went into the living room and sat down on the couch opposite the one Lance and Gwen were sitting on and sharing the chicken wings they brought home.
Both of them growled in warning at Stone and Aubree before shaking their heads free of it.
“Sorry,” they said in unison.
They turned to each other and pointed, “Jinx!” before laughing and throwing chicken bones at each other.
“If you don’t want those, I know someone who—” Stone started to say, but Lance was quick to interrupt him.
“No, no, Alpha. I’ll take care of those. I’m saving them for last after my mate has her fill of the meat.”
Gwen smiled shyly at him, a chicken bone between her teeth as her canines slipped down a bit. “What if I want some?”
He wiped some sauce in the corner of her mouth with his thumb. “Not this time,” he said in a whisper. “I don’t want to risk those bones getting caught in your delicate human throat.”
She giggled as Stone groaned and looked away.
Aubree elbowed him in the gut. [Oh shush, you big grump. They’re so cute together!]
She smiled up at him and wiggled her eyebrows. [So? Lighten up.]
Sighing, he tried not to let the pup touching his daughter and rubbing his scent on her get to him. He knew he was being over-protective, and he couldn’t help it. He watched her and Gavin grow inside his mate. He cleaned her face when she was born. He raised her and watched her grow. How could he not be protective?
Aubree pinched his cheek. [You’re so cute when you’re being a protective daddy.]
He peaked an eyebrow at her. [If you think this is cute, wait until we have pups.]
A broad smile greeted him before she leaned her head against his shoulder. [I can’t wait.]
He nuzzled her forehead with his nose. [Me too, Love. How soon do you want them?]
She shrugged. [I don’t know. I’m in no rush. If they happen, they happen. Might be a good idea that I get used to shifting before that, though.]
He nodded, closing his eyes and allowing himself a moment to enjoy her scent and the feel of her body leaning against his.
Alistair strolled into the living room, coated in dirt and wearing a pair of shorts. He eyed the pile of chicken bones on the coffee table. A crooked grin played on his lips. “Hey, I call dibs if no one—”
Lance growled fiercely and shot to his feet.
Alistair threw his head back and laughed as Lance moved between the older male and the food with his mate, his hands balling into fists at his sides.
He winked. “I’m just teasing ya, Lancelot. By the way, I love the irony.”
Gwen reached up and clutched his hand, but Lance was already relaxing a little as he breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly through his mouth, the way Stone had coached him earlier. His hands were still clenched at his sides as he fought against the hold the matebond had on him now.
“Alistair, right?” he asked through gritted teeth.
Alistair crossed his arms over his chest, but it was a relaxed pose as humor reflected on his face. “Ja, but it’s Beta to you, pup.”
Lance nodded, exhaled slowly once more, and relaxed his hands. “Once Gwen and I seal the matebond, I think you and I will have a lot of fun together.”
“I’m sure we will. And no offense, Lance, but I hope your brother finds his mate. Gwen here means a lot to us, and it will hurt to have to let her go.”
Lance hung his head and looked down at Gwen’s hands wrapped around his. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “I know.”
He looked over his shoulder to catch her gaze. There was an exchange of tenderness with their eyes before he looked down, his brows frowning.
“Take it in strides,” Alistair said, giving him an encouraging nod.
He looked up, his shoulder sagging a little. “I’ll try, Beta. Thanks.” He turned to Stone. “Mind if I go for a run? I need to stretch my legs.”
“Of course. Would you mind accompanying him and showing him the borders, Alistair?”
Gwen whined next to him.
Lance turned and cupped her cheeks in his palms. She closed her eyes, relishing in the physical contact.
“I’ll be back soon,” he whispered. “I promise.”
“She just wants to come too,” Alistair said.
Gwen pulled back and slouched on the couch, crossing her arms over her chest with a huff. “Can I just hurry up and heal already? This sucks.”
Grins spread across Alistair’s, Stone’s and Aubree’s faces. That was such a Gwen thing to say.
“All in good time, Schnuckiputzi,” Alistair said as he came up behind the couch and ruffled her hair.
She pushed his hand away and stuck her tongue out at him.
He chuckled. “Come on, Lancelot.”
Lance bent down and gave Gwen a quick peck on her forehead, making them both blush, before he grabbed the plate of chicken bones. He followed Alistair to the kitchen, and as he joined his side, the older male reached for a bone, but Lance was quick to pull the plate out from his grasp with a snarl. Alistair laughed before they disappeared from view.
[I like this one. He can stay,] he mentally said to Stone.