Chapter 3 - Stone (Part 1)
Stone could tell that Aubree was uncomfortable being the object of observation. He couldn’t blame her. If he could keep the curious eyes at bay, he would, but he knew there would be no use in trying. She was an anomaly in their world, and they would both have to get used to that.
As much as he wished he could communicate with her in her mind, put her fears at ease and help her to find the right words to say, she managed to surprise him on her own.
He felt truly blessed to have her.
Despite the dry rocky soil, fir and pine trees lined the highway that took them away from the airport. The sun dipped in the western horizon, peering out between the wide gaps of the trees and flickering in the corner of their eyes. The cloudless sky was a canopy of orange, red, and purple. It wouldn’t be much longer until darkness fell across the land.
Perhaps he could get a good view of the night sky while they were there? The thought of stargazing with Aubree made him smile.
After a minute of watching the land fly by, Aubree pulled her cell phone out of her purse and began typing out a text. “I’m going to let my dad know we landed. Want me to send a text back home to the pack too?”
He nodded as her fingers swiped across the screen and began typing again.
She barely had a chance to put the phone back in her purse when it chimed. Pulling it back out, her eyebrows arched up when she read the message. “I think Alistair has your phone.”
She held her phone up for him to see the message full of hearts, happy faces, and kisses.
It was a desperate cry for attention.
“Do you mind if I call to check up on Guinevere?”
She gave him the phone. “Go ahead. I have nationwide calling.”
He pressed the call button and it barely rang once before Alistair answered.
“Knuddelmuddel! I miss you, my little gumdrop sugar—”
“It’s me,” Stone interrupted, holding the phone away from his ear as Alistair’s booming voice assailed the car.
Aubree snickered next to him, as did Dom and Alec in the front seats.
Goddess, Alistair was humiliating sometimes.
Thankfully, Alistair immediately became serious. “Oh, sorry, Alpha. What’s up?”
“How are things? How’s Guinevere?”
“Good. Excellent. Slept like a pup all day. Getting ready to head out for the hunt now. Gwen is doing well. Trying to move a bit more on her own. She’s tired of being bedridden. Oh, and she says she misses you and Aubree, and that she hopes you enjoy yourselves and don’t worry about rushing back.”
Stone nodded. “Good.”
Aubree leaned over, her breast pressed against his arm and her lips close to his face. “Hi Alistair.”
“Babygirl, you have a blast and seal that bond. You got it?”
Stone was finding it hard to focus on the call now. Even with the padding of her bra, he could feel the softness of her breast pressing against him, the feel of her body so close, her scent so strong, and her voice—
He gently pushed her back. Her hand was on his thigh, and he was getting a rise.
She laughed, not noticing at all that he was forcing distance between them.
“I’ll try my best.”
“That’s my girl.”
“I’ll call again in the morning,” Stone said, shifting in his seat in an attempt to readjust his crotch. “Blessed be the night.”
“Blessed be. And give our girl lots of hugs and kisses from me!”
“I’ll give her hugs for you, but you keep those lips to yourself.”
“What? Brothers can’t kiss their baby sis—?”
Cutting him off, Stone hung up the phone and massaged his forehead. He could just imagine Alistair busting out in laughter at Stone cutting him off. Thank the Goddess that he was far enough away now to not have to hear that.
Did he have to be so lewd when they had company?
He could tell Dom and Alec were trying to keep themselves together, while Aubree giggled next to him.
“Aw, I miss him,” she said as she tucked the phone back in her purse.
“Of course you do. He is your soul’s brother.”
She shook her head. “No, that’s not why I miss him.”
He raised an eyebrow at her, but she didn’t add to it. Instead, her eyes drifted to the window, watching the trees fly by.
Silence was their companion for the remainder of the ride, much to Stone’s relief. His head was pounding and his ears refused to pop. Everything was muffled more than usual with the earplugs and the pressure wouldn’t ease up.
When they turned off the highway, Dom started telling Aubree about the history of their region, how their pack patrolled one side of the Grand Canyon like park rangers and another pack patrolled the other side. Rather than killing vampires for a living, that was how they survived.
“We don’t get a lot of vampires down here,” he told Aubree as they pulled up to the front gate and Alec punched in a code to open it. A ten-foot-high wall surrounded the property with fir and pine trees lining the inside.
As they drove through and up to the pack house, Dom continued, “The towns are small here and harder to find victims, I suppose. They thrive better in big cities, where it’s not only easier to hide, but easier to pick up victims without law enforcement picking up on them too, right Alpha?”
Stone nodded in confirmation but didn’t want to say more about their situation back home.