Chapter 25 - Aubree (Part 1)
“Mom?” Aubree’s voice was throaty with emotion as she pressed the phone to her ear.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Aubree took a shaky breath in and released it slowly. “Yeah.”
“What happened to your old phone?”
The corners of her lips quirked up a bit as she gave her head a gentle shake.
She suspected her mother would ask about her phone number changing. She went with Stone and Gwen to the mall first thing after training that morning to file the last of Aubree’s paperwork as Luna to the Blauwald Pack with Mr. Johnson, pick up her new IDs, and new phones and numbers for her and Gwen. Now, Gwen had her own phone to stay in contact with Lance. The poor girl was glued to that thing since she got it.
“Oh, you know,” she shrugged, trying to sound more convincing while shaking off her nervousness. “Just found a great deal somewhere else. Figured I might as well get a local number while I’m at it.”
Her mother sighed. “Makes sense.”
Silence fell as Aubree twisted a lock of her hair around her finger. She chewed on her bottom lip as she looked across the room and met Stone’s blue eyes looking back at her over the rim of his reading glasses. Pen in hand, poised over the papers he was signing on his desk, he was stiff as he waited for the conversation to unfold.
“So, Mom... About the last few weeks, I—”
“Aubree, don’t say another word,” her mother cut in.
She drew air into her lungs and held it as her mother continued.
“I was wrong. I know it, and I... I’m sorry.”
Exhaling slowly, she closed her eyes and felt herself relax into her chair, her legs pulled up to her chest.
Her mother sighed. “I honestly don’t know what came over me. I was just... I was so excited and so happy for you and Dan that I couldn’t understand why you would call off the wedding so suddenly. I took it too personally when I should have been thinking about you. I don’t know why. I mean, yeah Dan was a good boy, but if things weren’t meant to be then why should I get upset when I should have been thinking about you?”
She sighed again. “I’m so sorry, hun. Your father straightened me out and made me realize how terrible I had been to you when you needed me most. I wanted to call you, but...”
Shaking her head, she waved her mother’s guilt off. “It’s okay, Mom. I forgive you. We all make mistakes, and I’ve made plenty of them over the last few weeks. I just want to put this all behind now and move on.”
“You sure you’re not mad?”
Her lips tugged up some more. “I’m sure—but on one condition.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“You have to give my new boyfriend a chance.”
Her mother huffed. “I suppose, I can do that.”
Her brow arched. “Mom.”
“All right, all right. I’ll give him a chance and be nice.”
Her lips pulled up in a full smile now. “Good because he’s a keeper, and nothing you say is going to change that.”
She scoffed. “Oh, is that so?”
Aubree lowered her legs over the edge of the seat, crossed one over her knee, and leaned back. “Yup, ’fraid so mother-dearest.”
“I hate it when you call me that. Makes me sound like an old hag...”
Aubree snickered. “So, what are you and Dad doing for the Fourth of July?”
“What are we doing? Well, I was thinking we’d sit in the backyard and drink beers—”
“Why? Did you have something in mind?”
“Well,” Aubree hesitated, “I was thinking Stone and I could come over for a few days. You know... Get to know each other and celebrate.”
“Stone? Is that what you call him?”
“No, his name is Dingle-Hopper. Yes, that’s his name.” Aubree rolled her eyes.
Stone chuckled, the tension had dissipated completely and he continued to fill out his paperwork.
“Strange name, though it is an improvement over Dingle-Hopper.”
“I know, right?” Aubree grinned. “So, what do you think?”
“I don’t know... You sure you want to introduce us so soon?”
She shrugged. “What difference does it make if we come to visit you now or a few months down the road for Thanksgiving? I told you, he’s a keeper. I wouldn’t have left Dan if he wasn’t worth it.”
“I know, I know, and I trust your judgment. It’s your life after all, as your father has reminded me fifty billion times.”
“Tell him I say thanks.”
“Oh, tell him yourself. You’ll have to give him your new number anyway.”
“True,” Aubree said before delving into what she had in mind for their visit, which naturally included the Richards and Brooke.
When she finished, she ended her call feeling lighter than she had in weeks.
“That went well,” Stone commented, pulling the glasses from his face and setting them down on the desk.
Nodding, she rose from her chair and walked around the large mahogany piece of furniture to his side.
“You almost done there?” she asked as she peered down at the array of papers in front of him.
He turned his chair toward her and patted his lap. “Yes. Almost.”
She plopped herself down and he steered them back to the desk.
“Would you mind signing those?” he said, gesturing to the small stack of papers on his right.
It was the last day of June. She’d gotten familiar with the routine over the last week of being back home with the pack. The Luna had to co-sign all the documents, her signature on the same line to the right of the Alpha’s.
With the knowledge that her parents would be civil and treat Stone with respect, she didn’t have anything to worry about. She knew her mother might have a few choice words with her in private at some point. This was just one hurdle they would all have to jump over and once they did, things would smooth over.
[Don’t worry, Love,] he said. [Everything will be fine. I’m more concerned about the fireworks, as I’m sure you and your family will want to see them on the Fourth.]
She leaned back against his chest and rested her head in the curve of his neck. [Yeah, I suppose the noise from those will bother you, huh?]
He leaned his cheek against her head. [You could say that.]
There was a note of humor in his voice.
[We have friends with a yacht, the Richards, and usually go out on the lake to watch the fireworks from the Pier. I’ll ask them to go farther out into the lake than normal. That should help with the noise.]
He hummed to show he was listening, but didn’t say anything and kept his thoughts to himself.
She pulled back and looked at him with a perked brow. [You will come out with us to see the fireworks, won’t you?]
His lips curved up. [Don’t worry, Röslein. I wouldn’t miss it.]
Closing her eyes, she snuggled up on his lap and inhaled his wonderful earthy musk before exhaling with a sigh. [Good.]
He brushed his fingers through her hair. [Have you noticed that you’re behaving more like a wolf?]
She shook her head, no. [If you say so.]
[Well, you have been more cuddly lately and started rubbing your face against me more frequently like a wolf.]
[Not my fault you smell so damn good,] she said, rubbing her nose against his neck.
Warmth enveloped her as he held her against him. “Promise me one thing,” she said as her thoughts flitted to the party and the people who would be gathered on the yacht to watch the fireworks.
“What’s that, Love?”
“Be nice to my best friend. Brooke’s been there for me since we were kids and she’s always been kind of protective of me—especially when I got new boyfriends. Dan was the only one she really liked.”
“Oh? You had others?”
There was a noticeable tightening of his muscles under her. She couldn’t help the smirk that found its way on her face.
He inhaled and exhaled before he shook his head. “Never mind.”
Her index and middle fingers tiptoed up his chest to his collar. “Are you getting jealous?”
Snatching her hand, he pulled it up to his lips. “I’m trying not to. I know you had a life before me. And you would have lived a very different life if I had not interfered.”
“Maybe so, but I have you now and I can’t see myself with anyone else.”
[I will be yours as long as I live,] he said as he brushed his thumb over her knuckles.
[I wouldn’t want it any other way.]
They relaxed together for a moment before he cleared his voice.
“Well, if we’re going to see them in a few days, I should get a haircut. Goddess knows we all could stand to have one.”