Chapter 29 - Aubree (Part 1)
Those dark eyes turned back to Aubree from across the table as the young alpha rose to his feet and returned the greeting with his palms up. Grudgingly, the others in the room followed, some with a bit of difficulty due to stiffened joints that creaked.
“Welcome home, Aubree,” Jackson said, to which Stone growled lowly. “Luna Aubree,” Jackson corrected.
Aubree and Stone lowered their hands, prompting the werewolves to follow suit.
“It’s good to be home, Alpha,” she said. “Although, it doesn’t feel like home anymore.”
Truth in a web of lies.
She put a hand on Stone’s arm and pushed calming emotions on him. She could tell he was struggling. His mind locked up tight. “This is my mate, Alpha Stone of the Blauwald Pack in Minnesota.”
His dark eyes fell on Aubree again. “Yes, Alpha Hector and Luna Rosemary briefed us on your coming, but we never expected this.”
“Neither did we, but it seems the Goddess had other plans. Makes me wonder, now that I know, why werewolves befriended a human like me all these years.”
She thought she saw his Adam’s apple bob up and down in his throat, but maybe that was a figment of her imagination as fear flickered for a split second in his eyes.
“Interesting, indeed,” he said and motioned to the chairs before them. “Have a seat.”
As she settled into the leather chair, Aubree took a moment to study Jackson’s mate beside him. She looked a lot like Brooke, built strong with dark brown hair in large curls, but her eyes matched Jackson’s whereas Brooke’s were a sea-foam green. Her face was slightly rounder than Brooke’s but that could be a result of the baby-bump that was evident, but still a few months away from being due.
Jackson didn’t introduce her; however, seeing as this was an “inquisition,” rather than a friendly reunion, she let the lack of introductions slide.
Silence engulfed the room as the eyes across from them studied them like a virus under a microscope.
She rested her hand on top of Stone’s as he gripped the armrest tightly.
Still trying to control himself.
Sighing, she knew she’d have to be the one to get the ball rolling.
“So, Alpha, why have you summoned us? We are only here for a few days to celebrate the Fourth of July with my parents and then we will return to our pack.”
“Luna, what do you know of our kind?”
Straight to the point. No beating around the bush.
She hoped this wouldn’t take long.
“She knows enough,” Stone interjected.
“I’m sorry,” Jackson said as his gaze turned from Aubree to Stone. “I believe, I was asking Luna Aubree a question. Do you feel the need to answer for her?”
Stone began to grit his teeth, but Aubree gave his hand a squeeze. “It’s been a lot to take in in a short period of time, but I believe I know enough, as my mate said. There are still some things I’m sure I need to learn, like all the history, but I have time to learn.”
“Then, you must know why I have summoned you here.”
Irritation wrapped itself around her throat. “Well, I can’t read your mind, but I can take a wild guess. We’ve been through this already with another pack before we sealed the bond, so all this hostility is extremely unnecessary and aggravating.”
She tugged the collar of her shirt over to reveal her mark, signifying the sealing of the matebond as she spoke.
Low growls reverberated around the room, to which Stone growled even louder to silence them all.
“Impossible,” another old man grumbled. “Lycans are not granted human mates, nor can they claim a human to be their mate. It is forbidden to them.”
“Who made that law?” Aubree asked. “Was it not the lycans themselves?”
“The Goddess has the power to do whatever she pleases, and for my mate, she granted him a second chance with his soulmate, having lost her a hundred years ago. The catch was for him to learn to love and accept her reborn again as a human despite the issues he had with humans in the past. I assume you know what I am talking about because I get the impression everyone knows about his past.”
“Alpha Stone is an example to us all of the weaknesses within our laws,” an old woman said.
Aubree tried to keep her growing anger in check, but some of it managed to leak out. “So, you will shun a lycan for accidentally killing a human while his intentions had been to help that human—who would have died regardless—but it’s perfectly acceptable for werewolves to have sexual relations with humans and disregard the consequences?”
The air grew thicker as a few elders looked away.
Jackson’s eyes remained locked on hers. His jaw clenched taut. She couldn’t tell if he was challenging her, daring her to spill their secret, or silently ordering her to keep it.
This was neither the time nor the place and, frankly, what happened between them was in the past. Aubree didn’t want to make enemies; that wasn’t the smart thing to do.
Instead, she moved on and changed the subject before anyone sought to dig deeper into her accusation.
“Nevertheless, we are here on a simple family visit and nothing more. We mean no harm to anyone in your territory, and we will respect your terms and conditions for our stay, and pray that everyone in your pack will return the favor.”
Jackson didn’t budge in his seat, but the intensity in his eyes shifted as the muscles in his jaw relaxed. “What of your family, Luna? Do they know about us? About what we are and what you are?”
“Of course not and they never will.”
“What of you, Luna? What are you? You are neither human nor lycan. Will you become as we all fear at the next full moon?”
“No, I assure you. My soul is lycan. The Goddess has blessed us, and with direct instructions from Her, we have completed the bond. My transformation into a lycan will take place at the next full moon.”
“You mean to tell me—tell all of us here—that you spoke with the Goddess?”
“Yes,” Stone growled. “We both spoke with Her, my deceased firstborn and my parents.”
“How is that possible?”
“In a realm between this world and the Spirit World,” Aubree answered. “It was quite the process and She swore us to secrecy over the procedure.”
One of the elders made a noise akin to a snort.
“Joshua, would you care to share that thought with everyone?” Jackson asserted.
The older man sitting at the far end of the table cleared his throat. “I said, it sounds like hogwash.”
Aubree frowned. “Why do you say that?”
“The Goddess does not communicate directly with us. It’s not possible.”
“That is why we had to go through a transmitter, of sorts,” Aubree said, not sure how to simplify the Spirit Walker’s role and the ceremony he performed.
Joshua humphed, not believing a word.
“The Spirit Walker summoned us,” Stone explained. “Now, if we are finished here, I should get my mate back to her parents before her mother has reason to have me drawn and quartered.”
Aubree covered her face with a hand. “She’s not going to do that.”
“Metaphorically, speaking,” he added.
“I’m afraid we are not done here,” Jackson stated.
Aubree groaned as she leaned back in her seat and let her hand fall from her face. “Honestly, Jack—I mean, Alpha—what more is there to say? We’ve been through this before with the Rosmi Maana Pack. I’m tired of reiterating myself and so is my mate. He’s been through more hell than any of you can ever imagine. I’ve witnessed it all.”
While that was partially true, they didn’t need to know that.
If Stone had more he wished to share with her, she knew he would in time. There was no need to rush him. She had barely scraped the surface of his eight-hundred-year-old life.
Stone glanced at his phone as he pulled it out of his pocket. “Alpha Hector and Luna Rosemary have crossed into your borders now to speak on behalf of our bond.” He looked up to meet Jackson’s dark eyes. “They have known about Luna Aubree and I the moment I discovered her and our bond. They had members of their pack protect Aubree from a distance without her knowing a month and a half ago when she returned home to visit her family. I’m sure you recall that instance. They were also there when vampires targeted my mate and my daughter. They have been an invaluable support of our bond regardless of my mate being human—”
“And why is that, exactly? They should have reported you to the Lycan Council immediately and yet, they did not,” Jackson challenged in a smooth and even tone.
“A soulmate is a blessing, regardless of what form she takes,” Stone replied in the same manner and tone as Jackson.
The two alphas stared each other down as the hairs on Aubree’s arms and spine prickled.
She knew she needed to diffuse the situation. It was getting out of hand. She could feel the rage seeping out of Stone’s pores, hot and heavy, as his nostrils flared—feel the strain as his fury collided with her building anxiety, consuming her senses and sense of reason.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to push calming emotions onto him as she touched his hand clenching the arm of his chair tightly, his nails elongating and fur beginning to push through the skin, but couldn’t push the sensations on him as his rage burned through every one of her emotions until it consumed her.
A fleeting glance to Jackson. His own fists clenched.
“A moment, Alpha?” she asked in a throaty voice.
They all rose to their feet from the table and shuffled out the doors until Jackson and his mate were the last ones there.
He looked about to leave with her as well, but swiftly stepped back and closed the doors, locking it before anyone could stop him.
It was just the three of them as the others cried out in alarm, protesting and banging against the doors.
Stone was on his feet and advancing on the other alpha before Jackson could even turn around.
“Jackson, out,” Aubree ordered as he turned around to face Stone. “Please.” She grabbed Stone’s arm in an effort to hold him back. “I just need a moment with him to calm him, okay? Just go.”
Jackson shook his head. Locked his jaw and stared Stone in the eye. “There’s only one thing that can calm a male down before he can be reasoned with.”
And with that, Stone’s fist collided with Jackson’s face with a sickening crack.