Chapter 34 - Aubree (Part 1)
Aubree called Stone up to her room after ending the call and putting her old phone back in its cradle with shaking hands.
She could feel his urgency before he even entered and closed the door behind him.
Brooke shifted away on the bed as Aubree stood to be engulfed in his arms, his nose pressed into her hair.
Dan’s warning came as a shock to him too as his anxiety mingled with hers.
[I have to get you someplace safe tonight with your parents. It will take the vampires most of the night to get back to Minneapolis and then they will be forced into hiding at sunrise. We have time to warn them. They have time to prepare and hopefully catch them at the border. We know the land better than they do. Everyone will be fine tonight. It’s tomorrow night that they will strike.]
He spoke to reassure her as much as himself.
[But I have to get you and your folks someplace safe tonight. We don’t know if they know we’re here and we can’t risk it if they send a clan to come after us.]
She nodded into his chest, feeling calmer in his arms as he began to relax slowly with her.
“Kay, I know you guys are having a mental conversation, I can smell the anxiety lowering between you,” Brooke said, “but would you mind telling me what’s going on? What’s the deal with Carina anyway?”
Even though Aubree explained everything and repeatedly told her that Stone wasn’t what everyone painted him to be in whatever sick, twisted picture they had formed in their minds, Brooke was still unnerved by his presence. Aubree hoped that in time she would get over it.
“You know about Carina?” Aubree asked as she pulled away from Stone.
“Everyone in our world does,” Stone answered. “You don’t exist for over a thousand years and expect to remain invisible.”
“Especially Carina,” Brooke said as she crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the headboard of the bed. Her sea-foam green eyes regarded Stone for a second before returning her focus on Aubree. “All I know is that something’s ticked her off. Is it because Dan helped you escape and her little underground world got discovered and ripped apart?”
“That could be part of it, but I’m certain the main reason is because I killed Adranus.”
Brooke’s face paled as her eyes widened at Stone’s statement. “Oh my fucking god, you didn’t?”
“I was trying to get to her, but he stood in my way and she managed to slip away.”
She stared at him for a minute before snapping back to attention. “Got it. What else can you tell me? Alpha Jackson is starting preparations with the pack and is going to contact the other packs in the city once he has all the details.”
“What more is there to say? You heard what Dan said. She’s setting out with an army tonight to hunt my pack and slaughter us all. She will stop at nothing to avenge him. We have to warn every pack between here and Minnesota of their coming. Maybe they can catch some along the way—perhaps even Carina.”
Brooke snorted. “I doubt that. She’s like a cat with nine lives.”
“She has to slip up sooner or later. Vengeance might be enough to blind her and cause her to misstep enough for someone to catch her and take her out.”
Brooke sighed, doubt clouding her eyes as she looked out the window. “So, what should we do?”
“Secure Aubree and her parents while I return to Minnesota and prepare for the attack,” he stated.
Aubree snapped to attention. “Wait, what?”
Stone rubbed her arms as his gaze held hers. “The pack needs me. Until you’re trained and capable of shifting in a matter of seconds, I cannot risk putting you in harm’s way.” He touched her cheek and mentally added, [Please? I cannot bear the thought of losing you. If I can hide you someplace far away from the danger, then I must do everything in my power to make it so.]
He cleared his throat of the building emotions filling him now and twisting her heart. “Dan said Carina has a lot of influence here and without any further information as to the size of her army, we must be prepared for anything.”
“How big do you think it could be?” Brooke asked.
He shook his head. “I don’t know the extent of her influence, but I wouldn’t put it past her to rally two hundred willing vampires looking for a chance to slaughter a few lycans and werewolves alike. If they can wipe out us all, then they can rebuild their lair and take over the Twin Cities and who knows what can come of that.”
Brooke hummed in thought for a second. “What about humans? Millions of people will be gathered together outside to watch fireworks tonight. Do you think they might wreak havoc on the masses before setting out?”
He hesitated. “I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. They may snatch a few unsuspecting drunkards along the way to rebuild their strength, but they won’t want to draw attention to themselves. They’ll want to move silently through the night. They don’t know that we know their plans, so they will try to slip through the cracks between territories and remain as undetected as possible.”
Brooke was quiet for a moment with a faraway look in her eyes before giving her head a little nod. “Alpha Jackson is willing to offer asylum for Aubree and her parents until the dust settles.”
A growl rumbled up from Stone’s throat, but Aubree cut in.
“Asylum? We’re not crazy!”
Brooke rolled her eyes at both of them. “That’s alpha-talk, Bree. It just means shelter. Protection.” She turned to Stone. “Look, you can trust him. He’s a good alpha.”
“I don’t trust anyone outside my pack, with the exception of my cousin and his mate.”
Brooke’s eyes narrowed at him and Aubree could see anger welling up inside her. “I’m Aubree’s best friend! I’m a high ranking warrior, my parents are the former betas, and my brother is beta. No one will dare lay a paw on her or heads will roll. She will be closely guarded and protected at all times,” Brooke said. “My word is my alpha’s word and that is a promise.”
Stone growled again and Aubree could feel his uncertainty. To trust an outsider or not?
“Well, what did you have in mind? Ship her off to Rosenrot? How will you explain that to her parents? Our parents know each other. They can invite them over like the good old days.” She huffed. “Besides, Rosenrot will be in the line of fire if they got a whiff of her. We’re not.”
She had a point. Aubree could tell Stone still didn’t like it, only because he didn’t know anyone from Brooke’s pack personally.
She reached for his hand and gave it little squeeze to try and get his attention back on her. His blue eyes met hers, fear and pain conflicting within their depths and his touch.
[As much as I don’t want to be separated from you, unless you have a better idea, I think we can trust them with my life.]
His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down in his throat. [I can’t trust anyone with your life. Not even myself. I almost lost you twice since I found you and I can’t stand the thought of risking it a third time and entrusting someone I don’t know with your life.]
Cupping her cheeks in his palms, he closed his eyes as he tilted her head up and pressed his forehead to hers.
[I am so lost in this world without you.]
[What would you have me do?] she asked.
[If I knew, I would tell you, but I don’t.]
“Ugh, mates are so mushy and gross. Excuse me while I go vomit in the hallway. I think I’m going to be sick.”
She felt the muscles in Stone’s forehead twitch against her as humor flickered between them at Brooke’s words. [Tell me, how is she your best friend?]
[How is Gwen your daughter?] Aubree asked, thinking about how similar the two girls were.
[She gets it from Alistair.]
[He gets far too much credit around here.]
He pulled away, heaving a sigh. “How about I make a few calls and get another opinion?”
Aubree shrugged. “Fine by me.”
As he called Hector and then back home, speaking to Gwen, Aubree sat down next to Brooke and lowered her voice despite the fact that she knew Stone would hear her as he paced the length of the room.
“Did Jackson really say it was okay for me and my parents to stay with you guys?”
“Yeah, would I lie to you?”
Aubree frowned and gave her a look, to which Brooke raised her hands in surrender.
“Besides the fact that we are werewolves,” she said, “have I ever lied to you?”
Heaving a sigh, Aubree tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “No, but I know how he gets and I know how others outside our pack get around him. They treat him like some kind of monster and try to take me away because I’m human and it’s forbidden. I get it, but I also know the truth. I saw it. I lived it. The Goddess made me human for a reason and I’ll become a lycan at the next full moon. It’s in Her hands, not mine.”
Brooke scrunched her nose. “Geez, you sound just like them now.”
Aubree shrugged. “I’ve thought about it a lot. I mean, I’ve had a lot of revelations thrown at me in the last few weeks. I met Her. It sounds crazy and impossible, but it happened, and I have to put my faith in Her now. She told us what to do and what would happen, so I have no reason to worry about it.”
“You’ve taken all this well.” Brooke sounded almost skeptical.
Aubree felt her cheeks heat up as she glanced at Stone then back down at her hands. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people. Plus, when we sealed the bond, things sort of clicked into place. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s weird.”
“I don’t understand the matebond half the time anyway,” Brooke admitted with a sigh. “Goddess help the poor soul that gets me as a mate.”
Aubree gave her a reassuring smile. “I’m sure he’ll be great and you’ll love each other regardless of how much you bicker back and forth.”
Brooke humphed. “I don’t want a mate. I want independence. Mates are pushy and want pups—and you know how I feel about kids!”
Aubree shook her head in amusement. “You say that now—”
“No kids! Gah!”
“I’ve decided to take Alpha Jackson’s offer,” Stone announced as he lowered the phone with a defeated sigh. Pain reflected in his eyes as he caught Aubree’s gaze. “If that is what you want, Love.”
Aubree rose to her feet and stood before him as her heart clenched. She wrapped her arms around his waist as his circled around her shoulders. “It will be okay. I’ll be safe here and so will my parents. Right, Brooke?”
She looked over to see her best friend nodding her head. “Alpha’s word is a promise.”
Stone pulled her tighter against him and buried his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly.
“Okay.” He whispered so softly, it brought tears to her eyes.