Chapter 4 - Aubree (Part 1)
Aubree’s jaw dropped as she stared back at the gray eyes holding hers. Excitement, joy, and confusion reflected within their depths as her heart jumped in her throat and his words echoed in her mind.
‘Mate! Give me my mate!’
A low growl rumbled through Stone as he stepped over, shielding her completely from the young man’s line of vision. “Impossible,” he said through gritted teeth. His hands clenched into fists at his side, shaking.
Aubree grabbed his arm in an effort to both restrain him from lunging at the kid and to calm him. Peering over his shoulder once more, she saw the kid’s eyes widen as he stared up at Stone.
“No, not the human,” he said, tearing his eyes from Stone’s and looking around the room. “The one with the cinnamon scent. Where is she?”
Aubree’s scent was one of roses and vanilla. If he wasn’t talking about her...
A shock of pain zapped through her. Wincing, she pulled away from Stone as his knees buckled under him and he collapsed down on one knee before the young man with his chin tucked into his chest.
“Guinevere,” he croaked out. “My daughter’s scent is of cinnamon. Please, you must come back with us. She needs her mate.”
Aubree’s mouth was hanging off its hinges as her eyes widened and jumped from the young man to Stone. Her heart leaped in joy and excitement for Gwen, but why was Stone on his knees?
Those telepathic abilities would sure be handy right about now.
Stone reached up and grabbed her wrist and yanked her down. Hands and knees hit the floor as she struggled to fill her lungs with air and shake the emotions suddenly crashing over her. Bittersweet pain gripped her from Stone’s touch and she gasped at its intensity as they flooded over her in powerful waves, sweeping her up and pulling her down under an unbearable weight she hadn’t experienced before. Only when he released her was she able to pull herself out from the depths of the unknown and gather her bearings to make sense of what was going on around them.
“Please, I beg of you,” he said again, his voice cracking. “She is in no condition to travel. You must come back with us.”
Panting, and still trying to shake the coldness that had engulfed her, Aubree looked up to see the young man looking both startled and embarrassed as he shifted his weight from foot to foot, his eyes flicking from her and Stone to his parents behind them.
He chewed on his lower lip. “What’s wrong with her?”
Stone hesitated, and Aubree looked over to see him take a deep breath and release it again slowly. “We are at war with a coven of vampires in Minneapolis. Two nights ago, my daughter was attacked by a handful of bloodsuckers. They shot her with silver and slashed open her stomach. We nearly lost her.”
“Goddess,” Eramis and Elena murmured.
“Please, you must come back with us,” Stone reiterated.
Taking a deep breath, Aubree touched Stone’s hand, feeling the bitterness tighten her throat and strangle her heart, but tried to push calm, peaceful feelings to him in hopes of relaxing him a bit.
He needed to focus. She needed him to be strong. She didn’t know why he was getting so upset, but she needed him to be strong in this foreign environment.
She peered up to see the young man’s brows furrow, his eyes looking over them.
He swallowed before nodding his head once. “Yes. I understand. I will certainly return with you.”
The formality in his voice wavered as he looked back down at Stone before his eyes flitted to Aubree’s making her lower her gaze to the floor. “Will she be okay until then?”
The softness of his voice tugged on her heart.
What must he be feeling now?
Daring herself to look up, she studied his clouded, conflicted gray eyes.
He was so young. So young. He looked like a teenager and hadn’t even had a chance to fill out. He was lean, two inches short of six feet, and his face still boyish and soft.
“Yes,” Aubree said when she sensed Stone couldn’t answer. “She is recovering well and in the most trusted and caring of hands. She will still be able to have pups.”
He rolled back on the balls of his heels as his hand ran through his short, dripping brown hair. “Pups,” he repeated, as if the very thought of having pups was beyond his understanding.
He sat down on the couch, looking like the world just blew up in his face. His eyes flicked across the room before he looked away. “Please rise and continue. I need a minute here.”
Mari scooted across the room and sat down next to him, wrapping him in her arms, only to be pushed away. Her eyes softened, a look of understanding.
Dom stared at him, his eyes wide as saucers, his back stiff and straight as a board.
Aubree rose carefully, her hands on Stone’s arm as he struggled to get to his feet. His emotions were still whirling around within him, and even she felt a tad bit dizzy from them.
“Breathe,” she whispered into his ear as he straightened, though his shoulders were slightly hunched forward.
His eyes were lowered, but he inhaled and exhaled deeply as they turned back to face the alpha and luna.
“Well,” Eramis said, clearing his throat and exchanging looks with Elena. “This is our youngest, Laurencius. He only just matured a few years ago, so this is quite unexpected. Lance, this is Alpha Stone and Luna Aubree of the Blauwald Pack in Minnesota.”
If Laurencius nodded behind them, Aubree didn’t see it. He was silent.
“Mari, would you take our guests to their room? I’m sure they could use a minute to themselves as well,” Elena said. “Alpha, I will have Dom come for you in about half an hour for that run. Would that work for you?”
Stone’s eyes flicked up to meet Elena’s before lowering again. “Yes, thank you.”