Heart of Stone - Book 3: Souls Entwine

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Chapter 38 - Aubree (Part 2)

Following Justin into the community center, she asked if she could stop by her room in the basement and change her clothes. He gave her a funny look but nodded.

She followed him back up the stairs to the second floor with a wide scoop-neck top that showed off her mark.

These werewolves had to know who was boss of the Blauwald Pack around here and, thus, had to keep her informed on everything they knew taking place around their territory.

When she walked into the conference room, Alpha Jackson, Luna Leanne, Justin’s mate, and two other guys and a woman were waiting. They stood up, held their palms up in greeting and welcomed her to the meeting.

As she took her seat across from the Alpha, he introduced her to his Gamma (third in command) and his Head Warriors before asking how she would like to proceed. “We can call your mate and have Alpha Stone on speakerphone, if you wish. It might be beneficial to us all to get the details with the battle in his land.”

She nodded. It was easier to agree so she wouldn’t have to regurgitate everything they said later and potentially forget something.

While she dialed his number, she felt their eyes studying her mark and she grinned to herself as she pressed the phone to her ear.

Stone answered a few rings later. “Hello, Love.”

“Hi, hun. I’m just sitting down to a meeting with the Lancaster Pack. Care to join us?”

“Yes. One moment.” There was some shuffling on the other end for a minute before the line became quiet and Stone’s voice returned. “We’re ready.”

We? Was everyone there? “Hi, guys. I’m going to put you on speaker now.”

A chorus of “Hello, Luna,” greeted her and she recognized Alistair, Gwen, and Gunner’s voices before she tapped her finger on the screen to put them on speaker and set the phone down on the table before her.

“Okay, where would you like to start, Alpha?” she asked as she looked across the table to meet Jackson’s eyes.

“Well,” Jackson began as he looked down at the phone, “there’s not much to tell here. All of our able-bodied wolves were out last night hunting and we didn’t find a single trace of vampires. My guess is that they banded underground in the downtown core of Chicago and used whatever means possible to slip northwest out of the city. The only pack within the Chicago Area to pick up on any of the vampires reported smelling dozens of varying scents headed northwest, but only managed to capture and exterminate a handful of them.”

“Were they able to gather any information from the bloodsuckers?” Stone asked.

Jackson shook his head. “No. They were killed on sight because they were attacking any wolf they encountered. The Millwood Pack lost three wolves last night and had a dozen or more injured.”

“I will call them later to express my condolences,” Stone said, which made the werewolves tilt their heads.

Aubree shifted in her seat. Three werewolves were killed because the vampires were migrating to Minnesota.

Three werewolves were killed because of her.

Because Carina sought revenge for Stone killing someone who meant something to her.

A nagging voice in her head made the hairs on her arms stand on end.

And she would have killed you too. After Dan turned you and Stone went insane with grief, she still would have killed you because of what Stone did to the one she loved.

What had she done to warrant this death sentence besides exist as Stone’s soulmate?

“Yes, well,” Jackson said, “we will take the necessary precautions again tonight and convene with neighboring packs tomorrow to decide what course of action to take next.”

“I apologize for burdening your pack with our enemies,” Stone said.

Stone went on to briefly describe the details of last night’s affairs, as well as the information he had gathered from the neighboring werewolf packs, and Rosenrot and Ciardaig. About two dozen vampires had been picked off during their migration across states and twenty-two in a battle they fought in. Stone had reason to believe that that was only a fraction of the numbers they were sure to face in the coming nights.

“Luckily, we will be getting rain tonight and perhaps the next few nights, so we will have a chance to hunt them during the day in an attempt to find their hiding places and eliminate them before they have a chance to act.”

“What about traps?” Aubree asked. “You said an archer lured you into a trap last night, will you guys prepare traps for them? I mean, you know the land better than they do.”

“Way ahead of ya, Luna,” Alistair butted in. “Gav spent the day setting some up while we all rested up for the hunt.”

“The probability of needing them tonight is unlikely with the rain, but it is always best to be prepared,” Stone added. “We didn’t have enough time to prepare last night and the vampires used that to their advantage. We won’t allow them to have the upper-hand again.”

“At least we got a warning,” Aubree said, her thoughts wavering to Dan’s call.

“He was a good man,” Stone said. “I owe him your life.”

“We,” Gwen corrected. “And we will spare him if we find him, Luna.”

“You don’t think Dan would be involved in all this, do you?” Aubree looked around the table at the questioning looks she was receiving and added to the werewolves, “My ex, Dan, was turned into a vampire by Carina to try to get to me after we broke up. He’s the one who warned us yesterday about the coming attack.”

The werewolves exchanged nods of understanding as Stone responded.

“Hard to say, Love. You know him better than I do, but I suspect he’s not involved. If he was still in Carina’s possession, she would be breathing down his neck constantly. He would never have been able to warn us.”

“True, do you think she’s using him again to get to me?” Anxiety welled up within her at the thought of Carina manipulating Dan.

Stone sighed and she envisioned him running his fingers through his hair. “It’s a possibility we shouldn’t ignore. She’s crafty and Dan might be naive enough to fall right into her hands.”

Her stomach churned and she tried not to recoil. She hoped Dan would be able to see through whatever lies and tricks Carina tried to play, but that woman was a thousand years old or older. She was a master of deceit. A master chess player and Dan was a disposable pawn in her hand.

She wanted to fold up on the table but knew she couldn’t show any weakness in front of the werewolves.

How much longer would it take before Carina would be eliminated? How long before someone she cared about was killed?

What if, in the end, she had no pack to go back to?

“You guys give ’em all you got, okay?” A frog blocked her throat.

“Of course, Luna,” Alistair said. “We got the mosquito repellent tonight and the fly traps set. A few swarms here and there are merely a minor annoyance. Nothing we can’t handle.”

“Just be careful,” Aubree said, not quite understanding the reference to mosquitoes, but figured he meant vampires since they both sucked blood to survive. “I don’t want anyone losing an arm or a leg.”

“Pfft. What can a few mosquitoes do?”

Alistair faded into the background at the end of his question before Stone’s strong voice rang loud and clear, “Don’t worry. We’ve been through this before. We can handle it.”

Jackson spoke up. “Any sign of Carina?”

“No, Alpha,” Stone replied.

“No sign of her here either. Either she slipped through across territories last night, or she’s conducting her strategies from a distance, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“Luna Aubree is well protected here. More so than she’s aware,” Jackson said.

Before Aubree could speak, Stone said, “Thank you, Alpha. We are in your debt.”

Ugh. Aubree didn’t like that thought. She could only imagine how foul those words must have tasted on Stone’s tongue.

“Like I said, Alpha,” Jackson replied, “Aubree is one of our own. We protect our own.”

Justin was nodding, but the others were still, their expression unreadable. Luna Leanne’s eyes darkened for a second as they bore into Aubree’s, digging into her soul.

Crap. Did she know about her thing with Jackson six years ago?

Aubree turned her focus to her phone as Stone continued to inform Jackson of Rosenrot, Ciardaig, and their neighboring werewolf packs’ plans. Although they anticipated it being a quiet night with the rain moving in, Stone assured everyone that they would be ready for whatever came tonight.

Gunner, Gwen, and Alistair added a few more details here and there, as did Justin and Jackson’s male and female warriors. His gamma was quiet, studying Aubree from across the table.

The meeting wrapped up about fifteen minutes later—going over strategies, the next course of action to take and the possible outcomes. She had to give her packmates credit; they seemed to know what they were doing.

Once dismissed, Justin escorted Aubree out of the building and to his car waiting outside to take her back to his parents’ place until the sunset.

Shielding her eyes from the sun, she looked up into the western sky and noted the dark clouds headed their way.

As Aubree tugged the passenger side door open, a voice called out. She turned and caught Luna Leanne closing the distance between them, her head held high and her stomach protruding out before her.

Aubree met her dark browns as the taller woman came to a stop before her. Neither one of them looking down as they squared their shoulders.

Aubree tilted her head slightly in respect but kept her eyes on Leanne’s. “Luna?”

“You better keep your legs crossed while you’re here, Luna.” The final word from Leanne’s lips was cold as steel.

The corner of Aubree’s lips quirked up. “Believe me, Luna, there’s nothing worth wrapping my legs around here.”

Aubree climbed into the car and could feel Leanne’s glare pierce through the glass as Justin pulled out.

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