Chapter 4 - Aubree (Part 2)
Aubree frowned at him before forcing a smile as she thanked Elena and Eramis for their hospitality. She continued to hold Stone’s arm in both of hers as she tried to ease the conflicting emotions that swirled within him. They were less intense now, the initial shock passed.
She didn’t understand why he was so upset. He should be excited. They found Gwen’s mate. Sure, the timing and circumstances weren’t the best, but Gwen was going to recover and be happy with her soulmate. Stone should be happy about this.
Mari ushered them wordlessly out into the hallway and guided them back into the foyer and up the stairs to the second level. She took them down the hallway on the left, all the way to the end, where there was a set of double doors. She unlocked them with a key and handed the key to Stone. It opened up to another living space, with three bedrooms and a bathroom.
She explained that this was their connected guest house and that on the lower level was a small kitchen and dining space along with a living room with a fireplace and flat-screen TV.
The room on the right was the master bedroom, complete with its own private bathroom and king-sized bed. The high furnishings were impeccably chosen in contrasting grays, blacks, and whites, and clearly designed to impress alphas and lunas. Two large windows opened the space up with a glow in the western horizon and the sky darkening. Their room overlooked the gardens, whereas the other two across the hall overlooked the courtyard.
Their luggage stood at the foot of the bed, waiting to be unpacked.
Mari chewed on her bottom lip as she lowered her head. “Lance is a little overwhelmed right now and has expressed his wishes that you do not alert anyone at your pack about the news just yet.”
Pressing his palm to his face, Stone heaved a sigh. “As he wishes. We will discuss this in the morning.”
Mari nodded. “It was nice to meet you,” she said with an added hopeful note in her voice to Aubree, her hand on the doorknob. “I hope to get to know you better tomorrow. Rest well.”
“Blessed be,” Stone said and Aubree echoed, remembering the phrase to be said in parting.
Mari closed the door behind her before Stone pulled Aubree into his arms.
Alone now, he allowed his emotions to crash over her, unbroken and unhindered. Aubree could hardly breathe under the sheer intensity of them.
“Stone?” She swallowed. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
He shook his head, still needing a minute.
She waited, wrapping her arms around his back and rubbing it, trying to ease his pain and give him strength.
“This is a good thing, right? We found Gwen’s mate. This is a blessing,” she said after a few minutes.
“He’s of the bloodline,” he croaked out. “Like Hector, she will have to come here once she is well again.”
The weight of his words and emotions fell on her. Her chest felt like it was crushing her heart and lungs. She couldn’t get enough air and her fingers clenched into his shirt.
“She can’t leave us.” Her throat constricted and her eyes prickled. “We need her. I need her.”
He pulled away only to clasp her lips with his. His fingers tangled in her hair, pulling her head back, and deepening the kiss as he grasped desperately to her.
Her stomach coiled, her senses dancing with delight, while pain at the thought of losing Gwen twisted and knotted within.
Desperate need consumed her, drawing a moan as he sought the fire of her soul. To be incinerated into nothingness, free of pain and loss. To be lost in her, in themselves, if only for a moment.
Stumbling back on weak legs, he sat down on the bed, releasing her only to reach up and cradle her cheeks in his palms and draw her forehead to his. His breath blew hot and heavy on her face.
“You don’t know how pleasing that is to my ears,” he whispered, rubbing his thumbs over her cheeks. “But this is our tradition.”
Aubree struggled to refill her lungs, trembling from the little shocks of electricity still shooting within her. She tried to focus on his words, despite the titillating effect he was still inflicting upon her.
“But we don’t have an Alpha Bloodline in our pack. Couldn’t he join our pack? Dom is set to inherit Rosmi Maana’s when he finds his mate—”
“He may never find his mate,” Stone said. “They cannot take the chance when Laurencius has already found his mate. He is young. It will take time to train him into an alpha worthy of taking over the pack, but it will be given to him if Dom doesn’t find his mate in the meantime.”
Her heart squeezed again at this revelation. She couldn’t think like that, though. There had to be a way for Gwen to stay and Laurencius to join them. She wasn’t willing to give up on Gwen so soon.
“And if Dom does find his mate before Laurencius is ready to become an alpha, could he join our pack?” Aubree asked.
Stone pulled back and gazed into her eyes. She felt the uncertainty crawling under his skin as he brushed her hair behind an ear.
“I don’t know.”
“Could you give up your position to him if he could join our pack?”
Stone nodded. “I never wanted to be an alpha in the first place.”
It was Aubree’s turn to stand up straight before him and cup his face in her hands. “Then we will ask them this tomorrow. If Dom finds his mate before Laurencius is done his training, then Dom can rightfully take his place as Alpha of the Rosmi Maana Pack. We don’t have an alpha of the bloodline in our pack. Laurencius’ training won’t go to waste if he comes to take over our pack. Who knows, by then, I might be dead. Could you continue to lead the pack then?”
Stone growled when she uttered her inevitable fate.
She pressed her finger to his lips. “I will die someday. Will you be able to lead the pack or not?”
“No,” he grunted, pulling her finger from his lips and holding both of her hands in his.
“We need Laurencius,” she concluded. “They have Dom. I’m sure if they tried hard enough, they could find his mate somewhere.”
He closed his eyes and lifted her hands to his face, breathing in deeply.
“This is why the Goddess made you for me,” Stone said. “I’d be lost without you.”