Heart of Stone - Book 3: Souls Entwine

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Chapter 42 - Aubree (Part 2)

The sun dipped under the horizon, illuminating the sky in a canopy of reddish-orange hues before darkening to purple, indigo, and midnight blue. One by one, stars lit across the sky, sparkling.

A fever began its slow burn from within as sweat beaded over Aubree’s brows and her skin began to tingle.

She was dressed in one of Stone’s long cotton white tees, one that he assured her was fine for her to destroy.

Stone stripped down to a pair of black workout shorts and made himself comfortable on the grassy lawn.

Behind her was the garden they had made around the patio and before her was her mate, pack, and Council members waiting for the transformation to take place.

She could already feel it in her bones. A dull ache began to spread out from her chest. Her stomach twisted, and whether that was from the shift or nerves, she wasn’t sure.

She was certain of the man waiting for her on the ground, his hands reaching up for her, to envelop her as her world shifted on its axis once more.

Joining him on the earth, she pressed her back against his chest as he slipped his arms around her and nuzzled her neck.

His skin felt cool against hers as her fever radiated around them, sweat beginning to trickle down her face, back, and chest.

[Don’t worry, that’s normal,] he assured her when she questioned him about it.

Giving them a sense of privacy, the Council backed away, disappearing into the shadows of the trees that surrounded them so that only Gwen, Gavin, Alistair, and Gunner remained in sight.

The first bolt of pain struck her skull from the base of her neck. She sucked in a breath through clenched teeth as more followed, one after another. She squeezed her eyes shut as hands took turns touching her head and passing on soothing feelings in a gesture of comfort to ease the pangs consuming her.

As the pain blasted through her head and filled her skull until it was a constant, throbbing tumor of agony, it spread down her spine making her buck against Stone.

[Don’t fight her,] Stone whispered into her mind. [Let the beast have full reign. It’s quicker that way.]

Aubree didn’t know how to not fight against it. It was instinctual to fight against pain. Letting it take control meant giving up or giving in, and every stubborn part of her refused to let something else beat her down and take over her life.

‘You feel like you’re dying.’

Gavin’s words rang true in her mind. It did feel like dying. She felt like she would self-destruct. Her head ticked like a bomb with seconds left to diffuse it.

She had to let go and give into the torture that wreaked havoc on her body, like Stone said.

She tried to relax but every sharp sting made her muscles tighten. Tiny pinpricks of fire broke out on her skin and spread like an inferno, engulfing her in searing hot flames that stripped her flesh raw.

Stone’s voice continued to whisper encouraging words of love, telling her she was doing great. That her fur was growing in thick and soft in shades of white, tan, copper, and gold.

[Beautiful. You are beautiful, Love.]

When her bones began to disconnect and realign themselves, that was when she cried out. Over and over, her body was being ripped apart and adjusted while Stone continued to hold her against his chest and whisper in her mind, [You’re beautiful. You’re doing so well.]

The wind whispered secrets in her ears with crickets chirping, leaves rustling, and mice scurrying around the forest floor. She could taste the earth, grass, and pine needles on her tongue and a bunch of other scents she couldn’t place.

She remained grounded in the smell she had known and associated with Stone and the feel of his arms around her as her skull cracked.

Nothing could prepare her for the agony of her head elongating, her muzzle growing out from her jaw and nasal cavity, or the sharp teeth protruding out of her gums.

Her screams turned to snarls as her head and body exploded in excruciating convulsions that pushed and pulled her in all directions.

She knew she was thrashing around, crying out in terrifying wails, but Stone held on, his words lost in the agony that filled her, but his love continued to surround her.

[I love you,] he kept repeating slowly over and over as she fought against a monster that could not be seen.

When the pain finally began to fade away, a tired ache remained as she panted, pulling in lungfuls of air as she began to gather her bearings.

Heartbeats thundered around her. In the darkness, she could clearly make out her packmates surrounding her and Stone, illuminated by the light of the full moon overhead. Her nose wrinkled at the bombardment of smells. Everything was heightened and it became harder and harder to distinguish everything the clearer her head became.

Voices invaded her mind, telling her how well she had done, how quick her shift was, but everything was too overwhelming and she whimpered in protest.

Before she could ask for peace and quiet, a howl lifted up to the sky that made her fur bristle.

She didn’t need anyone to explain as a growl rumbled up her throat. Instinctually, she understood.

Danger was approaching.

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