I didn’t pay attention to my sister and niece talking to Leah behind me. Instead, I stared at the pancakes I was making in the pan. Since I knew my sister and niece were coming over I added chocolate chips to them and I knew if I burned even a single one my niece would give me a lecture on wasting perfectly good chocolate chips.
The smile that had been on my lips turned down as I thought of what my niece said earlier to Leah. She said that Leah could talk to her even though she didn’t have a wolf yet. I know that Leah is a white wolf as I had seen her in wolf form, but I had no idea if that was why she could talk to Ehren. I mentally groaned at the fact I had not paid attention to the legends surrounding white wolves. If I had, I might know more about my mate than I already do.
What I do know about them, is they are a rare breed of were. I know that there was only one pack of them in the world. My frown deepened as I tried to remember what happened to that pack. I heard my nieces giggle and decided to ask my father about them later. Right now, I had chocolate chip pancakes to make and a very unnerving conversation coming up.
I liked having Ehren in my lap. She was such a happy little girl and something inside of me moved when she looked at me with her uncle’s eyes. I turned her so she was sitting sideways on my lap and looked towards her mother, Alia. Devin’s sister seemed to be deep in thought and Devin was busy making something that what making my mouth water, so I decided to concentrate on the little one in my lap. Not a hardship really, she was captivating.
‘So Ehren, how old are you?’ I projected to the dark-haired child.
“I’m six,” she stated with pride. “I’m going to be seven in…” she scrunched her face in thought and did something with her fingers. “…five months. I’ll get presents, and get to have a party. I’ll get to dress up and mamma and pappa will be there. And all my friends from school. When’s your birthday?” she asked with enthusiasm. “Are you going to have a party? With cake and ice cream and loads of presents?” Ehren was practically bouncing in my lap she was so excited.
‘I don’t know when my birthday is,’ I told her with a sad smile.
Her mouth dropped open as she gaped at me. “You don’t know when your birthday is!” she practically shouted.
Shaking my head, ‘No, I do not. You see I do not remember anything except for the last little while.’ I saw confusion clearly written on her face. ‘You see your uncle over there hit me with his car a while back. When I awoke in the hospital, I could not remember anything. He has been taking care of me and only told me this morning that we are mates.’
Understanding dawned in the bright blue eyes before me. “I’m glad you are ok,” she said in a small voice, her face looking sad. Not a second later, her face brightened as she said, “I’m glad you are his mate. He is a good uncle and a good Alpha. He will take care of you, and if you are a good girl he will make you chocolate chip pancakes every morning.” Her eyes took on a dreamy look when she mentions the pancakes.
‘What are chocolate chip pancakes?’ I asked the dreamy girl.
“They are the best thing since…since…forever!” she enthused. “Uncle Devin makes the best chocolate chip pancakes. That’s what he’s making right now. If he doesn’t hurry up, I think my stomach is going to eat me!” her eyes rounded in delight.
Taking her literally, I poked her stomach wondering how it could eat her if she did not get chocolate chip pancakes. This caused Ehren to giggle uncontrollably bringing Alia out of her thoughtful daze. She reached out and picked her daughter up out of my lap, “Come on, brat, your uncle is almost done making breakfast. Why don’t you help me set the table so we can eat?” She stopped talking at her own words and looked at me sheepishly. “I’m sorry, Leah. Did you need us to help set the table? I know that this is your home now and I didn’t mean to overstep or anything.”
‘It is ok,’ I sent the frazzled woman. ‘I don’t know how to set a table so you are more than welcome to do it.’ I let her know. She looked at me funny, so I said, ‘I think that is one of the things Devin is going to explain.’ I informed her.
Nodding her head, she went to help her daughter get out the things needed to set a table. I sat and watched them. I figured I could learn how to set a table by memorizing what they were doing. It did not seem that hard. They got out plates and glasses from a cabinet next to, what I now know is the refrigerator. Alia pulled out a part of the counter and produced forks and knives for everyone. Trying to keep all of this in mind, I did not realize Devin had come up behind me.
He placed his arms around my waist and put his chin on my left shoulder. ‘What are you thinking about?’ his curiosity flowed through me.
‘I was watching to see how to set a table,’ I shrugged. ’I did not want to be in the way so I decided to stay here instead.’ I elaborated.
He chuckled and kissed my cheek, “Come on,” he stated aloud. “Breakfast is ready, and if I know my niece she is chomping at the bit to dig in.”
‘Chomping at the bit?’ I asked.
He chuckled again, ‘It just means she’s excited.’ he sent to me.
Smiling, I took the hand he offered and we went to the table that Alia and Ehren had ‘set’. I had to admit, everything looked pretty, and the smells coming from the stack of food was mouthwatering. I could not wait to try my first chocolate chip pancake. Looking at Ehren I could see she felt the same way. She was bouncing in her seat, staring fixatedly at the mound of pancakes in the middle of the table.
Devin took it upon himself to serve everyone. I found it sweet as it shows he will take care of the women in his life. I wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of, so I waited until they had started to eat before I took my first bite. The pancakes melted in my mouth and the chocolate left a sweet taste on my tongue. They were so good I ended up eating several of them.
I looked up after I was done and everyone was staring at me. Devin and Alia with an indulgent smile and Ehren with her mouth open.
‘What?’ I sent to all of them.
Devin leaned over and kissed my cheek while chuckling, “Nothing, love. I’m just glad you liked your breakfast.”
‘Of course I liked it,’ I replied. ‘It was delicious.’
He laughed aloud, “Well, I would think it was seeing as you ate six of them.”
I looked around the table, ‘Is that a lot?’ I asked everyone.
Devin and Alia just laughed and Ehren mouthed, ‘so cool’. Whatever that means.
“Ok,” Alia finally got out trying to control her laughter. “Who is going to explain what is going on?” Even though she asked everyone, she was looking at Devin.
Devin cleared his throat, ‘Leah, love, could you go upstairs and wait on the couch. I need to talk to Alia real quick. I’ll send Ehren with you so you won’t be alone.’
I nodded and stood from the table as he said, “Ehren, will you go upstairs to the living room with Leah. Your mommy and I are going to clear the table. We’ll be up in a minute.”
Ehren bounced out of her chair and grabbed my hand, dragging me upstairs.
‘Devin,’ I sent to him in a reprimanding tone, ‘you better explain some things to me. You cannot keep stalling.’ I shot him a look over my shoulder to let him know I was serious. He grabbed the back of his neck and blushed. Nodding his head to let me know he understood.
‘Alia, I do not know how you can stand him. I can never get a straight answer from him.’ Alia’s laugh followed me up the stairs. I hope she at least can get some answers.
“Oh, I like her,” Alia said between laughs.
“I’m glad,” was my only reply. I busied myself with cleaning up the mess from breakfast. I was not looking forward to explaining things to my sister, let alone my mate. I had no idea where to begin with either conversation.
“Well,” Alia’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on? Or am I going to have to guess?”
“I don’t know where to begin,” I confessed.
“It usually helps to start at the beginning,” was her sage advice. Thinking it was a good place to start I told her everything, from when I hit Leah with my car up until this morning with her dream.
Alia stayed quiet while I talked, and I was grateful. There were still a lot of questions I had yet to answer and I needed to talk to dad about some things. Now came the hard part, trying to convince Alia to explain what mates were to Leah.
Clearing my throat, I glanced at my sister drying dishes beside me. “There’s something I need to ask of you.” I asked when the silence stretched too long.
“Hmm,” was the response I received.
“Well, um, see, I was wondering if you could, possibly, maybe, explain the mating process to Leah for me.” I avoided looking at her. I could feel her eyes boring into the side of my face. I knew if I looked at her she would have the look that mom would give us when we were little. The look we got anytime we did something utterly stupid. I hated that look. I know I’m being a coward, but who really wants to have the ‘talk’ with their mate. It’s just embarrassing.
“Seriously?” she asked when she saw I wasn’t going to look at her. “You can’t man up and talk to your own mate. What happened to Mr. Big Strong Alpha, ‘I can take on any challenge,’ huh? Where did that man go?”
“Come on, Alia,” I hunched my shoulders. “I can’t talk about stuff like that with her. It’s bad enough I want to jump her every time I see her. If I try to talk to her about it, I can guarantee there won’t be much talking going on.” I growled out. I gripped the edge of the sink as I fought with my wolf. Just thinking about what the mating process entailed brought him closer to the surface. He wanted to charge upstairs and mate fully with Leah, whether she wanted to or not. I tried to explain to him that our mate was still hurt and did not understand what was going on.
’You better not make me wait much longer,’ he growled in my head as he let me take back control. I know he’s been extremely patient as it’s been six weeks since we met our mate. Usually, when a wolf meets their mate they are mated within a few days, maybe a week. Our situation was… unique…to say the least.
Seeing my struggle, Alia sighed, “Fine, I’ll talk to your mate about this.” I finally looked at her. I wish I hadn’t as she had a determined look in her eyes. I had a feeling I was going to regret what she had to say. “I’ll talk to her, but you owe me big time, mister.”
I gulped, “Alia, what are you thinking?” I asked with trepidation. The last time she said I owed her I ended up watching Ehren for three weeks while she and her mate went on vacation to the Bahamas. I shuddered at the memory. Three weeks with a colicky baby was not my idea of a good time.
An evil smirk came across her lips, “Oh you’ll see,” she said. “I have something in mind, but I’ll wait to tell you. You need to sweat a little bit.” With that, she turned and headed up the stairs.
“Come on Alia! Just tell me what you want!”
Ehren was a bundle of energy. She had dragged me upstairs by the hand and has not let go. We sat on the couch facing each other and she was babbling on about school, friends, and anything else that ran through her head. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I let her ramble on. It was enjoyable to watch the emotions that crossed her face. Her nose would crinkle when she talked about something she did not like and her eyes would sparkle when she talked about the things she did like.
“Come on Alia! Just tell me what you want!” I heard Devin shout up the stairs. His sister was laughing as she entered the living room.
“Ehren, honey? Why don’t you go downstairs and challenge your uncle to a game on the Wii? I need to have a talk with Leah real quick. When I’m done maybe we’ll go get some ice cream.” She said approaching the couch.
Ehren threw her arms around me and squeezed before racing away screaming, “Uncle Devin! I challenge you to bowling! Prepare to get creamed!”
I heard Devin’s reply as they headed to a different part of the house, “I don’t think so pipsqueak. I am the king of bowling. Prepare to meet your doom!”
I felt my eyebrows draw together in concern. I hope everything will be ok, I thought. Something touched my arm and looking down I saw Alia’s hand resting there.
“Don’t worry. They are just going to play. They’ll throw insults at each other, but it’s all in good fun.” She said unconcerned so I let the issue go.
“So, Devin explained some things to me about your…circumstances…I guess you could say. I take it you know you two are mates?” I nodded. “Do you know what it is to be mated?” she asked. I shook my head ‘no’. “Oh boy,” she sighed. “I really hoped to have this conversation in a far distant future with my own child. But I guess I will have to explain some things to you.” I turned to face her fully so she knew she had my whole attention.
“Well, a mate is short for soul-mate. Soul mates are two halves of a whole. Werewolves are born with their souls incomplete. In order to feel whole, they must find their other half. Do you understand so far?” I nodded.
‘It would explain why I feel so comfortable with Devin, and why when he’s not with me I feel like a part of me is missing.’ I sent to her.
Her lips twitched at my comment. “When you find your mate,” she continued, “you will know instantly. Your wolf will go crazy inside of you to be near this person. When you look into their eyes everything else disappears, and when you touch sparks will ignite.” She got a dreamy look in her eyes, as if she were remembering meeting her own mate. I thought about all the times Devin and I touched and the tingles that would shoot through me.
Silence stretched between us. I do not know how long we sat there in our own worlds when Alia finally shook herself from her reverie. “Now, just because you meet your mate does not mean you are mated.” I tilted my head and gave her a questioning look.
“To be mated you have to go through a process,” she explained. “The first step is to meet, obviously. The second is to have the male mark the female.”
‘Mark?’ I interrupted.
“Yes, the male will mark the female by biting her between the neck and shoulder. Once he does this, a mark will appear. The mark can be anything. Also, his scent is mixed with that of his mate’s. This will keep other males away from her, letting them know she is taken. The last step is to…well…um…” she looked away, and I could hear her mumble under her breath, “How did mom get through telling both of us how this worked?”
I felt my stomach twist. What is wrong? Was the third step so bad she could not even tell me what it was? ‘What is the third step?’ I asked with trepidation.
Alia finally looked back up at me and her cheeks were bright with color. “The third step is to have sex!” she exclaimed in a rush.
‘What’s sex?’ I asked nervously.
She put her head in her hands and I could hear her mumbling something about idiotic brothers and making him pay for her embarrassment. She startled me when she jumped off the couch and grabbed my hand. At least I know where Ehren gets it from. She dragged me to a door behind the stairs. When she opened it, I saw a room with a big desk in the center and chairs on either side. Alia walked to one of the walls and scanned it looking for something. When she found what she was looking for she pulled it off a shelf and handed it to me.
Whatever it was is heavy. I looked at her, ‘What is this?’
“That my dear is a book. It will explain what happens between a man and a woman when they have…you know.” She said while avoiding eye contact.
‘I don’t know what a book is,’ I told her with no little discomfort.
She looked shocked for a moment and then pity filled her eyes. With the book in hand, she pulled me over to one of the chairs and sat me down. She then opened the book and showed me what was inside. “I know you can’t read, but here are some pictures.”
I looked down and…oh my…