Chapter One: Welcome Home
-Present Time (In Shifter World)-
Sharissa walked out the door that led to the kitchen, at their Bar, and stopped when she saw the man standing on the other side of the counter. He grinned at her and she squealed as she ran into his open arms.
He laughed as he hugged her. “Hey there, pretty lady.” He said as he kissed the top of her head.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here!” She said as she jumped up and down in his arms.
He chuckled as he held her.
“What the fuck is going on?!” Dustin bellowed as he stormed out of the kitchen. “What are you yelling abou…” He paused and stared at the man holding his mate.
“Hey there, Dusty.” The man said with a grin.
Dustin grinned as he moved over and pulled his mate out of the man’s embrace. Shar giggled as Dustin pulled the man into a bear hug.
The man laughed as he hugged him back.
“Where the fuck have you been?” Dustin asked as he moved back and wrapped his arms around his mate.
“Didn’t you get my letters?”
Dustin snorted. “Letters? You call those little postcards with three words, letters?”
The man chuckled. “Well, traveling around the world, takes up a lot of time.”
“What’s going on down here?” Daryl asked as he stepped off the last step, then stopped when the man turned to him. His frown turned to a grin and he laughed. “About fucking time, you came home.”
The men embraced him once Daryl made his way to him.
“No. It can’t be. Are my eyes deceiving me?”
They turned to find Lyvia standing in the doorway of the front door.
“Hey there, Lyvia.” The man said with a grin.
Four cubs ran into the bar and skidded to a stop when they saw the stranger.
“Holy fu…” Shar slapped him in the back of the head and he laughed as he rubbed his head. “Sorry.” He said with a mischievous smile.
“Who are you?” One of the little cubs asked as she skidded to a stop in front of him.
He smiled as he squatted down so he was at eye level with her. “I’m your Uncle…”
They all turned to the newcomer and Sebastian smiled as he stood and captured his second best-friend, in a tight hug. Even though the bastard had killed him, he will always love this crazy nutcase.
“When did you get in?” Dylan asked as he backed up and grinned at him.
Sebastian smiled. “About an hour ago. This was my first stop.”
“Are you looking for a gig?” Shar asked as she watched them.
Sebastian looked at her and smiled. “Not right now. The band is taking a much-needed break. A tour around the world put us all out of whack.”
“Did you find your mate?” Lyvia asked as she watched their friend, they haven’t seen in a long time.
He shook his head. “Not yet. I am hoping I will find her while home. That way, I don’t have to try and bring her home with crazy coc…”
Shar slapped him upside his head again, and he laughed.
“Come along kids. The adults need some adult time.” Raj said as he gathered his cubs and headed up the stairs.
Sebastian smiled at the cubs as their father rushed them upstairs. “They’re getting big.”
Lyvia nodded. “There’s sixteen of them now.”
“Holy fucking shit.” Sebastian said with wide eyes.
Shar and Lyvia giggled.
“So, everyone has their mate now, huh?” Sebastian asked with a shake of his head.
“Yep. You’re falling behind.” Shar said with a laugh.
Sebastian sighed. “Just my luck.”
“Well, the Goddesses brought you back to life. So, we know there is a mate out there for you.” Dylan said with a grin as he laid his arm over his friend’s shoulders.
Sebastian grinned. “I guess you’re right. But I’ve been searching for more than three years, with no luck.”
“Hey. Why don’t you come by tonight and hang with us? Maybe she’ll walk in the door, as most of the others have.” Dylan said with a grin.
Sebastian nodded. “Actually. I was hoping you guys would have a job for me. Now that I’m not on the road, I’d like to get a real-life for a bit. Maybe settle down and get ready for my mate.”
“Perfect.” Shar said with a grin. “You can buy one of the houses in the community.”
He nodded. “I heard you guys created a sanctuary for Shifters.”
She nodded. “We sure did. It’s the community where our house was built.”
He grinned. “Great neighborhood. I’ll have to check out the available houses.”
“So, Raj wasn’t exaggerating.”
They turned and Sebastian grinned at Dominic. “Yep, I’m back.”
Dominic grinned as he hugged his friend. “I hope for good.”
Sebastian nodded. “I’ll only be doing gigs here, from now on. Now that I have traveled the world, I am ready to settle down with my mate. If I ever find her.”
“So, I guess you didn’t find her abroad, hah, get it, abroad.” Dylan said with a laugh.
Sharissa slapped Dylan in the back of the head and the others chuckled.
“You’ll find her.” Shar said as she turned back to Sebastian and took hold of his arm.
He grinned down at her. Dylan was still chuckling, and he looked up at his friend with a scowl. Dylan winked at him and he smiled back. He has never been able to stay mad at any of the Kraftman brothers for long.
“Come on.” Shar said as she pulled on his arm. “I’ll show you the kitchen.”
He looked down at her dumbfounded. “Kitchen?”
She nodded as she grinned.
“Yep.” Dustin said with a proud grin. “Was Sharissa’s idea.”
Sebastian smiled as he followed her through the door. He’d always known she was a smart one.
“Have you found where we need to search next?” Dylan asked his mate as he crawled into bed with her.
Pearl sighed as she looked at her mate. “No. I am hoping it will come to me in my dreams, like the last two.”
He nodded. “Yes, but you haven’t had a dream about the Dragon, in weeks.”
She sighed heavily. “I know.”
They both turned to the open door, where their three-year-old daughter stood, holding her favorite stuffed animal.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Pearl asked as she pushed herself out of bed.
Ruby ran to her mother and wrapped her arms around her. “I can’t sleep.”
Pearl sighed. Ever since the night she had had the dream about the last Dragon, Ruby has had nightmares, and they can’t figure them out. They didn’t know if they had anything to do with the lost Dragon, or something else. Her Witch senses were picking up the same stuff Pearl’s was. And it was scaring Pearl. She didn’t know what to do. Not even the nightmare potion her father had given her, was working.
Guess the Goddesses overpower even her father.
“Can I sleep with you?” Ruby asked with a pout.
Pearl sighed, then leaned down and lifted her daughter up onto the bed. Dylan smiled as he pulled their daughter into the middle of the bed. Pearl turned and they both cuddled their daughter between them.
“Go to sleep now.” Dylan said as he kissed Ruby on the cheek.
“Night, Daddy.” Ruby said with a yawn as she closed her eyes.
Dylan looked over his daughter at his mate. Their eyes met and locked, and she gave him a tentative smile.
“I love you.” He whispered.
She sighed. “I love you too.”
Pearl looked around her. She didn’t recognize the area. It was a large forest, with huge mountains. Where was she? She spun in a circle and paused when she saw her daughter sitting in the middle of a field of wildflowers.
“Hi, Mommy!” Ruby hollered excitedly as she waved.
Pearl smiled. She and her daughter are sharing the same dream. She and her mother used to do the same; when she was little.
Ruby got to her feet and started to run towards Pearl.
A loud roar came from the skies, and Pearl looked up. The Dragon swooped down, and Pearl screamed when it dove for her daughter.
Ruby turned and looked up, then screamed.
Ruby sat up in bed screaming. Pearl sat up with a scream of her own. Dylan sat up and pulled both of his girls into his arms.
“What happened?” He asked as he held them while they sobbed.
“Oh, Ruby.” Pearl said as she held her daughter close. “I don’t think the Dragon likes that we found him.” Pearl said with a sniffle.
“He’s scary, Mommy.” Ruby cried.
Dylan sighed as he continued to rock them. “I take it you found him.”
Pearl nodded. “I know where we can find him.”
“Are you sure this is the right place?” Daryl asked as he looked around at the trees and mountains.
Pearl nodded. “This is where the dream led me.”
“If he keeps attacking you in your dreams, what makes you think he will be happy to see us?” Dustin asked as he looked at Pearl.
Pearl shrugged. “I don’t think he will be happy to see us. But we must find him. The Goddess of souls asked us to.”
The brothers all nodded.
“How are we getting up there?” Dominic asked as he covered his eyes from the sun and looked up at the tall mountains.
“On foot.” Pearl said as she pulled out a map. “According to this, there are some large caves up that way.” She said as she pointed to the north.
“Why would he be living here, of all places?” Daryl asked as he strained his eyes to see up into the mountains.
“Because when he’d come here, over two thousand years ago, everything was different.” Pearl said softly as she looked up at the tallest mountain peak.
“I can’t believe we are at the Great Smoky Mountains.” Shar said with excitement.
Dustin chuckled as he pulled her back against his chest and kissed the top of her head.
“Are we going in human or animal form?” Drezden asked as he stretched his arms over his head, then leaned to the right to pull the muscles in his side. Sitting in a crowded car, that long of a drive, was torture on the back.
“Animal.” Pearl said as she looked around at her family. “It will be safer that way.”
Drezden nodded, then bent over and started shifting.
“Why don’t we just teleport in?” Bridget asked with annoyance. She hated walking anywhere. And she was feeling restless.
“Because he has been living alone for more than two thousand years, and I don’t want us to just pop in on him, unannounced.” Pearl said as she pulled herself onto her mate’s Cougar.
“Cheer up, Bitch.” Tate said as he lifted his mate’s Fox into his arms.
Bridget flashed her teeth at him, and he chuckled.
“Let’s go.” Pearl said, and everyone followed behind her and Dylan.
Shar raced ahead of Dustin, and Dustin growled playfully as he chased after her.
“Don’t run off too far ahead!” Pearl called out to them.
“It’s been over a year, since Shar first shifted, and I’m still getting used to it.” Josie said with a chuckle.
Pearl smiled at her. “Yeah. Too bad the rest of us can’t gain the ability to shift.”
The other humans nodded in agreement.
“I’m happy I can’t change.” Tate said as he nuzzled his mate.
The others smiled at him, in awe with the Vampire and Fox Shifter. Though it has been over a year since they met Chelsea. They were always in awe at the cutest Fox in existence. Scratch that, second cutest. Their daughter Hope, is, by far, the cutest little Fox in creation. And the little stinker knows it.
They traveled for what felt like days, but it was only hours before Pearl called them to a stop.
Pearl jumped off Dylan’s back and looked around them. “Shift back.” She told the others, and everyone stood before her in human form. She nodded at a path that led up the mountain. “That should take us to the caves.”
Two hours later, the group stood outside a large cave entrance. They looked at each other and took deep breaths.
Ready or not, here they come.