Chapter Twelve: She’s Not Crazy, She’s Just Gifted
“What do your rings say?” Laila asked as she looked up at her mates.
Park smiled as he spun his ring so she could read it.
“My Love; My Mate; My Queen,” Laila read out loud.
“Mark’s only says, My Love; My Mate,” Riley said.
“Because you’re not the Queen of the Animals,” Mark said with a chuckle as he kissed her cheek.
“Nor is Mark the leader of the bears,” Ryce pointed out.
“We should figure out her gifts,” the Shaman said.
“Gifts?” Riley asked. “But I only have one.”
“Jealousy does not become you, love,” Mark said.
Riley scowled, “I’m not jealous.”
Mark snorted, “suu-re, you’re not.”
Riley shook her head, then sighed. “Okay, maybe a little. But she’s my best friend, so I can live with it.”
Mark chuckled, “I hope so because she’s also your queen.”
Riley swallowed. She hadn’t thought of that. But there was no one better for the job than Laila.
“She has two mates, which means two rings and two gifts,” the Shaman said.
“How do we test for them?” Park asked.
“She can give each gift a try,” Vectore said.
“That’s what I did,” Riley said with a smile.
“First, we’ll try healing,” Vectore said, “since that was your mother’s gift.”
Vectore went into a room then came back with a small animal in his hands.
Laila frowned. It was a baby rabbit. “What happened to him?” She asked.
“He fell into a trap while playing with his brothers and sisters. I promised his mother that I would bring him back once he was healed.”
“Why didn’t you heal him yourself?” Park asked.
“Because I knew you were coming,” Vectore said with a smile.
Laila heard little cries in her head. The Shaman has kept him out of pain, but he missed his family and wanted to go home.
“Place a hand on him and concentrate,” Vectore said, “see if you can feel where he is hurting and heal him.”
Laila placed her hand on the little rabbit and closed her eyes. “I can sense where he hurts, but I’ve always been able to do that,” she said with a frown.
“Riley?” Vectore asked.
Riley walked over to them and placed her hand on the baby rabbit.
“It’s his back legs and a couple of ribs,” Laila whispered.
A soft glow came from Riley’s hand, and then the little guy jumped up and scratched his ear with his back foot.
Laila and Riley smiled at each other.
Vectore smiled and set the rabbit on the floor of the cave. “Wait outside, but don’t go anywhere.”
“Okay! Thanks, pretty ladies!”
Laila stared at the little rabbit as he hopped away.
“Okay. On to the next test,” Vectore said.
An hour later, Laila had tried every test Vectore threw at her and still nothing. Her gifts were a dud.
“How can this be?” Park asked, confused.
“Maybe the gifts I already had are all I get,” Laila said as she forced a smile. She was disappointed, but she didn’t want her mates to know that.
“I’m sorry,” Paxton said as he pulled her into a hug.
“I’m fine honest,” she said as she held onto him.
“How can this be?” An unfamiliar voice asked.
“I don’t know,” Vectore said with a shrug, “I wish I did.”
Laila pulled away from Paxton and looked around the cave. Who else was here? Park, Paxton, Riley, Mark, and Ryce. Everyone she knows was right here. So, who was the new voice?
“Do you think it may just be dormant?” The voice asked.
“Could be,” Vectore said with a nod.
Laila looked over at Vectore then down at where he was looking.
Mekhi flapped his wings. “She is still our queen.”
“Of course,” Vectore said with a smile.
“Daddy! Look what we found!”
Laila turned to find Avel and Nova waddling into the cave with something fuzzy in Avel’s beak.
Laila squealed. “Avel! Drop that!”
Avel immediately dropped the baby rabbit.
“What did I tell you about hunting here!?” The new voice yelled, berating the young Osprey.
“Not to,” another voice said, “but he was dead.”
Laila picked up the baby rabbit. “Are you okay, little guy?”
The rabbit sat up in her hands. “Yeah, thanks. I’m good at playing dead, huh.”
Laila almost dropped the baby rabbit when she realized what was happening. The voices she has been hearing are from the animals.
“Yes, you are,” Laila said as she cuddled the rabbit against her cheek then looked at the two younger Osprey. “And you two need to learn when an animal is really dead or playing dead because they are scared.”
Avel and Nova lowered their heads. “Yes, ma’am.”
Laila looked up and found everyone staring at her as if she should be in a looney bin. She smirked at them.
Vectore’s mouth was hanging open, then it closed, and a brilliant smile brightened his handsome face.
“I think having two rings is affecting her sanity,” Mark said.
Vectore laughed, “she is perfectly sane.”
Everyone looked at him for answers.
Mekhi flew to Laila’s shoulder. “Can you hear me?”
Laila looked at her Osprey and smiled. “Yes, I can.”
Mekhi flapped his wings, and she knew he was happy.
Vectore pointed at Laila and Mekhi. “Your mate has found her gift.”
Park and Paxton turned to their mate, and Laila smiled at them.
“I can hear the animal’s thoughts.”
The twins rushed at her and squeezed her tight. Mekhi flew to the ground, and the baby rabbit squirmed in her hands.
“Tell your beasts to get off; they’re squishing me!”
Laila chuckled, “you guys are squishing Peter.”
“Who’s Peter?” Park asked.
She held up the baby rabbit. “Meet Peter Cottontail.”
The twins looked at the baby rabbit and laughed.
“Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up, big guys. My mom thought it was cute too, but all I get is teased.”
“Aww,” Laila said as she cuddled the rabbit, “I think it’s adorable.”
If a rabbit could smile, she was sure Peter would be right now.
“So, you can talk to them now?” Riley asked as she walked over to Laila.
Laila nodded, “yep. Was confusing at first.”
“Why didn’t you test me for that gift?” Riley asked as she turned to the Shaman.
“Because no one but ME has ever received that gift,” Vectore said.
“Makes sense that the Queen of Animal Kind would receive it.”
Laila looked at Mekhi as he spoke. This will take some getting used to. But she was already comfortable with it. Hadn’t she always wished she could talk to her animals?
“Does this mean she can communicate with us as bears?” Paxton asked.
“Only one way to find out,” Vectore said.
Paxton shifted into his bear and made Peter squeal.
Laila chuckled, “he’s all right, little one,” she soothed.
“Can you hear me, sweets?”
His voice was a bit rougher, but it was Paxton’s voice.
“Yes, I can hear you,” she said with a smile.
Paxton sniffed her, then licked her cheek.
“Paxton!” Laila said with a laugh as she wiped her cheek.
Park chuckled and shook his head.
“Sorry, sweets. Your scent is strong when I’m in bear form. You just smell soooo good. I can’t help myself.”
Laila chuckled, “well, try.”
He licked her again, and she squealed as she pushed him back from her.
With a roar of laughter, Paxton shifted back.
“You should all stay here and leave in the morning,” Vectore said out of the blue.
“I want to go home.”
Laila looked down at Peter. “We should take Peter home while it’s still light outside.”
Vectore nodded, “good idea.”
They headed out of the cave, and Park stopped Vectore at the opening.
“What about the other gift?” Park asked the Shaman.
Vectore looked at him. “It may come out on its own, or she may only receive the one.”
Park nodded. “Should we keep an eye open for the second gift?”
Vectore shrugged, “doesn’t matter. She’s still your queen and the Mother of the future Kings.”
They found Peter’s family easy enough. Laila kissed his little head then set him on the ground with his family.
“Mama, I got to be with the queen!” Peter said excitedly.
Peter’s mother looked at him then up at Laila. “Thank you.”
“Not a problem,” Laila said with a smile then watched as the mother rabbit herded her little ones underground.
“That was so cute,” Riley said as she moved to stand beside Laila.
Laila smiled at her best friend. “Yes, it was. I hope to see Peter again someday.”
“Let’s get back to the cave,” Paxton said as he placed his arm over Laila’s shoulders. “It will be dark soon.”
They made their way back to the cave and slept on pelts on the floor of the cave.
“You should have worded it better!”
Laila slowly opened her eyes. Who was hollering?
“I said, I’m sorry.”
She recognized Vectore’s voice.
“Do you know what it’s like to find your children missing?!”
Laila recognized Mekhi’s voice. Why were they arguing, and what were they arguing about?
“No,” Vectore said, “actually I don’t.”
“My mate almost had a heart attack. I sent a message out to her, I just hope she gets it. Or She’ll worry about what might have happened to us.”
“I hadn’t realized the spell would be so literal,” Vectore said. “And I surely didn’t anticipate that both would be triggered at the same time.”
Laila moved out from between Park and Paxton and went in search of Vectore and her Osprey.
“What’s going on?” She asked when she found them.
Vectore looked over at her. “Did we wake you?”
“I’m sorry, Laila. I forgot that you could hear me.”
Laila smiled at Mekhi. “It’s all right. So, what are you arguing about?”
Vectore sighed, and Mekhi shrieked.
“She should know.”
Vectore nodded, “she should. And I should bond you to her now that she’s the queen.”
“Bond... What?” Laila asked.
Vectore smiled at her. “We knew you were the future queen before the twins did.”
“How?” She asked, stunned.
“Because of how you took care of Mekhi and the other animals, not to mention the fact that you know an animal’s true name,” Vectore said.
“I’ll wake Avel and Nova.”
Laila watched Mekhi leave the small room.
“We should wake the twins; they should hear this too,” Vectore said as he led her from the room.
They woke the boys, and everyone gathered in the enchantment room.
“What’s going on?” Paxton asked groggily.
“There is something you all need to know,” Vectore said, pointing to the couches.
Laila sat on the couch, and the twins sat on either side of her.
Vectore sat on the couch across from them, and the Ospreys situated themselves on the back of the couch behind the Shaman.
“Where to start,” Vectore said as he tapped his finger against his chin.
“How about the beginning,” Paxton said.
Vectore nodded, “I’ll start from when a beautiful nature-loving veterinarian saved the life of a rare black and white Osprey.”
Park and Paxton looked at Laila then back at Vectore.
“I guess you both know that Mekhi stayed with her for a couple of years before he disappeared.”
The twins nodded.
“Well, he came to me and told me about her. I sent several other animals to her, and they all reported the same. She was definitely the future queen.”
“Why didn’t you tell us that you’d found her?” Park asked.
“Yeah. That would have been helpful,” Paxton said with a scowl.
Vectore chuckled “because you needed to find her on your own to form your bond.”
Park looked at his brother, and Paxton shrugged. They both know that if they hadn’t found her on their own, their bond with her wouldn’t be as strong as it is.
“Mekhi was going to return to Laila, but then he met his mate. Instead of returning to Laila, I asked them to move far away.”
“But why?” Laila asked with a cry. She had missed her beloved Osprey.
“Because Mekhi volunteered to be your guardian, and he couldn’t be near you until the twins found you.”
Laila looked at Mekhi. “My guardian?”
“Yes. I hated leaving you,” Mekhi said as he tilted his head to one side and watched Laila.
“I needed to give up a few years with you, to gain forever.”