A party had been held in honor of the new additions to the pack—both Faith and I—and we decided to turn it into a combination welcome-birthday party for my friend Carter, who had just turned 18. It was a joint do, and though I was reluctant to have so much attention lavished on me, I was pleasantly surprised when another shock at finding out Carter—who I had first spoken to when he went to grab his younger sibling from the packhouse—was mates with Faith.
She was wide-eyed and staring, her nostrils flaring as she mumbled something about the homey smell of a wood fire. Thinking that was what she might have scented on the way to our house the first time she had come over for dinner, it all made sense. Carter’s house turned out to be only a few down the road from West’s and mine.
Faith and Carter were inseparable the whole night, and I loomed in the background, always nestled close to West, who looked like he had his feelers out as if expecting something bad to happen at any moment. What it was, I only found out later that day.
“Carla is gone again,” he explained. “I was keeping my eye out for the sly piece of trash and hoping she wouldn’t make a scene. She wasn’t there at all. Couldn’t smell her or anything. I’ll head in the direction of her home and see if she’s been there recently.”
He didn’t look like he was going to be relishing that task, but as the Beta, it’s not like he could say no. Safety and security was one his duties, and he took them seriously, even if the look on his face was grim and sour.
Right after coming back from the gym a few weeks ago, he told me all about what Carla did in the shower room in the basement. I growled my frustration, and West’s eyes had grown big before he had to hold me back from sniffing out the greedy cunt of a female. You didn’t touch what didn’t belong to you, and I was aching to teach the bitch a lesson.
“Oh no, you don’t,” West told me placing an arm around my shoulders as I shook and growled deep in my throat. “She is not an honorable female and would try to kill you to get what she wants. Why it’s all of the sudden me, I don’t know. It’s not like she made any effort prior to this.”
He shook his head as if in disbelief, though I thought he looked slightly proud of his possessive little female.
“She better not touch you again,” I snarled, surprising myself at how angry and jealous I sounded. I had complete faith in my mate, but I didn’t trust the scheming she-devil who took a sudden liking to him. As far as I knew, the only time a rejection didn’t stick was when one or the other party wasn’t accepting of it. As West had already handled it and staked his claim on me, I knew it wasn’t him who was keeping the flame alive.
Carla, that cunt, was just as conniving as she was greedy.
He gave slow strokes of his calloused fingers along my arms, and I slowly began to calm, relaxing into his body as we sat side by side on the couch that day. Pretty soon, I was wanting to possess him in another way, and we took ourselves to the bedroom where we writhed and cried out in bliss for several hours.
Shivering and alone in the living room a couple of weeks after the party, I pulled the crocheted blanket over my shoulders. Winter was coming soon, and with it, the need to cuddle up in front of a roaring fire. West was out back and chopping cords of wood for the upcoming months. Being pretty organized, he was usually a regular boy scout when it came to being prepared and ready for the worst of what winter could toss at us. If the electricity were to go out or the back-up generators fail, at least we would have candles to light the house and a blazing fire to heat our bones.
A wave of sudden dizziness passed over me, and I laid my head down on a couch cushion as I Netflix and—most literally—chilled. The small flames in the fireplace were starting to dim, but I was too cold and fatigued to get up. When I finally did, I was sure my feet would be blocks of ice.
The TV was on low, punctuated with the harsh sound of wood being chopped in the background. Normally, I would go to the back window in the kitchen to ogle my man a bit as he sweated his sexy little ass off, but the cold took precedence, and I watched a Disney movie on low, giggling every once in a while as Dory said something ridiculous or one of the fish in Nemo’s tank at the dentist’s office called him “shark bait”.
My stomach grumbled loudly, and I sat up to another wave of wooziness, cursing myself loudly for getting up too fast. It was a lazy Saturday and I was expecting my parents to come visit for the first time the next day. Sundays had always been a day when we all got together to have a family dinner. It had been hard otherwise with my father spending much of his time at the clinic or small hospital in the basement of the packhouse. The term “fucked like bunnies” was probably on point, but if you had said “fucked like wolves” it would have meant the same thing. Many shifter families had small armies of children, and it kept my father busier than he would be had he been employed as an ObGyn at a human hospital. The hazards of a horny and hormonal shifter community.
I moved to into the kitchen to start making some sandwiches for lunch, and grabbed ingredients from the fridge and set them out in a row before slapping meat and cheese onto white bread and adding mayo, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I added extra meat to West’s and another slice of cheese, knocking on the window of the kitchen to signal his lunch was ready. He swiped sweat from his brow and grabbed the towel he’d brought out with him before winding it around his neck and walking with sure strides to the back door.
As I was grabbing him a glass of ice water and a straw, I placed the plates onto the small dining room table and added two globs of potato salad before adding some forks onto some laid-out napkins. It was a simple meal, but I was feeling lazy and West never complained.
He dug into his food with gusto, taking a huge bite of his sandwich before washing it down with half the glass of water. After he had finished half of his gigantic sandwich, he cleared his throat and spoke.
“When are your parents coming over tomorrow, angel?” He took another bite as I struggled to swallow mine. I didn’t know if it was the fact I didn’t particularly like ham, but I just wasn’t feeling all that hungry anymore. My stomach gave a queasy lurch, and I struggled to settle it by taking a small sip of refreshing, icy water.
“I told them to be here around five, but knowing my mother, she’ll stop in at 3:30 or 4 and insist on helping me cook.” I sighed. No doubt my mother would grill me all about West since she hadn’t had the chance to speak with him much. She was a nosy Nellie if there ever was one, and I wasn’t looking forward to assuring her that West was treating me well and I was happy at Destiny Pack. She was so sure I would be Luna of Arrowhead one day for so long, it was hard for her to wrest that image from her mind and plant and cultivate the seed of a new one.
“Mom being a little overbearing, sweetheart?”
I pierced him with a look. “Stop poking around in my head when I’m not paying attention. I’m still not used to the link with a new pack and it’ll take me a while to get accustomed to it.” Since I had first gotten my wolf, I had been able to keep the walls in my mind up, but it had taken me a good two months to succeed in keeping all the unwanted loud thoughts out when people were emotional. Since I already had a bond to my Alpha mate—though obviously unconsummated—it was more difficult to cut out the excess noise when I was being lax. It took another month after that to differentiate when someone was trying to get my attention through the mindlink. So, three months would probably be sufficient in acclimated myself to my new community’s packmind.
“Sorry, but your thoughts are pretty loud when you’re concentrating that hard.” He pecked me on my forehead before going back to his food. “Besides, it’s cute when you get that frustrated look on your face when I force my way in. Can’t help but try to prod my way in when I remember.”
He was wearing a smirk that soon smoothed out when he swallowed a large bite of ham and roast beef.
I didn’t know if it was my irritation with him or the fact that the ham tasted too salty for me, but I pushed away the rest of my sandwich towards West’s plate, offering it to him with a hand out.
“Not hungry?” He suddenly looked worried, and I smiled wanly back over at him.
“Guess not. The ham’s too salty,” I commented. “Which kind did you buy this time?”
“Same kind I always do,” he replied, but he lifted the middle of the sandwich to peek in as if he could tell just by looking if it was a different brand. “I usually buy the low-salt kind. That’s what I assume they gave me.”
I grimaced as my stomach rolled uneasily when I stood up.
Ugh, I thought, and immediately wanted to sit back down as my queasiness threatened to empty the contents of my stomach onto the floor.
With a hand gripping the back of the chair, I closed my eyes, trying to will my tummy to settle. It didn’t listen, and I was soon dashing off into the bathroom and expelling most of my sandwich and a little of my breakfast into the porcelain bowl in the downstairs hallway.
Cool hands pulled my hair back from my face as I retched pitifully into the toilet, eyes dripping with tears as I choked on the foul taste on my tongue. When I was finally done vomiting, I stood shakily and went over to the double sinks, rinsing my mouth out with water before furiously brushing my teeth and gargling with mouthwash to rid myself of the rest of the taste of bile and salty pork.
“Baby, you okay?”
I looked over at him, smiling at the concern as it wound itself all over his face. Wiping the rest of the tears from my eyes, I nodded and cleared my throat.
“I’m fine,” I assured him. “I don’t think ham really agrees with me.”
That was a lie. I was feeling ill even that morning, but I figured I had caught a slight bug from hanging out with the kids all the time. They were little germ factories, and it wasn’t the first time I would have gotten a stomach bug from hanging out with the littles.
“I want you to go to Dr. D., sweet girl.” West’s arms curled around my body, pulling him into me so I was up against his firm, warm body.
“West, I’m sure I’ll be fine.” I patted his hand, trying to convince him I was, or would be, fine in a few hours, so long as I didn’t try to eat anything and drank hot, soothing tea. Mint was my preference, as it usually soothed an irritable tummy.
“The ham was fine, sweetness, but I think your stomach is not.” He sighed and pulled a hand away to push through his hair. “And I don’t think it has anything to do with what you’re eating or how it’s prepared. Your nose has gotten stronger in the past week, and you nearly barfed yesterday when I brought home that deer to skin for venison last night.”
I paled at the thought. “I was bloody and…and gross,” I protested weakly, trying not to think about the blood dripping from the fresh carcass.
“We’ve hunted together before,” he reminded me. “You didn’t mind a little blood the last time we caught that elk and the wildcat that was getting too close to the territory.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, dislodging his hands from my body. “What are you trying to say?” I stared at him through the wall-length mirror in the room.
“I’m saying, I don’t think you’re sick at all,” he confessed gently. “If might be something completely different. You could be…well, it’s not like we were careful when we first mated. You could be pregnant.”
I scoffed at the idea. After the first few times having sex, we had decided to use condoms to prevent pregnancy. I knew it might’ve been too late, but I was being my stubborn self and would just have to see it to believe it.
“Fine,” I ground out, feeling my lips form a determined pout. “We’ll go see Dr. Denario, but I think it’s highly unlikely I could be pregnant.”
He slipped a hand around my waist again and pulled me into his side. I curled up into him, letting his scent relax me before he patted my ass to move me along.
“Let’s get going,” he coaxed. “I’ve already linked with Dr. D. that we’re on our way, and that man is more excited than he’d like to admit about another possible pregnant female.
Honestly, it was irritating how so many of these men at Destiny were more baby-crazy than their women.
Still, I moved my nauseous little ass to get dressed before walking out of the house and down to the clinic to see Dr. D. and his team of nurses. West, of course, was hot on my heels and nearly bouncing with excited energy.
Throwing a faux-furious look at him, I opened the front door of the clinic. “We’ll see who’s right this time, mister.” With that, I strode into the building and walked up to the front desk to tell them I was here, West’s heated chest close enough to brush up against my back and warm me with his nearness.
“I’m here to see Dr. Denario,” I informed the woman, who smiled back at me in return.
“Of course, right this way.”
I guess you got fast service when you were the Beta’s mate at Destiny pack.
Walking back with her in the chilly air, I almost shivered when I followed the female into an cold, empty room and was given a thin cloth gown to change into. She grinned again at me and assured me the doctor would be in to see me in a moment.
“And now, we wait.”
I glanced at West to see him trying to hide a smile—unsuccessfully, mind you.
But I had to admit, the joy on his face was quite precious, and I almost wanted to lean forward and kiss his handsome face before jumping into his reassuring arms.
Instead, I started to undress, slipping the gown on and jiggling my legs nervously as I waited for Dr. D. to come in and see his anxious patient.
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