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Moving from the hedge, Connor returned to the place where he emerged from the haze and took in the scents. Quickly finding Madelyn’s, he moved in the direction it went. It wasn’t long until he found himself at the door of a tall building. A panel slid aside as he approached it, startling him at first, but he padded through the opening.

He heard it slide shut behind him as he sniffed the air, seeking out his mate’s scent. Quickly finding it, he rushed in the direction it led him, until he heard voices. Stopping, he listened and heard her voice, and a man’s. Hers was frightened. The other was calm. Not waiting a moment longer to be with his mate, he rushed through the door in a flurry of fur and fangs, quickly placing himself between Madelyn and the man in the room with her.

“Connor!” Madelyn cried as he growled at her grandfather. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to her, so she spoke silently to his mind. ’Connor, please! No!

’I’ll handle this, Maddy. Run, Now!′ he responded to her, eyes not moving from the man, hackles raised as he readied himself to jump into action.

’No, Connor, you don’t understand,′ she said through their link before her eyes moved to meet those of the man in front of them and she said aloud, “He’s my grandfather.”

The man looked between him and Madelyn then slowly rose and moved toward the exit, saying he would give them some time alone. As the doors closed, Connor quickly changed into his human form and took Madelyn into his arms.

“Oh, Connor,” she sobbed into his shoulder. “She...they...” she stammered as he held her quietly. “They’re alive, Connor, my brother and mother are alive!”

“But why did they bring you here, Maddie?”

“My grandfather says I’m in danger. He confirmed that Marie was not my mother. She was of the Grauguri elves, that they want to breed me. But why they do, I don’t know.”

“Breed you?!” Connor raged. “That Will Not...”

He was interrupted by the soft sound of the door sliding open.

They both looked to the door at the soft swish as it opened to admit the tall, ethereal-looking woman who entered the room, two men following her into the room.

“I believe Madelyn’s grandfather was about to explain that to her when you burst into the room,” she said as she took a seat at the table on the balcony, plucking a few grapes from a platter to pop them into her mouth. She sat, savoring the sweet juices as she nodded to Madelyn’s grandfather, who had followed her back into the room, to continue.

“I, um...” he uncharacteristically stammered. “Well, perhaps we should have some introductions before we continue.” Taking a seat alongside the woman, he gestured to the remaining chairs at the table and waited for Madelyn and Connor to sit, as well. The other young man remained standing, just behind the woman.

Madelyn looked at Connor and nodded, prodding him to sit, then began to sit in the chair beside him but Connor had different ideas. He pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms around her protectively.

“You all know who I am,” Madelyn said softly before turning to gaze at her mate with a gentle smile and placing a soft kiss on his cheek before looking back at the others. “This is Connor. He is my mate.”

The older man let out short, heavy and almost indignant breath at the announcement.

“Yes, well, that can be taken care of...” he started when Madelyn interrupted.

“If you’re about to say what I think you’re about to say, old man, you can just abandon that thought this instant! Connor is my mate and that is that, I will not allow anyone to speak any ideas to the contrary,” she raged on, anger fueling her words. “He is my mate and wolves mate for life. If you remember, I was brought here in wolf form. The mating is complete and my wolf is awake.”

“Oh, Madelyn, please calm yourself,” the woman said gently. “Your grandfather will not do anything to come between you and your mate, I swear it, darling.”

“I won’t...?” Madelyn’s grandfather started, before being interrupted again, this time by her mother.

“No, Father,” she said firmly. “You won’t. I will not allow it. Madelyn has found her true mate, as I did one fateful night. While I was not allowed to remain with him, for reasons beyond my control, I will not allow you to do to her what you did to me and to Richard.” She glared at her father before turning away from him, her violet eyes closing as she took a few calming breaths before turning to Madelyn again, a small, sad smile gracing her lips.

“Madelyn, dear,” she began. “Ours is a sad story, one that has not been told in many years, but I will tell you what happened all those years ago, on the night of your birth, and will tell you of what has happened since. But first, you and Connor need rest. The journey here seems short, but is actually a very long one, and is very taxing on those who pass through the portals. Your grandfather, brother and I will leave you both now, to rest.” She emphasized the last two words with a smile, a twinkle stealing its way into her eyes, as if she knew what her daughter might consider as they left the mates alone again.

As soon as the doors slid shut, Connor stood with Madelyn in his arms, holding her tight. Her arms slipped around his shoulders as he moved through the French doors to the bed, sitting on the side with Maddy in his lap. They sat there like that for a while, just holding one another. Maddy marveled over how she felt about him today, after having only met him a few days prior. She couldn’t imagine her life without him. The hours she’d been apart from him were the hardest she’d had to live in a very long time.

Leaning into his chest, Madelyn pressed her forehead to his and sighed softly. She let the moment continue in silence a little while longer before speaking.

“I don’t know which way is up, Connor,” she said softly. “Mother...” her voice broke, a soft sob escaping her lips after as the name passed between them. Swallowing heavily, she continued, “Marie. She lied to me, right up to the day she died.”

“I know, love,” Connor said softly, not wanting to interrupt her thoughts, but also wanting her to know he was listening, he cared.

Madelyn nuzzled his neck with her cheek, reveling in his scent. It was earthy and masculine, and very comforting. Yet again, she realized how much he was a part of her already and all of a sudden, another realization washed over her. She had a family again. Connor was her family. She’d grown so used to being alone over the last few years. With the exception of Brian, she’d had no one. But now, she had Connor.

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