Chapter 15: Elizabeth
Elizabeth sat in a chair at the dining room table in Michael’s house. She was wearing a pair of jeans with a white t-shirt, her long hair pulled forward to cascade down her breasts. She sat forward to drink the espresso that was on the table before her. Sneaking into Michael’s bathroom yesterday resulted in sleep deprivation, and it was beginning to take its toll on her. She rubbed a hand over her face.
“You look like shit,” Audrey said. She sat beside Elizabeth at the table with her own espresso. Her red hair had been thrown into a loose ponytail, and she was wearing a black tank top with a pair of jean shorts. Vincent and Grayson were in Michael’s office with Michael and Matthew. Audrey had automatically volunteered to travel with them to visit Elizabeth. “Is Matthew stressing you out that bad?”
“Not Matthew,” Elizabeth grumbled.
“Michael then, and it’s only the second day,” Audrey said. “How was the moon on the mountain?”
“It was amazing, A,” Elizabeth smiled. Energy surged through her at the memory of her wolf running free. “No worry of humans finding you, just the freedom to run to your heart’s content I’m glad that he showed me. I understand why it means so much to them.”
“I can only imagine,” Audrey said after she took a drink. “You’ll have to take me there on the next moon. What is Michael doing that has you looking like this, if he was kind enough to share the moon with you?”
“A lot,” Elizabeth said, and she instantly silenced the purr that her wolf had tried to release. “He doesn’t like it when I question him, and Matthew being here is only making it worse.” It is not technically a lie, she thought. “And Matthew thought that I was Michael’s gift to him. Motherfucker moved into my room. I moved his ass back out.”
“Don’t let Grayson hear that.”
“I’m not dumb, Audrey, I know how to handle Grayson,” Elizabeth groaned. She leaned back in the chair and allowed her head to drop backwards as she closed her eyes. Fatigue clawed at her bones and muscles. She rolled her shoulders and groaned. Mate is sleeping alone tonight, she thought. I need to sleep. Her wolf whimpered in protest, but she ignored it.
“Don’t fall asleep,” Audrey sang. “You know that they are going to want to talk to you, too.”
“They can kiss my ass,” Elizabeth mumbled. She rubbed a hand over her face again. She heard Audrey shift in her chair and take another drink of her espresso. I really need to stay awake, she thought. “From where I’m sitting, Liz, it looks like one already did,” Audrey whispered. Elizabeth opened her eyes and dropped her back down to look at her friend curiously. “Or is that not a mate mark on your neck?”
Elizabeth’s hand instantly went to her mark, and she cursed. She had been flirting with sleep so desperately that she did not realize that her hair had fallen out of place. She quickly readjusted her hair to hide her mark and took another drink of her espresso. Audrey’s eyes hardened. “Liz—”
“A, not now. Please.”
“Yes now. Your Alpha and Beta need to know that you’re a Luna.”
“A, I’m exhausted. We can deal with this later.”
“Which one was it? That’s what matters. Matthew will tear Vincent apart to take you home.”
“He can try, but I won’t let him,” Elizabeth snapped. “I care about both Vincent and Grayson too much. I’ll fight Matthew, too.”
“So, it is Matthew.”
“I fucking knew it. He did it in the room before you kicked him out, didn’t he? Did you consent to it?”
Elizabeth grabbed her friend’s hands. “Audrey, do not tell Grayson,” she pleaded.
“Liz, they need to know—”
“And they will. I wanted to wait. They should hear it from me, not anyone else. Please,” she begged. She contemplated correcting Audrey on her assumption of which Alpha marked her, but she decided to allow her to believe that it was Matthew. It is bad enough that Audrey knows that I have a mate, I won’t reveal who it is until after I meet with Vincent and Grayson, she thought. “Please, A,” Elizabeth whispered. “I swore that I would not put you in this type of situation. I’m so sorry.”
“Fine,” Audrey said with her jaw clenched. Elizabeth let out a breath and nodded. A door opened and closed from down the hall. Elizabeth and Audrey turned to look as Michael approached them.
Michael was wearing a white muscle shirt with black sweatpants. Elizabeth’s skin instantly sparked with desire for him. He walked over to Elizabeth and crossed his arms over his chest. “Matthew wants to visit Mountain one last time, so I’m taking him up after the meeting.”
“How’s it going?” Elizabeth asked.
“As well as expected—”
“No way,” Audrey interrupted. Michael and Elizabeth both looked at her. Audrey leaned forward, her expression cold. “I just discovered that my best friend has a mate mark, and you apparently have one to match,” she whispered.
Elizabeth felt Michael tense beside her. “Audrey…” Elizabeth said slowly.
“Let her speak, Elizabeth,” Michael said.
“When?” Audrey asked.
“The moon. That was when I knew for sure, Michael answered.
“Did she know?”
“I wouldn’t have proceeded further without her consent. I informed her first.”
“What if it was a ploy to keep her? Tell her sweet nothings, and then bite her so that no one else can have her?”
“Elizabeth,” Michael growled.
Michael uncrossed his arms and placed his hands on the table. He leaned forward and brought his face inches from Audrey’s. “Why the fuck would I allow her to mark me, then? It defeats the purpose of stock-piling whores if I’m bound to just one.”
“Unless you believed that the mating bond was just a myth like the rest of us. Maybe that bite means nothing to you, but you knew that it meant something to her,” Audrey challenged. “You allowed her to bite you for appearances in order to keep her.”
“Watch it,” Michael warned.
“You and Matthew treat your she-wolves like toys,” Audrey continued. “It was only a matter of time before you took one of ours.”
Michael’s hand shot out and wrapped around Audrey’s throat. He ripped her out of the chair and lifted her to his face. Elizabeth jumped to her feet. “Michael,” she said softly. She placed a hand on his arm, and she noticed that he was restraining himself. She looked at Audrey and confirmed that her friend was breathing unrestricted. He was not trying to hurt her; he was trying to scare her. “I appreciate your concern for my mate, but do not ever doubt mine,” he seethed. “I cared for her before it was confirmed that she was my mate. She is not lucky to have me, you know my past. I am lucky to have her. So,” he growled as he pulled Audrey closer to him. “I did not mark her out of possession, it was out of passion.”
“As was mine, A,” Elizabeth said softly. Michael lowered Audrey to the ground and slowly released her.
“If this is so consensual, why does she look like polished crap?” Audrey asked.
“Gee, thanks,” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Lack of sleep does that to you. Michael won’t let me sleep.”
“How is he preventing it?”
“You have to ask?” Michael smirked. “The mating bod is a powerful one, especially in the mating regard.”
“You lucky bitch,” Audrey grinned suddenly. “I never thought that I’d see the day where sex literally saps the energy out of someone.”
“That’s because most people only do it once a day,” Elizabeth snorted.
“What? Twice? Three times?”
“Yesterday alone was fifteen,” Michael purred as he slid his arms around Elizabeth’s waist.
“He’s exaggerating, right?” Audrey screeched quietly.
“I fucking wish,” Elizabeth grumbled as she relaxed in her mate’s arms. “Five right after the shift, five right after waking up from the shift, and five last night before bed.”
“Damn, and I thought that Beta endurance was bad. Grayson is at least three times a day.”
“Never underestimate an Alpha, especially when he has someone like her,” Michael said softly as he kissed Elizabeth’s neck.
“Endurance be damned for tonight. I need sleep,” Elizabeth said.
“You’re cute when you think you’re in charge,” Michael mumbled against her skin. “But I’ll counter with a massage.”
“Who the hell are you, and where is the beast who ruled Mountain?” Audrey asked as she cocked an eyebrow.
“Speaking of,” Michael groaned and released Elizabeth. “I need to get back to the meeting. I’ll see you tonight.” He kissed Elizabeth’s lips tenderly, then returned to the meeting. Elizabeth plopped back into the chair. She took a large gulp of her espresso. Audrey settled into her chair as well. “What’s it like, the mating bond?” Audrey whispered.
“Ecstasy cranked to a billion with him, withdrawals cranked to a billion without him. Whiplash, in a nutshell,” Elizabeth said. “Blissful whiplash.”
“Sounds exhausting,” Audrey teased.
“I never thought that I would see the day where the Mountain beast acts like a puppy,” Audrey grinned. “Imagine when Vincent and Grayson find out.”
“I’m sorry for him scaring you like that.”
“Don’t be, I started it,” Audrey said as she waived her hand dismissively. “I needed to know what my future sister-in-law was getting herself into.”
“He needs to propose already,” Elizabeth smiled. She was beyond excited at the prospect of her sister being her best friend. Her heart fluttered slightly at the realization that Audrey would be an amazing aunt. Even if her and Grayson somehow fall apart, she will be the aunt to my children.
The door in the hallway opened again, but this time all of the males emerged. Matthew walked in front of Michael, with Liam behind Michael and Vincent and Grayson behind him. Elizabeth and Audrey stood up as the males approached. Matthew’s brown eyes explored Elizabeth’s body before turning to explore Audrey’s. Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him, which triggered a grin on his face. She knew that, had it not been for the presence of her Alpha and Beta, Matthew would have said something. Instead, he remained silent with a playful glint in his eyes as he exited through the front door. Michael stopped in front of her with his jaw clenched.
“I’m not sure when I’ll be back. Matthew wants to go for a run,” Michael spoke. “I would like to ask a favor of you for tomorrow, should I not be here tomorrow to ask it then.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth nodded.
“The families with children for swim lessons, I would like you to meet with one of the families tomorrow and begin teaching. I’ve spoken to the families and made them aware of you. Their names and house numbers are in my office.” He shifted his attention to Audrey. “If you don’t mind, I’d like you to assist her. I would like our packs to know each other and starting with you two is a good place to start.”
“Of course,” Audrey replied.
“Thank you both. Should you need anything else, Liam will be here,” Michael said. His gaze flickered back to Elizabeth and flashed gold briefly. His emerald eyes returned and he exited the house.
“I will give you time with your Alpha and Beta,” Liam told Elizabeth. “I’m curious about the foods that humans prepare.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth smiled. Liam nodded and left her alone with her pack members. Grayson cupped her face gently as his eyes searched her face. “Are you doing okay?” he asked softly.
“She’s doing well,” Audrey replied. “She’s living every she-wolf’s dream. Those two Alphas are eye candy, forbidden eye candy at that with their reputations.”
“And I’m not?” Vincent teased.
“You’re not exactly forbidden, now, are you?” Audrey winked.
“I’m fine,” Elizabeth laughed. “I promise. Michael has been civil, and I can handle Matthew.”
“I appreciate it, Lizzy, truly,” Vincent said. “Maybe your civil relationship will help the rest of Mountain to civilize amongst the humans as well.”
“And Matthew?” Grayson asked.
“Like his reputation,” Elizabeth shrugged. “Surprised the hell out of him when I told him no, but he’ll survive.”
“Lizzy,” Vincent warned.
“Relax it’s just bruising his ego. Now,” Elizabeth added. “I would like to maintain a civil relationship with Michael’s Beta as well. I’m going to join him on the boardwalk.”
Vincent’s jaw hardened suddenly, and he nodded. “Tomorrow night, after Michael returns, I would like to discuss something with you. Stay safe.”
“I always am,” Elizabeth said slowly as she cocked an eyebrow at him. We’ve been cautious, there is no way that he knows about me and Michael. Vincent smiled and squeezed her shoulder softly as he walked by. Grayson kissed her forehead softly and followed Vincent. Audrey embraced her in a hug. I’ll see you in the morning,” she said.
“Eight,” Elizabeth confirmed.