“See? No harm done. I took you like a champ,” a bleary Karen sighed.
He stood, took her with him, and examined her bottom. As suspected, he had made it as red as she made his face.
“You will always tell me if it hurts, right?” he asked with a soothing stroke to her beaten skin.
“Pinky promise.” She offered her smaller finger, but he kissed her hand instead.
“Mmm, you’re so sweet,” she praised, giving him a hug that barely managed to circle his grandness.
“And you are tired. Let’s go to bed.” He picked her up as he always did, and Karen hugged his neck.
“You’re always carrying me. How about I carry you next time? Equality of the sexes, you know?”
“I would crush you.”
“Like you crushed that wall?”
He looked back at the spot he had drilled her into, and finally noticed the crack that hadn’t been there before.
“Oh. No wonder Cynthia thought there was an earthqua–”
“After further analysis, I do not believe that tremor was an–”
“Not now, Cynthia!”
The day was spent figuring out how to clean their sex-juice from the carpet and patch the crack on the wall.
Karen also called her parents to find out the status of her possessions. Everything was on its way to Titanium, but she didn’t think her drastic change of life would dawn on her until all those boxes were delivered on the front yard.
Although she was enjoying playing housewife, she didn’t want to spend the rest of her natural life cleaning around. She planned on asking Arabella for a task or two, wanting to learn the ropes before she dove deep into the pack’s workload.
Things were alright. Soon, the dark days would be a thing of the past.
“Are you going to wash the shirt with the baby puke or throw it out?”
Stone jumped a foot in the air, nearly tipping a pot of boiling water off the stove.
“Are you okay?” Karen asked, placing a concerned hand on her elbow.
“The baby, Light...” he drew out.
“What about him?”
“Goddess, Karen what if you’re... okay. Everything is fine,” he rambled, the thought of having his own puking machine driving him toward insanity. “We just need to make some renovations to the house. No, before that–”
“My oven is bun-free,” she assured with a bite of her lip. “I’m on birth control.”
“Oh... that’s good, I guess.”
His reply was hesitant, and his emotions were all the more conflicted. His wolf was displeased with the knowledge that its procreation was being blocked.
To avoid her eyes, he poked a pot. “You won’t stay on it forever, right?”
Karen shifted her weight from one leg to another, liking the idea of becoming rounder with his baby. Although she hoped to be a mother one day, she knew that now wasn’t the time.
Her mind wasn’t ready.
“No, not forever.”
His shoulders dropped with relief, and they were only submerged under silence for a few minutes before Stone floated a new conversation. “You should meet more pack members. I’m sure you’re getting bored of having Cynthia around.”
She nodded, liking the idea of making friends.
“Maybe I should call a pack meeting,” he considered.
His second idea didn’t sound as appealing. Getting paraded around hundreds of staring werewolves? That was a hard pass.
“As long as I get to hide behind you the whole time, then sure.”
After the eventful dinner, they took a very needed shower. Karen fell asleep in a funny way– her arms and legs draped around Stone as if she were a teddy bear. It seemed like she was becoming more used to him with every passing day, and he couldn’t thank the moon enough for it.
“Why don’t you come with me?” Stone suggested through his mouthful of grapes.
He had to check the process of the territory’s fencing, meaning that he had to leave the house for extended hours. Their honeymoon phase made the mere idea of being away from her painful.
“Sure,” Karen agreed, sharing his pain.
They were walking out of the house soon after cleaning up the kitchen. Stone kept a hand on her back and a prideful grin on his face as he guided her toward the perimeter. A few people stopped by and greeted him, mentioning that they hadn’t seen him around lately. When he introduced Karen as his mate, he was showered with genuine congratulations.
Karen sensed some lingering stares, but no one made an effort to point out her differences. It wasn’t anything she wasn’t used to.
They arrived at the perimeter where some pack members were working on the fencing. Stone conversed with an older woman, taking note of the progress of the construction. He tossed Karen an apologetic look when he lost track of time, but she didn’t mind. She sat under a tree, enjoying the sight of her mate issuing commands, walking around with those strong legs, and occasionally smiling.
Around lunchtime, he returned to her with dirty shoes and greedy arms.
“You’ll break my back,” she groaned against his chest.
He only tightened his hug, making her swat him away. He laughed through her weak hits before beginning to guide her back home.
“Hey Travis, have you seen Stone?” a man yelled in the background. The voice was muffled by the distance, but their heightened hearing still picked it up.
“He just left with the she-hulk.”
Stone tripped and was forced to take multiple steps to regain his footing. Grey eyes flew to the green trees, and then to an indifferent Karen.
His beautiful mate was stifling her sadness, refusing to feature it in her expression. “Ignore that. Let’s go home, okay?”
Numbness trailed up his fingertips and into his chest, freezing his control to a block of ice. He stared at Karen’s fake smile, unable to do anything as his fury began to climb up the ladder of destruction.
If she thought he was going to live like this– walking away whenever someone dared to disrespect their Beta female, then she had another thing coming.
The muscles in his thighs burned when he pushed them to eliminate the distance between himself and Travis. He recognized the man’s name. He had shared a few beers with him but never noticed that he owned so much darkness.
Travis looked at the trees, hearing the doom of footsteps and knowing that the storm was headed for him. It appeared too quickly for him to avoid its lunge. He was tackled to the rocky dirt, and then repeatedly slammed against the ground with so much force that he forgot how to breathe.
Stone issued no words as he began to feed Travis fistfuls. The werewolf knew what he did to earn this sentence. He knew that he had disrespected both his Beta and Beta female. He tried to block the blows, but Stone didn’t allow such freedom. He straddled him, strapping him onto a ride of pain.
When Karen finally showed up, Travis’ consciousness had long abandoned him. He laid limp, tucked into sleep by a blanket of blood. Specks of red even managed to land on his hair, giving his blonde hair morbid highlights.
She gripped Stone’s bicep, tugging him off the man. No spectator dared to intervene. Everyone around them simply watched and minded their own business.
“For the moon’s sake, Stone,” Karen despaired as she checked Travis’ pulse. It was there, but it seemed to be as defeated as his face.
Stone rose to his feet and then claimed her weight, leaving her no choice but to secure her legs around his waist.
No more words were exchanged on the way back home.