Sitting down for breakfast with her older brother a few days after the Mating Ball was no coincidence. Mary knew exactly why her brother had invited her for bunch. He wanted to talk about the Mating Ball and potential mating prospects. At the age of twenty-five, Mary was completely independent without her brother's assistance. She has a working income and lives on her own without her brother's overprotectiveness shadowing her every move.
He fell into the metal chair before her. Breakfast platters of sausage links, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and bacon sat in front of them. Daniela always cooks up a big feast even if it was only for their tiny little family.
"Where are the kids? How are they doing?" Mary asked, even though she had just seen them a few days ago.
"Jonathan had just discovered his newest adventure in the pantry the other day. Climbed the shelves for cookies and ended up spilling everything over. As for Joey, he has found how to run freely without diapers. I have discovered several wet spots all around the house," he grumbled and ran a hand through his short-textured haircut in frustration.
Mary simpered at the image of her nephews running wild. She couldn't help but feel mildly pleased that her brother was suffering from parenthood.
"I should stop by to visit sometimes. Maybe I'll babysit the boys while you two go on a date," she offered.
His smile brightened, and Mary saw once again how handsome her brother was. He had all the good genes. The dimples on his cheeks added to his whole look. It was one of the reasons why he was so highly popular with the female wolves.
"Daniela would be extremely happy. I know with the little one on the way, she really does need a break but you know her, she won't ask for it even if the world was ending," he said.
Daniela was currently pregnant with their third child and well on her way to giving birth soon which explains a large number of times she had on her hands to complete my ballgown for Mary. She didn't want to go to the Mating Ball this year but was coerced by Marcus. Even so, she loved them with all her heart.
Suddenly, Marcus's cell phone rang. He picked it up and muttered a few 'yes' before hanging up. It was a quick call and so Mary assumed he was needed back at work.
"It seems we have visitors and our presence is required," Marcus announced.
"Ok, I'll leave you to it then," Mary replied, standing up from her chair and unfinished plate of food.
"Hold on a minute," Marcus stopped her with a hand in front of him.
She frowned in confusion at her brother. Connecting the dots in her head and then responding, "I am required to go too?"
He smiled then before nodding his head. "Yes, Mary Elizabeth Carter. You are to report to the Alpha's home immediately."
"You're joking right?" she replied.
"Do I look like I am joking?" he deadpanned her.
She groaned. "But I had other things to do today."
"Oh, you mean to sit at home and watch TV?" he shot back.
"I live on my own, Marcus, you can't scold me like I am still a minor in your home," she retorted.
He sighed. "It is an order from our Alpha. We should obey."
Mary huffed once more before nodding her head at her brother. She'll listen this time and go but don't think she would change her comfortable track pants and a plain t-shirt for anyone. Besides, no one would even notice.
"Alright, would Daniela and the boys be going too?" she asked.
"Daniela is carrying a lot of weight. I think it would be best if she rests as much as possible. Too much standing would make her feet swollen and then she would uncomfortable all night," Marcus replied.
That was completely understandable to Mary. If she was pregnant, she wouldn't want to step out of the house at all too. Being a couch potato was what she does best. She eyed her brother from underneath her eyelashes while she picked up her keys and wallet from the table.
"So, maybe you should go first and I'll meet you there," she lied.
Marcus knew exactly what's up. He shook his head and gestured for the front door.
"You're going with me," he ordered.
"But what about my car?"
"What about it?"
"Who is going to drive it?"
"You'll come back with me after the meeting," he said, knowing he had her there. She made a face at him before following him out the door of their home.
The drive to the Alpha's home wasn't too far. It was about a fifteen-minute drive down some small dirt roads that led around a small town. Honestly, they could have walked or run in their wolves but Marcus said he promised to swing by the town to buy Daniela some sweet treats.
They approached the fancy, low-level iron gate that led to the Alpha's home. The guards at the gate opened the gates once they saw them. The black asphalt driveway curved in a semi-circle before it rounded into a rounded parking space. Parking their cars amongst a few others, they stepped out of Marcus's truck.
Many people were already here. There were many looks of confusion but as they went around to the back of the Alpha's house where the meeting was, the look of confusion from before transformed into a look of excitement. Pack members whispered anxiously with curious eyes while we waited.
Mary tried to listen to the conversations that were going on around her. So many pack members attended but she noticed an increase in young female pack members. Brushing it off, she leaned toward Marcus.
"Did they tell you who visited our pack?" she whispered.
"No, Beta Curtis only mentioned that it was important that most members attend the meeting," he leaned to whisper in her air.
As more pack members arrived, she was somehow pushed to the back with Marcus. Soon, she couldn't even see the back porch. Growling in frustration, she nudged Marcus.
"I'm going to climb the tree," she pointed to the tree beside them.
"No," he reprimanded her.
"But I can't see," she muttered.
Marcus grabbed onto her arm and they moved to the left. They were still in the back but she could see the back porch now.
"Better?" he asked, looking down at her.
She nodded with a grin before turning her attention to the back porch. Female gasps resounded throughout the crowd as Alpha Ivan stepped out with a group of males. Mary's eyes lazily scanned the giants until it swept across one in particular.
She stopped. Backpaddled until her eyes landed on him again.
Her eyes proceeded to jump between two of the males that looked very similar. One of them was for sure Beta Abraham. They look very similar in features but Beta Abraham was the shorter one which only means that Alpha Ryker was the tall man standing next to him.
Now that they were standing next to each other, she could tell the difference. Horror flooded her.
Dear Lord, she thought to herself.
Her feet stumbled back a few steps. Alpha Ivan was speaking but she could barely hear a word. There was a loud ringing in her ears. It thump against her eardrums and she was sure all blood had disappeared from her face.
She didn't kiss Beta Abraham. She had kissed Alpha Ryker. She made a loud noise of distraught, causing a few people to turn her way, her brother included. Marcus looked down at her and noticed how ashen her face was. She looked like she was about to faint right in front of him. Grabbing onto her arms, he steadied her on her feet. She was practically swaying in front of him.
"Mary, are you alright?' he whispered in concern.
"I-I-oh dear lord. Jesus. I can't believe this. I-I-oh god," she muttered incoherently.
"Mary," Marcus whispered again, shaking her hard to get some sense into her.
Her eyes flew from Marcus's to the back porch. She found Alpha Ryker looking right at her. At that moment, she wanted to sink into the ground but then a small part of her had hoped that he wouldn't recognize her. It was dark that night when she kissed him. He couldn't possibly have seen her. Yet even when she thought about it, she knew he knew who she was. She had given him her name.
"What was I thinking?" she breathed in horror.
"You better tell me what the hell is going on, Mary," her brother growled impatiently, clearly worried about her state of mind.
She grabbed onto Marcus's arms. "Marcus, I did something terrible. Oh god, I think I might be in trouble. I think the Alpha is here because he wants to punish me."
"What?" Marcus looked confused.
She looked around and noticed a few eyes were still looking their way. She grabbed onto his arm and dragged him away from the group. When they were alone and far from the group, she stopped to look at her older brother.
"Oh god, Marcus, I kissed him!" she exclaimed.
"What?" he shouted back.
"Didn't you hear me? I kissed the Alpha," she cried and began pacing.
"I don't understand. Did you kiss him? When was this? Mary, you're not making any sense. Tell me what happened from the beginning," he sputtered quickly.
"You told me to seize the moment. You told me that this would be my year. That I should not wait for love to come to me. That I should chase it. Oh god, Marcus, I had thought I kissed the Beta but I ended up kissing the Alpha. I made a horrible mistake," she replied.
"At the Mating Ball?" her brother said dumbly.
"Weren't you listening to me?" she cried out again and covered her face with her hands.
Her brother wrapped his hands around her wrists and pulled them apart. "It's ok. I'm sure he is here by coincidence. I'm sure he doesn't even know who you are."
"I told him my name," she replied bluntly.
"Why would you do that?" he growled.
"Because I thought I was kissing the Beta!" she cried once again.
Her brother began pacing in front of her. Shoving his hands through his hair as he thought about a plan. Marcus was now as agitated as she was.
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure we would be fine," he muttered once again.
"You don't sound convincing," she said.
"Well, do you like him?" He stopped to look at her.
"Him? The Beta?" she answered in confusion.
"No, Mary, I mean the Alpha."
She thought back to the kiss that they had that night. She didn't realize it was Alpha Ryker but she did like the kiss a lot. She loved it, really. Mary wanted more of it. She even dreamt about it but in her dreams, his face was darkened by the night, similar to the night of the Mating Ball. She didn't dream of the Beta then. Just the male she kissed that night. Oddly, her insides coiled at remembering how it felt to be in his arms.
"Mary?" Marcus questioned.
She looked at him. "I didn't know it was him."
She looked so distraught and upset that Marcus couldn't find it in him to upset her even more. So, all he could do was bring her into a hug and tell her it would all be okay. When they returned back to the meeting, everyone was lining up to greet the six towering giants. Her eyes snapped to Marcus.
"I don't think..."
"You'll have to face him one day," Marcus said as they stood in the line waiting to meet them. "Besides, he might not even recognize you."
"Or I can avoid him until he leaves," she countered and allowed a few pack members to go in front of her.
"Mary, Carters do not run. We face tragedy and dive right into the fight," he scolded.
She scoffed at him. Marcus has always used that saying on her. It was one that their father used to tell them. After they passed away, Marcus continued it. She watched Alpha Ryker shake everyone's hands. Many females tried to get his attention but he seemed oblivious to them all. Once in a while, he would exchange conversation with a few people.
She snuck a couple of glances his way and realized quickly that although Beta Abraham and he had similar eyes and hair colors and facial structure, they two looked different. Beta Abraham's eyes were a lot softer while Alpha Ryker looked downright serious. While Beta Abraham's hair was not long. It was more of a crewcut hairstyle while Alpha Ryker's hair was a taper faded haircut. Beta Abraham didn't have a stubble beard too. She could die from her stupidity as she observed the two brothers further.
After allowing many pack members to surpass her, she found herself being the last one. Marcus had to literally drag her onto the steps and onto the porch. Alpha Ryker's and Beta Abraham's eyes were on her. Watching. Waiting. Observing. She was melting into a puddle. Her legs refused to move.
"Mary," Marcus growled into her ear.
Slowly, she began moving until she stood in front of them. She shook Beta Abraham's hands first.
"Good afternoon, Beta," she greeted. "My name is Mary."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Mary," Beta Abraham replied with a soft assuring smile. She felt relaxed, everything would be okay.
Then she moved to stand in front of Alpha Ryker and she felt her backbone shriveling away. She kept her eyes pinned on his stubble chin while she spoke.
"Good afternoon, Alpha," she greeted him next, moving to shake his hands.
His large calloused hand slipped into her soft feminine ones. He shook her hand and squeezed. She fought back a grimace, knowing he wanted her to look at him. When she couldn't take it any further, her eyes snapped up to glare at him. She began tugging her hand away but he held onto it.
"Good afternoon, Mary," he replied smoothly. She remembered that voice and renewed shivers sizzled down her spine and between her legs.
Damn it all, she literally screamed in her head.
He released her hand and she quickly placed it back at her side. Mary glanced at Marcus who shook Alpha Ryker's hand and greeted him with his title and name. She noticed that Alpha Ryker's stiffened body relaxed a little upon hearing Marcus greet himself as Mary's brother. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Alpha Ryker, wondering what he really wanted in coming here.
They descended down the steps and blended into the crowd. Alpha Ivan spoke up again.
"The Stonewall pack would be staying with us for a few days. As they are our guests, I hope that you all treat them with kindness and show them around our territory if requested. Tonight, in honor of their arrival, I would be throwing a pack feast. Please bring your family and join me at my home," he announced but everyone knew he meant they should all attend the feast.
Mary's eyes found their way back to Alpha Ryker. To her utter surprise, he was already looking in her direction. The intensity in his eyes was nerve-wracking. Slowly, everyone began moving around. Most of them were going to wait and socialize until the feast.
Marcus turned to her. "I'm sorry, Mary. Daniela wanted the sweet cake in the bakery in town. I am going to have to go."
"I'll go with you," she chimed in.
He shook his head. "One of us has to stay behind."
Meaning there were no other family members except them. She was going to have to stay behind and entertain. She gave him a desperate look.
"Marcus," she literally gritted.
"I'm sorry," he replied with a sympathetic look.
"You know, earlier today, when I told you I would babysit-you can forget it," she growled before turning on her feet and walking away from her brother.
Her brother knew she threw an empty threat in his face. She would babysit in a heartbeat but she wanted to say it just to make herself feel better.
Dedicated to those who were anxious to wait for the next update.