Chapter 9: Family Dinner
I was nervous, Luca had to leave to attend to some pack business a few hours ago and his absence felt like an empty void in my chest. I helped Rose set the table in our main home, still wondering if he would have trouble finding it.
I had asked Jac multiple times to mind link him, but he refused, still angry over the fact that I was his Alpha’s mate. I rolled my eyes at him each time and told him to get over it, I’d give him the space he needed to deal with the news. I wish I could mind link with him myself, but without being inducted as part of his pack, having accepted the mind link from his wolf my mine in the past, or being marked as his mate, I could not establish the connection myself.
Suddenly, Jac’s eyes went blank, I stared at him hopefully. When his eyes regained focus, purposefully ignoring me, he asked Rose if it was ok if Luca brought a guest for dinner. To which she enthusiastically agreed.
Jarrod and I arrived outside a large, multi-story cabin, “This must be the main home.” He commented via mind link. But I couldn’t help but sniff the air down another trail leading away from the home. In the distance, my enhanced vision could see the outline of a smaller cabin and a wide walkway leading deeper into the woods.
She must have her own cabin down the way, I thought.
That will make things easier later, my wolf remarked darkly.
Behave, I cautioned him.
It was everything I could do to leave Red earlier and meet Jarrod outside of the main gates. Christian had replaced him keeping watch over Nicholai and his men, and he had come back to report to me on where they were staying and a general update on their activities.
“So far, nothing overly suspicious” Jarrod reported, as our wolves trotted through the forest towards Nicholai’s camp. Meeting up with Christian’s tan wolf, we followed the perimeter my men had set to monitor their movements. Leaving Christian to keep watch, I follow behind Jarrod’s gray wolf to our own housing.
Atlas had set up my warriors and I in a small band of cabins in the area behind the arena. He had arranged a meeting with all the warriors we had brought with us to discuss the day’s events, and our plan to deal with Nicholai if and when it came to it.
Having a few minutes alone before the gathering, I sulked away to my lone cabin and collapsed on the bed. What a day, I thought groggily.
I can’t believe we found our mate, I thought happily.
Now, we need to claim her as our own, my wolf chimed in.
Slow down, we need to tell her about our past, our whole past before we mark her. I stated.
I want to see her wolf, hear her voice, he grumpily replied.
I know, me too. I concluded before briefly closing my eyes.
Images of her flooded my vision, the feeling of her lips on mine, the taste of her skin, burning hot to my cool touch. Her face, flushed, as she pressed her body onto my chest, her hands gripping my hair. Sitting suddenly, I shook my head forcefully, adjusting my now painfully tight jeans, I stood to get some water, some very cold water.
Jarrod and I caught up the warriors on Atlas’ decision and we established a round the clock schedule for a warrior to be posted as lookout around their camp. Ending rather uneventfully, I returned to change my clothes, Jarrod trailing along. “So you’re going back to visit her tonight?”
“Yes, her family invited me over for dinner, why?” I questioned him.
“Did you meet her younger sister, Mara?” He questioned, still not meeting my eyes. I turned to him my eyes wide with understanding. She was Red’s younger sister, looked to be about 17. Her brother, Diego I think his name was, was signing between us as she asked her questions earlier.
“She’s like me Luca, so she hopefully won’t –“ he sighed deeply. “Won’t reject me.” He whispered through our link.
“Brother, she would never reject you, now go get changed.” He stared at me his brows furrowed in confusion.
“If I have to face Jac’s wrath at finding his sister is my mate, then you’re not escaping that either.” His face broke into a wide smile. “We have a dinner to get to.”
Standing back from the table, I admired the spread Rose, the others, and I had prepared. She had really gone all out, even with such short notice. A knock at the front door had everyone freeze. Rose told Jac to answer it, but he only huffed and kept fiddling with the silverware. Rushing to help her retrieve the last few plates from the kitchen, I singed to Mara asking her to get the door. She accepted with a nod and a smile.
Opening the door, Luca was standing there, flanked by Jarrod. I figured that was who the guest had to be. I noticed that Jarrod’s face flushed when he took in Mara, immediately signing that she looked lovely. She blushed thanking him before ushering them both in.
He’s acting the same way he was earlier when they met, I mused. It served as the perfect distraction for me to slip away from his ‘protection’ as I had to go find where Cole and Chase had run off to in the chaos earlier today.
Mara was still 17 so even if she met her mate, she would not know it until her 18th birthday. Jarrod on the other hand, looked to be in his mid-twenties. Pausing, I stared at their interaction with amusement, Jac would have a cow if two of his sisters found their mates in his pack in the same day. I quickly got back to setting the table, so as not to draw any unnecessary attention. Besides, I had other things to draw my attention away.
Luca had changed from his rushed clothes earlier into a navy blue short-sleeve button up and black slacks. His exposed arms were as muscled as I had imagined but were surprisingly decorated with fine black tattoos that traveled the length of either side of his biceps, along the edge of his elbows, along the ridge of either side of his forearms and ended just short of his wrists. They were tribal like markings depicting wolves in an intricate dance with what looked like lightning. Eyeing him up and down, I raised an eyebrow at his new outfit. My wolf purred deep inside, she most definitely approved.
Of course, I had changed too into a light blue fitted dress and white ballet flats, but I think he stole the show. He approached me, hugging me tightly. “You look good enough to eat.” I murmured, meeting his gaze, my own darkening in response. I could practically hear his wolf growl in want, a smirk appearing in his expression.
“Funny, that’s exactly what I was thinking about you,” he whispered, kissing me lightly on the cheek.
“How far do your tattoos go?” I asked, tracing the pattern on one his lower arms with my fingers.
“Later, I’ll show you.” he murmured, his eyes darkening to match my own. I opened my mouth to respond, but Rose broke the moment ushering us to our seats.
Seated next to each other, Jarrod was placed to Luca’s left. Dan and Rose sat at the heads of the table, with Laddie in a highchair next to her. Sitting across from me on the long side of the rectangular table was Chase, Mara (sitting across from Jarrod), Cole, Emma and Ara, sitting closest to Rose so she could keep an eye on the young children. On my side was Dan at the head, then to his left, Diego, Jarrod, Luca, myself and Jac.
Dinner was everything they expected from a close, loving family. With everyone chatting excitedly, Luca and I barely got a word in edgewise. He would meet my stare from the corner of his eye occasionally, meeting my shy smile with a confident one of his own. To counter Jac’s foul mood, Rose decided it was a good idea to regale Luca and Jarrod with some of his more embarrassing childhood stories. I swear I have never seen his face so red.
As our laughter died down, Dan invited Luca to his study for cigars and bourbon. I rolled my eyes; he was really trying to lay on the dad vibe. Releasing my hand from under the table, he graciously accepted as Rose and I got to clearing the plates. Straining my ears, I couldn’t hear their voices over the crackling of the fire Dan started in his back room. Frustrated I got to cleaning.