A life of my own
My name is Julianne Winters. I'm a witch and I have spent the last twenty years protecting my niece from the council. I was only sixteen when we fled the manor where my sister and her mate were murdered by the council hunters.
The battle she was destined to lead is over and Skylar has found her mate. I couldn't be happier for her but now I can return to MY mate. That is if he can forgive me for leaving him without a word eight years ago.
“Good morning aunt Julie"
I smile at Skylar as she walks over to where I'm sitting on the sofa.
"Good morning sweetie."
She hugs me and takes a seat. I'm visiting my parents home with my family after being separated from them for twenty one years. It's bittersweet and I have been catching up with them for two weeks now. We just finished some spring cleaning, mom always wants to clean without magic.
I get that, since for over twenty years I refused to use my magic except in cases of emergencies. It's what kept us off other supernaturals radar. Mom says that she prefers to clean the old fashion way. I have missed having so much family around.
"What are you thinking so hard about over here?"
I look over at Skylar and sigh.
“I'm just thinking about what's next."
She tips her head to the side, considering me for a second.
“Do you mean with everything in general or do you have something specific in mind?"
I bite my lip and contemplate opening up about how I'm feeling. She reaches over and squeezes my hand where it's fisted in my lap.
“Hey, you can talk to me aunt Julie. You have been here for me my whole life, let me be here for you now."
So much has happened in so short a time. It seems like she grew up so fast, it feels like one second she was a tiny infant and in a blink she became a grown woman with a life of her own. I no longer have to worry about her, the battle is over and now she has Gabriel watching her back. Not that she needs any help, she's very powerful, even more powerful than I ever expected. With another sigh, I sit up straighter.
"I mean with me, I'm thinking about going and finding Dominic, now that you no longer need me."
She gives me a loving smile.
"I'll always need you aunt Julie, but I understand what you mean. I think you should follow your heart. I just hate that you felt that you needed to give him up for my destiny in the first place."
She has a sad look on her face that tugs at my heart. I pull her into a hug and rub her back, then I cradle her face in my hands and look her in the eye.
"I didn't give him up, not really. I just put our relationship on hold until the danger was over. I didn't want him to live like we did, always on the run and looking over our shoulders, always fearing the council would find us."
She smiles at me and nods.
"I understand but I can't even imagine how hard that was for you. I can't stay away from Gabriel for more than a day without wanting to run back into his arms."
I return her smile with a sad one of my own.
"It was extremely hard but I comforted myself in the knowledge that it wouldn't be forever. That we would be together again in time."
She nods in understanding.
“So, do you think he still lives in Houston? What if he has moved in the last eight years?"
I think about the possibility but shake my head.
"I'll find him, no matter where he is, I'm pretty stubborn when I need to be."
She laughs and nods at that understatement.
"Oh believe me, I know."
I laugh and nudge her shoulder.
"I guess we are alike in that way."
I try to say this with a straight face but we both burst out laughing again. I love how close we are, we only had each other for so long. It feels strange having so many people who care for us around again. It's a relief not to have every burden to worry about alone anymore.
"What are you two laughing about in here?"
We both turn around to see Skylar's mate Gabriel walk in. He smiles and immediately walks over to Skylar and bends down to kiss her. I smile at them, they are such a beautiful couple. They had some ups and downs along the way but they got through them together. I have no doubt that those trials made their relationship stronger because now they know that no matter what, they can get through anything as long as they do it together.
"What are you up to today, Gabriel?"
I smile over at him as he sits next to Skylar and immediately takes her hand.
"Not much really, I'm going with some of the guys to watch a football game in a couple of hours."
Skylar and I look at each other and burst out laughing. Gabriel looks between us in confusion, which makes us laugh even harder. Skylar pats him on the arm and kisses him on the cheek.
"Don't worry handsome, we are just laughing because you're a typical guy. Don't all guys love football?"
He laughs and tickles her, so she smacks his arm to make him stop.
"No beautiful, not all guys love football. Some watch soccer, hockey, baseball or basketball."
Skylar rolls her eyes and pats him on the arm again with a laugh.
"Uh huh, sports are all the same."
He looks at her with horror.
"All sports are most certainly not the same."
Before he goes on to explain the differences I stand up.
"I'll see you guys later."
I say with a laugh as I walk out. I walk into the kitchen to see my mother cooking.
"Hey mom, you want some help?"
I walk over and look into the pot she's stirring. She reaches over and gives me a quick hug. I missed this all these years. Standing in the kitchen with my mother, cooking and chatting. Lilliana, mom and I used to spend most evenings in the kitchen growing up. Mom started teaching us to cook really young. We would spend hours working on recipes, both of food as well as spells. Those are some of my most precious memories of growing up.
"Sure, make a salad would you. We are having spaghetti and meatballs. Plus I have a lasagna that Melinda and I prepared last night in the oven cooking."
Great aunt Melinda is mom’s aunt and she spends most days here with us since her mate passed away. I smile over at mom, enjoying our time together.
"Sounds delicious, I have missed your cooking."
Everything changed when Lily met Vincent. She was so in love and none of us minded that they were of different races but we all knew what it would mean for their future. Once Lily got pregnant we all knew that the council would target them because of the prophecy. As much as the family tried to reassure them that we would all stand by them, they refused to put anyone else in danger so decided to go on the run.
It took a lot of arguing and pleading before they agreed to allow me to join them. My parents were against it at first but when aunt Melinda said that she had a vision of me joining them, they reluctantly agreed. None of us thought it would end up with Lilly and Vincent dead and me on the run alone with an infant Skylar.
"Are you alright dear?"
She looks at me with worry. I smile over at her and nod. I know she can see the tears in my eyes.
"Yes, I'm just remembering spending hours in the kitchen with you and Lilly."
She gives me a sad smile and squeezes my arm in understanding.
"Those are some of my favorite memories."
We smile at each other and continue making dinner. Skylar soon joins us and puts garlic bread in the oven.
"I love having a big family."
She smiles at my mother.
"We all love having you here too dear."
Mom assures her and they hug. I smile watching them, it's good to be back with the rest of my family. I missed them all so much. As soon as dinner is finished we set the table and everyone comes to the table. I look around the table at my family. Along with mom and Skylar there is my dad, grandmother and a couple of aunts and uncles with their children. Gabriel of course is here with Skylar.
"How were you ladies today?"
Dad asks as he serves himself from the bowls that are passed around. Mom looks over at him with love.
"We all kept busy, the girls helped me with some spring cleaning."
I smile at my parents.
"I'm just so glad to have you back in my life, you don't know how much I missed you both."
I try to hold back my tears, not wanting to make anyone cry again. My mom walks around the table to hugs me again and my dad reaches over to squeeze my hand.
"We have missed you as well, we are just so glad that you are both safe and are with us once again."
He smiles at Skylar and I both.
"I'm so glad I have been able to get to know all of you as well. I went from a family of two, to a family of dozens and I couldn't be happier."
Skylar looks around at everyone and they all smile back at her. One of my many regrets is that she grew up not knowing any other family but me. I was afraid for everyone's safety so I thought it was best for us to stay in hiding all of these years. I'm just glad we can all be together again. Gabriel lifts their joined hands and kisses her knuckles. She smiles at him with pure happiness. After dinner we clean up and I head to bed. When I lay in bed I start thinking about Dominic again. I'll never forget the day we met, I remember it like it was yesterday.
Eight Years Earlier
I drop Skylar off at school, I'm extremely thankful that Houston has a school for supernaturals. Skylar has been begging me for years to allow her to go to school and I have avoided it because I was always afraid someone would figure out what she was. She's twelve now and has much better control of her powers so I decided to take a chance.
I stop by a local coffee shop to grab my morning coffee before heading to Smithson and Franklin, the law firm that I currently work at. When I walk in I'm immediately engulfed by an enticing smell and I feel tingles go down my body.
"What the hell is happening?"
I look around in confusion. The place is packed and I can't tell who I'm getting this overwhelming pull from until I hear a gasp from the front of the line. I look over to see a tall, muscular man in a black T-shirt spin around and search the shop with intense green eyes.
"Oh my, he's the one making me feel this."
When his eyes land on me I gasp and step back. He's in front of me in a flash and I gape up at him in astonishment when he pulls me towards him, he buries his nose in my neck and breathes deep. A low growl leaves his parted lips and he speaks in my ear.
I can't help the shiver that travels down my body and the heat that pools low in my belly. I grasp his shoulders and stare at him in awe.
"He's my mate, I can't believe this. Why now, when my life is still in so much chaos and danger?"
We stare at each other for countless minutes before he takes my hand and ushers me outside.
"Come with me."
I obediently follow him for a moment before I come to my senses. I suddenly stop and try to pull my hand out of his grasp. He stops and turns to me in confusion.
"Are you alright?"
I look at him and shake my head.
"No, I mean yes but I don't know you. I'm not just going to follow you, for all I know you could be a crazy man."
He looks at me like I have lost my mind.
“We are mates, surely you sense it too."
He tries to get me walking again but I plant my feet and try desperately to stop my forward momentum.
“Of course I sense it but the fact remains that you are a stranger. I don't even know your name."
He stops again and looks around before he starts walking and gently pulling me along. I start to protest before I realize he is leading me to an outdoor table next door.
"Please sit, we will talk."
I look at him cautiously but I sit down across from him.
“My name is Dominic and you are?"
He gives me a wide smile that makes my heart beat faster and butterflies to take flight inside my stomach. After a moment he raises an eyebrow at me and I remember that he asked me a question.
"Julianne, my name is Julianne."
I give him a hesitate smile. He takes my hand in his and brings it to his lips before placing a feather light kiss across my knuckles. I gasp because even that light touch sets off fireworks in my stomach.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Julianne."
I bite back the moan the sound of my name on his lips causes. He gives me a smirk so I know that he can smell my arousal. He's definitely a shifter, I can recognize his aura. A tiger or a jaguar I believe, one of the big feline races.
“How long have you been in Houston Jules?"
I look away from his piercing eyes in order to answer with any kind of steadiness. I like the nickname he's given me.
"I actually just moved here last week, have you lived here long?"
He absently rubs his thumb across my hand sending delicious shivers through me again.
“I have lived here most of my life."
I look him over, noticing again how amazing he looks in his black T-shirt that molds to his perfect body. He takes very good care of his self, he's all muscle. I can also see tattoos peeking out from under his shirt sleeves. I snap out of my daze and stop ogling him when I hear a burst of laughter from the table next to us.
“I have to go, I'm going to be late for work."
I stand and he immediately takes my hand to stop me.
"Stay, we just started getting to know each other."
He gives me a pleading look that I'm hard pressed to ignore.
"I can't, I'm sorry. I just started this job and I can't lose it now."
He squeezes my hand to get my attention.
"When can I see you again?"
I bite my lip and debate my answer. I should avoid him, there is too much going on in my life right now. I don't have time to spare, my sole focus should be on Skylar and keeping her safe until she's ready to take on her destiny.
"Please Jules, I need to see you again. Don't walk away without giving me some kind of hope."
I close my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. When I open them and look up, Dominic's eyes are filled with so much longing and desire that I can't help but give in.
“Okay I'll see you here tonight at 6:30 is that alright?"
A huge smile splits his handsome face.
"That's perfect, I'll see you then."
He caresses my face and leans towards me slowly, giving me time to turn away if I want. I don't, I want to experience his kiss and I'm not disappointed. The kiss begins gentle and slow. When I gasp he deepens the kiss and his tongue tangles with mine making me moan and grip his shoulders to keep from collapsing when my legs turn to jello.
I feel his smile against my lips before he pulls away.
"Until tonight my beautiful mate."
He gives me another heart stopping smile before turning around and walking away. I touch my lips with my fingertips marveling at the sparks I still feel.
"Oh my goddess, I'm in trouble."
I touch my lips and I swear I can almost feel his lips on mine again. It's been so long since I have touched him, kissed him and I need to be with him now more than ever. I can't wait any longer.
It's time, I have to go find him and see if we have any kind of chance. I have to talk to my family first though, I know I just got them back but I know I'll always have them.
I'm going to find Dominic and I WILL make him listen to me. With that decision made I fall into a deep sleep filled with dreams of Dominic. The next morning I pack my bags before I head down to breakfast. After breakfast I let everyone present know that I need a family meeting after lunch. When the time comes I sit in the living room and wait until everyone arrives. When everyone is settled I stand up.
“I'm leaving, I'm going to find my mate. Skylar is safe now and I feel it's time to see if he and I can find our way back to each other."
They all stare at me in shock except Skylar. She is smiling at me encouragingly. I haven't mentioned finding my mate, so I know it is a shock to learn that I did indeed meet him. I explain that we met eight years ago but to keep him safe I left without a word. Skylar jumps up and gives me a hug.
"If you need my help at all, you will call right?"
She looks me in the eye as she says this.
"Yes of course, don't worry, everything will work out."
I reassure her before stepping back. I look at my parents, I know they are sad to see me go already but this is important. My mother stands up and pulls me into a hug.
“Be careful my angel, we will miss you but we know you must do this."
She steps aside as my father steps towards me and wraps his arms around me. I miss his strong, comforting arms. I can't even begin to explain how heartbreaking it had been to stay away from them for so long. If I hadn't feared for their safety, I would never have stayed away. My father cups my face and kisses my forehead.
"Be safe my little Julianne, we will be here if you need us. You no longer need to do everything alone."
As my father tells me this I can't hold back my tears any longer. I lay my head on his shoulder and allow him to hold me for a moment.
"I know papa, I'll call if I need anything, I promise."
He gives me one last squeeze before he steps back to allow the others to say their farewells. After the final goodbye, I grab the suitcases I packed and head outside to start my journey. I take a deep breath and get into the drivers seat.
"I hope you're ready Dominic, because I'm coming and I'm not leaving until you allow me to explain."