“Remember when I told you that once mated, Sirens develop special powers?”
“And I asked if you’d be able to shoot fire?” Riley said, with growing enthusiasm.
“Yeah,” I nodded slowly. “Well, I said they could only be passive powers like mind reading and super-empathy....”
They nodded, listening with rapt attention.
“I was wrong.”
“Wrong? How?” Dustin asked.
“Shhh. Let me finish. Look.” I held my hands before them. I felt the familiar tingles I had been suppressing for the past few weeks. They traveled all the way from my heart to my finger tips. I closed my eyes and concentrated. “It’s stronger in the shower. You’ll see why.” I continued to focus on sending waves of energy to my fingers.
Then I had four gasps. I opened my eyes. Riley and Dustin both held their hands over their mouths. How cute. And further back at the house, Ethan and Everest gaped at my hands which were now encircled by blue electric currents.
“It’s stronger when the both of you are nearby. I think it’s because you’re my true mates. Mating me is not necessary. I think the sheer fact that I’ve settled into a a life with the both of you is enough.” I shook my hands and they went back to normal. “So the both of you please stop fighting. You’re driving my wolf insane. Having two mates is really hard when you have to pick a side.”
I had to, anyway. In my own way. I faced Riley. “Riley, Dustin needs to heal, at his own pace. You can’t force these things. Okay?”
When he nodded, I turned to Dustin. “Dustin, please understand where Riley’s coming from. It’s not easy to watch your mate love someone else. Okay?” Dustin gazed at Riley for a long time.
Finally, he nodded his agreement.
“For what it’s worth, Riley,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry too, Dustin.”
“Now our new packmates. Are you willing to give them a chance, Riley?” I studied him intently.
He sighed. “Fine. If you two really trust them, that should be enough for me. It is, actually.”
He took Dustin’s hand, then mine, and walked us over to the twins. They watched us, both wary and relieved.
“The SwanLake Pack welcomes you,” Riley told them solemnly.
Two swoon-worthy smiles flashed at us.
“Damn, those smiles,” I muttered.
“Lethal weapons,” Riley agreed.
“Uhuh.” Dustin ushered the smirking twins into the house and away from his shameless mates. Maybe he should try to keep less attractive company.
By dinner that night, Ethan and Everest had completely won over Marie. They were even talking business. Apparently Marie had always wanted to open a little café in town. SwanLake only had two restaurants, one of which was attached to a motel and a nightclub. Agnes was all for the idea and offered to front the business. They all refused of course-- pride and other emotions I knew nothing about stopping them.
Personally, I would have taken the money, but oh well.
“So, you two are from New York?” Minnie asked.
We were all sitting at the table, except for Marie who hovered over us like a watchful mother hen.
“Yeah,” Everest answered between chews.
“Is it not obvious?” Ethan mocked.
I kicked his shin, and he glared at me. He glanced around the kitchen and saw the disapproving looks from Agnes and Marie.
Riley was grinning into a glass of water and Dustin was, as usual, detached from conversation.
“Ahhh. So that’s how it is,” Ethan said. He pursed his lips in a way that seemed awkward but was designed to make the rest of us feel awkward, which it did. He was calling us out for tolerating Minnie.
The lady in question turned her attentions to Everest. “How long will you be in town?”
The poor guy looked uncomfortably at me and Ethan. Ethan was done with making small talk. I almost replied but Dustin beat me to it.
“Forever,” he said.
Minnie studied Dustin with narrowed eyes. “Forever, you say.”
“He didn’t stutter,” Ethan mumbled from next to me. So quiet, only the shifters at the table heard.
Minnie must have heard something though because she turned her steely gaze at him. He studiously ignored her.
“Like Riley stayed forever?” Minnie went on. “Or Freya plans to stay forever?”
“You aren’t forming a cult--” Agnes said.
At the same time Minnie asked, “You aren’t doing them, right?”
Riley spat out his water, spraying it all over Ethan who sat across from him. Ethan groaned. Everest burst out laughing, whether at Ethan or Minnie’s question, we would never know.
Agnes appeared to choke on her food then dabbed primly at her lips with her napkin. Dustin just stared at Minnie mouth hanging open.
“Minnie!” Marie admonished.
Minnie glared at the older women. “Who ever allowed you to start speaking about your betters, Marie!” she snapped.
Marie's eyes went dewy. Dustin tensed glaring at Minnie. Ethan and Everest looked like they would have rather been anywhere other than that table.
Marie fled the kitchen, tears pouring down her flushed cheeks.
Ethan and Everest rose to their feet to follow, but hesitated when Agnes stood from her own chair with enough force to topple it backwards. “Young lady, you will go and apologise to Marie immediately!”
Minnie’s expression turned haughty. It was the first time I had ever seen her not bend over backwards to try and please Agnes. “I said nothing wrong, Miss. Webb.”
Agnes turned bright red. “That is your mother,” she chastened in a sad whisper.
Minnie blinked back her own tears and threw her napkin on the table. “Now that is something I’m actually sorry about.”
Dustin had gone very still next to me. Riley watched him worriedly.
Was I missing something?
“You were always so rude to her, I thought maybe... I don’t know what I thought. You’re so two faced, I never know what to think,” Dustin said, his voice low, his tone dark. “And she was always kinder to you. Always asking about you.” Suddenly he turned on Riley. “You knew.” Riley nodded reluctantly. “And no one told me.”
Marie meant so much to Dustin, and I knew from bits and pieces that she had practically raised him.
“It was not my place to tell, Dustin,” Riley said.
Dustin watched him for a bit longer.
“He’s not to blame,” I ventured. I knew what Dustin was doing. He was finding a target. Someone to blame. Minnie had been so cold and unaffected, he had zeroed in on Riley.
“Excuse me,” Dustin said. He disappeared down the stairs to where Marie’s quarters were.
“Weee-ll,” Ethan drawled. “That was awkward.”
Minnie huffed and stormed away.
Agnes abandoned her meal, following behind Minnie.
Ethan ate to his fill as Riley packed the food for Dustin and whoever else wanted. But mostly, and most importantly, Dustin.
“Your power is really cool. It is not usual for a Siren,” Everest said.
“It worries me.”
He was like that. Playful childishness one minute, intense seriousness the next. He would make Dustin an amazing beta.
I looked at Ethan. He was chilling sarcasm and insolence, but around his brother he was warmth and humored chiding. Beta material too. But for Dustin? Not a chance.
He would be to Dustin, like Everest was to Cole. Ethan would be miserable and Dustin would suffer for it. I did not want that for either of them.
“One of his parents was an alpha,” I mused out loud. The realization about Dustin had just hit me. Alpha potential was passed through genes, from parent to child.
It surprised me when all three agreed and Ethan said,” His father was the alpha before Cole’s.”
Everest nodded. “Cole isn’t sunshine and rainbows. But his father was way worse. Storms and dark clouds. They were brothers. He challenged Dustin’s dad, killed him, then Dustin and his mom were banished. Dustin just was a newborn. There was a fear he would grow to take Cole’s title a way.”
“Dustin’s mother is Agnes’ sister. She passed away when Dustin was a toddler. When Cole was sixteen he reached out to Agnes to get Dustin to re-join the pack,” Riley said.
“Why would he do that?” I asked.
“Cole cares about family,” Ethan said simply.
“But Dustin had his whole life here with Agnes, so he declined and chose to stay,” Riley supplied.
There was a prolonged pause where Ethan and Everest shot Riley odd looks.
“What?” he asked them.
Ethan rolled his eyed and groaned. “Clueless.”
“He chose to stay because his precious coyote couldn’t join a wolf pack,” Everest cooed.
Riley blushed pale pink. “Oh.”
I chuckled. “Don’t worry. You can be a part of this wolf pack.”
He smiled brilliantly at me. “Thanks.”
“More accurate to just call it a pack,” Ethan said, his mouth stuffed with potatoes.
I glared at him. “Chew first before you speak.”
He did so, begrudgingly. “Sorry,” he said sassily.
I shook my head and noticed Everest looking between us curiously.
He raised his eyebrows. “This is interesting.”
I had no strength to I ignored him. “I’m tired. I’m going to bed.