The Mournful Howl

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Chapter 39

"Jayne," she heard her mother call as she descended the stairs the next morning, Gabby burbling in her arms.

Before she could turn and retreat back the way she came, her mom stepped out of the kitchen into the hall.

"Mom," Jayne replied flatly, still angry and saddened by the conversation she'd overheard her parents have the night they arrived.

In truth, this was the first time the two had had time to speak privately since that night. Between Jayne avoiding her parents for the last few days and her Luna ceremony, she'd managed to make it three days without coming face to face with either of them.

"Can we talk?" Claudette asked, hurrying to keep up with her daughters rapid steps as she stepped around her to head into the kitchen.

"I don't want to argue mom," Jayne sighed, settling her daughter in her bouncer.

"I don't want to argue either," her mom agreed with an exasperated sigh, placing her hand on Jayne's shoulder, gently turning her daughter to look at her.

"I know that as a mother I failed you over and over again," she admitted, tears brimming in her eyes. "When you didn't to get your wolf I blamed myself. I thought I had done something to anger the Moon Goddess and you were being punished for it.

"I'm so sorry if I ever made you feel less than your brothers in my eyes," Claudette hiccuped, forcing herself to finally say the words that had been running through her mind since her daughter disappeared into the world without a backward glance. "I'm sorry I never stood up for you when the pack started picking on you.

"I should have told you all of this before, but I didn't know how," she sniffed. "I just want you to know that your father and I have been and always will be proud of you."

Having said what she'd been dying to say, she let her tears fall as she pulled Jayne into her arms.

"I love you so much," she breathed, tightening her hold, "and I refuse to let you ever disappear from my life again."

"I love you too mommy," Jayne whispered, returning her mother's embrace, the years of pain and separation falling from her shoulders as she and Claudette sobbed into each other's shoulders.

"I've missed so much," her mom blubbered, leaning away to wipe the tears from her daughters cheeks, "and I don't want to miss any more.

"I've missed you getting your college degree, the birth of my beautiful granddaughter, and you finding your mate," Claudette sniffed, wiping away her own tears. "Those are memories I can't ever get back, but the other night, when you became Luna of this pack, and the Goddess herself showed up to bless you and Gabriel, I realized that all of those moments lost were my punishment for failing you.

"And I will be damned if I loose any more," she added, giving one final sniff before she gave her daughter one last, bone crushing hug, then stepped away to open the fridge.

"How about we make a big pancake breakfast like we used to?" she asked, pulling out eggs, butter and milk.

"Sounds good," Jayne agreed, making sure that Gabby was secure in her seat before rummaging in the cupboards for flour and baking powder.

Gabriel stood just outside the kitchen listening as the pair wrapped their arms around each other letting all of their pent up emotions out.

He was so proud of his mate for finally letting go of some of her pain, and even prouder of her mother for finally explaining everything to her daughter.

Feeling like and interloping peeping tom, he silently moved away from the entrance as the pair set out making breakfast.

Entering his office, Gabriel locked the door before opening his top desk drawer and pulling out the small blue velvet box he'd secreted there days before.

Opening it, he watched as the sunlight streaming in through the window play on the fire opal encircled with small diamonds.

He'd considered going with a traditional diamond ring when he first thought about proposing to Jayne, but the more he mulled the idea over in his mind, the more he realized that she, of all people, wouldn't want anything so mundane and traditional.

His Jayne was and always would be his unique gem, just like the opal in the center of the wedding band he was admiring.

When the smell of frying bacon began wafting in under the door, Gabriel put the ring back in its box and slid it into his pocket.

Today was the day, he could feel it. Today was the day he would finally ask Jayne to be his wife.

Trying to suppress the nervous trembling in his hands, he rubbed his palms roughly against the legs of his jeans.

Gabriel couldn't understand why he felt so jittery. He knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jayne loved him as much as he loved her, they'd been through enough together to prove that. Hell, the Goddess herself had blessed their union.

Hearing his mate summoning him for breakfast, Gabriel took a steadying breath before heading out into the dining room.

Entering, he found Gabby in her highchair, her fists wrapped around a teething biscuit, Jerry and Ethan babbling at her in gibberish while William and Evangelina sat on one chair, their lips locked together in a passionate kiss.

Shaking his head at his new family, Gabriel entered the room, barely dodging the kitchen door as it swung open admitting Jayne and her mother, their arms laden with heavy looking trays.

Being the gentleman, he quickly took Jayne's and hurried to place it on the table before turning and taking the one from her mother.

After a quick 'thank you' and kiss on the cheek from his mate, the pair returned to the kitchen for the coffee and tea pots.

While they were gone, Gabriel swallowed the lump in his throat before picking up his daughter and taking his seat. Quickly, he wiped Gabby's hands free of biscuit residue before placing the small velvet box in her hands.

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