The whispers around the room were no longer whispers, I couldn’t hear myself think. The noise was deafening. Everyone was trying to yell something out or ask questions. I looked over to Cameron and Beth. Beth had a look of shock on her face as she stared back at me. Shock was better than disgust, I guess.
My skin broke out in goosebumps as the noise stopped. Jayce’s Alpha status was strong. I’m sure if he yelled ‘jump’ the pack would call back ‘how high?’
“Discrimination is below this pack and has been for a long time. We have shared our homes with pure humans for the last fifteen years. Who are we to tell one of our wolves who they can or can’t love?”
“We are not talking about a pure human” a voice came from the back of the room, “we are talking about a species that has hunted our kind for as long as we’ve lived”
Hearing someone that I didn’t know talk about me like I wasn’t even there had my blood boiling. I dragged myself from Jayce’s grip and stood next to him, head held high. Jayce looked down at me and nodded, giving me permission to speak.
“I know what it’s like to be hunted. I have been hunted my whole life. Yes, I may not be pure wolf but I am still a wolf. I still share blood with you...mine is just a little…stained”
I looked to Jayce and he smiled at me. Giving me the courage I needed to carry on.
“Until only a few weeks ago I was lost. I found myself with no family, no friends, no one. Something led me to Fern Creek. Wether you call it fate or luck, I don’t know. What I do know is that when I got here I finally found where I was meant to be; I finally had a meaning, a purpose. I can shift into wolf, panther and bear but I am not your enemy. I am one of a kind, this makes me a minority but a very powerful one. I am your Alpha’s true mate, the Wolf Gods clearly linked us for a reason...don’t let your fears or stereotypes get in the way of that”
Jayce squeezed my hand.
“Well said babe” he whispered.
“There is no reason to fear Quinn”, Moira stood forward near the stage and addressed the pack, “I was present during her first shift, as was our Alpha, Beta, Matt and Brad. The power that emanated from her was unlike anything I have experienced in all my years. If Quinn completes the mating bond with our Alpha then he will receive that power. Our pack has so much to gain from this pairing”
There were more muffled tones as our audience considered Moira’s point of view.
Before anyone could speak up there was a commotion from the entrance of the hall and the doors flew open. A young female that I recognised from the clinic stood in the entrance, a look of terror on her face. My heart raced and I squeezed Jayce’s hand.
“Alpha, Moira, Quinn...ummm, I need you in the clinic...now!” She called.
I struggled to keep up with Quinn as we ran to the clinic. Moira, Cameron and Beth were close behind. I hadn’t been able to get anything out of Maple but something had obviously scared her, hopefully nothing my father couldn’t handle.
As we got to the clinic I could hear wolves growling inside along with the sound of glass breaking. Quinn pushed past me and went straight in.
“Quinn! Just wait!” I yelled but it was no use.
I ran down the hall and straight into Mason’s room to find Mason’s wolf pinned down by my father’s. There was no blood, which was was a good sign, just a smashed window and the bed was broken and on its side.
Mason woke and shifted almost instantly, I haven’t been able to get through to him. He’s acting like a feral wolf.
I grabbed Quinn’s arm and held her back as I listened to my father’s mind link.
“I have to do something!” She cried and broke free of my grip.
Quinn knelt down next to the wolves, seeing her so close made me nervous but I knew there was no point trying to get in her way. I had to believe that if Mason’s wolf didn’t attack her in that clearing, that he wouldn’t attack her now.
I watched as Quinn reached her hand out, gently placing it on the side of Mason’s head.
“What the hell is she doing?” Cameron whispered as he came up next to me.
“Just watch” Moira answered.
The once erratic, feral wolf began to relax under my father’s hold. You could almost see the humanity creep into his eyes as Quinn stroked his fur and whispered to him.
Dad, start to back off. I want to see what happens. Be ready to jump back on him if you need to though.
My father slowly eased his hold on Mason. Quinn continued to stroke his fur and talk to him. My wolf was intrigued, seeing her so caring, so gentle towards Mason made me see a whole new side of her. I knew Quinn had warmth but she’d had such a defensive wall up since coming to Fern Creek that it was nice to finally get a glimpse of the caring woman I knew she could be.
Just as my father completely released his hold on the wolf, Mason jumped up on to his feet and began snarling. Quinn lost her balance momentarily and I was just about to pull her back when she put her hand up to stop me, her eyes not leaving her father’s l the whole time.
“Dad” she started softly, “it’s me. It’s your daughter. I know you know who I am”
The wolf snorted and shook his head. I watched as my father stood quietly off to the side, ready to jump in the second he thought my mate was in danger.
“Dad. I know you’re in there, I need you to focus. I need you to come back to me. Shift back” Quinn coaxed gently.
Mason snorted again and turned his focus to me. I watched as his eyes darkened slightly, hopefully he wasn’t remembering the fact that I nearly tore his throat out a week ago.
Dad. Get ready to grab him if he moves, I don’t want a repeat performance of Quinn’s birthday.
My father’s wolf nodded, his eyes not leaving Mason for a second.
“Dad” Quinn said again.
She carefully moved closer to Mason, trying not to spook him.
“That’s Jayce, Alpha of the Fern Creek pack...and my true mate”
Mason’s ear pricked up and he tilted his head slightly to the side, watching me.
“Jayce is taking care of me, just like you took care of Claudia...mum. I have the same abilities as her but I know you already know that”
I nodded my head, letting Mason know that what Quinn was saying was right.
Quinn took another step closer to Mason and reached her hand out again, softly stroking the brown fur on his neck. The wolf closed his eyes and whined softly, pressing into Quinn’s hand.
“Dad. Come back to me. Please”
Mason arched his back and the sound of bones breaking could be heard around the room.
“Maple, grab a couple of changes of clothes please” Moira called to her assistant.
Quinn stepped to the side to stand with me, giving Mason and my father room to complete their shifts. I placed my hand on her arm, the poor girl was trembling as the adrenaline started to wear off. I was so bloody proud of her, Quinn’s connection with her father was strong. Never had I seen a seemingly feral wolf be reunited with their humanity.
Moira threw the clothes to the wolves, now in their human states. I smiled as Quinn averted her eyes, giving them privacy to get dressed. She had a lot to learn, wolves were not shy of the naked form. Clothes were nothing more than a learnt formality.
Mason lifted his head slowly, his eyes locking on mine. I could still sense a level of wildness about him but I knew that would be a given considering the amount of time he had spent as a wolf and a wolf without a pack surrounding him.
Mason’s eyes suddenly softened and he looked to Quinn.
“Claudia? You came back to me...” Mason rasped, barely audible.
I squeezed Quinn’s hand as she opened her mouth to answer but hesitated. My heart broke for her, I could tell right now she was just a little girl that wanted to be held by her father but at this moment she had a father that thought she was someone else.
“Quinn. Last time he saw you you were a tiny baby and right now you bare an eerie resemblance to your mother...” I whispered to her.
“It’s not C-Claudia” Quinn stuttered, “it’s me, Qu-Aria”
Mason closed his eyes and shook his head. I couldn’t imagine what was going through his head at the moment. I watched as he paced the back of the room, his fists clenching and releasing as he walked.
“Mason. You’ve been in your wolf form for nearly twenty years. No one has seen or heard from you in a very long time, old friend”
Mason looked over to my father and stared at him in silence. Then I saw it, that flicker of recognition pass across his features.
“Dom” he whispered, tears forming in his eyes, “you look old”
My father laughed and nodded his head.
“As do you, friend. It’s been a long time”
My father indicated to a mirror that had fallen to the ground during their tussle and Mason walked over to it, standing it up.
“Shit” was all he said, running his fingers through his unruly beard.
Quinn continued to stand rigidly by my side. I felt as though she had been holding her breath this whole time. I squeezed her hand, letting her know it was ok to breathe; I wasn’t going anywhere.
I wanted so badly for Mason to light up when he saw Quinn, to take her in his arms and to embrace her like a father should but in reality I knew that may not happen.
Mason looked around the room, his gaze averting from Quinn and myself and landing on Moira who stood in the doorway.
“Moira” he said quietly and smiled as Moira nodded.
“Welcome back Mason” she answered warmly.
Quinn squeezed my hand and I gazed down at her. My heart broke as a tear slide down her cheek, her bottom lip trembling.
“I need to get out of here” she whispered, so only I could hear. I nodded and mind linked Cameron.
I’m taking Quinn home. Get Mason cleaned up and something to eat but he doesn’t leave your sight.
Cameron nodded and I led Quinn past Moira and out of the clinic. The second we got outside Quinn broke down. Her body shook as sobs escaped her and I held her tightly to my chest. I kissed the top of her head, breathing in her scent.
“Shhh. It’s ok Quinn. It’s ok to be upset” I whispered.
“The only reason he didn’t attack me in the clearing was because he thought I was his dead wife. Here I was thinking he knew exactly who I was...”
“Quinn. Mason hasn’t seen you in nearly twenty years. You were a tiny baby and you do look a lot like Claudia. I know it’s not how you pictured this going but please just give your father some time”
Quinn shrugged her shoulders and sighed, she knew I was right. I smiled down at her, her baby blues staring back at me. This definitely wasn’t how I saw tonight going. I thought by now Quinn and I would be back at the pack house and I would be peeling the sun dress from her body, listening to her little cries as I covered every inch of her skin with my mouth.
I felt my skin start to heat as I struggled to keep images of Quinn’s naked body out of my head. Part of me felt guilty for feeling this way. After all Quinn had been through today all I could think of was taking her home and fucking her brains out.
Quinn’s body tensed under my hold and she pushed herself away, creating space between us.
“I’m sorry” she whispered, “I know this is not how tonight was meant to plan out...I just can’t, not tonight”
“Shhh” I soothed, pulling Quinn back into my arms, “you don’t have to justify anything. Let me walk you home. Mason will be fine with Dominic and Cameron, we’ll go see him again in the morning”
I clenched my jaw as Quinn’s arms wrapped around me, her smell enveloping my senses. I knew I was playing with fire but being close to her and fighting my wolf was better than being away from her altogether.