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    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 17. Chapter 17: Feelings Found

He wasn't kidding about pampering! Vincent was carried all the way to the black truck, then into the house and into the bedroom. He watched as Mason's eyes burned bright gold the entire time.

"You okay, big guy? Your eyes haven't went back to brown in a while."

Mason looked deep into his mate's little hazel pupils. "I am beyond okay. But I will explain after the both of us have a shower. Just for now, consider myself in a euphoric state, since I'm still beyond belief of your performance. I can't describe my feelings any better."

A smile came to the mage as he was set down to stand. "Now, get undressed, pup. I want to see you before you decide to fog up the shower again." Obeying his Alpha, Vincent unbutton his shirt and gingerly slipped it off his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor.

The wolf realized his mate's body was still strained from earlier. He's fragile. Using that as an excuse to touch the man before him, Mason knelt down and unfastened his mate's dress pants. Pulling them down, along with the boxer briefs Vincent was wearing, Mason lifted each leg one at a time to remove the socks and shoes.

"Time to get you cleaned, little one." Mason led Vincent to the shower and got the water to the perfect temperature. Shedding his clothes, he brought his mate under the warm water and rinsed the man. He grabbed his scrub and lathered it with body wash. Running the scrub over his mate's body, he took the time to wash every inch of slender skin.

Vincent stood in confusion. "You know I'm not completely paralyzed, right?"

A chuckle came from Mason's chest. "Yes, I know. But I feel you deserve this. And I don't go back on my word. I did say you would be living a life of luxury. And I intend to follow through with that promise."

"Okay, big guy." Vincent smiled as Mason washed him from head to toe, letting the pine scented soap waft to his nose. Here is an Alpha of a shifter pack, hand washing a human. I'm sure that would turn some heads.

When he was satisfied with his work, Mason quickly cleansed himself and dried off the two bodies. As they were putting clean lounge wear on, a knock came from the front door. The wolf answered the door to find Kaplan, Dirk, and Dave holding a dozen pizza boxes. Flashing his amber irises, the Alpha realized how famished he was and imagined Vincent would be as well. "Come on in. Where's Caleb and Ty?"

Dirk smiled. "Your Enforcer went home to celebrate with his mate, and we all know where our Alpha ran off to."

All of the snickers and chuckles brought Vincent out of hiding. The shifters turned to find the mage eyeing the food. Dirk looked at the small human and placed his boxes onto Kaplan's pile. He knelt to Vincent and deeply bowed his head. "Little one. Your dance was the most magnificent display of magic my mind could dream of."

A wide smile formed on Vincent. "Thank you, Dirk. But you don't have to bow to me."

Dave smirked and threw his input in the ring. "I believe we all should bow to you, Vin. You killed it out there!" A nod came from Kaplan, agreeing to his fellow Beta's statement.

"Thanks, you guys. I wanted to give my all for tonight."

Mason wrapped his arms around his mate's hips. "And that, you did. But we need to get some food in your stomach. You stared at those pizzas like you were a wolf."

Vincent smiled and leaned his head back to catch a look at his mate. "Well, I am your mate. And you keep shoving food down my throat, so I've been increasing my appetite."

"Alright, you two." Vincent and Mason turned to Dave. "How about we get these to the kitchen and grab-"

Another knock at the door came, but this one was louder. Mason stepped up while the rest of the entourage went to the kitchen with dinner.

"I thought we smelled food!" Mason and Vincent's faces lit up when Leidolf and Elaine came into view. "And there he is! The man of the night! Vincent, that was a spectacular show!" Lei stepped in and gave the smaller man a gentle hug.

"Dear, I may have restored his magic reservoirs, but he must still be exhausted! You're probably squeezing the life out of the boy." Vincent shot his head up to meet his teacher's endearing gaze.

"Thank you, Mister and Missus Wilson! Tonight was the best night of my life, and I'm really glad you were there to see it."

Elaine held a hand to her mouth as she chuckled. "Oh, Vincent. We wouldn't have missed tonight for the world. If only you saw Lei's reaction to your clairvoyancy magic."

Bursting in hearty laughter, Lei held his hand on his gut. "I was holding on to the bench so hard, I think it might be needing a replacement! That was one hell of a ride! Although, I remember a certain lady holding onto me for dear life when we dove into that bonfire."

As Elaine pinched her mate, Mason laughed at his parents. "Well, we have plenty of pizza to go around. You two want to stay for dinner?"

Lei's tan eyes lit up. "How can I say no to free food? And I believe I need to introduce ourselves to your guests as well." The elder Alpha walked ahead to the kitchen with Elaine at his side, while Mason and Vincent followed suit.

Dirk was the first to notice Lei entering the room and dipped his head low. "Alpha. Dirk Wescott, Enforcer to the New York State Pack." Lei acknowledged the bear and shook his hand.

"It's a refreshing sight to see a bear in our neck of the woods. Pleased to meet you." In the corner of his eye, Lei saw the slender unfamiliar wolf bare his neck as well. "I'm assuming you're the Beta? Thin and slender. I'd wager that you are intelligent beyond our imaginations. What is your name?"

Kaplan stood straight, but let nerves get the better of him. "K-Kaplan, sir. Kaplan Alvey. Beta to Alpha Tierney Scott. And thank you for the compliment, sir."

A light laugh came from Lei's chest. "You two have no need to be so formal, especially if you're with Ty. Speaking of him, where is my fellow Marine?"

"He is still hunting, and he said he would be running back here. I imagine he would be here any moment."

Lei nodded and gushed his wolf's inner excitement to see his friend. It's been years since I've seen him! "My mate, would you be alright if we stayed until Ty arrives?"

Elaine smiled. "Of course. I'd be untruthful if I said otherwise. Any time I get to spend here brings back fond memories."

Another knock at the door echoed through the house. Vincent released himself from Mason's grasp and went to answer the door. He opened it to find Tierney, but Vincent was shocked at his appearance.

"Ty! If I may say so, you look like Hell." The Alpha's hair was wild! No longer combed over with gel, black hairs stood up and sideways in every possible direction. Only wearing his pants and suit jacket, the large man stoically entered the house.

He patted Vincent on the shoulder. "Oh, do not worry, Vincent. I'm actually quite...energized! I haven't gone on such a hunt in years! Mason! I may have to come by more often!." Mason peered out of the kitchen to address Tierney's call. "Your woods made my wolf very happy. So vast, so fresh. The wildlife is abundant and I feel I could spend the rest of my days happy as a nomadic wolf there."

Lei poked his head around the corner and grinned at his lifelong friend. "Ty! My old friend!"

Tierney's eyes lit up as he pounced forward and gave Leidolf a tight hug. "My Leidolf! My Gods! Let me look at you." Putting both hands on Lei's shoulders, Tierney gazed at the former Owensville Alpha. "You got old!"

Everyone in the house burst in laughter as Lei gave a love tap to his friend's arm. "I'm just shy of a decade older than you. Don't forget, I'm still your Commanding Officer."

"Oh, blow it up your ass! That only works on active duty. But jokes aside, it is so good to see you...and it is almost as good as that pizza I smell! Make a hole!" Tierney brushed aside Lei and eyed the mountain of pizza boxes. But he had to come to his senses as every shifter in the building began staring him down. Ha! They probably smell that I did a little more than hunt! "I'll be coming back for a pie, but I get the clue that a shower is needed. I'll be back!"

The Alpha turned to head for the guest bathroom, but not before he slid his jacket off and flung it over his shoulder. He felt every eyeball on him and let himself grin like the Cheshire Cat. Yep. That shushed them up…

Every person in the room let their jaw drop to the floor. Vincent examined the Alpha's back with shock. Tierney's back was covered from neck to waist in raw and red claw marks, with smudges of blood smeared across his skin. Oh my Gods! It looks like he escaped a murder! What in the hell happened? The wolf turned into the hallway as Vincent's thoughts began flying without a seat belt.

A long whistle came from the kitchen. Vincent turned to Mason, who looked as if he needed his jaw duck-taped shut. "Mace. Wh...what happened to him?"

Dirk couldn't help but let his internal thoughts be voiced. "Good for him." With his jaw coming undone again, Vincent rotated to look at the bear, but the mage finally put two and two together. Oh. Oh! OH! Oh, Gods...Tierney...and Morrine...oh, that's nasty! Shaking his head to rid himself of the imagery from his mind, he began thinking about the claw marks. Is that...is that what will happen to me...when Mason and I...oh Gods!

Mason snapped from his sense of shock when he smelt Vincent's emotions taking a nosedive. "Hey, hey. My mate, what's going on in that head of yours?"

His cheeks began getting red as Vincent thought of ways to organize his questions. Oh jeez! I can't ask that in front of Miss Elaine! "Um, is it okay to ask you later?"

"Of course, but if it's what I think it is, you can ask, baby. Something that's a little different with shifters is that we are incredibly immodest about those minds of topics. Kinda comes with the whole shifting and being naked thing."

Vincent was not believing what he was just told. He looked between all of the shifters, who nodded. Even Elaine smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "So...that...umm...Miss Morrine...did that?"

Mason grinned and nodded. More thoughts swam in Vincent's mind, but his big question still took command. "Is...do all shifters...do it like that? Like...that rough?"

A few snorts and laughs came from the room, but Mason held his mate tight. "No, Vinnie. Sex with shifters is fairly tame, like with human couples. I can see how something like that would be disturbing to you from a human's eye, but I promise you that most...encounters are not like that. I mean, you know who Morrine is now. Would you have expected any different?"

The mage pondered on the response given to him. Well, she is a tiger. And tigers have nails. And cats do like scratching things. "I don't think I could. Thanks for explaining it, Mace."

Dave and Kaplan shared a look at each other and laughed. But Dave threw his fingers on his chin in thought. Humans. They're always just a little too tamed. Some of them have even lost what little of their animal instinct. But I believe that Vin's is growing more the longer he's around Mason. Now that...is interesting.

Lei wrapped his arm around Elaine. "Well, gentlemen, I believe it's time we dig into this food before it gets cold." Everyone nodded and dug into the cabinet for plates.

Mason grabbed pizza for both him and Vincent. The wolf found that he enjoyed watching his little mate eat. He is so small. Part of me is still wanting him to eat more, but I know he's been doing that since our date at Biacci's. "Are you getting enough to eat, Vinnie?"

"Mhmm! Swallowing his bite of food, Vincent looked at Mason. "Yeah, I'm hungrier than usual. I can usually go for two slices and call it, but I can't seem to stop."

Elaine couldn't help but giggle. "You exhausted your body and magic stores. What did you think was going to happen?"

Lei chimed in as well. "And sometimes with human-shifter matings, the human mind and body starts mimicking how much food the shifter puts away. So I would expect you to start increasing your grocery shopping twofold, Mace."

As Mason nodded, Vincent smiled as he accepted his body was changing. This was expected. I knew the pull of the bond was affecting my behavior around Mace. Just wasn't anticipating to start eating more.

Mason turned to Kaplan. "You all are welcome to stay as long as you want, but when were you three planning on heading home?"

"In a couple of days. The other Betas assured Alpha Scott to take a proper vacation and everything would be under their control."

Ty has more than one Beta? I mean, that makes sense with how large his pack is. I imagine he has more than one Enforcer as well. "Understood. Ty and Dad will want to catch up and empty the liquor cabinet while he's here." Mason's eyes drew to Vincent as his mate began to yawn. Someone's ready for bed. I'm surprised he's stayed awake this long. "Come on, pup. Let's get you tucked in."

Vincent didn't want to, but his body and mind were shutting down. Yeah, I need to. "Okay. Good night everybody. I'm glad you enjoyed my dance."

Everyone murmured their goodbyes and praise as the Alpha took his mate and tucked him in. "Comfy?" Sleepy-eyed, Vincent nodded and began breathing heavily, signaling to Mason that he was asleep. Damn, that was fast! He fluffed the pillow under the mage's head and pulled the comforter up to cover his shoulders.

Mason returned to the kitchen and took a seat on one of the island stools. "He passed out the moment his head hit the pillow."

Lei nodded. "Mace. Your mate is one in a million. Make sure you treasure him."

"I will, Dad. For the rest of our lives." Mason stared through his kitchen wall toward where his mate lay.

"You're feeling him, aren't you?" Mason slowly nodded, never straying his gaze. "Just a note about your bond, seeing as you haven't completed it. Vincent will sleep, but unless you're there with him, his slumber will be restless."

Furrowing his brow, Mason began questioning his father. "What do you mean? He looked like a sleeping angel when I left the room."

"Yes, because you were near. Now there are a couple walls between you two. Look inside yourself and find your bond. Feel how it's troubled?" Closing his eyes, Mason felt his tug toward his mate, and felt a tremor. "Even in the deepest sleep, your bond aches for each other."

Elaine grasped her mate's hand. "I believe that is our sign to get on home. My son...go to your mate. Even if you lie awake, your mate needs your embrace."

Mason nodded as he understood what his father said. Dave, Lei, and Elaine got up, but Lei turned to face the hallway and spoke in a room-leveled voice. "Ty, we're leaving. Stop by the house tomorrow and we can catch up."

"Gotcha, my old friend. See you tomorrow." Hearing his friend's response from the guest room, Lei led his mate and former Beta to the front door, exiting quietly as to not disturb the sleeping mage.

Kaplan and Dirk began collecting the plates to take care of the cleaning as Mason thanked them and made his way to bed. He creaked open the door and saw his mate tossing and turning. My Gods...Dad's right! He needs me at his side. Would I be subject to this as well? His thoughts were put at ease when he opened the door and stepped in, finding that Vincent had returned to a blissful sleep, curling a smile to the young human's face.

Mason shed himself of his clothes and slipped himself in the bed. I will never leave your side. This...I promise you...my love. The mage must have heard the Alpha's thoughts as he turned his body away from Mason and pushed himself toward the wolf's hairy chest. Our bond must be strong for him to subconsciously know I'm here with him. The wolf pulled himself closer to Vincent and wrapped his arms around the small body. He watched for hours until he fell asleep with his face next to Vincent's neck.

***

Vincent woke peacefully as sunlight beamed into the room. Oh...Gods, how long did I sleep? It must be late in the morning. "Morning, my mate." The mage slowly turned his body, feeling the large arms and hands wrapped around his body.

"Mmm...morning. What time is it?"

"Just after ten. Figured I would let you sleep in a bit. Did you sleep okay?"

"Mhmm. I feel much better. You?"

Mason nuzzled his forehead against Vincent's and looked into those hazel eyes. "Like a baby." Vincent loved being close to the large man. He ran his fingers through Mason's hairy chest, earning a rumble from it. "Are you hungry? There's still some pizza leftover from last night in the fridge."

Oh, consider that pizza gone! "Yeah, I could eat. And I need coffee."

"Alright. You stay here, and I'll be right back." Mason pecked his mate on the lips and climbed out of bed. With his robe on, the wolf started a pot of coffee and grabbed the pizza box from the fridge. Opening it, it was almost a full pie and he threw it on a pan and slapped it in the oven. Returning to his mate, he landed a pepper of kisses on his face. "Coffee's brewing and the pizza will be warmed in a bit. Until then…you got me."

The two men canoodled in bed for half an hour, ensuring that the other was getting the affection that he deserved. Mason stared at his mate with his golden eyes as they began to fade to brown. "So, I think we need to go grocery shopping. And find you some clothes." His smaller man nodded in agreement.

They wandered into the kitchen and got their breakfast together. Kaplan, fully dressed in a polo and jeans, came in and poured some coffee. "Morning, you two. Finally up?"

Mason curled a smile. "Yep. Everybody sleep well?"

Kaplan looked out to the living room. "Well...Alpha Scott hasn't come from his room yet. And...well...Dirk is Dirk. He'll be out until noon."

Vincent cocked his head to the side as a thought ran across his mind. "Kap? Why do you always call Ty by his formal name? If you don't mind me asking."

The Beta leaned his backside against the kitchen counter and let out a long and deep sigh. "It is fine to ask, Vincent. I consider you two friends, and only my two counterparts know this about my life. But...I had a bad...experience in my previous pack. It's been drilled into me to be respectful of titles."

Mason leaned forward with interest. "Kap, if this is sensitive, you don't have to go into it. I'd rather not have Ty rip my head off today."

Giving a light chuckle, Kaplan continued. "It's quite alright. My previous Alpha was very...traditional. I thought I was being very clear of my intentions in the pack: just there to enjoy sanctuary, keep my nose clean, and help out any way I can. But all it took was their Enforcer to think I wasn't very...manly. Rumors began spreading, and the Alpha confronted me.

"He wasn't happy that someone...someone like me could have a chance to be of any importance in his pack. I overstepped my bounds by arguing with him by telling saying I was straight. Always have been, and always will be. But…" The wolf sniffed, trying to hold back his emotions. "...my slender figure was enough cause to be...subject to beatings. Eventually exile followed."

Vincent's heart broke for his friend. But he felt something tugging in his chest. W...what is this feeling? I feel like...I should turn to… "Mace? You-" The mage saw Mason trembling, and his eyes were the darkest amber Vincent had ever seen. "Babe…" Vincent reached for his man's balled fist. He rubbed his thumb over the top of the hand in circles. "I feel your anger, and I get it. I'm pissed too, but Kap is here...with us. He found a great pack to work with and to call his home."

The mage looked deep into the Beta's eyes. I can see he's about to lose it. Sorry, Kap, but I'm gonna push that button. "You are valued, Kaplan. More than you realize. I've seen how Ty looks at you. It's always a smile. I can tell that he is beyond proud of the man you have become.

"Your former Alpha should be ashamed of himself. To judge someone based on the way their body is shaped, the way someone walks and talks. That's pitiful. Just pitiful. You...are you, Kap. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Now, if I ever meet this...excuse of a leader...I'm straight up challenging him. I'm not one for starting violence, but I really want to kick this guy's ass!"

Mason's eyes were still burning bright, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't pick up his jaw. Holy shit! Where did this little firecracker come from? I mean, ditto to everything my Vinnie just said, but...to challenge an Alpha. I have no doubt Vinnie could stand his own, but that is ballsy! "I'm in the same boat, Kap. I have your back, and I can only imagine what Ty has to say."

Kap smiled faintly and wiped his eyes. "Thanks. Both of you. Alpha Scott already knows. He's the one who took me into his pack. And...the two Alphas already had their challenge. Alpha Scott beat him and had him excommunicated with the Executive Council. They deemed him unfit to lead. Alpha Scott saw my potential and got me into law school, made me one of his Betas, and appointed me as the pack attorney."

Both shifters turned their head to the hallway and was joined by Vincent as they saw Tierney walk in. "They speak the truth, my Beta. You are beyond valued to not only my pack, but to these fellows here as well." Tierney turned to Vincent with a thin smile. "I heard you say you would challenge this Alpha in my Beta's honor. That means plenty to me, young Mated Alpha. But I will tell you that he is not worth your time. He is a piss-poor excuse of an Alpha."

Vincent nodded. "Still. I can't help but be furious."

"I understand. And that's why I challenged him and beat his ass. But let's move on from this topic. Vincent, are you feeling better?"

"Yeah! After sleeping, I feel very refreshed. Mace has a whole day planned out." He felt Mason's hand grab his as he was speaking. "After that, I think I'm going to meditate for a while. I think it might be best to reflect on my dance."

"A wise choice. I believe I'm going to head to Lei's and help him drink his bourbon. Mason, I would like to have a chat with you this evening, if you're free."

Looking up from staring at Vincent, Mason nodded. "Sure thing, Ty."

The four continued making small talk, but Mason excused him and Vincent to start their day. Getting dressed, Mason put on jeans and a short-sleeved hunter green button up, while Vincent chose to be colorful with a pink polo and his only pair of denim pants.

The two made their way to the big city and found a large outdoor mall with several clothing store options. Mason made sure to stop at a variety of them to make sure his mate was outfitted for any occasion. Athletic wear, dress clothes, and casual. And at the rate he's picking out clothes, I'll be needing another dresser...or maybe a bigger closet.

After having a small fit on wanting to pay his mate back, Vincent gave in to Mason's wishes to pick out anything and everything that caught his eye. Alright, just be careful what you wish for, big guy. The mage had a pleasant time in the different casualwear stores, picking out new polos and shirts in a variety of colors and patterns. Mason found several pairs of pants in Vincent's size and ranges in hues to coordinate with the new shirts.

However, Vincent didn't have the best time with the dress clothes. I like looking dapper, but it always feels too uptight and constricted. Mason had his mate tailored to make sure they were purchasing the correct sized outfits. Vincent began getting impish while the shop tailor wrapped a measuring tape over his body parts.

"Remind me again why I need this?"

A loving smile was plastered on the wolf's face. "You are the Mated Alpha now, so there will come a time where you need to look your best. There will be dinners, formal parties, and eventually, the yearly Lycan Summit." Vincent raised an eyebrow, causing Mason to laugh. "Every year in November, all Alphas, Mated Alphas, and their personal councils come together to meet. Mostly discussion of important issues, but there are also some classes for newly instated shifters in positions. It's mostly a formal affair, but there are many laid back activities, like running, hunting, and even some sparring among the Alphas. And there's an endless amount of food served as well."

"Wow! I had no idea…" Wait. He looked down to the tailor. Is this guy pack? He didn't bare his neck to Mace. "Umm. Mace? Does he know about...you?"

"Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you, babe. Yeah, this gentleman here knows of shifters. But I don't believe he knows about what you are. Javier. Are you a fan of magic?"

The short and older bald man looked up with a grin and nodded. Vincent smiled and understood what his mate wanted. I suppose I could have a little fun. "Mister Javier. I'm Vincent, and I'm what the supernatural community calls a mage." Holding out his hand, Vincent thought of something that a tailor might like, and formed it. Javier watched as tiny chunks of ice appeared from thin air, and came together to form a thin rectangle.

"Here you go, sir. It's a tie clip made from my frost magic. Unfortunately, it won't last forever, but I made it extra special. It will evaporate in a couple of days, so you don't have to worry about it getting anything wet."

Javier held the icy clip with both hands. "It's so cold! This is beautiful, Mister Vincent." The middle-aged man removed his plastic tie clip that blended in with his black tie, and put on his new gift. "I will wear it while I can. When I met Mister Wilson and he informed me of his kind, I was...well, flabbergasted to say the least. But now I know that magic exists, and that sort of soothes me."

Vincent nodded as the man returned to doing his job, but continued to ask all sorts of questions, which Vincent happily replied to. After getting fitted, Mason began hunting for shirts and pants to fit his mate. He found a selection of linen cloth button-downs in a variety of colors, and Vincent found the material to be very comfortable. As the mage fingered through the clothing racks, Mason came up from behind and nuzzled the boy's neck.

"I wouldn't go too wild with the sized clothes here. Just enough to get you through the next couple of months."

Confused, Vincent turned his head to get a glimpse at his wolfman. "What do you mean? I've kinda been this size all my life."

"Well, there was one thing about me turning you that I forgot to mention. Your body is going to go through some changes when I turn you."

Uh-oh. "What kind of changes?"

Mason turned his mate around so they could look at each other. "Well, your body will automatically define its muscles and burn any unnecessary fat. You won't get any taller, but you'll notice your abs will come in, as well as your biceps and leg muscles. Old scars will heal, including your circumcision. And you also won't be needing those glasses any more. Not gonna lie, I'm gonna miss your nerdy look, but I'll live." He gave Vincent a kiss on the neck where his mark will go. "Your facial and body hair will start growing like wildfire too. Only real bad part is the allergy to silver."

Vincent sighed, but enjoyed most of what was told to him. I can handle the hair growth and the muscle changes. But a silver allergy? "How bad is the allergy?"

"Deadly. Touching it will give you first-degree burns. There are hunters out there that use silver weapons that cause serious damage to our internal organs. We have some remedies and prescription drugs that lessen the pain or, in small cases, can remove the poisoning."

Upon learning the seriousness of the allergy, Vincent swallowed his remaining saliva. "Like Dave's leg wound?"

How did he know about that? "That bullet went through both sides, but yeah, that can be easily treated with rest and painkillers. Who told you about that?"

"Miss Elaine. She told me before I met Ty on your conference call. Please don't be mad with her. She...also told me about Dave's brother."

The mage felt his bond fall into a sense of sadness and saw Mason's eyes droop. "Hey, Mace. It's okay. For the most part, I'm still okay with being turned into a wolf. As long as I'm with you, I know nothing bad will happen."

Mason looked into those hazel eyes he adored so much. "And the same goes to you. I don't think I could have been gifted with a more thoughtful mate." He turned to Javier as the tailor handed Mason the measurement sheet. "Thanks again, Javier." The tailor nodded and let the two men continue their shopping. The wolf paid for their selections and made their way to Mason's truck.

"Alright, pup. Time to go grocery shopping and then we'll head home." Vincent smiled and nodded. Good. I think...yeah...it's time. I want him.

Mason drove to the Greenthumb and the two went inside, grabbing a green shopping cart. Against Mason's wishes, the mage picked out some produce to use for some meals he wanted to cook. Some leaf spinach, fresh mushrooms and garlic cloves. And a bundle of green onions, too!

The wolf watched as his mate wander throughout the store, expertly finding everything needed. I could get used to this! He works here, so he knows where everything is. He leaned against the handlebars of the cart as he let Vincent load it up.

"Are you going down every aisle, Vinnie?"

"Well, yeah! I always check to see if something's been marked down or put on a really good sale." Mason nodded in understanding. Makes sense. I may have a decent pile of money from the farm's success, but if we can save money, that'd be nice.

Vincent was grabbing several boxes of noodles when he saw Quinn walking up the aisle. "Hi, Mr. Welsh!"

The manager smiled as he saw his employee. "Afternoon, Vincent. How's your head?"

"Doing much better, sir. Dave said I'm starting in the morning."

Quinn smiled and nodded. He looked up to the bigger man pushing the cart. "I take it your Dave's other boss? Quinn Welsh. I'm the store manager." The Giraffe held out his hand.

Mason met it with his own. "Mason Wilson, but call me Mace. And other boss? I think you might have me confused with someone else. I just run a farm." Vincent looked to his mate with a smile. A fake smile. So...does Mr. Welsh know about the supernatural or not? I'm going to let Mace take the lead on this one.

"Nah, I think I got the right guy. Dave read me in on everything last year when I overheard a phone call of his. He told me to do this if I ever met you without him with me." Quinn barely uttered the word, 'lycan.' Vincent was able to tell what was said by reading his manager's lips, but couldn't hear the sound.

The wolf straightened himself. I'll be damned. Dave has the right as Beta to reveal our existence if needed, but I would have liked a heads up. "Sorry I doubted you, Mr. Welsh. And forgive me if I speak in code. We are in a grocery store after all."

Quinn smiled. "I completely understand, Mace. I think I can keep up. Not sure if Dave got back to you, but I told him I have a couple full time positions open on my front end. I'd like to offer them to your friends before I open them to the public."

And Dave bitches about this guy? This Quinn fellow is a gentleman. "I appreciate that, Mr. Welsh. I'll spread the word. You have my thanks."

"Any time. You guys are some of the best workers I've ever seen. The alternating Saturdays are a pain sometimes, but it's nothing I can't handle."

Rubbing the back of his head with his hand, Mason chuckled as he prepared to give the manager some bad news. "Actually, due to the upcoming hunting season, we're making our meetings weekly. It's a seasonal thing, but with a recent uptick in the amount of hunters interested this year, we might make it permanent."

Thinking on the words, Quinn understood the meaning. Dave did say their kind has always been hunted. "I understand. That actually works better for me. I got a good crew of high schoolers that want to work more weekends." Turning to Vincent, Quinn smiled. "Your boyfriend is not the man Dave told about. I envisioned a dark and brooding mafia boss, but I get an intelligent gentleman instead. I'll let you two finish your shopping. Mace, a pleasure to finally meet you. Vincent, see you tomorrow."

The two waved and said their farewells. Mason leaned next to his mate. "I thought Dave said he's a prick?"

Vincent snickered. "He's okay. But he's a numbers person. Wait until sales go down and he'll be rough to be around. Other than that, he's a good guy. I had no idea he knew about everything."

"That makes two of us, but he doesn't seem like someone to go around and spread the news. So...what are you planning to do with all of this rabbit food again?"

"I'm going to make a proper alfredo, Mister Meat-Eater. You won't even know they're in there. I'll throw some bacon in there with it just to help you." Hearing that meat was going in the dish helped ease the wolf's mind.

The duo continued their shopping, as the two grabbed their favorite foods and piled them in the growing shopping cart. Vincent was having a hard time accepting that the two of them actually needed this much food. This cart is almost overflowing! Every normal meal pretty much got doubled in size. Going into the checkout lane, Mason and Vincent naturally worked as a team to get everything on the conveyor belt.

Vincent saw that there wasn't a clerk to bag their groceries, so he made his way down to the end and started bagging. He noticed his wolf staring as the mage flew as he placed packages of food together. I always liked coming up to help bag people's groceries. It's like Tetris. Cold with cold, breakables kept separate, and you build walls in the bag to fill in the middle. I never got why the other workers hate coming up here when the store's busy.

Holy shit! He's going a million miles an hour! Both his hands and his mind. As Mason put the last of the items on the belt, he pushed up the cart so Vincent could load the full bags. When the total was read by the cashier, Mason slid his card and retrieved his receipt.

With the truck loaded, they made their way home. "Having a good day so far, pup?"

"Yeah. It's been real fun. I really like spending time with you, big guy."

Mason grasped his mate's hand. "Same here. Even doing silly things like grocery shopping is much more entertaining with you around. I mean, you were a monster bagging those groceries! You were like the Flash or something."

Vincent's cheeks became rosy. "Thanks. I always saw it as a game, ya know? It's like putting puzzle pieces together."

"Well, I was very impressed, baby." Keeping his eyes on the road, Mason could tell his little mate was staring. I feel that he's suppressing some emotions, but they're moving around like a washing machine. "Alright, spill the beans. What's going on, Vinnie?" He pulled into his driveway and put the truck in park. Giving one of his patented sly grins, the wolf turned to Vincent.

"You...can really tell from my emotions that I'm thinking?"

"Well, yeah. That's part of me being a shifter. I can smell certain emotions from the pheromones that comes off your body. And our bond is telling me that you're in serious debate with yourself. You know you can tell me anything, right?"

Vincent looked down to his knees, but held a smile on his face. I guess I can't hide how I feel about him anymore. "You're right, Mace. I've been debating about something since last night when you carried me in."

Putting a serious face on, Mason gave a gentle squeeze on his mate's hand, signaling that he was there for Vincent. With a smile, Vincent continued. "I've accepted our bond...our destiny to be together. And nothing will change that. But it wasn't until recently that I've accepted my feelings about our relationship. I know it's just been a week, but I feel like I've known you for months...years even. Every time you hold my hand, pull me in a hug, or kiss me, you make sparks fly throughout my body and mind. I've never felt this way before about anyone."

Vincent looked up to Mason's brown eyes and couldn't help but smile even harder. His heart pounded through his chest, but knew his words needed to be heard. "Mace. I love you."

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Awesome chapter, great to get more background information about others , Vincent is settling in really well plus he has recovered from the dance, now we wait his transformation that I am sure will be a lot of fun and drama

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Don’t get too wrapped about in the details @astone2292, of “waaay too many errors in italicization and punctuation.” Like the Lycans hearing what is barely spoken. “We can read, undarstan, and Njoy wat is wRitt3n w3n them English gieks jut dont git it#” 😊 

Oh Dave, did you ever wonder exactly why and how the manager “happened” to be there, at the right time, in the right place, to overhear the conversations of Lycans, when your superior hearing should have detected the presence of any normally approaching humans. 🤔 

Keep the updates coming, as we have to “scratch” out a mating and quickly morph Vinnie some bonding growth; he can even do it before the stitches are wasted at the tailor! Little Vinnie needs to adapt before the smug manager and his evil master coordinates intelligence and returns to strike Vinnie in a weakened state; the presence of the NY delegation helps make up for a Vinnie transitioning weakness and Mace’s distraction to care for him. Likewise, make they are objective enough to still be wary of Quin! 😡  

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"I take it your Dave's other boss? Quinn Welsh. I'm the store manager." The Giraffe held out his hand.  (Is it really a secret?)

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1 minute ago, innerkid13 said:

"I take it your Dave's other boss? Quinn Welsh. I'm the store manager." The Giraffe held out his hand.  (Is it really a secret?)

A decent portion of the town is pack, and Quinn is Dave's manager at the Greenthumb. Dave spoke about Mason being his "other boss" to Quinn. But I agree that it is starting to seem that a lot of people know about the shifters. I'll try to keep the lycans more of a secret for the future. :) thanks for the comment! Hope you're enjoying it so far!

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23 hours ago, astone2292 said:

A decent portion of the town is pack, and Quinn is Dave's manager at the Greenthumb. Dave spoke about Mason being his "other boss" to Quinn. But I agree that it is starting to seem that a lot of people know about the shifters. I'll try to keep the lycans more of a secret for the future. :) thanks for the comment! Hope you're enjoying it so far!

I’m thoroughly enjoying.  Thank you.

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On 11/24/2020 at 7:58 AM, astone2292 said:

A decent portion of the town is pack, and Quinn is Dave's manager at the Greenthumb. Dave spoke about Mason being his "other boss" to Quinn. But I agree that it is starting to seem that a lot of people know about the shifters. I'll try to keep the lycans more of a secret for the future. :) thanks for the comment! Hope you're enjoying it so far!

Likewise, just a tidbit of knowledge doesn’t automatically mean, oh hell, you know this so I might as well tell you everything. I haven’t told you yet about another part, mages, magic, of our supernatural...WHAT? That defies secrecy logic; do we go ahead and invite him to the pack meeting? lol

ok, I’m done now! Hahaha

Your storyline is still fantastic, so please don’t take my comments to be a slam, it’s just sharing a classification and protection type environment. Beyond what you already know, Sgt Shwartz says: I KNOW NOTHING!.” 

Edited by Philippe
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On 11/23/2020 at 8:40 AM, Patch1 said:

You know you have "it" when as an author, you can make regular tasks like shopping a main focal point of the story and your subjects can't quit reading. You keep upping your game my friend.  Another rollercoaster of emotions in this chapter!  Anger, compassion, joy, and so many more....  And ending with the big one...Love!  You got a few tears on this one too...  Perfect ending to the perfect day!  Thank you again for another great chapter .... nothing but love here for the author and the story!!!  ❤️:heart:❤️ 

I was thinking the same thing about him having "it". And the ending with the "L" word is by far the perfect cliffhanger! I am enjoying it so much that I hope this story never ends. But I know it will. And I will not whine when it does. Keep on writing for us readers to make us happy so it will put a gigantic smile on your face!

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Vinnie has reached a watershed moment. Up until now he has been distracted by this irresistible pull and yearning, plus all his training and learning about the area, the pack, and his coming role in them. He suddenly realizes he loves Mason.

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Am back reading it all over again was wondering if you would be writing about the lycan summit and if it’s possible to introduce our friends from running with the pack ? Thanks 

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2 minutes ago, Nana Atuwa said:

Am back reading it all over again was wondering if you would be writing about the lycan summit and if it’s possible to introduce our friends from running with the pack ? Thanks 

Running with the Pack is an entire universe written by WolfM. My stories are not in the same universe and I have no intention of bringing the two worlds together. 

I will be introducing the yearly shifter meeting/summit in the third book in the series. 

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classes for new instated shifters — this wording is confusing, might it be better said, 'classes for newly installed shifters' instead?

patented sky grins — did you mean, 'patented 'sly' grins'… fucked by spell-check again!!!

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2 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

classes for new instated shifters — this wording is confusing, might it be better said, 'classes for newly installed shifters' instead?

patented sky grins — did you mean, 'patented 'sly' grins'… fucked by spell-check again!!!

Fixed those pesky issues :) 

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