The wolf stared at his mate. He felt his eyes burn bright as the words hit his heart. He...he loves me. "Vinnie…I...I love you, too. Oh, Gods. I love you. More than I can ever tell you." He latched his hand on the side of Vincent's head and leaned in. Their lips met, and a burning desire coursed through their veins. Mason demanded his tongue's entrance into his mate's mouth, exploring every cell in the man.
Vincent wanted to be closer to his Alpha. He broke the kiss, out of breath and eyes full of lust. "Mace. Is...is it possible for you to...oh Gods, how do I put this?"
"Say what you need to say, pup."
Blushing lightly, Vincent remembered lycans and their modesty. "Can...I want you. I want to go all the way with you. But can we still hold off on turning me? Is that possible?"
Mason's eyes glowed as he kissed his mate again. "Of course, my mate. Some shifters have less willpower with their potential mates. I can control myself. I want to bury myself deep inside of you, but I will hold off on completing our bond until you are ready." He leaned further to nestle his lips against his mate's neck. "But you will be mine soon. And I will only do so when you want."
Vincent whimpered as Mason licked his neck, sending shivers down the mage's spine. "Let's get the groceries in and head to the bedroom." The two got out of the truck in record speed, and started bringing in the plastic bags of food into the house.
Dirk and Kaplan were watching TV when the couple came in. The bear cocked his head to the side as he smelt the lust coming off of the shifter and mage. "We can take care of that, you two." Dirk looked at Mason and winked as the New Yorkers got up to assist.
"You heard the bear." He mouthed the words 'thank you' to Dirk as Mason wrapped his arms around Vincent and nibbled an earlobe. "You're mine. All mine." He picked up his mate, letting Vincent wrap his legs around the wolf's hips and carried him into the bedroom. "Vinnie. Are you sure you want this?"
"I am. I want you...my mate." Mason let the man down on the bed and crawled on top of him. His heart burned with the aching need to give the human everything his body had to offer. The wolf stared at his mate with his irises burning gold. He watched as Vincent leaned up to unbutton Mason's shirt and placed his hands deep in his hairy chest. Shouldering the shirt off his back, he placed a hand under his mate and rolled over so Vincent could remove his.
Vincent got to work, unlatched the belt and began taking off the Alpha's pants and boxers. The mage looked at the big man in all of his glory before moving his head down to start pleasing him. He looked into the golden stare as he swiped Mason with his tongue, earning a subtle moan as his reward.
Mason watched as his mate's head bobbed, enjoying the attention he was receiving. He was almost content with letting Vincent finish him then, but his wolf wanted the promised action he was given. Rolling Vincent onto his back, the wolf clawed at the boy's pants, easily removing them and throwing them across the room. His body is so perfect. Having him under me is just intoxicating!
The wolf put some of his weight on top of Vincent and latched his mouth onto his mate's. They caressed each other, exploring the other's body and let themselves swim in their growing bond. Latching on to his marked spot, Mason listened with lustful ears as Vincent grabbed his back and moaned. "Oh Gods, Mace! Suck harder. I want everyone to know I'm yours."
Growling at the words that were being coming out of Vincent, Mason pulled harder with his lips. He felt the blood rushing on the underside of his mate's skin. Need...to stop...before I break the skin. Letting go of his mate, he leaned back to admire the hickey that was left behind. Yes...my mark. On my mate. Everyone shall know. His member began throbbing at the thought of throwing Vincent's wishes away and completing the bond right then. No! He wants to wait. I will respect that.
The wolf grabbed Vincent's legs and flipped him. Now there...is my prize! He pawed the ample cheeks with both hands, grasping them like pillows that needed to be fluffed. So soft. I need it! With his own, he spread Vincent apart and heard his mate suck in air. Backing himself up, Mason spread Vincent and swiped his tongue over what was rightfully his.
"Oh, Mace!" Vincent arched his back, wanting more of the Alpha's attention. "It feels so good! I want you. I need you in me."
That's it, baby! Beg for me! Mason knelt over, flipped his mate onto his back, and grabbed a bottle from his nightstand. "Are you ready for me, Vinnie? I'm going to make love to you. Make your toes curl as I slide deep inside."
"Gods, yes! Give it to me." Applying lubricant to himself, Mason positioned his body in front of his mate. He pressed his manhood against Vincent, letting his mate push back at the mage's own pace.
"Take it slow, baby. I'm big, and I don't want to hurt you." Vincent nodded and breathed in deep. As he exhaled, he pushed against Mason as he slid in a little. Shutting his eyes tight as he felt the burn. Gods, he wasn't kidding! Keep breathing! Slowly, little by little, Vincent felt Mason go deeper. Pain was replaced by a euphoric feeling. A sense of pure pleasure. The heat from Mason’s dick made Vincent feel as if destiny foretold of a perfect physical contact, and it was only for Vincent to experience.
Mason pushed slowly until his hips touched his mate’s bottom. It’s so hot! Feels like velvet. The feelings that Vinnie is pushing through our bond makes me want to never leave him. “You have all of me, Vinnie. You feel so good, baby. Ready for me to start moving? I’ll go as slow as you want.”
With his legs bent back, Vincent reached up and touched Mason’s hairy torso. “Gods, Mace...you feel so perfect inside of me. Do it. Show me what it means to be mated to an Alpha.” He stared at the bright irises as Mason started moving his hips. Waves of electricity took Vincent’s breath as he felt his mate pistoning himself slowly. The mage felt large hands being placed on his legs under the knees to hold them in place. He’s...making love to me. Not going at it like an animal. I feel the love coming from him, both physically and emotionally. Can I send him love as well?
Vincent searched his mind and heart for where he felt the tug of his bond with Mason. Once found, he mentally manifested the sensation of being loved and pushed it through the bond. He saw that Mason’s eyes flashed even brighter and let a rumble out of his lungs. “Vin! Do that again!” Repeating his actions, Vincent began breathing in sync with Mason’s hip movements. Placing a hand on each side of the bigger man above him, the mage felt that the wolf was increasing the pace. Oh, yes! It’s so good. The best. The best I’ve ever had! I want this...for the rest of my life!
Mason stepped up his tempo and leaned closer and stole a kiss from his flexible mate. “I’m getting close, Vinnie. I’m going to make you mine!”
The mage’s body informed Vincent he was in the same position. “Do it, Mace. Blow inside of me. I want it! Oh Gods…” He noticed Mason began growing in size as he continued to make love, causing the smaller man to whimper and moan. The noises pushed Mason over the edge. Vincent watched as his mate grunted and felt a warmth coming from inside him. It’s done! He’s inside of me. It feels so good!
With his irises beginning to fade, Mason drew his attention back to Vincent and started stroking the slender manhood. Giving a few more pumps into his mate, he listened as Vincent continued to whimper until he reached his climax. The two men looked at each other, reveling in the afterglow of what they had done.
“Vin...that was…” Mason blinked rapidly, letting his eyes return completely to normal and began breathing raggedly. “...that was just the best. I...Gods, that’s the best I’ve ever had. The best I ever will have. You are so amazing, pup.”
Vincent lay in pure ecstasy. It took a kiss from Mason to bring himself back to reality. The wolf separated himself from his mate and laid down side by side next to Vincent. “You okay, Vinnie? You look a little lost.”
“Mhmm! Mace, you are the only one I’ve allowed inside of me unprotected. I can’t lie, I was really tempted to let you complete our bond just now.” Vincent leaned his head against the hairy chest, but drooped his eyes in anguish. “I could tell you wanted to, but I’ve been putting it off.”
Mason ran his hand through his mate’s messy long hair. “Hey now...I’m the shifter who fell in love with you. The decision to turn into a wolf is yours and yours alone to make. And I know you’ve made it, but you want to wait until the proper time. It would have been a lot to handle, considering that you are still recovering from your dance and you start your new position tomorrow. If I would have bitten you, Dave would have had to explain why you would be out for several more days.
“Plus, when we do decide it’s time, we need to be more prepared, pup. I’d prefer to have Doc Shaney and Dad on standby since it would become hectic after it is done.” He saw confusion on his mate’s face and chuckled. “I would have just bitten you. Your wound would need to be treated. But you have me, an Alpha, who just marked my mate as my territory. I would be in no condition to assist you, so Doc would have to. I’d fly off the handle if someone saw you like that, so Dad would have to restrain me.”
Oh. I...did not think about any of that! I was going to bend my neck when he said he was close. That could have ended badly. “I understand, big guy. When I’m ready, I’ll help make plans with you.” Blushing at a quick thought, he decided to share. “And if that’s how you perform in bed...our bond just might be completed by tonight.” Vincent winked at Mason, receiving a laugh and a nuzzle to the face.
“If you are serious, it can be arranged.” Mason flashed his irises once more to show that he was semi-serious. “But I think waiting would be for the best. It gives us more time to have fun and explore each other’s bodies.” Vincent nodded and nestled his head on the Alpha’s hairy chest once more.
Earlier that morning, Caleb drifted his eyes open as the sunlight entered the bedroom. Love the sun, but I could use another half hour of shut eye. He felt that his mate’s head was still on his chest. She’s so gorgeous when she sleeps. Well...until she starts snoring. Wakes up Lowe half the time.
“Mmm...I know you thinking ‘bout me, pussy cat.” Tasha turned her head so her brown eyes could meet Caleb’s. “Or should I say...Enforcer Gage?”
A grin curled on the lion’s face as he roamed his hand on his mate’s back. “What time is it, my leopardess? I should be with Mace and Vincent.”
“You got a text earlier sayin’ you have the day off. I’d take it if I were you. It’s been a while since we laid like this. Whole house to ourselves, Lowe at the sitter’s for the rest of the day, and I don’t feel like getting up any time soon.”
A deep purr came from Caleb’s chest cavity as he pushed himself down to be level with Tasha and met her with a kiss. “Well...our Alpha knows best. Gods, last night was something from a dream! Being brought up there, watching Vincent’s dance, and leading a hunt! With you by my side through the whole thing. I could not have asked for a better day.”
Meeting the words with a purr of her own, Tasha circled her finger on her mate’s chest. “Yeah, it really was. Been a while since we saw each other in our cat form. You’re still as strong and handsome as ever.”
“And you are as fiercely elegant as always, my love. I’m so glad our animals were able to get along.”
Tasha smiled and bobbed her head to the side. “It took a bit of convincing since my leopard was real iffy with being with your lion, but she listened. And she is so happy she did.”
Caleb held his mate tight and spoke his mind. “I haven’t felt this happy since our son was born, and finding you before that. Tash...I think we finally found our home. Our permanent home.”
The next morning, Vincent got dressed in a vibrant white polo and a pair of his new jeans. Love the way new clothes feel! Before moving here, they were always temporary. But now...it just feels permanent. I’m here to stay, so these clothes are now a part of me. Realization truly set in that the mage was moving into a more solid and stable part of his life. Even though the thoughts were somewhat bittersweet, Vincent smiled. To him, it was a happy change. He put on his nametag and headed into the kitchen.
Mason poured two cups of coffee, and as he heard the light footsteps come towards the kitchen he placed both mugs on the island and pulled out two stools for him and his mate. When the smaller man came in, he expressed a positive attitude when smelling the brewed coffee. “Hey, big guy. Ready to take me to work?”
“Yep. Got coffee for ya, and we can stop for something light to eat on the way if you like?” Vincent chuckled at how his mate was eager to do the smallest things to please him. He’s been like this since we had sex. Don’t know what’s gotten into him, but he isn’t the same confident Alpha I met a week ago.
The mage took a mug and sipped on the piping hot liquid. “Thanks. And I’m good with coffee for now. I’ll grab a sandwich from the deli on my first break.” He placed a hand on the much larger one of Mason’s. “What’s got you like this? You’ve been doing extra since yesterday.”
Raising a singular eyebrow, Mason was a little confused at the statement. “How so?”
“Well, you seem beyond eager to make sure I have everything I would ever need. From having coffee ready this morning to asking me if I was okay every half hour. I woke up last night to go use the bathroom and you got up to hold my hand for the ten steps it takes to get to the toilet.”
For the first time in their relationship, Vincent saw Mason blush. “I suppose I’ve been going a little overboard. But I just want to make sure that I am doing everything I can for you. You are my mate after all. I only get you for one lifetime.”
Vincent took that as a sign to melt into his man’s arms. “And you are. But...you are the Alpha of your pack. Far from it for me to remind you of your duties, but your pack needs you. And I’m here to help you, Mace. You did say that the Mated Alpha is the so-called ‘mother of the pack.’ So, what can I do to be...motherly?”
Mason nuzzled his mark that the wolf kept sucking on throughout the day yesterday as he laughed. “Okay, okay! I’ve been a lot since we did it. I guess my wolf has been wanting to be more protective of you. But for now, we need to get you to work. I’ll have a conversation with my wolf and have him back down.”
The two made their way to the truck, but a question pegged Vincent’s mind on the trip to the Greenthumb. “You and your wolf...talk? Like, is that a mental conversation or do you talk to yourself out loud?”
“It’s mental, pup. It does sound crazy having two different voices speaking in your conscious, but that’s just part of being a shifter. You’ll be having conversations with your wolf before too long.”
That...sounds concerning. I’ll have another voice in my head? That gives advice on what to do, what to say, and how I should act? “Does...your wolf have a different personality? Is it its own person?”
“A little bit of yes and no to both questions. Your wolf tends to think more on the animalistic side of your own thoughts. If someone walks up to you, you tend to make your own assumptions on how that person will act. The wolf inside of you thinks another train of thought. It could be similar to your initial thought, or completely the opposite. Dave’s wolf, for example. Dave likes to read people by their facial expressions. His wolf, however, prefers to look at body language and where their hands are. Each shifter’s animal is different though. When you become a shifter, Vinnie, and start communicating with your friends’ animals in their forms, you’ll learn a whole new side of everyone.”
Vincent understood and smiled. I get the chance to meet my friends...again. That sounds like fun, actually. The truck pulled up to the grocery store and Mason turned into a nearby parking spot. “Alright, baby. Have a good day at work. You get off at four, right?”
“Yep, and Dave should already be here. He can probably give me a ride home.”
“I can come pick you up, pup. I know you said that I’m being a little invasive, but I would at least like to take you to and from work.” The wolf leaned in and landed a kiss on his mate’s cheek. “At least give me that honor.”
Vincent chuckled and gave in to his man’s demands. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt to have my man pick me up from work. Any chance to show off my big, bad wolf. Gotta clock in. Love you, big guy.”
“Love you, my mate. Knock ‘em, dead.” Vincent got out and made his way inside the store to clock in. He was met by Dave at the timeclock.
“Hey, Vin. Ready for a busy day of learning?” With a small breath, Vincent nodded and clocked in.
Driving away from the grocery store, Mason grew adrift from his bond with Vincent. What the hell is this? The farther I get from Vinnie, the more I feel my connection to him feels distant. Is this more of what Dad explained to me? This is going to be a pain in the ass. Good thing it’ll just be three days a week. He continued driving back to the house to get to work on pack business that Mason had procrastinated on.
After waving to the New York trio gathered in the living room, Mason journeyed further down the hallway to his office. Firing up his laptop, the wolf sat down in his plush leather chair. As the laptop screen lit up, Tierney knocked and entered the room. “Hope I’m not disturbing anything, Mace. I was hoping to catch you today. If it would be allowed, we would like to hang around a little bit longer. It has been a long while since we took a vacation, and the woods here are absolutely intoxicating.”
Mason smiled. “You could never disturb me, Ty. And you three, or any other members of your council are welcome here for as long as you wish. What’s on your mind?”
“Well, it seemed that we both got caught up in our own adventures last night. I heard that congratulations are in order for taking one step closer to bonding with Vincent. But, I was hoping to share a couple of things with you, preferably outside since one of those things…” From the inside pocket, Tierney brought out two thick cigars with his fingers. “...involve us smoking these bad boys.”
Never been a fond smoker, but I do love an occasional cigar! And if it’s from Tierney, it has to be of high quality. “I’d be honored to enjoy that with you, Alpha. Back porch?” Tierney nodded and led the way. As the two Alphas passed the living room, Tierney looked to his council.
“Take a run, boys. And make it a long one. Alpha’s meeting.” Kaplan and Dirk nodded. They stepped out the front door and Mason heard clothes being stripped, followed by bones cracking. Okay...did these cigars just get serious? My wolf is telling me everything is fine, so I’m trusting him. Continuing their trek to the porch, Mason held on to the slightest drop of doubt for this meeting.
Each of the Alphas took a seat next to each other as Tierney pulled his cigar cutter from his wallet, cutting off an end from each stogie. Tierney handed Mason his Zippo lighter and he conjured a small flame on his fingertip. With both men’s cigar lit, they took puffs and enjoyed the tobacco smoke entering then leaving their bodies. “Ty. This is the finest cigar I’ve ever had.”
“Got plenty of cigar shops in New York if you ever stop by.”
“I believe I will fill my humidor when Vincent and I come by in a few weeks.”
Tierney leaned forward in his chair. “You decided to come along? Good. I couldn’t imagine seeing your mate coming without you.” The New Yorker took a long puff from his cigar, watching the lines of fire burn around the rim. “This place...is truly magical, Mason. Your lands are something to be told of in a fairy tale. Don’t take this in a manner of challenge, but I would trade your lands for mine in a heartbeat.”
...fucking what? Mason leaned forward as well and rested his elbows on his knees, staring at his friend. “You can not be serious with that statement, Ty. An Alpha of your status...would give up the strongest pack in North America for some country-side tiny pack? Is your wolf sick? Our doctor may not be the freshest, but he can give ya some strong meds if that’s what you need.”
Coughing in a fit of laughter, Tierney reclined back and held his side. “No, Mace. Sickness is not an issue. I’m just...realizing that I have this empire. A large and far-reaching empire. It has created joy for me, but when I spent these past few days here in your territory have healed my mind. I spend countless hours just sitting in my office, signing papers that pass judgement on shifters I haven’t even met, and work with local politicians on how to keep New York from becoming more of a crime-ridden mess. Every good thing I do to clean up the streets creates five more issues.”
Mason watched as the Alpha took on a somber look as he dragged another puff from his cigar. “Ty, I have little to no experience in this size of a pack. I can only repeat the advice you gave me. Have faith in your council.” Scowling, Mason tried to think of potential options to assist his friend. “This may sound silly, but is it possible to have multiple Alphas over the same territory? Before you growl, I’d only suggest adding one, maybe two. Just to split the territory, and convene for more drastic cases.”
Tierney shook his head. “Believe it or not, it was tried many decades ago, before I came on as Alpha. I wasn’t the one that had to clean up that mess, but I do not envy the wolf that did. Gods! The four Alphas over the territory were at constant war with one another, vying for more land and resources. It almost ended in a blood bath, but the EC stepped in. They removed all four, sent them to go lead their own packs across the globe. It took an emergency meeting of the strongest Alphas in the world to figure out who should take that territory. The Alphas before me...couldn’t last a year without getting bogged down.
“I’ve had this pack for ten years, and I didn’t get it by having it handed to me. But these ten years have taken a toll. I never had extra time for myself, let alone finding a potential mate. Spending this short time here in your territory has opened my eyes in ways that have escaped my life’s experiences. I have lost the hours I spent roaming your woods at night. My soul found energy that abandoned me years ago.”
Taking a light puff of his cigar, Mason took in both parts of the conversation. I knew holding a pack like New York State would be a pain in the ass, but I wasn’t expecting Tierney to admit it has drained him this much. But my wolf is very content with the fact he’s been healing during his visit here. “Alpha Scott, if I may. I thank you for your kind words about my lands, but is there a reason you’re bringing up your discomfort within the pack you lead?”
Tierney lightly twirled his cigar before taking the longest drag of it. I’ve told all of this to Lei. But...he isn’t the Alpha. Mason is. My wolf cries in pain, but he understands what must be done. “Alpha Wilson.” At the mention of his title, Mason slowly sat up straight, giving the other Alpha his undivided attention. “I mention all of this as a precursor to what my plans are. New York has been a home to me in ways I can not describe. The people, the arts, the food. Land, power, money, the pack has it all. Everything I could ever have dreamed of. I have never thought once of seeing what else life has to offer me.
“Until this past weekend. Despite my smiles and hospitality, I am regarded as one of the strongest Alphas in the world. When I am home...I rarely smile. No amount of food, or women, or money has truly satisfied me. Coming here has enlightened me...breathing a wind of fresh air into my lungs and mind. I spoke with Lei about how I am feeling, and he gave me advice that only my best friend could. He spoke of hard truths, and let me know that I had a tough decision ahead of me. As I went on my run last night, I consoled my wolf, and he agreed with me.
“I intend on resigning as Alpha from the pack.”
Mason’s eyes grew wide in disbelief. “Tierney. Are...are you serious?” He watched as the Alpha nodded, but had the thinnest smile doing so. He seemed like he was in pain when he admitted his intention, but now that it has been aired...he is happy. I can’t imagine what his wolf is going through! The human wants peace and a chance at happiness, but the wolf wants power and status. What a war this decision must have been for them! “What would be your plans? Retirement? Moving to a smaller pack to run?”
Tierney inhaled the final puff from his cigar before incinerating it with his magic. “I plan on leaving my pack entirely by the end of January. This will give the EC a proper amount of time to accept bids into who will take my reins and get them prepared for the role. My intention is to retire and enjoy my life for the first time in a decade.”
Mason sat up slowly as he began putting the words together. He isn’t. Oh, Gods...he is! Tierney turned to face the young wolf. “Alpha Wilson.” The younger leader straightened his back in anticipation.
“I hereby request sanctuary within the Owensville County Pack.”
Clocking out for the day, Vincent couldn’t believe how much he enjoyed his new promotion. The work isn’t bad at all. It’s like stocking, but you don’t have an aisle. Just change out displays and end-caps. And half the time, I’m just taking a pallet jack and switching out an empty one for a full one. Dave clapped Vincent on the back as they stepped outside. “Nice job today, Vin. You’re getting the hang of it. Was pretty surprised when you started reading the sales planogram all on your own. That took me a month to get down.”
“Yeah, it was confusing at first. But that’s just Greenthumb using old software. So...that can’t literally be the whole job, right? I barely worked up a sweat!”
Lighting up a cigarette, Dave nodded. “There’s more to learn, but I wanted to start you off on the easy stuff. Tomorrow, we’re making the schedule and working with the handheld scanner so you can make the orders.” The wolf looked across the parking lot and saw Mason’s black truck all the way in the back with no one around. He looks...disturbed. Better go check on him. “C’mon. Your mate looks like he’s seen a ghost.”
Vincent saw where Dave was looking, and felt a deep pit in his bond. It’s there, but...Gods, Mace is conflicted. The two walked over, with Mason noticing them halfway and got out of the truck.
“There’s my man! How was work, Vinnie?” The Alpha landed a kiss on Vincent as he placed his hands on the boy’s hips.
“Good, but I can tell you didn’t haven't had a good day. What’s up, big guy?”
Mason looked between Vincent and Dave, then looked around to see if there would be any prying ears. “This stays between you two and Caleb. I’ll talk with him later tomorrow when I see him. Tierney just laid something thick on me, and...quite frankly...it’s going to turn heads for both of our packs.”
Dave crossed his arms. “I love how shit hits the fan after I clock out for the day. What’s going on, Mace? Whatever it is, we can handle it.”
Taking a big breath, Mason released it raggedly. “Tierney plans on retiring from the New York State Pack by the end of January.” He watched as his mate and Beta dropped their jaws to the asphalt.
“Woah! Hold up, Mace. Don’t tell me he asked you to take his pack?”
Mason’s eyes bugged out of his head. Yeah, didn’t think about that being an option of what he would think. “Oh, hell no! I wouldn’t take that pack to save my life! No, it’s not that serious, but there still needs to be consideration in our council.”
Dave let out a big cloud of smoke from his cigarette. “Alright then. What is the issue?”
“Tierney has requested sanctuary.” Mason almost smirked in comical relief as Dave actually dropped his cigarette to the ground. Vincent seemed a little confused, but that was to be expected.
His mate spoke first. “Wait. How can that be? Tierney is an Alpha wolf, right? Can he do that since you're Alpha?”
Mason nodded and held his mate tight. “He can, and he explained his whole intention. He is simply looking to retire, just like how Dad is. Despite both Lei and Tierney being Alpha-classed shifters, I would still be the Alpha of the pack. Tierney just wants to relax for a long while.”
The Beta posed another question. “Does Tierney know what Kaplan and Dirk intend on doing?”
“That’s who he spoke with after he broke the news to me. Both of them were shocked at the news, but they couldn’t deny their loyalty to their Alpha. They immediately requested sanctuary as well. For the time being, I have all three of their requests under consideration until I consult my council, but I am for approving them. The three all agreed their animals have fallen in love with the lands here, and wish for a change in scenery. They will officially become pack members at the first meeting in February.”
Vincent smiled so hard his jaw began hurting. He hugged his mate and stared into Mason’s brown eyes. “So...this means the three are moving here next year?” Watching his wolf shaking his head up and down, the mage dug his head into Mason’s chest in pure happiness. “Mace, that’s so cool! Those three will be living here!”
Accepting the hug, Mason adopted Vincent's thoughts. Yeah. It is pretty cool. He thinks so positively about this situation. There's no sense in thinking negatively about it. Our pack just became much stronger by having those three. I'm sure I can find work for Kaplan and Dirk within the pack. Kap can be an associate at the law firm and, depending on Henry's actions, I'm sure Dirk wouldn't mind being a detective or even an officer. This...this can work.
The Alpha nuzzled his mate once more. "You are my light, you know that, pup? I was unsure of this situation, but now you've made me see that there should be nothing but celebration for Tierney and his council."
"Any time. Glad I can help. So what's going to happen with New York? Are we still visiting next month?"
"The pack and the Executive council will find a new Alpha to take over, and of course we are still going. I'll need Caleb to come with us, though. I imagine our presence there will go unnoticed, and I'm going to anticipate a few troubles."
Dave squinted his eyes, understanding what his Alpha meant. Right. There will be some flack with Mace being there. A shifter who is loyal to Tierney may see it as a threat to steal their Alpha, or even as a challenge to take over the whole pack. "Yeah, Caleb needs to be there, Mace. I'm halfway tempted to go, but someone needs to watch over the pack. May I suggest sending Lei?"
Mason blinked his eyes, almost forgetting that his father could be of some use. "Not a bad idea. I'll call him and ask. Maybe Mom wouldn't mind coming as well, considering Vinnie still has a duel with both Ty and Dirk."
Vincent grinned in anticipation. I still have a long way to go in my training, but I can not wait to go toe-to-toe with either of them. "Speaking Miss Elaine, I'll need to start meeting with her again. I want to get a better understanding of my frost magic."
"I'll call her and see if she's available this evening. She'll probably invite us to dinner as well." Mason made a quick phone call to his mother and spoke for a few minutes. Pressing a few buttons on his phone and returning it to his pocket, the wolf turned to his mate and Beta. "Well, dinner at my parents'. You're invited too, Dave, as well as anyone else I can wrangle up. Maybe Caleb and his family."
Looking up to his mate, Vincent mentioned the New Yorkers as well, and Mason nodded. "Come on. Let's make some calls and get going."
All of the invited shifters showed up in Lei's driveway nearly at the same time. Vincent stopped at the house and prepared a double batch of his macaroni and cheese recipe, hoping Elaine would let him borrow the oven for a short hour to bake it. Tierney and his pack agreed to the dinner, as well as Caleb, Tasha and Lowe. Elaine welcomed everyone as Mason let everyone in.
Elaine was more than happy to let Vincent bake his dish, and ushered the mage to the kitchen to con him into helping with cooking. Once Tasha found that there was much left to do for the meal preparations, she put Caleb in charge of their toddler and got to work as well. Mason couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of his mate helping in the kitchen.
"Son! While you're done giggling over there, how about you and Dave set the table. Use the good platewear in the curio, please." Elaine gave her son a side-eye as she stirred several pots and pans. "And Caleb. Could you go see if Lei needs any assistance on the grill? My mate would probably want to meet your little one."
"Yes, Lady Wilson."
"And that is Elaine, young cub! With you being the Enforcer to our son, that practically makes you our son as well."
The lion tried to withhold his blush. "Yes, Elaine."
Tasha laughed at her mate's embarrassment. "Miss Elaine, you probably know this, but you have my permission to smack my pussy cat whenever he acts up."
Elaine smiled elegantly at the leopardess. "Oh, my dear. I'll do my best. I think you should know that your lion is quite the warrior! He's improving in his sparring against Vincent and myself in his training."
A smile came to Tasha's face. "That makes me happy to know that, but I wouldn't mind seeing him tied to a tree again." The ladies laughed together as they began forming their own motherly bond.
Mason and Dave grabbed the ornate ceramic plates and platinum-coated forks and knives to set the large dining table. "It has been a long while since I had a proper dinner here."
"Likewise. But I think this will be nice."
When the table was set, the wolves ventured outside to see how the grillmaster was performing. Lei stood at the helm of his large frill, flipping burgers and turning hot dogs like a professional as Caleb was play-chasing his son around in the open backyard.
The two grown-ups noticed the Alpha and Beta stepping out onto the large porch and welcomed them to join. Dave went to take notes from his former Alpha while Lowe began running towards Mason. The wolf picked up the toddler and swung him around in circles, earning a bundle of childish giggles. "Alpa! Stop! I'm dizzy!"
Mason laughed from the deepest part of his heart. "Good to see you, little guy! And it's Alpha. Say it with me. Al-Fah!"
Lowe looked at the wolf's face and poked Mason's nose. "Alpa!" The two began trading words, with the wolf making a different silly face each time he corrected Lowe. Eventually, the Alpha gave in and set the boy down.
"Alright, now go chase your Dad. Go get 'em!" Lowe wildly began running after Caleb, who gave his son encouragement to go faster as the lion playfully dodged the toddler. Mason turned and made his way to the grill to inspect dinner. "Hey, Dad! What's on the menu?"
Flipping more burgers and several other cuts of meat, Lei gave his son a warm smile. "Burgers, hot dogs, brats, and a few venison steaks from our hunt last night."
I should give one to Vinnie and not tell him what it is. See if he wants to go hunting then. "Looks great! The ladies kicked us out of the kitchen."
Lei howled in laughter. "That was to be expected, son. Unfortunately, I need you to grab some more seasonings and a large platter to stick all this in." Mason nodded and went back inside. Against the protests of invading the kitchen space, the Alpha was able to grab everything his Dad needed.
Elaine and Tasha put most of the food on simmer until Vincent's macaroni was ready. The young mage pulled out the glass casserole dish and the three declared that dinner was ready. All of the men outside came in with Lei carrying in the platter. With the food laid out across the stovetop and the kitchen counters, the shifters began making their plates, starting with Elaine and Lei, as the dinner was taking place in their home.
After everyone took their seat, everyone began digging in. Vincent watched again in fascination as the shifters ate the mountains of food. Noticing his mate being distracted, Mason leaned in and whispered, knowing that the other shifters would hear, but he knew that his words needed to be given to Vincent. “Do you remember when I said that you have friends here? And how you didn’t know that they were around you? Here they are, Vinnie. These people are your friends and family, and they will always be around.”
Vincent scanned the dining table and the group of people who sat at it. Everyone had a smile, a smirk, or a grin and were aiming their feelings at the young mage. They...they are my friends. And...family. I haven’t considered them like that, but it makes sense. The mage’s eyes began welling with tears, but he wiped them away before they could fall.
“He’s right, Little B.” Caleb relaxed into his chair. “You saw how I lost my mind when I found out you were here. I’m still having trouble believing that you are here after all this time.”
Tasha grabbed her mate’s hand. “Yeah, little man. We haven’t formally met, but I can tell you brought Cay-Cay a world of happiness when he was tellin’ me about you. Watching your dance the other night, I can tell you really are a magic man. And Mason hadn’t introduced me, so you must be real special if he didn’t want you all corrupted.”
Several chuckles came from around the table, including Vincent as he collected himself from all the compliments. Tierney was the next to speak towards the mage. “We’ve only met several days ago, young Vincent. But, like how Kaplan described your bond with Mason, I feel I have known you for years. I can only hope that I get to tack on more years on our relationship.”
Lei and Elaine looked at each other, practically reading their minds. The frost master spoke before her mate. “And the same goes for me, Vincent. Out of everyone sitting here, I have known you the longest, and it has been a bright experience. It isn’t every day where I could have an intellectual conversation on matters that no one else in this town could know about. Speaking with you at the library is always the highlight of my days.”
The older Alpha leaned in and glared at his son-in-bond with loving eyes. “Young man.” Vincent couldn’t help but lift his head up to the mustached shifter. “You being the destined mate to my son has brought much joy to my wolf’s soul. I can already tell the two of you will lead a long and happy lifetime. And I couldn’t want any less for my son...and my son-in-bond.”
Son-in-bond? What does that mea...oh! As Vincent understood the term’s meaning, Lei went ahead with its description. “I know that this is going to cause one hell of an emotional hurricane, but my wolf and myself are unable to tip-toe around it any longer. In-bond is the shifter’s equivalent of the human’s term ‘in-law.’ Elaine told me of what your parents went through. Needless to say, both of my minds mourned the loss for you.” Lei got up from his chair and slowly made his way to Vincent, kneeling to get on the human’s level.
“Far from trying to be insensitive, I want you to know that you are loved by many in this pack. And that love is largely represented at this table. After speaking with my mate, we came to a strong conclusion on how we feel about your bond with Mace. By no means, we are to be no replacement...but…” Lei swallowed and began getting choked up, something that caused Mason to turn his head. That’s new! I have never seen my Dad get emotional like this.
Lei placed a hand on Vincent’s shoulder as a single tear fell from the elder Alpha’s eye. “We would like your permission...to call you our son-in-bond.”