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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Love in the Shadows - 19. Chapter 19: Spilled Secrets

Vincent gazed with his mouth agape. Emotions ran wildly through his mind. Sadness. Happiness. Anxiety. A sense of love. Mason grasped his mate’s hand, understanding what kind of turmoil was flowing in the boy’s mind. I feel every emotion possible flying through our bond! Maybe I can help him. The wolf manifested his own feelings of love and pushed them to Vincent. He watched as the man’s head shot up and looked at him with a smile. That’s what we are all feeling for you, pup.

The mage readjusted his eyes’ direction back to Leidolf. “Sir...nothing would...make me happier.” Lei’s face lit up, despite almost breaking down from being granted permission to address his new son properly.

Elaine got up from her seat and comforted them both with a hand on each of their shoulders. “Vincent. My mate and I are so happy to hear your response. My wolf is howling in happiness as we speak.”

“Thank you...to all of you.” Vincent gave a loving look to his new stepparents. Stepparents? Bonded parents? Parents-in-bond? Jeez, this can get complicated. It was taking everything in the mage’s power to stop himself from fully breaking down. I would normally be weeping in a puddle of tears, but...I’m just too happy to feel sad! The hairs on the back of his neck stood high, causing Vincent to turn to his mate. “And a big thanks goes to you, big guy.”

Cocking his head, Mason continued to give his mate a loving smile. “Why’s that, pup?”

“Because you brought me into this group...into this...family.” Sniffling, Vincent rubbed his napkin over his eyes to dry his oncoming tears. “It has been so long since I had this many friends. Since I had someone to call...my family.”

Mason knew he had to move closer, so he got up and embraced his mate. Lei and Elaine made their way back to their seats as their son took over. “Hey, hey. It’s okay, my mate. We’re happy to have you as a part of our pack and family, too. I couldn’t imagine my life right now without you.” Pulling himself away from Vincent, he put his hands on the smaller man’s shoulders. “We are here for you. All of us. Even little Lowe.”

Vincent pulled on Mason’s arms and brought him back in for another hug. “Thank you.”

“Any time, Vinnie. Now, you need to finish your food before it gets cold.” Mason landed a kiss on his mate’s lips and sat back in his chair. “Mom. Dad. Thank you. This means a lot to me and my mate.” Lei and Elaine nodded to their sons.

Lei spoke up after giving a short cough to clear his throat. “Well, now that the emotions have run their courses, I believe it is time to return to dinner.” Everyone at the table nodded in acknowledgement and finished their food. Stories were shared and laughter filled the room on several occasions. Mason cut a small slice of his venison steak and placed it in Vincent’s mouth. The mage was very unsure of what the mystery meat actually was, but he found it to be quite delicious. A few of the shifters kept their giggles to themselves, but Vincent caught on to the mischief.

“Mace? What is this steak made of?”

Curling a sly grin, the wolf whispered in his mate’s ear and caused Vincent to look between him and the steak. “It’s not bad. Expertly cooked by a master grillman.” The mage nodded to his father-in-bond and received a smile in return. Leaning into Mason’s ear, Vincent jabbed back at the delectable trickery. “I’m still not eating a deer raw. Cook it, and I’m down though.”

“Fair enough. Dad always liked the way cooked venison tastes. Some shifters have no care for it, but most like the ways humans have found to cook and prepare venison. I’m a real fan of deer jerky.”

Vincent smiled. “Yeah. We have a couple local guys who bring in cuts of raw venison and our meat department helps them mix it with pork sausage to make some pretty good burgers.”

The eyes of both Mason and Lei flashed lightly at the news of the burger blend. Lei leaned towards the mage in interest. “Really now? Is there a charge for this service? I’d happily pay for these...magical burgers.”

“They only charge for the retail price of the sausage used. The butcher only gets a few people asking for it, but the customers usually leave him a small tip. Ten bucks maybe?” Dave nodded and agreed with the statement.

“Well, looks like I found my new favorite grocery store. Dave, could you ask this butcher tomorrow if I could bring by several pounds to be turned into patties?”

“Yes, Alpha.”

Tasha began paying a lot of attention to her helping of the macaroni and cheese on her plate. “Uh...Vincent? I’m gonna need this recipe. This mac is too good.”

The lion looked at his mate in surprise. “Wow! You must really like it since you think your mac is the best.”

With her mouth full, she quickly chewed and swallowed. “Boy, I know when I’ve been beat! I’ve always liked mine runny and full of the same cheesy flavor. This one is thick with two capital c’s, and I see at least three different cheeses.” The leopardess gave Vincent a thin smile and thoughtful side head bob as she took another bite. “This...is some good mac and cheese. It’s got soul, and I would label this as that one side dish that only gets served at Thanksgiving by an auntie who knows what she’s doin’. You got skill, little man!”

Elaine seconded the dish’s description. “I’m going to need the recipe as well. I can see this with some shredded pork or chicken in it.”

Tasha waved her fork around with excitement. “Oh! Oh! Throw some broccoli in there, and cauliflower!”

Vincent giggled at the ladies’ comments. “It’s just a recipe I found online. It comes from the Terry Crews’ family. Seemed like an easy recipe to follow and it turned out to be my best weapon in the arsenal.”

A squinted look came from Tasha. “You got more in the arsenal? Mace, I may have to have a cooking sesh with your mate here soon.”

Mason smiled at the idea. “Sure thing, as long as it’s okay with Vinnie.” The mage smiled and nodded at the idea.

With everyone finishing up, Vincent and Tasha took over the cleaning and began bonding over stories of their mates. Mason caught a gaze from Tierney and Lei as the New Yorker pulled out three cigars from his blazer pocket. The three Alphas escaped to the backyard and lit up their stoagies. Soon after, Caleb, Dave, Dirk, and Kaplan joined with Dave lighting a cigarette. Kaplan eyed the cigarette with a slight envy. “Dave, do you mind if I bum one of those?”

Dave nodded and pulled one from his pack, handing it to the fellow Beta with the lighter. Tierney scanned his Beta with curiosity. He hasn’t smoked a dart in...well...as long as I have known him. “Everything alright, Kap?”

Kaplan nodded and puffed on the stick. “Yes, sir. I just really enjoy a cigarette after a phenomenal meal.” Tierney understood the concept as he twirled his cigar.

Turning to meet the eyes of the three New York pack members, Dave smiled as he asked his question. “So you three plan on coming to Owensville by the end of January? Excited?”

A thin smile came to Dirk. “I’m looking forward to it. My bear is loyal to the Alpha, and I got nothing else holding me to New York.”

“Same here.” Kaplan took a huge drag as he began enjoying his cigarette. “All I got is law practice. A little experience in the medical field, but that’s about it.”

Mason nodded to the men. “I’ll try to have something lined up for you both by the time you get settled in. Housing may be a little iffy, so if you two are down to be roommates, that’ll help out.” Dirk and Kaplan nodded, signalling that it wouldn’t be a problem. “Excellent. I’d probably put you in guest housing until I find something more suitable.”

“Alpha Wilson, that is more than acceptable. It is us requesting sanctuary. We will happily take whatever is given.” Dirk smiled and pushed his hands into his pockets. I can't believe that Mason would be helping us this much. Most Alphas, or pack designates don't assist in finding housing for new or potential pack members. He really cares for his people.

The wolves took another puff from their cigars and cigarettes as they continued their conversation on how the future pack members’ living situations. Tierney stated he will begin looking at property once he notifies the Executive Council of his retirement.

Vincent wandered out onto the porch and found Mason immediately. “I didn’t know you smoked.”

Mason motioned for his mate to come sit in his lap, which Vincent happily accepted his seat. “I usually don’t, but Ty has a mysteriously endless supply of these fancy cigars. Want a puff, baby?”

“No, I’m good. But I think you look sexy as hell with it in your hand.” Vincent leaned up and planted a kiss on his wolf’s cheek. A low growl rumbled in Mason’s chest and he pecked Vincent’s cheek in response. However, Vincent wasn’t the biggest fan of the smell of the tobacco. “Oh! Umm, love ya, Mace. But I’ll get back to you when you brush your teeth.” The shifters around them laughed as they welcomed the couple’s camaraderie.

As the night dragged on, Lei ventured inside and brought out several bottles of whiskey and bourbons. Everyone had at least one glass, but the three Alphas took the majority of the drink. The ladies came out with their own glasses of wine, which Vincent gladly joined in when offered a glass. Beats bourbon! I can’t handle that burn.

Mason watched as Vincent slowly seemed more and more gleeful. Oh...he loves wine! Note taken to stock up. Good thing I’m driving us home. “You doing good, pup?”

Holding his cup of the sweet dessert wine, Vincent got giggly and rested his head against Mason’s neck. “Yeah. This...this is a good night. Hey...you’ve had several glasses. How are you not getting buzzed, and I am?”

Chuckling as he stroked his mate’s hair. “Well, that’s because shifters process alcohol at such a fast rate, it’s damn near impossible for us to get intoxicated. To get buzzed, I'd have to down a whole bottle of whiskey. We just drink to enjoy the taste.”

“Oh. That makes sense.” Vincent kept his head against Mason as he sipped lightly. “You know...the longer I sit here, the more I don’t smell your cigar breath.” Snickering from everyone caused Mason to grin at his buzzed mate.

“How many of those have you had, pup?”

The mage moved his pupils as high as he could in thought and searched his short-term memory with all of his strength. “Umm. I had a couple sips of Lei’s bourbon. Then...this is my second glass of Miss Elaine’s wine.”

Yep. Lightweight. That doesn’t surprise me though. I can’t imagine him getting too accustomed to alcohol with him traveling from place to place over the years. “Alright, my mate. I think it’s time to get you tucked in.”

Vincent gave Mason a pouty face that could win an Oscar. “But I’m not sleepy.”

The two elder Alphas laughed and Lei looked at his son. “Now, Mace. Let your mate have some fun! I imagine it has been years since he had the opportunity to let loose." Mason gave a stare to his Dad with a smile and agreed. He does need to relax a bit. I suppose a couple more drinks wouldn't hurt him.

Everyone enjoyed the company and the celebratory booze. Lowe began getting sleepy and laid his head on Caleb's shoulder. Almost on queue, Vincent joined the little man and fell asleep on Mason. Smiling, Mason took the cup from Vincent's hand and set it on the porch railing to prevent a spill. Gods, I could have this every day and die a happy wolf! Holding his mate, Mason couldn't help himself but to stroke the hair on Vincent's head.

Seeing how the party had two sleeping attendees, everyone began conversing in shifter speak, whispering in barely audible tones. "Mason, I gotta say. You and Vincent give me a new hope of finding my destined mate." Dave inhaled on a fresh cigarette. "It almost makes me envious."

Dirk and Kaplan nodded at the statement in agreement. Mason looked between them all and brought his attention back to his mate. "I feel blessed to have him. I know we could never have true pups of our own, but he makes me want to at least try." The Owensville Alpha never had the positive thought of wanting children of his own. He always found kids to be annoying, save a certain few like Lowe and one or two of the pack's little ones. As he gazed on the sleeping angel in his arms, he cherished the thought of one day starting a family with his destined.

"He makes me so happy. If I wasn't young, I'd retire with him right now."

The two other mated couples shared a loving stare toward their partner, feeling the same way as their Alpha. The night went on into the midnight hour until the company believed that it was time to go. Mason rose from his chair, stretching his legs as he held his mate. He bid his parents and friends good night and made his way to the truck. As he opened the truck, Vincent woke from his alcoholic slumber. "Hey, baby. We'll be home soon." The mage spoke slurred mumbles as he somehow found the energy to buckle the seat belt.

Driving home, Mason thought only of laying his man down for bed and cuddling him tight. The drive was quiet and undisturbed. Pulling into the driveway, followed by the New York rental car, Mason fished out his keys and carried his sleeping beauty inside. Tierney wished everyone a good slumber as he went to the guest room. Kaplan and Dirk claimed their sofas and the bear started snoring immediately as Kaplan opened a book, curling up with a blanket.

Mason placed his mate in a seated position and managed to get the shirt off. Vincent began kicking his legs when the wolf took the pants. The mage found the comforter and slipped himself back into a deep slumber. He really knows how to sleep! Chuckling to himself, Mason stripped and climbed into bed to hold his mate until he succumbed to sleep.


Damn it! I can't find anything more on the kid! Shaw flipped through his folders at his tiny desk in his dimly lit apartment. With his laptop screen lighting his face, he sipped from his stale beer and went over the online police database in hopes he missed any details.

Maybe I'm wrong. This Bolton kid did seem pretty nice and was surprised when I threw out those accusations about the farmer. I hate to admit it, but my gut might be wrong on this one. He closed his laptop, leaned back in his chair and sighed. Need a cig. Shaw got up and threw his frayed charcoal bathrobe. Making his way to his front door, he sat in his foldable camping chair he kept outside. Puffing on his cigarette, he reclined himself once more, revisiting his memory of the interrogation. Maybe I need to look into Wilson next? Nah. Henry would kick my ass to the curb. Can't take any more risks! It's unofficial, but I'm on my last straw. The Chief's just begging for a reason to fire me now.

Flicking his ashes off to the side, Shaw took a deep breath. A warm guest of wind blew through his hair, but thought nothing of it. Nice breeze. Hope the warm weather lasts long. Hate to be out here in the fuckin' cold. He looked out over the small parking lot from his second story patio.

Metal clinking came from the nearby staircase, and Shaw closed his eyes in relaxation. Probably Mrs. Mildred and her high heels. Old lady is gonna fall and bust her hip again if she keeps wearing those. As the noises came closer and closer, the detective saw a dark figure with graying hair come up from the stairs. He’s new. Haven’t seen any moving trucks the past week. Might just be visiting a friend. But his thoughts ran cold as the mysterious man locked eyes with the detective. Or not. Damn! My gun is inside. I think I can take him if it comes to it, though.

“Pardon me, but are you the local detective?” Shaw felt a shiver run down his spine. Accent! Not American, German, or anything remotely local. For fuck’s sake, don’t tell me...

“It seems I’ve come at a bad time, but I was hoping to assist you in a matter that interests the both of us.”

Shaw got up from his seat in an effort to gain an equal footing. “And what matter are ya talking about, stranger?”

“Oh, please. I’m no stranger. After all...you’ve been doing your homework on me.”

The detective’s irises shook in place as he widened his eyes in fear. Oh, no way! This can’t be the guy! “Just so we’re clear...you’re Stefan...right?”

Stefan curled a thin smile. “Yes, detective. I am Stefan Gregoro. But I believe I need to...explain a few things before I request to speak with you privately.”

Shaw widened his stance ever so slightly. Gotta be prepared to take him on! Whether I believe the kid or not, this guy killed Bolton’s parents with his bare hands. “Sorry, but I don’t speak with murderers.”

The mage gently put his hands in his trench coat pockets, causing the detective to take a step back, putting his hand on the door knob. Gun? Knife? Need to defend myself! “Keep your hands where I can see them, bud! Tell me what you’re grabbing and with what fingers.”

Nodding to the man’s command, Stefan calmed his voice even further. “I’m going to pull out a paper with my left index finger and thumb, and slowly.” Following his own instructions, Stefan slipped his hand out of his pocket to reveal a piece of paper being held by his specified fingers. “See? No tricks. And I have no weapons on me, detective. I know that you’ve been digging information on me, so I figured I would come for a quick chat.”

“Yeah? About what?”

“Why, little Vincent Bolton. I’m sure you know how our paths have crossed. I will admit, I was the one that ended his parents’ lives, and am willing to serve the proper judgement for my actions.” Shaw furrowed his brow as he stood in disbelief that he was just handed a verbal confession. “But I believe that you, as a professional investigator, deserve to know all of the facts. I also know you’ve been researching Little Vinnie’s life as well.”

Lowering his head to give a more intrigued look to Shaw, Stefan played his ace. “And he isn’t telling you everything.”

Taking a slow deep breath, Shaw ran the words through his mind at lightning speed. Okay, these guys might be rivals, but what the Hell am I supposed to do now? Do I trust the kid, who might be hiding something? Or the Italian murderer who says he holds the answers? I’d be happier if I had my weapon and cuffs. “Okay. What do you have against the little kid?”

“Oh, he is no child, that is to be made a fact. And, I’m sorry. Before we go further, I don’t believe I caught your name, detective.”

“Terry Shaw.”

Stefan gave the detective a genuine smile. “Pleasure to meet you, Detective Shaw. I want to inform you that, despite your initial assumption of what I’m doing here, I’m just here to talk. I have no weapons on me. I don’t even have a cell phone. If I may ask, could it be possible to take this conversation inside? The information I have may be...harmful to innocent ears. And if it were to make you comfortable, I’ll happily put on a pair of cuffs and be held at gunpoint. All I ask is that this conversation remains between you and I.”

You have got to be kidding me? Does this guy think I’m a moron? “Listen here, pal. I’ll continue to talk with you, but I won’t turn my back on you.”

“And I understand that, sir. I am at your mercy, plain and simple. All I wish is to relay some important information to you.”

Shaw began fighting a war of thoughts on how to proceed from here. I need my gun, no question. But I can’t risk turning my back against him in case he rushes me. “Alright, Gregoro. I’m going to open my door, but I’m walking backwards here. You stay that distance from me at all times, got it?”

“Of course.” Stefan kept a straight face as he abided by the detective’s demands. Shaw opened the door to the apartment and began walking backwards through his place to get to his pistol on the coffee table. The mage kept a safe distance with his hands on his head. Grabbing the pistol, Shaw turned the safety off and pointed it at the man’s head. He fished from his jacket laying on the recliner and tossed a pair of handcuffs.

“Alright. Now sit down, put those on, and give me an excuse not to get a SWAT team here.”

The older man nodded, steadily placed the cuffs on himself, and took a seat on the nearby couch. “Is this fine, Detective Shaw?” Receiving a nod from the gunman, Stefan breathed out a long sign. “What do you know about Mister Bolton?”

“He’s just a kid. And why would I give you any information on him? You plan on hurting him?”

“Oh, Gods no! I wouldn’t harm him. I only came here to give you information that would be beneficial to your investigation.”

Shaw kept his weapon drawn, but lowered it slightly away from the Italian’s face. “Right. The investigation where you sent mercenaries after Bolton?”

Stefan’s smile curled. “No. Your investigation. Little Vinnie is hiding something from you. But, then again...so is the whole world.”

“What do you mean?”

Holding up the piece of paper once more, Stefan watched as Shaw reacted and brought his weapon back up to head level. “You might want to lower that thing. Or at least put the safety on for a moment.”

As Shaw cocked his head in confusion, the detective saw that between Stefan’s index finger and thumb, the paper began to burn with a controlled line. Wha...what in the fresh Hell is this? Stefan looked at the paper’s ashline and made it stop, extinguishing the flame. Slowly moving his other hand to the opposite side of the paper, the mage pinched the corner and started another line of flames. “Detective. As much as I hate this phrase, I feel I must use it. Do you believe in magic?”

Magic? Are you even kidding me right now? A freakin’ trick? “Is this some kind of prank, man? Hell no, I don’t believe in magic.”

Stefan gave the man a cold stare. “Well you should.” Moving his foot along the edge of the couch, the mage slipped himself into the shadows. He watched from the grayscale world as the detective let his gun slip down to his side. May be slightly childish of me, but I always love introducing people to the power of magic. He scooted himself to the other side of the couch and reappeared in the normal world.

Seeing the man reappear on the other side of the couch, Shaw brought his gun back up, lining the older man’s head in his iron sights and ready to pull the trigger. What? In the Hell? Is going on here? “How did...how did you do that? You were just right there.”

“I assure you, Mister Shaw, this is no mind trick. In order for me to explain, I need you to trust me when I say that...well...certain magic is real in the world." Stefan phased one of his wrists through the shadows, releasing him from his bindings. Repeating the same for the other hand, the mage looped his finger through the closed cuff and began spinning it in the air. "The flames can be misconstrued as a simple parlor trick, but you can not rationalize my movements.

“Now, may I borrow your attention? I would like to tell you all about Little Vinnie.”


Mason dropped Vincent off the next day at the Greenthumb and started his morning of secret plans. Oh, my little mate is in for a nice surprise! He ventured to the bigger city and pulled into the large franchise home improvement store. Venturing past the different home fixtures and appliances, he found the outdoor design help desk. “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me.”

The young store clerk turned around and saw that an Alpha wolf was requesting his assistance and bared his neck out of respect. “Yes, Alpha. Forgive me, but may I ask for your name?”

“Mason Wilson. And you don’t need to bare your neck to me. I was wondering if you could help me with a project. I’m confident in my ability to do it myself, but I’d like to contract a couple landscapers while I’ll be away with my mate next month. It’s going to be a surprise for him, and he would be too suspicious of me to stay away.”

“Of course, Mister Wilson. What did you have in mind?”


After an hour of negotiating design plans, Mason was confident in his decision to hire the landscaping team. Good. Now for the other item on today’s agenda. Doing his research before leaving Owensville, Mason found the perfect present for his mate. He is so going to murder me for this, but I know he will love it! The wolf turned into the establishment, parked and walked up to the gift and circled it. Mason smiled, confirming that it was the item he saw on the business website.

“Good afternoon, sir! Interested in this little guy?”

Mason turned to find a human salesman. “Yes, and I’m going to get down to brass tacks here. I would like to purchase this one.” The salesman widened his eyes in shock and quickly nodded, knowing that he just made some easy money for his next paycheck.

“Of course. Would you like to use our financing options?”

“No, thank you. I’ll be writing a check.”

Continuing his surprise, the salesman grew the largest of smiles. “Alright, then. No questions here. Let’s head on inside and get the bill of sale ready.” Mason nodded and let the human lead the way.


Vincent began to love his new position. He got a little nervous entering the management office, as he hadn’t been in the room since his hiring. I’ve always heard this place being called ‘The Bullpen.’ All the managers like to just sit here and stare at the workers who walk in. He shook off the willies that crept on his shoulders as Dave pulled a second office chair out for the two men.

“Alright, Vin. Let’s get logged in. I’ll make you a log-in real fast. You’ll need it to make the schedule and edit the orders, among a few other things like printing sales plans and display planograms.” Dave’s fingers flew at the speed of light and Vincent focused on following the computer screen in case he needed to repeat these steps on his own. “Okay, that’s done. Your username is the same you would use to look at your online check stubs, and your password is…” Dave took a sticky note and wrote out the standard password for new log-in entries. “...this! You’ll need to change it when you first log in, and make sure you remember it. If you forget, I’ll have to reset it.”

“Got it!” Vincent put the sticky note in his pocket for later.

“Okay, now. Let’s close out of this. So, this is the desktop. You’ll only use these two icons here. This is for schedule making, and this one is for everything else. Making the schedule is pretty easy, since the new software automatically makes it for you. All you have to do is just make some finicky changes. For some reason, it likes to schedule the stock crew at different times, but they just work a strict 10pm to 6am shift. For the day shift, only thing you have to worry about is how the computer sets their shifts at weird times, like 10:15, or 9:45. Just change those to half-hour increments. When the staff gets all those different times, they come in at the wrong times and it messes the day up.”

Gotcha. Pretty simple so far. “Another thing is to make sure everyone gets their days off right. Employees can put in for days off online, but for the older crowd who aren’t tech-savvy, I made this sheet that stays in my binder here. Elise and Rich are the main two that use it, but sometimes the site goes down for maintenance, or someone’s WiFi goes out at home. I try my best to give everyone their time off requests, so sometimes you have to play around with the schedule.”

“Seems simple enough.” Vincent kept listening as Dave drolled on about which employees are cross-trained for the frozen and dairy departments, as well as what to do when certain ones go on vacation. Okay, so Reiss and Becca are the only two who can check in vendors on the back-dock. So when one goes on vacation, the other needs to be let known so they can get the overtime. Vincent wrote everything down in his pocket-sized notebook.

“Looks like you get the jist of it. We’ll make the schedule together next week and see how you do. But let’s get back on the floor. Some end-caps need to be changed since they got wiped out last night by extreme-couponers.”

I am definitely not going to miss those guys! They bothered the crap out of me when I was on the stock crew. ‘Oh, can you see if you have more detergent pods in the back?’ ‘Can you help me push these seven carts of stuff I got?’ Stifling a chuckle, Vincent followed Dave out onto the sales floor and reached the nearly empty bundle of shelves. Jeez! This was full of sport drinks yesterday! He looked down at the sale sign and quickly understood why the rack was empty. “Dave, I think the pricing team needs to reprint this sign. That sale is meant for the cheaper brand, not the leading one.”

The Beta turned his head upward to see the printed sign, and widened his eyes. Damn! That’s a loss in sales. Quinn’s gonna have their asses for this one. That puts each bottle as a twenty-five cent loss. “Good catch.” Dave took the paper out of the sign-holder and folded it. “I’ll need to go show this to Mr. Welsh. Just need these few bottles returned to the shelf, and we’ll grab that pallet of extra four pound sugar.”

“Got it, boss!” Vincent took a moment to watch Dave head back to the managers’ office and turned to grab the seven bottles remaining. Putting them back on the shelf, the mage made his way to the back-dock. As he was about to push on the double doors, Vincent had a twinged-pull on his mind. Something’s...off? No, I think someone is watching me. He looked behind him and saw numerous people pushing their shopping carts in different directions.

His eyes passed over a middle-aged man in a black sweater vest. Vincent saw part of his face and felt his heart drop to his stomach. Gray...eyes. Graying hair...there’s...there’s no way. Still staring, Vincent watched as the man walked past. Just as he turned towards the bakery, the man looked back at Vincent and smiled.

S...Stefan! Vincent’s legs moved on autopilot. His heart pounded like a gong being played like bongo drums. He’s here. In the store. In front of me! The mage knew he wasn’t ready for a fight of this magnitude, but his mind wouldn’t let his parents’ murderer out of his sight. The man picked up the pace a touch, causing Vincent to begin pace-walking. In hopes that Dave could hear him, Vincent whispered under his breath. “Dave. Stefan is here. Heading to produce.” I can only hope he can hear me.

Vincent followed the man from a distance, never straying his eyes off the black sweater vest. His vision tunneled. He needed to at least confront the man. The man in black ventured outside to the patio, but Vincent kept his distance as he stalked. On his way out, Vincent grabbed an orange fluorescent vest as if he were going to bring carts inside.

"Vincent, dial 2291. Vincent, 2291." The mage heard his name over the intercom from inside. Dave. He probably didn't hear me. Gotta stay on Stefan, though! Vincent grabbed a stray cart in the parking lot as he watched the man dig his car keys out from his pocket. Pushing the cart, the boy pushed it into the nearby corral and went for another one. He got closer as the man opened a door to a grey SUV. So he drives. Good to know.

As the man sat down, Vincent saw a good look at the man's face. Wait. His eyes are pale blue! A sense of relief flew through the mage's heart. That's not him. After the moment of solace, the feeling was replaced with regret. What in the Hell was I thinking? Going gung-ho after my parents' killer. In broad-daylight. In public. I need to stop being so paranoid and reckless! I really need to get back with my training. Abandoning his adventure with the carts, he turned around. But he halted when he looked back to the entrance to the store. Shaw. Detective Shaw. What's...what's he doing here? He's staring right at me. Vincent walked back to the store and Shaw started to meet him halfway.

"Detective Sh-"

Shaw closed in and whispered in Vincent's ear.

"I know what you are." Vincent sucked in air hard as the detective walked past the mage.

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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Hhhmmmm. Not gonna wait until New York for stuff hitting the fan? I can't wait to see what's next! Thanks. 

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On 11/29/2020 at 1:26 PM, centexhairysub said:

Well, well, I have to wonder what game Stefan is playing; you should never involve the humans in something like this.  Shaw is going to get in over his head very very quickly.  Loved how the group gathered after the meal, nice to just relax and enjoy the evening.  Excellent job on this chapter, flowed wonderfully.

I agree Shaw is going to get in over his head quickly.

On 11/29/2020 at 7:07 PM, mikedup said:

Awesome chapter, so Vincent is finally accepting that he is fully part of the pack , I always thought that Shaw was was going get involved with Stefan, I hope that when It comes to the battle which no doubt is clearly ahead, he will I  hope be fighting 3 very powerful mages , 

I agree that I thought Shaw would get involved with Stefan and to me that is bad. 

On 11/30/2020 at 9:42 AM, Philippe said:

For a detective that claims great “gut instincts “ Detective Shaw is an obsessive IDIOT!

Stefan is a known murdered; Shaw sounded no alerts and made no attempts to subdue, instead he allows himself to become a puppet to his obsession over Vincent. Likewise, in Vincent’s relaxed pace of recovery as he relishes the new pack, family, and mate bonds, he has let his guard down and not focused on rebuilding his or his bracelet’s energy stores.

With Stefan’s  given presence in their community, and with his invasive issue of the teasing notice to Vincent, the stance was guarded to protect Vincent by staying with Mace; now the status is urgent as Stefan has slapped Vincent with his toying games of cat and mouse, with the IDIOT Shaw as a distraction.

Vincent needs a panic button alert system; to his mate and his assigned enforcer. Being drawn into a trap is too high a risk with Stefan and the pack support and response has to be a cordon of containment that leaves Stefan little options. Vincent needs to fully trust his mate and family now more than ever full disclosure and coordination; and Shaw need the stark and deadly warning to understand what his last warning truly means.

A great but truly frustrating chapter @astone2292has dealt us. As we are given ever reason to love and embrace Vincent, and his new life with Mace and family, it it all the more frustrating to see him now toyed with and betrayed in such deep emotional ways...arrrrgh!

Shaw is an idiot and we may have to deal with him as a character in this story, but idiots sometimes don't make it in the world. And Stefan saying that Vincent is no kid is by far the rudest thing I have ever heard. That remark, I bet, will come back tenfold when his parents in bond here about that. Cause when Stefan first seen Vincent, he was just a kid. Even though he is an adult now doesn't mean he is not a kid in older adults. Stefan seems like a 'rebellious child'! I agree Vincent needs a panic button to alert others, but I don't think it will matter to mason since he will feel the fear really far away from his mate as a destined mate.

A very exciting chapter this one is, I bet, the next one is even more exciting!

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Whoa! To say this was an intriguing twist would be an understatement. Stefan has made an oblique, but carefully calculated attack on our friends which will make their lives more complicated and will be difficult to counter.

Edited by drpaladin
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emotions have run their courses – 'emotions' is one of a elect species of nouns that are plural looking , but really singular, so better to say 'emotions have run their course.'

"Almost on queue" — Almost on cue  A 'queue' is a line of people to enter a theater, perhaps or a braided bunch of hair hanging down a china-man's back…a cue is a signal, usually verbal, for an actor to enter a scene and is the better homophone to use here.

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A warm guest of wind, a warm gust of wind

 Dave drolled  on,  Dave dronned on  

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After a fun and loving time with his family, Vincent starts to work learning about his new position.  Stefan just has to stir things up when everything seems good for Vincent.  That Detective Scumbag becomes one of Stefan's minions is a tribute to Stefan's laziness, and Scumbag's stupidity.  Stefan goes for convenience not intelligence in selecting Scumbag.  Bad decision by Stefan, even though I applaud the idiocy shown.  Scumbag goes against his knowledge and comes to the illogical decision that he can trust anything Stefan tells him.  I do hope that Mason's team will take them both on in the near future.  A great roller coaster ride, but this time without the magic.

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3 minutes ago, raven1 said:

After a fun and loving time with his family, Vincent starts to work learning about his new position.  Stefan just has to stir things up when everything seems good for Vincent.  That Detective Scumbag becomes one of Stefan's minions is a tribute to Stefan's laziness, and Scumbag's stupidity.  Stefan goes for convenience not intelligence in selecting Scumbag.  Bad decision by Stefan, even though I applaud the idiocy shown.  Scumbag goes against his knowledge and comes to the illogical decision that he can trust anything Stefan tells him.  I do hope that Mason's team will take them both on in the near future.  A great roller coaster ride, but this time without the magic.

Detective Stinker has no intellect, if I'm being honest. Stefan tells him Vincent has magic powers like him, and what does Stinker do? Goes right up to him, unafraid of getting a frost-dagger in the gut, and says, "I know what you can do, and I'm gonna go tell an adult!" You know, like a 5 year-old?

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4 minutes ago, astone2292 said:

Detective Stinker has no intellect, if I'm being honest. Stefan tells him Vincent has magic powers like him, and what does Stinker do? Goes right up to him, unafraid of getting a frost-dagger in the gut, and says, "I know what you can do, and I'm gonna go tell an adult!" You know, like a 5 year-old?

Scumbag's problem is all the adults already know.  I hope he get's a proper reward for his efforts.  A kick in the ass right off the force. :yes:

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