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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 - 27. Chapter 27: Shifter Surfacing

Oh...Oh Gods, my head! What...the Hell happened? Vincent’s eyes flickered and barely opened as he stirred awake. He quickly realized he was in bed, but after several moments of deep thought, he couldn’t remember how he got there. I can’t remember a damn thing! Last thing I remember is falling out of the truck and being carried in the house. His stomach rumbled, breaking his mental concentration. Food was required, and pronto! I also can’t remember eating anything last night.

Vincent found himself well rested and swung his legs to the side of the bed. He quickly found some shorts and a t-shirt in one of the few dresser drawers he took control of when Mason bought him new clothes. Putting them on, he noticed they were slightly baggy around his waistline. Am I going to need new clothes? Again? Lifting his shirt, he noticed how his abdominal muscles have really defined themselves on their own. I mean, I can’t really complain!

A knock on the bedroom door startled the mage as it opened. Just before he saw who it was, Vincent knew from the scent of the male. “Hey, big guy!” As Mason walked in, Vincent jumped towards the Alpha wolf. Mason barely caught his mate in time as he wrapped his arms around Vincent’s backside and the legs tightened around Mason’s hips.

“Hey, hot stuff! You’re awake? I figured you would sleep away the day after your little episode last night.” Mason peppered his mate’s face with kisses, finding a new addition to Vincent’s transformation. “You’re gonna need a razor, ‘cuz I don’t think I can handle you with a beard.”

In a state of shock, Vincent touched his chin with a free hand and noticed the growth in stubble. “Holy shit! I’m growing facial hair?! I haven’t been able to do that. Like...ever!” Giving his mate a quick pouty face, Vincent did his best to sound innocent. “You wouldn’t like me if I grew a beard?”

Mason couldn’t work around Vincent’s natural cuteness and landed a smoldering kiss on the pursed lips of his man. “If you want to grow your facial hair out, then I guess I can work around that. I’m just saying you were already adorable when you were clean shaven.” Pulling Vincent’s head closer, he licked the mating mark on the boy’s neck. “But you are mine, beard or no beard. And I’ll love you no matter what.”

Vincent whimpered at the warm tongue flicking on his neck. Oh, fuck! That feels way too good! “Mmmm, lick my mark again!” He watched Mason’s eyes turn gold as he swiped at the bite mark once again. “Oh, Gods! You make me want you…”

A low and deep growl echoed in the room as Mason fought to control himself. “I want that something fierce, pup. But we have company coming over. Caleb, Tasha, and Lowe are on their way for breakfast. Want to help cook?”

“What do you mean ‘help?’ All you know how to cook is omelettes. Besides, if Tasha’s coming, we can handle the cooking.” The mage gave a sly and toothy smile as Mason became playfully irritated after having his kitchen skills talked down to. “Didn’t mean it like that, big guy. You know my cooking’s better than yours. And Tasha’s is on a whole other level! Let the wives take over the kitchen for a day. You boys can go play outside or something.”

“Oh, you think you’re cute, don’t ya?”

Vincent swayed his head from side to side as he was being held. “Mmm, yeah! I’m pretty cute.” The mage pecked his bigger man on the lips and unwrapped his legs from Mason’s hips, signalling for the wolf to let him down. “So...you said I had an episode? What happened?”

Mason furrowed his brow. “You don’t remember anything?” Watching his mate shake his head, the Alpha walked to the side of the bed and urged Vincent to take a seat. “Alright, well...we got a little bit until Caleb’s family arrive. What’s the last thing you can remember?”

“I remember falling from the truck like an idiot and getting into the house. And then I woke up here.” He wished he could remember more, but he hoped Mason could fill in the blanks.

The Alpha put his hand on Vincent’s knee as the mage took a seat. “Okay. So when we brought you into the house, your headache got intense. Like...you were screaming, and in an incredible amount of pain.” Mason’s face grew grim as he recalled his mate’s terrifying screams from last night. Gods, I hope to never hear that again. “I...I honestly thought I was going to lose you, Vinnie. I held you when you were in such pain.”

Hearing of the suffering that he supposedly went through shocked the mage to his core. But when the news hit that his mate possessed the thought that he was going to die bothered Vincent intensely. “I...I’m sorry, Mace. I didn’t mean to put you through all that.”

Moving his arm around the waistline of his mate, Mason pulled Vincent in close. “It’s okay. Besides, I have you here now. And that wasn’t all that happened last night.” He pivoted his body to face Vincent and latched onto his shoulders. “You...were possessed by a ghost!”

After Mason spoke, he made a stereotypical spooky noise, making Vincent laugh. “Oh c’mon, big guy! Be serious for once.”

With a hearty laugh, Mason stared down Vincent. “But I am serious. Well...partially. You really were possessed last night. Not by a ghost, but you were totally not yourself.”

Vincent stared at his mate and repeated the words inside his head. Possessed? That sounds just ridiculous!

Not crazy. Mate speak true! Smell. Listening to his wolf, the mage sniffed his mate, and found that there were no endorphine signals to tell that Mason would be lying. “You...you’re serious? I was possessed? That’s just preposterous!”

“That may be, but you can tell I’m being serious. So...would you like to know what possessed you? Because we all had a lovely chat with him.” Vincent nodded in an eager fashion, waiting for the answer. “It was Lord Bol.”

Bol...Bol! “The...God of Order?! Okay, now you’re making stuff up!” He watched as Mason raised a singular eyebrow towards his mate. Oh...the eyebrow...that means…”I was possessed...by a God?”

“Yep. I couldn’t believe it either, but then he read off my life story, then he told the history of the living room wooden floors. Turns out they’re from Virginia, and they’re over seventy years old. But yeah, Bol took over your body. He wanted to give all of us a message...”

A message? “What did he say, Mace? Was it good?”

A scowl fell upon Mason’s face. “No. Not at all. But we know something for sure now. We need to make sure you win your fight with Stefan. Bol shared with us that Aliz received a Destiny...and she saw what would happen if either of you won your fight. It was deemed by the Gods to interfere, and Bol is trying to help us ensure your victory. He didn’t say what would happen should you lose, but it didn’t sound pleasant.”

The weight of the world and plummeted on Vincent’s shoulders. I...can actually lose this fight? And Stefan would do something so dastardly that it caused the Gods to show up and warn us? Jeez...well...that’s a freaking wake-up call! “So...that’s what Bol came to say?”

“Yeah, and he charged Caleb, Dave, and I with protecting you. He also said that if you needed to speak with him about anything urgent, you can pray to him and he'll pop up in your mind. But other than that, Bol left and you passed out.” Mason held on to his mate with a tight hug. “I won’t let anything happen to you, Vinnie.”

Letting his head rest in the large chest, Vincent let the feelings of love trickle back and forth in the bond that he shared with Mason. “I know, big guy. But now I know that I need to get stronger. I need to make sure Stefan is stopped.” Accepting that his life is now not only only on the line, but more lives would be thrown away if he didn’t succeed. “I need to kill him.”

Mason lifted his mate’s chin and stared into the hazel eyes that he learned to love so very much. “We...my mate. We will get him. You are not in this alone.” The two turned towards the gravel driveway as they heard a vehicle coming closer to the house. “That’s probably Caleb and Tasha. Good, I was starting to get pretty hungry. Ready to start cooking, sweetie?”

Despite feeling concerned for the upcoming battle, Vincent couldn’t argue with both Mason’s and his own stomachs. “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go ahead and get everything laid out.” Vincent got up from his seat and headed for the kitchen while Mason made his way to the front door to welcome the Gage family.

Just as Caleb was going to knock on the door, Mason opened it and ushered the family inside. “Alpa!!!” As much as the wolf wanted to be irritated at the mispronunciation of his title, he could never show any negative emotion towards the little guy. Lowe ran away from his mother’s grasp and latched himself on Mason’s leg. “Got you!”

Seeing the young blond haired kid grab his leg, Mason overreacted in childlike wonder, lifting his arms and waving them in the air. “Augh! You got the...Al-fah!

“Alpa!” Mason’s eyes flatlined as he remembered one of his adult struggles. This kid, I swear. It’s one different syllable! Fah! Fah! “Lowe. That’s not how you are supposed to greet your Alpha.” The wolf looked up to see Tasha coming forward and baring her neck. “Sorry, Mace. Maybe when he gets a little older, he’ll stop attacking you.”

“That’s alright, Tash. I can already tell he’s going to be one Hell of a hunter someday! Isn’t that right, little Lowe?”

The tiny shifter child became indignant and waved his fists behind his body. “I not wittle!”

Mason jokingly widened his eyes and put up his hands in defense. “Oh, no! I did not mean that, mighty Lowe! You are big! And strong!”

Lowe raised his arms in excitement and ran in a circle around the Alpha. “Lowe. Go to daddy.” The small squirt made his way to Caleb and was lifted to take a seat on the lion’s shoulders. Tasha rolled her eyes and looked back at her Alpha. “So, where’s Vincent at? Still sleeping?”

“I’m in here!” Vincent poked his head out of the kitchen and waved his hand.

“Oh! You gettin’ started without me, huh? I know you got your mac and cheese on lock, let’s see what you do for breakfast.” Tasha handed Caleb her backpack filled with toddler-related supplies and toys in order to make her way to the kitchen.

Mason and Caleb chuckled at their mates as they overheard their trash talking ensue. Caleb set his son down and pulled out several activity books for Lowe to work on. The toddler grabbed them in delight, along with a couple crayons and made the floor his office space. Looking to his boss, Caleb gave a look of concern. “So, did Vincent recover properly?”

“Yeah, and I told him what happened. He wasn’t as distraught with the news as I thought he would be. My Vinnie has really owned his changes, even if they have been coming at an alarming rate." Looking down to the floor, Mason let his thoughts air out. "Honestly, Caleb...with the full moon in a couple days, I'm both excited and concerned for his turning. With him changing so fast, I don't know if that will make his turning easier...or more difficult."

Caleb shook his head in disagreement. "I think with how strong of a bond Vincent shares with his wolf, the turn will be fine. He has an Alpha wolf to guide him. And we will all be there for support."

Hearing the positive words from his Enforcer, Mason's lips curled upward into a smile. "Yeah. Just gotta have faith. Thanks, Caleb. Let's see how breakfast is coming along." The two walked in the kitchen and saw that Tasha and Vincent were making a masterful mess!

Tasha whisked an insane amount of eggs in a large bowl, adding salt and pepper in at the perfect ratio. Meanwhile, Vincent had a couple of different skillets on the stovetop, frying bacon and sausage like a mad man. He scooted over naturally as Tasha swung a large deep-panned skillet over to an empty burner and poured the egg mixture in. "You know, it's been too long since I had a good cooking partner, Vin."

"Same here! Mace is alright, but he tends to hover a bit too much." Giving a smile to his mate across the room, Vincent couldn't help but be happy with the feeling of having friends close by. He saw Lowe come running in to show his daddy his newest coloring creation with bountiful energy. The child's endless energy caused the mage to chuckle and raise a question that has pecked his mind for a few days. "Don't mean to ask if it would be offensive, but with both you and Caleb being different shifters, what would Lowe grow up to be?"

Tasha kept a laugh in between her lips. "That ain't offensive, Vin. And Lowe's gonna be one of three possibilities. There's a decent chance he could be a lion, like his daddy. Then there is a very slim chance he could be a leopard like me. But there's about a forty percent chance his animal could be a lipard, according to Doc."

Mason couldn't help but cock his head. "Lipard?" Sounds like a silly made up name.

Vincent made a squealing noise in excitement. "That would be so cool if he was a lipard!" He turned to his mate after setting down his utensil. "A lipard is a cross between a male lion and female leopard, compared to a leopon, which is from a female lion and male leopard. So a lipard would have the body frame of a lion, but the fur resemblance of a leopard. And the leopon would be the opposite. C'mon, big guy. You should read a book every once in a while."

The leopardess couldn't help but cackle at Vincent's burn. "Ha! Got 'em!" She gave a quick glance over to Mason. "Sorry, 'Alpa,' but your mate's one hundred percent right. And me too, little man. I'd love to see a lipard as Lowe's animal, but I'll love him for whatever he comes out as." Stirring the scrambled eggs, she pulled out her phone and noticed her timer was about to go off. "Uh-oh. Told you we put those biscuits in too early." Turning the oven knob to 'warm,' she got back to her eggs and peeked at Vincent's work.

"Nah, they'll come out fine. Even if they're done, it gives them something to gnaw on while we finish up." He leaned in closer and whispered in his newfound shifter speak. "Gets them to be quiet for a minute." Both cooks began laughing hard as Mason barely heard his mate's comment, chuckling to himself.

The food finished cooking and the group of shifters grabbed plates and settled down at the small dinner table. Vincent made a small helping of crispy bacon, as he always preferred, but kept the remaining bacon juicy but firm for the rest of the group. Tasha took on the task of making sure her son was fed while everyone dug into the breakfast. The leopardess faced Vincent as Lowe was chewing on some scrambled eggs. "So, Vin! You excited for your turning in a few days?"

Vincent nodded with a smile. "Yeah! I'm ecstatic! My wolf can't wait to run with Mason in the woods."

Mason palmed his mate's knee gently. "And mine can't wait either. But you do remember that your first shift is going to hurt like a bitch, right?"

Some concerned washed over the mage, but was swatted away mentally by his wolf. It be fine. You strong. I strong. We can handle!

Thanks, bud. Really needed the reassurance. "Yeah, but my wolf says he's got my back. And I know you all do as well. But...how bad does it hurt?"

A poorly hidden chuckle left Tasha's mouth, causing a stern look from both Mason and Caleb. Grabbing his mate's hand, Mason pushed positive energy into the bond. "It's...painful, babe. I know you don't remember last night, but you were in excruciating agony. I'd say it would be familiar to that."

Tasha gave a head bob as she pierced some eggs and fed Lowe. "Let's put it this way...I'd rather pop out twins."

Oh...uh-oh. This isn't gonna be fun.

It be okay. We do it together. With a faint grin, Vincent sat up straight and put his hand over Mason's. "My wolf and I got this." Mason flashed his golden eyes and leaned over to peck his mate on the cheek.

"You two are so adorable!" Tasha leaned over towards her mate and leaned her head on his shoulder. "Makes me remember how much I love my Cay-Cay."

Hold the phone! Vincent puffed his cheeks, trying not to laugh. "Cay-Cay? Now that's adorable, G-man."

The lion blushed beet red, but quickly got over it as he shared a smoldering kiss with the love of his life. "Yeah, yeah. Easy there, Little B. I got a couple of horror stories from summer camp that would curl your nose hairs should Mason find out about them."

Dropping his jaw with a gasp, Vincent gave his friend a death stare. "You...wouldn't!" Getting a wink from Caleb confirmed his deepest fears. Oh...he would.

Mason nuzzled his mate's neck, earning a high pitched squeal from Vincent. "I would love to hear these stories about you, Vinnie."

"Alright, let's all put the weapons down, boys! Just because y'all done eating, doesn't mean I am. Cay? Wanna switch so I can finish up?" Caleb quickly nodded and exchanged seats with his mate. "Oh, thank the Gods, I'm starving!" She took her fork and dug in.

Vincent looked over and saw that Tasha barely touched her food while she was feeding Lowe. Her food must be stone cold! "Tasha, would you like for me to make some fresh food for you? Or zap that in the microwave, at least?"

"Mmm-mmm." With her mouth full, she shook her head as to say no. "No thanks, sweetheart. This is just a price to pay when you have a kiddo. You get used to it real fast. Ain't that right, Cay?"

With a deep sigh, Caleb spooned more eggs into his little monster's mouth. "You have no idea."

The mage realized then how exhausted his childhood friend looked. Gods! I've never noticed the bags under his eyes. "You guys know that if you ever need a night to yourselves or to catch up on sleep, let me know and I'll take Lowe off your hands."

Mason nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I can tell you two are exhausted. Maybe after Vincent's turning, we can take him for a weekend."

Caleb and Tasha looked at each other as if they had just won the lottery. The lion turned to Mason and Vincent with the biggest smile on his face. "Mace, Vincent. That would be phenomenal! We've been trying to find a sitter for the longest time that would take Lowe for a weekend. We could use some time for ourselves. Are you sure that would be okay?"

"We'd have a blast! And I'm sure Mom and Dad wouldn't mind either if we were busy." Mason gave a happy stare to the toddler across the table. "How does that sound, Lowe? Staying with Alpha and Vinnie for a bit?"

Lowe looked at Mason, then Vincent, and playfully cheered. "Yeah! I stay at Alpa and Vinsy place!"

Mason laughed and glared at Vincent. "Oh! You hear that...Vinsy!"

Vincent couldn't help but laugh at his new nickname. "Now I see what you've been complaining about. Well, I actually like that nickname! I think it suits me."

When everyone was finished eating, Vincent took charge of doing dishes, much to the protest of Tasha who wanted to assist. After loading everything in the dishwasher, he rejoined the group in the living room. Everyone was talking about plans for when would be a good time for the Alpha couple to take Lowe, and they settled on the weekend after the trip to New York.

"This is gonna be great!" Caleb exclaimed his new excitement for having alone time with his mate, and began going over his toddler's schedule and appetite. "He's not the biggest fan of vegetables, so we've been buying this smoothie for kids his age. He loves it, and it has all the nutrients he needs. And just a heads up, he is really difficult to get down for a nap."

"No! No nap!" Lowe spoke his piece with fists on the hips.

Caleb laughed and picked up his son to sit on his lap. "But then you won't get big and strong like Alpha Wilson." This caused an intense pouty face that put Vincent's to shame.

Vincent watched his new family's behaviors and listened contently as they laughed and carried on in conversation. This...this family?

Yep. These are some of the people I hold close to my heart.

They nice. Fun. Feel welcome.

Yeah, they're your family too, bud.

Bud. You call me name lots. Why this?

Well, you're a part of me, and I consider you a friend. Bud is short for buddy.

Friend. You friend. Mate and family friends. Silently listening to himself, Vincent reveled in the fact that he was no longer alone.

Mace, Caleb, Tasha, Dave...even Lowe. Yeah...I'm not alone anymore.

Me. Not forget me.

How could I forget you? You might be my best friend of all, bud. You'll always be there for me.

Yes! Always!


Over the course of the next two days, Mason and Vincent had plenty of fun together. They went out for a nice dinner date at a steakhouse in the big city, walked along the riverside park, and even went to the local movie theater. The two walked in with the intention of watching the film, but succumbed to snogging like a typical high school couple.

Despite being in his human form, Vincent's wolf demanded a run with his mate on the morning of his turning. Mason shifted and Vincent donned some of his athletic shorts and a tank top, then headed into the woods for a long run. They playfully chased each other for over an hour across the entirety of the forest.

Vincent, even with his wolf in the front of his mind, found himself tired after the near constant running. Run...run long time...must rest.

Damm, bud! Jeez, you know how to run!

Yes...tired. Need food. Deer sound good.

Uh-uh! You are not eating any game! Just have Mace take us out for dinner.

He do that? You make him do that?

You may be a wolf, but I have great puppy-dog eyes. Watch and learn… Vincent brought his human mind forward as Mason's wolf laid down next to him. "That was so much fun, Mace! My wolf is so tired! I can't even feel my legs right now!"

The silver wolf felt the same way, but he found the strength to lift his head and give Vincent a lick on the cheek. "Love you too, big guy. I'm so excited to become a wolf tonight, then I get to run alongside you again.

He watched as the wolf nuzzled the side of his face and snorted. Mate say he excited.

Woah! He said that with a short?

Yes and no. He snort, but say with instincts. Hard to explain.

So...it's kinda about instincts and reading body language?

Yes! Then snorts and barks help too.

Gotcha. Thanks, bud! "So my wolf says you're pretty hyped to see him tonight." We watched as Mason opened his muzzle and began panting with his tongue out. "Beyond happy, huh? Well, I'm glad you're as excited as I am. Hate to cut our run short, but I could use a meal!" The mage watched the wolf's eyes dilate at the mention of food and could tell Mason could use some as well. "Alright then, let's get going." The two got up from the ground and walked their way back to the house.


After showering, the couple got dressed and drove into town with the intention of treating themselves to one of Morrine's sandwiches. Mason drove down Main Street and placed a hand on his mate's knee. "We got about five hours until your turning. Are you ready for your last meal as a full fledged human, pup?"

Oh yeah! This will be my last day as a human! Makes me kinda feel like I'm about to begin a new life. "Yeah, and I know it's pretty bittersweet, but I'm ready for it. I'm ready to be a full-blooded shifter."

Mason felt the pride in his mate's veins and could do nothing but reciprocate the feeling. He's my mate! And he shows off his changes with pride and dignity. "I'm happy you feel that way, Vinnie. Just a fair warning, though. You may become a shifter, but others will still be able to tell by your scent that you were once human."

Showing a narrowed brow, Vincent got concerned with the warning. "Is that a bad thing?"

"It depends on the people you're around. Most shifters either are supportive, or just don't care. But some traditionalist pricks frown upon human turnings, even if they are imprinted or destined mates. You may get some dirty looks or even a challenge, but I already know you can handle either of those. Just let me know when it does happen. If they're pack, that's disrespecting their Mated Alpha."

Vincent soaked in the information, but one thing stood out. "So...what is the typical disciplinary action for disrespecting the Mated Alpha?"

"For most packs, it can range between community service hours, probation, or even physical discipline like whip lashings. Our pack has observed community service hours as the go-to for first and second time offenders."

"Woah, woah! Lashings?!" A look of flabbergast was plastered on Vincent's face. "That's crazy! And completely inhumane!"

Mason nodded. "My Dad agreed. That's why he strayed away from its use in disciplinary hearings. It's been service, probation, jail time, or exile only for our pack for many years. But just because we observe those rules, doesn't mean other packs don't. Our neighboring pack in southern Indiana is heavy on traditional values, and they uphold physical disciplinary actions such as lashings...and even silver-to-skin brandings."

The mage could tell his mate was angered at the neighboring pack's tactics, but he felt the conflict within himself as well. It just seems so cruel! Hell...silver branding! From what I read, that leaves scars that will never be healed. "So...in those more traditional packs. If you were to visit, would I even be allowed to go with you?"

"What do you mean, Vinnie?"

He hated to form the words, but if his hide would be on the line, then he needed to ask. "Well...I'm a gay, turned human. And...say we went to a pack like Kaplan's old one. Would it be smart for me to stay home or avoid meeting wi-"

"Hell no!" Mason did his best to hold his anger, but couldn't let his mate think he had to hide who he was. "Vinnie. You are my mate. The mate of an Alpha. You are to be respected on the same level as myself, no matter where we are, what territory we stand in, and whatever shifter comes across you. My mark lets everyone know an Alpha has claimed you."

Vincent gripped Mason's hand as he felt the power of his mate. "Your mark is that different than a lower ranked shifter?"

"Mhmm. An Alpha's mark is always larger, and tends to look a little more mangled. Other shifters' marks are still visible, but they're more subtle."

His cheeks began to blush as he recalled the big hybrid wolf biting him. "So...you're saying I need to wear fewer collared shirts?"

Watching Mason's irises flash gold made Vincent giggle. "That definitely helps, Vinnie. But my scent on you will be a bigger giveaway."

Pulling along the curbside in front of Nini's, Vincent held onto Mason's hand. "Thanks for explaining all that to me, Mace. I guess it will take some time for me to get used to being someone of a higher status or rank or...whatever you call it."

"We can work on that together, and we'll get some practice in when we go to New York to see Ty. And from what I've been gathering from Ty's texts, the new Alpha in training is a nice guy and wants to meet you!"

Really? Another Alpha wants to meet me? I mean, I am a shadow mage, turned shifter with two other affinities. That is a little out of the ordinary, I suppose. "Cool! I'm down to meet new people. But I need a sandwich, STAT!" Vincent opened the door and took the lesson his wolf taught him to hop down instead of crawling down like a baby. Mason held open the door to the deli and let his mate walk in first.

The aroma of the kitchen blasted Vincent in the face. Holy merciful Gods! It smells so much better in here than the last time I was here! Mason chuckled as he watched Vincent's sense go into overload. "Hey, Vin. Just focus on one scent and home in on it. Try focusing on just the toasted bread." Listening to his mate's advice, Vincent focused on the smell of the garlicky bread. Slowly, the overwhelming accents of pepperoni and cheese faded. I gotcha. So you walk in, get blasted, then shove all but one scent out of the way. ‘Kay, I’ll try to remember that.

"There's my favorite couple of guys!" Morrine made her presence known quickly from across the kitchen. Seeing how there were a couple of humans in the shop, Vincent knew to keep the shifter world hushed. "C'mon up, Wilson! What can I get you and Vinc-" The tigress got a whiff of Vincent's new scent and couldn't help but make a whispered comment. "Well...look at you! I heard you completed your bond, Vincent, but I couldn't have imagined your sweet baby face getting all hairy. And your scent...well, unfortunately, you have a little bit of Wilson on ya. I suppose I can look over that."

Vincent giggled and thanked Morrine for the compliments. "But I guess you two are here for food? A couple Mona Lisa's?"

"Yes, ma'am! That sounds great!" Morrine shouted the order like usual, and was followed by the store's motto. Vincent grabbed the cups laid out by the tigress and went with Mason to get everything situated. "So...when were you going to tell me, big guy?"

Take a sip from his straw, Mason tried to act innocent. "What do you mean?"

A snort came from Vincent's nostrils. "You're terrible at lying, you know that? When were you going to tell me that Ty was in town?"

I hoped he would miss that. Morrine...you should have worn more perfume. "I suppose it's not a secret anymore. The New York council came in for your turning. They wouldn't have missed it even if I didn't tell them."

Vincent was giddy beyond his dreams. Yes! They're here! I'm so excited! Hey, bud. You ready to meet one of the strongest Alphas in the world?

Strongest...Alpha? Yes! Want meet! He Ty? You call him Ty?

Yeah. Well, his name is Tierney Scott, and he's the Alpha over the New York State Pack.

Big pack?

One of the largest! He's retiring soon and moving here with his Beta and Enforcer.

What?! He take over? I not let him!

No, no! He's retiring! He wants to relax and settle down, like Lei.

Ah. No worry then?

Exactly. And he's a really nice guy. "Vin?"

The mage dragged himself out of conversation with himself and looked at Mason who got back from getting the tray. "So Ty has brought the Alpha that’ll be taking over NYSP as well. His name is Cyrus Vonder, and like I said before, he really wants to meet with you."

"Oh, cool! What's he like?"

Mason took a bite from his sandwich and quickly chewed. "I don't know. Haven't heard much about the guy, and Ty hasn't told me anything. All I know he's the real deal, and if anyone was going to take that pack, it'll be this guy."

Vincent nodded and began gnawing on his sandwich, causing his eyes to roll into the back of his head. When did this sandwich get so good? Did Miss Morrine change the recipe?

No. Meat good. I tell you this, but human eat green stuff.

Huh...so my taste buds have changed as well? I guess I'm adding more protein in my diet then, ‘cause this is too good!

The Alpha turned his head at an angle as he tried to get his mate's attention. "You and your wolf seem to be talking a lot recently."

Snapping his head back up to see Mason's smirk, Vincent couldn't help but grin himself. "Yeah, we're just talking. He's explaining some of the changes that I'm still noticing."

"Well, he better get you caught up since he'll be taking over for the rest of the night."

Curiosity hit Vincent as he tried to grasp what Mason meant. "Come again?"

"As soon as the moon comes over the horizon, your mind will be taking a back seat until sunrise. You'll still be able to talk with yourself, but he will have complete control. So if you need to do something, it'll have to go through him."

Vincent looked down at the table for a short moment, but trusted his inner wolf to not do anything crazy. "Okay. That's good to know. Anything else I should know?"

Petting his chin with a finger, Mason went through his usual mental checklist for human turnings. Lots of pain...wolf taking control...oh yeah! "Just one more thing. You're gonna be stuck in your wolven form until the sun rises. The moon is going to force you to stay as a wolf, but you should be good for every moon afterward."

Now that's...something to deal with. Am I going to sleep outside? Won't it get cold?

No. Fur keep warm.

Right...fur. Can we get a blanket, at least? Or an oversized dog house or something?

You funny human! I like joke! Blanket fine. No to house, though. Chuckling to himself, he accepted the additional issue for his turning. “I think we can handle that. Other than the pain, it sounds like something I can handle. So Ty, Kap, Dirk, and the mystery Alpha are in town?” Vincent watched as Mason nodded with his mouth full. “Are they staying in a hotel?”

Mason swallowed his food and shook his head. “Actually, they’re staying at my parents’ house. Since Alpha Vonder is with them, they needed an extra bed. They were going to stay in a hotel, but I asked Dad and he said they could crash there. Did you want to head there and say hi?”

“Umm, is that even a question?” With newfound ambition of wanting to see his friends, Vincent began digging into his sandwich, which urged Mason to do the same. The two finished their food in record time, waved to Morrine, and made their way to Elaine and Leidolf’s.


After pulling into the paved driveway of the large home, Vincent couldn’t hold his excitement any longer. Just as Mason put the truck in park, he practically dived out the door and made his way to the front of the house. “Vinnie! Wait for me!”

“Then hurry up! I want to see...Ty!” The mage saw the front door to the house open and Tierney walked out onto the porch with Dirk right behind him.

Upon seeing the smaller man, Tierney couldn’t help but smile wide. “Vincent! What a pleasant surprise to see you! We were expecting to see you much later.”

Vincent saw that the Alpha was aiming for a handshake. Nope! Try again, Ty. Brushing past the outstretched arm, he barreled into Tierney’s chest for a hug as he grabbed his friend. “We’re well past handshakes, Ty. It’s so good to see you!”

Tierney accepted the embrace, but couldn’t help but place his hands on the shoulders of the human and stepped back. “My word! You have changed so much! No glasses, some peach fuzz on your face...and I can even tell you’ve put on some muscle. I take it your wolf has something to do with this?”

With a giggle, Vincent looked up to the green eyes of the New Yorker. “I guess you could say that.”

“Well, this is what happens when a human’s inner wolf turns out to be an Alpha.”

Mason walked up behind his mate and widened his eyes at the statement. “Forgive me, Ty, but how did you know Vinnie’s wolf was an Alpha?” I certainly didn’t mention that in any of the texts I sent him.

Crossing his arms in admiration for Vincent’s transformation. “You turned him not too long ago, right? A normal human to shifter transformation would take nearly two weeks to reach the point Vincent is at now. Even with the full moon coming, a typical wolf spirit would be forced to ignore the natural turning laws since it wouldn’t have been fully developed yet. But Vincent’s wolf is an Alpha...no doubt about it.”

Dirk snorted out of inside humor. “If I would have known your future wolf would have been an Alpha, Vincent, I would have never challenged you when we first met.”

Who this bear? He challenge you before?

Yeah, this is Dirk. He’s Ty’s Enforcer, and he challenged me to one of those stare-down things. Don’t worry, bud. He isn’t typically fond of humans, but we get along just fine since I mopped the floor with him.

What? I tell he strong bear. You beat him in challenge?

Yeah. Well, I did kind of make the air slightly below freezing when he was staring me down. I consider him a friend, so try not to be harsh on him.

Ha! That funny. He friend to me. “It’s good to see you too, Dirk.” Vincent walked over and gave another hug to the bear. Even though the contact with the human was still a new adventure to him, Dirk managed to clap the mage’s back. “Is everyone else inside?”

Tierney smiled and confirmed. “Yes. Lei and Cyrus are cleaning out the liquor cabinet as we speak. Apparently, my CO had the good stuff hidden away in places I couldn’t find that last time I was here. Let’s head on in.” The New Yorkers led the way in the house and found seats on the couches. Just as Vincent was about to sit next to Mason, he heard the lightest and most powerful bouts of laughter he had ever experienced.

“What...was that?” Vincent and Mason looked at their friends for clarification. Sounded like...a higher pitched Santa Claus. Was that…

“That was Alpha Vonder. Don’t mistake that laughter. He is a force to be reckoned with, but he is an absolute delight to be around.” Tierney kicked up a leg and set it on his other knee in an effort to get more comfortable.

Vincent could hear a few steps coming his way from the hallway. Someone’s coming. It...doesn’t smell like Lei, Elaine, or Kaplan. Smells like...cologne...and...sugar? No, it’s like if sugar and a light wood smell got shoved together. “I’ve heard my name a couple of times. What is...Oh! We have guests! Hello!” At the sight of the new man in the building, Vincent nearly had to crane his head upward to meet the man’s face.

Standing up, Vincent calmly walked over to the large chocolate-skinned man. “Are you Alpha Vonder?”

“I believe so. Well, it doesn’t say Alpha on my driver’s license, though.” Cyrus looked over the smaller man and subtly inhaled the scent. Hmm...lilies and pine. Interesting. He is an Alpha...but he doesn’t support the look of one. Is this…

Giggling at the joke, Vincent found himself liking the new person before him. “If I may introduce myself, I’m Vincent Bolton. And I hear you’ve been wanting to meet me.”

Cyrus’ assumption was confirmed. Yes, this is the mage! Much smaller than I anticipated, but good things do come in small packages, I suppose. “Pleased to meet you, Vincent. I’m Cyrus. And I’m perfectly fine without the Alpha title. It tends to weigh down the conversations.” Stretching out his hand, the large bear went for a handshake.

Meeting the much larger hand, Vincent grasped it and shook. “Well, I’m pleased to meet you, Cyrus. Pardon if I get it wrong, but...are you a bear shifter? Your scent is very unique. I’ve never smelt anything like it.”

“I am! My, you must be pretty far into your pre-turning to determine species like that! I also heard that you are a very intelligent man, with a passion for studying. I admire an academic. It’s been far too long since my nose has dived in a book.”

Vincent smiled at the warm and inviting conversation he had found himself in. He felt a light tug on his bond and turned to see Mason smiling. “Cyrus, this is my mate, Mason Wilson.” At the mention of his name, Mason rose from his seat and met the bear with a powerful handshake.

“Pleasure to meet you, Cyrus. Before we speak, please call me Mace.” The wolf almost saw a glint in the eyes of the larger man as they shook.

“Ah! I see why. Prevents the first and last names from rhyming.” Humorous, but I could see how that would be bothersome.

Mason couldn’t help but be impressed by the intuition of the larger man. “Exactly! I’m thankful for the name my parents gave me, but it has that one little issue.” The comment caused Cyrus to let out a hearty giggle.

While Cyrus was thankful to meet the Alpha of the territory he was in, his eyes kept being drawn to the shorter mage. “Vincent. You made a comment a short while ago that interests me. You said my scent was unique. Would you care to elaborate? I don’t get a lot of people who find it...peculiar.”

Vincent inhaled the bigger man’s scent once again. “It’s covered by your cologne, but I smell sugar and the faintest of woods. It reminds me of bamboo. If I didn’t know any better, I’d take a guess and say your bear was a panda.”

Both Tierney and Cyrus couldn’t help but let their jaws roll on the floor. But the panda was the most impressed and let out a boisterous laugh. In all my years of living, it took a human-turnling to guess my breed of bear correctly on the first try? My, my...what an interesting little man! “Well, color me surprised, Mr. Bolton! Not even Tierney here could guess my breed! An excellent use of deduction.”

The small mage was shocked he guessed the big Alpha’s animal without much effort. Wow! A panda! In...Kentucky! That’s awesome! Hopefully I get to see his bear tonight! “Thank you, Cyrus! Are...are you really a panda? I wouldn’t be mad if you’re pulling my leg or anything.”

“No, Vincent. I am, indeed, a panda ursus.” Cyrus unbuttoned and rolled up his dress shirt sleeve, revealing a large forearm with a dark tattoo poking out from under the rolled up cloth. In a smooth transition, the human forearm had black fur erupt from every pore, with a small band of white near the bend of the elbow. “See?” After Vincent got a closer look, the bear reverted his arm back to its human form and began rolling down his sleeve. “I hate to push a subject, but Tierney speaks of you as a very gifted mage. One of three affinities?”

Vincent nodded with a wide smile. “Yep! I’m a mage of the frost, clairvoyant, and shadow affinities.”

Oh my! The shadow affinity! That is exciting! I can tell he is of a sound mind, so I doubt he has that particular magic out of negative morality. So that leaves pure chance...or something very depressing happened to this poor man. And I’ll put my money on the latter. “Forgive me, but I am just dealing with my mind being blown out the back of my head. Those three in combination...I can only imagine their cooperative flow!”

Looking at the panda’s giddy fascination, Vincent couldn’t help but ask Cyrus. “So...you’re not...concerned with me having the shadow affinity?”

“Why would I be? You are one of the most pleasant people I’ve met in quite some time. And I doubt that I should be concerned since you have such a positively aligned group of friends here who aren’t running away from you. No, Vincent. I am not frightened in the least. My bear has deemed you beyond trustworthy.”

The statement almost caused Vincent to break down, but he kept his tears at bay. “Thank you...that...that statement just gave me such hope, sir.” At the panda’s head tilt, Vincent felt the need for explanation. “I’ve had the goal to make the shadow affinity something to be proud of ever since I got it a couple years ago. And with you saying that, it puts me one step closer to achieving that goal.”

A genuine smile crossed Cyrus’ face. What a noble goal! I would put that on the level of mine, in all honesty. He truly believes he has the capability to make his dream a reality.

Mage is strong. I want help him.

Oh...my bear. You haven’t misguided me yet. But I’m way ahead of you, my friend. “My word, Mr. Bolton. I know we have just met, but you are one of the gentlest natures I’ve come across in my days. Consider me an ally in making your goal come true. Whatever I can do to assist you, do not hesitate to let me know.”

Vincent grinned ear to ear as he wiped his oncoming tears with his arm. “Thank you, sir. That really means a lot to me. I’ll definitely let you know if I need any-” The mage felt a light throb pulsate in his head. Augh! Jeez...what the Hell?

“Vinnie?” Mason quickly latched onto his mate. What's going on? I thought Bol said there would be no more headaches!

Cyrus looked out of the window and smiled. “Alpha Wilson. There is no need to be concerned. Look.” He pointed out of the glass pane.

Turning his head quickly as he tried to keep an eye on his mate, he saw what Cyrus clued into. Right...it’s time. “Vinnie. Don’t fight the headache. Switch to your wolf’s mind. The moon has started to rise.”

Gotcha. Alright, bud. You ready to come out?

Yes...born ready!

Oh, boy! Time for a thank you note! I wanted to take the time to thank the readers for making it this far. I've been pretty excited for this current moment in the story for a little while! Y'all can guess what's going to happen next chapter...

Over the past couple of days, I've reread this whole stinkin' book, and I am so glad I did...because I put two puzzle pieces together, and I had no idea that they would have even fit each other! Oooh, you guys are in for a treat come December (in-story time)! Next time on Dragonball Z Love in the Shadows, Vincent's wolf makes his debut!

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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Chapter Comments

Interesting chapter. You have the best talent of a shapeshifter author I have ever seen. I love this chapter, but I am betting I will love the next chapter too!

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At least wittle Lowe doesn't mangle Mason's title into Alpo. I got a weird connection on his Cindy name for Vinnie. The lead male character in H. Rider Haggard's novel She in named Leo Vincey.

We've seen Ty, Dirk, and Cyrus, but where's Kaplan?

Vinnie's entire turning has been totally atypical. Will the completion be similar? Bring on the wolf!

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he charged Caleb, Dave, and I — he charged Caleb, Dave, and me  Pronoun object of verb 'charged'. Remember what I said about leaving the other 'subject nouns' out of the sentence, then checking to see if it makes sense.

He said that with a short — This should be 'snort' as well.

I am looking forward to meeting VincentW when the moon rises. With all the friends, and even a god supporting Vincent, I can imagine that his wolf will be spectacular. It is going to be most interesting how the author expresses all of Vincents many abilities in the appearance of his wolf.

Mr Will

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Vincent took the news about his possession by the god Bol much better than I expected.  The warning only strengthened his resolve to increase his skills and strength.  Breakfast with Caleb's family was fun.  I like Vincent's new nickname, Vinnsy.  Lowe is such a sweet little mischief maker. Morrine spoiled the surprise, but who blames her since Ty didn't warn her he was coming to town. Cyrus got a warm welcome and definitely fits well into the group.  Hi offer to help Vincent achieve his goal of making the shadow affinity a positive, respected affinity will definitely help Vincent reach his goal.  Now for the long awaited first run.  This should be good!

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5 hours ago, raven1 said:

Vincent took the news about his possession by the god Bol much better than I expected.  The warning only strengthened his resolve to increase his skills and strength.  Breakfast with Caleb's family was fun.  I like Vincent's new nickname, Vinnsy.  Lowe is such a sweet little mischief maker. Morrine spoiled the surprise, but who blames her since Ty didn't warn her he was coming to town. Cyrus got a warm welcome and definitely fits well into the group.  Hi offer to help Vincent achieve his goal of making the shadow affinity a positive, respected affinity will definitely help Vincent reach his goal.  Now for the long awaited first run.  This should be good!

The build-up to Vincent's shift was one of my favorite parts of this story. Adding another part of yourself is so important, and I felt it was never given a fine-tooth combing in other shifter stories. Vincent is about to have a second body-form! It's so important. 

Cyrus still reigns as my favorite character to write for, with Cyn from Cernunnos being a close second. Elegant, playful, intelligent, and loving. So much packed into a giant bear. 

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