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    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 6. Chapter 6: Improper Interrogation

What is this man thinking? I can't eat all of this!

Staring at the plate and the object it held, Vincent was full of hunger and trepidation. Mason had made omelettes for the two of them. But the Alpha wolf prepared them the only way he knew how: by making them huge! I saw him make it! He used ten eggs just for mine! I'll be lucky to eat half…

The wolf kept his eyes on his mate, waiting eagerly to see if he approved of the cooking. He put plenty of freshly shredded cheese in the middle with a thin layer on top, sprinkled with bacon crumbles and seasoned herbs. The monstrous dish looked almost elegant. Vincent picked up the fork that was placed on the plate above the omelette. It does look fantastic, and it smells incredible! He cut a corner of the half-circle shaped egg and pierced it with the fork. Vincent felt Mason stare him down as the hairs on the back of the mage’s neck stood at attention.

He took the bite and it took some willpower to stop himself from moaning. Oh my...oh my Gods! This is great! Vincent quickly cut off another piece of the meal and shoved it down. They were so fluffy, and full of their natural flavor. Pleased that his mate was enjoying his cooking, Mason grinned. The wolf began chowing down on his equally large omelette.

In between bites, Mason started table conversation. “So, good eggs?”

Vincent, still chewing, glanced up from his meal and swallowed. “Mace, this is good. Like, really good. If the rest of your cooking is like this, you should open a restaurant.”

The statement caused Mason to chuckle. “I thought about it at one time, but my wolf had a problem with it.”

“Problem?”

“Yeah, he didn’t think me being stuck behind a kitchen, cooking for others was a very dominating profession.”

Furrowing his brows, Vincent became confused. “Not if you create the business concept and manage it. It doesn’t have to be you who cooks it, big guy. You just have to show the cooks how you want it served.”

Mason brought his eyes up to meet Vincent’s. “Didn’t think about it that way, Vin. I thought about it many years ago, before I was made Alpha. It was kind of a pipe dream for me when I was younger.”

Vincent let his jaw drop after hearing that. “Wasn’t it just last night that you told me that if I had an ambition, it was important to follow it?”

The wolf’s eyes looked up as he bounced his head from side to side, evaluating the hypocrisy between his statements. “True, but with me being Alpha, I don’t have a lot of extra time for myself.” He saw Vincent’s eyes travel back down to his plate, and Mason smelt the nervousness oozing. I just told him I’m a busy man, and he’s taking it as I don’t have time for him. My silly mate, when will you understand?

Mason leaned forward over the kitchen island, and stared down his mousy mate. “But I will always make time for you, Vincent.” The mage perked up and smiled. “You are my mate, and you should expect me to drop everything for you.” He walked around to be close with his little human. The wolf inside him was begging for tight proximity. Wrapping his arm around Vincent, he felt his human’s nerves calm down. “Now, eat up, pup. We got plenty to do today.”

Vincent chuffed at the command. “And how do you expect me to eat this whole thing? This omelette was made for a king.” A very large king, at that.

Laughter came from Mason’s chest. “Yeah, I only know how to make them one size.”

The mage’s eyes widened. “You mean you can eat this whole thing?”

“Well, yeah! Lycan need more food than normal humans. In all honesty, this is kind of a small breakfast for me. Usually there’s potatoes, bacon, sausage, and whatever else I can cook up.” Mason looked at the bewildered boy. “Typical meal for me weighs three, maybe four pounds of food.”

“Jeez! I’d hate to see your grocery bill.”

Mason adored his mate’s curiosity. “My dining bill is bigger. Don’t get to cook often, but I like to keep my skills sharp. Do you like to cook?”

Embarrassment flowed through Vincent. “I-I do, but I haven’t cooked for myself in...in a long time. I mostly eat take-out or microwave meals nowadays.” He heard a light rumble coming from Mason. “Hey, you good?”

The wolf should have known, but was irritated nonetheless. He’s been on the move for most of his life, so he doesn’t get a home-cooked meal very often. This won’t do, not for an Alpha’s mate. “Just upset that I didn’t find you sooner. If you ever eat another frozen TV dinner again, I’ll personally find the biggest rib-eye steak and cook it for you. You are done eating like that, Vinnie. I’m going to take care of you, my little mate.”

Tears rushed down Vincent’s face as he nestled his head against the strong man, overcome by a sensation of safety. “Thank you. Is this what it means to have a mate? To have someone who has your back?”

Mason rubbed the nape of his mate’s neck, holding him until the tears ran dry. “Yep. I’ll always have your back, Vinnie. Forever and always.”

A wet smile appeared on Vincent. “Mace. I want to have your back too. I just don’t know how to help.” I don’t even know what he does as an Alpha, much less how I can be of any assistance. “Just tell me what I can do.”

Just when I thought he couldn’t surprise me anymore, he goes and does it again. Mason leaned in and kissed his man on the cheek. “You just did.” He smelt the confusion emanating from Vincent. “You told me that you have my back. You have your mate’s back. And that is a lot in my book.

“You aren’t familiar with pack dynamics and only have some familiarity with our culture. We need to get you up to speed, as you are the Alpha’s mate. The mate of the Alpha is often considered the ‘mother’ of the pack, taking care of the hospitality of its members, and being a close adviser to the Alpha.

“Now, as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have to do anything until you say so. You didn’t really sign up for the position, and it isn’t really-”

“Mace.” The wolf halted his rant, puzzled at the intrusion. He brought his attention to the mage’s beautiful hazel eyes. Having them look back at him, Mason noticed they were slightly bloodshot from the previous waterworks. Pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts, Vincent became more determined, even if he still was showing signs of nervousness. “I’m still a little confused over all of this mate stuff, and I don’t know as much about shifters and lycans. But I like you, Mace. I like you a lot. So if that means I need to help out, then tell me where to start, hot stuff.”

The Alpha was touched by his mate. He wasn’t anticipating for Vincent to be so ready to jump right in. Let’s test this a bit. “That means a lot, Vinnie. Well, the best way to help out is to introduce you to the pack. It will let everyone know who you are, and you’ll start learning about our culture’s customs.” Mason peeked over at their breakfast. Probably got cold. I can wrap them up and save them as a snack for later. “How about we head to town? We can grab some actual breakfast and stop by your apartment to pack a bag. As much as I like you in my clothes, I think you’d be more comfy in your own.”

Vincent blushed at his boyfriend’s sly grin. Wait. We already got breakfast. “So are we not having omelettes?”

“I think I’m going to wrap these up. They got pretty cold since we were busy chatting. We can have them later tonight if we get hungry. But I want to take you out for a nice breakfast out in public.” He leaned in again to get closer to Vincent. “I need everyone in town to know we are together. That you’re mine.”

The mage smiled as he felt warm in the wolf’s embrace. “Sure. Can we stop by my apartment first? I’d like to find some pants that fit.”

“Sure thing. Let me get all the pans in the dishwasher, and some clothes on, and we’ll get going.”

***

Mason had thrown on a navy blue polo and dark jeans, making himself appear casual. Can’t be looking bad in front of my mate today. Walking out of his bedroom hallway, he saw Vincent sitting on the couch, still in the borrowed clothes. His inner wolf was pleased when Mason realized their scents were starting to blend together on Vincent’s body. Good. Now passing shifters will know he’s mine, and won’t try anything stupid.

“Ready, Vinnie?”

“Yep.” Vincent cheerfully got up from the leather couch to follow Mason. When he got within an arm’s distance of the bigger man, Vincent took notice of a new sensation. I feel more calm when he’s around. Like, really calm. My nerves were still playing with my head a bit when I was waiting for him to get dressed. Is this an effect of this mate bond? “Hey, Mace. I got a question. It’s kinda silly, but is it normal for one to feel different around a mate? I just walked up to you, and now I feel calmer than I usually do.”

“Glad you noticed. I guess it’s normal, since I feel the same way around you. No one in this pack has found their destined mate, to my knowledge. So they’re just imprinted mates.”

“Okay. Is there a dictionary for wolf words, because I might need that.”

Through small laughs, Mason shook his head. “Nah, we don’t have anything like that. Imprinted mates are two shifters that committed to each other, kind of like marriage. They fell in love naturally, unlike us, who are destined by the supernatural. Makes sense?”

Vincent nodded. Right. The book said the other way for love to be found was through normal dating. I guess this whole destined mate thing is pretty rare. “Yeah. I just found it strange because I didn’t notice the feeling until now. Maybe because I’ve accepted the fact that we’re mates?”

“That’s possible, but I’ll need to ask some of the elder council members about it. They would know more. But for now…” Mason grabbed Vincent’s hand and started to walk out the door. “...we need to get you some clothes.” The wolf guided his mate to the older truck that was left by Leidolf earlier. It was an old 1987 Dodge Ram, painted matte blue with rust trimming the edges of the doors and forward bumper.

Walking up to the vehicle, Vincent noticed it wasn’t tall, and he could easily climb in, compared to Mason’s black truck. When that truck comes back, I’m going to need to start making a frost step stool. Once in the truck, the mage noticed that it was all one seat in the shape of an upholstered bench. He looked to his right shoulder area, trying to figure out where the seat belt was.

Mason stepped in through the driver’s side, and saw his mate struggling with life’s complications. “It’s a lap belt, Vin. Haven’t you been in an old truck like this before?”

Looking down, Vincent saw what Mason meant by a lap belt. You are joking, right? How is this supposed to keep me safe? Once buckled in, Vincent felt like he was just being protected by a roller coaster safety bar. “This thing is safe, right?”

Even though he wanted to break out in laughter for his mate’s concern, Mason reassured him. “Relax. This thing can’t go over 60 miles per hour, even if I tried. It’s having some engine issues, but it still gets you from point A to B.” He could tell Vincent was only mildly relieved, but Mason fixed that by placing his hand on Vincent’s lap. “Don’t worry, we won’t end up like the last time we were in a vehicle together.”

The wolf’s sly smile got Vincent to breath a little easier. Yeah, I doubt Stefan would send more mercs out this fast. It’ll probably be a month or two before I deal with more. Vincent placed his own hand over Mason’s as the truck sputtered to life and drove down the gravel driveway.

***

On the way to town, Mason talked more about common interactions between shifters and Vincent seemed happy to learn everything that was thrown at him. But the mage became interested when Mason warned him to not stare too long in a shifter's eyes.

"Is it a bad thing?"

"Kind of. If you stare too long, or do it with an intensity, the shifter will deem it a challenge of power. It normally doesn't end in a confrontation, but with you as a human, that chance becomes more likely. Essentially, it turns into a hardcore staring contest. First one to blink, look away, or show anything other than a strong and dominant emotion loses. And with you being my mate, you are sure to be given a challenge by some of the human haters."

That doesn't sound good. "I'm sorry, human haters? I guess that's slang for shifters who aren't friendly toward humans?"

The lightest of growls escaped Mason's lips. "Yeah. Especially turned humans. I've been trying to curb it with the police and the humane society, but it's still a lingering issue. There are some pure-bred members of the community that don't like having non-shifters amongst them. But they won't be bothering you when you're at my side." Mason gripped his mate's hand ever so slightly tighter.

Vincent felt all warm and fuzzy, knowing his big bad wolf was there to protect him. Even though I think I could handle a staring contest or two. "Anything else I should know before I make my first public appearance?"

Mason pondered any potential issues. "I think that covers it for a bit. Just refrain from using the terms 'werewolf' and 'dog.' That'll ruffle some coats. I'll probably induct you as an honorary pack member at this weekend's meeting, so everyone will know who you are. You okay with getting up in front of people?"

A nod came from his mate, but he tensed up at being told he was joining the pack. "Never been in front of a crowd, but I think I can handle it."

"You might want to dress nicely. A polo and khakis will do. And it'll nice for you to thank the pack for including you in the community. And I'll be right there to make sure you're comfy."

Well, that's gonna be a problem. "So, is this going to be inside or outside?

Puzzled by the question, Mason furrowed his brow. "Outside, why?"

Vincent caught the look of confusion on his boyfriend. "Mace, when was the last time you brought a mage into your pack?" He has no freaking clue, does he?

"It was before my term as Alpha. Are you going somewhere with this?"

"So...you don't know about the Mage's Dance?"

Mage's dance? What the hell is that? "Let's go with no."

Vincent began grinning hard. "I'm surprised you don't know, big guy. It's tradition for any mage who joins a guild or a clan of sorts to perform a dance using their magic. Usually lasts three or so minutes, but is a spectacular sight to see if the mage is talented. But I'm afraid I have to cancel on the speech. It's tradition for the mage to not speak the day of the dance. Any communication has to be written."

Mason was beyond interested in this ceremony tradition, but couldn't help but pull a mischievous grin on his face. "Well, I already know you're talented."

The mage's cheeks turned red at the comment. "Yeah, keep it up, and we'll see if you get any tonight." Vincent noticed the pouty face that appeared on his man and giggled. "But, if you could check with someone if I need to do a dance, that'd give me some time to prepare. I've seen a couple, but never did one myself."

"Well, I definitely want to see it, but I'll check with my council and see if it's in coordinance with our pack customs. I would prepare just in case."

Satisfied with the answer, Vincent started thinking about his routine for his performance. A few minutes later, Mason parked the truck in front of Vincent's apartment. As Vincent grabbed the door handle to get out, but he was grabbed before he could open the door. He turned around and received a steamy kiss from Mason. Losing themselves in the small moment, Mason thrust his tongue in Vincent, feeling the desire to make his man melt.

Mason released his kiss and stared into his hazel eyes, adoring how shiny and unobstructed they were. "You are amazing. You know that?"

Vincent smiled and gazed at his sexy man, swimming in the attraction for him. "How so?"

"You just are. You're taking all of this so well. I can tell you're still freaking out, but it's better than I thought would happen."

The mage sighed, releasing some of his pent up nervousness. "It is freaking me out, but it can't be any different than me being a shadow mage. Do you think your pack is going to take that well?"

It was now Mason's turn to be anxious. It will definitely ruffle some furs. "Do you plan on revealing your powers that soon? I would understand if you wanted to wait on that for a week or two."

Vincent's head shook in disapproval. "If I do the Mage's Dance, it is customary to use all of the affinities that the mage possesses. Not using one is verbatim, and a sign of shame to that affinity." Leaning forward, Vincent placed his hands on his knees. "I haven't told you this, but I only have two goals in life. Killing Stefan, and making the shadow affinity something to be proud of. I'm tired of these terrible people giving this power a bad reputation."

The wolf saw the determination in the young man's eyes. He has a monumental task ahead of him. Shadow mages are rumored to be pure evil. But I know my Vinnie has a heart of gold. "Those are good goals, Vin. I think it would be a good idea for you to prepare a small speech, to get the pack ready for your dance. I'd be happy to read it before you show your stuff.

"But for now, let's get you some clothes so we can get going. I didn't get to eat much, and JD's is calling my name!" Mason gave his mate a quick peck on the lips and got out of the cab, followed by Vincent. Stepping up to the door, Vincent fished his keys out of the oversized pocket and used them to unlock his door.

Following his mate, Mason got a glimpse of how solitary Vincent's life has been over the years. There's...there's nothing here! No art, barely any furniture, and there's no feeling of home. His heart aching more and more as he took in the very few details of the one bedroom apartment. He did notice the lingering coffee scent as he wandered into the kitchen while Vincent went for his bedroom.

Mason continued his self-given tour as he made his way to see how Vincent was doing. "Coming in! Hope you found some clothes...Vin?" He opened the door and found that his mate was standing in front of the bed shirtless. His nose filled with the anger and fear that radiated from his mate. Coming closer to Vincent, he saw the letter being held.

"Mace. He…" Vincent's hand trembled as he struggled to articulate his emotions. "He was here."

When the words hit Mason's ears, he knew who Vincent meant. Blood boiled as Mason fought to control his anger. That bastard! He got into my mate's apartment! The gold in his eyes could not be satiated. "What did he leave behind?"

Vincent couldn't find it in him to open the letter. The envelope felt evil in his hands. The cursive 'Little Vinnie' kept stabbing him in the heart, making the boy feel like a failure for not ending the murderer already. He couldn't cry in sadness. He couldn't shout in anger. Vincent could only look at it.

The wolf smelt the tornado of emotions rushing through his mate's mind, and pushed his anger away. He needs me now. I need him to know he's not alone in this battle. Mason stepped up and wrapped his arms around Vincent, hoping his presence would create a serenity to calm the bothered soul. "We can open it. Together."

The sea of turmoil was replaced by an ocean of peace as Vincent felt the bigger man behind him. He looked up to see the man's golden irises. He's angry too. But he's not letting it control him. Turning the attention back to the letter, he nodded. I need to read it.

Mason shifted a finger into a sharp claw and tore the opening seam. "Read it. He may be cocky, and that can allow him to slip. It may be important." Vincent let a quick breath leave his nose, and opened the flap, pulling a piece of small journal paper out. The two men read together in silence.

'Dearest Little Vinnie,

My, you've grown! You were but a sweet boy. Now, you are il signore. A man of your own right. I heard a whisper you arrived in a little town hidden in the bluegrass, and had to confirm. Forgive my intrusion, but my curiosity got the better of me.

I hear you've become an adept mage. Congratulations are in order! At the risk of being prude, I will say I'm proud of you. I know of your goal to extract revenge, and I honor that. There is an old proverb here in Italy. Aspetta il momento e il luogo per vendicarti, perché non è mai fatto bene in fretta. I will leave you to the translation.

One day, we will meet. But my time is short and I must bid my arrivederci. As a request, please give my best to the Alpha and his wife. It was a pleasure to meet her all of those years ago. I recognize that she will not take it the best, but it was a true experience in my life.

Addio. SG.

Mason fought to prevent his wolf's emotions from running wild as he reread the last paragraph. "That smug, arrogant bastard."

The mage kept quiet, as he could not stop reading the letter over and over again. No clues, no evil intentions. He's the bane to my existence, but the letter was sincere. No doubt about it. He looked up to his big boyfriend, seeking some sort of comfort. The letter must refer to his parents. Lei knows Stefan? And Mason's mom, too? That means, Stefan must have been to Owensville before.

Vincent sat the letter down on the mattress and spoke first. "Mace. Do you know if Stefan has been here before? And if your parents know him?"

Gazing down at his mate, Mason decided he couldn't keep any more secrets from Vincent. "I know that my mom and Stefan had a fight. She only told me when she called me last night after you went to sleep. I would imagine my Dad knows about him too, since it was an attack on his mate and pack." Mason eyed the letter once more. "Do you mind if I take the letter to my meeting with the police chief? It would be near pointless, but forensics would love to see it, and we can add the info to our database."

The wolf sat his mate down on the bed with him. "We will hunt him, Vincent. I swear my life on it. You will have your revenge."

Still trembling from the visit of his true enemy, Vincent agreed to the letter being taken. "But I want it back. This is the first time he's contacted me since…" He trailed off, reverting back to his dark thoughts.

Mason put his arm around Vincent out of instinct. "Let's get you dressed. Give this some time. I won't be leaving your side." He got up and opened the closet to find a couple shirts and pants hung on white plastic hangers. Dismay flickered in the Alpha's mind. There's hardly anything here! Just five shirts and two sets of pants. Mason grabbed all of the clothes and gently laid them on the bed. "Remind me to take you clothes shopping. Not saying you have bad taste, but you could use some more outfits."

A chuckle came from the somber man. "Sorry, I try not to own much. Before this town, I traveled light. I'd like that very much."

The golden irises on Mason's face faded, as his anger became distracted by the new conversation. "Hate to sound imposing, but I would like to extend your stay at my place. Stefan knows where you live, so my wolf and I can't allow you to stay here any longer."

Vincent understood. Yeah, thought of that already. You need to start thinking a bit faster. "Well, if it can't helped…" Vincent got up and planted himself in Mason's arms. "...I guess I'm just going to need to move in with you."

Mason's eyes widened and his eyes burned amber orange at the statement. He shot his gaze right at the man hugging him. "You...you mean?"

A laugh came from Vincent's lungs. "Big guy, you're the Alpha, right? Head honcho, around here?"

"Yes."

"And I'm...well, you're mate?"

Anticipation shook Mason to his core. "Yes." He isn't going to...is he?

"Well, I guess that means I'm here to stay." Vincent smiled as he dug his head into the chest of his boyfriend. No. My mate. Mace is my mate!

Cheerfulness ran through Mason's heart with hurricane-level winds as he picked up Vincent. He spun the man around, and howled loud enough to shake the walls.

***

Now where did I put that darned thing! Elaine opened her jewelry armoire on her dresser. Beautiful gold necklaces dangling elegantly from each hook with platinum rings bared in their little slots in the door. She became tickled while looking over them all. Lei knew how to make his mate happy. Especially when they had an argument in their relationship.

But she was looking for something in particular. Something that she needed to find before the pack meeting. He's going to need it for his big night! Closing the armoire, Elaine pondered for a moment, trying to remember where she placed her treasure.

Oh! That's right! She quickly whisked her legs to the reading room. Taking a minute to marvel her collection of novels, scrolls and ancient tomes, she grasped her trusty oak step stool that her father carved. She knew now where it was hidden. Reaching for the top shelf, Elaine pushed a few books to the side to find her pocket-sized edition of 'The Mage's Guide to Traditional Fire Affinity Cooking.'

Holding it under her arm, she descended and took a seat in her burgundy upholstered chair. Opening the carved out book, she fingered the beaded piece of jewelry. Yes! Have to make sure he gets this.

***

Mason waited patiently outside the closed door to Vincent's bedroom. Can't tell if he is still nervous around me, or if he did it to tease me. Just as his thought ended, the door opened and Mason saw his man in an appealing baby blue short sleeved button down and faded jeans. Damn, he's cute. He also noticed the small sling knapsack that probably had his clothes and personal hygiene supplies inside. "Ready for breakfast? I don't think I can hold out any longer."

"Uh-huh!" The mage followed the man as Mason began walking towards the front door. Mason kept going towards the truck as Vincent locked up the apartment. Both men climbed in the cab of the rusty truck and made their way to JD's Diner. On the way, they shared more about each other, particularly about music taste.

Both enjoyed a little bit of every genre, but each had their preferences. Mason enjoyed old country music, as opposed to the new stadium country style, that he described as 'hick rap.' He had a love for some Johnny Cash tunes. Also in the mix, he loved listening to all sorts of old rock, with him listing off popular names like Queen, and Aerosmith.

Simply put, Vincent was a die-hard Green Day fan. One of his few personal possessions he always took from town to town was his CD of the 'Bullet in a Bible' album. It always put him in a productive mood since it was a very upbeat live concert recording in Milton Keynes, England. Mason let his mate ramble on about every detail. Vincent named several other artists like P!nk, Daughtry, and Fall Out Boy.

The conversation didn't last as Mason pulled into a curbside parking spot on the main street of town. Vincent was confused as to see they were several blocks from this destination. "What's going on?"

"I wanted to walk a bit. You know, to show off my arm candy to people in town. You okay with that?"

Vincent smiled. "Yeah. I think I can walk the big, bad Alpha down the street."

"Oh, I'll show you a big, bad Alpha." Mason flashed his golden eyes as he leaned in and landed a kiss on his mate's lips. The wolf smelt the blood rushing to Vincent's cheeks. Gods, I don't deserve this little cutie. They made their way out of the truck, and onto the street. Mason was swift to latch his hand onto Vincent's as they began walking to the diner.

As they passed by other pedestrians, Vincent began paying more attention as they walked. One couple looked up to see who they were coming up on, and subtly leaned their necks as Mason nodded. Vincent could swear he heard whispers as they got a couple yards past them. A new question came to his mind.

"Just thought of something. How am I supposed to tell if someone is part of your pack, or just if they're just another human like me?"

"Sorry, Vin, but you won't be able to until they either bear their neck to you, or start the conversation. And I don't think I need to tell you that the shifters are still a secret to the world."

Vincent raised a single eyebrow. "I know I'm new with the shifter universe, but with my ability to play in the shadows, I think another secret won't hurt me. I just feel a little...exposed. They can see me, but I can't see them coming."

The wolf understood his mate's conundrum. "I mean, it's the same with other mages, hot stuff. If I didn't already know you, I wouldn't have known you had kickass powers."

"That's true."

Mason decided to plant a seed for Vincent to think about. "Well, I could always turn you into a shifter. You'd be able to smell our kind from half a mile away." He threw on a smile, disguising his intent as a joke.

Vincent laughed. "That would be so useful! Are you even allowed to do that?"

I didn't expect him to be so blunt! "Umm...yes and no. Under normal circumstances, it is one of our most illegal laws to turn a human. Only two reasons may nullify the law: if the human is at risk of losing their life, and, when granted permission of the local Alpha, the shifter and human have the intentions of mating."

"And with you being the Alpha? Is there a checks and balances system for that type of scenario?"

That caused Mason to turn his head in wonder. "There isn't...but there should be. You raised a point that I may have to bring up to our Executive Lycan Council. But other than that, no, the only thing stopping me from turning you is you, my little mate."

Vincent felt a little overloaded and signaled his hands in a 'T' shape. "Okay. Time out. Executive...Council?"

Mason snickered. "Executive Lycan Council. All shifters have their own higher government system. It helps create governing laws as the times change. Just a year ago, they ended all forms of gay discrimination within shifter packs."

"Gotcha. And now, how am I stopping myself from being turned into a shifter?" Mason swallowed hard, and Vincent took notice. "Mace. You know I don't like secrets. Whatever you have to say, I can take it."

The wolf licked his lips to moisten them. "Here. Let's sit down for a minute." He pointed to a nearby bench and the two men sat. "I will tell you how a human can be turned, and what it takes to become mated to a shifter, but I need you to understand that there is no turning back from either. It's a final decision once it's done."

Vincent grasped how serious the conversation just became. "I'm ready to know, Mason." Even though I have a fairly good guess.

Mason scooted closer to his mate and draped his arm around Vincent. He spoke in the lightest of whispers, so only Vincent could hear. "I'm going to tell you, and you are to take your time in the decision. Got it?"

"Yes. Got it."

"Good. In order for a human to become a shifter, the human has to be bitten by a shifter. The bite can occur anywhere on the body. As long as saliva enters the human bloodstream, our lycanthropy will take effect."

An understanding nod came from Vincent. Okay. Biting. Makes sense. "So, like in the movies?"

"Yeah. Except it's real. Our lycanthropy virus can sometimes be fatal in humans, so it needs to be handled delicately. Most cases involve seizures and a brief day-long coma periods. There is a ten percent chance of death."

Oh. That's lovely. "Gotcha. I'd be lying if I said 'no big deal.' But, I think I can handle it." Vincent looked up at Mason just as his serious face turned into a gleeful one.

"Alright. Glad you can handle it, Vinnie. Are you ready to learn about how a shifter completes a mating bond?"

Thinking for a second, Vincent realized his heart was beating too fast and his mind was still running a marathon. "Actually, Mace. No, not yet. But I do want to know. I just need a while to think about the turning process...or whatever your culture calls it."

Mason held his mate tight. "This is your life, Vincent. We will go at your pace. After all, you said you wanted to continue dating me as we went through all of this." He held Vincent by the back of the neck, and held a kiss on the smaller man's forehead.

Vincent melted into the warm embrace. He had never felt at such peace, and all of the problems in his life drifted off. At least, until he heard Mason's stomach growl. "We are really bad at this breakfast thing! Let's go, hot stuff." The mage hopped up and pulled the Alpha by the arm. They kept walking, proudly holding each other's hands.

One block away from the diner, Mason received a text and pulled out his phone. C. Gage. Unlocking the phone, the message popped up on screen.

'Alpha. No disrespect, but am I seeing correctly, or is there a human holding your hand?'

Smirking at his friend's message, Mason responded. 'Jelly?'

'Im not hating here. Good on ya, just wanted to make sure.'

'Consider yourself certain. I have a proposition for you. You free for the next couple hours?'

Mason waited a few seconds longer than he anticipated, but was content with the response. 'I am now. How can I help, alpha?'

'I'll text you during breakfast, stick around.'

'Yes, alpha.'

Satisfied with that exchange, he looked down to see Vincent staring. Uh oh. I'm in trouble. Mason grinned and put his phone away. "Pack business." Partially the truth...

***

Breakfast flew by for the duo. Vincent had a difficult time believing how much food Mason packed away. He ate a whole fourteen ounce steak, a huge omelette, six pancakes, and a whole plate of hash browns. And I lost count how many pieces of bacon he shoved down his throat. The mage ordered a value breakfast with two scrambled eggs with cheese, two sausage patties and a small stack of pancakes.

Mason wasn't pleased with how much food Vincent ordered. If be thinks that's all he's gonna order, he is mistaken. He placed four strips of bacon onto his mate's plate and told him if those weren't gone by the time Mason's food was eaten, there would be a one-sided tickle fight. Sure enough, Vincent cleaned his plate. One thing's for sure, he won't be eating like a bird ever again.

They rested for a few minutes, then Mason decided to let Vincent in on his little game. "Vinnie, do you mind helping me with a particular pack matter?"

"I mean, I don't know how qualified I am, but sure."

"I've been contemplating promoting one of the members to a position on my personal council, and I need to see if he's up to the task."

Vincent nodded. "Gotcha. What do you need me to do?"

The big wolf leaned forward. "How fast can you run?"

***

They rested in the booth for several minutes, tapping each other's shoes every so often. Mason needed to touch his mate, no matter how little. "So, on the way back, I need to stop in at one of the stores to inform the owner of a pack issue. You mind waiting outside for me? Or you can walk back to the truck."

"That's fine, I'll wait for ya."

"Cool. I'll text the owner we're on the way." Mason left enough cash for the bill, plus a sizable tip for the waitress, and got up from the table. He opened his palm for Vincent to grab it, and the two men left the diner. They walked a block over and Mason stopped in front of the upscale pawn shop. "I'll only be a couple minutes. If anyone gives you trouble, call me and I'll be right out." He pecked his mate's lips and walked in.

Vincent stood outside, letting his mind wander about what kind of issue may be involved. After a few seconds, the mage felt he was being watched, but did his best to ignore it. Curiosity took over and he scanned the street for who might be stalking him.

Nope...not them...who is it? Vincent's gaze stopped as he saw a tall man across the street sitting on the bench. He was fairly muscular, and almost as tall as Mason, and had long blond hair, reaching his shoulders. And he was staring right at Vincent. Him. The mage moved his eyes away to prevent any kind of challenge. His heart skipped a beat as the mysterious man got up and jay-walked across the street, never straying away from his prey.

Gotta move. Vincent walked away, heading for the rusty truck. He snapped his finger and brushed his hair, disguising his placement of a sight ward on the roof corner behind him. He's still following. Pulling out his phone, Vincent shot a quick text to Mason. 'Man following me. Looks like Leomon from Digimon. Going south.'

Vincent became worrisome when he didn't get a response from his mate. And the dude's still coming. He placed his hand in his pocket and flicked his finger, moving the sight ward to follow him. Vincent frantically looked for an out, and was relieved to see a space large enough to fit himself in between the shops.

He took it, and as soon as he turned the corner, Vincent bolted. In his right lavender eye, he noticed the strange man picked up the pace as well. He's fast, and I can tell he's holding back. Definitely a shifter. Need another way out! The mage cursed himself for not learning more of the town's layout for escape convenience. He spotted a drainage pipe along the wall, leading up to the roof near the end of the building. Perfect.

Vincent ran to the pipe with every ounce of energy in his body. The ward let him see that the man was gaining on him. Receiving a ding from his pocket, Vincent quickly checked the phone. 'On the way, following your scent.'

Deciding it would hinder his speed, Vincent kept his phone in his hand instead of putting it back in the pocket. He was about to reach the drain pipe, but was stopped when a hand clasped onto his shoulder and pulled him back. Vincent regained his footing as he spun to see that the man had caught up and was right in front him.

"Gotcha, little one." His voice was deep and suave. The mage stepped back, pressing his back against the wall. He looked down and found his second out.

"Oh, don't think so, G-man…" A concerned look was flung across the face of the assailant as Vincent stuck his foot between the legs in front of him. And Vincent was right on target.

Between the buildings, there was just enough sunlight to create a shadow of the larger man. Vincent's foot landed, and he whisked himself directly behind the human-shaped obstacle. The assailant widened his eyes in disbelief. What...how did he? Taking a sniff, his shifter nose detected that the little one was behind him. No. Above me!

He looked up at the roof and saw the black wisps coming from behind the pipe, leading up to the shoe as his target struggled to pick himself up. Need to get up there. The man saw the fire escape ladder nearby. Too slow. Can't let him slip away. Stretching his fingers, he clasped onto the pipe and quickly ascended. He knew the pipe wouldn't hold him for long, so he stepped up the pace.

It took fifteen seconds to scale the one story building, and he swiftly found the boy looking over a corner of the building. Nowhere to run. "You have nowhere to go. I have you." He stepped forward to apprehend the target. "Now, explain yourself. The shadows. And the nickname."

Vincent craned his neck to see the shifter had made it up the building. "All in due time. But you still need to catch me." The mage boosted his confidence and turned his back to the edge of the building. "So, what's the plan? Keep walking, and I fall. Or are you fast enough to catch me before that happens?"

The man halted. Self-harm? Damn, he's good. "I'm not gonna say don't do it, if that's what you're looking for. You got out of my grasp before, so I believe you can do the same should you fall. Either way, I'm still going after you."

Vincent furrowed his brow. Smart reasoning skills. He's not too bad. "Good theory. Why don't we play a game while you figure out how to catch me? I ask a question, then you ask. We keep going 'til either of us make a move."

Mystery man grinned. "I like games. Sure, why not? You first, though. Who are you?"

"My name is Weslie. And not with a 'y' at the end. And you?"

"Caleb. Why were you with my boss?"

"Part of my mission. What conditioner do you use?"

A growl permeated the rooftop. He's toying with me! Little brat! "Garnier Sleek and Shine. What is your mission?"

Vincent put one of Mason's sly grins on. "To extract information about the local wolf pack. I will say, I find it interesting that a lion, like yourself, is free to walk amongst these little doggies. How is that?"

"They gave me a home when others wouldn't. What are your intentions with my Alpha?"

The mage put his hands on his head and began swaying forward and backward with his heels and toes. "Love that question. Like I said, I was to extract information, but if I could have gotten some dick in the process, that would have been nice." He's asking good questions. "Can I see your lion?"

Folding his arms, Caleb gave a blunt answer. "No. What organization do you work for?"

Didn't expect that one. Think! "Hmmm, good questions you're asking, Caleb. I work for the Bureau of Shadow Assassins." Vincent winked and gave a three finger salute. "Also known as the BSA." A snort escaped Caleb's nostrils. Oh, come on, G-man, that was funny! "How do you spell 'Wesley?'

Frustration flowed through the lion's muscles. "That's a trick question!"

"Well, you have one shot."

After taking a second to debate, Caleb responded to the question. "W-e-s-l-e-y." He waited to see a reaction. When the boy didn't do anything, he continued. "How do you move in the shadows?"

Vincent was actually impressed. He pays close attention to detail. "I'm a shadow mage. I can use shadows as my magic." He saw the man's face contort with discomfort. He's trying to figure how to deal with that information. "Last question from me. How do you spell my name?"

"W-e-s-l-e-y." Once the letters left his mouth, he knew he messed up. Shit! What's his move?

Vincent's face went cold. "Wrong. You failed. So long, Caleb." The mage tipped his body weight towards the edge and let himself fall from the building.

"No!" Caleb took off in a dead-sprint to try to catch the assassin. Can't let him slip away! At the edge of the roof, he pawed for the shirt, but missed. He couldn't take his eyes off the falling body.

Wait. Hold up! Something was below the body as it was falling.

"I got ya! I got ya!"

With an 'oomph' leaving Vincent's lips, he landed directly in Mason's arms. The mage giggled knowing his man caught him. "That was so much fun!"

"Yeah! For you. Do me a favor. No more jumping off buildings."

Vincent made a pouty face at the request. "Why? Already did it once this morning and I turned out alright."

Caleb was speechless. He was fuming, but speechless. Did I miss something here? The lion kept staring at the two men below as they argued over the little one's safety. "Alpha! What the Hell is going on?"

Mason knew his pack member would be furious, so he let the disrespect go over his head. "Caleb! Come on down! I'll explain everything!" He watched as the lion stepped back, grumbling under his breath.

The man on the roof gave himself a running start and jumped. Vincent, being let down to the ground became immediately concerned for the guy's safety. He'll break his legs! Caleb hit the ground and tumbled forward, skidding his boots on the ground and stopping his momentum. The mage lost his mind! Holy crap! That looked just like they do in the movies! "Hey! Are you okay?"

Caleb rose from his position and gave the two men a stare that could kill. "You two start explaining yourselves. Mace, what are you doing with an assassin?"

The statement threw Mason off, and burst out with laughter. He nearly fell over, holding his sides and turned to his mate. "Did you seriously tell him you were an assassin?"

"Yeah! You said make up a convincing backstory, and I did! I could be a great assassin! I even said I worked for the Bureau of Shadow Assassins and was here to collect information on your pack."

Mason couldn't take it any more and fell to the ground, howling at the comedy gold Vincent came up with. Caleb, on the other hand, was getting the picture and realized it was another one of his friend's practical jokes. "Alright, since he can't talk, you, Weslie. What's going on?"

"Wa-wait. Weslie!?" Mason began kicking his feet in his laughing fit.

A chuckle came from Vincent as he walked over to Caleb. The lion seemed apprehensive, but let the small man get closer. "So. You really don't recognize me?"

"Am I supposed to?" Caleb squinted his eyes, focusing on the face before him. Nope. Not familiar at all.

Vincent was prepared for this. Well, it has been a while. "Last time I saw you, you were my height. And Weslie isn't my real name. Hate to tease you, but I won't give it to you. I want you to remember."

Caleb folded his arms. Okay. Not Weslie. I was his height back when I was a little kid. So childhood friend? "Any other clues, kid?"

"Well, I'm not a kid. We're actually the same age. And I wasn't lying about my involvement with the BSA." Vincent gave another wink and three finger salute.

The lion shot his eyes open. No. Way. His lion spirit inside roared in realization and picked up the small man, receiving a surprised scream in return. "No freaking way!" Caleb carried his long lost friend around the back lot, running around in circles with child-like innocence. He set down the little man and nearly hugged the life out of the mage. "Vincent! You little fucker! Holy shit! How are ya?"

The joy was mutual as Vincent reveled in his friend's excitement. "I'm doing well! Now, can you let go of me? I can't breathe."

"Nope! Not a chance in hell! I haven't seen you in over fifteen years!" Caleb set down his friend, and stared in wonder. My Gods! Vincent Bolton! In the flesh and in my town! "What the Hell are you doing here?"

Mason finally got himself composed as he saw his mate being manhandled by an overexcited and overgrown kitty. "I'm surprised you haven't figured that out yet, Caleb." The lion turned his head in confusion, so Mason gave him a hint by inhaling from his nostrils as loud as he could.

Caleb looked at his old friend and took a whiff. Woah! Jeez, Mace is all over the little man! "Alpha? Is he your…"

"Yep. And better yet, he's my destined." Mason smiled, proud to call Vincent his one and only. He walked over and wrapped his arms over his mate's small frame.

He wanted to be speechless, but Caleb's animal spirit wouldn't keep quiet. "My Gods! Destined? Like, truly meant for each other?" Vincent and Mason both nodded as the wolf nuzzled his man's face. "You guys! Congratulations! I can't believe all of this." Caleb quickly dropped his joyful demeanor after recollecting the past hour's events. "Who came up with this little cat and mouse game?"

Vincent was quick to point a finger at Mason, and the result was no surprise to Caleb. "Alpha. Do I need to sic Tasha on you?"

Uh-oh. Tasha can be reaaaally cruel. "Oh, no, that won't be necessary, Caleb! I promise it was for a good reason. And it wasn't just so you could see Vincent again."

With his arms crossed, Caleb gave a questioning hum. "Right, and what would that be?"

Mason turned his smile into a more serious flat line. "I needed to test you as a pack member. I gave you an unexpected mission, and you followed it. You came across the target, and followed him. It could have been a little more stealthy, but I didn't need to test you on that. Given an opportunity, you excelled at gathering information." The Alpha clapped his hand onto Caleb's shoulder. "Most importantly, you captured your target. When he escaped, you continued the chase. That shows determination, and that is what I need at my side."

Caleb took the speech with pride, but was puzzled by the last sentence. "Your side, sir?"

"Caleb Gage." Mason's voice became the center of attention. Caleb stood straight, almost at attention. "You have shown exemplary skill and ambition in the name of the Owensville Pack. As Alpha, I hereby name you as Pack Enforcer. You are to guard your Alpha, his mate, and any of those by my side with your life. You will be officially sworn in at this weekend's meeting before the pack council and our fellow brethren.

"Do you accept the role and the responsibilities that come with it?"

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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More!!!!  This is fast becoming my all time favorite lycan story.  I absolutely love it!!!!

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28 minutes ago, Patch1 said:

More!!!!  This is fast becoming my all time favorite lycan story.  I absolutely love it!!!!

Oh jeez! Thank you so much, Patch1! If you're already throwing out compliments like that, I can't wait to see what you'll be saying by the 30th chapter...

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WOW. a lion as an enforcer for a lycan pack?  Such a good chapter, so many little delicious tidbits to digest.  Can't wait for the next update...

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14 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

WOW. a lion as an enforcer for a lycan pack?  Such a good chapter, so many little delicious tidbits to digest.  Can't wait for the next update...

Always happy to see your approval! I wanted Vincent to have another friendly face around. What better way than to bring in a Boy Scout? :)

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Awesome just bloody awesome, this was a brilliant chapter, more intense and colourful, I can't wait for the next chapter 

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OMFG! I am away right now. I will write my proper comment when I return home, later this week. I could't resist and not read it straight away. SO very glad I did. That was frikkin awesome 😁

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6 hours ago, Buz said:

OMFG! I am away right now. I will write my proper comment when I return home, later this week. I could't resist and not read it straight away. SO very glad I did. That was frikkin awesome 😁

Buz! I just woke up, my hair's a mess, and your comment is the first thing I see. My day is already made! I'm always excited to read your comments! And you better get home quick...I've been typing Chapter 7 faster than any other one so far! It might be done by the end of this week...

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Ok looooove this story so far it's reminding me of another story I've read on this site and for some reason keep reading it over and over again. Keep'em coming. ( the other story is Running with the Pack). I can't wait for the next chapter.

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20 minutes ago, donjr101 said:

Ok looooove this story so far it's reminding me of another story I've read on this site and for some reason keep reading it over and over again. Keep'em coming. ( the other story is Running with the Pack). I can't wait for the next chapter.

I just finished the first book of RwtP!!! It was soooooo good! I would throw some serious money to have a paperback copy! The other two books in the series are calling to be read, but I really want to focus on my book first.

Thank you so much for the comments, guys!!! 

 

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Okay, so this is gonna be a bit all over the place. Arrived back into Auckland this arvo. Was 42 mins late, so could have been way worse. Wanted to get a comment down. So...

When it comes to eggs (when I used to eat them), scrambled and omelette's should always be made in huge portions. Its like a rule or something, I'm sure. 3 or 4 egg omelette's or scrambled eggs are too small. So I'm with Mace on this one.

Mace is an Alpha. So I loved that he was eagerly waiting on Vin's reaction to his cooking. It is also cute that Mason can't believe how easily Vin is accepting of things. Like he can't believe Vin is his actual own destined Mate. Like he is waiting for something to go wrong. Like it is too good to be true. That's what it seems like to me. The last example to share of Mace's adoration with his Mate, is how he wants to promenade the Main Street. So everyone can see them. Together.

I love the names - my little Mate, Pup, Mother of the Pack, etc.

Bench seats in trucks is hot.

Can't wait for Vin to encounter his first "pure bred Human Hater". Talk about setting the tone of his Mateship/position in the Pack, etc. Due to who and what Vin is, somewolf is bound to go for gold.

I have a feeling that Vin's Mage Dance is gonna be epic. Mace's Mum would know all about Mage Dancing, so dying to know what the significance of her Gift is or what effect it will have...

He has re-united with his childhood friend after 15years. Then said friend becomes the Pack Enforcer so they will be spending alot of their time together. Caleb will be Vin's Secondary Protector. Major role in the Pack. Something else for the aforementioned 'pure bred' to possibly rail against. This coming Pack Meeting will be memorable.

Abit long but above stuff stood out for me. Can't wait for next chapter. I believe that mention was made of '...a week...?' Ahem. Ya know. That 'ball' and 'court' thing...

 

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@Buz You certainly know how to make a comment! I didn't want to put a quote in, since that'll take up a lot of space, but let's see if I can elaborate a bit ;D 

I agree with you and Mason on the omelettes! But Vincent has been eating like a bird over the years, so him seeing an egg dish the size of his head must have been bonkers!

The two of them have 90% come to terms on their bond. 90%. Vincent is still a wee bit timid on being bitten, but he has begun to trust Mason after the early morning incident. And Mason is in disbelief partially due to Vincent not being the type he would normally go after (closeted jocks, per Elaine's description), and likewise for Vincent, since he can't believe Mason, this hot stud, wants the little bookworm. I've been biding my time with the human haters, as I want them to come out at the wrong, but most opportune time in the story. 

Chapter 7 is almost done. I need a decent ending for it. It's gonna be a somewhat dry chapter, but there will be some additional minor characters introduced, and it will create A LOT of set-up for future chapters. Just need another day, then a day for moderation. I'm so close to being out of the moderation requirement, I can smell it!!!

Edited by astone2292
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YES! I know what Caleb will say! YES!!!!!!!!! Of course he will want to protect his best friend and his Alpha!

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It was a neat way for Vincent to be reunited with his childhood friend, if a bit dangerous. Vincent does have an icy dagger habit. Caleb will be an ideal protector.

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