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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 7. Chapter 7: Dandy Day

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

Caleb’s pride was palpable. "Yes, Alpha." He trembled in excitement, eager to prove his loyalty to his friend.

Mason dropped the tough guy act and pulled Caleb in for a handshake and embrace. "You know you took this position at a rough time, right?"

"I didn't know you were looking for an Enforcer. I would have been the first to apply. But whatever comes at us, consider it taken care of, Alpha Wilson."

"Good. Because there is a storm brewing, and I need the best at a moment's notice. I'll fill you in on details after the meeting, but Vinnie is hunting someone, and he just made an appearance in Owensville."

A serious face wiped the pride away from Caleb. "You aren't serious? Did we at least get eyes on him?"

Mason shook his head. "No. He left a letter in Vincent's apartment, but we have reason to believe that he won't make the first strike. He's biding his time. I think he wants the best fight out of my mate. And he will get it."

Caleb nodded. "Understood. I hate to ask this right away, but does this role provide substantial pay? If so, I'd like to leave a notice at the factory so I can perform my new duties."

"Yes. You'll make enough, plus some extra. But for now, go ahead and talk to Phil. I'll get you squared away before the meeting. You start your role immediately."

The lion bared his neck and made his way to his soon-to-be former employer. Mason returned his attention to his mate, who stood at his side. "Alright. Now that's taken care of, I need to meet with the police chief. I'd like for you to meet him, if that's okay."

Vincent pulled himself closer to Mason's side. "Sure. He isn't scary, is he?"

"No. In fact, he's human. He knows about the supernatural, so feel free to talk to him freely. The station is just up the street, if you want to walk some more."

"Sounds good." They grabbed each other's hand and started walking. When they were about to turn the corner, Vincent noticed the small amount of shadow that the roof gave from the sunlight. "Hey, Mace?"

"What's up?"

The mage pondered for a moment before asking a question that's been on his mind for a couple of days. "Since I helped you with Caleb, do you mind helping me with something?

Mason stood still. "Anything."

"Dave brought up an idea about my powers that I haven't been able to test. Think you could help me with it?"

Apprehension caused Mason to think for a moment. Other than his adventure last night in the bedroom, the wolf never had magic used on him. "Sure. What's the test?"

Vincent let go of his mate's hand and walked over to the shadow line that stood parallel to the building’s back wall. "I want to see if I can take someone in the shadows. It's only going to be from here to about halfway down the wall."

The wolf's eyes widened in shock. Travel? In the shadows? Like he did last night? Sounds neat, but frightening at the same time. Mason tossed his nervousness to the side. "Let's do it."

Giving a nod, Vincent held out his hand for Mason to hold. "In theory, I should be the only one that has to touch the shadow." The mage prepared himself for the test. Don't know how much energy this will take, but I won't know until I try. "Okay, you ready?" Seeing a nod from Mason, he focused on his emotions. "Three. Two. One."

Vincent dipped himself in the shadows and skated over to the destination, but stopped short when he realized his hand wasn't gripping Mason's. He reappeared halfway down the wall to see his mate closing his eyes tight, completely tensed up. It didn't work. He's still at the start.

He chuckled as he thought of a joke. "Welcome to Hong Kong, hot stuff!" The mage couldn't hold himself together as Mason's eyes shot open and spun around, expecting to see an unfamiliar place.

Mason appreciated the fib, but he placed his hands on his hips in the slightest irritation. "Oh ha, ha! Very funny. So, it doesn't work?"

The mage wasn't ready to call it quits just yet. "Got one more theory. Try standing in the shadows with me." He walked back over and stepped back in place next to Mason. "Alright, one. Two. Three!"

Vincent tried once more, but he felt slightly heavier. And still holding Mason's hand. It works! It really works!

Mason kept his eyes open this time, thinking his mate's power wasn't going to work. His vision was grayed out, as if he was living in a black and white film. Woah! This is cool! He did it! Vinnie did it!

"Hey, bud? Can't keep pulling on you. You have to walk with me." The wolf looked at his mate's, now gray pupils as he was still enveloped in the moment.

"Wait? We can talk here?"

"Yeah! Best part about it is that no one can hear us."

Mason was enthralled by the new sensational experience. He cautiously took a step along the shadow, and was surprised when his foot hit solid ground. "Vinnie. This is so cool! And you get to do this every day?"

Vincent nodded. "Yep. Just be careful where you walk. If you try to step out of the shadow, your body will hit an imaginary wall." He kicked the line of shadow and showcased the invisible wall that bounced his foot back. The wolf’s eyes widened in pure fascination. "Keep holding my hand, big guy. Let's take a few more steps."

The two men walked in the gray space. Vincent kept the pace slow and steady. He's not ready to fly just yet. And I'm still getting used to the strain of shadow walking with another person. I figured it would be harder, but I didn't anticipate the pressure to be four-fold. His breathing became strained, and Mason took notice. "Vin, you good?"

"Yeah, I wasn't anticipating for a passenger to be this rough." He put his finger up as Mason began opening his mouth. "And before you tell me to stop this, I need to learn my limit. This...oh, damn...This is my first time having an issue with my shadow affinity."

After having difficulty breathing, Vincent pulled the two out from the shadows. Damn! That's something I need to practice with. I can do thirty seconds. Which means that can get me and another person about three hundred miles away if we go as fast as possible.

"Hey! Vincent!" The mage blinked his eyes as Mason snapped his fingers in front of him. "Vincent! Are you okay? Do you need a doctor?"

Vincent took a second and nodded. "Y-yeah. Sorry, Mace. I underestimated how hard it was to take someone with me. I'll be fine, I just need a minute to catch my breath."

The look of concern never left Mason's face. "Vinnie. You need to be more careful. I know you needed to test the limits of your power, but it won't be worth it if you end up injuring yourself." He saw the focus on his mate's face. I've never seen someone so dedicated.

After taking several long and deep breaths, Vincent felt comfortable. He felt the need to practice more, but knew it wouldn’t do it any time soon. “Didn’t mean to scare you like that, Mace.”

“As long as you are fine. I just got you in my life, and I couldn’t bear to lose you so quickly.” Mason closed the gap and pulled Vincent into his arms. I can't live without him.

Touched by his mate's statement, Vincent melted in Mason's embrace. He searched within his own heart and mind, finding a similar feeling towards the bigger guy. There's a pull. In my chest, but in my head at the same time. Vincent turned his head to look at Mason. And it's pulling me toward him. I'm guessing this is a byproduct of our bond. He chuffed out loud. Doesn't seem too bad.

"Hey, what's so funny?" Mason leaned his head in to muzzle his mate.

Vincent loved the puppy-like affection, and he subconsciously rubbed his head against Mason's. "Nothing. Just finding this bond thing pretty sweet. I'm starting to feel this...this pull. And it feels almost euphoric to be near you."

"That's our bond. It just took a little while longer to hit you because you're human."

So, because I'm not a shifter, I didn't feel the bond sooner? Wait a second. "You've felt this way this whole time?"

Mason gently squeezed the body he was holding. "Ever since I got your scent at the store. I've been aching to hold you like this for far too long."

The deep and ragged voice turned Vincent into a puddle of goo. He could stay and listen to him for hours, but he knew there was an itinerary for the day. "Don't we need to get going? You got your meeting with the police chief."

He's right. As much as I wish to stay here until the end of days, business is calling. "Yeah, yeah. I'd like to take this back to my place, but you're right." Mason took a quick moment to figure out the plan for the morning. He pulled out his phone and shot a quick text. "We'll walk over to the police station. I imagine Chief Henry will want to talk to you since the mercs were after you."

Vincent nodded. "Okay. Let's go." The two men put slight distance between their bodies, but remained holding hands as they continued their walk around the building. Mason led the way as Vincent enjoyed being pulled by the large man. He kept noticing the people passing, and continued to be surprised when they bent their neck towards them. I’ve seen some of these people come grocery shopping at the store! I would have never guessed they were shifters. A deep wish came across the mage’s mind. Wish I was a shifter. I’d be able to see them coming. He looked up the arm he was holding and admired his muscular man. Maybe. Maybe it won’t be that bad.

Several minutes passed, and the couple met themselves in front of the police station. It was a decent sized building, taking up the majority of the city block. The rest of the city block was the holding prison for the county. Vincent had never stepped foot around this area of the city, let alone inside of the police station. Never been in a police station, period! Mason led his man up the small flight on concrete stairs and into the building. Stunned by the interior, Vincent let his eyes wander. Well. This is fancy!

The lobby was painted with pearl white, marine blue, and mustard yellow in a simple horizontal pattern. Large artificial potted trees marked the corners of the room, and a large laser-engraved stainless steel ‘OCPD’ sign hung behind the centralized reception desk. Vincent couldn’t believe that this was a police station. There’s plenty of seating in the waiting area, and I don’t see a single officer here! Just the receptionist.

Mason walked toward the receptionist, never letting Vincent’s hand go. “Mornin’, Tina. How have you been?”

Tina, the young red-haired receptionist, looked up to see who was speaking, and immediately began blushing, matching her face with her hair. “Oh! Um, Mr. Wilson! Good morning! So good to see you. Chief Henry told me to expect you. Let me page for him.” She fumbled with the phone, pressing buttons as fast as she could. Mason turned to usher his mate to the waiting area.

Vincent had a blast deducing the whole scenario. Oh, my Gods! She has the hots for him! That is hilarious! A small part of him wanted to assert his status as Mason’s, but he let it go, hoping for future scenes of Mason’s admirer gushing over his sexy man. Leaning his head in towards the wolf’s chest, Vincent had to ask. “You do know, right?”

A curt and evil grin crept on Mason’s face. “Oh, yeah. I know.”

“You are so mean! You go tell that girl that you’re happily taken.”

Mason’s eyes rolled. “Can I not have some fun around here? She knows that she can never get me. It’s common knowledge in town that I don’t play for the home team.”

“Umm, Mr. Wilson!” Mason and Vincent turned their heads to look at Tina behind her desk. “Chief Henry is ready for you. He said that you know the way.”

The two men stood up, and Mason walked to the right of the desk with Vincent in tow. Just as they passed Tina, Mason shot a harmless wink at her, causing most of her blood to rush to her face. Vincent barely caught the move, and slapped his boyfriend on the shoulder. “Hey! What was that for?”

“Just because.” The mage innocently looked at Tina. “When I’m not around, feel free to smack him.” The receptionist smiled and covered a laugh. Vincent turned and stepped up the pace to prevent himself from getting lost.

Seeing more of the building, Vincent got his first glimpse of the actual work area of the Owensville County Police Department. There were several office cubicles facing each other, officers in uniform and in OCPD-branded polo shirts manning their desks. Even with his human nose, the smell of papers being copied and coffee en-masse brewing filled the air. There were a couple of sketchy guys sitting across from an officer’s desk, but Vincent paid them no mind. They’re probably here to get grilled for doing something stupid.

Mason made his way past the working area and approached a marbled glass door with the decal, ‘Chief H. Vough.’ He knocked lightly on the frame. “Come in.” The Alpha opened the light door to see the familiar office, while Vincent took in the details. Beautiful cabinet behind an ornate desk. Several family photos, along with a few framed guns and leather trimmed books. Seems like an alright guy.

Henry finished typing a few keys on his desktop computer, then looked up to see the men before them. “Mason. Wish this were under better circumstances.” The chief turned his head to Vincent and squinted his eyes. “Who’s the squirt?”

Just as Vincent was going to introduce himself, Mason put himself in between the seated man and the mage. “This is Vincent, Henry. He is my mate. I’ll excuse you this time, but that means he is to be treated with respect.” The wolf brushed his hands through his hair, relieving the sudden anger from himself. “He was with me last night when we were attacked.”

The chief sat straighter, ever so slightly intimidated by Mason’s presence. “I’m sorry about that, Mason.” He looked over to Vincent and stood, extending his arm for a handshake. “I’m Police Chief Henry Vough. Didn’t mean to insult you, Mister…”

“Bolton.” The mage took the man’s hand and shook with it. “Vincent Bolton, sir. Pleasure to meet you. If there’s anything I can do to help out, let me know.”

“Well, not to be rude, but other than a statement of last night’s events, I’m not sure how else you can be of assistance, Mr. Bolton.”

Vincent looked up to his mate. “Is he cool? You know, with the supernatural?” Mason nodded under the assumption of what his man was going to reveal. “Sir, I’d be happy to give an accurate statement. I feel obliged to tell you that I’m a mage. With your office here, I’m unaware if you have any mages on the force, but if you ever need one, I’d be happy to help.”

Henry leaned back in his office chair, causing a few creaks to enter the conversation. “Just when I thought this town couldn’t get any crazier. Forgive me, Mr. Bolton, but am I safe to assume you are the reason that a certain truck is being thawed out in the middle of August?” A blush rose to Vincent’s cheeks as he nodded. “That was an impressive amount of frost you conjured.”

The Alpha felt the need to insert himself in the topic. “Yeah, and that’s not all he can do.” A confused stare came from Henry, demanding a further explanation. Mason grabbed his wallet and pulled out several dollar bills and handed them to his mate. “Vinnie, you mind grabbing some candy bars real fast.”

Vincent caught the wink when Mason mentioned ‘real fast.’ Gotcha, big guy. He looked around the room, and saw the air vent in the back corner near a side table. “Um, Chief Vough? Where are the vending machines at?”

“Through the cubicle areas, down the stairs to the right and you’ll see the sign for the break room.”

“Gotcha! Be right back.” Vincent started walking to the back of the room, away from the door. As Henry was about to ask if the kid was blind, Vincent bent over and disappeared in the shadows, leaving a puff of smoky black wisps.

Henry’s eyes popped and held himself up by pressing his hands on the desk. As the chief struggled to figure out what happened, Mason began snickering. Oh man, that’ll never get old. I could watch that on repeat! “He’ll be back. He still needs to wait for the machine to spit out the candy.”

“Mason. What the Hell just happened?”

“Vincent is a talented mage, and a proud user of the rare shadow affinity. You probably didn’t get to read about it, since it’s not in the ‘Welcome to the Supernatural' packet you got several years ago.”

The chief dragged his eyes over to the wolf. “Yeah. This would be nice to add to it. Seems like a sinister power to have.”

Mason wanted to growl, but he held it in. “Not much is known about it, but my Vinnie has a heart of gold, and wouldn’t hurt anyone without probable cause. I came to let you know that Vincent, and now my pack, will be on the hunt for someone, and could use your help.”

“Roger that. Anything to keep the town safe, Mason. I’m guessing someone sent those two goons here.”

“Stefan Gregoro. Italian man. Probably somewhere on an abbreviated most wanted list. He’s a shadow mage, but Vincent can tell you more about him.” Mason withdrew the letter from Stefan that he held in his back pocket. “The bastard left this in Vin’s apartment this morning.”

Henry ran his hand over his bald head. “You’re telling me this guy is running around Owensville as we speak?”

“No, Henry. He probably pulled a stunt like Vinnie just did. I doubt he’s hanging around town.”

“This guy-”

Vincent popped back into the office, holding three candy bars. “Here you go, big guy. And sir, I don’t know who needs to be notified, but the machine’s bill collector is almost full. Got about five more bills before someone will need to empty it.”

Still amazed by the act, Henry sat back in his chair. “I...I’ll let Tina know. How...how do you know that?” He took the candy bar that was being offered to him by Mason.

Vincent smiled and put himself back in the comforting arms of his man. “It’s pretty dark inside small machinery. I can move in the shadows, by the way, sir.”

“Huh. Well, that’s pretty useful. I think I may take you up on that offer to help the force one day, Mr. Bolton.”

“Any time. And please, call me Vincent.”

“Alright, Vincent.” Henry pulled a legal notepad and pen from his desk drawer. “You mind writing down a detailed statement of the events last night? I just need the details from just before you two were attacked.” Vincent nodded, took the offered pad and began writing. He left no stone unturned, from seeing the headlights coming, to phasing through the truck to pin down the remaining merc.

After writing over a page of notes, Vincent handed the pad back to Henry. “Hope this helps out.”

Henry reviewed the statement, and was very pleased with the amount of detail. “Now if all statements could come in this well laid out. Thank you very much, Vincent.” He set the pad down on the desk, and interlocked his fingers before tackling the next set of questions. “Mason gave me a little insight on the man you two are going after, but he doesn’t know as much about him as you. What can you tell me about this Gregoro character?”

Vincent’s face ran cold and pale. “He’s the man who murdered my parents seventeen years ago.” Henry sat up straight in his chair, understanding the gravity of the situation. “Stefan is an Italian man, around fifty years old now, and is a powerful mage. He possesses the clairvoyant, fire, and shadow affinities.”

The chief usually had a hard time expressing sympathy, but he certainly felt it for this young man. For seventeen years, this kid has been gunning after this son of a bitch. Long time to hold a monster grudge. “Vincent. I want to assure you, and to you as well, Mason, that you have OCPD’s full cooperation on this. He will answer to our call of justice, and I will guarantee you that.”

Hearing those words pushed Vincent over the edge, and had no willpower to hold back to waterworks. Mason sat him down in the nearby chair, and whispered words of endearment to his mate. “Hey, Vin. It’s okay. Henry is one of the good guys, even if he can be an ass at times. When he says he guarantees something, it happens.”

Vincent rubbed his eyes dry and began composing himself. “Sorry. I need to learn to quit crying.”

“That’s not true. Emotion like that promotes self-growth.” Henry stood and walked around to the front of his desk. “Vincent, you have been hunting the same man for over a decade. That’s something you see in movies. Not even our detectives go over a year for chasing someone. I’ve been with police forces across the country, and I’ll be the first to say you have some serious dedication. Hold on to that. It will get you far in life.

“Mason, I’ll get this letter sent to forensics, and have this statement put in any database Gregoro is in. I’ll send you an email if anything pops up.”

“Make it a call, Chief. Hate to step on justice’s toes, but if I get the chance, I’m killing this bastard.”

“I didn’t hear that. Vincent, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Have Mason give you my personal number, in case you ever need anything.”

Vincent took one more swipe over his eyes. “Thank you, Chief Vough.”

“Henry. You call me Henry. I’ll see you guys around.”

Mason held Vincent’s hand as they made their way out of the station. “How about we head back to the house and chill a bit? I think you could use a few minutes to collect yourself.”

“I’m good, big guy. If you don’t mind, I think I’d like to keep walking with you. It’s too nice of a day to be cooped up inside.”

Can’t argue with him there. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’d love a run. “I think we can do that. Just want to make sure you don’t get overloaded. We still need to stop by my parent’s place today. Mom’s been wanting to see you.”

Vincent tensed up a bit. Oh, boy. Meeting Momma Wilson. That’s going to be a real fun time. “Is this going to be like meeting your dad? Walking in with you saying he wouldn’t eat me, then turns out to be a giant?”

Mason laughed out loud, causing a couple passing heads to turn. “She won’t eat you, Vin. Actually, I’m pretty sure you have seen her around town.”

Woah, woah, woah! I’ve seen her! I mean, not very descriptive, but jeez! “When are your parents expecting us over?”

“I don’t think they wanted us over until earlier in the afternoon, so we have several hours to kill. You want to walk up to the park and relax a bit?”

Vincent smiled and nodded. “Yeah, sounds like fun!” Mason sent out a quick text, and the two men made their way over several blocks to the local park.

***

His phone went off again, and he checked to see if it was Mason again. Yep. ‘Going to the park, heading to parents’ place around 1, be there.’ I haven’t gotten this many texts in such a short time in ages! Dave sighed, deciding to be grateful that he was being treated more like a Beta again after all these years. A chuckle left his lips as one final thought came across his mind. Vincent sure knows how to keep Mace busy. Love the little guy, but I can’t wait ‘til he gets back to work. I forgot he was one of the better workers. One day, and the whole crew falls apart.

Dave looked at the phone’s clock to see it was still relatively early at ten in the morning. Don’t gotta be at Lei’s for a couple hours. I can get in a small nap before heading out around half-past noon. The wolf laid his head back down to his pillow, pleased with how cool it felt against his face.

A few minutes later, the phone went off again. Dave opened the eye that wasn’t covered by the pillow, and contemplated whether he should fling the device out of the window or through the wall. Do people not get overnight sleeping schedules? Can’t wait ‘til I go back to dayshift…

He pawed the phone and saw that it was the Greenthumb store manager. ‘Need you back on days starting next week. Just had to let John go, came in plastered and knocked over the endcap with all the spaghetti sauce.’ Dave howled in anger and pulled the blanket over his head. It’s a damn grocery store! How hard is it to work at a grocery store? He was partially happy that one of his two assistants got fired. ‘Bout damn time they catch his ass drinking on the job! That endcap was a pain to put up, and now I’m going to need to order more. Great, just great! He plugged his phone into the charger and set it back on his night stand.

Just as Dave laid his head back down, the phone sounded off. I swear to the Gods. If this isn’t crucial, life or death, or simply the end of the world, someone is about to get barked at! Rolling over, for what the wolf wished would be the last time, he picked up the phone. Kelly. This chick is crazy! Irritated that his newest cling was messaging him, he opened it. He was beyond concerned with the future of their relationship based on the context of the message. It’s just a bunch of emojis. Like...is this supposed to be a sentence? Girl raising hand, blue car, red circle with a line, kissy face, right arrow, office building, right arrow, house. What in the Hell is this? Dave elected to ignore the message.

The wolf put his phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and made sure his alarm would push through the setting. He scooted himself deep into the bed, moving his legs across the sheets to feel the cold fabric brush his hairy legs. Mmmm. Time to finally sleep. Dave slipped away, falling into his mind’s healing abyss.

***

The couple had a terrific time at the park. Mason and Vincent did just about anything and everything there was to offer. Vincent felt like a small kid again when his man dragged him over to the swings and began pushing him. Feeling the flowing wind rush past his face, the mage had joy run though his heart for the first time in a very long while. Mason pushed him a little too hard a few times, causing a fear of falling to take over his mind. But it was quickly taken away as the wolf slowed down the momentum.

Vincent found a large tree and wanted to sit under it for a while. Placing himself under the shadow of the large maple let a river of peace flow through his veins. The feeling was short lived, as he opened his eyes when he heard a clomping noise. His mate was running straight at the tree full speed from a nearby angle. What...what is he doing? He isn’t going to tackle the tree, is he? Much to his surprise, Vincent watched as Mason leapt into the air and grabbed onto the tree. With cat-like agility, the wolf began scaling the twenty foot trunk until he was able to grab the first thick branch, swinging himself into a straddling position. Huh. Wolves can climb trees. Good to know. The wolf looked down to see his mate in amazement, and continued to stare at him for the time Vincent remained in his seat.

Several people came up to Mason and Vincent throughout their time at the park. They bared their necks, introduced themselves, and gave Vincent an early welcome into the pack. Vincent was more than ecstatic for all the wishes, and in return, gave them a heads up about his mage’s dance and how it was important to bring a coat. This prompted some puzzling looks, but even just meeting the young man, they said his advice will be heeded.

Before the couple knew it, time had flown by. It’s already noon! Mason walked over to his mate, who had found himself seated under the tree again. He looks like he’s meditating. Stepping closer, he whispered, hoping that Vincent wasn’t taking a nap. “Hey, hot stuff. You doing okay?”

Vincent opened his eyes to look at Mason, and smiled. “Yeah, I’m good. Just focusing on my power for a minute.”

Yeah. I’ll say! “I wouldn’t have guessed. Anything special you were focusing on? Because unless you started wearing make-up, there are some black lines around your eyes.”

“I figured there would be. I was just practicing on storing my power, in case I need to do my dance on Saturday. When a mage stores their energy, it can change some physical traits, like eye color, skin pigment, and even their body temperature.”

Mason was amazed. He never knew about this possible function that a mage could perform. Mom never stored her power, so this is new territory for me. “Okay, so why would a mage need to store their power?”

Vincent bobbed his head from side to side. “Couple of big reasons. If the mage has a scheduled fight, like a duel for example. Performing a mage’s dance is a common reason to store energy. For the most part, it’s always important to store just a little bit of energy away for emergencies.”

“Gotcha. So, say this dance is on schedule to happen. What should I expect you to look like?”

A furrowed brow lined Vincent’s face. “I’m not actually sure. I’ve read text documents saying a frost mage’s skin turns white, and hair gets frosted over. Clairvoyance storing ends up changing eye color and the skin around the eyes. And no one has documented anything about storing a shadow mage’s power.” A smile swept over the mage. “I guess I’ll have to be the one to document everything that happens with me. I never thought about actually writing down what it’s like to be a shadow mage. That kind of information needs to be out there in the world.”

The Alpha let his pride create a smile on his face. He wants to make a big difference in this world. Gods, I’m so happy to be able to call him mine. “I’ll be happy to help in any way I can, Vinnie. But how about we grab a sandwich and make our way over to my parents’?”

Sounds like a plan. Getting a little hungry, and I can only imagine the amount of food Mason's going to put away. Vincent nodded and let the wolf take him away. They walked back through the park and up a couple blocks, landing themselves in front of Nini's, a delicatessen that specializes in large panini sandwiches and homemade dips.

Vincent walked in after having the door held open by Mason, and stepped inside the shop. He had never been in Nini's before, but knew instantly that it wouldn't be his only time. The sound of sizzling buttered bread hitting the flat griddles, along with slicers working nonstop and orders being barked across the kitchen filled the air. The mage, even with a human nose, was bombarded by many smells wafting from the shop. Garlic, pepperoni, Cajun seasonings. Jeez, is there anything this place doesn't have?

"Wilson! You mangy mutt!" Vincent's attention shot forward as he heard a loud voice come from the kitchen. His eyes caught a rather tall and built woman with red hair behind the counter, sporting a black apron and bandanna. I'd bet five bucks she's a shifter. "You and your boyfriend, get up here and order! We're about to get slammed with the lunch rush." And what a Chicago accent!

"Yes, ma'am!" Mason grasped his mate's hand and brought him up to the counter. "Vinnie, meet Morrine. She's the owner of this little chop shop. Best sandwiches in town."

"You're damn right! You want your usual?"

"Yeah, get Vinnie one too."

Vincent was hesitant about introducing himself. She's so boisterous, it's almost intimidating! Right before he decided to put his hand out, Morrine shoved her arm over the counter. "Name's Morrine, sweetheart! Just so you know, your hunk here just ordered you a footlong stromboli. Think you can handle that? Or would ya like it cut in half?"

The mage smiled once Morrine dropped the tough lady act and shook her hand. "Yes, Miss Morrine. That'd be great to have a half sandwich."

"Sure thing, sweetie." She turned to her kitchen staff and brought her game face back up. "Hey! One and half Mona Lisa's, extra muenster, double toasted! Special guests, make it with love!"

The kitchen staff repeated the last sentence in chorus. "Make it with love!" Several people went in different ways before they took their places at their workstations. Mason grabbed Vincent's hand and tried to tug, but the mage stayed, wanting to watch the staff work their magic. They move like a well-oiled machine! Just tossing the stuff around with ease and precision.

Not even two minutes later, Morrine and her staff had a tray with two steaming sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil, accompanied by bags of the shop's signature air-fried chips and ranch dipping cups. The sandwiches, even the six-inch stromboli, looked like they belonged to royalty.

Mason grabbed the tray from Morrine and Vincent took the cups to the fountain machine. With both men seated, they dug into their food. Taking his first bite, melted cheese and marinara sauce oozed out from both the front and back. Who cares? This is the best sandwich ever! It's like an overstuffed pizza sandwich.

The wolf got the chuckles when every time he tried to start a conversation, Vincent seemed to only hum affirmatively as he was busy stuffing his face. Guess he found a new go-to place for food. Once the men were finished with their meal, they threw away the trash and waved good-bye to Morrine.

Stepping back onto the street, Mason and Vincent made their way to Lei's truck. "Have you had fun so far today?”

“Mace, today’s been great! It’s been quite a while since I had this much fun. I know that it was primarily business stuff, but you really made it exciting. And I didn’t know the people in this town were so cool with everything. I figured I’d have one or two people get angry over my shadow powers, or us holding hands or something.”

Mason pulled his little man closer to him as they continued walking. “Like I said, I run a very progressive pack around here. There’s only a handful of people in town that have issues with the gay community. And even though there aren’t many mages in town, I don’t believe anyone would have an issue with magic. I do admit, I’m surprised Henry was pretty chill with your shadow powers. You should have seen his face when you left through the air vent.”

Vincent laughed. “Oh, I saw. When I show someone my shadow affinity, I always hang around for a second to see their face. Henry’s was pretty good. You should have been there for Caleb’s. Now that was perfect!”

The wolf gave a jealous laugh. “Yeah, I would have paid to see that.” The couple were coming up on the rusty truck. Vincent had an inclination of what Mason had planned, so he placed himself against the passenger side door. Mason’s eyes flashed gold as his mate positioned himself in a familiar pose. The wolf closed the distance and gave Vincent a light peck on the lips. “I see what you’re trying to pull, Vinnie. As much as I want to kiss you until your knees give out, my wolf would rather do all of that when we get home."

The mage sprouted a disappointed look, and Mason couldn't help himself. Stupid puppy eyes. He leaned in and gave a slightly longer kiss to his mate. Even through the mental sparks, he managed to pull himself away. "Happy?"

"Very." The slightest hint of affection from his stud warranted his rosy cheeks to burn bright. "So, you said your mom really wants to meet me?"

"Oh yeah. She's expecting to see you today. I need to do a conference call with Dad and the other Alphas, so you can talk with her for a bit while we handle that."

Mason opened the door for his mate to get in and started for the other side. As the wolf hopped in the driver seat, Vincent wondered what kind of person Mason's mom might be like. I hope she's nice.

***

The drive to Mason's parents' house proved to be longer than Vincent expected. Wow, they really live out of town! I feel like we've been on this road for half an hour. The mage looked at the clock on his phone and was mildly surprised to see only ten minutes have passed since they left town.

Mason pulled into a paved driveway marked 'Wilson' on the high-quality brick covered mailbox. He heard Vincent gasp in the cabin, and knew his mate was impressed. Well, he does like houses. Mom will have a blast giving him a tour.

Vincent could not rip his eyes away from the large house. It's gorgeous! The home was a two story Cape Cod style house with an attached three-door garage. The front patio wrapped around to the other side, giving the home a much bigger appearance, especially since the roofline was a steeper design. With the siding painted a light gray and charcoal roof shingles, along with the snow white columns in front of the porch, the house appeared modern for the 1930's popular style of house.

The mage snapped out of the trance as he received a kiss on the cheek from Mason. "You coming, hot stuff?" Vincent nodded and got himself out of the truck. Mason began walking up to the front door via the stepping stones placed next to the driveway. "Mom! Dad! We're here!"

Vincent sped up to latch onto Mason's hand, prompting the taller man to give an endearing gaze into the smaller one's eyes. Losing themselves in their midst, they almost missed the sound of the door opening.

"Mace! Vincent! So good to see you, two!"

The sound of the voice rang down Vincent's veins as the words entered his ears. No. Fucking. Way! He slowly turned his head to Mason, who was grinning from ear to ear. Vincent then turned to the open door, and let his jaw fall flat as he put eyes on Elaine.

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

This chapter was a real delight.  I loved how Mace wanted to walk around town showing off his mate.  Loved how Vincent understood how important that was too him.  Well written and the pacing was lovely.  I like that even some of the humans know about the supernatural in this story and how they react to it in their daily lives.  

Guess the Mom was a surprise to Vincent.  I would have thought that a mage would have a better sense of when another mage was around, do they not give off some type of energy like the others do with each other?

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Every chapter gets better and better...more involved...more detailed...  I have to be honest, every time you post a chapter, I start with chapter 1 and read it all the way through.  That is how much I am enjoying this story!!!  I just can't wait for your next installment!!!!  Amazing story teller!  💗:worship:

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4 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

This chapter was a real delight.  I loved how Mace wanted to walk around town showing off his mate.  Loved how Vincent understood how important that was too him.  Well written and the pacing was lovely.  I like that even some of the humans know about the supernatural in this story and how they react to it in their daily lives.  

Guess the Mom was a surprise to Vincent.  I would have thought that a mage would have a better sense of when another mage was around, do they not give off some type of energy like the others do with each other?

I'm so happy you enjoyed this chapter! I fought with this one for a day or two, as I assumed it would be a very dry chapter. But I'm glad to wrong about that!

In regards to a mage's presence:  a mage can be detected by other mages. It becomes apparent by the skill level and affinity mastery. Elaine is, essentially, a frost affinity master. Chapter 3 mentioned she has a cold presence when others pass her by. I believe the next chapter will provide more details, as Vincent begins his training with Elaine.

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It was a great chapter! Can't wait for the magic fight between Vincent and Elaine (not "fight fight", but "master sensei/genius student" type of fight). I like the fantasy world you are building (I have a soft spot for magic). What affinities does Elaine have? She is a frost master, but does she have other affinities? (Vincent: clairvoyance; frost; shadow so far; Gregorio: clairvoyance; fire; shadow). 

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2 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

It was a great chapter! Can't wait for the magic fight between Vincent and Elaine (not "fight fight", but "master sensei/genius student" type of fight). I like the fantasy world you are building (I have a soft spot for magic). What affinities does Elaine have? She is a frost master, but does she have other affinities? (Vincent: clairvoyance; frost; shadow so far; Gregorio: clairvoyance; fire; shadow). 

Thank you for the comment! Elaine is a pure frost mage with no other affinities. I wanted to create a magical system that was simple, but flexible, mostly to prevent confusion for myself and others, but to leave room to play with. And I can not wait to write their first sparring match! I know it's going to be something special.

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24 minutes ago, astone2292 said:

Thank you for the comment! Elaine is a pure frost mage with no other affinities. I wanted to create a magical system that was simple, but flexible, mostly to prevent confusion for myself and others, but to leave room to play with. And I can not wait to write their first sparring match! I know it's going to be something special.

Oh cool, it means she must be phenomenal to defend herself against a 3 affinities Gregoro.

Edited by Sweetlion
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You know its been a good one when you scroll down,  see this at the bottom of your screen - Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved. and then do a mental scream of "NOOOOOOOO" in your head!

Can you imagine the look on Mace's face when he opened his eyes after hearing, '...Welcome to Hong Kong...'  Those two nano seconds whilst his eyes reconciled with what he heard and what he was expecting to see, would have been Hi-Lar-ious!  OMG!  That was funny!

The best thing - there is still so much to look forward to e.g.  Vin actually meeting his MIL,  the Pack Meeting,  Vin and Elaine's training/first spar,  Vin meeting his first Human Hater,  Vin sorting out his role in the Pack,  etc.

Thanks so much for putting out another chapter so quickly.  It was an awesome way to start a Sunday, especially when you're not feeling 100%.  I needed my dose of 'cuteness' that these two provide and that giggle/chuckle was apropos and much appreciated.

Edited by Buz
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On 10/24/2020 at 3:12 PM, Buz said:

You know its been a good one when you scroll down,  see this at the bottom of your screen - Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved. and then do a mental scream of "NOOOOOOOO" in your head!

Can you imagine the look on Mace's face when he opened his eyes after hearing, '...Welcome to Hong Kong...'  Those two nano seconds whilst his eyes reconciled with what he heard and what he was expecting to see, would have been Hi-Lar-ious!  OMG!  That was funny!

The best thing - there is still so much to look forward to e.g.  Vin actually meeting his MIL,  the Pack Meeting,  Vin and Elaine's training/first spar,  Vin meeting his first Human Hater,  Vin sorting out his role in the Pack,  etc.

Thanks so much for putting out another chapter so quickly.  It was an awesome way to start a Sunday, especially when you're not feeling 100%.  I needed my dose of 'cuteness' that these two provide and that giggle/chuckle was apropos and much appreciated.

I am so sorry that you read through these chapters so fast! There is so much to come, and I don't see this story ending any time soon. I didn't anticipate keeping this story on this kind of pace! Like, the last several chapters have taken place over less than 24 hours! But I'm totally okay with this pace, as long as y'all are good with it. 

As much as I want to keep up the fast writing, I think I might take my time with this next chapter. I feel that it will be a crucial chapter, so I need to make sure it's done right. It will definitely be out within two weeks.

Edited by astone2292
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Crazy great chapter, I am glad that the town people a felted them without any problems,Mason seemed to really enjoy the trip in the shadows, Elaine seemed to be really ready for them

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15 hours ago, Sweetlion said:

Oh cool, it means she must be phenomenal to defend herself against a 3 affinities Gregoro.

I've debated for the past several weeks to start a side flashback chapter to their fight, and I think I'm gonna pencil that in within the next month. I feel with the upcoming sensei/student sparring session, I feel it would be necessary to include it soon, as to showcase what a true mage's duel is all about. 

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1 hour ago, mikedup said:

Crazy great chapter, I am glad that the town people a felted them without any problems,Mason seemed to really enjoy the trip in the shadows, Elaine seemed to be really ready for them

Always good to see your compliments! I've envisioned a date between the two later in the story when Vincent builds up his stamina a bit. Ya, know...to go sightseeing ;D

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I would have loved to see the chief's face when Vincent went into the vent. That would been hilarious! Vincent seemed to be having a fantastic day even though he was disappointed with the kiss a little bit at first. But the scene of when he seen who Mason's mom was at the end of the chapter was by far the most shocked, I bet, we have ever read in the story so far. Mason's family will get along with him completely! So happy for the gay mates so very much! 

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Now Vin knows he can take someone with him in the shadows and it may come in handy.

If he enjoys seeing the look on people's faces when he does his shadow routine, he should start snapping pictures. It would make a funny album.

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