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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 9. Chapter 9: Tender Tears

Tierney Scott smiled. What confidence! He's a mage, and he knows I'm one of the strongest Alphas in the game, and he barely batted an eye. I believe this man has what it takes to be a mate to an Alpha. "Alright then. I would like to give you some time to prepare, young Vincent. How does late September sound? That gives us a month's time."

Vincent nodded. "Sounds good, Ty. Elaine is pretty set on training my frost powers. And with everything Mace has planned, that should fit in my schedule."

"Sounds great. I look forward to hearing more from you two. I'll get my information in order and it will be sent to your email, Mason." A thought ran through the New Yorker's mind. "Mason, are you intending on allowing Vincent to perform a mage's dance at his pack induction?"

Mason widened his eyes. "That is the plan."

"When is the meeting to occur?"

"This Saturday."

Tierney looked down to his desk calendar and fingered a square. "Alpha Wilson. Permission to come to Owensville for a visit? I would be thrilled to see your mate's performance."

"Permission granted. There isn't any political matters to be discussed, so I don't see an issue. We would be honored to have you." Mason never minded an occasional Alpha visit. Some like to stop by and see how a smaller pack operates.

"Excellent! I will probably arrive a few days beforehand to do some sightseeing, if that is permissible."

"That works with me. Can't wait to see you in a couple days, Alpha Scott."

"Likewise. I have a meeting soon, so I need to get going. Happy hunting to you and your mate." The window closed as Tierney logged out of the call. Mason turned to his mate and clasped on to his knee. "This is starting to become an exciting week. How are you feeling, Vinnie?"

Vincent smiled meekly at his mate. "I'm feeling good. Tired, but good."

"Do you need to go home and rest?"

A head shake came from the mage. "Nope. I probably need to get back out there. Elaine is a very talented teacher, and I feel I need to get in as much training as possible before going to New York."

Mason nodded. "Alright, hot stuff. Go show her what you're made of!" His little man stood up and took a few steps before Mason swatted Vincent's behind playfully. Surprised, Vincent quickly turned, holding his tushie and stuck his tongue out. When the mage left the room, Mason looked between his father and Beta, who both shared a somber stare at the Alpha. "Something wrong?"

Dave spoke first. "When were you going to inform me of your new...Enforcer?" His eyes were void of life as the Beta's mind wandered.

"I would have liked to have been told as well, Mace." Lei's gaze wasn't as lifeless, but still showcased a feeling of loss.

Mason sighed as he sat forward in the chair, placing his elbows on his knees and combed fists upon his chin. "Christopher has been gone for two years now. I still feel his loss, but the role needed to be filled, especially now my mate has come into my life. If I were to have consulted either of you, I would have met rejection. This was a decision that had to have been made without you two."

Lei crossed his arms. "You cannot guess the answers from everyone, son. The bond between Alpha and Beta must remain trustworthy, and this choice was empty of it. I will not question the decision, but I do not support your method."

The seated Alpha rose in an instant with golden eyes. "This wasn't an easy thing for me." He looked at Dave. "What would have been your response to suggesting to fill the role?"

Dave closed his eyes. "My answer would have been no, Alpha. It may be a selfish response, but revisit that night. We lost someone who was a light in our lives."

"I understand that, but the pack must move on. Would you rather my mate go unprotected?"

"No. I would have stepped up."

Mason closed the distance between themselves and placed his hand on Dave's shoulder. "Dave. I mourn the loss of your brother every waking moment. That night is, to this day, the worst one of my life. I miss his goofy smile, his playful antics, his skill as a hunter, and his ability to be a fierce friend.

"I respect you as my Beta, and you will continue to protect my mate while he works with you, but both us can't be there for him at all hours of every day and be there for the pack as well. We needed an Enforcer. Caleb fit the bill, and is one of the more loyal members that both Vincent and I trust. I value you as a friend and advisor, but you already carry a large load on your plate with your positions here and at Greenthumb. The added responsibilities would have killed you."

Dave trembled as he understood his Alpha and the decision. It would have torn me up doing all that work. I understand the choice Mace made. Gods, I'm a fool. Small tears fell down his cheeks. I just miss him so much!

The hand on Dave's shoulder moved to his back as Mason gave his friend a much needed hug. "We all miss Chris. You know I'm here for you, Dave. Always will be."

Lei moved over to the other men and took the embrace from Mason. "I miss him, too, bud. You know I hate that night more than anyone. If anger is what you feel, it is to be directed at me. That night is my burden to bear, not yours."

The Beta broke down as his former Alpha said those words. A flood of tears rushed down the wolf's face. I'm the older brother! I was supposed to look after him. He was my responsibility, and I failed him.

Both Alphas did their best to console their friend as Mason trekked to the bar and grabbed three glasses and a half-empty bottle of bourbon. Pouring three full glasses, he handed one to each of the other shifters.

"Dave. Chris may not walk the Earth with us, but he is here in spirit. He wouldn't want you carrying on in this fashion. He would want you to continue his legacy and support this pack the only way you know how." Mason waited until Dave dried his tears to raise his glass.

"To Christopher. One of the greatest Enforcers to grace our pack. May his death fuel our hunts, and help vanquish all who cross our paths."

Dave looked at his best friend and raised his glass. "To my little brother. May he...may he be hunting in the forever forest above, savoring in every bounty."

Lei, misty-eyed, raised his glass. "To Christopher. May he hold a light to guide our ways, and never let it extinguish."

All three men clinked their glasses and drowned their sorrows.

***

Vincent felt a twinge as he was halfway to conjuring another staff. He stopped and turned to the house. I feel….something sad. The mage noticed Elaine was facing the house as well and could tell something was bothering her. "Miss Elaine, there's something going on in the house, isn't there?"

Elaine faced her student and nodded. "If I were to guess, the three in there are talking about Christopher." Her face faded to a depressed and hallowed emotion. "I was afraid they would today. Anytime those three are together, the waterworks fly and the liquor cabinet finds itself emptied."

The younger man felt both curious and saddened. I'm guessing a loss of a loved one. "Who is Christopher? If I'm allowed to know, ma'am."

She sighed heavily. "Christopher was Dave's younger brother. He was the Pack Enforcer two years ago, under my mate's council. They went on a mission to scout nearby land when rumors of lycan hunters were in the area." Darkness covered Elaine's face as her brown hair fell over her dipped head. "They were ambushed by a group of ten with rifles, loaded with silver bullets."

Vincent dropped to his knees. Gods.

"Mason, Lei, and two other pack members were unharmed. Dave took a bullet to the thigh." She swallowed, barely able to get the next sentence out. "Chris took one in the head."

Oh Gods. Dave. I...I had no idea. That's just terrible. Vincent couldn't help but let a few tears loose as he felt beyond apologetic to his boss and friend. A hand was put on his shoulder. He looked up to find Caleb, who appeared somber.

"It's okay, Little B. You are allowed to feel sad for those you never met. I don't even know Dave hardly, and I feel for him." The lion turned to Elaine. "Ma'am, permission to go speak with them? I wish to offer my condolences." She nodded as an appreciative smile came to her face. Caleb patted Vincent's shoulder one last time and made his way inside.

Once in the entryway to the den, he knocked on the wooden frame. "Pardon the intrusion. May I come in?"

Mason and Lei turned to the new Enforcer and nodded. "Caleb, good to see you again. I take it everything is going well outside?"

"Yes, but your mates felt the tug of your bonds when you became saddened. Lady Elaine assumed and told us of the former Enforcer." Caleb turned to face Dave, who hadn't looked away from the glass he held. "I wish to offer my condolences. It is not easy to lose a loved one that is so close to the heart. I can not say I share your pain, but I understand it."

Dave lifted his head to meet Caleb's gloomy gaze. The lion stepped forward as he continued. "I believe it wouldn't make a difference in lycan pack standards, but I wish for your approval for my new role. Knowing my predecessor's fate, and his connection to you, I will give my solemn word that I will honor his sacrifice."

The Beta blinked several times, then slowly arose from his seat and sized up the lion. "You're speaking from your soul, and the words feel truthful. I'd like to apologize if I seemed like an asshole earlier when you got here, and your condolences are greatly appreciated."

"There is no need to apologize to me. I only wish to start this partnership on the right foot."

A chuckle came from Dave. "You're doing a good job at that." Dave swung his eyes up and down Caleb one more time. He seems noble and gentle. But I can feel his lion's ferociousness underneath his human side. He looks to be a good fit for Enforcer. The Beta took a long sigh and a small sip of his whiskey. "You have my approval for the role. Chris would approve as well."

Caleb smiled knowing he has the approval of the brothers. "I won't let either of you down." The lion stretched his hand out and Dave met it with a firm clasp.

Lei bore a hole through the new Enforcer with his stare. Caleb turned and bared his neck to the side. "Alpha Wilson, I presume?"

"Yes. You're Caleb?"

"Yes, Alpha."

The large man got up from behind his desk and walked over to the equally tall Enforcer. Lei leaned in and sniffed Caleb. "Your lion is a powerful beast. He values loyalty and finds pride in a job well done. I believe you will be a fine Enforcer, young cub."

Caleb nodded and bared his neck once more. "Thank you, Alpha Wilson. I will do my best for the pack."

A large hand clapped hard onto his shoulder. "That's Lei, to you. And from now on, you are welcome here whenever you please. If you don't mind, I'm a little unfamiliar with lion shifter customs. Do you have a handshake your kind prefers?"

A grin crossed Caleb's face as he nodded. He outstretched his arm. "We grasp each other's forearm and lightly dig our claws across the skin." Lei handed his arm out and let the lion demonstrate before meeting with his own.

"I'll do well to remember this. Now, I may make one more request."

"Anything, Lei."

"I wish to see your lion. It has been decades since I last laid eyes on a shifter like you."

"Of course." Caleb brought the waist of his shirt over his head, revealing his six-pack abdominal muscles and defined blonde-haired pectorals. He folded the shirt and laid it down near a desk leg. Undoing his pants, he pulled them down, along with his boxer briefs. Mason couldn't help but be impressed by his friend's member. Wow...go Tasha.

Once he was naked, Caleb let his bones pop as he began his shift. Light brown fur grew from his skin, his blond beard lengthened around the head, and once placing all four shifted paws on the floor, a long thin tail with a bushel of fur at the tip appeared through his tail bone. When the shift completed, Caleb stood on all fours just below six feet in height.

Dave stood in his buzzed stupor. My Gods! He's majestic. It's almost unreal to have a lion stand before me. "Oh man! Dude, your lion is kickass!" Caleb let a loud purr out as Dave roamed his hand across the lion's mane. "I'm gonna need another drink."

Lei laughed at the Beta wolf. A lion shifter is a sight to behold. And Caleb's is certainly in top shape. "Impressive, young cub. Your beast is more handsome than I could have imagined." The Alpha laid a hand out for Caleb to sniff and received a lick in return.

Mason, like Dave, had never seen a lion in person. He found himself staring in amazement. So...this is a lion. Much larger than my wolf, and just slightly larger than Dad's. And my Gods, the size of those paws! They could probably swat that desk in half. The wolf stepped closer to get a better look at the lion. Caleb laid down and moved his head upward and to the left, baring his neck. "Caleb. Your lion is beyond elegant."

The Alpha straightened himself. "You know Vincent is gonna want to see you?" Caleb moved his head upward to meet his Alpha's gaze and turned to make his way for the door. Everyone smiled and followed the giant lion.

The three wolves were slightly confused when Caleb went for the front door instead. Mason let a chuckle out. He's gonna go around the other side to surprise him. This ought to be good. He opened the front door for the lion to get out and hurried to the back door. Lei, Dave and Mason made their way into the backyard and spotted Elaine and Vincent trading practice blows with their staffs.

Vincent was instructed by his master to go all out against her, and he did just that. He had his right hand on his hilt grip and his left in the middle of the pole. Side stepping in a circle around the lady, he tried to find an opening, but Elaine's stance wouldn't allow it. So in a duel like this, someone has to make the first move. Question is, do I make it? I doubt she will since she's instructing me.

He took one step forward and she took one step back. The mage squinted his eyes in frustration. Oh, come on! This is pointless! Vincent took a running start, keeping his hands where they were on his weapon. He pulled his staff behind his head to make a powerful swing and brought it down when he was in range. Elaine brought hers to a horizontal level over her head and blocked, making a loud clinking sound. With his staff being blown back by the recoil, he continued his staff's momentum, spun, and swung low, aiming for her ankles.

Elaine swiftly jumped. Vincent's eyes flashed wide. There! Keeping the swing going and aimed for the midsection as Elaine was about to touch ground. He was about to land the hit when he stopped the staff's movement. The ball on the tip was barely touching her side. Got her. Crushed ribs, possibly punctured.

"Excellent use of momentum, Vincent." Elaine smiled. This was only the second spar and he's understood the use of continuing the forward motion of recoil. Impressive. She took a light sniff, confirming her suspicion. The boys are playing a prank. I'll go along. Smells like Caleb made his way into the woods and is stalking.

"Thanks, Miss Elaine."

"I do need to say you need to work on your patience a bit. If you waited a few more seconds, and I would have made the first move."

Vincent furrowed his brow. "Oh. I guess I do. I just felt the need to take down the opponent before they had their chance."

She folded her arms. "That's a proper mindset to have, but when fighting with a staff, you need to understand that you're playing a game of chess. Most of the time, the game goes by slow. But there are a million strategies to play. Discover your favorites, and perfect them. Your use of the overhead strike threw me off. Most smaller opponents go for low shots, but you made it effective."

A smile came across Vincent's face hearing the words of praise. He looked at his staff, beaming with pride. I'm very happy with this design. Hairs on his neck stood up and he instantly knew Mason was staring at him. Vincent looked up to the porch and saw him leaning on the porch column with Lei and Dave.

He started walking towards the porch to give his man a hug. Vincent got about halfway before getting a deep feeling. Something isn't-

A large object brushed on Vincent's left side. He stopped, paralyzed in fear. What...what is that? How did I not hear anything come from behind me? Starting to shake, Vincent peered in his peripheral to see what got so close to him. A low growl filled his ears as the object moved to the back of his head. Warm air blew on his neck, causing further paralysis to set in. It's an animal. And it's big! Do I dart away, or stand still?

Something warm and slightly wet ran across Vincent's left hand. Is...is that a tongue? He turned his head slightly and saw a very large brown and blonde lion head came into view. Holy shit, its huge! It's gonna freakin' eat me! "Nice lion...I'm not dinner, or a chew toy. Just gonna back away slowly now."

Vincent turned to face the beast and took a few slow steps backward, but was met with forward strides from the lion. Oh, great. It likes me. The mage heard a few giggles from the porch and he dared to take a peek. Wait...Lei. Dave. Mason. He looked back at the lion and its expressionless face. "Caleb?"

The lion quickly bowed its head and approached the mage. "Gods, G-man, you gave me a heart attack! If this was payback for earlier, you got it."

Caleb blew air out of his nose, as if he were to give a laugh. Vincent roamed his hand over the lion's coat. It's so thin, but so warm! "I get what Elaine was saying before. You'd be in trouble in the winter. I'm guessing it can get a little longer as it gets colder."

"That's correct." Caleb and Vincent turned their heads to hear Elaine, imagining words of wisdom were on their way. "Lions fur grows slightly, but not as full and thick as a wolf's." She walked closer to her student and his bodyguard. "Make sure you recognize him, Vincent. Lion shifters are extremely rare in this part of the United States, but they are incredibly hard to distinguish from one another, especially to a human. Even some wolves have difficulty telling them apart by scent."

Elaine bent over and began tracing her finger along some facial features of the lion. "From the other ailouros I've seen, Caleb has a part in the hair along his upper-right mane, and his mane is blonder than most." She turned to the men under the porch awning. "I recommend you three come and observe Caleb's markings and commit his lion's scent to memory."

Lei, Dave, and Mason trekked down the few stairs and began their observations. Dave turned his head a bit and faced Elaine. "How much detail should we take note on?"

"As much as possible. When shifted, an enemy lion can kill another lion and easily take its place in a formation. If you don't catch the scent difference, especially at night, things can turn south. And fast." Dave nodded, appreciating the example, and turned back to his studies.

Mason was the next with an inquiry. "So I'm guessing it's best to keep Caleb off night missions?"

Lei spoke up. "Yes and no. Unless you suspect intruders to have lions among them, there are very few lions in this area of the States. But should we travel to the West, like Arizona or California, we should be in the clear." His son gave an affirmative nod.

Dave piped his head back up. "If I remember right, didn't Caleb take on Elaine when I brought Vincent inside?"

Caleb laid down and covered his face with his paws. Elaine gave a hearty, but elegant laugh. "This cub needs more practice against mages. He gave a good offensive, but left himself open. So I froze him to the tree over there." She pointed to an oak several yards into the property that still had some layered ice wrapped around it. "Caleb, how about you come back tomorrow morning and work with Vincent and I?"

The lion nodded and chuffed, giving his agreement. "Good. Now, how about you go inside and get dressed. I think we've done enough practice today. Vincent, come back every day for the next week and you should be caught up to speed with your frost training."

Vincent smiled. "Yes, Miss Elaine."

Elaine widened her eyes in realization. "Oh, dear! It almost slipped my mind. Vincent, come with me. I need to give you something before you go." The mages and the lion made their way into the house. Caleb entered the den while Elaine and Vincent went through the kitchen and down the hallway from the living room. She passed a few doors and opened the last one on the right.

Vincent stared in awe of Elaine's dedicated reading room. So many books in such a small room. He loved the tall and full bookcases, and the two upholstered chairs with side end tables. The room was dimly lit, but Vincent noted the overhead lamps above the chairs.

Elaine swiftly grabbed her wooden step stool and grabbed a book from the top shelf. "Here. My gift to you as your teacher." She handed the old and small book to Vincent, who stared at it with curiosity, and then confusion.

The Mage's Guide to Traditional Fire Affinity Cooking? What good would this do me? I don't have the fire affinity. "Umm, thanks, Miss Elaine. But I don't think this would do me much good."

Elaine smiled and leaned down. "Oh, I believe it will. Open it."

Holding the book with trepidation, Vincent opened the cover, and gasped when he made the discovery. It's not a book! It's a bracelet! He took the black beaded bracelet from its hiding spot and laid the book on the end table. "Thank you, Elaine. I love it!" Vincent put the jewelry on and felt the light weight on his left wrist. Woah! I feel an aura around this thing.

"You feel the bracelet, don't you?" Vincent nodded and continued inspecting the jewelry even closer. "It is a rare magical artifact, Vincent, and it is extremely powerful. I want you to wear it at all times, and protect it. It has the capability of storing magical energy. As you meditate and store your energy, the bracelet will take it and keep it for when you need it later. As you need the energy stored, you pull the energy from it, like you were to pull on...say, your sight wards."

Vincent looked in between his mentor and his new gift. That's crazy! I didn't know something like this existed. This is incredible! "Ma'am. I can't accept this."

Elaine exhaled out of her nose and lifted the wrist that bore the bracelet. "This bracelet was passed to me by my teacher, and to his teacher before his. You have no say in this. I haven't used it in several years and I believe it is time to pass it on.

"Do me a favor, and start storing your energy. Get the feel of the bracelet taking the energy." Vincent nodded, understanding that he was stuck with the jewelry. He sat down with his legs crossed and focused on his magic. After a minute, he noticed his energy wasn't flowing through him strongly like usual. He looked at the beads, about to call it a broken artifact when he realized one the beads were gray instead of black. Wow! It takes my energy and turns the bead a different color. Vincent went back to meditating, hoping to see more of the beads change.

Giving it another five minutes, he reopened his eyes to see that no other beads changed. But the first bead turned a lighter gray. Damn. This thing is a sponge! "Miss Elaine? How much energy can this thing store?"

"Good question. I hoped to have you figure that out. I only ever had it filled up to seven beads. As each bead gets full, it turns snow white. When I had it at seven beads, that was the night of my mage's dance when I entered this pack. When my Leidolf turned me."

His mouth shot open. He had several questions run through his mind. What was her dance like? Were people okay with having magic around them? How was the pack meeting? But the first question out of his lips was the one he had been thinking about the most.

"What is it like being turned into a shifter?"

Elaine stood silently. I swear, Mason. You and I are going to have another talk. She sighed. "I'm guessing he hasn't told you how it's done either?" A light nod came from the young man. "Very well. This information isn't usually taken best, but I feel you can handle it with sensitivity. A human can be turned by a shifter at any given time for any given reason. Most reasons are outlawed by the laws that were set centuries ago. A human may only be turned if it is to save a human's life in times of injury, and through the mating process.

"A human will be turned when a shifter's saliva enters the human bloodstream. In traditional mating processes, the shifter is to bite its mate on the neck." She pulled her hair off from the side, showing Vincent a large and faded wound. He gasped, covering his mouth in shock. "It's not as bad as you think. The lycanthropy virus acts as a numbing agent when it's entered into your body. The only pain you feel is the initial bite."

This news offered reassurance for the man, but he still shook from nervousness. His mind moved a million miles an hour. Bite. Mace would have to bite me. With teeth. Elaine grasped Vincent's shoulders. "Vincent. Do you feel for Mason? Do you recognize him as the one you are destined to be with?"

Vincent snapped to. Mace. I feel for him. I really do. There's a pull for him even now, and I want to be in his arms. He's the one I've shared the most with. The one who has been there the most. I...I honestly have no clue where I would be without him.

"Yes." The mage could barely keep himself together with his emotions running wild. "Yes to everything. I want him in my life."

Elaine could smell the concoction of feelings emitting from her student. Gods, I can feel the power of his bond for Mason. It's so intense! Is this the strength of a destined bond? I can now see why it is sought after. And treasured when found. "Then you have nothing to fear. Your mate would never hurt you. It is done out of love. To make the bond between each other permanent."

The young mage nodded through his tears. A permanent marking. To always remind each other of the bond they share. "Thank you so much."

"Sweetheart. Any time. The only thing I will recommend for you is to hold off on completing your turning, or your bond until after your dance. Being turned takes a lot out of the human body. It can take several days to recover."

"Yeah, I heard that much. I just couldn't find out how the turning process goes. But you said to hold off on completing our bond. Is that different than being turned?"

"Well...yes, it is a different process. Although most shifters mating to a human often do both processes at the same time. Speaking a little unprofessionally, to complete your bonding with Mason, he would have to bite you, and ejaculate inside of you simultaneously." Elaine gave a tiny huff as she straightened herself, ridiculing herself as she uttered the statement.

Oh! Well. Umm. So, I guess that is going to be a thing. Mace...has to be inside of me...as he bites me...and...yeah. Vincent's cheeks grew blood red as he pushed the suggestive images out of his mind. For the Gods' sake, not in front of Miss Elaine!

"But, Vincent. I do understand the difficult decision you must make. I made mine when I found Leidolf, and it was the best choice in my life."

Vincent shot his head at Elaine. "You were a human? Just like me?"

A thin smile appeared on her face. "Yes. A long, long time ago. He found me at Yale when he was on tour and...well, let's say I couldn't get away from him. It is not a true and destined bond like yours and Mason's, but his wolf could not be denied. He is my glass slipper, if you will. The man may seem brash at times, but he is mine, and I am his. Forever."

A feeling of hope and joy filled Vincent. That is so stinkin' romantic! "Miss Elaine. I can't thank you enough for sharing this with me. The information, the training, the bracelet. Today has been absolutely amazing. And it's only four in the afternoon!"

Elaine rested her eyes on Vincent's. "No, my dear boy. It is I who should be thanking you. You entered our lives for a reason, and you are bringing a light this pack hasn't seen in ages." She pulled Vincent into an embrace. This. He is my son-in-bond. Gods. Thank you.

"Now. It is four in the evening, you've been training hard, and my son is probably wondering where I've hidden his mate. I believe you should have some quality time getting to learn more about him."

Vincent giggled. "Yeah, you're probably right. That, and I probably need to clean up a bit."

Elaine smiled. I most certainly wasn't going to be the one to say it first. "Let's find the boys and make sure they're not doing anything disruptive." Vincent agreed and they made their way back to the living room to find Lei in his recliner and Mason sprawled on the couch.

"Hey, Vinnie! I was about to come check...are you okay?" Mason saw his mate's red eyes. He's been crying again. Gods, what did Mom talk to him about? He jumped out of his seat and brought his mate into a hug. "Need me to get you anything? A glass of water, maybe?"

The mage smiled and dug his head into the wide chest. "Just needed you, big guy. I'm good, though. Your mom gave me a beautiful present, and I'll never forget it." Vincent lifted his wrist to show off his beaded bracelet.

Mason fingered it with wonder. "Mom, where did this come from?"

Lei saw the bracelet from his seat and grinned. So! She passed it down that quickly, huh? A powerful gift for a powerful student. Well done, my mate.

Elaine walked up to the duo. "Oh this? Just an old hand-me-down. You know, mage to mage kind of thing? I believe Vincent will wear it with pride."

"I most certainly will. Thank you again, Miss Elaine."

"Any time, darling. Now, don't you two have more exciting places to be on a beautiful evening such as this?"

Mason turned to his mate. "How about dinner? I bet you could use some hot food...oof! And a shower."

Vincent's mouth dropped and he smacked Mason on the thigh. "Did you just say I smell?"

Lei and Mason looked at each other and shared the same thought out loud. "Well…"

While Vincent could help but be speechless, Elaine put her hands on her hips and threw an icy gaze at her mate. Are you seriously going to throw your new son-in-bond under the bus like that?

The older Alpha caught the stare and dipped his head. Yep. In the dog house. Worth it, though!

Mason and Vincent said their good-byes to Elaine and Leidolf, promising them that Vincent's training will resume tomorrow morning. The two hopped in the rusty truck and made their way home. The shifter had to roll his window down when they pulled out of the driveway. When Vincent cast a stare at him, Mason threw up a hand. "What? I have a wolf's nose! You reek, bud. Love ya and all, but phew!"

Vincent kept himself composed as he stared at Mason. He…

He just said it. Subconsciously, but he said it. I don't think he meant it like...love love. But...I...I think I feel like he did mean it. Deep down. Vincent turned and rested his head on the window. He outstretched his hand, and was immediately met by Mason's.

And I think I feel the same way.

***

The drive back to Mason's house didn't take too long as Mason pulled into his driveway a short fifteen minutes from leaving his parents'. Today was very productive! Got the Chief squared away, Caleb is the new Enforcer, had a kickass lunch, and I spent a lot of time with my little Vinnie. Don't think today could have gone better.

Both men got out of the truck, but noticed Vincent wasn't walking as fast as he normally did. Well, he probably had a rough day. Mom probably brought out the best in him. He stopped to let his man catch up. "You good, old man?"

Vincent chuffed. "Aren't you older than me?"

"Age don't count. Bones popping and gray hairs do." Just as Vincent was about to pass Mason, the wolf couldn't help himself. He picked up his mate in both arms, letting him squeal as Mason carried him to the front door. "Will you quit squirming and let me be cute?"

"I thought I smelt bad, Mr. Sensitive Wolf Nose?"

Mason let a low growl out as he leaned in. "You smell like my mate. And even though you really do need a shower, I like your natural scent."

Vincent smiled and closed his eyes. The wolf couldn't stop himself as he closed the distance and latched his lips onto Vincent's. The kiss was gentle and romantic, not filled with lust or a sense of ravaged urges like the previous ones. Mason let his energy flow as he felt a river of motion flow through his mind.

The kiss parted and the two stared into their eyes. Vincent darted his vision all over the man's face. "You mom...told me how our bond will complete. Mace. I just want you to know that I'm okay with it."

Mason widened his eyes, almost not believing what he just heard. He is...okay with it? Vincent...my Vinnie is good with bonding to me? With me turning him? "Are you sure, babe? I...I'm not gonna lie, but I'm kind of speechless here."

He watched as the small man in his arms nodded his head. "Yeah. I still need a little bit of time, preferably after the meeting on Saturday, but yeah. I feel it inside me. I want to be here. With you."

An overabundance of joy coursed through every vein, every blood cell throughout Mason's body. He wants me. He really fucking wants me! Without needing to take in any air, Mason leaned his head back and let out the loudest howl that ever escaped his lips. He caught his breath and smashed his lips against his mate's once again. He's going to be mine!

Mine forever!

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Just loved this chapter; the writing and pacing were both spot on.  I love how Elaine took the time to explain so much; partly because her son doesn't seem to be up to it in a timely manner.  Can't wait to get the Alpha from New York here and have this mating dance.  So much going on...

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7 hours ago, Patch1 said:

I love rollercoasters.... This chapter was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions.  Happy and sad, over and over.... You know you have a good story when you are smiling and laughing in one moment and watery eyes in the next. 

Oooh! I love rollercoasters too! You weren't the only watery-eyed one, Patch1! 

7 hours ago, leeoeder said:

I can not say how very much I am enjoying this story!  Never doubt your talent of being able to entertain us that only read. Thank you!

Oh, no. Thank you! I've always been one to question my ability to do anything, and it makes me smile to hear someone saying, "Stop that!"

 

4 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

Just loved this chapter; the writing and pacing were both spot on.  I love how Elaine took the time to explain so much; partly because her son doesn't seem to be up to it in a timely manner.  Can't wait to get the Alpha from New York here and have this mating dance.  So much going on...

Centex, I always appreciate your comments! I greatly appreciated your message from earlier as well.

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Woohoo 🙌🏿, Pack Mom kicks ass and rocks!

The old alliances were good no doubt, but the building trust now transferring to the next generation seems to not only keep those ties but may be building to more open trust and exchange; that seems huge for the smaller pack and smaller pack Alpha...Alpha(s)?; on the horizon is the goal of bringing shadow mages out; into more respectable and accepted existence. Hmmm 🤔, a shadow mage platoon, with access to distant regions within minutes, lead by an Alpha Wolf mate and with a near secret and an unscented security Lion 🦁; my imagination sees no real obstacles once this movement gets momentum!

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49 minutes ago, Philippe said:

Woohoo 🙌🏿, Pack Mom kicks ass and rocks!

The old alliances were good no doubt, but the building trust now transferring to the next generation seems to not only keep those ties but may be building to more open trust and exchange; that seems huge for the smaller pack and smaller pack Alpha...Alpha(s)?; on the horizon is the goal of bringing shadow mages out; into more respectable and accepted existence. Hmmm 🤔, a shadow mage platoon, with access to distant regions within minutes, lead by an Alpha Wolf mate and with a near secret and an unscented security Lion 🦁; my imagination sees no real obstacles once this movement gets momentum!

I forking love this comment!!! The trust has begun to build for the new council, and boy, oh boy, they finna be formidable! 

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Wow just Wow a really intense and exciting chapter, the bond is going to be really helpful when they face off against the evil mage

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Hey Aaron, I am absolutely loving this story and I can't wait for the next chapter.

Mase & Vinnie are just made for each other and they'll definitely be there for each other.

Vinnie's Mage dance is going to be spectacular I'm sure.

 

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1 minute ago, Howzat said:

Hey Aaron, I am absolutely loving this story and I can't wait for the next chapter.

Mase & Vinnie are just made for each other and they'll definitely be there for each other.

Vinnie's Mage dance is going to be spectacular I'm sure.

 

Thank you so much for reading! As of now, I'm 2.5k words in for Chapter 10 and a few hundred in on a couple side side chapters that will come at some point :D

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Hey Aaron, its Erinn!

Thoroughly enjoying the story so far. Has some great elements that Ive seen in other stories on here but your characters are very fleshed out and engaging. Hope to see more pack dynamics and magic training scenes and of course some steamy times with our fav couple👍🏾

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2 hours ago, Erolove said:

Hey Aaron, its Erinn!

Thoroughly enjoying the story so far. Has some great elements that Ive seen in other stories on here but your characters are very fleshed out and engaging. Hope to see more pack dynamics and magic training scenes and of course some steamy times with our fav couple👍🏾

Thank you, Erinn!!! I've had lots tons of fun building these characters, and I can't wait to build them more and introduce new ones. We are definitely gonna see some more pack dynamics and magical scenarios throughout this long, long story. As far as steamy scenes, I try to keep it to one every so often, as not to label my story smut, but I REALLY hope you like the next chapter ;)

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Well, well, well! I laughed so hard when Vincent said, Nice kitty, Please don't eat me! I was roflmfao and now my jaw and stomach hurts. lol I am so glad that Caleb got the approval he needed. And the bracelet was by far the most spectacular part of this chapter! I am sure Vincent will protect it closely and keep it filled the the brim with his energy at all times.

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Loved the chapter!  I teared up for Chris and Dave, laughed with Caleb and Vincent, and loved Elaine.  I was sipping bourbon while reading about the guys sharing bourbon.  

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drpaladin

Posted (edited)

I wondered why Dave would be opposed to Caleb as the Enforcer, but his brother dying such a short time ago in the role makes perfect sense. I noticed there was no mention what became of the lycan hunters. Did they simply let it go without retribution? I'd find it impossible to do.

The power storing bracelet will give Vinnie an impressive advantage in a fight.

Edited by drpaladin
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'Caleb let a loud purr' — Lions cannot purr, they lack the flap of skin that allows smaller members of the cat family to purr. However lions can roar which is an ability that small felines do not have. If a lion is pleased with something, he will make a sound like a 'chuff'. Intermediate sized cat-folk may purr or chuff, but not both as the sounds rely on a physical difference.

'Work with Vincent and I' —  'work with Vincent and me.' Pronoun case. This example is from a spoken line by a character. I do not usually remark on faults in speeches by characters (as opposed to descriptive lines by the author), but I broke my rule in this case as it was an opportunity to make a point. How to tell of a pronoun is in the proper case? Just say the line omitting the noun phrase and the sound will  be an excellent clue to an author: "work with ….. I." is obviously in error as it grates on the ear, and 'I' must be an objective word for the preposition 'with'.

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Woops, I missed posting a sugestion in the posting above:

wrist that bared the bracelet — wrist that bore the bracelet verb format error    The verb bared means un'coverstrip, lay bare, undress, unclothe, denude, expose

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