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    astone2292
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Rising in the Shadows - 16. Chapter 16: Professional Partnership

Vincent stared at the extended manila envelope. The severity of his fight with the Alpha came crashing down. I...I have the territory? Breathing heavier, the mage fluttered his eyes as he tried to understand Bylus’ statement. I now have...all of Mesker Park City. That...dwarfs Owensville! He looked to Mason for guidance but saw that his mate was going through the same emotions. Mace...is scared? I’ve never seen him scared before! I...I don’t want it. I don’t want the territory!

No like! No want!

His wolf's opinion shocked him. I figured you would want land to call your own.

No! No want. Mason pack enough.

I agree. I don't know the first thing about running a pack! Taking the offered envelope, Vincent spoke nervously to the councilman, "I'm...I'm sorry Mr. Bylus, but I'm not sure if I want Mesker Park City."

The expressionless man shook his head, "It doesn't matter. According to the prelaws, the land is yours to do with as you please. I understand your discomfort, but I must fulfill the duty to my office."

Tierney glanced at Mason. He's white as a ghost! Is he going to be able to assist his mate? There are options for what they can do, but Mace needs to get a grip. "Councilman Bylus, I think the couple needs some time to collect themselves. Would you like to step outside for a cigar?"

A slim smile came to the older lycan and gestured for the New York Alpha to lead the way, "I'll be staying in town for the evening, Alpha Wilson. If you, or your mate, have any questions, Alpha Scott has my phone number."

Snapping from his daze, Mason nodded, "Of...of course! I can make arrangements for your stay, sir."

"No need, it's already been taken care of, but the offer is generous.” The councilman followed Tierney through the house and into the backyard, leaving the discomforted Alphas alone.

Vincent couldn’t take his eyes off the manila envelope. He felt an undesired power within the paper in his hands. It...almost feels evil. It feels like it belongs to that Alpha.

Yes, but it ours. I want mate.

“Mace?” Hearing Vincent’s cracked voice, Mason flew to his mate’s side. With the large man at his side, Vincent found solace in a dark and confusing scenario, “What...what do we do? I can’t handle a pack, let alone one the size of Mesker Park.”

Mason sat on the couch with Vincent and held the smaller waist, “I’m trying to think of options myself, but for now, I just want to be right here.” Pulling Vincent closer to him, the lycan merely wanted his mate to be comforted, “Everything will be alright, pup.” Gods, I’d kill to have Dad or Tierney here. I never thought about pack expansion! Everything is perfect just the way it is.

New land big, make pack strong.

Our pack is already strong, my friend. Adding a metropolitan to the territory would mean more work, and I don’t want that to take me away from our mate.

I know. No like away from mate. What do?

That’s what we need to think about. “Okay, let’s weigh our options.” His words of determination brought Vincent from the abysmal funk and into the conversation, “We have the obvious choice of keeping the land.” He watched as his mate started to make a harrumph and quickly drew his finger to Vincent’s lips, “I’m not for it either, but in case we can’t find another alternative in an immediate time period, we will have no other choice. As a mated couple, we would share ownership, and I would be partial to keeping Owensville as the...capital, of sorts, for the pack.”

That makes sense. For the first time in his life, Vincent loathed the concept of moving to a different city. Well, I guess moving Mace’s smaller belongings wouldn’t be too bad with my magic. Shaking his head, he stood his ground on not changing the pack, “I’m not keen on holding the land. What are some other choices? Can we sell the territory?”

Mason nodded, “That’s an option. There are a handful of Alphas that come to mind that could afford a large territory. Something to keep in mind is that whoever buys it will be our neighbor. The EC would have a reviewing hand in the conversation, but I would want the buyer to be transparent and friendly. I don’t need them thinking they can take over my lands when they see fit.”

Vincent clasped his hands over his eyes and brushed them higher into his hair. So, do I need to look at this like selling a house? I want the damned papers out of my life!

Calm. It okay. It take time.

Hearing the mentally turned tables, the mage laughed aloud, earning a raised eyebrow from Mason, “My wolf told me to be patient.”

Chuckling, Mason leaned back and held his mate, “That’s funny, but he’s being wise right now. This kind of issue will take time to resolve, and there won’t be an immediate solution.”

Resting his head on the massive chest, Vincent sighed, “I know.” I think I’m getting caught up in the fact it’s such a large city. Compared to Owensville, there’s just so many people to look after and- In a moment of clarity, the mage leaned up from his roost and kept his thoughts going. That’s...that’s it! “Mace, is it possible to see what the shapeshifter community in Mesker Park would want? Can we organize some sort of town hall meeting or something?”

Mason blinked and tried to follow Vincent’s thought process, “I guess so. We’d have to spread word around and set the meeting pretty far in advance, but yeah. Why do you ask?”

“I’m still not completely educated on how lycan and other shifters handle governing changes, but I think getting their input and opinion would be important. They’ve gone this long without a proper leader, so they may have become accustomed to it. Is...is it possible to have the territory deed but not actually do anything with it?”

I haven’t heard of that! To hold the land but to not lead or govern? “That’s new in my book, but I think that would work. Let’s wait for Bylus to leave and we can talk about it with Ty. I’m sure he has more suggestions for what to do with the territory.” Tabling the discussion, Mason took Vincent by the hand and aimed for the backyard to join their friends and the councilman. Opening the door, he found the two standing along the wooden railing and looking out towards his woods with cigars in hand. Nearby, Dave and Stacy sat on the loamy grass and were being very cozy with one another while Dirk and Caleb sat a fair distance away. That’s good, it looks like her exposure is being handled well.

Bylus turned and nodded to the Alpha pair, “Handled already? You two act fast.”

Mason and Vincent bared their necks once more to the councilman as the taller of the couple spoke, “Yes, sir. We have some ideas, but we are handling it.”

“Excellent.” The older man looked to Vincent in curiosity, “Alpha Scott has told me much about you, Alpha Bolton. A mage of three affinities, and you easily defeated Enforcer Wescott?”

Complimented by the councilman’s words, Vincent felt a blush rising to his cheeks, “Well, I wouldn’t call it easy, but I think I did okay for my first fight.”

“Your...first fight? Tierney, you left out a small detail.” Seeing the New Yorker shrug as he puffed on his cigar, Bylus returned to Vincent, “Consider me impressed. A humble Alpha. You certainly are a mate to the Wilson clan. I’m afraid Alpha Scott wasn’t very descriptive in your power. What affinities do you possess?”

“Frost, clairvoyance, and shadow.”

Bylus puffed from his cigar and leaned against the porch railing, “Very interesting combination. What really interests me is your unabashed willingness to reveal your shadow affinity.”

Vincent shook his head, “I’m proud of my magic, Councilman Bylus. I want to show the world shadow magic isn’t something to look down upon. Regardless of some of the owners of it, the shadow affinity is still a school of magic, and it should be respected, not feared.”

If the councilman ever had any apprehension about the small Alpha, it was now void. Bylus’ thin smile turned wider as he fingered his cigar in his off-hand, “I admire your tenacity! Such a powerful goal, and what a challenge it will be to accomplish. I do not envy you, or the task, but I appreciate your spirit and mental acuity. I'm sure you will accomplish it."

As his mate gave thanks to the councilman, Mason couldn't be more proud of his mate. He's fearlessly speaking to a high council member of the EC! Is his wolf this confident?

The councilman brought his arm up and glanced at his watch, "I believe it is getting late, gentlemen. I should check into the hotel. Tierney, thank you for the cigar. Alphas Wilson and Bolton, I hope you find the best solution to your problem."

Offering their necks once more, the three Alphas bid their farewells to Bylus as he went inside to get his things. While Mason rose to escort the councilman out, Tierney drew his eyes to Vincent, "So it's safe to say you two don't want the land?"

"No, we don't." Vincent rested his body in the newly vacated chair and sighed. The new issue flooded back through his emotions as he announced the options, "I think we'll probably hold a meeting for the shifters in the territory to see what they would prefer."

"A novel idea, but they would see you two as unsure of yourselves. In the eyes of a follower, the leader will seem weak." Puffing on his half-finished cigar, the Alpha blew smoke upwards, "That being said, there's little harm in selling it. There are plenty of quality Alphas in the world that could handle a larger territory."

Tierney finished his sentence as Mason was coming outside, "Are you making a suggestion, Ty? Or was that more of a hint?"

"Oh, hell no! I'm retiring! My wolf already settled on taking it easy. I don't want it, but I can help put the word out to interested parties. Your father and Cyrus might be able to assist as well."

Yeah, I probably need to call Dad about this. "Good idea, I'll call him right now." Mason dug out his phone and found the contact for his dad.

After a few rings, the call opened, "Make it off the plane okay, son?"

"Yeah, but what happened after that wasn't as fun. We had our visit from the EC."

"Already?" The voice over the phone sounded perturbed.

"Yep, and it was by none other than Bylus."

"Bylus? Vernon Bylus? Shit, son! What the hell did he want?"

After a moment of recollection from the earlier events, Mason sighed, "He came to award Vincent the territory." Silence filled the line and Mason began to worry, "Dad?"

"Yeah, I'm still here. I'm guessing you guys don't want the land?" After hearing his son's confirmation, Lei let loose a low grumble, "Alright, so the options I'll suggest are selling it, finding a third party, or see if Alpha Stuerm would be interested."

It was Mason's turn to grumble. Stuerm. I never liked that bastard, but Dad's right. He'd probably want it. "I can plan a meeting with him, but I don't like it."

"I don't like it either, son, but he might be your best bet. You aren’t the only one that prick has pissed off. I’m just suggesting it if you want this issue done and over with."

"I understand, Dad. I'll have the meeting with him soon."

"Good, just be careful." Mason blinked and furrowed his brow as he anticipated a warning, "You know who Stuerm is. Do your best to stay calm, because he will say something about Vincent."

Rage trickled through Mason's mind, "He is my mate! I won't allow him to be disrespected!" He caught Vincent's concerned glance and offered a swift smile, hiding his fury.

"As you should, but if you are on his land, you must play by his rules. Deflect any comments and maintain focus on the reason for the meeting."

"Gotcha. I’d like to meet him in Mesker Park so it can be seen as neutral as possible.”

“That sounds good,” Lei’s voice regained its positive composure, “My only concern is Stuerm's reaction. Once you reveal that he is sitting in Vincent’s territory, he may become incensed.”

Mason closed his eyes, understanding the problematic scenario. He could take that as us luring him into a threat or trap. I don’t want that. Stuerm may be a homophobic ass, but at least we’re civil enough to be allies. “We’ll discuss it more this evening. Thanks for the advice, Dad.”

“Anytime, son. Focus on that girl first, though. That deed can wait for a few days. I’ll talk at you later.” With the double tone in his ear, Mason put his phone down and slumped in his chair.

Vincent took a seat in Mason’s lap, knowing his mate was troubled, “I listened to what Lei had to say, and I agree. This can wait, because Stacy needs our attention.” Giving his mate a smile, Vincent earned one in return. I know what we did was right, but I didn’t mean to give Mace a bigger headache.

It be good. Mate handle it. He strong.

Yeah, I know. But it’s just been a lot lately! We couldn’t even take a proper vacation without something going crazy!

It happen for reason, we not know. But we handle. Go to human girl.

Turning to see the back of Stacy’s head resting against Dave’s shoulder, Vincent nudged Mason’s shoulder, “C’mon, you haven’t introduced yourself as the big man around here.”

“Yeah, that would be smart.” Mason waited for his mate to rise, but looked to Vincent’s hazel irises when the man didn’t budge, “You moving?”

“I don’t know, when is my confident man coming back out?” Vincent was all smiles but held his arms across his chest.

Returning his back to the chair, Mason knew his attitude had been less than impressive, “Sorry, hot stuff. I’ve… just never dealt with much as a Pack Alpha. I want to say I know what I’m doing, but every time I think we solve a problem, two more rise up.”

Tierney snorted and snuffed the remains of his cigar in the nearby ashtray, “Welcome to being a busy leader, kid. That’s what being an Alpha is all about. You make your land the best it possibly can be, and when shit starts to fly, be prepared to catch it. Don’t doubt yourself, Mason. You have some issues with determining where to start on a problem, but once you do, you’re unstoppable! Now that you have Vincent, who isn’t afraid to run head-first into the fire, you become the ultimate damage-controller.”

The couple looked at one another and smiled together, “You’re right, Ty!” Mason rubbed his thumb over his mate’s hand, “We’re unstoppable together. I just got in a little funk. Let’s go talk to Stacy, pup.” Lightly tapping Vincent on the rear, the mage got up and allowed the taller man to rise as well. Stepping down from the porch, the two saw Dave turn his head and rise with a grunt seeping from his lips, “You good, Dave?”

“That Alpha kicked my ass two ways from Sunday. I shifted back at the garage, but I’m still tender. I’ll probably shift again in a little bit.” Just as the Beta glanced at Vincent to thank him for saving him, he heard a small noise from Stacy, “What’s wrong, Stace?”

She stayed on the ground for a moment, only to rise and hug her man with a single arm, “You’re… still in pain?”

“Just a little, nothing that I can’t handle.”

“You… you said that turning into your wolf heals you? Why wait?”

Raising an eyebrow, Dave draped his arm across her back and landed his hand on Stacy’s waist, “You know that means I’ll need to get naked, right?”

The news flustered the human. N-Naked? He has to get… naked? “I mean, if it will take away the pain, then… I don’t know, go behind a tree or something.”

Wow, she’s progressing with the exposure very well! She wants me to shift! Dave let his arm fall limp from her side and took a few steps towards an oak tree.

“Hang on, Dave!” Hearing Vincent’s call, the Beta stopped, “I can bring up a wall.” Lifting his arm, the mage stretched out his shadow toward his friend and conjured a wide wall, covering Dave’s view of the group.

Stacy exclaimed, “What the hell is that?”

“That’s just shadow magic. I’m extending my shadow towards Dave and lifting it up into the shape of a wall. See?” Vincent pointed at the ground, trailing his finger from the shadow below him and along the thin line to the conjured wall. “You’re good to shift, Dave!”

Stunned by the magic, Dave stammered, “Uh, th-thanks!” Shedding his clothes and leaving them in a pile, the Beta began his transformation. Unknown to him, Stacy was horrified at the sounds of her boyfriend’s bones cracking. Vincent quickly let her know it is normal and Dave was experiencing no pain. When the sounds ceased, Stacy’s eyes were immediately drawn to the black wall. Movement on the right side caught her attention as a brown and white wolf stepped out with its light brown irises looking her way.

It stepped forward slowly and Stacy inhaled sharply! That-that’s Dave? He’s a freakin’ wolf! As Dave advanced, the shadow wall fell sharply, causing him to leap backwards in surprise. Vincent giggled, causing Dave to growl in irritation. Stacy found the exchange very funny and let an unkempt laugh out, exposing her nervousness. “So, that’s Dave?” Hearing his name, the brown wolf tilted his head to the side, “Okay, so that’s him. That’s… my boyfriend. All furry with four paws.” Stacy kept blabbering until Vincent nudged her. Right, he’s the same person. He just looks a little different.

The wolf kept advancing slowly until Dave reached her. Standing in front of Stacy, the wolf snorted and dipped his head. I appreciate your childish antics from before, Vin, but I’m not going to roll around like you did. I… I want her to see me as I am. He watched as Stacy slowly lifted her hand and placed it on the wolf’s head. Feeling the steady and gentle rubs, Dave closed his eyes. She’s getting used to me!

***

Kaplan let loose a ragged sigh and dropped the back of his head onto Cyrus’ shoulder. Thank the Gods! Vincent’s okay! He received the text from Tierney and instantly felt relieved. I couldn’t imagine going toe-to-toe with an Alpha!

“Feeling better, Kaplan? You should have known Mr. Bolton would be victorious. After all, he was able to defeat Dirk with little trouble.” With his bethrothed’s head on him, Cyrus was swift to deliver a light smooch on the Beta’s head, “What concerns me is how Vincent will handle being a land-owner. I don’t envision that going over well.”

“You don’t?”

“No. He may be an Alpha, but his wolf is barely out of diapers. To own land in such a short amount of time might even be traumatic. Tierney was right to go, although I wouldn’t have minded.” Kaplan’s eyes turned to meet the panda’s, “Pack laws and dynamics are my specialty. Did Tierney say what the couple was thinking about doing with the land?”

“They’re going to talk with a local Alpha to the north of Owensville, an Alpha Stuerm.”

Oh, that’s not going to be pleasant. I’m not familiar with Mason’s affiliation with Stuerm, but I hope he knows what he is doing by involving that bigot. “I’ll text Mason and tell him I’ll be getting in touch with some other Alphas. I can think of a few that might be interested in a bigger territory.” The panda leaned forward and grabbed his phone from the coffee table. I’d rather not see someone like Stuerm gain more power. He may be an old fart and close to retirement but that hasn’t stopped his grubby hands from wanting more.

Kaplan noticed the scowl on his boyfriend’s face. He barely caught the light flicker of the hunter-green irises. “Are you okay, Cy?”

Putting on a face, Cyrus gleamed, “Of course, my little wolf. We just had a little excitement this evening, that’s all.”

He’s hiding something, and it surfaced when I mentioned Alpha Stuerm. “Cy, you know you can talk to me, right? I can tell you weren’t happy when I mentioned Alpha Stuerm’s name. Did he do something?”

Trying to keep up his facade, Cyrus gently bounced in his seat to partially face Kaplan, “I’ve just heard a few whispers and I want to make sure our friends make an educated decision.”

Kaplan’s smile began to fade. He’s not lying to me, but he’s putting on an act. Laying a hand on the bigger man’s thigh, the Beta worked himself up, “I can tell you’re smiling out of necessity. I’m not familiar with relationships, but I do respect honesty and I don’t think I’m getting that.”

Tilting his head, Cyrus blinked as he processed the wolf’s statements. How could I forget he is the attorney for this pack? He can smell deception from miles away.

Talk to.

I most certainly will, my bear.

No. Talk. No smile. Be self.

My… my bear! I don’t think Kaplan is ready for that.

He mate, need be ready.

Very well. You have yet to sway me in the wrong direction. Cyrus dropped his smokescreen and focused on Kaplan, “I must apologize to you, Kaplan. When faced with certain topics and beliefs of others, I fall from my established self for a moment. You said you wanted to know the real me, and I intend to give you that. For you, you will get nothing but honesty from me, from here on out. Do you understand that?” When Kaplan nodded with a smile, Cyrus didn’t stop his chuff, “I’m not sure you do, my little pup.”

Hearing the bear’s voice lose an octave, Kaplan knew his boyfriend was being dead-serious. That wasn’t an Alpha Voice, but it wasn’t his normal tone. “Cy, I’ve seen you. You’ve told me things about yourself that I doubt others could dream of. Whatever you have to say, I’m… I’m here for it. I handle honesty and dishonesty on a daily, and I’d rather be given honesty.”

Swallowing, Cyrus smiled once more. There he goes again! Impressing me and knocking my socks off. “Very well. Alpha Stuerm was on my list for the EC to evaluate before I accepted this Alpha position. Over the years, whispers and rumors trickled into the council’s chambers and they have not gone ignored. I can not say with certainty what he does and does not do, but the whispers are damning.”

Kaplan’s attention was seized! Damning whispers? Cyrus was going to evaluate Stuerm? Like...like- “Like Alpha Ren? Is… is he like Alpha Ren?”

Closing his eyes, Cyrus knew heartstrings and deep memories were going to be yanked, “Worse, my little pup.” The panda saw the wolf quake and smoothly ushered the Beta into his arms, “Ren had the strength and audacity to perform those actions himself. Stuerm… well, he’s a little smarter than that. The rumors we collected gave us a hint that Stuerm has a secret member of his council, one who is designated to deliver punishment to the pack members.”

The wolf inhaled sharply, almost soothed by Cyrus’ sugary bamboo scent, “He can’t do that! Even if his pack was the proper designated size for multiple Betas or Deltas, having a position not set forth by EC standards is illegal. A Delta can be utilized as a Commander of Discipline, but there are only two packs in the world that meet that qualification.”

A low growl rumbled from Cyrus’ chest, “I adore how you can keep up with laws and standards. That’s the main issue. We only received a few mentions about it over the course of six years, so we don’t have enough to call for an investigation.”

Kaplan connected the thought train, “So you would use an evaluation as a ruse to get more information.”

“Exactly. It feels bad to be sneaky, but it would have been the best play.”

The wolf nodded, “I completely understand. Sometimes a ruse is needed. I know I’ve used a couple in the courtroom.”

Squinting his eyes, Cyrus learned more about his boyfriend, “My, my, Kaplan! I couldn’t imagine you being so devious.” His suave tone left the wolf hanging on every word. Even a word can get my little pup all riled up! “Vincent and Mason are welcome to do whatever they want with their land, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a fresh face be given a chance.”

“Oh, come on Cy. You’ve seen me in the courtroom before, I have to play dirty sometimes too, especially against Bultzer.” Mentioning the sly human caused his mind to fizzle. What a prick! Forgoing his rivalry, Kaplan returned to the panda’s side and laid his hand on the Alpha’s stomach, “I don’t know Alpha Stuerm personally, but if he’s anything like Ren, I’d say a new face might be best.”

“Precisely! I’ll flip through my contacts and see if there’s a suitable match.” The Alpha flipped through his phone’s contact list for several minutes while the wolf watched. Hmm, these three might be interested. Tapping a message, the bear sent a few texts and laid his phone on the couch’s arm rest. Now, back to business! He pulled on the wolf’s body, bringing Kaplan further into his clutches, “Where were we?”

The whispered words turned Kaplan’s legs into jelly, “I think we were about to review the agenda for the meeting.”

“Yes, let’s do that. I’m curious to see how Tierney handles a monthly meeting for a pack this size.”

Momentarily freeing himself from Cyrus, Kaplan leaned down and grabbed his laptop from his satchel. After it was booted, he pivoted and let Cyrus resume the cuddles, “The meeting isn’t too bad, but it can take several hours if there are some hot topics. We mostly keep finances out of it since there is a financial meeting every other week between the higher council and the treasury committee. I think the only major subjects this month are Tierney’s retirement message, your official introduction, and Enforcer Wagner’s charges.”

Well, all of those things will create a stir! I suppose this means I’m at the plate and ready to swing. I was hoping for a few more weeks to spend time with Kaplan, but I am here for a reason, I suppose. “Very good! This will be my first pack meeting for NYSP, so I’ll need a thorough run-down of how this meeting is typically run.”

Kaplan scrolled upward to the top of the text document, “Under Alpha Scott’s leadership, the pack meeting is very typical. Starts with opening words from the Alpha, reports from office-holding Betas, old business, new business, and open floor questioning.”

“Sounds reasonable. How long does an average meeting take, and who is normally in attendance?”

“Average? About two, two and a half hours. All Pack Betas and Enforcers are required to attend, unless notified two weeks in advance or an emergency takes place. Influential pack members are usually in attendance.”

Cyrus puffed out his bottom lip in curiosity, “So when do everyday pack members see their Alpha in this city?”

“They rarely do. District Betas will send out emails regarding notes from the month’s meetings. Your picture and opening speech at the meeting will be documented and spread through the city in no time.”

Hearing the Beta’s explanation was flawless. He enjoys running the show from the dark! “That makes sense. I’ve seen other packs operate this way, but I’ve never been involved like this. It would be impossible to hold such a large gathering without garnering attention. This process will stay in place. I would like to generate ideas for a more personable experience. I don’t wish to seem like a figurehead.”

Kaplan stopped typing for a moment as he tried to think. More personable experience? Cy doesn’t want to be an Alpha on paper. He would rather be an Alpha of the people. That’s interesting. “You could do a monthly video as an attachment to the districts’ newsletter.”

“A marvelous idea, my little pup! I think that is very easy to do. It might be a little political-like, but it just might be what I’m looking for.” Cyrus took an interest in Kaplan’s laptop-screen, “What are some of the old business topics that I should know about?” The two dove into the business matters of previous meetings. Finances were steadily increasing, but with the colder months coming in, the Visitation and Immigration office voiced its usual gripe. “So Beta Holman has the issue of less visiting packs during the winter season? Let’s try a short getaway type offer. Offer a three or four day tour-type vacation deal, hit some of the big attractions, but leave more for the visiting group to want. This will grab the attention of the people who don’t want to be in the cold, and they still get their money’s worth. Plus, it will attract them to come back during the summer months. Include a summertime coupon deal when they come during the winter. Losing a small percentage is a small price to pay for more interested customers.”

Typing at a furious speed, Kaplan took impeccable notes, “Alright, I’ll add that to your notes so you can speak to Holman about it during or after the meeting.”

“I’ll be wanting to meet with all of the Betas and Enforcers once again after the meeting to discuss further strategies for progressive performance in their districts. Before you start tapping away on your laptop, I’ll arrange with the council members myself. I want them to know I’m approachable and willing to help.”

“Yes, Alpha.” Kaplan covered his lips the moment the title slipped through. Looking at Cyrus, the bear could barely withhold his giggle. “I’m sorry, Cy. It just came out.”

“Not to worry, we were working!” Cyrus inched forward and gently shut Kaplan’s laptop, “I think we’ve earned a break. Come, it’s almost time for bed.” Taking the wolf’s hand, he led his boyfriend into the dimly lit bedroom. “Would you like to spend the night?”

Kaplan grinned and nodded sheepishly, “I think I’ve been staying here more than at my apartment.”

A low rumble echoed from the panda’s chest, “Is that a bad thing?” Unfurling the cover of the bed, Cyrus began unbuttoning his shirt, which signaled Kaplan to do the same. The bear’s eyes flashed as he watched the lycan’s chest being unveiled before him. His glare turned to his dresser. Normally, the bear would put on his silky pajamas when with Kaplan, but the urge to do so drifted away. My bear, do you feel that?

Yes, want be closer to mate.

Ah, so this is your doing! I was beginning to grow fond of those delightfully smooth bottoms.

Me too, but want mate.

As you wish, but I’ll be keeping my undergarments on.

Yes, no ready for that. Adhering to his panda’s wishes, Cyrus stripped his shirt and dress slacks, tossing them into the posh hamper in the corner. Slipping himself into the bed, the bear patiently waited for the wolf to come.

Kaplan nervously shouldered his shirt off. He’s… he’s not putting on his usual pants? Just his boxers? The wolf followed suit, leaving his pants in the pile with the shirt and socks. The moment Kaplan entered the bed, Cyrus had his arm on the lycan’s hip. Scooting closer together, Kaplan basked in Cyrus’ natural scent and heat. Breathing in the sugary smell, he let all of his problems fade away.

“Kaplan? Let me see my mark.” The panda watched Kaplan roll onto his back. His eyes fixated on the pink throat. It’s begun to fade! Oh, we can’t have that. Pouncing, the bear landed on his knees and steadily lowered himself. He had Kaplan’s face in front of him, “I want to mark you again, just like last time. Is that okay, my little wolf?” Cyrus smiled as Kaplan slowly nodded his consent, “Good.”

Staring at the faded mark, Cyrus’ emerald eyes glowed as his lips landed across Kaplan’s neck. Pressing his teeth lightly against the skin, the bear sucked. He inhaled with intense pressure, forcing the wolf’s blood to rise. Cyrus rolled his eyes into the back of his skull. I hear his whimpers! It’s taking everything I have not to take him right here and now!

No.

I… I know, my bear. We want that moment to be perfect, especially for our Kaplan. I can wait a little bit longer. Hearing a strained gasp for air encouraged the bear to relinquish his hold. The rejuvenated mark gave power to Cyrus, “Kap...Kaplan.”

Catching his breath, the lycan looked at the towering man above him. His eyes are shining so bright! His bear must be close to the front of his mind. He could only watch as Cyrus moved a hand over one of Kaplan’s pecs. The pressure grew but remained unharmful, “Yeah, Cy?”

A deep growl permeated through the room. It echoed into the lycan’s body and into his eardrums. Looking straight into the radiating green irises, Kaplan couldn’t move. He didn’t feel trapped, but knew movement was invalid and unnecessary. The low growl slowed to a halt as Cyrus lowered himself to Kaplan’s ear.

With stress on every syllable, Cyrus’ panda spirit whispered gutturally, “You… are mine!”

Copyright © 2021 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

8 minutes ago, astone2292 said:

I wouldn't use the term, "intolerant." More suiting words will come around soon enough...

I'm sure this concept of Vincent ridding himself of the territory will become a hot debate in the comment section. :read: I know I'd be looking to get rid of a city if it dropped in my lap. I got books to write, I ain't got time for that!

Intolerant is only a more polite way to say bigoted.

If you find good managers, you needn't worry about your lap.

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Don't even know him and already have a dislike of Alpha Stuerm, sounds like a total ass; plus if you aren't strong enough to do the dirty work yourself, stay out of it all together.  

I know that Vincent doesn't want the territory, but would not think it was smart to just give it up; land is power in any situation.  Not something you should just walk away from.

So glad that Stacy is handling this as well as she is.

Cy and Kaplan are just so cute together...

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I'm not going all wordy nerdy on you with this comment... BUT I'm going to say this chapter was for me (😆) ....  You already hit the ball out of the park with the first part of the chapter.  You always make it so we can feel what the characters are feeling.  THEN you go and hit the ball off the planet (in my opinion!!) with the remainder of the chapter!  Positively love Cyrus and Kaplan!!!!!!  ❤💕💞💓Yes, I got the "gray" but I also got chills...  The kind of chills you get when you hear a song sung so perfectly, you feel it in your skin.  I have read it a few times and the same reaction happens... Wow...just WOW!!!  🐼:heart:🐺

Heart Love GIF by swerk

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The fact that the Wilson’s Alphas, father and son, are not totally aware of the Stuerm risks is not unexpected but the networking is already working for them with much thanks to Vinsy and all is soon to be revealed or steered clear.

Likewise, the similarities in the way Vinsy wants to approach leadership sounds a bit like what the Electric Panda has laid out there for the upcoming transition...more networking says Stuerm is out and so too may be the others, as the unseen brings Vinsy reservations but also seeing the effort of the Panda 🐼 transition may give the Power couple an opportunity to bring self governance and give member participation a boost. What new academic solution might the 

Hmmm 🤔, the things that make you say hmmm, the shy Panda 🐼 and bashful Wolf 🐺 are growing closer and closer; we’ve shed the jammies and only have the briefs 🩲 to stand as that last bit of modesty before coupling. Perplexing will be the cornucopia of sounds heard in testimony to that splendid event.

giphy.gif?cid=5e2148869n6hvtn1ug89e7l7nq.

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7 hours ago, drpaladin said:

Intolerant is only a more polite way to say bigoted.

If you find good managers, you needn't worry about your lap.

True, but our heroes want what they want. :)

7 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

Don't even know him and already have a dislike of Alpha Stuerm, sounds like a total ass; plus if you aren't strong enough to do the dirty work yourself, stay out of it all together.  

I know that Vincent doesn't want the territory, but would not think it was smart to just give it up; land is power in any situation.  Not something you should just walk away from.

So glad that Stacy is handling this as well as she is.

Cy and Kaplan are just so cute together...

Perhaps our shadow mage is going to use it for power in another way...

Kaplan and Cyrus are forking adorable!

6 hours ago, Patch1 said:

I'm not going all wordy nerdy on you with this comment... BUT I'm going to say this chapter was for me (😆) ....  You already hit the ball out of the park with the first part of the chapter.  You always make it so we can feel what the characters are feeling.  THEN you go and hit the ball off the planet (in my opinion!!) with the remainder of the chapter!  Positively love Cyrus and Kaplan!!!!!!  ❤💕💞💓Yes, I got the "gray" but I also got chills...  The kind of chills you get when you hear a song sung so perfectly, you feel it in your skin.  I have read it a few times and the same reaction happens... Wow...just WOW!!!  🐼:heart:🐺

Heart Love GIF by swerk

Hehe! I'm glad you've claimed this chapter as yours, Patch. If anything more happens when you "go gray," I might start to worry about you. 

3 hours ago, Philippe said:

The fact that the Wilson’s Alphas, father and son, are not totally aware of the Stuerm risks is not unexpected but the networking is already working for them with much thanks to Vinsy and all is soon to be revealed or steered clear.

Likewise, the similarities in the way Vinsy wants to approach leadership sounds a bit like what the Electric Panda has laid out there for the upcoming transition...more networking says Stuerm is out and so too may be the others, as the unseen brings Vinsy reservations but also seeing the effort of the Panda 🐼 transition may give the Power couple an opportunity to bring self governance and give member participation a boost. What new academic solution might the 

Hmmm 🤔, the things that make you say hmmm, the shy Panda 🐼 and bashful Wolf 🐺 are growing closer and closer; we’ve shed the jammies and only have the briefs 🩲 to stand as that last bit of modesty before coupling. Perplexing will be the cornucopia of sounds heard in testimony to that splendid event.

giphy.gif?cid=5e2148869n6hvtn1ug89e7l7nq.

Umm, Philippe? Gonna say it again:  I love your comments! Vincent's always been the lonely wanderer, never owning much. Now with a whole city, he's lost and must turn to his friends.

Cyrus' panda seems to have turned adventurous as of late. His human mind surely sees how fast he is falling for the attorney, compared to his previous statements. 

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16 minutes ago, astone2292 said:

True, but our heroes want what they want.

As the song goes:

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

 

Try. I'd at least try.

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I don't like streum I suspect that he will want to fight for it if he finds out that Mace and Vinnie are mated , I also wonder I f I comes to that could Vinnie win another battle against a bigot, this was another awesome chapter

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Great chapter!  With land comes power and with power comes conflict. It is almost assured that with a new alpha in a previously unclaimed territory, someone will eventually challenge for the land. Might it make more sense to keep the land and contract the oversight to someone else? Say a very capable retired alpha and beta team. Just a thought... As for alpha bigot... Might a reliable contact listening from the shadows (hmm) add to the evidence list for discipline of he who deserves it?

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1 hour ago, mikedup said:

I don't like streum I suspect that he will want to fight for it if he finds out that Mace and Vinnie are mated , I also wonder I f I comes to that could Vinnie win another battle against a bigot, this was another awesome chapter

Oh, boy. We don't need Vincent fighting alphas left and right and amassing more land... I am interested in seeing where y'all think the story is going to go. 

 

31 minutes ago, wenmale64 said:

As for alpha bigot... Might a reliable contact listening from the shadows (hmm) add to the evidence list for discipline of he who deserves it?

Oooooh! Sneaky! I like this. 

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3 hours ago, wenmale64 said:

As for alpha bigot... Might a reliable contact listening from the shadows (hmm) add to the evidence list for discipline of he who deserves it?

I like this too, but why just listen? Vinnie could use his phone to film it.

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26 minutes ago, drpaladin said:

I like this too, but why just listen? Vinnie could use his phone to film it.

Interesting! But, Vincent hasn't even met Stuerm yet. Let's see how a meeting between them will go. :whistle:

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1 minute ago, astone2292 said:

Interesting! But, Vincent hasn't even met Stuerm yet. Let's see how a meeting between them will go. :whistle:

My crystal ball says not well.

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9 hours ago, wenmale64 said:

I agree with @drpaladin. Do we know how tech things work in the shadows? 

Vincent does use his GPS to get to some places, although he can't accurately use it since it probably can't keep up. Google Maps would say. "What?! Two states in less than a minute?" The author must research and ponder. 

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4 hours ago, astone2292 said:

Google Maps would say. "What?!"

Just like me in the mountains......

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7 hours ago, astone2292 said:

Vincent does use his GPS to get to some places, although he can't accurately use it since it probably can't keep up. Google Maps would say. "What?! Two states in less than a minute?" The author must research and ponder. 

Acquiring satellites....calculating...

Acquiring satellites....calculating...

Acquiring satellites....calculating...

Acquiring satellites....calculating...

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On 5/15/2021 at 6:34 AM, wenmale64 said:

Say a very capable retired alpha and beta team. Just a thought... 

Except that the retiring Alpha has already nixed the idea of him administering Vinnie’s territory.  He said his wolf has already retired and has kicked back and is relaxing!:lugh:

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