They walked back into the hall nonchalantly. “Nobody even noticed we left,” Tobyn said quietly.
“Oh yeah, they did. Most shifters don’t miss much, and our exit was kind of abrupt. For sure, at least a few knew something was up, and now they’re politely avoiding looking at us,” Kellar muttered, grinning at his mate as they headed toward seats across from Delia and Arthur. “Probably think we had a lover’s quarrel.”
Tobyn snorted. “If we did have one, I’d win… because you’d let me.”
“Depends,” Kellar said with a wink.
Tobyn smirked. “No it doesn’t. You’ll always give in to me.”
“Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?” Kellar sent.
“Nope. I’m pretty sure of you.”
“Welcome back, gentlemen. Arthur and I were just talking about what work he wants to do at Morningstar.” Delia smiled brightly, but her eyes searched both their faces. She was one of those who didn’t miss much. Kellar didn’t care what anyone thought, so long as the reason for their conversation with Millie and Ulrich stayed a secret.
“I’m going to work in the garden,” Arthur declared. Watching him, Kellar was pleased because even the man’s dexterity, as he continued to eat his roast beef, was noticeably better. He couldn’t help but wonder if Arthur’s hand/eye coordination had to do with his actual brain repair, or the energy he’d been fed during it. Was his trickling giving overall boosts it hadn’t been able to before? There was no denying it was more potent, and replenished at a quicker rate now. Arthur’s vitality seemed to be improving by the hour, yet his age was more advanced and his damage far worse than the younger Logan’s.
“Well, the farming division can certainly use you,” Tobyn responded after he’d swallowed down a mouthful of gravy-laden potato. “Have you always worked with plants, Arthur?”
“I drove a tractor.” Arthur looked up from his plate with a pleased expression. “I remember.”
“What do you remember?” Kellar asked.
“Cutting hay with a red tractor. Smaller than the Vega tractor. It had steel wheels.”
“Steel wheels? Wow. Well, it would have been a much earlier model. Do you remember where you used to cut hay?”
Arthur shook his head. “No, Cahlar. But it wasn’t here. I stacked it too.” He went back to eating.
Stacked? Haystacks? So, he had a memory of his earlier life that had nothing to do with his traumatic ordeal. Another great sign. Kellar didn’t ask any more questions. He attacked his food instead.
Kellar pushed his plate away first. Looking sideways at Tobyn, he asked, “Aren’t you going to make fun of how fast I ate?”
“Nope,” Tobyn replied, grinning. “You need to build up your energy for… ah, after all the healing you’ve done.” Kellar caught the almost imperceptible wink, and returned it.
“You do eat fast. It’s not good for you.” Arthur followed up with a smile, and Delia burst out in a giggle.
“Oh, Arthur. I knew there was a good sense of humor in there.”
Clarence, coming from the back, walked up to their table. “You all look happy.”
“I have a good sense of humor, Clarence,” Arthur said to the alpha. “I made Delia laugh.”
“I always knew that, dear friend. You couldn’t hide that twinkle in your eye when you used to hide those candies in your hands, switching them back and forth, and making little Logan look for them. You’d keep him giggling till he ran out of breath. You put up with a lot from that boy back then,” Clarence said fondly.
“I remember. He’s too big now to hide candy from, and he’s too big to crawl on my back.”
Clarence laughed. “Yeah, I guess he is at that. He used to think you were his own personal tree. So, Arthur, do you understand why we are all leaving here and moving to Morningstar?”
The elderly man’s expression changed quickly to a serious one. “We will have children again. It’s not right for there to be no children. It is sad without their sounds.”
Clarence’s eyes went around the table before settling back on Arthur. “I couldn’t have said it any better than that.”
At the alpha’s request, Kellar and Tobyn were sitting comfortably in his office. He was the last to take his seat behind the solid oak desk, sighing as he settled in. It was a contented sound, followed by a tired smile. “I managed to talk to your mother this afternoon, Tobyn, and I gave her the news. Even had a chance to speak with Denver. He told me how much we were going to love it there, and asked me to tell Dougal he could really use him at the garage. Elinor might not be pushy, but Denver sure as hell is,” he said, chuckling. “It’ll be nice to see him again; he’s a good man, and he sounds so different from his last years here. It’s nice to hear the happiness in his voice. Anyway, I had to keep it short, so maybe you could give her another call. I didn’t say anything about Arthur and his connection to your seer. I thought I’d leave that to you.”
“No problem, sir. I planned on getting in touch with her anyway, right after we’re done here. Is there anything you want me to pass on?”
“Yes, there is. I touched on your offer of those livestock trailers, but that’s as far as I got with so many members knocking on my office door and asking questions. Everyone has new concerns now that we’ve made our decision. Maybe you could sort the logistics out with her, and let me know when they’ll be available?”
“I have no doubt they’re available now. I’m sure we can spare drivers from the livestock division, so when do you want them?”
“Anytime. We might as well get this move started, and the animals are priority one. I’m going to offer up some of the cattle to a neighbor. He’s been wanting to refresh his bloodstock with a few of our good heifers. I’ll get that settled tonight at any rate.”
“Is tomorrow too soon?” Tobyn asked.
“Not that I can see. The sooner the better, because seeing the animals leave will get us in gear.”
“Okay, I’ll get on it.”
“You guys came by highway the whole way right?”
“We did,” Kellar answered.
“Well, one of the benefits of being a logger is knowing the roads. There’s a hardtop road that will cut the whole southwest corner off the trip to Morningstar and save a good hour of travel. It’s got a couple of sharp curves to watch for, but it’s a good, wide road. Here, I’ll draw you a map.”
“Tobyn! Clarence gave me the news. I’m so proud of you both. Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, it’s all good. These people want us to leave because Kellar is eating so much.”
Elinor laughed into the phone. “You’re terrible. Where are you?”
“We’re walking toward the house they set up for us, and you’re on speaker.”
“Hello, my other son.”
“Hi, Elinor. How are things there?”
“Soon to be in an uproar. I’m going to be answering all the questions about mates tonight since Vega has decided to join us. You boys accomplished so much, and now it’s time to get everything out in the open.”
“We’re pretty happy with how it all turned out… these are great people, Mom, and you’re going to love Clarence. We have Kellar to thank for most of it. His healing was key.”
“I’m not surprised. Listen, I already told Joanne yesterday, because of Dolan. I told them together, and it went over well; Joanne’s excited and he seems genuinely pleased for her. I expected to see some bitterness, but there was none. He’d already picked out another house, so he finished moving in right after our talk. Joanne is driving me crazy with questions, but all I could tell her was that his name was Ian.”
“She’ll meet him soon enough. There’s something you need to know, Mom. We have another match.” They arrived at the house and Kellar opened the door.
“Oh, my. Another? So six then?”
“Yeah, six. And you’re not going to believe who it is… it’s Miss Sybil.”
“Miss Sybil? But that can’t be, Toby. Her mate died a long, long time ago.”
“You knew… about her finding her mate?” Tobyn frowned at Kellar. He was led to the couch where he sat down. “Why didn’t I know about it?”
“Oh, Toby, not many did. I wasn’t supposed to know either. It was Esther who told me a long time ago, before you were even born, but I’ve never discussed it with Miss Sybil. Esther was her good friend, and wanted me to understand Sybil’s choice to live alone. I was just a curious young woman, but she impressed upon me that it was a confidence. How is this even possible? He didn’t die?”
Tobyn sighed and leaned into his mate. “No, he didn’t, but his pattern did. He suffered a terrible attack by a hunter, and his brain was badly injured… he ended up with his colors in a mess and no signature pattern. He couldn’t speak, other than to say the last syllable of Miss Sybil’s name, and it turns out he thought she existed only in his dreams.”
“Oh my. Didn’t the others there know about his mate?”
“No, Mom, this wasn’t his original pack. He remembers rolling down a hill and laying on a road. It sounds like he might have been left for dead. He couldn’t see at the time, but he also remembers riding for days in the back of a truck. Whoever rescued him must have been from Vega, because they brought him here. It was a long time ago, and no one still living has any idea where he came from… there’s a lot we still don’t know, and may never know. The whole thing is so freaking tragic.”
“Poor Miss Sybil. All these years thinking he was gone. Can he see now?”
“Oh yeah, his blindness was only temporary. He was rough when we met him because of the old injuries, but he’s in perfect working order now.” Tobyn turned his head and smiled weakly at Kellar. “My amazing healer mate did his thing, and repaired his pattern. His name is Arthur, and his wolf appeared for the first time in about eighty years. Just another one of my man’s miracles.”
Kellar grimaced, and then rolled his eyes in mock exasperation.
“Dear God. Now I understand something Miss Sybil said to Denver and I this morning. We found her on the road to the marina, and she was standing on the side, staring down at the ground. I was worried… but when I approached her, she looked up at me and said she’d had a vision. She said she’s been getting small ones more and more, and she was even getting ones of a wolf long dead. That wolf must have been her mate… him reawakening… Arthur, you said?”
“Yes, Arthur. Is she all right now?”
“She seems to be. She was in for lunch and we chatted for a bit. She was certainly distracted, and she had this nervous energy about her, but I chalked it up to those nudges of hers. She’s becoming a true seer again, and I can’t imagine what that feels like after all this time.”
“Maybe she can sense him somehow?”
“I don’t know if that’s possible. I’ve never heard of that happening at such a distance, but seers are different. It does seem she ‘saw’ his wolf, though. I wonder… do you think I should tell her about Arthur?”
Tobyn looked at his mate and shrugged, and Kellar did the same. “We’re not sure. I mean, she deserves to know… but… maybe it’s better not to put her through the wait by telling her? I’ve told you all I can about her mate, in case she asks. It’s your call, Mom, but we might even have him there tomorrow?”
Kellar heard the question in his voice and gave him another shrug.
“Okay. What about Tilly? She should be told, right?”
“Absolutely. I don’t want to deal with her if she thinks we kept something from her longer than necessary.” Tobyn grimaced and Kellar chuckled at the sight.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, Elinor,” Kellar said. “Tobyn’s afraid of sweet little Tilly is all.”
“Hey, I’m not… okay, maybe just a little, but you’re afraid of her too.”
“Maybe just a little,” Kellar agreed with a grin, “but only if she’s mad at me.”
“Uh huh… right. So, we should talk about the livestock trailers. When can we get them here, Mom?”
The rumble of vehicles could be heard throughout the sparsely populated hall while they were eating a hearty lunch, but that sound had been present on and off since sunrise. All morning, Vega had been a virtual hive of activity as equipment was moved and stored. Members had begun the serious work of getting ready for their departure. Kellar and Tobyn, up at dawn after a night spent keeping an eye on a restless Arthur, pitched in wherever needed. The air practically sparked with excitement as shifters decided what items to pack and which ones to leave. Again and again, Tobyn had to reassure pack members that all the houses were well furnished, with good mattresses available for every bed, and suggested they only bring the furniture that meant something to them. Outside, a couple of truck doors could be heard slamming shut.
“Oh, my wolf.” Delia’s fork clattered to her plate. “My wolf is….”
Kellar and Tobyn both stopped eating. “Hutch is here.” Kellar sent.
“Whoa. This should be interesting.”
Delia’s head turned toward the door. “Is that…?”
“Yeah, that’s him. He must have driven through the night.” Kellar watched the keeper rise, and he saw a rush of emotions play across her face before she turned toward the entrance.
Tobyn jumped up. “How did he get here so fast? We should have known he’d… come on, doc… I want to see this.” Food forgotten, Kellar joined his mate in following a ramrod straight Delia out the door.
The familiar truck and livestock trailer were parked at the bend in the road leading to the left of the hall, and Hutch was standing at its side, eyes locked onto a slowly advancing Delia. It was like time had suspended for everyone in the vicinity. The only noises Kellar heard now were strictly from nature.
Arthur appeared at their side, with his head tilted slightly. “Is that shifter Delia’s mate?”
“Good. Mates belong together.” Kellar glanced over quickly, but the man was staring straight ahead, watching this important moment in his good friend’s life. Kellar got the message, though.
“Yes, they do.”
“It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?” Tobyn whispered. “Look at Hutch. He reminds me of when Denver first saw Mom. Delia looks tiny compared to him.”
The strangers were now only a couple of feet apart, and while Kellar could have listened in easily, he didn’t. He waited until he heard Delia’s laugh, and saw her take the beaming man’s arm before he turned to his mate. “Yes, it is, and it’s their moment. Do you want to go back and finish our lunch?”
“Good idea. I’ve seen all I wanted to… those two are going to be great together, and they deserve their privacy.”
One last look showed the two of them walking in unison toward the gardens, an obvious connection already in place. Kellar took his own mate’s hand as they headed back inside.
“It’s good to be back in a bed again. I was getting sick of Arthur’s couch,” Tobyn said, running his hand across Kellar’s chest. “I’ve missed you, mountain man. Looks like you missed me too.” He looked pointedly at the tent Kellar’s dick made of the light sheet over his groin.
Kellar smirked. “Too obvious?”
“Never. Do you realize that sight always makes my mouth water?”
“I thought it was just me that happens to.”
Tobyn threw the sheet aside. “Nope.” His barely-there finger stroked a path up the back of Kellar’s erection, eliciting a quiet hiss. “Like that?”
“Hell, yeah. I like everything you do to me.”
Tobyn was no longer looking at him. His attention was on the cock he now had firmly in hand. “This is what connects us. When this is inside me, I’m complete.” He stopped mid-stroke, and turned his head back up to Kellar. Kellar loved the rosy flush he saw there. “I love you, Kellar. You make me happier than I ever could have imagined.”
“It’s the same for me, babe.”
“I know. Make love to me. I need you.”
Those three words had a powerful and instant effect on Kellar. In seconds, he had Tobyn flat on his back with his tongue buried inside him. Tobyn’s groans of appreciation were soon followed by pleas. “I don’t want to wait. Do it now, doc.”
“You need more prep, babe. Be patient and we’ll get there.”
“No. Now please… I’m ready… there’s only one thing I need right now. Here.” He passed the lube to Kellar and pulled his splayed legs up to his chest. “Please,” escaped his lips as he laid his head back, and Kellar was galvanized into action.
Seconds later, his slickened cock was pressed against Tobyn’s opening as he braced his weight on his arms and leaned forward. Their eyes, a foot apart, were locked. “I’ll go really slow, babe, but if you feel….”
“No, don’t… I don’t want slow… I want my mate to take me… I want you to fuck me… just do it. God… please.”
“But, babe… what’s going on? I don’t want to hurt you.”
Tobyn raised his head inches off the mattress. “You won’t. I need this. Do you want me to beg?”
Kellar hesitated, uncertain and wondering what was up, but took Tobyn at his word when demanding hands clutched his ass, pulling him forward. He entered and slid to the bottom in one steady, heart-stopping motion, astonished at the relative ease with which he was welcomed. He’d just slid through the softest vise imaginable, and his cock jerked in warning. One slide and he was already about to unload.
After throwing his head back at the intrusion, Tobyn’s clenched eyes slowly opened. His unfocused gaze held Kellar in thrall. “That was fucking amazing,” he groaned out, the bliss clear on his face. “What are you waiting for?”
Kellar was fascinated by Tobyn’s demanding intensity. “If I don’t wait, this will be over before we start.”
“Oh… okay… feel good?”
“Like you said… fucking amazing.” Kellar sighed as the edge he’d been on receded. Not losing eye contact, he began to move in longer and quicker strokes than he usually started with. Tobyn’s expressions told him everything he needed to know… his mate was loving this. Kellar soon gave way to the abandon Tobyn was so obviously seeking, and they both rode the same wave, the sound of flesh slamming flesh filling the room. When Tobyn’s hand moved to his own cock, Kellar stopped.
“Why are you…?”
“Don’t touch yourself,” he ordered, his voice a firm growl. Tobyn’s eyes widened noticeably, but he let go immediately. Kellar pushed those muscular, blond-haired legs even closer to his mate’s chest, elevating Tobyn’s ass higher still. Once the position of his cock was changed, Kellar surged inward with no warning, and received the loudest groan yet. That was his sign. His thrusting became relentless, and the first clamping on his cock soon followed. He felt Tobyn’s cum begin to spray everywhere before one final stroke to the bottom obliterated his own control. Leaning well forward, with Tobyn’s legs trapped under his arms, he turned his mate into a human pretzel. His goal was Tobyn’s mouth, and he buried his tongue in it, turning something bordering on savage into something more tender and loving. Each spine-tingling spasm was met with a matching clamp from his partner as Tobyn continued to ejaculate. He was literally rocking his impaled body on Kellar’s spurting cock.
“God help me. How can anything be so fucking perfect?” Kellar uttered when he regained the ability to form words. Tobyn’s body was still curled up beneath him, his ass still elevated and his legs and feet still pointed to the head of the bed. He wasn’t complaining about the position, though. He had his arms tightly wrapped around Kellar’s sweat-soaked back as if he never wanted to let go. Raising his head, Kellar planted another kiss on the most beautiful lips in the world. “Are you all right, babe?”
“God help me, yes. Yes, better than all right. I’ve never been bent like this before, though,” he said with a hoarse, low chuckle that Kellar both heard and felt.
“Sorry. I got carried away.” He braced his hands on the bed and lifted his torso up, giving Tobyn room to move his legs. They slid a few inches along the inside of Kellar’s biceps before being stopped by his armpits.
“No, you didn’t. You read me like a book, doc. You were right,” he uttered, drawing in a deep breath. “It was fucking perfect… you were perfect. Can you hold my ankles while I let my legs down? They feel like they might break off.” He sighed, first when Kellar’s cock slid from his body, and again when his legs were guided down to the bed. Stretching out, they laid side by side, hands clasped as they breathed deeply. “Whew. I needed that.”
“I could tell.” Kellar turned his head and gave his mate a curious smile. “Why did you?”
Tobyn opened his almost-closed eyes and peered at Kellar. “Why did I what?”
“Need it that way. Want me to hurry… skip the prep. You wanted me to be rough, didn’t you?”
“Oh,” Tobyn groaned out. “Do we have to talk about it?”
“No, we don’t. Perfect is perfect,” Kellar answered gently, a small smile accompanying his words.
A comfortable silence followed. Tobyn’s drying cum on his chest convinced Kellar it was time to clean up, but when he began to move, Tobyn stopped him with a hand on his arm. “I want to explain.”
“Okay. Only if you want to.”
“You know when you made that speech yesterday… about our path and destiny, and you had all of Vega in the palm of your hands?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say… yeah, okay. What about it?”
Tobyn’s attention had become focused on the ceiling. He exhaled a deep breath before speaking. “It turned me on,” came out in a whisper.
Kellar succeeded, this time, in sitting partway up. “Really?”
Tobyn turned his head and met his mate’s eyes. “Uh huh. You were so confident and commanding… you were pure alpha… and, I don’t know… it was hot. Hell, you’re always hot, but in that moment, I just wanted to take you home and have you make love to me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, but I understood Arthur came first.” His blush was faint, but Kellar saw it and loved it.
“Alpha? So… what you’re saying is, you want me to be the bossy one.” He raised an eyebrow, challenging Tobyn to admit it.
“Ah… once in a while, yeah. But only when I tell you.”
Kellar erupted in laughter. “I promise I won’t be bossy unless you give me permission.”
“That’s acceptable,” Tobyn said, smirking, no longer reticent. “I like a man who does what he’s told.”
“You’ve never steered us wrong yet.” Kellar laid his head back down, his head turned toward his mate. “Was it painful?”
“When you entered me?”
“Yeah… well, any of it.”
“Honestly, yeah… there was pain, but it was worth it.” Tobyn pulled his glance from Kellar, staring upward as he continued. “No, that doesn’t sound right… it wasn’t something I endured, not at all… it was powerful, and I welcomed it… it was like a craving I needed to be satisfied. I knew it would hurt, doc, but it didn’t matter.” His eyes flickered sideways for just a second, and Kellar waited. “I don’t know any other way to say it. I wouldn’t want it like that all the time, but… I guess the fact is a part of me wanted to submit to you… show you I trust you in every way… because I love you so much. I don’t know if it makes sense, but I feel even closer to you right now. Does that answer your question?”
Tobyn’s eyes met his again, and Kellar, with heart swelling, smiled. “Perfectly,” he whispered before kissing the man who gave him everything.
As always, a big thank you to my editor, Robin/Tim. Thanks, also, to those who support this story.