Months of preparation, study, and training led to this point as Aiden reached the final days at the Sheriff’s Academy; graduation was at last in sight.He had made it to finals week.The first two days were taken up with physical tests on different obstacle courses and the shooting ranges.He had easily aced those, and was down to the last two days comprised of written tests, with graduation on Saturday.Aiden sat in his apartment studying the subjects he thought he needed a last minute brush up on.Ethan quietly watched, giving moral support where he could and when needed, quizzing him on different topics from study notes.Getting thirsty, Ethan went into the kitchen to find something to drink; like normal, it was completely bare.He shook his head with a grin thinking he was going to have to go shopping for his mate.
“Big Bad, I’m gonna run down to the dining hall and see what they have to drink.Can I get you anything? Maybe some food since you haven’t eaten?”
Aiden looked up from his books and realized he was getting hungry just as his stomach decided to growl confirming it.“I could use a break, so why don’t we walk over to Silver Pine Café?”
“You sure?I don’t want to take you away from your studying.”
“Yeah.Things are starting to blur together and it would do me good to stretch and walk around a little.” Aiden put his book on the table and got up, arching his back as he reached towards the ceiling.
Grabbing his shirt off the back of a chair, and picking up his wallet and keys, he walked over to his pup and leaned down for a kiss. “Thanks for taking care of me.”
“Someone’s got to, besides, your stomach’s been growling louder than your wolf for the last half hour.”
Walking downstairs, they passed through the lounge and saw several people hanging out.In one corner, Jonas and Anthony were chatting with a small group.Mostly Jonas was chatting and appeared to have the attention of a few of the available she-wolves.Several people, though they wouldn’t admit it, had their interest piqued by the first canis lunis living with the pack.They all knew about his kind, but few had ever met one.Anthony, on the other hand, talked to his escort and one other person.He did at least have a smile on his face.The two newcomers were settling in nicely.There had been a few reluctant pack members worried about having someone around that had been considered feral, but their fears were quickly laid to rest.The escorts assigned to help them found both were cool guys and enjoyed the chance of working with them.
On seeing the couple, Jonas waved while Anthony got up and came to give Ethan a hug before tipping his head slightly in respect towards Aiden.
“Hey, guys.How y’all doin’?” His accent dripped with Southern charm.
“Pretty good.Just making Big Bad here take a break from studying for his sheriff’s exam. Need to get food in him.” Ethan joked.
Once again, Aiden’s stomach growled loudly.
“Yeah, sounds like someone’s hungry alright.” He laughed.“I forgot you said you had your exams this week.”Anthony looked a little down.
“Once my tests are done, how about we hang out?Oh, and if I actually do pass, you are coming to my graduation party, I hope.”
“Definitely.” Anthony’s excitement showed in his eyes and the smile that spread across his face.He dipped his head to the younger wolf before heading back over to the group he was with.
“That was nice of you.But you’re always nice.”
“Let’s get over to the café before I realize I’m more horny than hungry, decide to make a meal out of you, and show you how nice I can be.”He could immediately smell the arousal pouring off Ethan as his mate chewed his lower lip.
“If we hurry at the café, maybe I could help you relax after you finish studying tonight.”
Now it was Aiden’s turn to flush.He grabbed Ethan’s hand and practically dragged him down the street.
They ate quickly and made their way back to the apartment for some last minute studying.Ethan quizzed Aiden on several topics and he aced the answers every time.As a reward for doing so well, his pup stripped naked before helping Aiden out of his clothes.He pushed his larger mate back, straddled his midsection, and reached for the lube.In truth, it was a reward for both of them and Aiden was very relaxed by the time they finished.
The pair showered together, took turns scrubbing each other, and let their hands reach every part of their bodies.Ethan tied his shoes, as his mate pulled on a pair of sexy gym shorts.A knock at the door announced Casey had arrived to drive him home.Aiden let his friend in and turned back to his pup.Lifting Ethan into his arms, he kissed his blond love whispering, “Goodnight.”
It was two grueling days of sitting in a room taking the written exams.One day dealt with the human law enforcement portion of the job, and the second dealt with the lycan aspect.He had never liked taking tests, even in high school it was one of his weak points.There was a lot to remember from the human side; when you brought in Lycan Council law as well as some of the pack’s regulations, it could become overwhelming.By the end of Thursday he was finished.Aiden was sure he’d done okay, and hoped it would be enough to pass.He knew he would hear one way or the other by the next day.
He spent Friday morning hiking with Ethan and Casey, and then hanging out at the Tucker house so he wouldn’t be alone.Mary and the rest of the family were doing their best to keep him distracted.
His pup whispered into his ear.“Maybe we should head back to the apartment so I can properly distract you.I really want to go for a long, hard ride.Might take hours.Also want to see if a big bad wolf is really the best at blowing things.”
Aiden blushed with excitement.“If we’re doing that, I wouldn’t care if they called and said I had to report in five minutes.”
He kept checking to see if he had any missed calls or messages on his phone, frustrated there was nothing.Rafe arrived home from checking on a few of his other construction sites when Aiden’s phone beeped to alert he had received a text message.
<Congratulations on passing.Welcome to the Dept. Your new boss, Sheriff Forester.>
He stared at the phone and read the message over and over, but his face was unreadable.Ethan watched him expectantly, worried it was bad news.Casey and his brothers held their breath until Mary couldn’t take the suspense any longer and threw a dish towel at Aiden. “Don’t keep us waiting.What did it say?”
“I passed.I actually passed.” He appeared stunned.
A collective cheer when up in the house.Everyone patted him on the back, congratulating him, and he even got a kiss from his pup.No one noticed Rafe left the room to answer a knock at the front door.
When he returned, a new voice was heard. “I guess all the cheering means you’re a sheriff’s deputy now.Congratulations.”
The alpha was busy working in his office when he received a call on his private line. “John Stockdale”
“John, its Mark Jennings.”
“Mark.It’s good to hear from you.What can I do for you?”He paused for a moment. “There isn’t a problem with either boy is there?”
“I won’t beat around the bush on this.It’s about your son.”
“Please tell me he didn’t hurt one of your pack members.”
“He never arrived, John.”The line went momentarily silent.“I’m sorry I dropped the ball on this and didn’t notify you sooner.I wanted to give it a few days to see if he’d show up, but I thought I should let you know.When Chris Williams got here last week, he said your son tried to convince him to go do some camping first. Before they came here.Chris refused and came right here and checked in.”
“Did Chris give any indication of where he thought my son might have gone camping?”
“Unfortunately, he doesn’t know. He said he had no idea what your boy was up to.He gave us the location of where they parted company.Hopefully, this is just a case of him trying to piss you off for a few days.’
“I’ll do some checking with the packs he should have passed through and see if they know anything. I need to check with the GPS monitoring company on why they didn’t alert us.They were supposed to make sure he didn’t even take a road he wasn’t authorized to be on.Hopefully they still have his position.If I don’t have any information in the next twenty-four hours, I’ll contact the Council and start the process of having his status changed to rogue.I knew he’d do something like this, but I couldn’t put my own son down.”
“John, I don’t think any parent could.Even as an alpha, I sure as hell know I couldn’t do it to one of my kids.It might be nothing more than rebelling against his exile and being told what to do. Given the circumstances of things, I just wanted to let you know. Again, I’m sorry for not calling sooner.”
“I should have checked in with you before now to make sure they arrived on time and were behaving.How’s Chris been since he arrived?Hopefully settling in well.”
“He seems fine.He got registered at the university the day after he got here.Chris immediately accepted an offer of speaking with a therapist, and hasn’t caused any problems.He’s been very respectful, actually.He asks what he can do to help around the pack, saying he wants to make a fresh start here.He’s also been very cooperative with giving us information on when he last saw your son and anything that was said.The boy’s taking his punishment well so far. He doesn’t seem to fit the person from the charge sheet.”
“Thanks, Mark.I appreciate the update, and I’m happy Chris is doing well.It’s probably for the best he’s away from my son.”
“Sure thing, John.I’ll call if I hear anything.”
Hearing the voice behind him, Aiden stood and turned. “Dad!Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
“I wanted to surprise you.You didn’t think I’d miss your graduation, did you?”
“Well, I’m definitely surprised. I knew you wouldn’t miss it.” He gave his father a big hug.“I’ve missed you, Dad.”
“I’ve missed you too.”
The man was an older version of Aiden.Just as tall, though maybe not as muscular as his son; it was close. He had the same dark hair and piercing grey eyes.Ethan could easily see the family resemblance.The older man was handsome, but would never be as striking as Aiden, at least in Ethan’s eyes.He watched the father son reunion with envy, seeing the loving hug his mate received.
“Craig, you mangy old dog.It’s good to see you.” Mary gave him a hug and kiss.
“Mary.You’re as beautiful as ever.”
Casey and the boys all shook Craig’s hand, before Craig’s eyes settled on Ethan.
Turning to his pup, Aiden took his hand, pulled him to his side, and wrapped an arm around him.“Dad, I’d like you to meet my mate, Ethan Scott.Ethan, this is my dad.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mister Jacobs.” He held out his hand to shake, which Craig graciously accepted.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Ethan.I’ve heard a lot about you.And it’s Craig to you.No need to be so formal with your father-in-law.” Craig broke into a big smile.“I’m really proud of you son, finding your mate and passing the department exams.”
“Thanks, Dad.Did Marsha come out with you?”
“Yeah, she’s at the alpha’s house resting up.She was tired from the flight and drive. Besides, I kind of wanted to come surprise you by myself first.”
“How long will you guys be in town?”
“Long enough to be here for your birthday next week.” He laughed.
“You’re birthday’s next week?”Ethan crossed his arms as an eyebrow rose.An accusatory tone filled his voice.“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Casey chuckled. “Someone’s gonna be in trouble now.”
“Yeah.I didn’t say anything because we’ve had a lot going on recently. And I already have everything I could ever want.” He lifted his pup off the floor and held him in his arms.
Ethan giggled nervously at this display in front of his mate’s father, and half-heartedly pushed against Aiden. “Alright, put me down.”
Craig was a little old school. He had hoped his son would find a nice she-wolf to imprint with and have lots of pups.He couldn’t deny the happiness and love he saw in his son’s eyes.Though he knew several same sex mates, it wasn’t what he was used to.“You two look good together.All mates should be that happy.”
“Thanks, Dad.It means a lot to me that you approve of my mate.”
“I may not be the most modern, but all that matters to me is you being happy.I won’t deny I would have liked to have gotten some grandpups, but you being with your true mate is the most important thing to me.”
“I promise we’ll try often to make you a grandpa.”
Ethan blushed deep red, blinked a few times, his mouth hung open before he slapped his mate’s arm hard.The room broke into hearty laughter.
Rafe put a hand on Craig’s shoulder. “You never know.He could still turn you into a grandfather sometime.They do have options available to them.”
Ethan remained Aiden’s arms. “I think you’d make a great dad.Especially if you do even half as good a job as your dad obviously did with you.”
Aiden smiled, knowing that one little comment had cemented Ethan into his dad’s good graces.
“How’s the Jeepster running?”
“Good as ever, Dad.I got lucky.My mate loves riding around in him as much as I love driving him.”
“In that case, he can definitely stay in the family.You two are going to have to make me a grandpa so you have someone to hand it down to someday.”
Everyone chatted away happily for an hour, before Craig announced he needed to return to the alpha’s house and his mate. “If you two are free tonight, how about Marsha and I take you out to dinner?Is the Steak House in Parker still the nicest place to eat?”
“Thanks Dad.We’d love that. Yeah, you know nothing much changes around here.”
Rafe walked his former beta to the door. “I’m proud of you, Craig.I honestly wasn’t sure how you were going to handle seeing them together.”
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure myself.It isn’t easy seeing my son with another male. Especially since I always thought he was straight.I mean, he always had a girlfriend on his arm in high school. And I know his reputation for getting women into bed.I understand the true mate thing has nothing to do with being gay or straight, it’s who completes him.All that really matters though is my son’s happiness. From the looks of it, that boy seems to make him all kinds of happy.Besides, who am I to stand in the way of the lunar spirits?”
“They really do make each other happy.I know I have a slightly different perspective since I have a son we always knew was gay. With Aiden, once he realized Ethan was his mate, any doubts or fears he had regarding being mated to a male just melted away. All he could think about was getting back to that boy.Besides, Mary and I couldn’t be happier to have Aiden as the mate to one of our boys.”
Craig stared at his friend for a moment before Rafe clarified. “Yes, since Ethan came here we’ve pretty much adopted him. We consider him as much our son as the ones Mary gave birth to.The boys think of him as one of their brothers.”
“Thanks, Rafe.It’s an adjustment for me. Seeing them together, it’s one I’ll happily make for my son.For our sons.”
Ethan relaxed some after Aiden’s father left. “He seems nice.I guess a surprise meet-the-father-in-law was best. I didn’t have time to get scared about it beforehand.”
“My dad’s great.Marsha’s cool too, though I’ve only met her a few times.”
“They’re not mates, right?” Ethan questioned.“They’re just married?”
Aiden tried to explain. “That’s sort of right.They met at a lycan conference and fell in love.They’ve imprinted and they are mates, but they aren’t true mates.”
At the alpha’s request, the sheriff contacted the GPS monitoring company for an update on Michael’s location and why no one had been informed of his breaking his prearranged route to Oregon.
“Delta Monitoring and Tracking, how may we assist you, Sheriff Forester?”
“I have a report that one of the two individuals we have on monitoring failed to arrive at his destination.I need to know where he is, and why no alert was issued for him leaving his allowable travel path.”
“Name of individual, sir?”
“Thank you, sir, one moment.”There was a brief pause, and the clicking of a keyboard could be heard. “We show the device never left its assigned route and is currently at the location designated for housing in Oregon.The device is currently in charging mode.No alerts were issued as we did not have any indication of a problem, Sheriff Forester.”
“You’re absolutely sure on that location?As I said, our report is he never arrived at his destination.”
“Yes, sir.The device is online and active.He’s currently within 200 feet of the other individual we are tracking for you.It does appear to have been in charging mode for some time now, which we can’t explain.The device also hasn’t moved in a week either.That’s odd.”
“Okay, I’ll have local law enforcement contact you so you can help them zero in on the device, because we have a definite problem.”
“We’ll await their call, Sheriff.”
Pulling up the phone number for his counterpart in the Columbia River Pack, Dan dialed.
“Richard Davies, Columbia Gorge Wildlife Conservancy.How may I help you?”
“Richard, this is Dan Forester, Beta at Parker Valley Wolf Pack.”
“Yes, Dan.My alpha told me to expect a call from you.”
“I’ve checked with the monitoring company and they say Michael is there in your territory.The tracker is at the location he’s designated to be staying at.It would seem we have a problem.”
“When Chris Williams showed up, Michael Stockdale wasn’t with him. We haven’t seen or caught scent of him, so I hope you’re not suggesting we’re hiding him.”
“No, nothing like that. If you could have your local law enforcement contact the monitoring company they should be able to lead you to the location of his monitor. Hopefully, we can figure out what’s going on.They said he’s currently within 200 feet of Chris.”
“I’m sorry, Dan.I shouldn’t have assumed you were accusing us of something.Chalk it up to a slight mistrust of other packs.”
“It’s understandable, so no offense taken.That little brat’s gotten under my fur enough times.This is just one more, and I hope he gets nailed good for it.”
“I’ll have the tracking company contacted now and have that device found.Once I have some information, I’ll call you back. Maybe he found someplace to hide here.”
Craig Jacobs and his mate arrived at the apartment to pick up the young couple for a family dinner.
Craig made the introductions. “Ethan, this is my mate, Marsha.Honey, this is my son’s mate.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ethan.Aiden, it’s good to see you again.” She gave Aiden a hug and held out her hand to Ethan, not sure if she should hug him yet or not.
Ethan shook her hand and smiled. “Pleased to meet you, Ma’am.”
“Marsha, thanks for coming.This means a lot to me.”
“Your graduation and birthday, plus meeting your mate?We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Craig relaxed a little, unsure how the evening would go, but hoping for the best.The group drove to Parker and Lyon’s Steak House.Ethan had never been in a restaurant quite like this before.The dark wood paneled walls, massive fireplace, black wrought iron chandeliers, and high back red velvet chairs gave it a unique appearance for sure.It had the overall look and feel of the great hall from an English manor house.
The maitre d’ greeted them, immediately recognizing the pack’s former beta. “Mister Jacobs, it’s so good to see you back in town. This lovely lady must be the one who took you out to the west coast.”
“Rafael, it’s good to see you’re still here.This is my mate, Marsha. You of course know my son. And this is his mate, Ethan.”
“A pleasure all.I haven’t had the chance to meet you yet, Ethan, but I see you with the Tuckers and Aiden at all the meetings.Come, come.I have a fine table for you.You’re server will be with you in a moment.”Rafael rushed off, sending the server over to drop off menus and get their drink orders.
Marsha felt unsure what to say. Her husband’s son and his partner were the first same sex couple she’d been around, outside of seeing one or two at pack events.Finally, she started with the first thing that came to mind. “So, have you boys known each other long?”
“Just since spring.A group of us were on a camping trip for one of the leadership and mentoring programs. I happened to find him out in the forest.”
The server came back with the drinks, causing a momentary lull in the conversation, while he took the dinner order.Aiden and his dad both ordered the biggest steaks they had, a two pound porter house cooked rare.Marsha got a bit more conservatively sized pasta and chicken.Ethan was going to order something small until Aiden got one of the big steak dinners for him as well, knowing he’d probably finish off most of it.
“It must have been a surprise to meet your mate like that. And find it was a male as well as human.” She hoped it didn’t sound offensive.
“A little bit at first. I always expected my mate would be a she-wolf.I didn’t realize what and who he was until I’d gotten back home, so I had to go out and track him down.Fortunately, his trail was easy to follow.Once I realized he was my mate, I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.” Aiden squeezed Ethan’s hand.
Craig actually beamed with pride at seeing his son take the boy’s hand. “Ethan, how are you adjusting to the world of lycans?I’d guess all this was a rather big surprise.”
“It was, sir. But lycan and other mythical creatures were favorites in most anything I read.Wolves have been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember.Plus being around Aiden and the Tuckers has made the adjustment to this new world pretty easy.” Ethan thought back to when he meet Aiden.“I think it also helped meeting him as his wolf first.I thought a regular wolf had found me and became my friend.Spending time with him as his wolf…Well, it was a special way of getting to know him.”
“Even though I know it isn’t needed, you both have my blessing.True mates finding each other the way you two did is almost a miracle.”
The rest of the evening was mostly catch up between Aiden and his dad.They did their best to keep Ethan and Marsha included in the conversation.Craig managed to tell several embarrassing stories about Aiden’s childhood and early teen years, keeping Ethan laughing and his son blushing.
“Would you boys be up for having brunch with us in the morning?” Marsha had enjoyed the evening and wanted to spend more time with the couple.
Ethan’s excitement at spending time with Aiden’s parents grew. “We’d like that.”
After Craig and Marsha dropped the boys off at the apartment, they headed back to the alpha’s house.
Aiden curled up on the couch for private time with his pup.He wanted to make sure Ethan was comfortable after the evening with his dad and Marsha.His pup thought she was very nice, and they both admitted she tried hard. Even if she seemed uncomfortable at times with either a same sex, or human lycan mating.
In the morning, Craig and Marsha picked up the boys and headed to the Parker Diner.It still held onto the small town charm Craig remembered.
Edna, the older server was working as they walked in. “Craig Jacobs, as I live and breathe.You’re looking good as ever.This lovely lady is either a daughter I’ve never met or the lucky lady who took you away from us.”
“Edna, it’s nice to see you.This is my wife, Marsha.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Marsha.First you go and get married, then your son finds his adorable boyfriend.” Edna sighed theatrically before giving a laugh.“I guess all the good ones are taken and there’s no hope for an old woman like me.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Edna.Craig’s told me a lot of wonderful stories about this diner, your homemade pies, and how it wouldn’t be what it is without you.”
“So, four for brunch?” Edna shifted back to work mode.“Right this way.Aiden, did you hear back yet on your exams?”
“I passed.Graduation is this afternoon, and I’ll be starting with the sheriff’s department soon.”
“Congratulations, dear.” She leaned in to hug him.
Once they were seated, she took their drink order before leaving to give them time to glance at the menu.
The conversation during brunch seemed even more relaxed than the previous night.Marsha was more at ease engaging Ethan in conversation, and after a while, the two were laughing at stories.
Aiden stood in the front of two rows of other cadets.Each one donned the dress uniform of the agency they would be working for.It was a mix of human and lycan, with several shifters from neighboring packs.The commandant of the academy gave his speech congratulating everyone for completing the program.He handed out special awards to a few of the cadets.Aiden received one for his excellence on the obstacle range.Several instructors also spoke about the graduating class and how they would all be an asset to whichever department they served.
Each cadet stepped forward as their name was called to receive their Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training certificate.When Aiden’s name was called, he marched forward several paces, pivoted to the side, took a few more paces, snapped to attention, and saluted the commandant as well as Sheriff Forester.Both men returned the salute.While the commandant handed him his certificate with a handshake, the sheriff pinned Aiden’s official badge onto his chest.
Families gathered around the graduates after the ceremony.Ethan stood at his mate’s side in awe of how his big bad wolf looked in uniform.His fingers became entwined with the white glove covered fingers of Aiden.
“You look so sexy like that.I’d say I’m proud of you for graduating, but that doesn’t really cover it.”
Aiden lifted his pup into his arms, their lips lightly meeting.“I’ve got two pairs of handcuffs.You can show me how proud you are tonight.”
He would have sworn he heard a sexy growl emanate from Ethan.The scent of his mate’s excitement and arousal was clear.
Saturday night was Aiden’s graduation party.In reality, it was for Aiden and six other Parker Valley wolves who completed the training. They were joining either the sheriff’s department under Sheriff Forester, or one in the neighboring counties in the territory.It was hosted by John and Jackie Stockdale at their home.Aiden and the others offered to find another location for the party due to recent events, but the alpha pair insisted this was important for the pack even with their heartache over a broken family.
The back garden was a perfect entertainment space.The trees were lit with miniature lights, and several fire pits blazed with a nice glow. Many guests danced, and a few guys manned the two barbeques.At least seventy-five people showed up, including Alex, Nathan, Anthony, and Jonas who Aiden insisted come.Jonas spent a lot of time dancing with various she-wolves, much to the dislike of a few younger wolves, but everything stayed friendly.Anthony was more of a wall flower given the treatment from his old pack.At Ethan’s prodding, Casey asked Anthony to dance and the two seemed to have a good time.Trevor managed to make it, arriving home from his family vacation the day before.He danced with one girl after another, all of them trying to spend time with him, before he returned to school.
Aiden’s friends and the adults present kept congratulating him.It made the alpha happy to see members of his pack together, having a good time celebrating the success of seven of his wolves.
The alpha got everyone’s attention. “Ladies and Gentlemen. I want to thank you for coming out tonight to help us celebrate these seven fine young men and women graduating from the Sheriff’s Academy. They will soon be joining their departments here and nearby.Now, with Aiden, I’ve known this young man since the day he was born when my former beta went into a panic on becoming a father.There were many times over the years I’d have figured he’d be a guest of the department and not a part of it.”Everyone laughed at the joke.“Congratulations, Aiden.You deserve it.”Once finished embarrassing Aiden, the alpha went on to do pretty much the same thing to the other six.
Parents of the other graduates got up to say a few words about their sons or daughters.Each showing the pride any parent would have in their offspring.
Finally, Craig Jacobs said a few words. “Aiden, I couldn’t be more proud of you than I am right now.You’ve grown out of those terrible teens and into a man. A man the entire pack can look to with pride.Don’t ever lose sight of what’s important in life, and always trust your heart.”
After everyone cheered, Aiden stood. “I can’t thank you all enough for coming out to celebrate this with my fellow graduates and me.I know I caused some trouble when I was younger, and fortunately learned from that.Growing up, like many kids, I always dreamed of being a fireman or police officer. And being able to help people.Now with my mate at my side, I’m about to fulfill that dream.This is a special night to be able to spend with family, friends, and pack.Given the fact I’m surrounded by all those I care for, I want to take this opportunity before friends and loved ones alike…”
Taking his pup’s hand and pulling him to his feet, Aiden got down on one knee.Gazing up at Ethan, while still holding his hand, he spoke with an emotion-laden voice. “Ethan, you are my mate, my dream, my hope for the future, and nothing under the stars will ever change that. In addition to being my mate, would you do me the honor of becoming my husband?Ethan Scott, will you marry me?”
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