The Elder looked up at him and smiled brightly. “I get to see my Cy again.”
“I forgot how fond you were of the little brat.”
“You were too busy chasing anything in a bra at the time to notice the little blonde kid who was constantly perched on his shoulder,” Ella pointed out wryly.
“I remembered her,” his voice was low, tone a warning. Instantly a chill fell over the room.
Ella stood slowly, her eyes narrowed on her son. “No one would dispute that you were very aware of Caia’s existence, Lucien. I meant only that you avoided her, so you knew nothing about her.”
“She was a cute kid.” Magnus chuckled, straightening up beside Ella, his warm teasing bending the steel of tension emanating from Lucien. His huge hand came down on Ella’s shoulder. “You got any more of those cookies I like?”
Nodding stiffly she left the room, muttering under her breath about sensitive dogs.
Magnus turned to the Alpha, a young man he considered a son. “You need to ease up, Lucien. Everyone is well aware that you’ve fulfilled your responsibilities to this pack and that you intend to fulfill the one that’s on that plane. Defenses down, please.”
Lucien grunted. “Thought I was the Pack Leader?”
Magnus laughed and cuffed him across the head, pushing him into a seat. “You’re still a pup.”
After Ella had returned with more coffee, and it was clear the tension had eased between son and mother, talk returned to pack business.
“So when do they get here?” Magnus queried, his excitement evident. Lucien had been so wrapped up in dealing with what was to come from Caia’s return that he had forgotten about the one person who was actually looking forward to it. The girl had never known anything but Albus and Ella, and in particular, Magnus.
He didn’t want to burst Magnus’ bubble but they needed to get serious about the situation. “Magnus-”
“Don’t start with that tone… this is a happy occasion. This is what your father fought for: the safe return of Rafe’s daughter.”
Lucien sighed. “I know. And I am happy to finally have that realized. Goddess knows for this reason only I will have made the old man proud. But Magnus,” his hard silver eyes searched Magnus’ happy ones, “We have to deal with the pack.”
Reluctantly, the Elder nodded in agreement. “Stupid, scared judgmental lykans.”
“That may be, but they’re our lykans, and we’ve got to make sure the pack is happy.”
Ella cleared her throat from the corner of the room. “I’ve already made sure most of the mated females are clear that they have to welcome Cy home. It’s the young I’m worried about. Most of them will see her as an outsider anyway. They still fear what they don’t know, and they fear possible war … and the fact that she’s more competition for our males …”
Lucien smirked. “Yeah, I see where you’re going. Fine.” he heaved, slapping his knees in determination and standing to his feet. “We’ll gather the whole pack here. It must be made perfectly clear to them that Caia is part of this pack’s future; that mention of the war is to be kept to minimum, absolutely nothing about her parents … and I want a full pack welcome.”
“Oh I dunno.” Magnus shook his head, his forehead wrinkled with anxiety. “Full pack welcome? That could be a little overwhelming. Lucien, this girl has lived without a pack for ten years. Irini would only have been able to teach her so much.”
“Irini will have taught her well,” Ella replied tersely, her look defying him to speak otherwise.
The Elder looked between son and mother, their posture relaxed but their eyes determined.
He knew when he was outvoted. “Pack welcome it is then.”
3 – Home?
“Have we got everything?”
The noise was overwhelming. Why were there so many people going places, and did they have to be going there today? Someone bumped into her and nudged her into someone else. Was it warm here? Jeez, they really needed more windows in this airport. She wanted to brace her hands on her knees and tuck her head between her legs in an effort to breathe but she refrained. She didn’t want to look like a weak idiot who succumbed to panic attacks at the littlest things.
They were here already. How did they get here so fast? She wasn’t ready yet.
Pain flared up her arm and she looked down to see the cause of it. Dimitri was gripping her tightly by the elbow, so tightly he was close to cutting off her circulation. She gazed up at him stupidly, her eyes clearing at his worried expression.
She needed to get herself together. Lykans didn’t act like this. They didn’t wimp out. Nodding, she pulled from his grasp.
“You got everything, then?” he repeated, looking a little annoyed now. “We really should get going.”
Those earlier butterflies suddenly burst into flames in her stomach, the metaphorical residue covering her lungs in an attempt to suffocate her.
“I… uh… I just need to… use the bathroom.”
“Fine. Hurry up.”
She slammed the door of the women’s toilets behind her and stumbled over to the sinks, striving to get her breath back. Stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it. But the more she said that the more her head whirled. She was returning to the pack. The actual pack. The pack. Holy Artemis, what the hades-
Caia suddenly stilled at the beginnings of a rumbling noise.
Was that her heart?
No, she shook her head, looking around as the rumbling increased in volume. Caia exhaled, her eyes widening as she stepped back from the sinks. The entire row before her was shaking ferociously, the rumbling coming from the pipes. What the…
All the taps blasted open and water streamed out into the sinks with the power of a fireman’s hose, the original rumbling now deafening. Ceramic cracked and fell away from the walls and water billowed over the sinks and onto the tiled floor.
She whipped her head towards the door where Irini stood looking shocked. The water abruptly stopped.
“What the Hades?” Irini indicated the watery mess in front of her.
She gaped at her stupidly. “I have no idea.”
“Well, come on, quickly, before you get the blame,” she snapped, grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her outside.
“How could I get the blame?”
“Just come on.”
Her breathing had regulated once they left the airport. However, her breathing was feeling a little forced again. They had traveled a good hour or so from the airport, driving down the state highway and pulling off at the sign for Woodrush Point. Woodrush Point wasn’t too small a town but it was much smaller than the city she and Irini had been living in for the last ten years. They drove right on through so Caia could check it out. She was too nervous to really pay attention. Dimitri pointed out his own house but Caia could only nod numbly, a vague impression of a moderate sized white cladded home with a driveway and a huge tree out front registering with her. Over the tops of houses in the distance she could see the woodland, the woodland that followed the highway and seemed to encapsulate the whole of the town. It was easy to see why the pack had picked this place. Lots of trees to play in. With a sigh, Dimitri took a right past a car garage and they were out onto the highway again. Twenty minutes later, the Elder slowed his car, turning down onto a track in the woods that had been widened, the trees cut heavily back from it. The gravel kicked up under the tires and through the overhanging branches Caia could see flashes of white.
At last they pulled up into a huge circled clearing. In the center sat a large white home with an old-fashioned wraparound porch. She drew in a deep breath.
“The whole pack is here?”
Dimitri nodded, his kind eyes brimming with understanding. “It’s the only way to really welcome you, kid.”
Irini on the other hand was bubbling with excitement. Before Dimitri had even parked, she was out of the car and running for the house. He merely laughed and finally shut the engine off.
“No.” She shook her head nervously. “But then I’ll never be ready for this moment so we might as well shove my ass out of the car, right?”
He chuckled getting out of the driver’s side. “That’s the spirit.”
Caia had no idea how she managed it, but she got out of the car and slowly followed Dimitri up the front steps to the porch. Her lykan ears could hear the sound of Irini crying happily and people murmuring warm words of welcome to her. She could hear her growl Lucien’s name, but then start crying and mumbling ‘I missed you brother’ over and over.
I guess all is forgiven, Caia thought wryly.
As her light foot came off the last step she was seized once more with absolute anxiety, undiluted and pure. She steadied herself, taking a deep breath. She couldn’t let them see how nervous she was. Dimitri had swung open the porch door, and was now throwing open the main door with as much grace.
“Well hell!” he shouted in amusement. “Look at you all … you didn’t eat everything already, did you?”
“I managed to save you some food,” a laughing female voice called back to him. “I hid it from these vultures for you.”
She could hear Dimitri smack a kiss on someone and the pack chuckled lightly. The sounds of familiarity between them all sent another wave through Caia’s stomach, but before she could melt into an anxious puddle on the floor Dimitri’s head popped back in sight around the door frame. “Come on, kid.”
A sudden hush fell over the room. Slowly, she pushed her way through the porch door and stepped into a beautiful open hallway with a wide antique staircase winding up from the center of the room to the next floor. Bracing herself against her own insecurities Caia turned to the opening to the left of the hallway and took in the sight of the large pack that was to be her new family. There looked to be about thirty of them – large feral, handsome males, young and older; beautiful, athletic females; small children with enquiring eyes.READ MORE >>