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Authors: Christine M. Butler

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Branches of the Willow 3

BOOK: Branches of the Willow 3
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Table of Contents

Branches of the Willow

Copyright

Also by Christine M. Butler

Acknowledgments

Happy

Mating Service

Reunions

Sweet Dreams

Business

Blood and Bonds

Legends

Mothers and Daughters

Home

Captives

Surprise

A Thorn

Act of War

The Locks

Birth

In the Dark

Previews

Bound by the Moon

Becoming One

Bringing Change

About the Author

Branches of the Willow

 

The Ancients – Vol. 3

 

Christine M. Butler

 

Copyright © 2014 Christine M. Butler

Moonlit Dreams Publications

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, preprinted, or uploaded in full or in part without explicit written permission from the author and Moonlit Dreams Publications.

Cover Design © 2014 Christine M. Butler

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN: 1497496462

ISBN-13: 978-1497496460

 

Also By Christine M. Butler

 

The Ancients Series

Shadows of the Ancients

Falling into the White

Branches of the Willow

Bound by the Moon (Fall 2014)

 

The Daniels Clan Series

Becoming One (Sept. 2014)

 

Falling Star Series

Catch a Falling Star

Replicas (Aug. 2014)

 

The Awakening Trilogy

Birthrights

Revelations

Incarnations

 

The VooDoo Follies

 

Get your digital books autographed here:

https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/M00nlitdreams

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

This book wouldn’t even exist if not for my readers. Thank you all for checking out Shadows of the Ancients, and then sticking by the series for three books. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the feedback I’ve gotten (good and bad). I hope to hear more as the series comes to its conclusion with Bound by the Moon.

Thank you for picking up the books. Thank you, for those of you who are rating on Goodreads, and taking a moment to review where you buy. Those reviews help tremendously. You are the reason I get to write more books!

Thank you to my family for dealing with the craziness that comes with me being a writer. It’s difficult when you’re in the middle of a game of Clue, and mom has to run and grab a notebook, because she’s thought of something that should have gone on in chapter six. Of course, I think it also gives my kids an opportunity to cheat so that I never get a chance to guess that Plum did it in the study with a knife! Curse the creative brain & cheating kids!

I’d also like to send a special thanks to all my fellow authors (whether they’re Indie, hybrid, or traditionally published) for all of the advice, talks, hand-holding, silly conversations, and support.

 

HAPPY

 

 

“I never thought my happily ever after was going to be so busy.” I smiled at Ashley as I spoke.

“Maybe because you never believed in the fairy-tale ending to begin with?” Ashley reminded me.

“Can you blame me? I mean, back when you tried to convince me that fairy tales were a real thing Zach Brighton was supposed to be my mate.” I mock gagged, and the weight of Zach’s disappearance, again, settled in on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. Zach had been part of a plan to kidnap and kill me, or keep me for his mate, twice now. Both times he managed to get away while the people responsible for helping him were being dealt with. Even though I didn’t worry about him as a powerful foe, he was proving to be a slippery bastard.

“They’ll find him, Jess.” Ashley tried to sound sure of herself, but even I could hear the doubt in her voice. “What about this one?” She held the shirt up, trying to change the subject.

“Your boobs are going to be on full display in that one!”

“Perfect!” Ashley tossed the shirt into her suitcase with a big grin on her face.

“What am I going to do without you while you’re gone?” I poked my lip out in what I meant to be a fake pout, but it felt all too real.

“I’m sure Mikael will think of ways to keep you plenty busy!” Ashley waggled her eyebrows at me as her smile lit up her face. Her blue eyes sparkled in delight. “I can’t believe I’m getting to go away with Asriel.” She squealed in delight for what was probably the hundredth time.

I tossed a teal silk blouse her way, “Take that one too.” I offered as she continued to dance around. “I’m sure I’ll be plenty busy with Mikael, and wolf stuff, but who am I going to talk to about everything?”

Ashley came over and hugged me. “There are these things,” she whispered into my ear. “They are called phones. We have international plans, and we can talk whenever you need me. I promise!”

“Except when Asi is keeping you busy.” I grinned.

“Yeah, well, that goes without saying.” She laughed again.

I was definitely going to miss my best friend. “I wish we could go with you guys. There’s just so much going on here. I know that I won’t be able to get away anytime soon.” I looked around the mess that was Ashley’s room for anything else I could add to her already overburdened suitcase. “It looks like we packed everything you own.”

Ashley struggled to get one side of her suitcase zipped closed. “I think you’re right, but a girl has to be prepared for anything.”

“What do you think Evan will be claiming for himself and Mikael? I know there are properties, and all the stuff in the houses, but I can’t even imagine what all that entails. You’re going to need to send pictures, lots of pictures.” I stopped rambling for a minute and just stood there.

“I will, Jess. I can’t wait to see everything. I’ve never been out of the country.” She smiled at me, her red curls bouncing as she struggled with the zipper once more. “This is going to be an amazing trip. I promise I will send enough pictures back that you can live vicariously through me until you’re all squared away here. Maybe then we can all take a trip to some place tropical, like we used to dream about.”

“Oh, yeah! One of those resorts, with the white beaches, and umbrella drinks?”

“You know it!” Ashley bumped me with her hip as she finally got her suitcase to close all the way, and sat it down on the floor. Once her hands were free, she turned to pull me into another big hug. “I wish you were going too,” she whispered.

“Are you ready in here?” Ashley’s mate, Asriel, asked as he came through the door. His eyebrows quirked up as that wicked grin slid across his face. “Son of a bitch, I guess I owe Evan some cash. I swore that you two would find a way to pack Jess in there.” He glanced down at the suitcase by Ashley’s feet, then did a double take at the size. “You know we’re coming back, right?”

“Don’t start.” Ashley pouted. “A girl has to be prepared…” her voice trailed off as she looked at the extremely large, overstuffed suitcase. “Can you get that for me?”

“Why am I not surprised?” Asi sighed, but leaned in for a kiss before grabbing the bag and hauling it out to the car. I watched as the muscles in Asi’s forearm and biceps bulged a bit with the weight of the suitcase even though he made it look effortless. Ashley was definitely a lucky girl. Then again, the man across the room that headed towards me caught my eye and stole my breath away. I was blessed, myself.

“Jess, we have to get you over to the meeting with the pack leaders soon.” Mikael reminded me. I watched as he prowled ever closer, not stopping until we met somewhere in the middle. He slipped an arm around my shoulder, and retraced his steps back out of the temporary house we’d set up for Asi and Ashley while they were waiting for their own to be built on the pack’s land.

“They can wait a couple more minutes. I need to say goodbye, and we’ll head over.” I leaned into the passenger side of the car, where Ashley was adjusting her seatbelt, and I gave her a peck on the cheek. “Your house should be finished by the time you guys get back. Then we get to throw a house warming party!”

Ashley just giggled in my ear. “Still looking for excuses to party, Jess?”

“Actually, I just think by the time you get back, I’ll need to blow off some serious steam.”

“Isn’t that what your man is for?” She teased. I heard Mikael chuckling off to my side. I rolled my eyes in Ashley’s general direction as I turned to find Evan standing nearby. He was taking things well these days, but he always seemed a bit lost to me. I could see the pain? that clouded his eyes when I caught him watching me. Part of me felt for him, even though I was happy with Mikael, I still wanted the same thing for Evan.

Evan leaned in and wrapped his arms around me. “Stay safe, and take care of my brother while I’m gone. Between the two of you, getting kidnapped seems to be a thing, and I won’t be around to rescue you this time.”

In response I gave Evan a playful punch to the gut, and laughed. “Shut it, Evan. You just worry about taking care of Ashley, and making sure she gets back here in one piece.” He squeezed me a little harder then.

“You know I will.” Evan turned to plant a kiss on my cheek about the same time I heard Mikael’s low growl, warning Evan that he was lingering too long. For his part, Evan just pulled back and grinned at him. “Calm down, brother. I was just saying goodbye.”

“I heard what you said. No need to say goodbye with your lips too.” Mikael complained. I laughed as I walked over and put my arm around his waist.

“I think it’s cute that you get jealous.” I whispered. “Even though you have absolutely nothing to worry about.” Evan hopped into the back of the car, and let Asi take position in the driver’s seat. “Take care of her, Asi. I mean it!” I called out.

“You have my word, Jess.” He nodded to Mikael, and bowed his head reverently towards me. “Call if there are any problems. We will be back as fast as we can.”

“Thank you.” Asi may have been Evan’s man through and through, but he had sworn his own allegiance to me, as the white wolf, too. I knew he would come running without hesitation if I asked.

Mikael draped an arm around my shoulders, and hugged me closer to him. “She’ll be back soon.” I answered with a sigh, and hugged him back.

“I know. I just worry that whatever it is that glues Asriel and Evan together will eventually mean that I lose my best friend to their constant travel. I’m happy for Ash, don’t get me wrong, but I would miss her terribly.” I poked my lip out in a very unbecoming pout. “I’m selfish, huh?”

“You’re not selfish, and she’ll be back. Hell, they’re building a house, here, on your father’s pack lands. I think that tells you all you need to know about where Asi’s heart is in all of this.” He tugged me a little closer to him then. “Now, let’s get you to that meeting before anyone gets antsy.”

“Jessie!” A male voice called out from somewhere behind me. My heart stuttered in my chest at the sound, because it was so reminiscent of Jack. He was the only one who ever called me Jessie with any regularity, and his death was still too fresh in my heart. I turned to see Andy Wallace running towards me. “Hey, Jess!”

“What’s up Andy?”

“I’m glad I caught you before you took off for the meeting hall. We have three new males, Ancients, here on pack lands asking to speak with you.”

“We’re running late already.” Mikael pointed out to Andy. It was also his subtle way of reminding me as he slid his arm free of my shoulders.

“Andy, have them wait at my parents’ house. Keep an eye on them though, until I get there. I really have to get to this meeting. We’re late. The Ancients can wait. Twenty pack leaders crammed into a small, enclosed room for too long is probably not a good idea.” Andy nodded as a grin spread across his face, and then he took off again in the opposite direction. “The good news is, it looks like I’m going to be too busy to remember I have a friend somewhere out there, let? alone to miss her.” Mikael bumped into my side playfully. He was quieter than usual. “Do you wish you were going with them?” I asked. “You could have.”

“No, Jess. The only place on Earth I want to be is right here with you. I just worry about everything that’s been dropped on your shoulders. Promise me something?”

“Anything.” I answered, meaning it.

“Let me know if it’s too much. We can haul ass for a private sanctuary, recharge, and decompress anytime. You just say the word. You’re the White Wolf, and that’s important, but you’re also Jess. You have to be able to check out, and do for yourself too.”

I smiled up at my mate. This is why he was perfect for me. He wouldn’t stand in the way of what I needed to do, but he was there to make sure I mattered too. “I love you!”

BOOK: Branches of the Willow 3
9.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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