Authors: Stacey Kennedy
“Rynn, wolf of Utah, is it your wish to be claimed by Briggs, Beta to the Patriarch?” Valor’s voice was soft.
Rynn glanced up to Briggs, smiling sweetly. “It is.”
Valor turned to Briggs. “Briggs, Beta to the Patriarch, is it your wish to claim your mate, Rynn, wolf of Utah?”
His smile was pure possession and happiness. “It is my honor.”
Valor touched their heads. “As in my right, as the Patriarch, I name these two wolves bonded by the moon.” Then, his smile turned glorious. “Kiss her, my friend Briggs. Seal your bond.”
Briggs gathered Rynn tight against him and kissed her lips with a passion that had the crowd whistling and shouting with merriment. There was probably more going on here than I could see—a magical bond created. Judging by the way Briggs cradled her, there was a real strength of protection that he felt for her.
I sighed, and melted into Kyden. “It’s so sweet.”
He smiled down at me, joy for his good friend expelled from him as he snuggled me against him. “It is that, Álainn. It is that.”
“Ooohh goodie, you’re back,” Haven exclaimed, running toward me as we made our way through the grounds of the Otherworld.
It might appear simple to some, with just flat grass, but the remarkable castle and the spectacular garden which held every flower and bush imaginable, clearly made it anything but.
“Prepare to be mauled,” I whispered to Rynn in haste.
Rynn’s brows rose at my words.
My attention shifted from her as Haven threw herself into my arms. “I’ve missed you so much.”
I laughed, laid my head against her shoulder as I hugged her back tightly. “Me too.” I did. Being back here with her, home never felt so good.
She drew away and instantly wrapped herself around Rynn. “Rynn, right?” She didn’t wait for her to answer. Typical Haven. “It’s so nice to have you here.”
Rynn patted her back, and looked a little bewildered. “Thanks, and you are?”
“I’m Haven,” she answered, backing away. “Nexi’s soul-sister.”
“Soul-sister?” Rynn repeated, apparently confused by the term.
“Just think of it as best friends,” I told her. No need to confuse her further. If I hadn’t felt it for myself, I still wasn’t sure I’d believe it possible.
“You’ve brought some furry friends with you.” Haven giggled, giving Isla and Dante a quick wave. She linked her arm in mine and gave me a once over. “You look extra sexy tonight.”
I glanced down, a little embarrassed. When Isla said she was going to get me some clothes, I should have declined. She came back with a black lacy shirt that consisted of straps, which barely covered my nipples, and jeans that worked up a sweat to get into.
Kyden appreciated the clothing. Me…not so much.
“I thought she’d look damn fine,” Isla said proudly.
Kyden smacked my ass. “I can only hope I’m able to get those off later.”
“I can only hope I don’t lose my legs from lack of circulation,” I grumbled.
His devilish grin, which always left me a little breathless, never got old. I was sure it never would.
Haven pulled me forward, snapped my attention back from southern regions as we headed toward the garden. “I’ve already started planning the bonding ceremony. Zia said it will be next week, so we have to get on top of things.”
I gave Kyden a knowing look, which he returned. Then, I looked back at Haven. “What can I help with?”
“Oh nothing, I’ve got it handled. You just have to show up and look pretty,” she replied, happily. “I’m living vicariously through you since I won’t ever do it.”
“Why? You and Finn won’t ever be bonded?”
Her expression saddened, the feeling washed right through me. “Finn doesn’t think I could handle it. You know, with his job and all. He thinks it best we don’t.” She shrugged. “I guess he’s right.”
It was sad, but Finn was right. Feeling the emotions that go along with the scenes that we, as Guardians, experience was something Haven wasn’t capable of dealing with. Every time Finn felt anything, Haven would lose it. She could barely control what I felt, and as Kyden said, the bonding made the emotions more intense.
Still, it didn’t mean the knowledge of that truth made it any less sad. “Bonded or not, you’ve got something good.”
Warmth ran through me as a loving smile spread across her face. “You’re right about that.” Then, she looked out to see Finn approaching from the garden, and the warm feeling inside me grew immensely in reaction to her emotions. She dropped my arm and ran toward him. He caught her up in his arms and spun her around, kissing her in pure dramatic fashion.
He put her down just as we reached them and gave Kyden a wide grin. “Fastening the ball and chain…tough guy,” he said, punching Kyden’s arm.
“About bloody time, I’d say.” Kyden laughed, and returned the hit.
Finn groaned and rubbed his shoulder. Kyden packed a hell of a punch. In macho land that meant
I’m happy for you
. Then, he turned to Dante. “It’s been awhile since you’ve been here.”
Dante gave a delicious smile that would sink any woman to their knees. “Isla didn’t give me a choice.”
We all laughed. Isla had a little combination of my personality mixed with Haven’s—a force to be reckoned with for sure.
“Ready to have some fun, darlin’?” Briggs asked Rynn.
“I think so,” she answered, her voice trembling a little. “I’m still recovering from the portal thing. That was just bizarre.”
It amazed me too. I had no idea there were other portals in the Earthworld that would bring you into the realm of the Otherworld, but Valor had one at his home. Apparently, since Valor was a superior supernatural and being that he was the Patriarch, he fell into that category.
Scents of healthy, thriving flowers tickled my nose as we made our way along the stone path through the garden. We passed the pond, which held fish that splashed around under lily pads. Even a bullfrog croaked as we startled it.
Iron gates with green vines woven around the bars appeared at the end of the path. When we stepped through the gate and entered the Witches Meadow, Rynn gasped in surprise. God, had I been there, knew the awe she was feeling. This place was pretty spectacular, rolling hills, eons of trees, colorful wildflowers—a fairy’s playground.
Tonight, the meadow was full with Supes. Weres gathered in abundance, as did vampires and witches too of course—all celebrating the full moon. It wasn’t until my magic came through that I truly got the meaning of this party. However, it’s similar to drinking twenty cans of
gave the body a giant boost of energy.
Suddenly, Willow’s snarky voice came from at my feet.
“About time you came home…I…”
She hesitated as if lost for words. That was definitely a first for her.
I scooped her up and gave her a little snuggle. “I missed you too, Willow.” She purred loudly in response. Kyden reached over and rubbed her head, which made her purr even deeper.
We were home and it felt great.
After a few more scratches, Willow jumped out of my hands and sauntered over to the other Familiars who belonged to the Witches here in the Otherworld.
Zia approached, her smile glowing with pure joy. “Congratulations are in order,” she said, pulling me into a tight embrace.
Being hugged by her was nothing short of wonderful. I sank into her as I wrapped my arms around her and smiled. Zia was as close to a mother as I’d had in a very long time. To have her approval was just a good thing.
Talon stepped forward and gave Kyden a rough manly hug. “Glad to hear of it, son.” Then, he grabbed me, laid a wet one on my cheek. “It will be good to finally make you my daughter—officially.”
Well, well, Mr. Show No Emotion might be having a breakthrough after all. His face flushed red when he realized what he’d said, so to ease him, I quickly changed the subject. “How are things?”
Zia answered, “It has been quiet around here the past few days.” Then, her gaze landed on Rynn and her face instantly softened. “Welcome to the Otherworld. You are Rynn?”
Rynn nodded, a little reserved. “I am.”
“I am Zia, Master of Witches. Please consider this your home as well.”
Rynn blushed. “Thank you.”
Zia’s look turned curious as she watched Rynn. Then, she glanced at Briggs. “She’s your mate?”
Briggs beamed. “Aye, she is.”
Zia clapped her hands. “Wonderful news, Briggs.” She leaned forward, held her hand out to Rynn. The second their skin made contact, she snapped hers back, gasping.
Rynn exclaimed and quickly leaned into Briggs, who wrapped an arm around her.
Oh yeah, she saw it—Rynn’s traumatic night.
Zia said to me.
Zia reached back out to Rynn, the sadness was very prevalent in her eyes. She leaned forward and whispered something in Rynn’s ear.
Rynn listened, then her expression turned to one of shock. “You can do that?”
Zia nodded. “My magic allows me that gift.”
Rynn was thoughtful for a moment, looked at Briggs curiously, then said, “No, I don’t want you to erase the memory.” Zia smiled softly, then leaned back in, whispering in her ear once again. A moment later, she met Rynn’s eyes, who looked hopeful. “Now that is something I would want.”
Zia gave her arm a little squeeze and pain filled Rynn’s face. Briggs tensed immediately, looking ready to intervene. Rynn grasped his arm, obviously sensing his tension, but when she opened her eyes again, she looked peaceful.
Slowly, Rynn glanced away from Briggs to look at Zia. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Zia moved her hand Rynn’s arm and cupped her cheek. “I hope that gives you some peace, Rynn.”
I examined them, as did everyone else, wondering what the hell she’d done to her. If she didn’t want her to erase the memory than what was she doing?
Zia glanced to me and winked.
Part of me wanted to be a nosy parker, the other part knew better. I left it alone though, knowing whatever she’d done was personal and none of my business.
Abruptly, I felt a poke on my shoulder. I spun around to see Zennah looking fabulous. Kyden’s ex was one hot chick. I was envious of her Kate Beckinsale beauty.
Zennah glanced at Kyden, gave him a soft nod, then looked back to me. “I heard of your acceptance to bond with Kyden and…well…” She hesitated, then finally said, “I just wanted to say congrats.”
Wow! What a shock. The bitch actually had something nice to say. “Er…thank you.” It was actually really nice coming from her. It had taken some time and effort for things to improve between us. We would never be best friends, but at least we weren’t sworn enemies.
Dante quickly stepped forward, his gaze focused on Zennah, his eyes sweeping the length of her. “I am Dante.”
She went from happy to sultry in a millisecond. “Hello, Dante,” she purred, reaching her hand out to him, and he kissed it happily. “I am Zennah.”
I looked at Kyden, who was smiling.
Dante would be a good fit for Zennah. She was more than a handful. That tough wolf would keep her in check. The only thing was…it wouldn’t be everlasting. He could never accept her as a mate since she wasn’t a wolf, but they could have a good roll in the hay. Which, by looking at them now, was in the immediate future.
“I could smell you from a mile away.” A voice thick with French accent sidled up beside me.
I snorted loudly and spun to the side to face her. “Hello, Thalia.”
This Vampire was an elegant French rose. Beautiful, with her soft brown hair pulled up and dangling along her pale skin and pinkish cheeks. Her dark eyes showed just how happy she was to see me. Most of the Mistresses of the United States were hard asses—Thalia, the Mistress of the Mid-West was sweeter than bumble berry pie.
Hayes stood behind her, smiling brightly. He was your classic Scottish regale—scruffy, ruggedly handsome, but without the kilt. A real shame, in my opinion.
Thalia leaned in very close to my face and inhaled deeply. “Mmm, just as I remember it,” she said with a lick of her lips.
“Put those away.” I swatted at her fangs. It was never a blessing that my blood smelled appealing to vampires—something to do with my mixed heritage. I hadn’t really delved into the reasoning of it. I was perfectly happy ignoring it.
Thalia smiled innocently. “You must come for a visit soon. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Hayes?”
He bowed his head. “The pleasure would be all ours.”
“I am sure it would,” I grumbled under my breath, glancing out to the crowd.
The music was the normal African tribal drums that pounded out a beat like pure sex. Supes just had that spirit to them. Sexuality was quite normal and very accepted within these parties.
Briggs passed by us, pulling Rynn into the crowd, and slowly began dancing oh-so-gently with her.
“He is very sweet with her,” I said to Kyden.
Kyden followed my gaze, glancing at his friend. “He will have to be.” Then, he stepped closer to me, a sexy grin on his face. His rock hard body was tight against mine. “Come dance, Álainn.”
“Have a pleasant evening,” Thalia said as I walked away.
Too lost in having Kyden wrapped around me, I gave a simple wave as my response.
Slowly, he made his way through the crowd and stopped in the center. The loud beat was booming and created vibrations that ran along the ground. He wrapped his hands around my hips, dragged me forward, then rubbed his erection along my thigh.