The Return: Chapter Thirteen
The two of us laid there, touching, kissing, stroking. Jonas’s cum was leaking from my ass, and when I said I was going to clean up, he pinned me down, telling me that he liked it, and I should leave it. Any protest was cut off when he jammed his tongue into my mouth and got me hard again. This time when he pushed back into me, it was slow, languid. He spent the entire time staring into my eyes, and I could see the love in them.
We fell asleep in each other’s arms, and I knew a true contentment. I had been searching for something most of my life, and now? I found it. My home was Jonas. I didn’t even care if we had to move to the pack house anymore, as long as I was with him.
“Core,” he murmured. “Love you so fucking much. I never thought it could be like this.”
Then he was snoring again. A light, airy buzz that made me smile.
The house door opened, then closed. I could hear Matt and Kinsey as they made their way through the living room.
“….loved the explosions,” Kinsey said, actually sounding excited. “They don’t usually get them right, but these were amazing.”
“When the two men kissed, I was shocked. I didn’t realize the woman wasn’t going to be the love interest. That threw me for a loop.”
“Plus the sex scene was hot.”
“Yeah,” came the shy reply. “Kinsey, I—”
Whatever Matt was saying was cut off by a soft moan. I got up, put my pants on, then crept to the door. When I opened it, my jaw dropped. Kinsey had Matt’s wrists held in his hand and pinned above him to the wall as he kissed Matt breathless. When he pulled back, Matt’s eyes were wide.
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
“I’ve been waiting forever,” Kinsey replied. “But couldn’t do it when we worked for the Council. Didn’t you like it?”
In answer, Matt threw himself into Kinsey’s arms and mashed their mouths together. I closed the door then, and returned to the bed. As soon as I crawled in, Jonas reached over and pulled me up against him.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, fine. Just saw Kinsey kissing Matt.”
“Mm, about time he manned up. Couldn’t stand the pheromones when the two of them were together.”
He moved closer and put a hand on my leg.
“Tonight was…” God, how did I put into words what was in my heart?
“What? Hell, no.” I paused a moment, dread slithering through me. “Did you think it was?”
He rolled over and pulled me closer. “What? No fucking way. That was one of the best moments in my entire life. It ranks up there with the day I met you and realized you were my mate.”
The tension drained out of me. “So where do we go from here?”
“Oh, we’re going to be doing so much of that,” he told me, then nibbled his lip. “Core? Can I say something?”
“After my dad took me to the pack house, I thought about running away. I’d come back for you, and the two of us would get the hell out of Harken’s Corners. I’m glad we didn’t.”
“This is your home. You have friends here. The thought I could have taken you away from them hurts. I was being selfish, thinking about what I wanted, and not what was right for us.”
He’d laid his soul bare for me, so could I do any less? “Confession time. I was angry for so long, but you’re right. I came back here after college, because this was my home. Everything in my life was here, except my parents. And you, of course. Then I opened the shop, and it cemented my place here. Having you come back was like adding a jewel to a crown. I think us leaving would have been the worst mistake ever.”
He chuckled and tightened his grip. “Sometimes you have to stop looking over your shoulder, so you can see what’s in front of you.”
He shrugged. “I think I read it on a soup can or something. My point is, I’m going to be the Alpha, and you’re my mate. The wolves here will depend on us to love and guide them. I don’t think… No, I’m certain, after everything with the Council, I can’t imagine them putting someone in my place. These are our people, and no one will know them or care for them as we do.”
He wasn’t wrong. “It might sound weird, but I have always felt like I… I don’t know. Belonged here? Even after you left, it still felt like this was the place I had to be, because it was safe for me here.”
“That doesn’t sound weird at all. I admit, I don’t fully understand how being mated works for a human, but you’re pack. This is your family, every bit as much as your parents. Everyone out there is your brother, sister, aunt, uncle, mother, father. That’s what pack is. We take care of each other, without any of the posturing crap that some humans put out. We don’t make it about us, we make it about them. You, more than anyone, embody that belief, because you’re the Alpha Mate, and it’s in your blood.”
“I wish someone could talk to me about this,” I said to him. “It’s weird and awesome at the same time.”
“As far as I know, you are the only human who’s ever been an Alpha Mate. My dad believed that Mates were always the same species. He figured, if I ever found mine, it would be a wolf. Then I met you, and that all went out the window. At first, he worried about how a human would be received into the pack. When Annabelle told him she’d sold this house, he was over the moon. Then he came to meet your family, and found out you were human.”
“You make it sound bad.”
“This is supposed to be a haven for wolves. Interaction with humans was to be kept to a minimum. Then, three of them move into town, and our way of life was disrupted.”
“Why? What’s the big deal?”
He blew out a breath. “What do you think would happen if the government found out about werewolves? We’re faster, stronger, heal better. Our wolves can kill without compunction. And that’s the rank and file. Alphas….” His eyes widened. “Never mind.”
What? Hell, no. “Go on. What about Alphas?”
“Core, it’s complicated.”
“Then give me the Dummy’s Guide to Your Werewolf version.”
He winced. “Most wolves have two forms. They’re either human or wolf. Alphas have a third form; a cross between human and wolf. More aggressive, nearly feral. It’s that form that Adam dragged out of me that day. If I had finished the shift, I would have torn him apart.”
His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, ‘no’?”
“Just what I said. I heard you tell me wolves were more animalistic, but the thing is I don’t buy it. Everyone is good and loving and kind here. I can’t picture you all turning into slavering beasts. It just makes no sense. Even in this third form you’re talking about, you’re still you.”
“That’s not how it works,” he said. “When we shift, our animals are on the surface. They’re in control. Our human half is buried beneath—”
“No! This is bullshit.” I got up and moved away from Jonas. “The human is still there, I saw it in your eyes. Yes, the wolf might be dominant, but you’re still in the body. If you weren’t, you would have taken me down hard the day you showed me. You didn’t. Not because of the wolf recognizing me as its mate, but because you did. If the wolf was in control, you would have played with me like a wolf would. Instead, you played with me like Jonas would.”
He frowned. “You don’t get it.”
But I did. Being on the outside, looking in at the whole situation, I started to think I was the only one who could.
“Shift for me. We’re going to try something.”
He frowned. “I might hurt you.”
“And you might not. I’m willing to trust that you won’t. Shift.”
He looked up at me, his eyes shining. “I can’t. Please don’t ask me to do it.”
When I knelt beside him and took his hand, he gasped. “Look, you trust in me, right?” He nodded. “Then let me show you that I trust in you too. Please.”
Several long seconds passed before he sighed deeply. He sat, his entire body rigid. He gave me a pleading look, like he was hoping I would change my mind, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“Shift. I swear it’s going to be fine.”
Because no matter what form he wore, he was my Jonas. Would always be mine.
“And I want to see your third form.”
He stepped back and held up his hands. “No, absolutely not!”
“Then you don’t trust me.”
“I trust you, I don’t trust the wolf.”
“But I do. The two of you are one entity, and no matter how bad things get, Jonas is still in control.”
“I wasn’t the day I nearly killed Adam.”
“Because Adam attacked me. I get that, why don’t you?”
“My father said—”
“Your father saw you when you were in a rage. How would he have reacted if it had been your mother that Adam beat up? He might not do what you did, but he wasn’t a teenager dealing with surging hormones.” I put a hand on his chest. “Show me your third form.”
Tears leaked from his eyes. “Corey, I don’t know if I can—”
“It’ll be okay, I swear it.”
His lip trembled, but he stood. As I watched, his lower legs thickened with muscle, and his arms grew longer, hanging down to his knees. His chest grew wider, while his torso shrunk. Then came the dark brown hair, covering his entire body. The final thing to change was his face. The new form had sharp, angular features that morphed into a snout and a mouth with rows of teeth. His amber eyes turned black. When the shift completed, he lifted his head and howled. Anyone else probably would have pissed themselves. As it was, the sound sent shivers coursing through me, being this close to something so primal.
His head snapped in my direction, and he snarled, showing off those nasty looking teeth that could probably crunch down through my bones and chew them up. When he reached for me, I did what he probably never expected. I stepped closer, getting within range of the claws. He gripped my arm and yanked me to his body, then wrapped around me, cradling me.
“See? Your instinct is to protect me. You could never hurt anyone in your care.”
The bedroom door flew open, and Kinsey rushed into the room, naked. He laid eyes on Jonas, and moved toward me, a snarl on his lips.
“Alpha Jonas, you need to let him go.”
“He’s not hurting me, Kinsey,” I insisted, “I’m where I want to be.”
“You don’t understand! He’s violent in that form.”
I reached up and stroked two fingers over his muzzle. Jonas snuggled into my hand. “Yeah, so violent. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
Jonas shifted back, but still held me to him, his face buried in my neck.
I held Jonas tight. “Stopped being yours the moment he laid his hands on me. Didn’t he?”
Jonas’s voice cracked. “But he was pack.”
“That you gave two shits about. Tell me I’m wrong.”
He shook his head. “I was done with him the second you told me he touched you.”
“See? You wouldn’t have hurt any pack member that you cared about. If someone hugged me, what would you do?”
He leaned back and gazed at me with those amazing amber eyes. “What do you mean?”
“Think back to the pack meeting. They were putting their hands on me, and what did you do? You stood there and smiled.”
“Because they were welcoming you to the pack. I didn’t have a reason to—oh.”
“Yes, oh. You had no reason to lash out at them because they weren’t a threat. Adam was. You said he talked about raping me.”
Jonas bared his teeth and a growl came from deep inside him, one that was echoed by Kinsey. “I should have gutted him for that.”
“Do you see the difference? Your wolf does. You wouldn’t hurt me, and you won’t do anything against anyone who cares for me. If someone tries to hurt me, yeah, you’ll probably have a harder time controlling yourself.”
He gave a wobbly grin. “Corey, if anyone hurt you, I would have to kill them. There wouldn’t be a choice in that. My dad said we were beyond that, but we really aren’t. Man and wolf would protect their mate, and the two together is a powerful force.”
“You wouldn’t have to, Jonas. I would get to anyone who hurt Corey first,” Kinsey assured him. “Their life would be forfeit long before you could stop me.”
I stepped back and waved my hands in the air. “Okay, way too much testosterone in the…. Wait a sec.”
I turned and narrowed his gaze at Kinsey.
“What room did you come out of?”
As badass as Kinsey was, his cheeks flushed. “I…ah…well, it’s like this….”
Matt stepped out of the room naked, of course. He looked totally debauched, with hickeys on his neck and chest, and there were bruises on his hips. Finger shaped bruises.
“Oh, my,” Jonas said. “You two didn’t waste any time.”
“I did,” Kinsey replied. “I’ve wanted Matt for so long. His wolf trills to mine, and it was almost impossible to ignore.” He moved to Matt and pulled him in, then wrapped his arms around Matt’s chest. “For years I wanted to approach him, but the Council’s rules were quite clear. Last night, as we sat and watched the movie, Matt’s hand touched mine, and I couldn’t take it anymore.” He bowed his head. “If you need to punish me, then so be it.”
“Punish you? What the hell for?”
“Because I entered into a relationship with another of your employees.”
“Matt? Do you have something to say?”
Matt gave a soft smile. “Last night I slept in a room and didn’t freak out. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see the stars above, because Kinsey held me to him. There was no claustrophobia, only comfort,” he blurted. “If you’re going to punish anyone, it should be—”
“For the love of….” Jonas barked, clearly annoyed. “No one is being punished. Did Kinsey do anything you didn’t want?”
Matt’s eyes widened. “No!”
“Okay. Kinsey, did you feel coerced?”
“What? Why would you… Oh.”
“Exactly. The two of you are allowed happiness, and Harken’s Corners is your home. Why do you think Corey claimed you as our wolves?”
Kinsey took Matt’s hand, and they stepped closer to me, then knelt on bended knee. “Thank you, Alpha Mate for—”
I threw his hands in the air, flapping them wildly. “Ew, no. No, no, no. Get the hell up.”
They rose as one, Matt looking befuddled. “I don’t understand,” he said. “Are you forbidding us to join?”
“He doesn’t know about that,” Jonas replied quickly, then turned to me. “In a pack, blessings are provided by the Alpha Mate. If someone wants to get married, they’d ask—” His eyes went wide as his gaze snapped back to Kinsey and Matt. “Wait. You want to get married?”
“If the Alpha Mate allows it,” Kinsey said. “I don’t want to be without Matt in my life, but if you—”
“Wait!” Matt cried out. “Please, Corey. Don’t say no. I… I love him. I’ve been in love with him for years.”
Kinsey smiled brightly. “And I love Matt. What do we need to do to earn your favor, Corey?”
I could understand that. It was how I’d felt about Jonas. The problem? I was clueless as to what they were talking about.
“Someone could tell me what the hell is going on once in a while,” I groused. Then to Jonas. “What do I have to do here?”
“Whatever you think is best. If you want to give your blessings, then do. If you think something else needs to happen, then tell them.”
A slow breath as I shot Jonas what I hope he took as a nasty look. “You know, we need to sit down and talk this out. I need crib notes or something.” Then I turned and took Matt’s hands between mine. “Nothing in the world means more to me than seeing people I care for being happy. If Kinsey is the person who can do that for you, then yes, by all means, you have my blessing.”
“Oh, Corey!” Matt blubbered, as he threw his arms around my neck. “He makes me so happy,” Matt whispered in my ear.
“Then that’s all I need to hear,” I replied, squeezing Matt. “And, uh, could you take your junk off me? We’re rubbing together, and it’s…weird.”
He stepped back, his cheeks red. “Sorry.”
“I guess you don’t need two places to live, huh?” Jonas teased.
A very solemn Kinsey shook his head. “I never want to be apart from Matt again.” He coughed softly. “Will this cause issues with us continuing in our roles?”
“Why would it?”
Jonas reached for me. “Because if he mates with Matt, then Matt will become the first thing Kinsey looks for if there is a problem. He can’t be your bodyguard if his attention isn’t on you.”
“I don’t need a bodyguard.”
That got a sigh out of Jonas. “The Council has already given their blessing. To make a change like this will require a lot of groveling. You’re going to have a bodyguard, no matter what I say. It’ll either be Kinsey, or someone else.”
“Then I’ll quit,” Matt said. “Your bodyguard is more important than the driver.”
Kinsey snarled and slammed Matt against the wall. In supplication, Matt tilted his neck.
“What did I tell you? What have I always told you? You don’t listen to other people, got it? I will never lie to you about your worth. You are precious, and will be loved because of the amazing man you are. Nothing anyone else says matters.”
“Uh, excuse me?” I muttered. “I think what I say matters, because I think Matt is remarkable.”
Kinsey’s lip curled up in the corner. “Thank you, Corey. You’re right. What you say matters too.” He pulled Matt into a bone crushing hug. “Tell me you understand.”
Matt snuggled into the tight embrace, burying his face in Kinsey’s armpit. “I’ll try.”
“I will tell you as often as you need to hear it.” Kinsey stroked his fingers through Matt’s hair. “You are my world.”
I turned to Jonas. “I remember when you used to talk to me like that. I guess the honeymoon period is—” I yelped when a very naked, and now somewhat erect, Jonas grabbed me.
Well, that made me grin. Seems it worked better than I intended.