The irony of this situation is not lost on me, proving that the Moon Goddess does, indeed, have a sense of humor. I kidnapped a Guardian nearly a year ago to forcibly take her as my mate. She ended up being underage, so me trying to mark her didn’t work.
While I’ve seen the error of my ways and realize what I did was a terrible thing, here I am, looking into the eyes of my mate, who is also a Guardian.
She walks over to me, eyeing me cautiously. “What can I get you to drink?” She asks me.
“I’d like a water, your name and what time you get off work. I think we have some things to discuss, don’t you?”
“Water. Coming right up.” Before she can turn away from me, I grab her hand. “And your name?”
I hear someone standing up behind me. She looks past me. “It’s okay, Benny.”
She turns back to me. “My name is Grace and I don’t think we have anything to talk about. Are you going to leave before you order food, or should I really bring your water this time?”
Okay, the sass is turning me on. Well, if I’m honest, anything my mate does will most likely turn me on, but I love a girl who is strong and sassy. Not that I have much experience with them. I’ve been on the run for years and in a cell for the past 6 months having my ass beaten nearly every day.
“I’m not going anywhere Grace.”
She nods and turns to head in the back to get my water. I feel the man, Benny, walking up behind me.
“Son, unless you want a world of trouble, you better leave that little girl alone.”
I stand, turning to face the man who may be tall, but he’s not as tall as I am, he’s lean where I’m broad, making him half my size, physically, if that, and he’s at least twice my age, not to mention, he’s human. “Sir, with all due respect, I don’t have any intention of hurting Grace, but I do need to speak with her.”
To his credit, he doesn’t back down from what is obviously a fight he can’t win. Before he says something that will piss me off, Grace is there, getting in between us.
“Benny, go sit down, I’ve got this.” She turns and looks up at me, but not a lot, my girl is tall. “You!” She points her finger in my face. “Sit down.”
And I know in that moment that my girl is an Alpha. I can feel the power of her aura pushing out. I’m not even sure she realizes it. I do as she commands, not entirely of my own free will. Damn.
She leans over the table and her delicious scent of cherry blossoms fills my nostrils. “I get off in 30 minutes. I’ll talk to you then. Do you want food?”
I smirk at her because I can tell that her being this close to me is having an effect on her too. She may be acting like she’s all kinds of pissed off with me, but I can smell her arousal at being this close to her mate. “I'll take whatever your favorite is.”
She smirks back at me, and I realize I may have made a mistake.
When she returns, I chuckle. A banana split. Not my choice of dinner, but I’ll deal with it for one night.
I eat slowly, watching her as she goes around taking orders, cleaning tables, and talking to any customer that isn’t me.
I have so many questions for her. Where are her parents? Why is she working, being that she’s an Alpha? Why is she working in a diner in a human town outside of any pack land? Does she know she’s a Guardian? If so, does she understand that as soon as the word gets out that a Guardian has passed away, every Alpha male in the country will be searching for her, putting her at great risk. Does she understand the mate bond? Most werewolves respond differently to finding their mate than she did. She almost acted as if she was angry that I’m her mate. I hope she doesn’t think I’ll let her reject me. Not happening.
I need to contact Rik Forte, Alpha of the Canyon Ridge pack, and find out which Guardian died. I’m guessing it was during the battle with the vampires. It won’t matter if it was Clint or Angel, both Canyon Ridge and Shadow Falls packs will be in mourning. They need to know that I’ve found their reincarnated Guardian. I don’t know why Grace is here, in this small town, but she will need to be protected if she won’t allow me to mark her right away. The safest place for her will be with the other Guardians and me, her mate.
There’s a lot for us to emotionally unpack in our first conversation.
When her 30 minutes are up, she comes to collect the dishes from my table before going behind the counter and disappearing into the back. I perk up my ears, ensuring that she doesn’t plan to sneak out the back. I’m pleasantly surprised when she returns, with a purse hanging across her neck and chest, and sits down across from me.
She stares at me a moment. “Well? You wanted to talk? Talk.”
“Not here, I’ll walk you home.”
“I don’t think so. I have no intention of letting you know where I live.”
I lean forward. “You know what I am, so you know that I can track you. I don’t think you want your human friend to hear our conversation, do you?”
She looks past me and realizes that he’s watching us and trying to listen in on our conversation.
She stands. “Goodnight Benny.” She says and waits for me to stand up and follow her out.
Before we walk out the door, Benny calls out to her. “Call me and let me know you’re okay Gracie."
She nods and we step outside. I have so many questions, but as jealousy flares in my gut, Louis thrashing around in my head, the first one that comes out of my mouth has nothing to do with anything I’d been thinking about. “What is he to you? Benny. He’s old enough to be your father.”
“Old enough to be my grandfather, and he’s most likely the reason that I didn’t end up in the human foster care system. And you’re not exactly one to talk about being old. What are you, forty?”
I scoff at her comment about my age. I want to know more about Benny, but that will do for now. “My name is Eli, I’m 32, and does that mean that your parents are dead?”
“My mother is dead, I have no idea about my father, nor do I care.”
“But you’re an Alpha.”
She turns, looking at me startled. “How do you know that?”
“Uh, because you commanded me back there to sit down and I felt your Alpha aura pushing over me.” I watch as surprise crosses her features and I raise an eyebrow. “You didn’t realize you were commanding me?”
She shakes her head. “No, I didn’t mean to. I just didn’t want you hurting Benny.”
“What is your wolf’s name?” I shift the conversation.
“And I’m correct that you just got Maia since I saw you a week ago and you didn’t have a wolf then?”
“Yes, she awakened on my 18th birthday.”
“Happy belated birthday.” I make a note to get her a birthday present, although I have no idea what.
She shrugs. “I don’t particularly care for my birthday. I have too many negative memories surrounding it. Getting Maia actually made this one worth celebrating.”
I don’t push on that, but I plan to learn more about why her birthdays haven’t been good. I’m getting a bad feeling about her being an Alpha, not caring about her father, losing her mother and not getting her wolf until she was 18. It’s quite possible that her father banished her, thinking she was a wolfless wolf. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d heard of Alpha children being banished or abused because they ‘disappointed’ their parents by not getting a wolf.
“Maia.” I address her wolf. “Do you know what you are?”
I watch her golden eyes come forward, Louis pushing forward as well to see his mate. “Yes, I am a Guardian.”
“And do you understand what that means?”
“As our mate, our destiny is to protect you.”
Okay, that wasn’t what I was expecting. “Protect me from what?” I ask her.
“Anyone or anything that may threaten you.”
I blink a couple of times, clearing my head. “Okay, we’ll come back to that. But, I don’t need your protection. However, I do believe that you need mine. Do you understand that if any Alpha finds you, they will try to force you into a mate bond with them. You are a powerful wolf and they will want you in their pack permanently.”
She stops and turns to look at me. “And what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you want me because I’m a powerful wolf?”
“I want you because the Moon Goddess fated us to be together. That means that you are the other half of my soul.”
“I don’t believe in the mate bond.” That came from Grace.
“This is me.” I tell him when we arrive at my apartment. Maia really could have given me the head’s up about being this guy’s Guardian. I don’t know exactly what that means, but Maia is adamant that we are now bound to him. This man who is practically old enough to be my father but is actually my mate. It’s not that he’s unattractive. He has a dark and broody look to him, dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. Even through his clothes, I can tell that he’s ripped. His broad shoulders and chest look like solid muscle. His legs are the size of tree trunks, and I can see the muscle cutting lines through his jeans like they are molded to him. But it doesn’t matter. I know how toxic the mate bond is. I lived it, watching my father mistreat my mother, then slowly watching her die. I refuse to put myself in that position. “Thanks for walking me home. Good talk.” I step up to open my door when he takes my hand. “We’re not done yet. We still have a lot to talk about.” “I’m done talking. I ga
I’m pleasantly surprised when Grace pushes forward and kisses me. I don’t waste any time taking what she is offering. It becomes apparent to me quickly that she is inexperienced, but her tentative exploration only excites me more.When she pushes away from me, I can see that her wolf and the mate bond overwhelmed her. I’m fine with that. Louis keeps pushing me to mark her and make her ours. But I made that mistake before, trying to push someone into a mate bond they didn’t want. I refuse to do it again.It was one of the first questions that Rik asked me when I called him last night, if I had forced the mate bond on Grace. After letting him know that she’s my fated mate and no, I have not yet marked her, he and I both agreed that this situation is not ideal. Her being a young, Alpha female who is also a Guardian, alone in the world, puts her at risk. I also told him that there is something going on with her past and I plan to find out what it is. I let him know that she may not be as
When Eli tells me he’s spent most of his life without parents, I’m shocked. I wasn’t expecting that. “What happened to them?” I ask. If I’m telling my story, he should tell his too. “My mother died giving birth to me.” He stops, his jaw tightening. “And your father?” I ask quietly. I can tell that this won’t be as simple as his mother’s death. The muscle in his jaw twitches before he answers. “The short version is my father challenged our Alpha heir to a duel after he caused the death of my older brother, the future Beta. The Alpha forbade it, but his son agreed. My father in his grief, killed the Alpha heir, the only child of our Alpha.” He stops and takes a sip of his tea before looking back up at me. “The Alpha forced me to watch as he beheaded my father, blamed him for the death of my brother and the Alpha heir, called him a traitor, then he banished me. I was 12, so I understand your mother’s concern about not surviving alone at that age. I almost died as well.” I swallow ha
I hadn’t intended to tell Grace my history, or at least not yet, but it seems to have opened her up. Maybe our similar stories will help her see that I’m not all bad and can possibly be trusted, if not as her mate, maybe as her friend. I’m thrilled that she asks me to run with her. I would have anyway, since I need to protect her, especially with the nearby packs. I didn’t like how close to their boundaries she ran last night. It puts her at too much risk. All they have to do is see her eyes to know what she is. Only Guardians have golden eyes. Louis is beside himself in his happiness playing with Maia. She’s definitely all in with the mate bond. He’s enjoying the chase, periodically nipping at her heels when we smell them. I hadn’t realized how close we’d gotten to the pack’s border, but there are three standing at the border, almost as if they are waiting for Maia to show up, and they probably are. If this is her pattern, they would have picked up her scent and would be waiting to
It’s exhausting constantly running, riding on bus after bus. We haven’t had a decent meal or shower in a week. Benny called the day after we left and let me know two ‘shady looking men’ were in the diner asking about a young woman.When Eli finally feels like we can stop overnight, we get a hotel room. At first, I was concerned about only having one room, but I’m too tired to argue. When we get to our room, I see that there are two beds.“Get a shower. I’ll be back in a bit.”“Where are you going?” I ask him.“I’m going to look around and make sure we aren’t being followed and then I’m going to get us something decent to eat. Do not open the door for anyone.”He comes over taking my face in his hands and kisses my forehead. He pulls back and looks in my eyes. “You’ll be safe. I won’t be gone long.”After he leaves, I grab my things and head to the bathroom. I turn on the water, letting it get warm before stripping off my clothes and getting under the stream of hot water. I lift my fac
I hate that I don’t have the money to support Grace. It’s really bothering me. I realize I’ve spent my life on the run and that I’ve been in one of Liam’s cells for the last six months, but it doesn’t sit right not being able to take care of our mate. What’s worse, she and her mother seem to have stockpiled money over the last six years since they ran from Grace’s father. How can Louis and I prove that we are worthy mates if I can’t even afford a bus ticket and a place to stay for longer than a week? I’m laying in the dark, staring at the ceiling and contemplating what I will need to do once I have her safely within the borders of Rik’s or Liam’s territories when I hear her voice. “Are you awake?” She whispers. I was pretty sure she hadn’t fallen asleep. Her breathing hadn’t changed to that deep breathing a person gets when the drift off to dreamland. I sit up on my elbow and look over at her bed. Whether she did it intentionally or not, she put herself in the bed farthest from the
I was serious last night when I asked Eli to mark me rather than let some stranger mark me. Better the devil you know, right? At least I hope so. I may not believe in the mate bond, but I have a better chance with someone who might actually care about me than with someone who only wants me for the strength I can bring to their pack, someone who will treat me like a commodity and a breeding machine. I know I’m a Guardian, and I’m supposed to be this strong wolf that all the Alphas want, but I’m terrified. I don’t know how to fight. Up until a couple weeks ago, I thought I was a human. A human that was doing everything I could just to survive, much less learn how to fight or defend myself. So, as much as I hate this feeling of dependence, I’m thankful that Eli is here with me. He makes me feel safe, or at least safer than I would feel if I was running alone. I wasn’t expecting to get any sleep last night, but after laying on his chest, smelling his intoxicating scent and listening to t
I have to hand it to my girl. Running all day is not for the weak. I pushed us hard, knowing the wolves were trailing us. I haven’t heard them howling in hours, so I’m hoping that we have some time to relax. When we get to a small hill near the Arkansas border, I find an overhang where I can put Grace to let her rest while I keep watch. I’m used to not sleeping for days or only sleeping lightly for a couple of hours. That is how my life has been, but that is not the life that Grace has lived. She needs her rest and she will be sore after pushing so hard today. I know we’ll have to go more slowly tomorrow, but once we pass out of red wolf territory, we should be safe to slow down. When Maia collapses, I shift and pull on some shorts before walking over and picking her up. She’s a big wolf, beautiful in her coloring, black but with streaks of different shades of brown. I’ve never seen another wolf like her. “I’ve got you, gorgeous.” I tell her as she whimpers when I pick her up. “You