Authors: Samantha Horne
I heard Jackson as he ran over to me. He sat down next to me, picked me up and deposited me in his lap. I curled up against his warmth and sobbed as all the terror and panic of the past few hours released, and I clung on to him as if were anchoring me to the very floor beneath us.
“Shhh, you’re okay sweetheart,” he said in to my hair, gently rocking me back and forth.
“It was Tyler! He was a traitor,” I sobbed, burrowing myself further in to his body.
“I know. Don’t worry about him; he’s dead.”
I know I shouldn’t, but I felt immense relief at hearing that Tyler was gone. The thought of him killing Jackson and taking over the pack was horrifying.
“Annabelle? Is she okay? Did you find her?”
“She’s fine. She’s shaken up but Jasmine’s feeding her ice cream as we speak. I’ve got a feeling that girls gonna be even more spoiled now.”
“He sent you all in to a trap.”
“Look at me,” he says, before cradling my face in his hands and wiping the tears from my cheeks. His eyes narrowed as he took in the bruises on my throat and face. Shit, I must have looked terrible. “If I could kill Tyler more than once, I would do for what he did to you.”
“It’s really over?”
“For now. We arrived to find the Grove bastards ready, but they were foolish and only sent half their men. We managed to take them down fairly easily, with just a few casualties. For a minute it looked like we were going to lose Ethan, but the doc says he’s going to be fine. Thank god my men have hard heads, that’s all I can say. The bastards that we left alive ran back home to lick their wounds, but we know this isn’t the last we’ll hear from them. They were lucky before because Tyler was giving them inside information. Next time they won’t be so well informed.”
My heart hurt at imagining my family and friends fighting for their lives, and I was so relieved that everyone had made it back in one piece.
“How did you find me?”
Jackson kissed my forehead, and pulled me in tighter to his body.
“Something felt off with Tyler’s plan and I knew I wanted to send more men with you. As soon as you left I sent Max and Liam after you. They followed you and reported the location, which I noticed was different to where Tyler had sent us. We had a feeling that something was going down, so we went to the original location in case they’d split you and Annabelle up. We had a feeling they were sending us in to a trap, so I prayed that there would be more men to fight us than to meet you, and Annabelle would be with the larger group, which she was. As soon as we had Annabelle I contacted the guys, who’d had a run-in with Grove Pack members who were hanging around near where you and Tyler were. Apparently, they were stationed to help Tyler dispose of your body when he’d killed you.” A shudder went through him as he said the words. “When I knew my pack were safe, I rushed down here to find my guys just finishing up with those bastards. I heard you screaming and followed the sound. God, I’ve never been more scared in my life.”
“You saved me.”
“I wouldn’t say that. Bastard could barely walk and was screaming like a little girl. Did you have something to do with that?”
I snorted quietly and nodded, feeling his chest move as he chuckled darkly.
“Remind me never to piss you off. I’m fucking proud of you, babe.”
I looked up at him, before closing my eyes as a wave of exhaustion hit me.
“Come on,” he said, as he started to move underneath me. “We need to get you to doc, you’re hurting.”
“In a minute,” I said, pulling him towards me and squeezing him tight. I was in pain and so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but there was nowhere else I would have wanted to be. I was in Jacksons arms and he was my whole world.
“He was a fucking traitor.”
Two days after the dramatic events had unfolded with the Grove Pack, and I was sat on the patio bench in Jackson’s garden, wrapped in his arms. I felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks, but for the first time in days I could finally relax. Tensions were still high with the rival pack, but after losing many members, they’d retreated to lick their wounds. Oh, we knew it wasn’t the last we would hear from them, but for now we could relax in the knowledge that we were stronger than them. The next time they came for us, we would be ready. Ethan had been released from the clinic this morning, and was back to his normal cheeky self. He’d suffered serious injuries in the fight, but after shifting a few times to speed up the healing process, he was good as new.
. Logan had paid me a visit, scolding me like a child at running headfirst in to danger and yelling at Jackson for letting me go, but once I explained about the threat to Annabelle, he understood. He told me he still wasn’t happy about it, but he did understand and he was just relieved to see that I was okay. I’d had nightmares the past few nights, with many of them revolving around Tyler and ending in him hurting a member of my new family, but Jackson was always there to wake me up and hold me until I calmed down. I knew that I would have sleepless nights for a while, but I was so thankful that not only was I alive, but the rest of my family were too. Jasmine had been pretty much inconsolable after being reunited with Annabelle and once I had arrived back home, hugged me for so long my arms had started to go numb. She told me that she would never be able to repay me for the sacrifice I had made, and the danger I had put myself in to save her daughter, but I told her that she didn’t need to repay me for anything. Sometimes you had to put your neck on the line for those you loved, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Jackson had been so busy sorting things out within the community, and trying to reassure the terrified people, that I’d barely had five minutes to speak to him. For the first time in days, we finally had some quality time to spend together, but something had been playing on his mind and I couldn’t bear to see how much it was eating him up.
“How did I not see it?” He used his foot to gently push us back and forth in the porch swing, and he squeezed me tighter while kissing me on the forehead.
“None of us knew, Jackson. How could you? He acted as your best friend and followed every single order you gave him. No-one would have ever suspected a thing.”
“That’s not the point. It’s my job as Alpha to protect this pack. I trust those men with my life. I should have known something was up. What kind of Alpha lets a traitor loose in their pack to do whatever the hell they want? He managed to get them access to our town, set fire to my brother’s fucking house almost killing you, and pretended to rescue you from those guys when he was in on it all along! I wish I’d killed the little shit slower.”
“Jackson,” I said softly, holding his face with both of my hands forcing him to look in to my eyes. “Please, don’t lower yourself to his level. Killing is never for pleasure. Tyler fooled us all.”
He leaned towards me, and I instinctively reached up to meet his lips as he kissed me with a desperation I’d never felt before.
“I need you,” he whispered against my mouth, his hot breath mingling with mine as I tried to steady myself.
“Not here,” I giggled and he groaned as he pulled away. He sat back up, and pulled me more securely on his lap, just holding me in a comfortable silence. I loved the time I spent with Jackson, whether it was out on dates or in his bed. It was these moments I craved the most though. With Jackson, we could just sit in silence and it wouldn’t matter. We allowed each other moments of silence to process our own thoughts, but we were there if the other ever needed to talk about anything. I craved those instances because they made me feel even closer to him. It scared me how much I was starting to depend on him, and I knew that my life without him would be a much bleaker place.
“I need you tonight. I need to feel you next to me. I need to feel that you’re alive and you’re with me.”
I smiled at the urgency in his voice, and for the first time in days I felt weightless and safe. Like nothing could ever hurt me because I was in Jackson’s arms.
“Wheeey!” Jackson and I were suddenly pulled apart by Blake, who sat in between us both, throwing his arms over our shoulders and squeezing us in to his body like we were kids.
“So, what’s the conversation?”
“Fucks sake man, we were trying to have some privacy.” Jackson sounded annoyed, but his lips turned up slightly in amusement at his brother’s antics.
“No such thing as privacy when I’m around, guys.”
“Good job we are sitting on the porch and not up on the roof, huh Blake?” I asked, winking at him. He looked at me, confused by my words before his eyes widened and he turned an accusatory stare on Jackson.
“You told her!”
“Told her what?” Jackson asked, innocently.
“You told her about my fear of heights! Did you tell her the tree story?” He ended on a whisper, as if praying I wouldn’t hear him.
“I think it’s sweet!” I laughed, when Blake turned his accusing stare on me.
“Sweet?! Please don’t call me sweet. And can you please not tell anyone that story? Girls around here actually think I’m hot, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
“Well, at least if any of them want to get away from you, we can tell them to just climb the trees in the forest. They’d definitely be safe from you.” Jackson said, and we laughed as Blake huffed like a toddler having a tantrum.
“Thanks man,” Blake grumped. “I’m gonna be extra annoying, just to get you back for that.”
Blake going out of his way to be irritating? Yep, everything was definitely back to normal
It was late at night, and I was currently sprawled naked on top of Jackson after the most delicious lovemaking session which had knocked the wind right out of me. I was still trying to catch my breath, while Jackson lay underneath me, not even breathing any harder than normal with a smug smile on his face. Damn that shifter stamina. I wished I was a shifter just so I could keep up with him, although if I didn’t need to sleep then we’d probably just end up going at it all night. Although, that didn’t sound like such a terrible idea. I was covered in sweat from his body heat, and needed a shower but I couldn’t even bring myself to move, I was just too comfortable.
“I love you,” Jackson whispered, and my heart felt full enough to burst.
“I love you, too.”
“Mate me,” he said. I stiffened on top of him, and turned to look at his face. His eyes were fixed on mine and the love shining in them made my heart pound in my chest. How could I have ever thought I was in love with Craig? The love I thought I had for him paled in comparison to what I felt for Jackson. The love I had for Jackson was that all-consuming love with terrified me at the same time as making me deliriously happy. It was nothing that could ever be put in to words, and I was incredibly grateful to have found something like it in my lifetime.
“Seriously?” I asked, not wanting to believe it but praying he was asking what I thought he was. I’d already heard from Jasmine what happened during a mating, and had prepared myself for the moment if Jackson should ever ask. In a mating, the male would bite the female which released a chemical in to the bloodstream and tied the two together in a way that was impossible to describe. I laughed as I compared it to the way a vampire would act, and asked Jasmine if they were related to the vampires. She just laughed and it wasn’t until later that I realised she hadn’t actually denied the existence of them. Christ, I could barely wrap my head around the world of shifters, and finding out that witches existed had just about blown my mind. If I found out that vampires existed I think my understanding of the world would change so completely I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. This whole new world of shifters and magic was totally overwhelming, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’d always craved excitement and adventure, and fate had delivered it to me in spades.
He smiled. “Seriously. I know it’s not the traditional human wedding, but the sentiment is the same. I want to be with you forever, and hopefully have a family. Recent events have shown me how short life can be. If you become my mate, hopefully we can enjoy a long and happy life together.”
“Well, I mean…how does it work? Will everyone know that we’re mates?”
He rolled over until he was above me, and I shivered with anticipation as I felt him harden against my thigh. He caged me in his arms, and rested his forehead against mine.
“Everyone will know we are mates. The whole thing is done in private, but if you like we can have a party for the whole town to celebrate, so it will be like a wedding.”
“Can we get rings? I kind of want to show the whole world that you’re mine, even if they already know.”
“Hmmm, possessive aren’t you?” He smiled and kissed me. I gasped when I felt him enter me, and moaned as he started to slowly move inside me.
“Yes,” I whispered, and he stopped moving causing me to pull him towards me so he would continue. I wanted him forever, and all that came with it.
“Yes, I’ll mate you. If you don’t move in a minute I swear to god…” He laughed and picked up the pace, both of us moaning as the intensity built. I felt him placing soft kisses on my neck, and I tried not to tense as I prepared for his bite.