Jerrod had barely hung up on Nikko after finalizing details for dinner, when the sound of howling pierced the air.
The ringtone of the Pack house.
“Luc, you have to come. Bran’s been shot.”
The feeling of ice froze his spine as fear overtook his body. “What do you mean shot?”
“Bullets! Guns! Shot!” Salvador screamed across the line. “Come to the Pack house. We need a healer!”
“I’ll be right there.” Luc hung up and turned to find Jerrod standing right behind him. “Bran’s been shot. I have to go to the Pack house. I want you to let Nikko know I won’t be at dinner.”
“Yes, Master.” Jerrod’s words were obedient, but his tone was sullen.
“Don’t challenge me on this. The Pack would tear you apart for invading their territory. Even the little pull I have won’t save you from a mauling.”
“I know.” Jerrod looked down at his bare feet and kicked at the carpet. “I was hoping we’d spend more time together.”
“Don’t worry, it’ll work out fine. Bran should be easy to heal. I’m surprised he hasn’t healed himself by now. I need to get some things straightened out with him, so don’t be surprised if I don’t come back until tomorrow.”
“How much longer do you think you can keep going back and forth between vampires and weres?” Jerrod’s blue eyes were direct and penetrating, making Luc wish he were still looking at the floor.
Luc shrugged. “I can’t leave Bran to die. He was my lover for twenty years. You don’t just throw that away.” Although the alpha had tossed him aside, Luc couldn’t explain to his fragile vamp that there would always be only one owner of his heart. He might not be with his alpha wolf, but that didn’t take away from the fact that he still loved Bran and always would.
Jerrod wrapped Luc in his arms. “I’ll be waiting for you when you get back. Want me to call a cab?”
“No. I’ll travel by mirror.”
“Yeah. Want to watch?”
A wide smile spread across Jerrod’s face. “I’d love to.”
“Let’s go.” A sudden urgency hit Luc hard. He needed to see Bran and assure himself that he was still alive. Mirror walking was one of his few fae talents. He only used it in emergencies because it mildly freaked him out. Walking through glass was odd and left a strange sensation on his skin that took days to shake off.
With Jerrod hard on his heels, they rushed into the bedroom and approached the full-length mirror in the corner of the room.
“Ever wonder what I needed a full-length mirror for?”
Jerrod smirked. “To admire yourself?”
Laughing, Luc shook his head. “To travel.” Licking his index finger, he ran the wet tip along the top edge of the mirror focusing his mind on his final destination. The reflection of the room wavered, colors swirled, and a perfect image of Bran’s bedroom appeared.
Luc held back his tears as memories of sharing this room with his lover crowded his mind. He could see Salvador sitting in a chair by the bed and his ex-lover in human form lying still and silent on top of the covers. He was surprised to see Bran as a human, before realizing the wound must have forced the shift. When injured, a werewolf converted to human form—a disadvantage that allow paranormal hunters to separate them from real wolves when they hunted.
Admiring the perfect image in the mirror, Jarrod smiled and murmured, “Cool.”
“When I return, the mirror will chime to let you know I’m coming through.”
Jerrod nodded. Then he leant forward and held Luc in his arms one more time. “Good luck. I don’t know Bran, but if you want him better, so do I.”
Luc gave Jerrod a smile then walked through the mirror. A soft pop echoed as he went from one space to another.
A low moan filled the room.
Mate, whispered in his mind.
“He’s not healing,” Sal said in a low, worried tone. The werewolf stood near the alpha wolf’s head and greeted Luc. Soft kisses were placed on each of Luc’s cheeks, Sal brushing skin-to-skin, marking him as pack.
Luc moved around Sal to sit next to Bran.
Blood soaked the werewolf’s smooth mocha skin like a body dipped in red paint.
“Who did this?”
Sal swallowed and clenched his teeth. “Hunters.”
“Where was he to be so close to hunters? Where was he, Sal?” Someone was going to die. If Luc didn’t get answers soon, it was going to be his good friend Sal.
“The Pack grounds were ambushed. Three hunters got four of our wolves. The others had minor injuries but were able to heal themselves.”
“But Bran is the alpha. He should’ve healed by now.” Luc stroked his ex-lover’s head. A feeling of contentment seeped through him.
“His power is fractured,” Sal said in a sad tone. “If he can’t control his change, I’ll have to take over. I’ll alert the others that you’re here, so they won’t panic when they feel the magic coming from Bran’s room.”
Sal’s voice sounded odd, but Luc was too concerned with the blood pumping out of his ex-lover to pay much attention. Bran whimpered softly, his pain-filled eyes watching him with complete trust as Luc spread his hands across the wound.
“Shh. I’ll take care of you, sweetheart.” Closing his eyes, Luc internally focused, drawing out power to heal. He imagined the energy flowing from the center of his body, down his arms and into his hands. Blue flames burst from his palms, slamming into the man lying on the bed.
Luc’s eyes snapped open. He directed the fire into the werewolf’s skin, pushing out the bullets and healing the wounds. Bran’s body shook. Flesh sprouted fur then receded. Although healed, Bran’s body retained his human form as he dealt with the trauma of injury.
Luc collapsed on the small portion of bed not taken by the large were. He was tired. Between the stress of taking care of Jerrod and worrying about his love life, he was worn down.
Familiar fingers stroked his head.
“Even after everything, you came to save me.” Bran’s voice sounded rusty and painful.
Luc looked up to see the alpha gazing at him with a familiar loving expression. A painful knot formed in his throat. How he’d missed his lover.
“I’m sorry, my love, for everything.” Gentle fingers traced his cheek. “If you’ll come back to me, we’ll work something out. I swear.”
Luc could hear the sincerity in his ex-lover’s voice as a painful yearning filled him. He looked into Bran’s beautiful face so dear to him, even now. “I don’t think we can work out the fact you want to have sex with a woman and have her pups.”
He wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t. Luc blinked rapidly, looking away. He started to slip out of bed, but Bran’s large hand wrapped around his wrist, stopping his exit.
“We can have a baby together. We’ll find a female willing to be a surrogate. You’ll be there the entire time.” The alpha took a deep shaky breath. “My wolf needs its heart.” He tilted Luc’s chin up until he was forced to meet the alpha’s eyes. “And my human half needs its soul. Come back to me, baby, and we can rule the Pack together.”
Luc could feel Bran’s sincerity. It shrouded him like a warm blanket. Before he could think of a response to Bran’s words, the bedroom door slammed open.
“What’s he doing here?” Betsy screamed.
“Hello, Betsy.” Luc’s heart hammered in his chest. He didn’t want to fight an angry she-wolf. It was bad enough that he’d invaded her territory and tempted her man.
“Why can’t you leave us alone? You’re tearing the Pack apart.” Her fangs dropped in anger, a low growl rolling up from her chest.
Behind Betsy in the hallway, Luc saw Sal appear, but he was slower than the blur that rose from the bed and took the alpha bitch down.
A thud echoed in the room as Betsy hit the ground hard, buried beneath the large alpha’s body.
“Don’t ever talk to my mate like that,” Bran growled, his voice low and dangerous, his hands shifting into claws.
“I’m your mate.”
Luc winced. Subtle, Bran wasn’t. This was not going to be good for Bran’s allegiance with Betsy’s pack.
Sal slipped into the room and patted Luc’s shoulder in a silent message of support. A low whine filled the air. Betsy had converted to wolf. She was baring her neck and stomach to the alpha. With a low growl, Bran stood up between Betsy and Luc, in a protective stance. With a sharp bark, Betsy ran down the hall.
“You’ll start a pack war if you send her back to her pack,” Sal said with a sigh.
Bran shrugged. “Bring them on. She was a pain long before I learned we weren’t compatible.”
“I’ll make sure she leaves. You’ll have to talk to the Pack soon and let everyone know what’s going on.” Sal kissed Luc’s cheek before walking out the door and shutting it behind him.
Alone with Bran, Luc was uncertain what to do next. For a long moment, he stared at the closed door not sure of what to say.
“Luc.” Bran’s voice held a familiar note of longing.
He reluctantly turned to face the alpha wolf. Bran’s gold eyes were glowing with hunger as he took in Luc. “What do you want from me, Bran?”
The alpha walked in front of him before sliding to his knees—an eerie copy of Jerrod’s actions earlier that day. “I want whatever you will give me. Any scrap of your affection. Any moment of your time. I know you might not be able to forgive me, but I thought I was doing what was best for the Pack. I thought I could give them a future leader.” Bran let out a bitter laugh. “I should’ve known I couldn’t give you up. Instead of a strong leader, I ripped out my heart and gave them a broken alpha and dissension in the pack. Do you know half of them won’t even talk to me anymore because of how I treated you? How can I lead my people if they won’t follow?”
When Bran looked up, Luc saw tears filling those beautiful eyes. It felt wrong to have his strong, passionate lover on his knees—no matter what dreams he’d had after their breakup.
“If they want me gone, I’ll leave the Pack. But I’ll never let go of you again.” Luc could hear Bran swallow back the tears. “If you’ll have me back, I’ll be yours forever.”
“Oh, babe.” Luc pulled Bran to his feet and into his arms, cradling him close as the werewolf broke down into sobs. “Shh. We’ll work something out.”
It took Luc a long while to soothe his shattered lover, but eventually, after a magical cleansing to remove the blood, they moved to the bed. Tired from the emotional outpouring, they stripped and tossed their clothes to the floor.
Bran wrapped himself around Luc as if to prevent him from escaping. Nuzzling his neck, the alpha pulled back after a moment. “You smell odd.”
“Hmmm.” Luc was starting to drift.
“You smell like that kid in your house.”
“He’s not a kid,” Luc said sleepily. “I think he’s a hundred or something.”
A long lick tickled his throat, making him giggle. Sniffing continued and Bran lifted Luc’s hand lapping at his palm. “What’s this?”
“How can I not yell? You let some baby vamp mark you?”
“I didn’t let him.” Luc glared at Bran in annoyance. “It was a mistake. I saved him from his master and by some funky vampire process it made me his new master.”
Bran’s warm hands stroked Luc’s shoulders. “Sorry I yelled, baby. What do we need to do to find him a new master?”
“According to Nikko, I’m his master until one of us dies.”
Bran gave him an evil grin. “I can take care of that.”
Luc punched him.
“Ow.” Bran said, cradling his shoulder.
“I forgot how bony you are.”
“Ha! Serves you right,” Bran said, placing a kiss on Luc’s cheek. “You shouldn’t beat your lover.”
“Bran, I don’t know what to do. I’d love nothing more than to come back and be your mate, but I have Jerrod I’m responsible for now. I just can’t abandon the kid.”
“Give him to Nikko,” Bran said ruthlessly.
“I can’t just give him to Nikko. His last master abused him. He needs care, protection, blood.”
Bran sighed. “He can’t live here. The other weres wouldn’t tolerate it.”
Luc nodded. “I know, but I can’t leave him to fend for himself either. I think it’s best if I stay where I am.”
“What about your birthday? It’s only three days away. You’ll need preparation if you hope to survive your father’s persuasion.”
“I know.” Luc swallowed around the ball of fear lodged in his throat.
Every birthday, his father pulled Luc down into hell to try to convince him to give up his soul and become an official Hell Lord. As the only son born with a soul, Luc was an object of personal pride to his father. Lucifer senior wanted his son’s soul, but he was absurdly pleased when Luc survived his challenges each year. The devil’s theory was that the longer Luc resisted, the stronger Hell Lord he would make. Each year his test was a little more difficult until it mostly consisted of Luc surviving as much torture as his brothers could dish out.
What the devil didn’t know was that his older sons didn’t try as hard as they could. None of them wanted the devil’s favorite to join them in hell. With Luc there, they would all lose ranking, as Lucifer had vowed to make his half-fae offspring his right-hand man. Even with his brothers holding back, Luc still returned bruised, bloody and burned after every challenge.
In the past, to keep sane from the torture, Luc focused on Bran. When he concentrated on his lover, his mind and soul felt complete. He was torn in too many ways with the current situation.
Bran flicked the necklace around Luc’s neck. “Still wearing his collar, love?”
The low menace in the alpha’s voice made Luc shiver. “I was going to return it, but he told me to keep it for now.”
“Of course, he did.” Bran sat up, running his hands through his shiny black hair. “He wants you to return to him. Each time you look in the mirror you see that damned jeweled collar and he knows he has you. Give it back to him. Tell him you aren’t interested.” The commanding tone in Bran’s voice erased the tender words shared moments ago.
“I’m not interested,” Luc protested. “But you can’t just fling a priceless necklace at a vampire who thinks he’s your mate.”
“Mate!” Bran roared. “He’s not your fucking mate!”
“I didn’t say he was. Shit, maybe I should go home.”
“No.” Bran wrapped Luc in his arms, stopping him from leaving the bed. “I’m sorry. This whole thing has me spinning. I just got you back. I don’t want to lose you so quickly.”
“You’re not losing me, but sometimes things aren’t always so black and white. I will tell Nikko that we’re back together, but I don’t want to start an interspecies war. You’re going to have enough on your plate with Betsy’s pack. We have to approach this diplomatically.”
“I’m not a diplomat,” Bran said, nipping at Luc’s neck. “I’m your mate and I’ll protect you with every last breath in my body. Stay with me, baby. We’ll discuss this tomorrow. We have some makeup sex to get to.”
Suddenly breathless, Luc laughed. It felt as if it were the beginning of their relationship when everything was new. As if he were still the center of Bran’s world.
How he’d missed that look.
There wasn’t much time for reflection before Bran yanked Luc to him, using his huge muscled body to pin Luc’s lighter frame. His world shrank to Bran’s beautiful amber eyes as the alpha dipped his head and took Luc’s mouth as if he were food, water and everything necessary in life.
The months prior to Luc’s departure had been filled with tension and pain after the alpha made his decision to seek a female mate. Now, it was as if those days had never happened. This was the old Bran. The one he’d loved for so long.
Nothing could beat the familiarity of a lover who knew where all the hot spots were on your body. One who knew his nipples were sensitive and how to rub that bit of skin on his hip to drive him completely insane.
Luc gave himself over to Bran’s touch. He was floating. Enjoying sensations only his werewolf lover knew how to cause.
Unexpectedly, Bran slid down his body, licking and nuzzling his way until he settled between Luc’s legs and swallowed his cock in one long slide. With big hands pinning him, he was at the werewolf’s mercy, unable to move his hips.
Whimpering mindlessly, Luc’s head whipped back and forth. “I’m coming!”
A low growl vibrated through his body, making him shoot down his lover’s throat. Panting, he tried to calm his racing heart as Bran lifted his legs and exposed Luc’s hole to his hungry amber gaze.
“Who do you belong to?” Bran demanded.
Luc had to unscramble the words in his sex-muddled head. “You. I’m yours, Bran.”
“Remember that.” He released Luc long enough to grab some lubricant from the nightstand drawer and coat his fingers. First, one finger slid inside, then another, then finally three fingers moved in and out of his hole. When the alpha was satisfied Luc was open enough, Bran removed his fingers and slid his cock inside.
“You will always be mine. I don’t care what the vampires think.”
Luc clamped down on Bran’s body. If his lover could still speak, he wasn’t doing a very good job of distracting him.
The werewolf’s eyes rolled back in his head. “Fuck!”
Bran’s long fingers wrapped around Luc’s cock, knowing exactly where to pump and squeeze with the ease of long familiarity. A few hard pumps later had them coming together.
His lover collapsed on top of him.
“Sorry.” Bran slid out and off of Luc, leaving him empty, but at least able to breathe.
Moments later a warm cloth wiped him clean. “Sleep, baby. We’ll talk in the morning.”