#Chapter 95 Welcome Home
I’m tempted to have Selene and Lila enter the house through the garage, bypassing the gathered councilors and going straight up to our apartment. However I know such a diversion would be seen only as weakness, and more than anything else, I refuse to give the men that kind of power over me. We’ll enter through the front door with our heads held high and if I have to incapacitate every last elder in order to do so, I gladly will.
Our small gathering exits the side door, moving down the walk towards the front of the house. Aiden and Donovan flank Selene and Lila while I stride ahead, bracing myself for whatever unpleasant news awaits.
“Gentlemen,” I greet the assemblage without any hint of a smile, “to what do we owe the pleasure.”
They are all looking past me, surveying my mate and pup with undisguised curiosity and, in some cases, distrust. “You’ve been gone nearly a month, Alpha.” The chief elder states, “And we’ve heard nothing but outlandish rumors from Asphodel – though it appears at least one tale was true.” He acknowledges, nodding toward Selene.
Extending my arm to my mate, I encourage her to come forward. She does so slowly, holding Lila tightly in her arms and instantly leaning into my side when she reaches me. “As you can see, the Goddess has smiled on us.” I announce loudly enough for all to hear, “By beloved mate is alive and well, and now that the danger which drove her from Elysium has passed, it is finally safe for her to return to the Nova pack – along with my daughter.”
A few of their eyes bulge out in shock, “I thought the child was Cavanaugh’s.” One of the newer council members blurts out.
“You were misinformed.” I declare stonily.
“With all due respect, Alpha.” The Chief Councilorinterjects, “how can you be sure?”
To my surprise and probably hers as well, Selene pipes up, “Because I’ve never been with anyone else.” She hitches Lila a little higher on her hip, “And because Bastien is in her every expression.”
Lila, suddenly finding herself the object of intense scrutiny from a horde of shifters, hides her face in Selene’s neck. The movement jostles the neckline of Selene’s dress, revealing my mark to the crowd.
Muttering passes through the throng, and Axel mutters a string of curses in my head. “And tell us,” The councilor implores, “how did this miracle come to pass? We all believed your mate was dead.”
“I would be happy to explain everything to you later,” I rumble, “But as you can see, we’ve yet to even walk through the door after a very long trip. I would like to get my family settled and have a rest before we continue this discussion.”
None of the gathered shifters move, “Forgive us, Alpha.” The Chief continues, sounding like he wants nothing of the sort, “But surely you cannot expect to turn up with a woman who has done nothing but deceive us all for years, and ask the pack to accept her as your mate without reservation.”
“Actually, I think you’ll find I can.” I snarl, letting Axel rise to the surface. “To do otherwise would be to question my judgment and I’m certain that isn’t what you intend.” Menace pouring out of me in waves, I release Selene and move forward to tower over the aged wolves. “And if I were you, I would be very careful how you talk about my mate.”
Invisible tails tucked between their legs, each of the gathered men lower their heads in submission, but the Chief continues to speak. “No one doubts your judgment, Alpha.” I swear the man doesn’t know when to stop. “But matters of the heart can toy with even the most logical man’s perceptions. Objectivity is impossible.”
Sensing my quickly unraveling temper, my mother steps forward. “Counselor, I would remind you that it is not only your Alpha who trusts Selene, but your Betas and I myself.” Ever the diplomat, she continues. “But if you are so concerned, perhaps you could tell us what it is about these circumstances which bothers you most?”
The Chief raises his head, though he still can’t seem to meet my gaze, instead focusing somewhere in the vicinity of my chin. “You put out a warrant for Arabella Winters, a she-wolf who has done nothing but help this pack while your mate faked her death, committed arson and concealed the existence of your pup – assuming she can be believed about the child’s paternity.”
My hand shoots out, grabbing the man around the throat and lifting him off the ground as a savage snarl tears from my chest, “I warned you once, counselor.” I thunder, “You should know better than to think I would grant you a second.” My claws extend and
#Chapter 95 Welcome Home
muscles begin to twitch as I fight the shift. The councilor claws at my iron grip around his throat gasping for air.”
Arabella winters tried to murder my pregnant mate in cold blood on more than one occasion, she almost succeeded when she burned down my family’s cabin. She is lucky she’s only being exiled and not hunted!” The words are pouring out of me in a vicious flood, all the fury I’ve been suppressing this past month finally detonating.
“My pup’s life was endangered, and Selene did what was necessary to protect her. The entire pack should be grateful for the sacrifices she made to ensure the Alpha’s line survived. And she is my line!” Donavon and Aiden are both by my side now, trying to cool my wrath and balance my temper.
This isn’t the way, Bastien. Donavon says urgently, if you don’t let him go soon you’re going to kill him.
Think of Lila. Aiden adds, do you want her to see you kill a man with your bare hands?
This thought, more than any ethics or logic breaks through to Axel, and I drop the vile wolf where I stand. He crumples to the ground, holding his throat and coughing violently. “Consider yourself relieved of your duties.” My voice is edged with steel. “I never want to see you in the council chambers again.”
Turning to check on my she-wolves, I find Selene and Lila wearing identical wide-eyed expressions. They seem surprised, alarmed even, but not afraid. Reaching for my mate, I turn back to the cowering huddle of men, “Now does anyone else want to object or can I take my family inside now?”
They scatter like a herd of terrified gazelles, muttering apologies and begging forgiveness.
“I didn’t think so.” I grouse, stepping right over the former Chief Counselor’s prone body as we head into the house.
“Daddy’s cranky.” Lila assesses, reaching towards me like she thinks a hug will help.
Glancing at Selene in amazement, I take the pup from my mate and settle her in my arms. Sure enough, she wraps her arms around my neck and rests her soft chest against my chest, snuggling close. I’m so stunned I can’t find the words to respond to her. Even if she is my blood, I don’t know how any toddler could witness such a horrendous scene and not be afraid of me.
The others are chuckling, “Daddy is cranky.” Selene agrees in amusement, rubbing the tense muscles between my shoulder blades. “How do you think we can make him feel better?”
Lila pulls away from me, surveying me with a serious expression. “You should nap.” She finally decides. “Naps always make it better, veen when you don wanna.”
“Such a smart girl,” Selene praises, but when I look over at her, the humor is gone and her countenance is drawn with concern. Her brows have knitted together and she’s gnawing on her lower lip, though it’s still swollen from last night’s kisses. Like a teenager at the height of puberty, the mere thought of our nocturnal activities distract me from the matter at hand, though to be honest I think I would jump at any distraction right now.
“I’m not the only one who didn’t sleep last night.” I remind Selene, letting some of my hunger for her – that ravening need that remains constantly simmering beneath my skin when she’s near – seep into my voice. “Maybe we should take one together.”
Selene shakes off whatever unpleasant thoughts put that frown on her face, at least enough to offer me a rueful smile, “I’m not sure I trust your naps. Have you ever actually taken one?”
“Oh I’ve taken many naps, little wolf.” | tease, “You might even call me an expert.”
“Oh really?” She arches her brow, “well now I think I need a demonstration.”
“Gladly.” I vow, opening the door to our apartment.
After we get settled and put Lila down for her own nap, Selene leads me into the bedroom with a tender look in her eye. This is the first time we’ve been back in this room together for three and a half years, but the heavy emotion in this moment is about so much more than our history.
We both know this won’t be like our usual love making: not playful and lighthearted, not rough and wild, not a steady give and take of dominance and submission. I’m on edge after what happened downstairs, I don’t feel like I’m in control – and I don’t want to be. I’m exhausted from always keeping such a tight rein on myself; my emotions are swirling out of control and I feel like I’ll go mad if I don’t find some release.
I need to be with my mate. I need to let go and disappear into my passion, to forget all my troubles and spend a moment lost in time with her. I know Selene is still sore from last night, but I think she can see how desperately I need to be close to her right now.
#Chapter 95 Welcome Home
She takes off her dress and climbs onto the bed, laying herself out like a prize for the taking.
Seeing her like this – back in my bed where she belongs – I don’t know how I’ve survived the last three and a half years without her. I haven’t even touched her yet and already I feel some of the weight lifting from my heart.
“I’ve missed you so d**n much.” I murmur hoarsely, standing over her.
Selene’s eyes soften, and she rises onto her knees and crawls towards me. “Show me.” She implores, her nimble fingers undoing my shirt buttons. “Come show me, Bastien.”
That’s all the invitation I need.