Ha! Jules and Bray are back! Lots of Piper and Jason, too. I'm so excited for this story. I really don't even know what to say!
Picks up right after First Born Son…August
Thank god Piper and I shared the same English class at the end of the day because as soon as the bell rang, Piper, Brayden, and I practically ran out of the school. Dox, Ash, Ava, and Gage met us outside the cafeteria. We'd all gotten the pack-wide text from Will.
He and Hunter were having a baby!
My excitement knew no bounds. But since I still didn't have a car yet, we all had to run. Dad said we'd car shop closer to the end of the year. I could deal with that. He was, after all, buying me a car. Brayden was my protection detail since it hadn't even been a year since I first phased. We both knew I didn't need it, so he claimed that he was also sticking around for the twins and his sister. Even though Jason was always close by, watching over Piper.
The text had been a picture of Hunter and Will with their backs to the camera. They were wearing identical white shirts that had "Team Black" across the shoulders in black lettering. Will had a number one on his, jersey style. Hunter's was a number two. And between them, they held a tiny shirt that had a number three. Under the number read, "Baby Girl Coming Soon!" Both of them were looking over their shoulders to smile at the camera.
We all skidded down their driveway in the slick mud. Mom and Dad's truck was already here. After hurriedly wiping our feet, we flung ourselves through the front door.
Everybody at the dining room table looked up. Mom, Dad, Uncle Caden, and Aunt Leah sat with Will and Hunter.
Squealing, I ran to Hunter. She stood up and hugged me back. "Congratulations!"
"So what makes you think it's a girl?"
Will spoke up. "Aunt Alice sent us these."
I looked to the table and saw a matching hat, mitten, and bootie set in purple and pink. I made a happy pouty face while Gage pushed me out of the way to hug his sister. So I went to my brother. And started crying.
"I love you, hero. You so deserve this."
He kissed the top of my head. "I love you, too."
"I, for one," Dox said, "cannot wait to see Will with a daughter. Not gonna be so tough when he's a puddle of goo on the floor."
Will flipped him off and the room burst into laughter.
Ash clapped Will on the shoulder. "Don't listen to him. Dad has Jules and he's still a badass."
Dad chuckled. "It is different having a daughter."
Hunter frowned and looked at her own dad. "My father once told me the same thing."
She and Caden smiled at each other.
Moving back, I stood with Brayden as Piper moved to hug Hunter. Over the months, the two of them had been talking a lot. Piper had gone to her to apologize after hearing Hunter's story. The two of them helped out up at Uncle Walker's camp. I didn't know the extent of Jason's involvement with Piper, but I had a feeling he had something to do with it.
Getting up, Mom came over to hug me. "So, what do you think about being an aunt?"
"Are you kidding? I'm stoked. And if it's really going to be a girl, I say hallelujah! We need more estrogen in this ocean."
We grinned at each other as Dad's phone rang.
"Yeah?" He chuckled. "Shocking. Hold on. Let me ask." He held the phone away from his mouth and look around the room before his gaze landed on Will. "Walker says Bianca and Angelica are dying to throw another party, this time for the two of you. Whatchya say?"
Will looked stoked. "I'm game." He looked down to Hunter. "What about you? You up for it?"
She grinned, green eyes glowing. "Absolutely."
Dad put the phone to his face again. "Looks like we're in."
The party was in full swing, food being passed around and people dancing. Jules, Piper, and Ava were all staying around Hunter. Those that weren't dancing were separated into groups by male and female.
Standing close to Will, I couldn't help but watch my sister…and her blond shadow. The way Jason looked at her made me think of a leopard watching a group of zebras, trying to decide if it was worth it to hunt them. But only if the leopard and zebra were having a relationship. His stare was hungry as he watched her. And with any other guy that got too close to her, his upper lip would peel from his teeth.
"Bray?" Will asked. "What's up?"
I shook myself and looked back at my best friend, more like a brother. He was positively glowing. Every now and then, his gaze would search out Hunter, no doubt making sure she was okay. I loved this for him. They both deserved it. And honestly, I couldn't wait to see him with a baby. But I could tell both of them were also uneasy about it. Teenage parents. Nobody else cared, though. Nobody sneered at them that they were too young. Both of them worked, Will full time at the shop. For us wolves, starting a family young wasn't as big a deal. Especially with our support system.
I tried to smile nonchalantly. "Nothing. I'm good."
He raised an eyebrow. "Liar." And then he looked over my shoulder in the direction I'd been watching Piper. "Ah, Jason?"
Frowning a little, I shrugged. "I don't get it."
Will shrugged. "Well, they are two very dominant people. It makes sense that he would be attracted to her."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it. She doesn't even seem to notice that he's around. I mean, is he stalking her?"
"Couldn't tell you. Why don't you ask him?"
I shook my head. "It's your night. Don't worry about me."
He pushed me. "Go on, man. If you don't, you'll be cranky the rest of the night. And I know you owe my sister a dance. You're not doing that in a bad mood."
I smirked. "That an order?"
"I can make it one," he countered.
Taking in a deep breath, I clapped him on the arm. "Alright, baby daddy, I'm going."
Grinning, he rolled his eyes. He couldn't lie. He was loving it. He pushed me away toward the crowd. I pushed through the dancers around the bonfire, keeping my eye on Jason. He was keeping to the shadows around the crowd, watching my sister. But then he froze, head tilting as if listening. He blinked and then turned his head in my direction. When he caught sight of me, he moved away, starting toward one of the cabins.
Hurriedly, I got through the crowd and followed him. "Jason," I called.
He ducked his head and started walking faster.
Running, I caught up to him at the side of a cabin at the edge of the trees. Grabbing his arm, I spun him around.
"What?" he growled, ripping his arm out of my grasp.
"You know what. We need to talk."
"I haven't done anything." His blue eyes were sharp and intense as he looked away.
I put my face in his line of sight. "Stalking my sister isn't doing anything? I see the way you watch her. Does she know you skulk in the shadows?"
Whipping around, he growled. "I don't skulk. If she looked, she'd see me."
"But that's the point, isn't it? She doesn't look for you because she doesn't want you around."
His upper lip lifted from his teeth. "She didn't say that."
The tone surprised me. It sounded hurt and like he was trying to convince himself.
"No, she didn't say that," I assured him for some reason. "What are your intentions toward her?"
His gaze was very direct. "I'd never hurt her."
"So you do want her?"
He just stared at me.
Backing him up to the wall of the cabin, I got in his face and lowered my voice. "My sister deserves the best. If you mess with her, you better treat her with respect and have her permission. Got me?"
For a moment, he just stared at me. And then, from between clenched teeth, he said, "Got it."
"Good. If I hear you've treated her differently, you're gonna know the pain of your own blade."
Putting his hands on my shoulders, he pushed me back. "I said I got it. And I don't like being threatened." His eyes flashed, and I caught a glimpse of the soldier he really was.
I narrowed my eyes. "Do you know anything about my sister?"
Again, he looked away from me. "I would if she'd actually talk to me."
Yeah, that sounded like Piper. "Then let me give you a tip. She's a lot more fragile than she lets on."
He met my gaze again. "What do you mean?"
Sighing, I ran a hand through my hair. "It's hard to get along with her. She acts tough, like nothing bothers her. But she's just like any other girl with emotions. She wants to feel important, and if you can't give her that, then stay away from her."
"You really care about her, don't you?"
"You have sisters. Don't you care about them?"
"Well, yeah, but they can take care of themselves."
Exasperated, I shook my head. "It's not about them being able to take care of themselves. Piper can take of herself. We've all had the same fight training. It's about us wanting what's best for them. Females want to be looked after. Piper isn't the only woman who wants to know she's important."
He just frowned.
I sighed. "I'm sure your sisters would like to know that they're important to you. Look, Piper and I know the culture of your kind of wolf. We were raised learning both ways but we live with the Quileute pack. Therefore we identify more with them. I don't know what your angle is toward Piper. I just need to know that she's being taken care of."
I paused, studying him. He was starting to look nervous, swallowing hard over and over, his eyes flickering. "Is she your true mate?"
Now his eyes met mine. Different emotions crossed his face. He opened his mouth to answer.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw Piper standing there. Her green eyes darted between me and Jason.
"What's going on?" she asked.
I backed away from the enforcer. "Nothing. Just having a chat. What's up?"
Her eyes narrowed, telling me she knew I was lying. "Well, stop whatever you're not doing. Jules is looking for you."
Pivoting on my heel, I moved toward her. "Something wrong?"
"Nope. She just wants to dance and make out with her boyfriend."
Grinning, a sense of satisfaction flushed through me.
My sister gave me a look. "Quit puffing your chest out. You look stupid."
Ignoring the comment, I leaned in to kiss her cheek. When I moved past her, I expected her to follow me, but she didn't. "You coming?"
She shook her head. "Like I wanna see you stick your tongue down my best friend's throat? No, thanks."
Smile fading, I looked over at Jason. His eyes were glued to Piper. I didn't like it, but I knew Piper would fight me if I tried to force her away. It was clear she wanted to stay behind with Jason.
Plastering on another smile, I nodded. "Suit yourself. Where is she?"
Those eyes narrowed again, probably wondering what was up with me. "Probably went back to stand with Hunter."
"Got it." I shot one last look at the enforcer before diving into the crowd to find my girlfriend.
Piper was beautiful against the backdrop of the massive bonfire. Her russet skin glowed, and with her long hair draped around her shoulders, she looked like an avenging goddess of some sort. Over the months, she'd started growing her hair out. It was raven black and creeping down to her elbows.
After her brother took off, she crossed her arms and looked over at me. "So what was that about?" It was a demand more than a question.
I shrugged as if it was nothing. "Pack talk."
Her green eyes sparked. "Liar." Glancing around her, she made sure nobody was around before stepping into the shadows with me.
I loved the way she moved, her body swaying in a sensuous glide. She stopped just in front of me and I breathed in her scent.
"Look, I know you've been following me. Everybody thinks I don't see you, but I do. You stay in the shadows, and I can feel your eyes on me."
Looking down at her, I was reminded just how tiny she was. Her brother and I were about the same size, but she was small. Tall for a female, but still small compared to me. I wanted nothing more than to pull her body to mine just to see how well we'd fit together. But remembering the one time I'd kissed her and she'd shoved me away, that probably wasn't the best idea.
So, I just looked down at her. "Ah, so you've just ignored me?"
Irritated, she threw her hands in the air. "What am I supposed to do?"
Now she glared. "I really don't understand you. I'd been staying here for a while and you never noticed me until that day you almost killed me with that dagger. And then you kissed me, which is another thing I don't understand. Now, you're everywhere. What is it you want from me?"
I couldn't help my perusal of her body. The day she'd just spoken of, I'd insinuated that I slept around. And it was true. Just not in the pack. I'd been with human females in Forks and the rez. It was easier to sense their fertility and ovulation cycles and avoid them.
But from the first moment I saw Piper, long before she'd ever stayed on this land, I'd wanted her. Her attitude and the haughty way she lifted her chin always made me rock hard. There was a strength to her that was rare in females whether they were human, Quileute, or Child. The very first time I'd seen her, Dad had been introducing me to Jacob and Seth as the newest addition to the enforcers. She'd been standing on the porch next to Jules, and I'd been so stunned by her that I'd been struck speechless. After that, I'd lost my virginity to some girl in Forks just to slake my lust for Piper. It had snow-balled from there.
Her fingers moved into my vision, snapping a couple times. "Hey!"
I'd been staring at her breasts, which really wasn't my fault since she had them on display in a fitted V-neck and push-up bra.
"What?" I snapped back.
Using her index and middle fingers, she pointed at her eyes. "Eyes up here."
I motioned to her clothes. "Well if you wouldn't have them hanging out, nobody would be staring. It's not my fault you're so mouth-watering." Would it really kill her to cover up in a hoodie and not-so-tight pair of jeans?
She blinked up at me. "What?"
I snorted. "What? You expect me to blush and apologize profusely? Too bad. You're gorgeous, and all I want to do is put my hands and other things on your body."
Her eyes sparked just before they grew hooded.
"You wear those clothes, offering glimpses, and it drives me crazy." Stepping forward, I put a finger at the hollow of her throat and moved down, stopping just before the start of her cleavage. Leaning down, I put my mouth to her ear. "You've attracted my attention, Piper. Once gained, my attention is hard to lose."
She shivered under my touch. Moving back, I saw her eyes open. They were unfocused at first until she latched onto my face. We were so close that our breaths mingled together in the cool night, creating one big cloud between us. Warm and shivering, she was throwing off the most delicious scent. Every female's arousal smelled different. Piper's smelled of a cold spring rain. Years of traveling with my father, I'd been to places that had proper seasons, and her scent made me nostalgic for them. She's the only female I'd ever been around who had that particular scent. Some females shared similar scents, especially if they were related. For me, Piper was a rare delicacy, unique in her own right.
Her hands landed lightly on my hips as she tried to breathe through the lust. Slowly and gently, I put my hands on her arms and pulled her against me. When she let me do that, I turned and pushed her into the cabin wall. Nobody else needed to see her like this, least of all her brother and parents.
I hovered my lips over hers, waiting for another sign. I got it when she threaded her fingers through my belt loops. The tips of her fingers hooked into my jeans, brushing the skin of my hips. To hide my own breathing problems, I pressed my lips to hers and sighed in relief. Ever since I'd first kissed her and she'd pushed me away, I'd wanted to do it again, only without the pushing. I wanted her to want my kiss.
At first, she was hesitant, making me wonder if this was her first real kiss. That other one didn't count. I'd been rash and pissed. I wanted her to forget that one.
Turning her head, Piper leaned into the kiss. I kept it closed and careful, adding a slight pressure. What I wanted to do was nip and lick at her lips, begging for entrance. But Brayden's words of her fragility came to mind. One of her hands came up to cup the back of my neck. She pecked my lips, sucking a little on my lower lip.
I couldn't help the groan.
And that's what snapped her out of the haze.
Panting, she put her hands on my chest and pushed me back. I let her. She shook her head. "I heard what my brother asked you. You didn't answer because I interrupted."
Well, there went my haze, too. I moved back, running a hand through my hair. "I guess you want the answer?"
She looked up at me from under her lashes. "Am I?"
Everything inside me was screaming, playing tug-of-war with the answer. Yes or no.
Minutely shaking my head with indecision, I looked away from her.
Her voice was small. "I see," she whispered. Without touching me, she inched out away from the wall toward the way she'd come. "I meant what I said, Jason. I won't be just another number to you. It'll be a good idea for you to stay away from me; and no watching from a distance either."
When she started to move away, I jerked toward her. "Piper, wait."
She paused, looking over at me.
The words lodged in my throat.
A disappointed smile quirked her lips. "It's okay."
It really wasn't, but again, the words got stuck. I could see the vulnerability in her eyes. What could make such a strong female so fragile?
The scent of her sadness drifted over to me on the breeze and I slammed my fist back into the wood of the cabin. The log splintered, leaving slivers of wood in my skin. I didn't care as I watched her walk away, her arms wrapped around her torso.
"Dammit," I whispered.
There were two things I knew for sure. One: I wasn't going to keep my distance. Two: I was going to make this whole thing up to her and show her that she was worthy of any affection.
"How are you feeling?" I asked Hunter.
She looked a little tired, but content.
She smiled. "I'm good actually," she said in her thick accent, rubbing a hand over her still-flat stomach. Carlisle had deduced that she was close to a month along.
Beside me, Shelby asked, "No morning sickness yet?"
My future daughter-in-law shook her head. "Nope. I think Will is as thankful about that as I am. When I wake up in the morning, he wakes up with me just to make sure."
I grinned at her. "Let me tell you, be very thankful. I remember my pregnancy with Will. It was awful. And Jacob felt terrible because he couldn't do anything."
Shelby nodded. "Brayden was the same way. But I have to say that Piper was a kicker. That kid, I swear."
Hunter laughed. "A testament to her feistiness, I'm sure."
Shelby shook her head. "You have no idea."
We all laughed as the twins came up. Dox draped himself over Hunter's shoulders. "So, sis, you ready to dance with me?"
Behind him, Ash rolled his eyes.
Hunter giggled. "Dance with one of you, dance with all of you, huh?"
Maddox winked at her. "Of course."
Will walked up as Dox dragged her off by the hand. "Don't get handsy!" he yelled after them.
When they got to a clear spot, Dox narrowed his eyes at Will and deliberately pulled Hunter against his chest and dramatically danced around her. She giggled as Will gave him a deadpan look and a hand gesture.
Trying to hold back a laugh, I swatted his hand. "Stop that."
Ash laughed and shook his head. "Hey Will, we're putting together a football scrimmage tomorrow out in the field. You comin'? It'll be flag 'cause some of the guys from school are coming."
Will shrugged. "Sure. I could do with a little mud fun."
We all turned. Aunt Rosalie was standing at the edge of the trees with Uncle Emmett.
My sons grinned. "Hey Aunt Rose, Uncle Emmett. What's up?" Will asked as he moved toward them.
Uncle Emmett was holding something large and rectangular wrapped in brown paper.
Will hugged his aunt and uncle.
"Well," Aunt Rose said, "we have to leave for South America again, but we bought you something and wanted to give it to you before we left just in case we aren't back by the time the baby comes."
Turning, I caught Hunter's eye and jerked my head over. Breathless she jogged over with Dox shadowing her. "What's up?"
"My aunt and uncle have something for you and Will before they leave."
"Oh." She went to stand next to Will. They handed her the gift. Together, she and Will unwrapped it. She gasped. "Oh, it's beautiful!"
It was a large picture frame with many different open spaces. In the center was a label that said "Baby #1" that could be replaced after they picked a name. A copy of the first ultrasound was already situated into one of the slots. It really was a beautiful piece, nice and heavy.
Eyes watering, Hunter grinned. "Thank you so much! This is amazing!"
I took the piece so she and Will could hug them.
"Thanks, guys," Will said. "It's perfect. I hope you get back before she comes."
They, along with Aunt Alice, were convinced the baby was going to be a girl. I sighed. My grandbaby. I felt so old.
Behind me, a pair of strong arms wrapped around my waist. Jacob's lips pressed to my temple. "What'd I miss?"
I held up the frame in front of us. "From Aunt Rose and Uncle Emmett."
I felt him nod against my shoulder. "That's nice."
"Isn't it?" I leaned back against his strong chest. "We're gonna be grandparents, Jake."
His big body shuddered around me. "Don't even say that. Bugh."
Laughing, I studied the ultrasound and sighed. "You know Bray and Jules are eventually going to have one of these, right?"
His growl was soft in my ear. I laughed. Jacob was ridiculously protective of our only little girl. Even though we'd both helped raise Brayden, Jacob still had issues knowing they found dark corners to make out in. I, on the other hand, was happy. Our kids were growing normally. They weren't having to go through the same crap Jake and I had. I wanted normal for them. Besides, we all knew Brayden was going to do right by Jules, and vice versa. I had no doubt that they'd live happily ever after.
"Alright, Mom, hand it over." Jules was standing beside Hunter with Brayden at her back.
She took the frame greedily, eyes shining. "Ooo, I can't wait until it gets filled up! I'll have so many pictures to take."
Hunter gave her a look.
Jules fidgeted. "You, too, of course." And then she went back to smiling at the frame.
Laughing, Hunter shook her head and wrapped her arm through my daughter's. "I love your photography. I'd love photos you take to be in here."
I teared up as they grinned at each other. The two of them were beautiful, and they were both my daughters.
From out of nowhere, Piper popped up. She draped her arm over Jules's shoulders. "So what's up? Ooo, what's that? It's cute."
Slowly, our little group started converging in this little area, and they took turns passing around the frame even though it was empty except for the one ultrasound photo. Ash had wandered off somewhere and Dox was playing around with the younger kids. Bray and Will were talking to Uncle Emmett about the trip. Aunt Rose was talking with Shelby.
I loved this, seeing our family so happy and at peace. Hunter was now a part of it as she turned to talk to her father, Caden. Gage, her younger half-brother, hovered around her protectively.
And Will. Happier than I'd ever seen him.
Turning around in Jacob's arms, I rested my ear against his heart and remembered just how much I loved him. And how this all started between us.
Shivering in the cold, I fell behind the happy, chatty group as we tromped through the woods. Will was carrying Hunter on his back. Bray was chasing Jules around. She shrieked when he caught her and started tickling her.
My mind kept racing, going back to the shadows behind the cabin. Jason's skin on mine had burned and sizzled. My body hummed whenever he was near me. But I couldn't understand why. I wasn't his true mate. His silence had been answer enough. After I'd walked away, I'd pulled my shirt up to cover myself, not particularly wanting anybody else to look at me. A fact that I didn't really want to look at too closely.
"Hey, baby, you okay?"
I looked up to see Mom had fallen back to walk beside me. "Hey, Mom." I was tempted to say I was fine, but I knew she'd see through that and call me out on it. So I said, "Can I ask you something?"
"I'm your mother. Of course you can. That's what I'm here for."
I gave her a fleeting smile. "Am I really that bad of a person?"
"What?" she demanded. "Of course not. Why would you ask me that?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. It just seems that people don't like being around me all that much. And those that do only seem to like my…assets."
Reaching out, she took my hand. "Sweetie, you're just like me when I was your age."
She nodded. "Yes. I was a raging bitch, let me tell ya. Even after I met your dad, I was awful. Even broke Uncle Jake's nose. It wasn't until after your brother was born that I calmed down. Piper, listen to me. Don't think that you need to change anything about yourself. Whoever you're meant to be with will be able to handle you the way you are. And with time, you'll change to match your surroundings. There won't need to be a conscious effort on your part. It'll just happen."
I sighed. "I know that you and Dad, and all the other adults, want us to grow up normal. But really, what is normal for us? With what we are?"
"Baby, I know you want what Jules has. I do. Trust me, he's out there…or she?"
I laughed. "I'm not gay, Mom. Or bi."
"Okay then, he's out there. I promise. But you know how guys are. They're assholes."
"Excuse you?" Dad's familiar voice came up behind us. He came up on my other side.
Mom rolled her eyes. "Except your dad. He actually wasn't an ass."
He glared at her playfully. "Nice of you to remember that." Then he looked down at me. "So does this have anything to do with that Jason kid?"
I looked up at him in shock before I realized. "Brayden has a big mouth," I grumbled.
My parents laughed, and Mom squeezed my hand. "He's just worried about you."
"So tell us about Jason," Dad said.
"He's an asshole," I blurted.
Mom and Dad shared another look but didn't berate me on my language.
"I don't really know anything about him," I continued, "except that I'm…well, I…"
"What, baby?" Dad asked.
It was so weird talking about this to my father. "I'm attracted to him. Like really bad. I've never…felt anything like it."
Surprisingly, he took it all in stride. "Well, maybe it might be good to talk to Carlisle."
Frowning, I looked up at him. That was not what I had been expecting. "Why?"
"He's been doing studies of imprints and true mates. Maybe he might have some answers."
"But Jason said I'm not his true mate."
Mom patted my hand. "You just called him an asshole. Not to mention he's the son of an enforcer, training to be one himself."
"But what does that have to do with anything?"
The answer was halted because we'd made it to the turn off toward the house. The Black clan as well as Bray had already started up the hill. The three of us waved to the Cullens as we passed the house.
It was Dad who answered the question. "From what I understand, enforcers don't officially take mates. And if they do find their true mate, that mate is hidden away. Besides, it's also rare for the Children to find their true mates. I've been told it's as rare as humans finding their soul mates. Maybe he's very attracted to you. Remember the story about Caden?"
"Yeah, he settled and she got killed."
"That's not the point," Dad said seriously. "It's also rare for the Quileutes to find imprints. A wolf can spend his entire life trying to find his mate and not succeed."
"Not that rare," I muttered. "So are you just saying that I should give it a try with him?"
Dad shrugged. "Maybe. Have you talked to him?"
I sort of shrunk down. "Well, our only real conversation had been a fight. And tonight, he kissed me. I mean, I kissed him, too. But still…I told him I wasn't going to be another girl in his bed. And he didn't stop me from walking away."
"Piper," Dad started.
Mom squeezed my hand. "I'm gonna catch up with the others." She kissed my forehead. "I love you. We'll talk later." She kissed Dad and then walked off.
Dad and I stopped, facing each other. He took my hands, rubbing them between his to warm them up. "Baby, men, no matter their age, are idiots."
I snorted a laugh.
He smiled. "But Jason is an enforcer. It's a sub-culture to the pack. They have certain ways. I'm not fond of the idea of you chasing after a guy, but you're seventeen and probably close to phasing. Your mother and I raised you and Brayden to be responsible kids. We love that the two of you held out against the teenage hormones. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to Jason, try to have a normal conversation. I still say you should talk to Carlisle. He might be able to give you some insight."
Taking in a deep breath, I hugged him. "I love you, Daddy."
He crushed me in his arms. "I love you, too, baby girl." I kissed the top of my head. "Don't worry. Someone will come and love you as much as I love your mother."
I smiled up at him as we both turned, arm in arm, to go up the hill.
But then I frowned, looking behind me. I had the strangest feeling that I was being watched.
There was nothing there. Or at least, nothing that I could see.
"You okay?" Dad asked.
Looking forward again, I nodded. "Yeah, I'm good."
It was a complete lie as the feeling followed me all the way to the front door of the house.
Bray and I laid back in my bed. He leaned against the wall, and I snuggled into his chest. I'd talked Mom and Dad into letting me have a TV in here. They'd been surprised since I typically didn't watch TV. I'd asked for Bray. There were several shows he liked but couldn't always watch or record because of the limits of DVR. So I'd offered to get one and record them for him. He spent most nights here until it was time for Dad to lock up the house.
"So are you playing tomorrow?" I asked while he flipped through channels.
"Probably. You know if Will is, he's going to talk me into it." He kissed the top of my head. "What are you gonna do?"
I shrugged. "Probably hang out with the girls. Or maybe just Piper. She's been a little down lately."
"That would be nice. I know she'd like some alone time with you."
I leaned up so I could see his face without getting a crick in my neck. "Speaking of, what's going on with Jason?"
He shook his head. "I have no idea. It's so weird the way he watches Piper. He's so intense. It creeps me out a little."
"What did you say to him tonight?"
He looked down at me in surprise.
I snorted. "Did you really think you could get away with slinking off? I know where you went."
Chuckling, he wrapped me up in his arms. "I just made it clear that Piper isn't as tough as she seems, that she's actually pretty vulnerable. And if he was going to chase her, he needed to know that if he hurt her, I'd break his face."
Laughing, I took the remote from him and climbed into his lap, straddling his thighs. His hands gripped my hips. "I love it when you talk tough."
"Hey, I can do more than talk tough."
"Mhm," I mocked.
Leaning in, I captured his lips with mine. God, he tasted so good. His tongue was sinful as it danced around mine and my mouth, licking at me.
He pulled back, licking his lips. "Now that's how you tell someone to shut up."
We both laughed as I twined my fingers through his silky hair. His fingers played over the skin of my hips.
"I love you, Bray."
He smirked. "I'm aware. And you know I love you."
Fingers playing in his hair, I studied him, growing serious. The depth of my feelings for him bubbled up and I thought about everything that had happened almost a year ago. I tried not to remember being chained up in that barn, surrounded by all those wolves. Every now and then, the wrist that I'd broken would twinge, reminding me. And I knew I had nightmares because Dox or Ash would always rush in to wake me up when I started screaming. The two of them would crawl into bed with me and hold me until I fell asleep.
Bray knew that I still had problems though. He'd catch me rubbing my wrist, my eyes zoned out. He, Will, and Hunter had saved me that night. And I'd been told that Bray had run all the way home with me unconscious on his back. He'd stayed with me until I woke up and had rarely let my side since.
I felt his palm stroke the side of my face. "Jules? Baby, you okay?"
Swallowing hard, I knew better than to lie to him. "Just thinking." Nobody, not even Piper, knew the details of what had happened to me that night. And I wasn't willing to give it up just yet.
Brayden stroked my cheek. "Baby, they're gone. Melice is dead. Will took care of that. And I will never let anything or anyone ever touch you like that again. I told you before, I will level anyone who puts a hand to you."
It was true that the only one to actually touch me that night was Melice. The things he'd shown me and done still left my skin crawling. I wasn't actually sure what would happen if Bray found out what had happened, but I know it wouldn't be good. As well as the other males in my family. So I bottled it up and prayed that, with time, the memories would slowly ebb.
I rested my forehead against his, letting out a slow calming breath. "I don't want you to go tonight," I whispered. I rarely pulled that card because I knew Dad's patience with me and Bray could only go so far. I was his baby girl, and after what happened, he watched me as closely as Bray did. But I really didn't want to be alone tonight. I had a feeling the comfort of my brothers wouldn't be enough, either.
Taking a moment to decide, Bray took one of my hands and opened it, palm up. With his index finger he drew an "O" and a "W". Open window.
I nodded against his forehead.
He pressed a soft kiss to the corner of my mouth. "Come on, let's finish this movie before I get kicked out."
Swallowing hard, I took a deep breath and moved back to where I started. Laying on my side, I curled up against him, reveling in his warmth. If I didn't start getting my shit together, he, along with everyone else, was going to figure out that something was up with me.
Trying to calm myself down, I took a few more deep breaths and wrapped his heavy arm around my waist, playing with his fingers, and rested my ear against his heart. The steady, even thrum helped me squash down those stupid memories and focus on the here and now. The movie was actually pretty good and funny. Bray's laughter was deep, making his chest and belly move under me.
Needing more of him, I ran my palm up under his shirt, my skin gliding over his. There, that was better. His breathing hitched once in surprise, but he didn't take it the wrong way, just let me touch him. I didn't do anything sexual. Just rested my palm between the pads of his pecs and felt his heart, his life, and his laughter.
He was more than just my love. He was my home.
I think I'm more excited for Jason and Piper...Don't get me wrong, I love Bray and Jules. But I do have a thing for Jason. Just don't tell Piper. She might kick my ass. Love all y'all! Please review! xoxoxoxo