Epilogue (6 weeks later) -

'Right, has everyone got everything they need?' Alec asked, carrying a few bags from the pile Max and their daughters had placed by the main door of their penthouse.

'Yeah.' Came the loud chorus from his pack females. He saw Max dash into the kitchen, whilst his eight years old twins skipped along to their bedroom. No doubt looking for more things to add to their already bulging bags, hoping that those things would help their home sickness. He couldn't blame them. It was always hard for their kind to be away from their own territory. But, this didn't stop him and Max taking their family on vacations sometimes when the need arose. At the moment, such a need had risen in their family. And after much deliberation, Max, Biggs, Cece and Joshua had agreed with his suggestion that a trip be taken as soon as possible to meet that specific need.

'Well, you better not remember something once we're already there. I am not driving all the way back again.' He warned in a serious tone. Turning his attention to his other two kids, he found the teenage couple giving each other shy sidelong glances. 'Cade, are you sure you'll be able to manage at Command without me and your Mom? I mean, it would've been okay if Biggs and Cece wasn't going with us. But, without all of us, are you sure you'll manage our duties?' He knew his son was more than capable of leading their nation for a week, yet he still couldn't help but ask. It was only fair if his alpha boy had some say in the matter.

Cade sighed dramatically at his father's questioning look which was directed towards him. His parents' plans to go on a holiday had come as a surprise to him because he hadn't thought they would be too keen to leave the nation any time soon. His parents were always extra-cautious when it came to the security of the Alpha family. Although the supposed war that the American president had been planning was unlikely for the next few decades at the least, still it wasn't all that safe around the world right now. Well, that was his opinion anyway.

Considering all these things, he was quite puzzled why the elders of his family had decided to spend a week camping in the Blue Mountains in Sydney. And if that wasn't strange enough, they had all insisted that Zeva couldn't go because she had to stay for Sara's sake. He knew this was just an excuse as Sara didn't need anyone to look after her anymore. Since Ryan had mated Sara over a month ago, they were hardly ever apart. Which meant his parents' reasons for leaving Zeva home were different from what they said. Being aware of this little fact confused him to no end. Why would they use Sara as an excuse and why had the elders acted all weird when he had tried to get them to take Zeva on her first holiday? He had been determined to find out. He had tried to get this information from each of the family members but to no avail. He wished he knew their motives. Maybe, he was over-thinking and complicating things himself. They could really just want a change of scenery and decided to leave Zeva for Sara's company.

Coming out his thoughts, he nodded at his father like the golden son that his Mom claimed he was. 'Yes, Dad. You don't have to worry about anything here. Just enjoy yourselves on your break. I won't be alone. Zeva, Ryan and Sara are all gonna be here too so I'll be okay. And, Dalton will be here by wednesday.' Cade said, moving over to the dining table to take a seat. Suddenly, he felt exhausted from all the thinking he had been doing since he found out about his parents' plans two days ago. He just wanted it to be over so he would know why they were going in the first place. He had a feeling he was going to get all his answers soon.

Alec chuckled as he saw his son resuming his thoughts. His kid was so easy for him to read. His expressive hazel-green eyes which were identical to his own and the tension in his body which was evident in his movements were a dead give-away to anyone who was well-versed in the kid's body language and expressions. 'They're here but don't expect Ryan and Sara to hang out with you because they'll be making use of the alone-time they'll get when we're gone. They're still in their honeymoon phase.' He smiled, looking at the blushing teens in front of him. He knew they weren't comfortable to hear him say such things so openly but he had to start making them realize that they were going to be very alone for the very first time. Dropping hints and mentions of mating was part of the plan.

'Looks like it's just gonna be me and Zeva then.' Cade said, eyes flitting to Zeva's tense form before moving back to meet his father's intense green gaze.

'Looks like it.' Alec agreed, cheerfully. He pointed to the remaining bags on the floor. 'Cade, come help me with these, kid.'

Without uttering a response, Cade followed his Dad, all the remaining bags in his hands. Walking behind his Dad and placing the bags in the black SUV, he was overcome with emotions. Feelings of disappointment, hurt and sadness were coursing through his body as the time of his family's departure drew near. The truth was, he wanted to go with his family too. He had missed them all so much whilst he had been on the Kuwaiti mission. Being away from them for such a long period had been hard on him to the extent that when he came back he couldn't be without them for a minute. Now, after six weeks, he still had moments when he felt panic or discomfort. In those moments, the only thing that could calm him was his mother's embrace or his father's scent. 'Dad, can't I come?' He asked in a small voice.

Alec was taken aback by this show of vulnerability from his son. He was aware of Cade's heightened need for comfort and pack scent since his mission. But, he had thought that this need would've diminished over the weeks. It seemed his son had become dependent on his pack being close to him. And, Zeva staying home with him hadn't eased his anxiety. Having Zeva around him should've been enough for Cade because she was his chosen mate as well as the female he loved. But, the two had been awkward with each other since Cade had come back. It appeared as though Zeva was angry with Cade about something that he had done and Cade didn't know how to make things better between them. 'Zeva's here. You'll be fine. I've told Mole that you will both be working from home and will only check in at Command if you feel the need.' Alec assured, trying to fight the lump that was forming in his throat. He wanted his son and daughter to go with him too but this trip was being made to give the teens some space to sort out their feelings in the first place. So, taking them with the rest of his family would defeat the purpose of the vacation.

'Dad, it's not the same. You know, she hardly talks to me.' Cade admitted, his voice coated with sadness and hurt. 'I hate love. Love hurts.' He muttered, pouting.

For a moment, Alec thought whether he should let Cade know the reason he and Zeva were being left alone. Max and Cece had warned him against it, arguing that Ryan had mated Sara when he had felt ready to do so and not when he had been told to mate. Remembering the angry, scary females of his family, he decided it wouldn't be in his best interest to bring their wrath upon himself. 'Maybe now that she won't have anyone else to talk to, she'll talk to you. Don't worry about anything. You won't even know we're gone. Everyone else is here.' Seeing the dejected look marring Cade's face, he couldn't help but reach out and pull his son in his arms. Keeping his arms wrapped tightly around the squirming Cade, he buried his face in his son's hair.

Love and warmth washed over Cade as he finally relaxed in his Dad's embrace. He couldn't remember the last time his Dad had held him like this. Most of the time their hugs were totally manly and brief in time. Feeling like this after such a long time, he realized how he had missed being so close to his Dad, his protector, his Alpha. 'You promise everything is gonna be okay?' He felt like a little kid asking this but he needed reassurance. If his Dad said everything was going to be okay, he would believe it. His Dad was always right.

'Yeah, I promise. Just be true to your feelings.' Alec patted Cade on the back before letting him go.

Within the next few minutes, the females of the alpha pack joined the males and they all piled into the SUV. Alec drove it over to Biggs and Cece's mansion, where a red Camaro was being laden with bags of various colours and sizes. Ryan looked in a hurry as he threw bags at Biggs. After getting out of their SUV, Alec and Cade came to stand beside Ryan and Biggs. The females went to join the females of Biggs' pack in the mansion.

'When are you guys setting off? It'll get dark soon. Get a move on.' Ryan yelled at his Dad.

Biggs snorted. 'Don't get yours boxers in a twist. We're going as soon as Josh gets here.' He couldn't believe his son had no qualms in showing his apparent happiness at being left alone with Sara. He had assumed that his kid would at least pretend to be a bit sad. But, who was he kidding. He had been as selfish when he had first mated with Cece. At least, the kid had seen sense sooner rather than waiting like Cade.

Once Joshua decided to grace them all with his presence, everyone started saying their goodbyes to the teenagers who were going to stay back home. Max, Cece and the girls got into the SUV and the males all got into the Camaro before driving off with a final wave.

'Finally.' Ryan threw his arms in the air and did a little victory dance. 'Right, Cade, Zeva, you guys didn't want to hang out, did you?' He ignored Sara as she elbowed him. 'You must have things to do.' He pointedly looked at Cade and tried to convey that his brother should say yes. No one was going to spoil his week of mated bliss, as far as he was concerned. To his annoyance, Sara was trying to be her polite-self as usual.

'Don't be stupid, Ryan. Of course, they will be hanging out with us. What else will they do.' She smiled at her friends who looked uncomfortable. Ryan may have forgotten their assistance in making them a happy couple but she hadn't. She was quite surprised that Ryan hadn't picked up on his brother's distress. Cade and Zeva both looked lost, sad and hurt. And, she would be damned if she didn't try to help them.

What Sara didn't know was, Ryan was acting indifferent on purpose. He had overheard his parents talking about Cade and Zeva being the reason they had all decided to go on a holiday. The method was cruel but it had a high percentage of a favorable outcome. Cade had been too sensitive and on edge since their mission. His brother needed to calm down and the only person who could truly calm him was Zeva. Even if they didn't yet know it. Being mated, he had come to know these things.

Grudgingly, Cade started to back away. 'Actually, Dad left some work for me to do so I will have to go home.' He knew Ryan wanted to be alone with his mate. It would be wrong to intrude. Ryan was so happy when he had heard about being left alone with Sara. Cade didn't have the heart to spoil his brother's happiness and fun. 'Zeva, are you coming?' He asked before he turned around in the direction of his home.

'Yeah.' Zeva smiled at the happy couple who were still watching her. 'Sara, thanks for the offer but I have some work to do. I'll see you later.' She patted the younger female's stomach, affectionately and then left.

'That was uncalled for. You shouldn't have said anything. They've been so nice to me and you were mean to them.' Sara accused Ryan as he guided her back inside their home.

Ryan sighed. 'Sara, believe me when I say I did it to help them. I know what my brother is feeling. No one knows him better than I do. This is the only way, they'll talk. I hate it when I see him hurt, it hurts me.' He pulled her in his lap as he sat down on his favourite chair.

A few hours had passed since Cade and Zeva had come back to an empty home. Currently, Cade was sat in the living room flipping through channels on the tele and Zeva was in the kitchen area making dinner. They hadn't spoken one word to each other. Choosing to remain silent as they each didn't know what to say to the other.

Zeva watched Cade from where she was stood at the counter, putting food on their plates. Bringing the plates over to the dining table, she placed hers as far away from his as possible and then went back to get the water and various sauces. She had assumed he would come to eat without her calling him as she was sure he knew she had set things on the table. He must've heard all the noise from when she was placing things on the table. She would've preferred it if he had come of his own accord. However, he hadn't moved an inch from where he was sat staring at the moving images on the screen. Exhaling sharply, she swallowed her pride for the moment and called, 'Cade, dinner's ready.' From under hooded eyes, she saw him get up slowly and switch the tele off.

Going to the kitchen to wash his hands, Cade had passed the table but had failed to notice that his plate was set on the opposite end of the table from hers. Anger and hurt consumed him when he came back and found her sitting as far away from him. Despite all his feelings about the situation and about her in general, he didn't say anything. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he sat down and started eating, his head down and attention on his food. Concentrating so hard on these tasks, he didn't realize it when she asked him something.

'So, are you going to ignore my questions now too?' Zeva was mad as all hell. How dare he? After all she had done for him in spite of his unfaithfulness.

Cade huffed in disbelief. 'Wh...what? I did not ignore you. I never have.' She was such a hypocrite. She had been ignoring his existence for ages and now she had the audacity to blame him for ignorance when he had merely missed what she had said because he hadn't expected her to speak to him any time soon. 'I just didn't realize you were talking to me now. You haven't really spoken to me before.' He trained his intense eyes on her and pushed his plate of food away from himself, losing his appetite.

Zeva was astonished to see him leave food as it was a rare occurrence. Ignoring his apparent loss of appetite, she sneered at him. 'Are you criticizing me?'

'No.' Cade couldn't for the life of him understand what had gotten into her.

'You're such an asshole.' She growled at him in frustration, wanting to punch him or something.

Cade's eyes widened at the insult. Confusion plagued him. Nevertheless, he decided enough was enough and he was going to get an answer from her whether she liked it or not. 'Zeva, I really don't know what the fuck is your problem but since I got back, you've been giving me hell. And, I'm sick of it. Why the fuck don't you just tell me what I did wrong?' He knitted his eyebrows together and waited for her response with bated breath.

Zeva looked away from his penetrating gaze, feeling vulnerable all of a sudden. Biting her bottom lip, she ran her hand through her hair as she pushed her own plate away from her with her free hand. 'I don't want anything to do with you.'

'You're fine to let me sleep with you.' He muttered, gritting his teeth.

She turned her blazing eyes on him. 'Fine. I won't let you sleep with me either. You don't care about anyone's feelings, you selfish pig. I just wanted comfort and I thought you did too.'

He looked down at his lap. 'I still do.' The scraping of the chair made him look up to find her leaving, her plate in hand. In the desperation to keep her talking to him, he began in a low voice, 'On the mission, I missed pack so much. You can't even imagine how hard it was for me. Dalton was in his soldier mode and Ryan was worse. I had no comfort and pack scent. I was so happy when we got back home. I thought everything was going to be okay but you refused to comfort me at all. My instincts still feel all over the place sometimes. I just want you to make me feel better.' He admitted, shamefully.

'You wanted comfort. Is that why you fucked an ordinary female whilst on mission or flirted with her at least? I know you like girls and you like to flirt. But, you were on a mission. How could you flirt with a girl on a mission?' She put her plate back down on the table and came to stand in front of him with her hands balled in fists by her side.

Today was a day for shocks and confusion. 'What? What are you going on about? I never fucked anyone, I swear.'

'Don't deny it. I saw you. Don't forget, I was in comms room all the time you were on mission. I don't know why I bothered.' She shouted at him.

'Where?' He demanded, standing up in anger.

'You were all at the port in Dubai.' She kept it vague. He could think for himself. She wasn't going to make this easy on him.

Remembering the incident at the port, he let out an exasperated huff. 'We needed the times/schedules of ships coming to/from the port. The only way to get this information was to flirt with the female at the desk. It was either me or Ryan that Dalton chose for the job and Ryan made me do it. If you saw all this then you know as well as I do that I only spoke to the female. Even if Dalton had asked me to fuck the female, according to my training I can't refuse an order. It goes against training but I would've refused the order nonetheless. Because I love you and I would never do anything to hurt you. Its nice to know, you don't love me enough to trust me.' He shook his head in sadness.

Zeva was gobsmacked. She felt awful for not trusting him. For judging him. And, treating him bad for something that was all made up in her own head. 'Cade...' She was cut off by Cade walking away from her. A second later, she heard his bedroom door click shut.

Silently and mournfully, she cleared up the table and the kitchen. Shutting off the lights for the night, she found a note on the coffee table. Cade had been writing a note to her whilst she was making dinner. It was a love note. Guilt and sadness brought tears to her eyes as she realized that she had screwed up. Walking past Cade's room, she smelt tears which broke her heart. He had been crying over her. She decided she wasn't going to let him sleep alone. If he wanted to yell at her he could, she would take his punishment. He wanted comfort and she'd be damned if she didn't give him what he wanted.

Knocking on the door lightly, she opened it to find him laying down on his back, fully clothed and looking up at the ceiling. Hesitantly, she entered the room and shut the door behind her. Suddenly, she felt shy and uncertain. They were alone in their home and she was now in his territory. 'Cade.' He didn't respond. In fact, he didn't even look at her. Putting aside her fear and shyness, she kicked her shoes off and crawled onto his bed. Lying down beside him, she rested her head on his heart and wrapped her arms around his waist. 'I'm sorry. I shouldn't have questioned you. I do trust you.' She said, sincerely.

He was so quite. The only sound coming from him was his strong and steady heartbeat, which had quickened a moment ago. Looking up at him, her blue oceanic orbs were met by his beautiful green eyes. Time seemed to stop. The magical moment was only cut short when both had to blink out of necessity. For some odd reason, Zeva didn't feel shy or uncomfortable anymore. Instead, she felt she belonged here, in his arms. Stripped of all her fears and shyness, she leaned forward and planted a sweet kiss on his lips. 'Make love to me, Cade.' She whispered against his mouth.

'Are you sure?' He asked, breathless. He knew this was the ultimate show of trust on her behalf. Receiving a nod from her, he smiled. 'I want to do it properly.' At her confused look, he moved her hair out of the way to expose her neck and growled low in his throat. Seeing her eyes glow in acceptance, he knew she understood his meaning. He bit into her neck, drawing blood. 'Mine.'

'Yours.' She moaned and bit his shoulder.

Getting the ritual out of way, Cade turned her around so that she was under him and grinned at her. Capturing her lips in a tender kiss, he poured his soul and all his love into the kiss. He hoped that her first time would be as amazing as he had wanted it to be for her. He took his time with her, making slow passionate love to her. Telling her by his actions how much she meant to him and how happy he was to be her mate.

After hours of the best sex he had probably ever had, Cade lay awake with Zeva still wrapped in his arms. She was sleeping peacefully. He watched her with a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. She looked like an angel, his angel. Although it had been her first time, she had still managed to keep up with him. The connection between them had been explosive. Cade was still buzzing. He had a feeling it was more intense because of the fact that they loved each other and that they were mated. Ryan had been right, everything did feel better when done with a mate. Inwardly, he smirked at the thought that he had his mate to himself for a full week without interruption. Oblivious to the fact that his family had planned it all.

THE END

A/N; Wow, it's finished. I can finally live now. The other person (the actual author) can leave in peace now. When I first started this story I seriously thought that the longest it will get to was 10/12 chapters. But boy, was I wrong? Whilst writing the first few chapters I became the slave of my muse and this story. They both took on a life of their own and used my body to wreak havoc here. So, if any of you think the ending wasn't good enough then don't blame me. I am as much a victim as you all. I would like to thank those 300+ reviews writers, and for the rest, you read all this and you couldn't be bothered to write 1 sentence of flames/praise, seriously?.

This story can only have this conclusion, according to me, so don't ask for any more alternatives. I wish I was any good at writing smut, but I am awful at it. I tried for this chapter but I just couldn't make it sound good. I guess I am too much of a romantic. I might do a one-shot where Ryan/Sara's baby is born (i keep thinking it would be cool to get them in a panic and all) but I am not sure yet. But, never say never right.

I love you all who stuck with me till the end and shared my misery and happiness. Time and Life are precious and short. Knowing that all of you spent countless hours of your precious time reading this is a beautiful gift to me and I will always be grateful for it. And, if it isn't too much bother, I'll ask everyone and I mean those non-reviewers as well (you know who you are, I sure as hell don't) to review now at least. Because, this is the ending. And, another thing I have a poll up on my profile I would love it if you guys could answer it for me...

Until next time,

XXXXXX

494dwangel (if you ever meet James Cameron pls mention this and you never know this might become an epic film lol, I wish)