Asher arrived minutes after I had accepted Cordelia’s help, slipping through the front door with much more stealth than he should’ve had for someone his size.
I spotted his towering form from across the room, the crease between his eyebrows and tension in his shoulders were among the first things I noticed.
“Was everything alright with patrol?” I asked, drawn to his side. He slid an arm around my waist, letting his hand rest inches above my backside. I could feel the ire he was holding back and gave him a stubborn look.
I let my thoughts mix with his, so that he would be the only audience to what I said next. ‘You’re not running this pack all alone anymore, Asher. You can tell me things.’
“Patrols are running smoothly. It’s just quiet out there.” Asher cleared his throat, directing my attention from his plush lips and eyes of molten honey. His thumb skated along my pulse, those lips twitching as they registered the brief spike.
His eyes flickered to Cordelia, who had fished out a bundle of sage from her bag and lit the end with a match until it was smoldering.
Asher watched with a dry expression as the middle-aged witch wandered throughout the lower floor of the house, humming softly as she wafted the burning herbs through the air.
“An honor to meet you, Alpha Asher. And thank you kindly for allowing me inside of your pack.” Cordelia said with a warm voice, giving Asher a motherly smile.
He blinked a few times, watching the witch as she continued throughout the house. We followed her up the stairs, both Breyona and I cooing as Asher gave us a tour of the second floor.
The halls were wide and the ceilings tall, but they were nothing like the labyrinth of Tyler’s house. Asher knew the last thing I wanted was to live in an empty mansion, where my footfalls and hushed breath would be the only sounds to grace the halls.
‘The house is beautiful. It’s better than anything I could’ve imagined.’ I made sure to tell him, hiding my smile as pride swelled in his chest.
“Burning sage will get rid of the witch’s negative energy. I could tell her d***h happened in the living room. That’s where the funk was thickest.”
She addressed both Asher and I, her hands clasped together. “I sense no spells or curses placed on the premises, so it’ll be safe to stay here tonight. I’ll come back tomorrow, and we can go over some other means of protection for you.”
As Breyona and Cordelia began chatting about crystals and their different structures, I was focused on Asher and the cellphone pressed against his ear.
Even without enhanced hearing, I’d be able to pick out Zeke’s boisterous laugh among the crowd cheering through the phone. Some obscure pop song thundered through the phone, drowning out the sea of individual voices nearby.
“Heeey, Ash!” Zeke shouted from the other end; the rest of what he had to say was muffled by the crowd and pulsing music. “Some kid…d***s…knocked-out… cops…didn’t even believe I’m an alpha…”
I felt my lips twist into a smirk when Asher gave me a look that said, ‘don’t even think about it.’
“Never call me Ash again.” Asher rolled his eyes, running a hand over his stubble covered jaw. The frustrated action had an unintended effect on my lady parts, who found Asher even more alluring when he was pissed off.
The dark look he threw my way only worsened that feeling. “Can you blame them for not believing you’re an Alpha when you’re p**s drunk?”
Zeke, pouty and defensive, shouted through the phone.
“…not drunk…couple bottles…best-friend forever…”
“Did he just say ‘best-friends forever’?” Breyona snorted, clasping a hand over her mouth to hold back her laughter.
“Who knew Zeke was a clingy drunk?” I whispered, clutching onto Breyona as the two of us erupted in muffled laughter. Even Asher, whose eyes softened as they found my face, cracked a smile.
“Why not just mind-link me?” Asher sighed heavily, “I’d be able to hear more than every other word.”
“no time…too drunk…hurry up…” Was all I heard on the other end, followed by a ‘click.’
“What’s he gotten himself into this time?” I shook my head; if there was one person who could get into more trouble than myself, it was Zeke.
“Aren’t you glad best-friend here gets to go and deal with it?” Breyona teased, her grin growing wider when Asher flashed her a dark look.
“I have no clue, but if he’s caused any damages, I’ll take over his pack.”‘ Asher grunted, and while Cordelia’s widened in shock, Breyona and I smirked.
Even Giovanni chuckled under his breath. Asher threatening to conquer Zeke’s pack was a frequent occurrence, but it was something we all knew would never happen. As stoic and brooding as Asher acted, he enjoyed Zeke’s chaotic presence as much as the rest of us.
“I’ll come with you.” I insisted, sighing softly as a yawn rose in my throat.
Even before we completed the bond, Asher had this uncanny way of seeing right through me. The announcement, the assassination attempt, and the party -a girl only had so much energy when it came to nights of crappy sleep, even if she was a tribrid.
“No. You’ll stay here and get some sleep, like you’ve been wanting to do for days now.” His stare rooted me in place, along with the fondness only I could see, the savage love that came with being mated to a beast.
I let out a sigh, guilty because I wasn’t the only one suffering from lack of sleep. Asher had just as much on his plate as I did, and had managed it a lot longer than I.
This time I couldn’t hold back the yawn that left my open mouth, making my eyes water and grow heavy. Beneath it all, I was a little more than excited for tomorrow, to learn the basics of magic.
I was more than curious about my witch heritage and hoped that this was my chance to fully understand what I was which was becoming more complicated by the minute.
‘Go to sleep, Lola. You have a busy day tomorrow.’ The reverence in which he said my name made my heart flutter, filling me with a warmth that prompted me to wrap my arms around his torso, breathing in his woodsy scent.
‘You won’t be long?’ I pouted, feeling a sense of relief when the husky words, ‘I promise,’ swirled through my head.
“We’ll stick around for a while.” Breyona chimed in helpfully, peering up at Giovanni through her lashes. The way he looked down on her, the hidden adoration in his eyes, I swore he and Asher had more in common than they cared to admit.
“We’ll also drop Cordelia off at the house on our way back. We just have to get back before the sun rises.”
Once Asher left, I explained to Cordelia her new living situation. Her eyes lit up at the mention of another skilled witch, one she’d be sharing the house with.
We spent the next several minutes talking, with Breyona providing a near endless stream of questions that captured even my short attention span.
Her hazel eyes held the same excitement her parents had whenever they discovered a new academic trove or forgotten piece of history.
“If the Luna is alright with it, you’re more than welcome to join our training courses. Not possessing magic doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
We’re always in need of more people to pass on the craft.” Cordelia offered Breyona on their way out.
Breyona gave me a hopeful look, bouncing on the b***s of her feet with an expectant grin. I let her squirm for a few seconds, giggling when Giovanni had to steady her.
“Of course, I don’t mind if you come to magic training. Who better to keep me on task?” I smirked.
“Awesome, I can’t wait!” She exclaimed, pecking me on the cheek. “Just text me what time you want me to come over.”
The moment the three of them left, I took the time to explore the bedroom Asher had designed for us. As soon as I stepped inside, I was engulfed in his scent.
Wood and amber along with the faint undertone of something purely male, husky, and mouthwatering all on its own.
I understood why the moment I sank into the ridiculously large bed, much bigger than anything Asher or I would need. I knew I could be a bed hog, but I wasn’t sure anyone was that bad.
The blankets and sheets on the bed were made of the softest cotton, midnight black in color. Asher’s scent clung strongly to the sheets because they were his from back home.
It was a piece of the place we had left behind, a place that had once comforted and provided me with a sense of safety.
I hadn’t planned on passing out minutes after sinking into the bed, but with his delicious scent wrapped around me, lulling my already exhausted mind into a false sense of security, it was impossible not to give into the urge.
‘I like the sheets…’ I managed to murmur seconds before my eyes fluttered shut, and my fingers grasped the pillow that smelled most like Asher.
‘I knew you would.’ I thought I heard his raspy chuckle, but I was too far gone to take notice.