After promising another three times, grandma finally left to beat dad home. He had no clue she’d overheard him talking to Flora on the phone and found out about their get together, even though he should’ve realized you can’t hide anything from grandma.
Rowena slipped away to her bedroom after making me swear an oath I’d tell her, or Cordelia should something like that happen again.
She left the three of us to eat grandma’s leftovers and brush through various sigil books. Beneath each hand drawn symbol was a tip to help make the spell stronger.
Many called for white chalk or paint, others wanted black, and the harsher sigils called for animal blood. Some of the symbols became so complex my eyes couldn’t discern where one line began and another ended.
There was one sigil that sent my thoughts veering towards the marks on my neck. It wasn’t Asher’s on my mind, even though I showed off the cobalt mark every chance I had. Unfortunately, in doing so I also had no choice but to show off my other mark, the one belonging to Tristan.
The dull cold that clung to it made it almost impossible to forget.
“Since you’re good with sigils, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about removing a vampire’s mating mark?” It was impossible to keep my voice light after voicing a question like that. I settled for an awkward and drawn-out laugh. “I know the two aren’t related, I just-“
“In a way, they are. A mating mark binds you and another person on a spiritual level, and just like a sigil it won’t stray from its purpose. On the other hand, a sigil fades or vanishes once the spell reaches completion whereas a mating mark is for life…” My stomach was twisting and turning, riding the waves of my hope as it ebbed and flowed. It crashed into the rocky shore when Cordelia said, “As for how to remove it, there isn’t a magical remedy I know of that I can tell you…but if I may ask, has he tried marking someone else?”
“He doesn’t exactly have someone else to mark.” I grimaced. No matter how desperate I was to get this thing off my neck, I wouldn’t pass it to another unwilling soul.
“Right, well…I’ll see if there’s any spells or sigils that have to do with mating marks. In the meantime you should focus on your magic. The more attention you give it, the easier it should be to take control. After all, you can’t train a dog you never spend time with.”
When her eyes crinkled with sympathy my hope vanished, leaving me to succumb to the waves.
Forty-five minutes later and a quick but steamy conversation with Asher through mind-link, I found myself sandwiched between the wall and his sweaty muscular form.
Nights ago he clasped a hand over my mouth and smirked as my moans were muffled against his flesh. Tonight was different in many ways.
Either he could see the stress in my eyes and knew I was nearing my breaking point, or he was nearing one of his own because the second he walked through the door, he attacked. His hands were greedy, squeezing and pulling as they sought out my warmest, wettest areas.
It was a good thing all I wore were baggy work-out clothes because within seconds they were scraps of fabric that littered the floor. He coaxed every single scream from my lips while his rough hands wound themselves in my hair, and his feral tongue explored my mouth. He hadn’t let me lay a finger on his c**k, and I’d been trying again when my fourth o***m rocked through me. I could do nothing but thrash against him as I whimpered and cried out the last of my frustration.
“So, Cassidy’s coming to this sleepover of yours?” Asher raised an eyebrow from where he sat propped against the headboard.
The sight of his chest and bulging arms was delicious, but it was the tent his c**k made beneath the bedsheets that made me stumble. The temptation that swelled in my br*ast was overpowered by the soreness in between my legs, and it was that soreness that sent me floating back down to earth.
“You sound surprised.” I chuckled as I rummaged through the drawer for a change of clothes and glanced up at the vanity mirror where I met his eyes.
The clothes I had been wearing currently covered the living room floor in the form of homemade confetti. At some point we made it to the bedroom, which meant any piece of clothing not protected by a door now had an undertone of s*x that clung to its fibers.
“I know how Cassidy is. She never struck me as your type…then again, you were close with that blonde back in your hometown.
You looked stunning wearing that black dress, I can see why Chelsea stood in front of you in every photo.” There wasn’t an ounce of shame or decency in his honey-flecked eyes, just that air of confidence that seemed utterly impenetrable.
His lips twitched as surprise rippled across my face. “I was curious, so I found pictures from that night. It was hard to believe you grew up with that tool with how much you glared at him in every photo.”
I cracked a smile. “He kept saying I looked gothic like it was an insult, and what do you mean you didn’t think she was my type?”
Asher’s towering form appeared behind me, a dark shadow that scooped me off my feet and tossed me onto the bed. I landed with a light thud, giggling as he hovered over me and effectively caged me in.
“Gothic? He should’ve been k****d for saying you looked anything short of perfect.” He snorted, sending a puff of warm air against my neck from where his nose trailed along the soft skin.
“As for Cassidy, she can be shallow and self-centered. Material things matter to her, and embarrassment is a betrayal she’ll spend the rest of her life punishing you for—something I do not speak from experience on, but I’ve met plenty who have.”
While I wanted to know more about Cassidy’s vengeful side, the confidence in which he spoke about me made my face flush with heat.
“I think I’m curious too, and unfortunately I’m not resourceful enough to scour the internet for pictures of you…” I chuckled weakly, then took a quick breath before I could back down. “What was it like growing up here? How was your childhood with Cassidy and Brandon?”
When his eyes darkened and some of the golden tones faded, I knew his mind had gone somewhere unpleasant. The weight of his expression lifted when I wrapped my arms around his neck and held myself against his chest.
“Things were normal when we were kids. We’d play, get d***y, and get in trouble.” He half-shrugged, then ran a hand through his hair because he knew my silence meant I was waiting for a better answer. “Cassidy was an outsider for a while. She’d mostly trail after Brandon and I, but somehow she ended up a part of our group. Training started during my preteens which took up a good bit of time.
I couldn’t do as much anymore, couldn’t play sports or hang out after school. It caused a rift between the three of us for a little while. When I left for your pack Cassidy stayed in touch, but by that point Brandon and I already cut ties.”
“That sounds rough, to be isolated from everyone like that.” I knew Asher wouldn’t want sympathy, yet I couldn’t help but feel bad for the child that he’d once been.
It didn’t take a gut feeling to know he was holding back. While there weren’t any salacious memories with Cassidy that stood out, there was plenty with Brandon that still stung him like an old wound.
“So you and her never…” I trailed off, feeling my breath hitch when his eyes settled on my lower lip.
His thumb forced the swollen flesh from between my teeth where I’d been chewing on it. My eyes fluttered shut when his tongue grazed the indent my canine left.
“Have her and I ever…” He trailed off; his voice low as it rumbled from his throat. “…kissed? Dated? Fu-“
“Yes, all of the above.” I hissed and tried to pull my head away when his teeth sunk into my lower lip, right on the spot I’d been biting.
Ever so gently, he let go. He held back the need that darkened his eyes long enough for adoration and love to shine through. It made the gold return to his eyes, and I watched as it rippled and multiplied.
When men like Asher were fortunate enough to fall in love it consumed every fiber of their being, plagued every nightmare and dream until the voice that spoke in their head was that of their beloved.
It was terrifying to feel that in another person, especially an Alpha whose instincts play a hand in every decision made.
It was a tightrope these men walked, a precarious balance between unconditional love and unbridled obsession.