It was full moon and the lycan always had a celebration for every full moon. Even though it was early in the evening, the main announcements had been made and people were now dancing. Becca watched her brothers having fun. Evan was dancing with a new female every few minutes and Avery was with Ashley Matthews, whom was a cousin to the owner of the land her pack resided upon. She was trying to memorize these things. She had several younger brothers to keep track of. She had seen Terry earlier. Over the past month he had grown a bit more. Lycan adolescence was painful but quick. He was behind his twin brother because of the attack a few months prior. He’d been snatched from this world and taken as a slave by an enemy pack in the other world. She had asked him to the dance with her, but he had politely declined. A lot of people together still made him nervous. His twin brother, Ryker, was out dancing with the others, keeping up with Evan in the flirtations progress. She’d got to enjoy and know both those twins along with Russ here and there and his triplet brother Ryan, who was out in the cooling evening with his mate, Lecia. Apparently, they had known they were mates since they were kids. It was sweet. Russ and Clint were triplets with Ryan. But she’d not met Clint. So she hoped to see both he and Russ before the night was over. Mical and Aaron were the younger ones, and they were also out there enjoying some fun. She figured, they’d better do that now, because soon, they’d be called in to the house. Yes. Because they were barely teens. Right. She was learning this. She was doing her best to learn about all of her family and she didn’t even want to think about all of the pack around them right now. She could feel her chest tightening and she was wringing her hands.
That’s when Eva nudged her daughter from behind. The Alpha couple were sitting at the table on the dais where announcements were generally made and where they could oversee everything. They had already been enjoying food and each other’s company. Any newcomers were brought before them and now the dancing and the music and the bonfire had begun. But Becca felt lost. It had been nearly a month since she had left Texas. And she hadn’t heard anything from Cody at all. Had he changed his mind?
“Don’t you want ta dance, sweetheart?” Eva asked. She knew there were plenty who wanted to dance with her.
“Yes and no.” She wore a light smile when she turned and sat next to her new father and took a piece of bread from the plate to begin eating just a little on. She knew bread wouldn’t make her ill. “I think I’d just like to stay here with you.” Becca had really taken to Devon and Eva since coming home. She felt safe with them. She only felt safer with one other person and he wasn’t here.
“Not that I’ll deny ya that at all my beauty, but what has ya stayin’ at the table instead of out there.”
“It’s no offense against the others. I enjoy their company on the porch and talking.” She looked up at her father. “I just don’t like being close with them.” She smirked uncomfortably. Those boys out there saw her as an Alpha’s daughter and a normal lycan for the most part. They didn’t see who she really was. They would probably never understand her. And she really didn’t want to dance like that with just anyone, who wouldn’t understand her. “Is that okay, Papa?” she asked. She had called him Papa from the beginning, as if there was nothing to it.
“Of course it is darlin.” Devon smiled as he watched their daughter take a seat at their table. “Ya know those fellas ain’t gonna give up so easy.” His gaze moved over the would-be suitors and he had to smile as he sipped from his mug. “Any of em interested in ya?”
“All of them, I think,” Eva smiled at the both of them.
“Yeah, I think so, too,” Becca said shyly as she broke up the bread on her plate.
“But you’re not interested in them?” Eva whispered, urging her pup like she urged anyone to speak their mind.
“No ma’am,” she whispered. “They don’t know me.”
“Ya haven’t really given em a chance to know ya either darlin’.” Devon pointed out as he sipped more ale. “Care to speak with any of em?”
“I have, Papa. Some on the porch swing at night. They were always nice. It’s not that they’re not nice to me. It’s just,” she moved her hand on her wrist, where she was tattooed. She looked up at him from where she sat, “We don’t have a lot to talk about except the weather and I asked a lot of questions about the Pack.” Becca took a deep breath. “They’re not sure how ta take me being who I am, as-is. I just can’t imagine telling them more about what I am and how I have to eat.” She licked her lips. “Have you heard anything about Cody?”
“Sweetheart, Cody’s not really relevant now.” Devon didn’t like the bear mentioned. He hadn’t reached out and he hadn’t made it here and he’d had plenty of time. So, Devon, both as a father and an Alpha, was not impressed. Not to mention, he felt like the bear might have taken advantage of a situation. Becca had been fragile – hell, she still was. And he had no business being anything more than polite and proper with her. He had crossed a line. “He was a necessary part of yer past. Now, we’ve found a better way to keep ya fed.” Sebastian and Sam had synthesized the protein and hemoglobin Becca needed. They were just trying to figure out the method of delivery, when they realized she loved the taste of fruit juices and so they had mixed the needed nutrients into a special drink. She had been fine since. At least until now. “You said the bear was going to come and court you, and that was near a month ago, Becca. He’s not here and he’s not fed you. You’ve been doin’ just fine. I feel like, if ya find a good guy amongst the Pack, that fella would be fine with ya drinkin’ blood now and again. Ya can’t help that part of who ya are. But for the most part, you’re handled and healthy.”
“What?” Becca was shocked at the idea of not needing Cody. Her breathing and heart rate showed it.
“Calm down Becca and tell us what’s going on with ya, gal.” Watching Becca’s reaction, Devon knew he needed to give her some time to gather her thoughts and speak her mind. His gaze lifted to his mate’s in concern. It seemed the mention of moving on without Cody upset her a lot more than he thought it would.
“I miss him. I know he’s not Pack, but he understands me and we talk a lot when we’re around one another. And you’re saying I won’t get to do that anymore?” Becca was on the verge of crying.
“Oh… well…” Eva wasn’t sure what to say. She looked to Devon for this one.
“What did the two of ya talk about?” Devon had dealt with boys, not girls. But he figured, more than anything, a child liked to know they were being listened to. One could learn a lot by simply listening and Devon had been told he was good at it.
Eva smiled and stopped being anxious immediately. Devon was such a good father. He had this.
“We talked about the ranch and taking care of the animals. He told me about his family and how their kind of Pack worked. We told each other about our time in the coven, and how things have changed. He taught me how to shift without being afraid of it. He also taught me how to defend myself better.”
“So he has a ranch and shared some about his life and himself with ya. I take it you’d never shifted before these lessons of his. I’ll have to give him my thanks for teachin’ ya not to fear yerself. But tell me more about the lessons on defendin’ yerself better. Did the coven teach ya nothin’ in yer time with ’em?” While he was no fan of covens Devon had always thought they’d made sure their lycan could at least fight to defend the lairs.
“I had been called a defender, but that was my job only if the little ones needed defending. They didn’t train us very well. They counted on the shifting and the power we lycan have over most others.” Becca explained. “Cody taught me three good moves that could get me away from somebody even his size and give me a chance to escape. I don’t think that kind of lesson was high on the coven’s list of things to teach its indentured servants.”
“Doubtful,” Eva whispered a bit of a smile hidden by her cup.
Rubbing his knuckles along his beard in thought, Devon was showing true interest in what Becca was telling him.
“This Cody, he was owned by the coven, too. What did they have him doin’ for em?” He wasn’t just appeasing her interest in the ursa, he was truly being attentive and learning from her.
“He was too volatile while he was there for a long time, so they used him as a feeder first and then, other things later. I’d be volatile, too, were I in his shoes. They hurt his family, papa. I imagine he felt like you and mama felt when the coven and that pack took Terry.”
“I imagine so. He had pups?”
“Cubs. They call babies, cubs. And he had a mate. And they were all captured by the same coven I came from – just a century or so before me. They used his family against him. Sounded pretty bad.” Becca swallowed. “Maybe I shouldn’t be talking about it. It’s his business, not mine.”
“That’s gracious of you.” Other things was what concerned the Alpha. The ursa had been kept for a very long time by the coven. He’d shared very little since his release and yet it seemed with Becca he was becoming an open book. “Seems while ya were with him to feed, ya did a whole lot more.”
“Well, feeding only takes a certain amount of time, and I stay all day, so there was plenty of time for talking and doing other things. Like horseback riding. I didn’t think that was possible for me. But I can do that, now. Oh! And he showed me the recipe for the best stew I’ve ever had. I have to make it for you someday,” Her eyes were excited after talking about the ursa. She hadn’t even been this excited for the celebration.
“I take it you’d like to see him again.” Devon’s gaze moved out over the swaying bodies that danced around the fire.
“Yes. Definitely. Maybe I can get him to help me with the stew, so I don’t mess it up.” Her dimples showed when she smiled.
“I’m sure we’ll enjoy a good stew Becca. Perhaps he will join us for it one evening soon.” Devon wouldn’t push her as he felt she’d been through enough already, but eventually she would need to seek a lycan mate.
“You don’t think he’s coming to court me, do you?” she said it. But did she mean it as a question for him or for her own heart?
“That’s not a question for me to answer, Becca. That’s a question for your own heart to answer.” He just hoped she wouldn’t take too long on that answer. He hated seeing her pine away for someone that should already be here. Taking another drink Devon relaxed and changed the subject, “I’ve seen ya mama ride a horse. The ursa must not be to large if he has a horse that can carry him.” He chuckled and winked at her. Lycan weren’t keen on riding when they were just as fast on their own.
“He’s bigger than you, I think. Or the same size. His horse is one of the working horse breeds. Clydesdale? It has the hair near the hooves. But it’s kind of black and white. He does the same things you and the other pack do for the upkeep around here, only he’s all by himself. So his chores take longer.” Becca shrugged. “I got bored waiting on Coven Master Evansworth, so he asked if I wanted to learn to ride instead of sitting in the house by myself.”
“Well then, I need ta take ya to Mrs. Rose’s little horse ranch across the town from us. She has some pretty horses you can continue to ride on. Might do ya some good.” He finished off his drink. “You sure you don’t want to dance? I’m sure ya mama could spare me one round if ya like.”
“Oh, keep him for two or three,” Eva replied. She wanted to see if she could get them gone so she could call Sebastian and figure out where Cody was and if he were going to be a no-show. Becca needed to move onward and Eva wanted to know if the ursa was going to be part of that.
“Okay,” Becca got up and looked to Devon. They could dance without there being any bad touches and sexual overtures going on. That was one of the things Becca was worried about where her suitors were concerned.
“How long have you been together?” she asked.
“One hundred and ninety two years and eight months.” Devon smiled sweetly towards his mate.
“I just hope when I find my mate, it’ll be like you and Mama are with each other. I wish I knew how to tell who was right for me.” She couldn’t help but think of Cody. She couldn’t help it!
“Your mama and I want this for all of our pups. She is my everything, my soul mate. You will know who yours is sweetheart. You won’t want to let him go when you find him.”
And that … for Becca… was Cody. She sighed and let her head rest against her papa’s chest.
They danced a few dances, one was really active and she had to learn the moves on-the-go! But she was renewed and happy again, at least. That’s when she saw a couple of her older brothers. She pointed to them and let her papa go back to her mama so she could walk over and give those two a hug.
“You’ve been scarce,” she commented.
“Yeah work does that to me.” Russ rumbled as he hugged her back.
Clint took his hug and chuckled, “He’s also very antisocial. I was hanging at the bar cause our bartender called in sick.” He looked their new sister over, “You ready to hang out with us for awhile and maybe share a few drinks.”
“Yeah, I guess maybe. Can it be back at the house? It’s kind of crazy out here,” Becca asked her brothers.
“I don’t think either of us mind that at all, lil bit.” Russ put his arm over Becca’s shoulders and Clint walked on her other side toward the big Alpha cabin. There were several suitors out there sighing in defeat right about then.