I lean in to kiss the claiming mark, but she pulls her shoulder up to block access, so my mouth catches her shoulder. I nibble playfully, which makes her jerk back, giving me access to her slender, beautiful throat.
“Stop it,” she fights me off, face pink but the scent of arousal thick in the air.
“This pack has seven leaders. Lucky for me, I’m one of them. But no... when an alpha claims his mate, he makes the rules.” I run my hand up and down her back. “I need to feed my mate. Let’s talk afterwards.”
Her expression drops. “The rules?”
“There’s no hierarchy like on TV? No main leader alpha?” she asks.
“Most packs do have an alpha, majority being betas, and some omegas. Our pack is unique. We’re six, well seven, to be technical. Seven alphas that share responsibility for the pack. It’s a unique one and larger than the average pack. We also have alphas not on the council. And everyone in our pack has a voice so it’s a democracy overall. There’s a birth order hierarchy by age, but to our team, it really doesn’t mean much. All of us share that responsibility.”
“And you’re one of those leaders?”
“So is your sister’s mate.”
She frowns. “You said you don’t know him very well.”
“He’s about to join. It’s… a long story, and tragic, but he was kept from us. He’s about to finally accept his birthright and make us seven instead of six. We hope. The two shifters you met at the four corners are two of the others. Two more were with Tyson when he picked your sister up last night.”
Her eyes bulge. “So, talking to the leader won’t help me because you’re all alpha males who have no problem kidnapping women and walking around naked?”
Smiling, I lean forward and advise, “Nobody gets between an alpha and his mate. Whatever’s up with us is between us.”
She doesn’t look impressed by that.
“What kind of help you need from a leader?” I ask.
“I need a conversation with someone who will listen. Who won’t keep me naked and under him.”
I straighten. “Nobody will have you naked and under them besides me, Amelia. Nobody. And you can be on top next time if you like. In fact, I like that idea.” I reach for her.
Her hand goes up in an attempt to halt me, lip curling like she finds me disgusting, but her scent, her vitals, they say different.
I add, “And as for the naked stuff… can’t exactly run on all fours incognito in clothes, can we? A wolf sporting jeans and cowboy boots? Or a dress?” I flash a smile.
She looks at me like I’m an unknown oddity and I strain to listen to a car pulling in. Scent hits me and I know it’s my mother. Terrible timing. I knew news would travel fast after talking to Cicely, but Mom knows better. Dad must be busy, or he’d have stopped her from coming here for at least a couple days. Nobody expects an alpha who just met his mate to accept visitors, even their immediate family.
“Stay here. I’ll be right back,” I instruct, pulling my sweatpants up, then going downstairs.
I meet my mother in the driveway. She’s got the handle of a large wicker basket in her hand and she’s smiling so big it’s almost blinding.
“Should’ve called first,” I greet. “Five or more days from now.”
She’s so excited, she looks about to burst. “You mated. I’m so happy, Mason. I’m so happy!” She sets the basket down and wraps her arms around me.
I kiss the top of her blonde head. “Thanks, Mom,” I murmur, feeling a smile tug at my mouth. “I’m happy too. But it’s only been a couple hours.”
“I know, I know.” She pats my arm and bounces excitedly. “It’ll be days before you come up for air. So for that reason, I wanted to drop this off for the new Mrs. Quinn just quick and I have some food in the car. Can you grab it? You’ll need sustenance.” She smiles brightly and wrings her hands. “Carrie says Bailey said the strawberry moon is expected to send mated females into heat as soon as it abates, so… within the next few days most likely. That on top of your honeymoon, I know it’ll be near impossible for you two to stop to cook. Can I meet her? Just quick?”
“Not yet, Mom. She’s not shifter, and-”
“I know; I heard. Heard she’s Ivy Savage’s sister. That’s strange but it’s also a relief because it could explain some things. Are you feeling like yourself again? You look happy. Is your face okay? She sprayed bear spray at you, I heard. Did it get in your eyes?” She reaches for my face.
I back up so she can’t mother me. My mother is amazing, but she still needs reminders from time to time that I’ve been a grown man for a decade and a half. “A hundred percent and I’m fine. Better than fine. But again, it’s only just happened, so –”