To Have and To Hold
By Michaela Bray
Date: December 18, 2020
Ch. 1212

Melissa Townsend glared at her husband as he wore the carpet under his feet. She had received a call from Megan earlier in the day to be on her toes. Allison, Jonathan’s wife, had received the same warning from the twins’ cousin. Well, this must be what Megan meant. She and Casey were often thick as thieves, though judging from outward appearances, it was highly improbable.

“A husband!” James growled. “Why couldn’t she bring home a boyfriend like any normal human being on the planet?”

His wife folded her hands primly over her lap and smiled beatifically at him. “Mate, darling. Humans don’t have a very good track record, I’m afraid. So, all things considered, I think our Casey did quite well.”

“We’ve thought to keep her out of this werewolf business, really,” he snorted. “Cassandra is too gentle for that. And we’ve sheltered her so much. Now, she’s mated to an Alpha, of all things.”

Melissa’s mirth tinkled in the airy room like little bells and he found himself relaxing a little bit under the spell of her laughter. His mate was a woman who found joy in almost everything, which made them quite the pair as he was often as pessimistic as Eeyore.

Her slender arms went around his larger frame and she laid her cheek on his shoulder lovingly. The scent of springtime and sunshine washed over him and he smiled. A little.

“He seems quite besotted with our Casey, I assure you,” she told him. “When you and Jon came at him like that, the first thing he did was to push your sister out of the fray and let you do whatever barbaric actions you male wolves seem to enjoy so much.”

“It did feel good to hit someone,” James admitted.

She rolled her eyes at his obstinacy. “Cassandra did not seem very happy, did she?”

“She can’t be in love with him. She’s only known him for less than a day!”

“Never underestimate the strength of a wolf bond, my love.” He closed his eyes as his wife trailed tiny kisses along the side of his neck. He shivered when she blew lightly on a sensitive spot. When she spoke, her voice was low and seductive. “I heard that it will break through even the dullest of us with all the subtlety of a speeding freighter.”

He growled and pinned his wife against the wall, his eyes predatory and dominant. “Do not tease me when I’m in a mood, mate.”

She grinned saucily back at him. “Now, what do think it was all for, then?”

Raphael watched Cassandra as she set the table, noting her graceful movements with male appreciation. He quelled the urge to wince when the shiner one of the twins gave him throbbed a little. Any other wolf, he might have hit back but he could not hit his mate’s family on their very first meeting. Especially with Cassandra watching the whole debacle.

In the end, Sarah and the twins’ wives waded into the whole mess and dragged the males out of the fray and into their respective rooms to let off some steam. He grinned inwardly at that. In the presence of their mates, male wolves had but one way to let off some steam and he was quite certain it would at least improve their temperaments by the time dinner rolled around.

He propped his shoulder against the wall, his deep blue eyes taking in his mate. He had known that Cassandra had a degree in business and accounting but he had never known his mate to have an artistic side. As she went about setting the table, she also folded the napkins and arranged some flowers for a centerpiece. The result was a picture of domestic fine dining worthy of a magazine cover.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

He grinned back at her. “Nickel for a kiss?”

She rolled her eyes at the old song. It was one she secretly liked, though, but she wouldn’t tell him that. Not yet.

“Why didn’t you shift?”

“I beg your pardon?” he blinked.

“Earlier in the garden,” she clarified. “When my brothers brutalized you. I knew you could easily take care of them but you didn’t even raise a finger.”

“Would you rather I tore them to bits and pieces in front of their mates?”

She rolled her eyes and sat down on one of the dining chairs. “Good grief, the thought of all of you being werewolves is still a hard pill to swallow. But you said without a pack, a wolf becomes a rogue. How come my brothers aren’t wild like the ones we met?”

“You owe it partly to the upbringing of your parents. I believe your stepmother was a very good influence on them, despite being human. Your father further imposed a bit of discipline in them by providing an Alpha figure in their lives.” He glanced meaningfully at the spread of pictures on the mantle. The dynamics of werewolf families were mostly tied to packs but the Townsends seem to have done pretty well on their own. “Your cousin, Megan, though, she could be considered a lone wolf.”

“Megan is a werewolf?”

“Quite. She has been watching you for a long time. I gather you had a dog around the same time you started dating Dave?”

“Persephone,” she muttered. “Sephy?”

He winked at her, baring his teeth in a mischievous grin as he remembered Megan’s parting words. Cassandra caught on to the trail of his thoughts and gasped in horror.

“She wouldn’t!”

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