To Have and To Hold
By Michaela Bray
Date: October 16, 2020
Ch. 33

December 2012

Raphael Winters strode into the floor of Winters International’s new building, partially oblivious to the deferent stares that were aimed at his figure. The hallway was appointed in the minimalist style that was the hallmark of all the other buildings he owned. He was a man who desired function above all and if it did not contribute to improving anything in the company, he had very little tolerance for it.
His secretary got up the moment he walked in through the double doors and handed him a small stack of folders, while updating him on the current status of his multinational company.

“Thank you, Mrs. Shelby,” he intoned coolly. “Is there anything else I need to know?”

“Your uncle is on the line, sir.”

He nodded imperceptibly and proceeded into the inner sanctum of his office. Unlike the austere design of the building, his office was a place he could relax and conduct business at the same time. Furnished in varying shades of brown, it maintained a decidedly masculine air.

He loosened his tie and pressed a button on the phone on his desk. He walked over to a small bar in the corner and poured himself a drink. He was going to need it if he was going to engage in yet another battle of wills with his uncle, who was every bit as stubborn as Rafe himself.

“Good morning, Steve,” he greeted, taking a sip of the brandy. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

His uncle’s voice was less cordial. “I have just come from a closed-door meeting with the alpha of a French pack. He claims you have just deflowered his daughter and demands a union.”

“He must be insane,” Rafe replied blandly. Angelique Delacroix’s lovely face flashed briefly in his memory. Long dark hair and intense dark eyes, the only daughter of Antoine Delacroix was an extremely beautiful and sensual female. Unfortunately, she never got past touching his arm before she was dismissed for her inappropriate behavior.

“The only thing Mademoiselle Delacroix is experiencing right now is a great disappointment that her plans and those of her father didn’t work,” he continued.

He heard Steven take a deep breath from the other line. “I know, I know. That damn bastard was pretty relentless and I don’t imagine the pack will like having that French hussy for your mate, anyway.” His voice took on a different tone and his nephew frowned. “But your current status as a powerful and wealthy alpha is still drawing all the other alpha-spawn to you like flies to honey. There will always be another and I’m bloody tired of assuaging all these irrational papas and slighted mamas.”

Rafe suppressed the growl of frustration rising from the back of his throat. “Don’t worry, Steve. I’m already on it.”

“Does that mean you’ve found her?”

The tone of reverence in his uncle’s voice was unmistakable. Raphael could almost see the smile splitting his uncle’s face in two and rolled his eyes.

He had known who his mate was for more than ten years. Unfortunately, the laws of the country would not have allowed him to marry a then fourteen-year-old girl. Besides, she would have been too young to grasp the ways of his kind, let alone agree to surrender her life completely into his devoted care.

“Yes, I have found her.”

“Should I tell the others?” Steve’s voice was so happy he wanted to cringe.

He rubbed his temples and took another swallow of brandy. “No. I do not want anyone to know about this yet.”

“Alright, but you better be quick about it. I’m not getting younger and the other packs are not getting any happier with your standing bachelorhood.”

No doubt about it, he shot back mentally.

He sat back on his couch and closed his eyes, his mind taking a leap to a moment from almost twelve years ago. He remembered every detail of their encounter perfectly and often calmed himself with recollections of the young girl who had seized every fiber of his being with just one glance.

He remembered the vivid green of her eyes and the kindness in them as she nursed a wounded wolf on the edge of the woods. He recalled small, warm hands running gently through his fur, sending delicious vibrations coursing through his entire being.

He had been young, then, and still largely unable to control his instincts. Yet, he had contained himself from claiming the girl on those brief instances of their encounters. Up to the present day, he had managed to continually torture himself with thoughts of having her in his arms, her warmth pressed to his own.

“Mr. Winters, there is another call for you on Line 2,” Mrs. Shelby informed him over the speaker, breaking into the warm haze of his thoughts.

He shook his head to clear his mind. The number that flashed on the device stretched his lips into a feral grin.

It was time.

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