To Have and To Hold
By Michaela Bray
Date: November 6, 2020
Ch. 66

The moment Cassandra Townsend gave her hand over to be tucked in his arm was a memory to be branded forever into his mind. They had spent almost an hour and a half touring the streets of Las Vegas on foot and the level of his happiness was yet to subside. Instead, it continued to grow exponentially with each passing second and he knew that at this point, there was no way he would ever let the woman go without a fight.

He continued to watch her as she talked quietly, her face illuminated by the bright lights. She had barely reached his shoulder when he came upon her on the balcony and she had been wearing high heels then. She had since traded those for a pair of comfortable ballet flats and he was made all the more aware of how tiny and delicately built his mate was. Yet, there was a great deal of pride that shone through the undercurrent of her voice and an inner strength shone from her green eyes.

His heart blossomed with pride as he watched her. Here was a woman who could stand beside him and gently rule his pack by his side. He had known only from the first few minutes of talking to her that she could be stubborn at times and would not back down from a good debate. Her sharp wit was also one to keep him captivated for a long, long time. He could imagine talking to this woman for hours on end.

His contacts had already briefed him on her current situation and he had been highly incensed at the callous treatment she had suffered at the hands of another man. He had to resist the strong urge to run back to New York and put the bastard in the Intensive Care Unit for at least a week.

A couple of drunken revelers waddled their way and his protective instincts kicked in. He quickly drew his mate flush close to him, earning a startled gasp from her. He grinned sheepishly at the wide eyes that stared at him like he had gone mad. For a moment, perhaps he had. There was no greater way to incite a brawl than to touch the mate of an agitated male wolf and Raphael was already at the last inch of his rope trying to get a grip on his instincts.

“I think I should let my cousin know I’m alright,” she murmured. She dug through her small purse and pulled out her mobile phone, hastily punching in a short message. Megan had been a little apprehensive leaving her to her own devices while she did her job but she had reassured her cousin that she was a big girl and she would be fine. The brunette had regarded her with a skeptical look before she finally acquiesced on the premise that Casey updated her regularly.

She grinned at Raphael. “My family can be a little overprotective sometimes. Probably because I’m the smallest member.”

“They are not intimidated by that sharp tongue of yours?” he asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Oh, I should think they’re quite used to it,” she laughed easily.

Raphael regarded her with a soft smile and gently tucked her hand back into the crook of his arm. She could not remember having felt so secure with her past boyfriends and this was a man she had just met on the balcony of her hotel. For some strange reason, her hand felt like it belonged right there where he placed it but her frayed senses told her that men who were unabashedly attractive could rarely be trusted and Raphael Winters must be the most attractive one in the whole crop of Las Vegas tonight.

She glanced at him from the corner of her eye as he talked about the different hotels and casinos they walked by. He seemed so worldly and so knowledgeable that she felt like a highly inept schoolgirl fresh out of the classroom.

“I’d give money to know why you’re looking at me like that,” he grinned at her. They were in a more secluded area of the city and there were no people around them.
Casey felt her cheeks warm at the teasing tone of his voice. She had been caught staring! She quickly laid a cool hand against her warm cheek and nearly groaned in mortification.

A large hand gently uncovered her flushed cheek. She looked up to find stormy blue eyes fixed intently on hers. She felt her insides tie themselves into knots under the intensity his gaze. They made her senses unravel so fast she hardly noticed it. Eyes like his should be banned!

“In fact,” he continued, his voice low as he leaned to whisper in her ear, “I would give anything to marry you tonight.”

Casey drew back in shock. He was mad!

She laughed uneasily. “I think we’ve had enough alcohol for tonight…”

“You and I both know we have barely had any liquor,” his gaze continued to bore into her own. “And I am serious, Cassandra. I want to marry you. I have been waiting for you for a long, long time.”

“How long?”

A sudden crash disturbed the pair and Casey jumped up in startle surprise. Four men were walking towards them with threatening leers on their faces. She felt herself pushed behind Raphael even as she struggled to peek from behind his massive frame.

“Well, well,” the leader of the group spoke in a singsong voice. “It’s not every day you find one of the most powerful alpha males alone with his mate.”

“Stay back, Cassandra,” Raphael ordered her. Something in his voice compelled her to obey the command and she nodded meekly from behind him.

The group laughed menacingly as they began to circle them. Raphael continued to eye them warily, shielding her from their view.

“The mating scent was practically a beacon, Winters,” the leader guffawed. He grinned when he saw her green eyes flitting between the parties anxiously. “A human mate. Even better.”

They continued to stalk towards the pair and Casey could swear she heard a low growl rumble from Raphael’s chest. His blue eyes were promising bloody murder and dismemberment and not necessarily in that order. His large body was coiled tightly, ready to jump into action. She could sense that he was tightly strung and holding on to his control with an iron grip.

“I would love the taste of human blood tonight!” one of the men crowed.

At his words, all hell broke loose.

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