To Have and To Hold
By Michaela Bray
Date: November 27, 2020
Ch. 99

The thin sliver of light danced through the tiny gap between the thick curtains. Casey opened her eyes a little and groaned when the pain burned through her sockets. She groaned and buried her head deeper into the pillow, hoping everything would go away and she would wake up in her apartment back in New York.

Her eyes shot open. She wasn’t in her apartment in New York! Where was she?

She floundered around for a bit, when gentle hands pushed her tenderly back to bed. Her wild eyes shot to the face of a darkly handsome man who was looking at her with such a loving expression he had to be a dream. “Easy, sweetheart,” he crooned softly. “Try to relax.”

The events of the last night came crashing back into her and she groaned, partly in realization and partly from the acute misery her body was being subjected to.
This man was her husband. She had married him last night in one of those awful neon-lit chapels all over the city while her cousin smiled and watched. Her eyes narrowed when she remembered Megan.

Why didn’t she stop me?

“I must be dead or dying,” she muttered. “If not, you can kill me now.”

He smiled sadly at her as he smoothed her hair from her face. “I promised you I would take care of you. Killing you would be going back on my word and I am many things but a liar, Cassandra.” He reached for the tall glass on her bedside table and handed it to her. “Drink this up. It will make you feel better.”

She took a sip and gasped. “What the heck is in that stuff?”

“A little something for the hangover,” he reassured her.

She felt something cool and wet press to her cheek and sighed at the soothing sensation. She heard the soft rumble of a low growl emanate from his chest. He was a werewolf and she was married to him. He was a tall, dark, and handsome werewolf and all six feet — or more — of him was legally bound to her by virtue of a contract she had willingly participated in under the influence of alcohol. She could only groan and pray she would sleep straight into oblivion.

“Thank you,” she murmured instead.

“Go to sleep now. You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

She felt the bed move as he stood up to fix the curtains. The soft press of his lips against her forehead made her feel like she was six years old again and her father was putting her to bed. She sighed and sank back into the pillow. She heard his soft footsteps as he walked away and the door quietly closing behind him.

The headache lanced through her again and she cursed the day she had ever come across liquor of any sort. Why they did not ban the stuff was simply beyond her. While they were at it, they probably should have made extensive use of male charm and persuasion illegal as well. If her actions last night were any indication, Raphael Winters could probably charm and coerce any woman into doing whatever he wanted.

She sniffled and felt a tear slip from beneath her closed lids. She had gotten married at some garish, neon-lit chapel with a groom she hardly knew and one too many glasses of wine to bolster her courage and foolishness, as it would now seem.

She was going to have to annul the marriage. Her brothers would be furious about this, no doubt, but they would forgive her. Right after they kill Dave and Rafe, she mused wryly. Although not necessarily in that order.

She closed her eyes and prayed for Hypnos to overtake her. When she woke up, she would have a quiet talk with Raphael Winters as a sober adult. Hopefully, he would agree that it was all just a drunken mistake and that she was not in her right mind to be making such life-altering decisions, especially when she was under the influence of alcohol and a great deal of emotional stress brought on by catching her boyfriend in the act and witnessing a real werewolf fight.

Later would be a great time to start living again.

Raphael closed the door quietly and sank into the chair opposite the lovely brunette with hazel eyes. Megan Cowden was a very beautiful woman and dangerously sharp-witted. She crossed her long legs and regarded him with narrowed eyes. She had entrusted him with the sole responsibility of caring for her cousin and he had a feeling that he was going to have to step up to his role or the beautiful lone wolf before him would carve him into pieces and feed him to the vultures despite his status.

“What’s going to happen to her?”

“She’s coming home with me, of course.” He poured himself a cup of coffee and glanced longingly at the closed door. “There is no way I will ever let her go again. The wait has been long enough and look what it did to her. I won’t allow another cheating bastard take a shot at her self-esteem again.”

The female nodded with a small smile. “I always liked you, Winters. You always seemed like a cut above the rest of the useless male population.” She stood up and smoothed the wrinkles off of her tan skirt. “Well, now that Casey is going to be in good hands, I suppose it’s time for me to resume my other activities.”

“What other activities, if you do not mind me asking?”

“The kind you need to keep your nose out of, Alpha Winters. However, I guarantee you, it will be fun.”

The laughter in her voice made him wonder just what she meant. Although she was technically a rogue, Megan manifested an unusually tight control over the darker side of her nature. She hardly needed a pack to keep her grounded.

“By the way, tell my cousin that Sephy’s fine,” she called out before she closed the door behind her.

His eyes narrowed. He had the vaguest idea what she meant by fun and from the grin on her lips, somebody in New York wasn’t going to be happy about it.

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