Hearts of Warriors Ch. 12byJazCullen©
Sorry for the delay in posting up a new chapter. Real life and all that...makes for a bit of trying time when it comes to writing and being online sometimes.
My thanks to mikothebaby for editing for me as always :)
Mac knew he should be concerned about driving to the Armand-Hanlon compound but he couldn't take his mind off the soft skin of Lily's thighs as she sat demurely beside him in the Jeep. She'd made a show of pulling the hem of her dress down as far as possible but it had still ridden up to expose her flesh.
He was so hard it was painful to drive and the slight smile on Lily's lips let him know she was well aware of her effect on him. He wanted to growl in annoyance but his feral side approved of the way she was keeping him on his toes.
Their earlier disagreement was playing on his mind, her apparent easy forgiveness of his blunder appearing a little too easy. He was sure it wasn't natural for a woman to just let something that important go so easily. But then, he was also aware that there was a hell of a lot he didn't know about his mate as well.
He knew the important things, that she was strong and feisty and had a wicked sense of humour. He knew she tasted divine and was spontaneous in her affections and gave herself freely to him. She was sexy and addictive and she appeared to crave him as much as he did her. It was just her thought processes he wasn't completely certain of. She didn't come across as a typical woman at times which baffled him.
"You're frowning," the object of his thoughts said, with a hint of amusement in her voice. "Are you worried about meeting the parents?" She sounded relaxed enough but Mac knew she had to be concealing her own concern about the up and coming meeting.
His eyes travelled quickly from her bared thighs up to her face. "I was actually trying to work out the way you think," he admitted, seeing the turning for the wolf compound coming up and concentrating back on the road.
Lily laughed, though inside her stomach felt as if it was going to revolt as they turned onto the dirt road leading home. A few more moments and they'd be there and she'd have to face her father's disapproval not to mention Rafe's. She was pretty sure her mother would just be relieved to see her and not too angry but the pack males tended to overreact very easily.
"And here I was thinking you were too engrossed in staring at my legs to be thinking with any part of your anatomy above the waistline," she teased him to keep her trepidation at bay. They were bonded now and he'd be able to sense her emotions. She had no doubt that if she was too tense he would be too and then Lord only knew what would happen when they came into contact with her father.
"You made sure exactly where my thoughts would be," Mac grumbled, unable to stop his hand reaching out to touch the flesh which was teasing him mercilessly. It was a mistake and he knew it straight away. The second Lily gasped at his touch and his fingers connected with her skin he was slamming on the brakes and turning off the engine.
"Mac..." Lily's breathless cry was cut off as he pushed open the door and headed around to her side. He was pulling her out of the Jeep before she could utter his name a second time, his intentions plain. She couldn't expect to get away with wearing a dress that practically begged him to take it off without him reacting to it. He couldn't remember ever having signing up to sainthood.
Her expression was adorable as he picked her up and dumped her unceremoniously onto the hood of the Jeep; part surprised but mostly sensual as she reacted to his need. Those lips which tempted him shamelessly parted and he swooped down, diving into the moist cavern of her mouth to sip at the honey that was undeniably his Lily.
There was nothing tentative about his kiss. It told her how badly he wanted her, how insane her red dress and sassy mouth had driven him. He had to have her or he'd go mad with want.
The heat from the car was burning Lily's backside as her dress had ridden up exposing her tender skin to the heated metal. It stung a bit but Mac's kiss was even hotter, melting all her objections in an instant as she scooted forward trying to get closer to her man.
The determination on Mac's face when he'd yanked her from the car, the way that strange hint of silver had flashed in the blackness of his eyes, had made her heart flutter and her lust rise so she couldn't resist his kiss when he began his assault.
Not that she wanted to but if they were utilising their brains at the moment one of them would realise that turning up to meet her father smelling of sex was practically suicidal. One of them should have the sense to stop this before it got out of hand but Lily was already addicted to her mate's touch and they hadn't properly kissed and made up after their disagreement.
She was tugging at his braid, freeing his hair so she could wrap her fingers deep within it as he continued to devour her mouth like a starving man, his erection branding her between her thighs as she twined herself around him.
Her fingers moved to pluck at the buttons of his shirt as Mac's lips scorched a path of fire down her neck towards the swell of her breasts peaking temptingly from her dress. It was then she scented their observer and her body went rigid in Mac's embrace.
Her mate was instantly alert his body twisting around to face the forest ensuring she was completely blocked from view. Lily was tempted to laugh knowing she was not in any danger and also knowing Mac wouldn't have a hope in hell of spotting their company. He was shadowed and masking his scent, only she could see him.
"Kothi, stop being an ass and show yourself," she said in her best stern voice, trying not to smile. She adored Kothari but then she always did find herself reacting intensely to the more marginal elements of their group, Liam, Elina and Kothi.
Mac relaxed slightly when Lily spoke, his expression curious as the young male appeared out of thin air a few feet away from them. He was big but then his father was Gard though he was dark-haired like his mother and had dark glasses shading his eyes. So this was the issue from a Vârcolac and an Ancient? Kothari was not what he'd expected having met three of the hybrids already.
The man before him appeared cold and suspicious, so remote he gave off the appearance of being completely emotionless, and yet Lily's voice held such a warm tone he knew there had to be more to him than met the eye.
He eyed the fourth of his charges with cool detachment only mildly irritated that he'd interrupted them. The faint smile when it came surprised Mac because he didn't think Kothari was capable of it from his initial impression.
"I thought it best that someone act like a grown-up, Liliana. You're in enough shit with Andrei without showing up ten seconds after you've just had sex," Kothari said, his expression unrepentant.
Having him echo her earlier thoughts made Lily blush as Mac helped her from the hood of the Jeep. She took the handful of steps needed to give Kothari a hug which he returned with almost as much enthusiasm, surprising Mac even further as he saw the other man's expression soften into open affection.
He held still as Kothari kissed Lily's cheek and curled a lock of her hair around one finger tugging lightly.
"The compound's been quiet without our resident spitfire," Kothari remarked in a low voice. "It perked up a little last night when Elle decided to smack that vampire around but nobody outclasses our Liliana when she's on a roll."
"I'm not that bad," she groaned, tilting her head back to look at her mate. She didn't want him to think she was too high maintenance. "Don't listen to him, Mac. He's just as much trouble as I've ever been."
That brought a laugh from the other Vârcolac. "I've never claimed otherwise," he countered, a glint of humour on his face before he turned his concealed gaze to the vampire watching them. His expression smoothed out as he released Lily.
"So, you're Mackenzie? I hope you're good, vampire, because Andrei's been pretty pissed these last few weeks. If you're better than Karn you might hold your own." There was a hint of challenge in his voice as if he were testing Mac.
Lily glared at him smacking at his arm. "Don't, Kothi. Mac is my mate and remember I can still kick your ass. He's off limits to your brand of humour."
Rather than being offended by the younger male, Mac was struggling not to smile at his blatant attempt to intimidate him. Lily's automatic defence also amused him and he reached out to curl an arm around her waist to pull her close. "How did I survive so long without you to protect me," he teased and kissed the tip of her nose.
His black gaze met Kothari's dark glasses and he allowed his amusement to show. "I've known Andrei for close on a thousand years now, Kothari. I'm sure we'll be just fine when we have our little chat." His tone was pitched just right to subtly smack down the younger male but not incite Kothari's need to step up his aggression level.
If he'd been anything other than a Vârcolac and someone Lily obviously cared greatly for, Mac's response would have been completely different to his challenge. Instead he moderated himself while still letting Kothari know that he wouldn't be easy fodder if the younger male wanted to test his luck.
He felt Lily stiffen at his reference to her father and looked down. "What? You didn't know I knew your father or is it the length of time we've been friends which surprises you?"
Lily hadn't considered that Mac might know her father; know of him yes, but to have met him? His past was so well hidden considering he'd moved around Europe so much over his lifetime. It had taken her forever to discover that he was friends with Demetri, finding out he knew her family too rattled her a bit. She frowned as she looked back at him. "You didn't tell me you were friends with Dad."
He shrugged. "You never asked. I just assumed you knew seeing as you managed to find out just about everything else there was to know about me when you did your research."
He had a valid argument and it didn't really affect anything anyway. He was her mate and there was no disputing that. Lily relaxed and leaned into his heat wishing Kothari would disappear so she could spend a few more moments alone with Mac before they had to face the music.
"I don't suppose you're going to go away anytime soon?" she asked privately, quirking an eyebrow at her friend. She received another of his enigmatic smiles which could hardly be called a real smile because his mouth barely moved. Most people would even miss it if they weren't one of the Vârcolac.
"And miss all the fun, Lily? You have to be joking. I like your mate, by the way. He seems more together than Karn though he's no slouch either. That vampire hides a lot behind his gruff exterior."
She smiled with pleasure, her eyes dancing. "Elle really punched him last night? Liam told me but I found it hard to believe. Karn didn't deny it though so I figured it had to have happened."
"She smacked him clear across the room. I don't know who was more surprised, Elle or Karn or maybe it was the rest of us standing there with our mouths hanging open. I thought Dayton was going to burst a blood vessel when they were arguing and then Elle punched the vampire and Freya was as smug as you please saying 'That's my daughter.' You missed a treat with that one, Lily. Elle's real strength is phenomenal when you see it in action."
Mac figured the two of them were having some form of conversation he wasn't privy to. He found he didn't much care for being excluded so he gave in to his more base urges and kissed his mate, hard and fast. He took some satisfaction at her instant response. No one continued a telepathic conversation while having their mouth claimed as thoroughly as he was claiming Lily's.
"I am still here," he muttered dryly, when he let her up to breathe. "And we still have to go get this meeting over and done with." He kissed her again and then nodded to Kothari. "I'm sure we'll see you around before we leave."
Lily rolled her eyes and smiled as Mac tugged her back to the Jeep and made sure she was settled inside.
"Isn't he wonderful, Kothi? So possessive. Wait until you find your mate. You won't know what's hit you."
Kothari didn't answer, merely frowned slightly before raising his hand and turning and vanishing into the trees. Lily watched him go with a slight narrowing of her eyes.
"What is Kothari's problem?" Mac asked, starting the Jeep and continuing on towards the compound. "It's like he has a split personality or does he just dislike me."
She glanced at him in surprise. "He likes you just fine. Kothari is just Kothari. Today he's been more approachable than normal. I guess he missed me being away and with Liam and Kal up at our compound and Elina acting out of character last night, he may be feeling a bit unsettled hence his need to connect with me."
"So he's usually worse than he was with me?"
She laughed at Mac's dry tone. "Oh, he's usually much more reserved than he was just now. Sometimes a whole week can pass without Kothi uttering a single word to anyone in public. He'll be there but keep totally silent. I'm sure he talks to his parents and he sometimes talks to one of us telepathically. He's...well he's just not easy to explain. He's Kothi and we love him."
Mac filed the information away for future consideration. Kothari plainly had extreme anti-social tendencies which could spell an issue waiting to happen. He'd get Karn's initial thoughts on the man when they got home later. He was curious as to why his second-in-command hadn't selected him to come back to the compound the night before.
For the moment they were pulling up into the centre of the suspiciously empty compound and Lily was tense at his side, her eyes flickering around the empty square nervously
"Crap! Rafe must have warned everyone to stay away," she muttered under her breath, tapping a finger nail against the dashboard as she leaned forward. The lack of people milling around was not a good sign. She'd been hoping for lots of pack mates being their usual nosey selves to run interference. "Park here, Mac."
He brought the Jeep to a halt outside a two storey house with a large tree to one side of it.
"This is where I grew up," Lily sighed, a faint smile gracing her lips as she thought of all the fun times she'd had sneaking out and climbing down that very tree beside her bedroom window. She turned to see Mac's reaction and her smile grew softer as she watched him quickly tie his hair back at the nape of his neck.
His dark gaze connected with hers as he turned sideways to look at her. His expression was serious as he picked up her hand and kissed the back gently. "No matter what happens, Liliana, I promise I will do my best not to hurt your father. But this you must know and accept before we do this. You will be coming home with me. No one had better try and stop that happening because I will not tolerate it under any circumstances."
She shivered at the promise in his eyes, knew he was telling her he would fight to the death to keep her, be it her father's or his. It sent fear flooding through her which she couldn't hide.
"Let me deal with him, Mac," she whispered. "Don't do anything which can't be fixed. I will be coming home with you, no one will prevent that. Just trust that I know the best way to deal with this."
Mac had to fight down his instinctive need to be the strong one, the one to protect what was his. If it came down to a fight between him and Andrei, despite Liam's reassuring words, it would be messy and bloody and would most likely end in someone's death. He knew it would kill Lily to lose either of them so he battled his natural instincts and nodded his head in acquiescence.
"I'll do the best I can, sugar," he sighed, leaning forward to brush her lips gently. "Let's hope Liam's right and Andrei feels the same way as I do, that your happiness is the most important thing here." With that he pulled back and opened the door.
Lily followed him anxiously smoothing down her dress and wishing she'd picked something old, something Victorian and reserved that wouldn't incite her father's anger. She pushed the thought away as being unjustified. Her father understood. They'd talked about things and he'd been hurt that she'd thought he would do anything to her mate. She had to keep that firmly in mind.
The front door to the house suddenly opened and Mac's gaze swivelled from Lily to the gorgeous brunette who appeared from the house. He'd never seen Loretta Simpson before but he could see where Lily got a lot of her looks from. While not as classically beautiful as some women, Loretta's allure was just as impressive.
Her thick brown hair was perched haphazardly on top of her head with strands framing her face. Her brown eyes were shining with moisture as she regarded her errant daughter standing sheepishly in front of her.
"Hi Mom," Lily said, biting at her bottom lip as she tried to work out how much trouble she was in. She felt as if time had rolled back and she was once more about to get a telling off as she had that day she'd persuaded Kallum to try shifting into wolf form and they'd met Dayton in the forest.
"Oh, come here and stop trying to look so repentant when we all know you're not," Loretta laughed, rolling her eyes as she gathered her child into a tight embrace, swallowing back the tears of relief which were threatening to fall. She held her in a death grip, relief and love surging down their bond now she could see Lily was well and unhurt.
"You scared the living daylights out of us, Lily," she whispered. "Don't you ever suppress our bond again. I thought your father was going to explode when he couldn't contact you. He was all for calling out the Praetorians thinking someone had kidnapped you and drugged you so you couldn't call for help."
The chastisement brought tears to Lily's eyes even as she hugged her mother back just as fiercely. Despite her words, Loretta was pouring so much love and forgiveness to her it was making her feel even guiltier for her actions. She hadn't wanted to hurt her family; it had just turned out to be unavoidable. "I'm sorry, Mom. I should have stayed in contact, I know that now. I just wasn't thinking clearly at the time."
Loretta framed her face gently and gave her daughter a reassuring smile as she wiped at her wet cheeks. "Yes, you always did have a habit of acting first and thinking later," she remarked, her smile turning rueful. "You're so much like you father. How I've managed to stay sane with two of you to contend with I don't know. Thank God Kallum was less of a handful."
She hugged Lily tightly again and then stepped back to regard the vampire standing silently beside them. Her gaze was critical as she measured his suitability to call himself her child's mate. She'd have to be dead not to notice how attractive he was and she could see he was strong and a good age for one of his kind. Mackenzie exuded power much like Andrei.
She turned back to Lily and gave an exaggerated wink. It had the desired effect, causing her daughter to burst out laughing. "Yes, I think he'll do nicely, Lily, though you can fill me in on all the details later."
She directed her gaze back to Mac and held out her hand. "I'm Loretta, Mackenzie. Welcome to the family."
He took her offered hand and raised it to his lips rather than shaking it as she'd expected. "I can see where Lily's gets her looks from, Loretta," he answered smoothly, immediately liking his mate's mother for the way she instantly soothed his Lily. She didn't feel as stressed as she had a moment before.