A Long Walk Home Ch. 14byJazCullen©
mikothebaby thank you once more for editing for me. I have tweaked the chapter so any mistakes are my own.
"For the love of all that's holy would you two stop growling at each other?" Caleb's words rang through the sitting room, startling Rhianna and earning an irritated snort from Gard.
His mate turned wintry eyes on him, her lips tightening in a firm line. It was enough to drag a weary sigh from him. The atmosphere in the house had been unbearable. Rhianna was still angry at her brother for forcing her hand to reveal herself. Gard was pissed about something he wasn't willing to talk about and failing to back down in the face of his sister's displeasure.
"Annie, what's done is done. Rafe is adapting well to everything he's learned as is Lacey, Jared and Millie. It's unfortunate they had to find out the way they did but growling at Gard every five minutes isn't going to turn the clock back."
His tone was firm, his usual patience almost at an end. He could feel her conflicted emotions through their bond, had heard her pacing back and forth at night when she thought he was sleeping. It was driving him crazy because he couldn't help her work through her issues. He hated feeling so helpless.
"You think I'm mad because of that?" Rhianna gaped in surprise, her tone incredulous. "I'm mad because he is hurting and refusing to talk about what's bothering him." She pointed a finger at her brother though her gaze never left her mate's. "Stupid idiotic males! Think you're all so tough and can deal with everything on your own!"
Her eyes suddenly turned to her brother. "Well you can't and as soon as you start realising that, I'll start calming down. Talk, Gard."
"I have nothing I wish to discuss." It was the same curt statement he'd delivered time and time again to his sister. Lavender eyes clashed and then Rhianna let out a frustrated shriek and left the room in a wave of fury.
Caleb let out a long weary sigh and regarded his brother-in-law with a hard look. "This has got to end. I don't give a fuck whether you want to talk or not. You are going to tell her something, anything, and make her believe what you're saying is what's really bothering you."
"Or what?" Gard growled dangerously. He coiled his big body tensely, on his feet in an instant as his eyes began to glow with his own anger.
"Or I'm going to trash this room using you to do so," Caleb answered, his voice chilling. "And then she's going to be pissed at me so I'm going to have to trash something else with your help once again. I will continue on doing so until my mate is happy once more. I hope I'm making myself perfectly clear."
He saw the dangerous flash in Gard's eyes but he didn't care. He'd always thought his Annie in tears was the worst thing he could be forced to endure. That was before she'd vanished completely and was replaced by the bundle of fury she currently was. This wasn't his Annie and he wanted his mate back. If kicking the living daylights out of Gard was the only way he was going to achieve it then he would.
He waited for Gard to attack, was certain he was going to do so and was prepared to carry out his threat. When the other man backed down he blinked in surprise.
"Crystal," Gard barked out before he too swept out of the room leaving him alone.
Caleb knew something important had just occurred. His complicated relationship with Gard had hovered between them for years. His brother-in-law acquiescing to him had finally formalised their boundaries.
Gard was acknowledging Caleb's right as his former king and mate to Annie. There would be no more confusion on the matter.
He wanted to go search for his mate but he knew he needed to give brother and sister some time together. Instead he grabbed his car keys and left the house. Maybe if he wasn't around they would be able to scream at each other or whatever it was they needed to do to resolve their problem. His protective instincts always kicked in and he couldn't stay out of it when they started on each other. He was effectively doing more harm than good.
With a glance back at the house he climbed into his car and headed over to Demetri's. He hadn't been at work for days and figured he could use the time to catch up with anything that may need his attention.
Rhianna hated feeling the way she was. It was frustrating and unnecessary and she knew it was driving Caleb insane. She was amazed it had taken him so long to blow. He must have been gritting his teeth for days trying not to react to her temper. She would need to make it up to him but first she would need to try and find a way to get rid of the negative emotions she was feeling.
Gard's pain was killing her. She could feel it every moment of every day and it was like a knife in her gut. He was hurting so badly though to look at him it was hard to tell. But she could feel it deep inside and he wouldn't talk to her about it.
She had thought Rafe's pain was unbearable to endure. Her brother had amazed her with his acceptance once he'd gotten over his shock. She had thought everything was going to be fine now that hurdle was over but she hadn't counted on Gard becoming an issue.
He was clearly resentful of Rafe and that concerned her. Her fear was escalating daily because she didn't know if his withdrawal was in direct relation to her Were brother. If the two of them went head to head, if they put her in a position of having to choose between them, she didn't know if she could survive that. She loved them both so much.
"Annie! My name is bloody Annie! How many times do I need to tell you that, Gard? When will you start listening to me?"
A loud snort greeted her angry words and she pushed away from the kitchen counter and walked across the room to sit at the dining table taking a deep breath to try and regain some control.
"Annie's full of love and laughter, a happy little thing who doesn't fail to draw everyone under her spell. Don't see much sign of her at the moment so I figure Anakatrine is most definitely in residence." Gard's tone was mocking as he sat down across from her, forcing her to look at him.
She was silent for a very long time and then her shoulders slumped and she let out a deep sigh. "You're driving me insane," she whispered wearily. "Did you forget the bond, Gard? I feel everything you're feeling. It's killing me."
Shock rocked through him and his own hard expression suddenly melted away to be replaced with one of horror. "I've been blocking," he said hoarsely. He'd known the bond had reformed. That was how he'd tracked her down all those years ago. In the past they had always been able to block each other when required. He'd been doing so religiously for days.
"Well, it's not working for some reason," she answered, tartness still in her tone.
"I don't feel you or Caleb when you block. You shouldn't be able to feel me, Annie. Not unless you're much stronger this time around." He was aghast at the prospect. She had always been powerful but if she was even more so, then there was no telling just what she could do now.
"I don't want to be stronger. I just want to be your sister and to help you with whatever is hurting you so much. Please, Gard." Her eyes filled with moisture and he let out a groan and reached for her hand, enclosing it tightly in his.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know you could feel me. No wonder Caleb's just threatened to demolish the house using me as the wrecking ball."
That brought a startled gasp from his sister and he squeezed her hand gently and gave her a smile. "It's okay. I know when to back down."
"Poor Caleb. He doesn't deserve me."
Gard agreed with her but not in the way she'd meant it. As far as he was concerned no one was good enough for his sister, not Callain or Caleb, but he was the best that walked the planet and he was her choice. He would concede to Caleb because that was what would make her happy.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Her name is Rayne," he said quietly looking down at their joined hands. "You haven't met her yet but I know you'll like her. She's feisty, independent, incredibly beautiful and as sexy as sin. When I'm with her, she is all that exists in my world. You told me to find love and I did. But she ran from me, discovered a way to hide so I can't track her. Being apart from her is tearing me up inside."
"The wildcat?" Rhianna gasped softly. She'd heard all about her, knew that there was some suspicion that she could be a hybrid child. She had kept her own counsel on that point, waiting to meet Rayne before she spoke her thoughts on it. Hearing that Gard had found his mate in her both filled her with elation and also dread.
If Rayne was who she suspected she was, then Gard's pain would only increase rather than lessen when it was revealed. "Are you sure?"
Her brother met her gaze. "Completely. She's mine, Annie. It doesn't matter if she tries to deny it. We belong together. She's aware of it too. When we made love she claimed me with a word. A Were can't take back that word."
She swallowed, dread washing over her at the total conviction in his voice. "Gard...I don't know how to say this." Rhianna couldn't continue, swallowing again as she tried to make herself speak.
Her tension transmitted to him and unease flitted across his face. "Say it," he demanded his fingers tightening around hers.
"You know who she is, don't you? If she's as old as she claims to be there can be no other explanation." She watched the haunted expression in his eyes, saw denial clashing with the truth. "You can't deny it, Gard. You must have known the moment her uniqueness became evident."
Gard shook his head, releasing her hand and looking away as he fought her words. He couldn't admit it to himself, couldn't allow the truth to surface because if it did, if he let himself believe then he didn't think he could live with the knowledge.
"You can't hide from this, brother," Rhianna whispered sadly.
"I know," he groaned hoarsely, his expression so haunted it ripped at her heart. "I think I've always known but it was only after Rafe found out about me, when he was telling you about the children that everything finally clicked into place. If Rayne truly is a hybrid child then there is really only one child she could be."
"Oh, Gard!" Rhianna moved around the table, wrapping her arms around him, understanding the extreme pain she'd been feeling for days now.
He had left Rayne in the forest to try and save his sister. He had abandoned an infant, believed he had been responsible for her death all these centuries. To find out the child had lived and he hadn't protected her would be bad enough. To discover that child was his destined mate and he had betrayed her would be an agony beyond imagining for a man whose very core was to be a guardian.
"I left her," Gard choked out staring down at the table. "All those centuries she's been alone not knowing who or what she was. Three thousand years, Annie. She's walked alone her entire life because I left her." That knowledge would torture his soul for eternity.
She held him tightly, tears rolling down her face as he let go and clung to her. She was the only person he would allow himself to be vulnerable around. That was until he found Rayne. But his mate wasn't there right now so he wept silently in his sister's arms, releasing the overwhelming guilt he felt for his past actions.
"She will forgive you," Rhianna whispered gently, tightening her hold on him. "She's your mate. She has to forgive you because if she doesn't it will rip her apart inside. We'll find her somehow. We'll make her understand."
Gard wished he had her faith. He wanted to believe his sister but he couldn't. How could Rayne ever forgive him when he couldn't even begin to forgive himself?
It was a subdued Annie Caleb came home to later. He found her in their bedroom, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. It was clear she had been crying and he had to fight down the urge to go looking for Gard. He knew they were alone which meant he must have gone home.
Silently he slid onto the bed and gathered her into his arms, feeling a shiver run through her as she came eagerly into his embrace. "Do I need to kill him?" his voice came out sounding hoarse, his heart breaking at her misery. He was surprised when she giggled against his chest.
"You never change, Caleb," she sighed softly. "Still so overprotective even after all this time." She raised herself up on her elbow so she could look down at him. "Rayne's the first hybrid child. She's also Gard's mate."
"Sweet Jesus!" he groaned loudly, concern crossing his face. "No wonder he's wound so tight. Fuck, Annie, this is turning into a nightmare."
She lowered her forehead to his and sighed deeply. "I know. We have to help them. I've had to initiate a reverse block to tune Gard out. I'm more sensitive this time around so although he was blocking it was having no effect on me. Hence, the bitch from hell routine." She shot him a rueful smile, regret on her face.
His response was to pull her down so he could attack her lips in a long slow kiss which melted her from the inside out. "I'll forgive you as long as you forgive me for threatening Gard. I know he will have told you about that."
She rolled her eyes and kissed him gently. "Deal," she whispered against his mouth, a small sigh escaping her. "What are we going to do, Caleb? I told him she would forgive him. What if she doesn't? I can't stand seeing him in so much pain."
He rolled her onto her back, smoothing back her tangled curls gently. "I know you love him and want to help him, sweet one, but this is his battle. He and Rayne are going to have to work this one out between them. You have to step back and let them do so."
"No buts, Annie. You can't right every wrong in the world. You can't become so involved in everyone else's lives that you forget to live you own. The last few days must surely have taught you that. I want my Annie back."
She groaned and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his mouth to hers once more. "I'm sorry." Her breath whispered against his lips and he groaned too.
"Show me how much." It was a blatant demand, his body pressing hard against hers making it more than clear which form he wanted her apology to take.
She choked off a laugh, desire igniting instantly as he slid between her thighs and pressed his erection intimately between her legs. "You have a one track mind sometimes, Caleb Cullen." There was more than a hint of amusement in her voice.
"Thankfully we're always on the same track," he chuckled lightly, his fingers making short work of her top, baring her breasts for his eager attention. "Do you know I haven't touched these beauties in almost three days?" His hands captured the soft globes, squeezing gently. His tone was more than affronted at being denied the pleasure of her body.
His petulant tone made her laugh out loud even as his soft stroking of her heated flesh brought a moan from her lips. "Maybe you should make up for lost time?" she whispered huskily as her back arched to meet his descending mouth.
"Oh, I intend to," he mumbled against her softness, his tongue beginning a slow torturous swirl around her hard peak. He suckled it into his mouth, his touch gentle for a few seconds before he became firmer.
He had her writhing deliciously in next to no time, treating each breast to a wicked form of torture as he alternated between being gentle and then rougher. He focused entirely on her breasts, breathing in the sweet scent of her arousal but never going anywhere close to where he knew she wanted him to be.
"You are such a tease!" she complained, trying to urge him lower as fire raged through her body and damp heat exploded between her legs.
"And you love every minute of it," he laughed, finally stripping off her jeans and panties, running his tongue against the soft skin of her inner thighs.
"Caleb!" The tortured wail had him laughing harder. It also had his cock throbbing painfully hard in his jeans. He loved his name on her lips. It didn't matter what tone she used, just hearing her call to him made his heart soar.
Her hands threaded in his hair trying to urge him close to her succulent flesh which was crying out for his touch. He removed them forcefully, sliding up her body to press her arms above her head.
"Keep your hands to yourself or I'll find an alternative bed to sleep in tonight," he warned, his eyes flashing with amusement as hers widened in shock. "I mean it, Annie. You apologise by letting me do what I want. No negotiations."
"If I didn't love you so much I would tell you to piss off," she grumbled loudly but there was laughter in her voice and desire too. He knew she loved it when he took control. She always protested but succumbed so easily as he stroked her to orgasm.
He began to love her delectable body slowly, teasing her with light touches designed to drive her wild. It was an exercise in self-control not to strip himself naked and thrust hard inside her. He was desperate to feel her welcome him in deep, but he had days to make up for and he was going to take his time pleasuring his woman.
Rhianna cried out and arched up as he slid two long fingers deep inside her. She was hot and wet and ready for him. He teased her with light touches and then his thumb brushed her clit as he drove hard into her body. She cried out loudly, her body trembling as he tipped her over the edge and she soared with her climax, pleasure dancing across her beautiful face.
This was how he loved to see his mate, lost in the pleasure of her body, forgetting everything for a few brief seconds as he rocked her world and took her to Heaven.
His mouth replaced his fingers as he licked greedily at her sweet essence. He was addicted to her taste, addicted to everything about her. He ravished her body, pushing her mercilessly towards another climax so he could feast on her pleasure.
Her hands were in his hair and he struggled not to laugh. She was so disobedient, even when he threatened to leave her bed. But she knew an empty threat when she heard one. Nothing would ever keep him from her side. He suckled against the tiny bundle of nerves that gave her the most pleasure, scraping lightly with his teeth until she stiffened with pleasure and her sweet cries filled the room once more.
As she slowly calmed, he stood up and rid himself of his clothes, joining her back on the bed in an instant. His own need was at fever pitch, his lust for her turning him almost feral. Caleb's fangs elongated and he gripped the nape of her neck, exposing the soft skin of her throat so he could sink his fangs into her flesh.
He thrust hard into her body at the same, pulling at her sweet blood as he claimed her. His arms snaked around her back, lifting her slightly from the bed and arching her body to his dual penetration. He rocked into her hard, savouring the feel of her silken heat around his throbbing cock. Making love to his Annie was the most intoxicating experience ever, one he intended to enjoy for the rest of his life.
Caleb closed the wound on her neck and flipped over onto his back, keeping their bodies joined as he did so. His hands cupped Rhianna's breasts as she took over control, sliding sensually up and down his shaft in a slow, hot rhythm. He wanted to urge her to go faster but he equally wanted to watch her take her pleasure from him. It was one of the most erotic sights ever and he loved to indulge both of them with it.
Rhianna ran her hands over Caleb's chest, leaning forward as she rocked against him. Her fangs were already out, her lavender eyes glowing with pleasure as he bared his neck to her in open invitation. She didn't need a second urging, her fangs slicing through the corded skin to drink deeply at his life's essence.