The Council Ch. 17


Loretta heard the emotion in his voice, felt his body tremble slightly and she raised her head to look at him. She rose up slightly so she could wipe his wet cheeks, her own eyes filling with tears. "Your mother?" she asked gently.

"Our mother," he answered quietly. "She would have loved you so much, my Rose. She was gentle and sweet and so loving. She devoted herself to me and Alexei, loved us even when we were turned to this life. Others hated us for what we had become but not our mother. We were always her little boys no matter what."

"She sounds like an amazing woman, love," she breathed softly. " I would be proud to have my daughter carry her name on. It's beautiful."

"You're the one who's beautiful, Loretta," Andrei whispered. "Beautiful inside and out. I don't deserve to have you in my life, not after everything I've done in the past. But I can't let you go. You complete me. You soothe the beast within me and make me dream I can be so much better than I truly am. I promise I will do everything I can to be worthy of you, my sweet Rose."

She leaned down and kissed him gently, rubbing her lips softly against his. "Just love me, Andrei," she murmured against his lips. "Love us and everything else will take care of itself."

"I do, Loretta," he groaned clutching her tightly against him. "I love you so much tonight I thought I would go insane at the thought of losing you."

"I love you too, Andrei," she whispered back, burying her head against his neck. "I knew you would come for me. I never doubted for one moment that you would come."

His arms crushed her but there was tenderness there. "Always, my Rose. I will always come for you no matter what. For you, for our precious little Liliana and for any other beautiful babies we have in the future. No one will ever take my family from me again. Not ever."

The steely conviction in his voice told her he meant every word of it. No one would ever come between them again, he would make certain of that. This would probably lead to quite a few fights between them as he tried to smother her by being over protective but she'd deal with that as it came.

For now, Loretta settled in the comfort of her mate's embrace, closing her eyes and luxuriating in the feeling of being safe. There was nowhere in the world more perfect that being with her mate.

Andrei smiled as he felt Loretta drift off to sleep. She was so much more relaxed now, more at peace with herself. He knew she was still going to have some moments when her guilt reared up to haunt her but he was confident that together they could get through it.

He'd been through a torrent of emotions tonight, some truly evil and some so amazingly beautiful they took his breath away. He had always felt as if something was broken inside of him. Insanity had always lived somewhere deep within , surfacing every now and then but he had always managed to defeat it though it was such a struggle to do so.

Tonight one touch of Loretta's hand had tamed the insanity. That was all it had taken, one tiny little hand touching his shoulder and then threading into his hair. For the first time he had hope that maybe that broken piece of him could be healed. His mate appeared to have the power to do so. His daughter could only increase the feeling of peace his mate brought to him.

With a contented sigh Andrei Romanov closed his eyes and let sleep claim him. He could take on anything, adapt and change and become something so much better than he was, as long as he had his girls. His Rose and his Lily.


Alexei rested on one elbow, toying gently with a long strand of blonde curls as he watched Cedar sleeping peacefully beside him. It was early, the sky just beginning to lighten but he'd been awake for ages. He'd managed to get some sleep but it had been broken, full of fear and guilt. He'd woken almost every half hour, checking that Cedar was breathing, that she was healing properly.

He had been wild in his former life; still had that wildness within him. Many times in his long life he'd done things so bad without giving any thought to his actions. All that paled into comparison to what he'd done to his precious wolf the night before. He had hurt her, something he had sworn he would never do. Not only that, he had almost killed her, taken her to the very edge between life and death before healing her. If he lived for another two thousand years he would never erase that memory from his mind.

Nor would her incredible bravery ever leave his thoughts. He knew the agony she had suffered must have been excruciating. Yet she had stayed strong, held in the cries that she knew would kill him if he heard them. He had always known she was strong. It was her strength, her bravery that had caught his interest, initially luring him to the woman who would become his mate. He could never have chosen a weak woman, someone he could easily dominate. He needed a woman with steel in her veins, who could challenge him and keep his attention.

He had known Cedar was that woman right from the very start. She was full of steel and strength and a tenacity that took his breath away. But she was also soft skin, sleek curves, pale blonde curls and sweet, tender love too. She was perfection to him, his entire life now. And he had almost killed her.

Pain lanced through him, so overwhelming he didn't know how he could stand it without crying out loud. He was raw inside, hurting on a level he'd never experienced before. He could almost understand the depth of Andrei's anguish the night before now.

"Aaron was just fifteen when we were out for a run one day in the forest," Cedar suddenly murmured quietly, her eyes still closed, her voice husky with sleep. "I adored him from the moment he was born, couldn't stop myself falling in love with the little scamp. I was supposed to be protecting him, teaching him how to fend for himself. We were intercepted by a Rogue Were. He attacked Aaron and I reacted instinctively. I almost died that day but I saved my baby brother and I killed the Rogue."

Her eyes opened slowly to meet his, clear and irresolute, full of her love. "I would die in a heartbeat for those I love, Alexei," she whispered softly. "I've given everything to the pack and my family. Pain hurts but it's fleeting. The reward at the end is what is most important, whether it's saving Aaron's life or finally being able to mate with the man I love so much that I don't know how to exist without him. Forgive yourself. You have nothing to feel guilty for. You're giving me the most precious thing in my life."

The emotion in her voice tugged at his heart, the shining brightness of the joy she was feeling at being able to complete the mating making his breath catch in his throat. She was truly stunning in every way and she was his. He would never let her go, never allow her to feel another moment's pain for as long as he lived.

He leaned down and traced her lips tenderly with his own, unable to speak through the lump of emotion deep within him. She was asking a lot of him, asking him to let go of the terrible guilt he felt but he would try. For her. Because it would make her happy and that was all he wanted for her.

"You're incredible, Cedar," he breathed against her lips, stroking a hand gently through her curls. "So beautiful and loving, so strong and resilient. I don't know how I lived before I met you." Her soft throaty laugh had him raising his head to see amusement sparkling in the glittering blue of her eyes.

"You managed just fine," she chuckled lightly. "You're almost an Ancient so you must have gotten along pretty well on your own." Her hand reached up to tuck his hair behind his ear, resting there and stroking through the silky blond strands.

"But I can promise you it will be a different kind of living with me," she whispered softly. "When you mate with me, I'll never let you go, Alexei Romanov. I will hold you to all the promises you made me last night. I want those little girls with long blonde curls but I also want fierce little boys too, with their father's intense eyes and serious little faces. I want it all, my love. And I'm tired of waiting for it."

She pressed her body against his, her eyes darkening with the strength of her emotions, her wolf rising to the surface, growling with possessiveness. It was time he made her his completely. It was time for their bond to be irrevocably completed so no one could ever tear them apart. Cedar's heart pounded wildly in her chest, her gaze intent as she searched his face, looking for any sign of doubt, any hint that he would try and refuse her.

Alexei met her gaze, his own heart drumming loudly in his chest; pride, love and intense desire washing over him. She completely stunned him, completely brushed away any doubts about what he was about to do.

Part of him felt they should wait a little longer, just to make sure it would be safe to bite her. It warred with his vampiric need to finally taste the sweet essence that flowed through her veins, to feast on that precious fluid that would sustain his life from this moment on.

The wolf part within him warred with the need to be cautious too. It demanded the completion of the Were bond. It was weaker than his vampiric nature but it was there constantly, demanding what was its right though he was better able to master it now he had spent a little time with Aaron.

He knew Cedar was waiting for him to refuse her, to counsel caution. His lips curved in a little smile as he stared into her feral gaze, knowing she would fight any attempt he made to wait a little longer. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he traced a perfect cheekbone slowly with one finger.

"You've got your 'bossy' face on," he breathed softly, laughter colouring his tone. "Getting ready to fight me, Cedar? Do you think because I caved last night that every time you want something I will concede instantly?" His questions were rhetorical and he silenced whatever she was about to say with a kiss.

"I'm not that easy, little wolf," he rumbled after he'd kissed her breathless. "Don't mistake my compliance for weakness. Last night your life was in danger because of your wolf. I acted in the only way possible to alleviate that danger, not because you 'forced' me into it. Just as you won't force me into doing anything I don't want to do right now. I hope we're very clear on that, Cedar."

He had to fight to contain his laughter at the outraged expression on her face. She truly did think all she had to do was crook a little finger and he'd melt instantly. Maybe he would, but she could never know that. If she achieved too much dominance in their relationship it would be disastrous for her. She was a strong woman and used to getting her own way. She would never tolerate a man who meekly agreed to everything, her wolf would lose all respect for a man like that.

And Alexei had never promised her he was that kind of man either. He, too, was used to getting his own way. While he might let her win sometimes, his nature wouldn't allow him to become submissive to her. So he held her gaze until he saw her wolf slowly start to subside, backing down in the face of the sheer force of his personality.

His smiled widened as he threaded his hands through her curls and kissed her slowly and very lovingly. "I've no intention of denying you, Cedar," he laughed softly when he could calm his racing heart a little. His desire and his need to taste her was overwhelming him. "I need this as much as you do."

The admission was torn from his very soul. He needed her so badly it was a physical ache within him. He could no more deny her this than he could walk away from her and never look back. She belonged to him just as surely as he belonged to her. He'd just needed to set the balance back in their relationship first because it had become slightly skewed due to the recent events.

Cedar's eyes flared with irritation and then her wolf rumbled its satisfaction deep within her. She liked the little display of dominance from their mate, was urging her human half to roll over and bare her neck for their beautiful vampire. Her wolf's sudden submission almost made her snort out loud. She was sure the animal would have a much stronger reaction if Alexei tried that too often.

Still, he wasn't going to deny them. His admission was so full of longing, his eyes intense as he watched her. He needed this completion as much as she did. That was the most important thing at the moment. They could fight over who was in charge another time.

She smiled slowly up at him and pressed her body once more against his hardness, feeling his need pressing into her soft skin, hearing his breath hiss out in a long, tortured sound. "What are you waiting for then?" she asked huskily, laughing when he bore her back to the bed and settled himself completely on top of her naked body. Now this she would never complain about.

His kiss was savage, full of need and lust before it slowly gentled and turned tender and loving. She couldn't work out what she loved most about him, his feral side or the tender part of him which surfaced when least expected. All she knew was he took her breath away constantly, sucking her into a heady pleasure that no one else was capable of taking her to. She moaned and flicked her tongue against his, fire spreading instantly through her veins at his touch.

Alexei would never be able to sate himself with the woman in his arms. He could take her ten thousand times and still it would feel like the first, sending his heart racing with such joy his head spun. Cedar's sweet lemongrass scent engulfed him as did the scent of her arousal. Her tongue mated with his, making his cock throb so deliciously against her soft curves.

He growled and trailed his lips down her fragile throat, nipping lightly against her soft skin until she moaned loudly and clutched his shoulders tightly. His tongue snaked out to taste her skin, rasping roughly as he made his way down to the tempting valley of her breasts. He kissed and nibbled her body, searching out the stiff peaks of her breasts which he feasted on greedily.

Hunger raced through his body, hunger for her touch and her taste, hunger for the sweet blood that flowed through her veins teasing him mercilessly. It was all he could do not to bite her breasts, not to give into temptation to taste her sweetness. But he controlled himself, contented himself with pleasuring her succulent body first.

Alexei wanted this to be so special for her, for both of them. He wanted it to be a memory that lived forever in his wolf's mind, taking away the pain of the previous evening. His mouth moved lower, sliding between her legs to taste that other delicious essence she gave him so readily.

He teased her with light touches, ignoring his own deep ache of want as he slowly licked against her wet flesh, adding to her wetness, drinking down the honey she gave him. He truly could feast on her endlessly, bringing her to one shattering peak after another so he could reap the rewards of his actions but she was becoming impatient, her body bucking wildly as her hands dug painfully hard into his hair.

Cedar was about ready to explode, both with her climax and also her frustration. Alexei kept teasing her, drawing her to her peak and then leaving her hanging as he backed off. Any other time she would have loved playing his game but she needed so much more right now. She tugged hard at his hair, a rumble of deep hunger ripping from her throat.

"Damn you, Alexei, enough of this teasing," she grated pulling him back up her body and grinding herself urgently against him. Her hand snaked down and gripped his pulsing erection, squeezing him hard and making him grit his teeth in pleasure pain.

"You want to play at teasing?" she asked with a husky laugh. "Should I tease you a little more?" She stroked her hand firmly up and down his hard length, dragging a deep growl from his throat and a sharp narrowing of his eyes.

Alexei latched his hand around her wrist, squeezing with just enough pressure to make her release him. He didn't let her go though, instead he caught her other hand and pinned her wrists above her head. "You should learn to play nice," he drawled softly, positioning himself between her thighs. "One day soon I'm going to teach you patience, woman."

He thrust hard into her body, impaling her on his cock, keeping her completely pinned beneath her. She cried out, rising to meet him, pleasure dancing across her exquisite face. Her expression made his breath catch, her sweet sounds echoing in his ears as he joined with his mate.

A feeling of coming home descended on him as she wrapped her legs around his and strained to pull him deeper inside her. Home was Cedar Alexander, whether it was her breath on his hot skin or her body sheathing his so delectably. She completed him in every way and his next kiss told her so, his mouth slanting gently across hers in sharp counterbalance to his hard thrust inside her.

Alexei wanted to groan out loud as he melted for his exquisite little wolf, gentling his touch, releasing her wrists so he could frame her face in his hands as he began to stroke inside her slowly but forcefully. Her pleasure was paramount. It would always be that way and he knew it.

He loved his woman with every fibre of his being, stroking her soft skin, pushing her relentlessly towards her completion with hard, powerful strokes of his body. Her wet heat gripped him tightly, giving back the sweet bliss that he knew he was giving her.

He kissed her feverishly, struggling for breath as his own release approached swiftly. He controlled his need ruthlessly suckling against her taut nipples, using his teeth to grate against the tender nubs and drag more deep, breathy cries from his woman. His blood lust was rising, causing a deep ache within him as he fought to contain his fangs.

He needed to taste her so badly. He didn't know how long he could hold off from breaking her fragile skin and feeling her hot, sweet blood fill his mouth.

Cedar could feel the urgency within Alexei, knew he was holding back waiting for her to reach her completion. His body was doing such delicious things to hers, making her see stars as he rode against her so exquisitely. She could barely breathe at the sheer intensity of their joining, her heart hammering wildly in her chest as she felt her climax approach and knew she would soon be soaring. It was time.

"Alexei," she gasped, clutching him tightly as she pulled his mouth to her neck. "Now, baby! I need you so badly. Please."

Her words shattered the last of Alexei's self control. He licked against her skin, thrusting hard and fast inside her, feeling her shatter completely, her sweet cries pushing him over the edge. His fangs elongated and with a muffled groan he pierced the side of her neck at the same moment his own release washed over him.

Alexei's entire body exploded in pleasure, his climax surging through him as Cedar's sweet blood filled his mouth. Never had he tasted anything so wonderful, so deliciously intoxicating that it was hard to pull slowly at her neck. He wanted to gorge himself on her flavour, to suck endlessly but instead he was gentle, taking only what was required and savouring each addictive mouthful.

Cedar moaned and held him to her, fierce joy flooding her body knowing that their mating was now complete and she was nourishing her man with more than just her mind and her body. She was feeding him part of her very soul as her climax peaked blissfully as he fed from her. It was amazing, so completely spellbinding that she knew he would have to rein her in because she would want to do this every time they made love and that would be very dangerous for her.

It was almost a physical ache when he closed her wound, healing it instantly as both their hearts raced hard as they tried to regulate their breathing and come down from the intense climaxes they'd experienced.

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byJazCullen© 49 comments/ 81110 views/ 45 favorites

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