Leader of the Pack Ch. 20bysecretme©
The pyres burned high into the night sky. All around the reservation wolves raised their faces to the heavens and howled their mournful song into the night. There were only a few Arnauk not present. Too many lives had been lost for there to be a single person unaffected by the deaths. The only ones who weren't there were those that had to run the Madadh-Allaidh Saobhaidh and the Taigh-Oèsda. But those were minimal. It was mostly being run by the human hires tonight.
Aislinn stared at the pyres. The yellow and orange flames licked the sky and sent shadows dancing about the trees. It was a sharp contrast to the howls of pleasure and the bodies dancing amongst the trees the night before. There was very little talking. That morning they had found two suicides. It was expected. With so many mated losses it wasn't unusual for the one left behind, especially if there were no children, to take his or her own life.
The day had been long and hard. Aislinn had seen very little of Cullen and it was getting harder and harder on both of them. He had spent the entire day being diplomatic and sympathetic to all the families that arrived to attend the funeral. Aislinn had spent the day trailing after Sarah and taking on odd duties that Sarah suggested. Mostly it was to show the rest of the pack that Aislinn was taking orders from them and not the other way around. Sarah hadn't assigned her anything difficult. She would bring a message to one person or another. She helped with bringing things in when more important people arrived. She smiled and spoke when spoken too. She answered a lot of questions about herself. In the end she was mentally exhausted.
Aislinn watched Brinah's body burn and tears slid down her cheeks. Knowing that her grandmother's soul existed but was tied to this place was little comfort. She had questions. Aislinn looked over at Cullen. It was the first time the two of them had managed to be standing next to each other all day. He knew what she wanted and she knew that he was uncomfortable with the idea.
"I'll be fine," she said. "It scared me the first time because I didn't understand what was happening or why. But I need to talk to her."
Cullen shook his head. "People will notice if you go missing right now."
"We're leaving for the Madadh-Allaidh Saobhaidh in the morning. I won't have another chance."
Cullen growled. "Aislinn I don't like it."
"I know. I'm sorry. But I have to." She kissed him on the cheek and then headed for the stone circle. He watched her walk into the woods, knowing he couldn't stop her.
Aislinn could feel him nearby. He wouldn't stray far from the stones. There wasn't anything he'd be able to do. But he didn't care about that. He'd try if something went wrong. Though neither of them knew what the possible consequences of her actions could be.
Aislinn stepped through the perimeter of the stone circle with the firm intention of finding Brinah there and to her surprise it worked. Everything went still. No breeze, no sounds, just black and the stones and there in the middle of the Circle stood the ghostly figure of her grandmother.
Brinah was smiling with pride, her blue eyes sparkled and unworldly glow. "You have no idea how difficult what you just did should have been. It took a great deal of energy for me to bring you here that first time. You plane walk as though you were born to it." Brinah walked over to her granddaughter. "I never dreamed I would regret having kept you from the Circle. But I can't help wondering if I've held you back."
"Why did you leave them? Did they do something to you or something wrong? I know you said you wanted to marry grandpa, but did that require leaving?"
"Hmm, straight to the point. You remind me of myself some times. You know that is not a characteristic of the Circle. They are much more... diplomatic." She smiled. "No it wasn't a requirement. But your grandfather didn't know about the Circle and I didn't know how to tell him. He was very Christian. Traditionally that isn't a religion that is accepting of the types of things and beliefs that the Circle represented. In the day and age that we were in it was just easier for me to hide it than for me to try and explain it. The circle itself wasn't at fault for my leaving. It was my choice and they let me go."
"Should I be concerned about the things that I can do? Should I try and learn about it?"
"That's up to you, child. You can ignore it all if you want. Though the fates don't seem to be willing to let you. Now that you've bound yourself to a lycan it will be even harder if you want to attempt to ignore that side of yourself. The more you use it the stronger it will become."
Aislinn nodded. "Then the visions. They've been happening more and more recently."
Brinah tilted her head and stared into her granddaughter's eyes. "That should only happen if you're willing to let it happen. You must be becoming more accepting and open to it. Premonitions come when you allow them to."
"What about controlling it? Can I have one when I want one?"
Brinah suddenly understood. She smiled knowingly. "That's why they're increasing. You're trying to use them." She shook her head. "That's more complex an accomplishment then you might think. The fates control the premonitions and they'll not let you have influence over them. It takes a powerful druid for that. The best you can do is will yourself to be open to allowing one to come to you. You control them by accepting that one might come. But you don't control the content or influence them. The harder you try the less you will get. It's kind of like your shifting from one form to another. To have a premonition you have to surrender your control to the fates and hope they give you what you want."
"It seems that the druids are big on stepping back and allowing the fates to control them."
Brinah smiled. "Traditionally we're observers, philosophers, teachers. The people who seek to control things usually get replaced by time or someone else out to control. We move with the fates like the oceans and the tides."
"What else am I capable of?"
"Now that is a very complex question. Everyone is capable of whatever they like. It all comes to what you apply yourself too and if you choose to use your natural talents or seek to develop an ability that may be more difficult to come by but may be more helpful to you."
Aislinn stared at her. "No straight answers then?"
Brinah smiled again. "You have the answers. You just don't know it yet. They'll come to you as you need it. I've given you advice that is more helpful than you may think. Is there anything else?"
Aislinn nodded. "I can't convince Cullen to deal with Jenna and the books. He doesn't believe it's a pack matter. With the recent deaths and the pack dissention as it is, he doesn't want to risk giving them a reason to doubt his leadership. I'm a big enough problem for him to justify. If he goes chasing down other packs based solely on my word he risks loyalty issues."
Brinah's face fell a bit. "It will become pack business shortly. If he ignores it long enough it will come looking for him. It would be easier dealt with now than later. But the fates will play out as they wish."
"Can't you tell me what the problem is? What does Jenna want with the books?"
"I'm sorry. I don't know everything. I only get impressions of paths that could be taken. It's like when you have a premonition and you walk in knowing whether it's the future or the past. You don't know how you know. It's just a feeling the fates have allowed. A hint to help you find your way. Perhaps the warning I have given you is enough all by itself to help you survive your path, even if you do nothing other than wait for it to come."
Aislinn sighed. "I don't do well with just allowing things to happen. I'd rather do something about it."
Brinah smiled. "That's because you were raised human. Different philosophies. I suggest you do what you feel you need to."
Aislinn could feel Cullen's impatience at her absence. "I need to return."
"I understand. Lycans can be very possessive. And the alpha is very controlling. But if anyone is going to be able to handle him I believe you can." Brinah walked up closer to her and kissed her cheek and then she vanished into a fog of sparkling silver blue dust.
Aislinn looked around for Brinah but she was nowhere to be seen. As she stared into the shadows of the dark silent stones she felt a presence beyond Brinah. Or more precisely many presences. It was only then that it occurred to her that the stones had been here for a very long time. At one point they were uses regularly for rituals and spells. If Brinah's soul could be trapped here, what was stopping other souls from being trapped here as well. As the uneasy feeling grew she turned and left the Circle with the firm intent of being very careful about who she was thinking about when she entered the stones.
Cullen was waiting for her when she stepped through the border of the stones. He was leaning against a tree with his arms crossed. Aislinn smiled at him as she felt the fog blocking her mind from him clear. There was a strong sense of concern coming from him. It ranged from concern about the pack seeing Aislinn's pursuit of her druid abilities as a threat to them to her pursuit of her abilities taking her away from him. Aislinn approached him and walked into his arms.
He held her close and took in her scent. "I don't like the fact that that place blocks you from me even a little bit."
"I know. I'm sorry," she said and hugged him harder.
He growled. "Did you find what you wanted?"
"Some yes. Some no. Druids can be very enigmatic," she said and grinned at him.
He grinned back and shook his head. Then leaned down and kissed her. His tongue slid over her lips and she opened her mouth to let him in. It only took moments for the kiss to grow heated. Let's go back to our room, he suggested.
Aislinn broke the kiss and nuzzled into his neck, biting him gently. "Okay," she said and they headed back up to the cabin.
The next day was a great deal like the previous day except that it involved saying goodbye to everyone diplomatically instead of saying hello. Cullen, Aislinn, Sarah, Drake, Keith, and Jaylyn as well as the rest of the main group of betas from the den were the last ones to leave that day. The plan was to arrive at the Madadh-Allaidh Saobhaidh, have dinner at the Taigh-Oèsda, do the last of the mourning and then sleep on it all. The next day would return to business as usual.
The first thing Cullen said when they all got in the car was, "By all the Gods I'll be glad when this is done. Now I remember why I worked so hard to stop this kind of crap." Aislinn decided to save her discussion about Brinah's warning for a later date. She sat uncomfortably throughout the car ride. His scent was getting to her more than usual. All she wanted was to be alone with him.
When they managed to walk into the penthouse without further incident Cullen smiled and laughed wondering how long it would take for the next natural disaster to hit. Aislinn was torn between attacking Cullen and cleaning up. She finally decided that one would make the other more pleasant so she started dropping clothes on the floor and walking toward the bathroom. She was feeling guilty over the fact that she had just come from a funeral and all she could think of was sex.
Cullen watched Aislinn undress and head for the shower. He could feel her upset over everything that had been happening. She'd been dwelling all day, in between thoughts about getting him naked and alone. He smiled.
Aislinn heard the curtain slide and then felt Cullen's hands across her body. "Stop it," he said.
She scoffed, "What? You got something against me showering?"
"I know what you're thinking remember?"
"No you don't. You said you only know what I'm feeling. I could be upset about anything."
"Smart ass. I know why too. None of this is your fault. You didn't bring it here. Rafe would have come looking for the stones whether I'd fallen in love with you or not. At least that's what people keep telling me. If I can come to terms with it all so can you." He took the soap from her and started rubbing her body in way that had nothing to do with cleaning. "Besides," he said softly, "you're worth it."
Aislinn felt him slide his erection against her butt and then he pressed her forward into the stream of water. His hand slid down her back and between her legs. Aislinn braced herself against the wall and water pounded on her back. Between the heat of the shower and the heat that Cullen was creating she felt like she was on fire.
Cullen slid his fingers into her slit and felt her coat them. He growled his pleasure at that. She was always ready for him. He pulled his hand from her and listened to her whimper, wanting his fingers back. He chuckled and brought his fingers to his mouth. Suddenly his wolf roared into his mind and seized control of the situation.
Aislinn felt the rush and was more than a little shocked when she felt him grab her roughly and force her out of the shower. Before she knew what was happening she was on her hands and knees on the bathroom floor and he was fucking her hard from behind. She tried to get away at first. But he was far too strong and determined. It took some time for the forceful thrusts to become pleasurable. Aislinn gave over to her cat, knowing that she'd be more capable of handling it that way.
As the cat took control the confusion gave way to primal need. Aislinn began growling and pushing back into his thrusts. Cullen wasn't concerned in the least with her pleasure this time. He was going to come inside her and then he was going to do it again. He swelled inside her and forced himself as deep as he could into her sopping cunt. He came hard and Aislinn shook with her own orgasm as she felt his seed fill her. She growled happily as they collapsed to the floor.
After some time and some internal struggle Cullen was able to force his wolf down. Aislinn had already returned to her human self. She could feel the sore already starting. She stretched a bit. He was lodged inside her more solidly than usual. She rubbed her butt against him. They were still wet from the shower and sweat. "I'm going to need another shower," she said with an amused tone.
Cullen wasn't amused though. "I didn't hurt you did I," he asked.
She looked back over her shoulder. "My knees a little," she chuckled. "But I'll get over it. What's wrong?"
Cullen cleared his throat. "You're going into heat," he said flatly. "By morning I'm not going to be able to stop."
She could feel how serious he was. "How long will that last?"
"Couple days, a week? Hard to say.
"Yeah. I've got meetings scheduled. This isn't going to look good. But judging from how I reacted to the preliminary, there isn't going to be any fighting it once you really start. We're not going to be able to go out into public."
Aislinn giggled and cuddled against him. She felt his annoyance at her amusement. "I'm sorry. I kinda like the idea that you want me so bad you really can't keep your hands off me."
Cullen smiled smugly. "You do realize that I'm trying to get you pregnant right?"
That stopped the giggling. "Okay, so you want to have kids," she realized suddenly.
"Now," he said harshly. He could feel his wolf growling to take her again.
"On the bed," Aislinn said, knowing there was no stopping him. But unsure how she felt about being pregnant. "And the shower needs turned off."
Terrick was in his room grousing. He'd been doing his best to sow seeds of doubt in everyone's minds about Cullen but the new omegas were in love with Aislinn. Every time he said anything against the missing couple someone else would come along and suggest that the problem was Terrick's interpretation. He was getting frustrated with the fact that he seemed to have miss played the best chance he'd been giving for ousting Cullen in centuries. He was trying to come up with a way to make the fool look bad.
No one even seemed to care that he had probably already mated with Aislinn and was lying about it. Ranaild, Elise, Celia, and Mack were the ones who were pointing out to people that they were expecting more of Cullen than themselves. At least a third of the pack had 'accidentally' skipped the dumb ceremony. If Cullen fell short on that one well maybe he had earned a reprieve from their expectations. That mixed with the omegas spouting how wonderful Aislinn was and how dead half of them would be if she hadn't talked Cullen down had the pack pretty much over the whole situation.
Terrick only had a select few people on his side. Luckily the few he had were elders and they agreed that he shouldn't be skipping protocol. More was expected of the alpha for a reason. And they certainly didn't like being lied to. Terrick's support was less, but he still had some.
When his phone rang he answered it angrily, "What?"
"Hmm, something certainly does have you in a foul mood," came the honey sweet voice of Jenna Tairneach.
"What do you want, Jenna?"
"The same thing I wanted last time, Terrick. I'm just trying to find out if you're still stubbornly holding out against me," she cooed.
"Remind me what you think our mating will accomplish?"
"Well, you'd at very least get to be alpha with the Tairneach. And once you have a pack maybe then you can get what you truly want."
"Jenna if I mate with you I'll never get what I truly want. And although I may despise Cullen Arnauk my loyalty to this pack is true. I want Cullen gone and the Arnauk hailing me as alpha. Your way won't do that. I'll not risk any of our own lives. There isn't a single lycan here who would trust and follow me with real loyalty if I left the pack only to start a war so that I could take it over. If I can't beat Cullen in a one on one fight it's pointless. But we've already had this discussion. So why the hell are you really calling?"
Jenna was annoyed. Even the Arnauk who wanted to get rid of Cullen were difficult to get to. She may have to have the druids teach her how Rafe played the mind games he did. "How about just making him look bad for now. Would you be interested in helping me with that?"
"I'm listening," Terrick said, his tone less annoyed.
"The Pack Council is sending a message to him. There's going to be a meeting. Just intercept the message," she cooed. "The council will get made and he'll look like a fool."
Terrick thought about it. Making Cullen look the part of the fool was always a good idea to him. But there was one thing bothering him. "What's in it for you Jenna?"
She growled to herself. Terrick was an thoin but he wasn't stupid. "Time," she said. "Just time."
"That's not your concern. Do it or not. I don't care. I was just trying to be helpful." With that she hung up on Terrick.
Keith and Sarah were pissed. They'd been running interference all week. "How much longer do you think she's going to be in heat?" he said angrily as he slammed into Sarah's office and sat down in the chair across from her desk.
Sarah shrugged and shook her head. "Terrick knows what's going on. And most of the others are suspicious. That's making Terrick's stupidity easier for them to stomach. I'm tired of lying to everyone."
Keith nodded in agreement. "He better name all the boys after me and all the girls after you," he said only half joking.
"Speaking of names, do you and Jay know what you're naming yours yet?" Sarah asked.
"No. I leave it to Jay. It's her first liter. There's only the two. Thank the Gods. And she has a list a mile long to pick from. As long as she's happy and I'm finally allowed to touch her again I don't care what the pups are named."
Sarah smiled. She had been trying to have a liter with Drake for a while. It didn't matter how much sex they had while she was in heat, she just hadn't gotten pregnant yet. It wasn't uncommon for it to take years for a lycan to get pregnant. They went into heat so rarely. But at least when they finally did get pregnant they had several at once. Sarah didn't mind at all when Keith interrupted her thoughts. She was more than a little jealous of Jaylyn at the moment.