Keeper (Matefinder Next Generation Book 1)(6)

By: Leia Stone

Her red pixie haircut and green eyes were so Avery but her normally vibrant features looked dull and sad. It must be awful living on forever without your mate. Raising your child without them. I couldn’t imagine.

“Hey, Aunt Emma, did you make those lemon squares for after?” Jax asked her, smoothing his hair from his wrestling match with Mason, and practically drooling at the thought of her amazing lemon squares.

Emma gave him a sly smile. “Of course I did. I know they’re your favorite.” She winked at him.

Emma motioned us to follow her and we all walked to the backyard where Uncle Devon’s gravestone was. My parents weren’t there yet but Uncle Max, Aunt Tara, and their sixteen-year-old daughter Chelsea was.

Chelsea came over to sit with us while Emma greeted Max and Tara. “Did she make the lemon things?” she whispered to Avery as my mom and dad approached.

Avery nodded to Chelsea, smiling. These lemon squares were seriously like werewolf crack; we devoured them. She made hundreds every year, every holiday.

‘Hurry up, it’s starting,’ my dad sent to the pack. The fact that he could speak into all of our minds simultaneously was pretty freaky but also very convenient.

Over a hundred of our pack mates began to trickle in through the trees, and walked over to crowd around the grave. That wasn’t the entire pack, but it was the only ones who knew Devon before. Max, my father’s best friend and third in command handed my dad a beer and they clinked glasses and started chugging. That was their manly way of remembering Devon without hugging and crying, I guess.

My dad stood on a large boulder next to the headstone and looked down on all of us.

“Today we gather to remember a great man! A hero, an amazing husband, loving father, and a damn good friend.” My father’s voice carried far.

Emma was already tearing up.

“I made Devon a promise before I died. I promised him that his daughter would grow up in a better world.” All eyes landed on Avery where she sat next to us and the pack nodded their heads in respect. My father continued. “A world where vampires didn’t rule. A world where werewolves were fertile and prosperous. A world in which the races could live in peace.”

The pack cried out in agreement. The past twenty years was all that I had ever known. A world where vampires were scarcely seen and used government run programs to get donated blood. Where witches kept off the radar because they weren’t known about and werewolves were mostly tolerated. It was a peaceful existence, tense at times but peaceful. But the past few years, I had seen a change within the relationship between the humans and werewolves. We were asked to take the marks, the tattoo, in an effort to show we weren’t hiding, that we could be trusted. We were scowled at more in public, spit on sometimes, and called names. The generation that hailed us heroes for saving them from bloodsucking vampires, was gone or too old to care. Now it was a new generation rising up and they didn’t seem to see us in the same light. Our population, once small, was now large and growing, and it was threatening to the humans. Still, things were okay; we were maintaining a peace.

My father continued. “Let’s start by telling stories then we can eat and dance and be happy. That’s what Devon would want,” my dad’s voice boomed, carrying around to all of us.

“Here, here!” everyone shouted.

Uncle Max stood on the boulder. “I remember the first time Devon learned that a female werewolf with similar markings to his had been spotted in Utah.”

Aunt Emma chuckled as a smile lit up her face. Werewolf mates recognized each other because they had exact opposite markings to each other. Hearing of a werewolf with similar markings was exciting.

“He was a mess! He couldn’t figure out what to wear, what to say …”

All of a sudden a weird feeling settled over me. Max’s voice became muffled and my ears were ringing. I couldn’t focus on what he was saying, and shaking my head to clear the noise didn’t help. My vision was blurring and I blinked rapidly as my body started warming up. The fever. In the middle of the day? Then it happened. I was sucked into my first vision. My mother had prepared me for this moment my whole life. What it would feel like, and not to panic, but I was still alarmed. I had no control. Dreams while sleeping were one thing, but a vision in the middle of the day while you were trying to stand upright was scary as hell.

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