Masquerade (The Angel Pack #13)(2)

By: Maggie Walsh

Xavier turned and started running in the direction of the pack house. He was ten miles outside pack territory, patrolling the surrounding lands, but he should be able to get back home within a half hour if he pushed himself. Luckily, he had been patrolling in the lands just north of the pack lands, and from here he was closer to the pack house. But maybe that wasn’t so lucky because that meant so were those bloody mounds.

Xavier picked up his pace and ran at full speed. His four legs burned from the exertion, but he needed to get back as fast as possible. Judging from where he had found the first mound to the second mound, they were moving closer toward the pack lands, and his alpha house. Meaning closer to his family.

* * * *

Storm stood at the window in his office looking out over the back yard. Although he loved looking across the massive lawn and to the surrounding woods farther back a few hundred yards, he still missed his old view, from his old office. Leaving Nappa and his homelands behind was not an easy decision, but one he knew needed to be made to keep his people safe. As well as his mate’s, and now his children. He missed looking out over the grand pool and gardens of his old pride and seeing the rows of grapes from the vineyards off in the distance as they rose and dipped over the mountainous terrain. And the beautiful orange, pink, and gold hues that painted the sky at sunset. Those views always helped to comfort him and give him a sense of peace, of calm, and helped him to clear his head. Especially when he was faced with a difficult decision as he was now.

He had called his brother Aaron about a half hour ago and asked him to come over so they could talk. Aaron had been at the clinic treating a patient but said he would be here as soon as he was done. Storm was sure Aaron would be here soon, and his gut twisted more from that thought. Not from seeing his brother. He and Aaron had finally talked, got everything out that they’d needed to, and buried the hatchet. Now they were building a new relationship and getting closer every day.

Without the influence of their parents and Seth, Storm was finding that he really liked Aaron. Not only was his brother a fucking genius, but he was actually pretty funny, and he had a huge heart. Aaron wasn’t such a show-off as he used to be. Storm understood why Aaron had been the way he was for all those years and he couldn’t blame him. But Storm also knew that Aaron’s two mates had a lot to do with helping his brother to be who he was today. Raith and Rory were the perfect mates for Aaron, and together they had shown him so much love and acceptance that Aaron was finally comfortable with who he was.

Storm was thrilled for his brother and truly overjoyed that Aaron had found his happiness. Now Storm was afraid he was about to break that happiness and put a strain on their relationship again with the news he was about to tell him. He knew what he was about to discuss with Aaron was going to cause his brother stress and pain, but he couldn’t hide it from him. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut and surprise Aaron with what was about to happen. Aaron would feel betrayed and ambushed, and Storm would never risk their relationship again.

“Are you okay, babe?” Bastian asked as he wrapped his arms around Storm’s waist and pressed his chest to Storm’s back.

Storm closed his eyes from the pleasure his mate brought him just from his touch. Feeling Bastian’s strong arms around him always made him feel safe and protected from the world. Strange how he was the leader of the Winthrope pride and now the leader of all the felines, but he had a need to feel safe too once in a while, and Bastian did that for him. Storm leaned back into the embrace and rested his head against Bastian’s shoulder. “I’m okay, love. Just thinking about Napa, and missing it.”

“Do you want to try to go back? Rebuild the pride there?” Bastian asked and kissed the side of Storm’s head. He knew his mates would go with him back to Napa in a heartbeat, without a thought. They would follow him anywhere. And that knowledge overfilled his heart with love for them.

“No. Too much has happened, and our world has changed. We need to be here. Even if only for the safety that being in Sanctuary brings us. As the leader of all the felines and a member of the council, I need to be here. Plus, look at what happened to Dante’s coven. It was completely destroyed by Brett’s attack because they had no backup, and they were only an hour’s drive away. How bad would it be if we were across the country?”