Don’t Forget the Groom
Scott and Damien met in book three of the Cloverleah Pack series (When No Doesn’t Cut It). The idea of going through a mating ritual was floated in a short story about the pair in Never Go Back. I thought Stormy’s competition was the perfect opportunity to write this story. I do hope you enjoy it.
Thank you Stormy for all your hard work in allowing me and the other participating authors to share some “aww” moments.
“The representatives are waiting on pack grounds; the catering is set up in the hall you commissioned…”
“Did representatives come from every pack,” Damien interrupted Madison, his PA. He wasn’t concerned about checklists, he just wanted this day to go perfectly and part of that meant making a point to every damn alpha in the country.
“Yes, Alpha, well except for Jefferson City and the Alpha Mate’s home pack. Jefferson City sent their apologies but their Alpha and Alpha mate were on another mission, to Tulsa I believe and then heading on a honeymoon of their own. They insisted they meant no disrespect but that they’d been having troubles with a visitor. The Alpha Mate’s home pack wasn’t invited as we didn’t want to give that wretched man another chance to upset Scott. Your orders,” Madison peered over his tablet.
“Right. Did Shaman Paulo arrive?”
“Yes, Alpha. I’ve put him and his delegation in the house reserved for Cloverleah as Alpha Kane’s father is with them. The Cloverleah pack should be here any minute.”
“Right, nothing for it but to get dressed up in a suit and we can get this day started.” Damien beamed at his assistant. He and Madison had been planning the Alpha Mate ritual for the last month. He’d gotten the idea back when he and Scott visited Scott’s home pack but with everything else that had been going on, he’d barely had time to think about it. Madison’s mating to Sebastian, son of Death had him thinking about his mating again and the ideas he had for the impact his and Scott’s Alpha Mating ritual could have on other packs. It was the shifter equivalent of a wedding and when the invitations went out, Damien made it clear that any pack who refused to attend would be permanently banned from having anything to do with the San Antonio pack again. As the known oldest and strongest shifter in existence with the biggest pack, that wasn’t a threat most alphas took lightly.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Alpha?” Madison asked.
“I don’t think so,” Damien frowned. “You’ve taken care of the catering, the representatives are all here, the pack’s been summoned to be on the grounds by twelve noon. We have a shaman for the ceremony, and the Cloverleah pack are on their way. What more do we need?”
“The Alpha Mate?”
“Scott? I’ve told you a dozen times this is going to be a surprise for him. But you’re right. It’ll help if he turns up. I’ll go and tell him to get into his fancy suit and tell him why later.” Damien liked that idea. Keeping the ritual a secret from his mate hadn’t been easy. Only this morning he’d had to block their mind link and make excuses just so he could get the endless final details in place.
“The Alpha Mate’s not here, Alpha. The enforcers told me he left on his bike an hour ago.”
“Well, call one of the enforcers with him and get them back. But they’re not to tell Scott why he has to come. Just get him back here.” Bloody typical his mate would take off in a snit when he’d done all this planning.
Madison shuffled his feet and then said, “Scott told the enforcers if they followed him he’d tear their balls off with his teeth. He was in a bit of a mood.”
Damien growled and the desk creaked under his fists. “If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a dozen fucking times he’s not to go anywhere without enforcers.”
“He’s the Alpha Mate. If he orders the enforcers not to follow him what do you expect them to do? You told them yourself if they don’t follow his orders you’ll rip their throats out. Don’t you have a mind link?”
“Of course we fucking do.” Damien sighed and closed his eyes, thinking of his headstrong mate. If Scott didn’t hate it so much, Damien would tan his ass for him. Scott, hon, I need you here at home.
No reply. In fact, Damien couldn’t sense his mate at all. “Shit. He’s not answering.”
“Who’s not answering?” Troy, Scott’s twin strolled in with his tame assassin by his side. “Where’s Scott? I went to your guys room to see if he needed a hand with sorting his clothes and he’s not there. I thought he’d be a bundle of nerves and fussing with his hair by now.”
“He went out,” Madison said. “It seems the greatest Alpha of all time arranged a mating ritual without asking his mate first.”
“It was meant to be a surprise!” Damien racked his brains trying to think where Scott would go. He wouldn’t be at the club because that was closed. Face it, on his bike he could be anywhere by now.
“I could ask Thanatos to find him,” Madison offered while Damien fumed and Troy buried his sniggering face in Anton’s chest.
“I’m not having Scott dragged back for his Alpha Mating ritual by Death!”
“He’s a perfectly nice man,” Madison said, his nose in the air a clear indication Damien had pissed him off too. “But fine, you find him and I’ll go let the 130 odd guests and pack members know there’s been a delay.” The door slamming was pure Madison.
“What’s been happening between you and Scott?” Troy chuckled as he dropped into a chair; Anton hovering behind him. “You might as well tell me. You know he and I don’t keep secrets from each other.”
“I thought everything was okay,” Damien tugged on his hair and then winced as his claw got stuck in a tangle. “I wanted this to be a big day for him. He’s always worried he’s not been good enough to be my mate….”
“When we all know he’s perfect for you, even if you are the Almighty Damien,” Troy interrupted.
“Exactly, that gets to him sometimes, I think.” Damien had hoped Scott’s confidence had improved over time but clearly not. “I don't spend all my time at the club anymore. We go out together, just the two of us,”
“And a dozen enforcers I imagine.” Troy was as bad as his twin.
“Only four, and it’s just, if anything happened to Scott…he knows all this is necessary. I can’t help my position and he’s never complained before.”
“All right, so you two are perfectly in love, fine. Where is he now?”
“We had a row this morning.” A really stupid row in Damien’s opinion. When Scott learned of all the effort he and Madison had put into making this a perfect day…. “I had some last minute preparations to sort out, Alphas to greet and all that rubbish. I told him to stay in his room and rest and I’d be back in time to have lunch with him.”
“You fucking idiot,” Troy said fondly. “You tried to shut Scott in his room. I’m surprised he didn’t kick you in the balls. Knowing him he's gone off for a ride on his bike. You’re not going to see him until dinner time.” Troy laughed and even Anton cracked the glimmer of a smile.
“The mating ritual is scheduled for Noon. I have to find him before then,” Damien snarled. “How’s it going to look with all these people waiting, and he doesn’t even show up? There are representatives here from every freaking pack in the states bar two.”
“And your never thought, in all this planning, to at least warn Scott something big was happening today? Have you even asked him to join with you in this ritual?”
“I didn't want him to say no,” Damien muttered. “He’d say it was no big deal, or tell me he’d be happy to just have a few friends and the pack in attendance. He doesn’t realize how much of a big deal this is.”
“Well, of course he doesn’t, dimwit. You haven’t told him anything. Gods, you alphas can be a headache sometimes.”
“I’m sure your mate won’t appreciate that comment.” But Anton was smiling full out now.
“I'm used to being in the shit. I’m useless at relationships. Troy keeps me in line and lets me know when I’m not affectionate enough or if I’ve said something I shouldn’t. You’ve got more balls than me. I’d never plan anything of this magnitude without talking to Troy first.”
“Not helping.” Damien knew from personal experience just how badly Anton had fucked up with Troy in the beginning. It was him and Scott that helped bring the two back together. “Look, we all want to surprise the ones we love, right? I wanted Scott to be surprised and happy and realize just how important he is to me.”
“And I imagine most of the time he knows that anyway.” Troy leaned back in his chair. “You know, when you bit him but before he moved here, he and I talked about an Alpha Mating ritual.”
“Yeah,” Damien said cautiously.
Troy laughed. “I told him that if it did happen, I’d write his vows for him. He was all worried that if it ever happened you’d be looking at it like a business merger and he’d be the sucker in love with a man who didn’t feel the same. Of course, it’s not like that now. Any fool can see you two are made for each other.”
“We are. I want him to stand proud among the other alphas. I want him to realize how much power he has in his own right. I want him to see that I don’t have a problem with standing up before representatives of every pack in the States telling them how much he means to me.”
“Well, he’s not going to know any of that unless he’s here.” Troy stood up.
“Where are you going? The ceremony starts in less than an hour.”
“To find Shawn.” Troy was already at the door. “He’ll trace Scott and he and Kane can convince him to come back.”
“That’s all I fucking need; Kane and Shawn laughing at my expense because I can’t handle my mate.” Damien slumped in his chair, wincing as the door slammed for the second time in under an hour. “I should have cuffed him to the bed.” He looked around furtively, but fortunately no one could hear him in the quiet of his office. If he’d suggested cuffs with the mood Scott was in that morning, he’d be dead meat and he knew it.
Scott slammed on his brakes and skidded his bike to a stop as he saw Kane and Shawn appear on the side of the back road he was traveling at speed. “What are you guys doing here?” His heart dropped. “Is it Troy? Is he okay? Has something happened to him?” Scott couldn’t think of any reason why his ex-Alpha and Alpha Mate would look for him.
“Troy’s fine,” Shawn laughed. “Your alpha’s in a bit of a state though.”
“The Almighty Damien can go fuck himself, the conniving bastard.” Scott kicked the stand of his bike so he could get off and hug his friends. He inhaled deeply as Kane held him; the scents of pack and home helping to ease his temper.
“Missed you guys,” he said stepping back and allowing Shawn to hug him too. “Now come on, tell me. Why are you really here? There’s no way Damien would send you after me for a silly row. He barely knows I’m alive just lately.”
“Yeah, there’s probably a bit more going on than you’re aware of.” Kane settled himself on the side of the ditch and pulled Shawn onto his lap. “How have things been, really? I thought you two were getting along a lot better since he declared his love and moved onto his pack grounds instead of staying at the club all the time. I imagine you have more time together now.”
“You’d think that,” Scott flopped onto the ground beside his friends. “I don’t know what went wrong. Things were going great. We kept our mind link open all the time. I never worried about where he was or what he was doing. Hell, we even went on a few dates outside the club and pack. But in this past month…fuck, I don’t know what’s been going on with him. He blocked me this morning, can you believe that, and that’s not the first time either. The bastard’s up to something and he freaking knows he shouldn’t keep secrets from a mate. I hate it.” I hate him, but of course Scott wasn’t going to lie out loud. He knew he loved his bossy Alpha. That was why Damien’s weird behavior bothered him so much.
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe he was planning a surprise for you?” Kane asked quietly.
Scott’s eyes almost fell out of his head. “Surprise for me? I count myself lucky he remembers who I am half the time. Between the pack and his club; fighting those damn challenges every month. Just getting him to go on a date with me takes a week of nagging.”
“Well, maybe this time it’s different. I mean Shawn and I got gussied up in suits; Troy, Anton, Dean and Matthew, Griff and Diablo are all waiting for you back at your pack grounds. Doesn’t that give you a hint that something’s going on?”
“It’s not my birthday.” Scott’s brow furrowed as he watched his friends stand up. Sure enough, they were dressed in their best suits which was so unusual Scott wondered why he hadn’t noticed before. All the men in Cloverleah preferred jeans and t-shirts as their mode of dress.
“No, it’s not, but it’s still a special occasion,” Kane was serious and Scott started to worry. There was no reason for the original pack members from Cloverleah to be in San Antonio. The Cloverleah pack were still in danger from some unknown forces and usually never left their territory. “I know you’re angry with Damien and from the sounds of it you have every right to be. But maybe, just maybe you’ll change your mind when you see what Damien’s been working on this whole time. Please?”
Damn it. Scott could count on one hand the number of times Kane asked him for a favor and still have fingers left over. “Fine,” he scuffed the dirt with his boot, a scowl on his face. “But I reserve the right to yell at him in private. Damn asshole has no right keeping things from me.”
“Fair enough, but keep it in private, okay. Your pack has a lot of important visitors today. You don’t want to disrespect your mate’s position.” Kane’s blue eyes hit his and Scott shook his head.
“No. I wouldn’t do that. Shall I ride back? It will only take me twenty minutes.” He indicated his bike.
“Might be a good idea,” Kane and Shawn shared a grin. “But don’t be late. You have to be back on pack grounds by noon.”
“Noon, right.” Scott got back on his bike as Kane and Shawn disappeared. What happens at noon? Oh fuck, is Damien meeting a challenge he didn’t want me to know about? His worry increasing, Scott kicked his bike into gear, turning in a spray of gravel as he headed back the way he’d come.
“He’ll be here.” Kane patted Damien’s arm as they stood waiting in the pack circle Damien had ordered cleaned for this special occasion. Usually the sight of his numerous challenges, Damien didn’t want a hint of blood in the dirt under his feet. All the rocks had been freshly painted and for the first time, Damien was in the circle fully clothed.
“You know, we’ve probably got time for a quick challenge before the main event.” Damien looked over to see his friend Forest grinning at him. Forest was the alpha of the Louisiana pack. The diminutive alpha had bested almost as many challenges as he had; loners often mistaking Forest’s small size for weakness.
“Schedule a time with Madison,” Damien smiled and hugged his friend. “I don’t want any of your blood spoiling this fresh lawn I’ve had laid specially for today. Have you met Kane Matthews, Alpha of Cloverleah and his mate, Shawn?”
“Kane, pleasure to meet you. Shawn, I remember. Wasn’t he one of yours a few years back?” Forest asked, his handsome face splitting into a grin as Kane growled.
“Never mine, although not for the want of trying. Scott comes from Cloverleah. Shawn’s a shifter guardian.”
“Then you should’ve tried harder,” Forest laughed as Kane’s growls got louder. “Not that you need the powers of a guardian on your side. But where is this mate of yours? I thought you’d have him on a collar and lead, ready for the big event.”
“I can tell you’ve never met Scott.” It was Kane’s turn to laugh.
“Yeah, he’s not the collar and lead type. I didn’t tell him about all this either, so there’s no telling what sort of mood he will be in. But I can hear him coming now. He’s going to make one hell of an entrance.” Damien’s heart stuttered as he heard the rumble of Scott’s bike, thundering down the driveway. “Places everyone.”
To Be continued in a few days J
A Tiger's Tale
Arrowtown Series #1
(M/M, Shifters, true mate, MPREG, HEA)
Seth Carmichael never did anything wrong, but instead of working at the local library, he was running for his life. His herd was hunting him and with few resources, Seth's options were fading fast. Until, that is, he heard the rumble of a motorcycle. Peeking through the tree he was hiding in, he couldn't believe his eyes. Had salvation come in the form of a badass biker?
Ra (no last name and proud of it) was a tiger on a mission. He'd scented his mate and then the little rabbit ran away before his teeth could engage. Ra heard the gossip around Arrowtown; he knew his mate was a hunted man. But if the sweet man was on the run, he needed someone to look after him; Ra figured he was the right man for the job.
A meeting, a mating and yet another meeting. What should have been a straight forward relationship turned into so much more on their very first outing as a mated couple. Now Ra has to count on the strength of his mate and the help of his friends, if he and Seth are ever to have the HEA they'd planned for. And what was with all these Fae turning up out of the blue?
Warning: Contains a tiger who keeps putting his foot in it; a tiny lop-eared rabbit who is stronger than he looks and a bunch of friends who’ll hide a body, no questions asked.
Amazon.com - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XGYW1K4
Amazon.UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XGYW1K4
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711199
Seth was shaking so hard he was sure his skin would burst. Every time he’d seen Ra, and that was often, he’d made sure to keep his distance. One time, just one time he’d got caught off guard. He’d caught a mating scent. Something he never dreamed would happen to him. And when he realized who that scent belonged to; he was happy to be lunged at until he saw Ra’s teeth were showing. He’d freaked out. He’d admitted that to his friend. But then life as he knew it came crashing down around his ears….
“You shouldn’t be holding me. There are people looking for me.” See, Seth did know how to be a good mate. He didn’t want his big tiger getting into trouble. “You’ll be hounded out of town if they know you’ve seen me. In fact,” his lip trembled, but he had to follow through, “you should turn me in. My herd’s offered a huge reward for my capture. Your club could do with the money.”
Ra laughed and it was a lovely sound. Seth committed it to memory for when his end time came. It would be soon, he knew it. He couldn’t keep running and if Ra found him, it would only be a matter of time before Gareth did too. “I’m not taking you anywhere but home with me, little precious. But first, I thought we’d have a picnic. I brought food and beers. You do like salads, don’t you and Cam told me bunnies love honeydew beers.”
Ra looked so hopeful, so at odds from his usual fierce expression. Seth knew he shouldn’t stay, but…hell, if he was going to get caught anyway, he might as well enjoy his last meal. “Thank you,” he said softly, staring at Ra’s face. “No one’s ever done anything this nice for me before.”
“You need feeding up,” Ra said gruffly, but Seth wasn’t afraid this time. His mate had a soft side and had gone to a lot of trouble just for him. Seth wished his life was a fairy tale, where the good guys got to live with the handsome heroes, but real life wasn’t like that. Not for a rabbit shifter like him.
“Can you put me down, only that food does look really good, and you probably want to eat too,” Seth suggested when Ra didn’t seem inclined to move. He was just staring at him like he’d never seen anything so…Seth wasn’t sure what, but his whole body warmed under the scrutiny.
“You can eat sitting on my lap.”
Seth wanted to smile. It seemed Ra had a stubborn streak too. But at least he was heard, because Ra moved over to the blanket and sat down, reminding Seth of another problem currently nudging his ass. “You didn’t get to finish,” he whispered, unsure how comfortable tigers were with talking about sex.
“I’ll get to it later,” Ra seemed more confident now, peeling off lids from freshly made salads that made Seth’s mouth water. “I don’t know what all this green stuff is, but my friends tell me it’s fresh and good for little prey…er…vegetarians.”
“It looks amazing,” Seth said, determined to overlook Ra’s verbal hiccup. “We eat meat as well, just not often when we’re out. Some places aren’t very honest about the meat they put in stews and things.”
“Hmm, I see your point,” Ra said gravely. “So you won’t mind if I eat meat then? I promise it’s lamb.” He pulled out a foil wrapped joint that could only have come from a larger animal.
Seth chuckled. “If that came from a rabbit, I’m glad I didn’t meet him. It’s huge.”
Ra seemed to think that was funny too, and Seth dug into the prepared salads, savoring every mouthful.
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
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