Alec paced around the small tent standing at the top of a hill. He scented the air. No trace of Seath. She should’ve been here hours ago. The vampire’s uneasiness continued to grow as he stopped periodically to look for traces of her on the wind. Not a hint of the cinnamon, vanilla, and moss scent he’d associated with her for centuries.
Settling himself on the ground, he closed his eyes. Darkness would fall soon, and while he didn’t worry about Seath–in her wolf form, she could protect herself–he did worry about how history affected them. As his breathing deepened–a bodily function he didn’t require, but found soothing–he fell into a meditative state. Centuries of memories washed through him. Focused on Seath. Their connection. The way he’d been searching for her since their separation.
A snuffling sound broke him from his reverie.
She sat next to him, in her wolf form, tossing her head playfully. The sun had set, and the sky was dark. The beginnings of starlight poked through the darkness.
“You staying like that for a reason?” He held his hand out for her to sniff.
She licked his palm.
“Gross.” Sliding his palm down his thigh, he rose.
Seath bounded around the tent before returning to him, her nose nudging his elbow.
Alec’s fingers twined through the coarse fur at the scruff of her neck, and his fingers scratched at her skin. She leaned into his hip and sighed.
“The sky is clear, and we’re supposed to be able to see the northern lights tonight. I think you’d appreciate them more in your human form.” His finger stilled and tugged gently at the fur.
Seath whined, and stood. She stared at his face for a moment before tossing her head and trotting behind the tent.
Alec hated the sound of her transformation. He heard the crackle and snap of her bones reconfiguring and her labored breathing as her body changed to its human form. He wanted to cover his ears but instead reached into the tent and drew out a woolen blanket.
It only took a few moments for her to transform. He’d watched once, and promptly vomited up his recent meal. After the first time, he avoided being nearby while she changed and she usually moved out of earshot. Tonight, it was different, though. They were on a hilltop in the Keewenaw for a weekend away from the small town they called home.
He heard her groan and rounded the tent.
Wrapping the blanket around her as he lifted her into his arms, Alec cradled Seath close to his chest and kissed the top of her head. “I missed you. I was beginning to get worried.”
Her voice was raspy and full of emotion. “I was delayed by pack. They wanted me to stick around this weekend to work with the youngsters on hunting techniques. There may have been an argument.”
He felt her cheek bunch up as she snuggled in closer. “Did you tell them you were spending time with me?”
A beat passed, then two, before she responded. “No. Tensions were too high because I wanted to leave in the first place. I–I didn’t think it was the right time.”
Alec pushed her away from him slightly, enough to see her closed expression. “Chicken. I told you I’d be there for you, but you declined. Repeatedly.”
She wiggled out of his grasp and pulled the blanket tighter around herself as she took a few steps away from Alec. Her warmth, diffused by the chilling air surrounding them, was missed instantly.
“You just don’t get the pack dynamic. While my Alpha may be aware of us, he’s going to make me fight my own battles and dispel the deep-seated belief that all vampires are evil, out to destroy us.” She shook her head. “And it’s not going to be pretty when I do tell them.”
Alec stepped toward her. “I know. That’s why I said I’d be there. To show them I’m different. And how much I love you.” He took another step. “I’m not sure what I have to do to convince you I’ve got your back. And I always have.”
He cupped her cheek with his palm and drew her toward him. She molded into his body as though she belonged there. His fingers slid to her nape and tugged at the hair there, tilting her head up, giving him access to her full lips.
“You are mine, Seath. I share you with your pack because I know you require the connection. But I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to condone their volatile behavior when they hear something they don’t like. And I don’t have to like their judgment.”
His lips brushed across hers.
“We’re an anomaly. We’re not supposed to like one another, let alone have fallen in love. It’s against the laws of nature and pack. You know this. I need to tell the pack in my own way, and when I feel it’s right.”
“That’s fine, but don’t take too long. I want you to stay with me. In my home. All the time.” He kissed her again.
“I know. Soon. Can we forget about this little complication now?” Her warm palms slid around his waist. “I want to enjoy a weekend of uninterrupted time with you.” She rose on her tiptoes to nip at his lower lip.
Spinning her around and trapping her against his body, he whispered, “I’d like that. And the lights dancing in the night sky would be a great thing for you to look at as I have my way with you.”