It’s always important to Clove to support the people he cares about. So when his lover, Elan, asks for a favor, he agrees… Which leads to them backing up Caven on an interview.
Waiting with the people closest to him for the Alpha his friend Mareo talked him into meeting, Kinkade Wolfram is floored when he smells his mate among them.
Jordy was trying to fit in with his new pack by working for Caven and ends up at Clove’s new house because of it. Unfortunately, Kinkade hates everything that is a Kappa, and refuses to acknowledge Jordy as his mate.
Torn between them, Clove has to figure out how to make his family whole before his heart is broken. Can Kinkade get over his issues with Kappas and see his past for what it really was? Or will three individuals fated to be mates with each other end up two separate couples under the same roof?
Beyond the Marius Brothers 7 (Marius World 20)
Copyright © 2013
“I need a favor,” Elan asked me hesitantly. I smiled at him and then dropped to my knees and opened the fly of his jeans. “Nooo, not that kind of favor.”
“You don’t want a blow job?” I blinked up at him in shock. Ever since Elan and I had started seeing each other, I spent a lot of time on my knees. The man loved receiving oral in a way I’d never experienced with any other lover. But he was always very, very appreciative so I didn’t mind. In. The. Slightest.
“My dear, I always want your sweet lips wrapped around my cock,” he chuckled, cupping my cheek, and shook his head. “But not right now. There’s something weighing on me and I need your help.”
“Anything, Elan. You know you have only to ask and I’ll help any way I can.” He nodded and held out his hand to me. I took it and he pulled me into a tight hug, shivering slightly.Read More
“My brother has been found. He’s mated to Virgil Marius.”
“I’ve met both of Virgil’s mates. Which one?” I kept my tone gentle. I’d known Elan had been searching for his long-lost brother for centuries but he never told me his name.
“Mareo. I saw him the night of the battle and just about fell over. He was busy helping Virgil afterwards and it wasn’t the time to approach him. But things have calmed down.” I snickered at that one. “Well, as calm as they get for this coven and our world, and I spoke with Virgil. He says Mareo is open to seeing me. I don’t want to go alone. I know we’ve not really announced our relationship, but I was hoping you’d at least go with me as my friend.”
“Of course. I’m not against telling people. I care for you a great deal, Elan. It’s just hard when people don’t really date because our mates are out there waiting for us. Some people judge at forming attachments when the gift of a mate could find us at any moment and then we could have a mess on our hands.”
“I know, it can be the same way with the fae,” he sighed. “I’m just tired of being alone and I really like you.” I tried not to wince that he put the alone first in his reasoning. “I know you’re four hundred and fifty and I’m not saying that’s not a long time to wait for a mate. But I’m going to be five thousand, Clove. I think I’ve given up hope.”
“Well we can’t have that,” I said firmly. “Let’s go reconnect with your brother and then we’ll come up with a plan to start finding your mates.” He pulled away and raised an eyebrow at that one. “Hey, I’m an open-minded guy. We could start bringing people into our bed. There’s a shitload of vamps at Isaac’s house few people have ever even met because they’re kind of reclusive and ‘off’ I guess. But we like strange and quirky. You go pick some up and we’ll see if any fit.”
I blushed at that. I hadn’t meant to make it sound dirty. He caught it though and gave me a smirk. “If they fit where?”
“You know what I mean. So we’re together but we’ll play. I can smell my mate. You can’t. I won’t cut you off from finding your other halves.” I held his chin tightly, staring into those ocean-blue eyes that swept me away. “And you will find your mates. I know it.”
“You’re the best,” he whispered. He kissed my cheek and hugged me again. He grabbed a few things and we headed out the door. I smiled as he held my hand on the drive over to the Mariuses’, thinking I’d handled that well. I had wondered why we weren’t going to Virgil’s house, but Elan had told me that there was something else going on that his brother was helping Alpha Caven with so that was where we were headed.
Which was good because they were closer to Barnabas’s estate. And it sucked because I was hoping for an excuse to go to the housing development to see my house. It was scheduled to be completed today, and I really just wanted to bask in the glow of my first real home being all mine. I had told Elan, but with all this going on with his brother, I wasn’t upset he forgot. There was still time to go see my house after he got to talk with Mareo.
Elan was quiet as I drove, and again, I understood. His mind had to be racing. If my brothers showed up out of the blue, I’d be pissing orange cows. Though, he wanted to see his and I really hoped I never had to see mine again. They were just trouble. And mean. Couldn’t forget how mean they always were to me.
I parked in the circular drive after we got past the gates and shut off the car. I gave Elan my best encouraging smile and we got out. The door was opened before we could even knock and I smiled at the butler.
“Hey, Henry. How’s the family? Is Padget coming home soon?”
“You never cease to amaze me, Master Clove,” Henry chuckled as he gestured to follow him. “All the people I let into this house, have talked with over the years, and you are one of the few who not only remembers my name but always asks about me personally.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” I looked at him with a raised brow. “You’ve been with the Mariuses forever. You’re a good man and you’ve always been nice to me. I remember the first party I came to here, brand-new warrior, scared out of my shell to be here, and you kept checking on me. You didn’t have to do that, but it’s who you are.”
“Thank you.” He gave me a slight nod at that and a smile. “Yes, Padget is coming in the next month or so now that his schooling and internship are over. He’s very excited that King Rylan and Queen Magdalena are looking for vampires with liaison and political skills. I have his résumé to drop off later today.”
“Who has liaison and political skills?” Elena Marius asked as we entered the kitchen. “Clove, Elan, so good to see you.”
“You as well, Councilwoman,” we both said, Elan giving a slight bow by just tipping his shoulders. I was a little more informal and hugged her.
“Glad you’re all healed up. Thanks for the rescue,” I whispered in her ear. “You totally saved my bacon in that battle. I know everyone kept telling you to leave and I’m sorry you got hurt but I’m really glad you didn’t go.”
“You’re very welcome.” She pulled out of my arms and patted my cheek. “You were busy upping everyone’s power with your gift. Someone should have been doing a better job of watching your back.”
“There were just too many. We kept getting separated,” Elan said, wincing. “When you saved Clove, I had just jumped out of the way of one of those cages keeping the humans so that put extra space between us.”
“I understand. You fought valiantly, Elan. Nothing ever goes according to plan.” She smiled at both of us and then turned to Henry. “Who do you know that’s knowledgeable in the minefields of politics? I would have said your youngest son but he’s still got another year left on his internship.”
“No, Councilwoman,” Henry chuckled, shaking his head. “You’ve been busy this year so I’m not surprised you think that. He comes home soon.”
“Oh! I want to see his résumé then. Padget was always a sharp boy. I’m coordinating the Queen’s new staff. We’re going to get her a think tank of the best of every species to aid her with everything, and she’s going to start passing off some tasks to her fae elite to start helping. My understanding is some have enough magic to help her with what she’s been racing around doing for everyone. It’s just not right.”
“That sounds like my Queen,” Elan sighed. “When we first got here, Asterio and I told Barnabas to have anyone seek us out that might want help that required magic. She zapped us when she found out, telling us we didn’t need to take on her headaches. It seemed my persistence on the topic bothered her so that’s why I was given the role of Caven’s bodyguard for a while to give her some air.”
“What can you do that would help the Queen?” Elena asked cautiously. “I know you’re older so you’d be good at protective magic and a warrior so there’s any form of fighting magic but I’m missing what else.”
“My brother is one of the best potions makers our kind has ever seen,” Mareo said from further into the kitchen. “He can open portals as I have been with the talisman the Queen gave me, but unlike when I do, he doesn’t have to tap into the Queen’s power.”
“That’s true. I can’t hold it for as long as Magdalena can but I can open portals and do lots of other things,” he muttered, his eyes not leaving Mareo’s. “I’ve missed you, brother.”
“I’ll make sure to spread the word to start calling you with some of the smaller issues then,” Elena said quietly. “Excuse me, I didn’t mean to intrude. You boys catch up.”
Elan smiled as she left with Henry, shaking his head. “What’s so funny?” I glanced between him and the door she’d just gone through.
“I’m probably three times her age and she just called me a boy,” he chuckled.
“Elena is like that,” Mareo agreed. “She’s mother to seven warriors and many more adopted ones. Our age is not a factor because we’re her boys.”
“So you’re happy then?” Elan moved closer and I kept at his side. Mareo smiled widely and nodded. “Good, good. I’m glad. I’m sorry, Mareo. I was so wrong. I was the biggest asshole, and when the Queen finally smacked some sense into me, I couldn’t find you. It seemed every time I was in this world looking for you, you’d visit home.”
“You were looking for me?” Mareo whispered.
“For centuries,” Elan choked out. “I was being selfish. You had every right to want to search for your other mate. It’s that everyone else in our family had either left or passed. I couldn’t take being left again and all alone. I lashed out and wrapped myself in a cocoon of hurt and abandonment. It was wrong. I should have just asked to come with you.”
“You would have been welcome, Elan,” Foma assured him. “It was never about wanting to take Mareo away from you.”
“I know that now but back then that’s all I saw. You were the one who desperately wanted your other mate, and as Mareo’s brother, I saw that as you thought he wasn’t enough for you. On top of which you wanted to take him away from me. I’m sorry to you too.”
“I was never angry nor is there anything to apologize for,” Foma declared. “I just didn’t want Mareo to resent me one day that I had caused this rift between the two of you.”
Mareo gasped and looked at his mate. “I never blamed you. This was our fault, Elan’s and mine, for not handling this better. I made the decision. You didn’t force me. You didn’t give me ultimatums. You made sure I knew I was enough to make you happy and that you loved me.”
“I know, it’s just that I was young and didn’t know what it was like to have the bond of a brother,” Foma said quietly. I shared a glance with Virgil and saw he was feeling what I was… This was going to get us nowhere. They could go in circles for years trying to play the blame game. That wouldn’t help and could potentially make a fight start.
“Well, I’m glad that you guys cleared the air then,” I said hesitantly.
“Yes, Mareo wanted to speak with you even if you weren’t receptive,” Virgil agreed. “But this is way better. The past happened. Mistakes were made. On to getting caught up and healing your relationship.”
Elan glanced between us and smirked. I saw the matching look on Mareo’s face, I mean almost eerily the same. “Who do you think they’re fooling?”
“Right?” Mareo agreed. “Pups these days, I swear. Nice segue, guys.”
“We try,” Virgil drawled. “Let’s eat.”
“You’re hungry again?” Foma teased, getting what we’d been trying to do.
“I have two strong mates who tend to wear me out,” Virgil chuckled, his cheeks heating up slightly. We all laughed at that, sitting down and digging in to the spread before us. I was starving too. I’d been training a lot more lately it seemed. Well, not it seemed. I was. Now with the wolves and the margays and vampires who weren’t warriors that could kick ass better than me, I was feeling bottom of the barrel again… Not that I’d really ever stopped I guess.
No, I knew I hadn’t.
Gabriel and Caven came in, the tension between them obvious. I’d talked with Tyler a bit when discussing my house, and he confided in me when I’d asked about Caven. Not in the gossip kind of way, more he wasn’t a warrior who’d ever gone into battle like that and didn’t know how to help his friend. Caven was really having a hard time with the loss of Fletcher. He felt it was his fault and it seemed no one could convince him otherwise.
“Elan, good to see you,” Caven said with a sad smile.
“I’d say you look well but you don’t,” Elan sighed, standing and going to hug him. “You need to let it go, Caven.”
“Don’t,” he growled.
“No, you’re my friend and I won’t let it go,” Elan shot right back, shocking me with his ferocity and lack of tact. He was normally so in tune with people’s emotions and being gentle with them. “I was there guarding you when you came into the knowledge of who you were and started learning how to control your powers. I saw the kid become a man and a leader.”
“Good for you.” Caven went to walk away but Elan grabbed his arm and slammed him into the wall, pinning him there. Caven struggled and his eyes went wide when he couldn’t get away.
“I’m almost five thousand years old, Caven. You’re a wolf and an Alpha, but I’m still a warrior, and at that old, I’m very powerful.”
“Why are you doing this?” Caven whispered.
“Because I have been where you are,” he answered gently. “If you don’t let it go you will destroy your leadership, ruin your mating, and you will lose your friends. Did you order Fletcher into battle or did he volunteer?”
“He was there for the planning and when we went over all the risks?” Caven nodded. “I know it’s hard, Caven, but this is not your fault. Not because you were his Alpha or because he died saving you. He made the choice to be there and selflessly give his life for yours, because you were worth that. Honor that sacrifice and him. Don’t destroy your life and yourself. That would be a waste of what he gave.”
“You’re right,” Caven whispered, lowering his head. “I didn’t think of it that way. I was just so wrapped up in guilt.”
“Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, as they say,” Elan chuckled. “Go kiss your mate and take comfort in his support instead of pushing him away. All he wants is to help and make you happy. Be grateful you have a mate to be there for you when you’re going through this. Not all of us were so lucky.” Caven nodded, stood on his toes, and kissed Elan’s cheek. He smiled and ruffled Caven’s hair as he let him go.
Gabriel held his arms open for his mate and Caven just about launched himself into them. I sighed in relief when Gabriel mouthed thank you to Elan. The man only nodded and sat back down.
“Always the guy who can’t stay quiet when he knows he can help,” Mareo chuckled. “That’s why the Queen gets annoyed with you. You won’t shut up even when she orders you to and says no to something.”
“I know, I know,” Elan conceded. “She takes too much onto herself. We can’t lose her, and if she gets any more stressed, she’s going to devastate her mating. She deserves love. I was there when her daughter left and she lost her first mate. There’s a lot of pain inside our Queen. Working herself into the ground won’t heal her.”
They dropped it after that, well for now, and started talking about smaller issues. I could see worry and tension slipping away from Elan and Mareo. Good. I was glad for them. Then Caven said it was just about time to meet the French wolves, and Elan and I just stared at them.
“Beta candidates. We need enforcers and people who know how to fight,” Caven explained. “Mareo and Foma know some badass wolves in France who don’t have an Alpha and don’t want to have a pack again, having had a rough time with their old one and not having the elders step in to help or something. I’m going to go try and talk to them and see if we can get them to join us.”
“Um, maybe you guys could use some more backup if they’re not all about authority or playing nice with a group,” I hedged.
“Sounds great,” Caven agreed. “Thanks. We didn’t want to make a big deal about the meeting and you know the way this coven gossips.” That was the truth. Mareo pulled out a stone and stepped away from the group.
“I got this,” Elan chuckled. “No need to tax the Queen’s power and tire her. Just show me where we’re going.” Mareo nodded and smiled at his brother. Wow. They really were going to be okay. I was glad for that. Elan had a lot of melancholy in his heart, and he was too good a person to deserve to deal with it.
I reached out and stopped Caven when he went to go through the portal. “You never go through first. You’ve seen how none of the warriors will let the Queen go first. They go and then stick their arm back through the portal to signal it’s all clear.”
“Or they don’t and she goes anyways,” he chuckled, but gestured for us to go ahead. Mareo, Foma, and Elan went first. Then Gabriel and Caven with Virgil and I pulled up the rear.
After I was done dealing with the tightness the portal always put on my body, I shook my head. “I swear that thing knocks out my senses for a few minutes. I can’t smell crap.”
“On our end too,” a soft voice said quietly. “I’ve never seen that before. You have powerful allies, Alpha Caven.” I blinked in that direction a few times, letting my eyes adjust to the Paris night now that the blinding light of the portal was gone since Elan closed it. I held back a flinch. I didn’t know we were meeting with seven wolves.
“Thank you, and thank you for meeting with us,” Caven replied, putting on his Alpha cap. “Wow. I didn’t know wolves could get so big. What are they feeding you guys here? Seriously?” Well, Alpha cap as far as Caven went. He took not wanting to be an uptight leader to a new level. I think most of us found it refreshing and those who didn’t… We didn’t really give a shit about their opinion.
“It doesn’t work for all of us,” the soft voice chuckled, gesturing to his smaller frame.
Caven nodded. “I have the same problem no matter how much I eat.” He shrugged and got back to business. “Mareo, my brother-in-law, speaks very highly of your group. When I said I was looking for good wolves to add to our pack, some with fighting experience, he immediately suggested you. He was also concerned because of the problems in the area that you wouldn’t be safe.”
“You have always been a loyal friend, Mareo,” a deep voice said with a slight growl. I felt my cock fill up in excitement. Damn. I wanted to hear more of that voice. “I’m not surprised you and Foma would be concerned about the safety of friends you’ve made though we’ve not seen you in a decade or so.”
“You leave an impression, Kinkade,” Mareo chuckled. “I was honest with Caven. I don’t know what happened with your last pack or why you keep to the outskirts of werewolf laws and politics, but he is a good leader and we have an elder in the coven. Both of the highest moral and ethics. Come out of the cold, my friend, and be part of a real pack and home.”
“There are too many laws in a pack that we cannot live by,” the man said sadly, but I could see the longing in his bright green eyes at the idea of a home.
“I don’t know what laws your old Alpha had but I have very few,” Caven assured him and then groaned. “That’s not what I mean. I have laws. I mean, I don’t have many on top of human ones. I never saw the need for them. My last Alpha had a shitload of them that benefited him. An Alpha is supposed to enforce rules that help the pack and make it thrive.”
“And there is more than just wolves in your group?” the soft voice asked again. “There would be people we could go to for help if we ended up trapped?”
“We are part of the vampire’s East Coast High Council coven,” Caven answered with a nod. “There are over a thousand vampires now, about a hundred margay shifters, a few hundred fae, and about twenty-five wolves. Oh, and one spotted leopard. He’s gotten the coven’s approval to declare one piece of land a sanctuary for any runaway or excommunicated shifters.”
“Yeah, Rory’s got a lead on a few, I heard Brian and Banning say,” I told him. “They were freaking out because one was a water animal and the vineyard doesn’t have any. I think King Rylan said the shifter could use the stream anytime they wanted though. Or they have a pond too, right?”
“You work that closely with the other species that you ask them for help like that?” Kinkade asked hesitantly. “That is not how most packs or relations between paranormals are.”
“We know. We’re trying to change that.” Caven sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Look, I know this is a big decision and I’m a new Alpha. I could use a couple of Betas who’ve been around the block and would help me. We’re trying to build a new way without losing our identity as wolves. Just come stay with us. Be our guests for a week and check it out. See if you could fit with us. That’s all I ask.”
“That we would be willing to do.”
I sneezed now that my nose was back to normal. Wow. Lots of pollen in Paris this time of year, which I wasn’t used to. I loved the convenience of the portal and hated the effects of it. I glanced over to the big wolf when I heard a loud snarl… Just in time to see him launch himself at me.