Chapter 20 - Zak

Charlie and I are waiting in my office eight minutes later.  We had told Brandon that Devin had a couple of questions and requests about his Gamma ceremony and we had to catch up with my father and his to prepare for the Blue Crescent Pack.

 “You sure you don’t want me to come with you?” Brandon asked.  He seems like he doesn’t want to leave us, and honestly, I don’t want to leave him.  But Devin was clear that Brandon couldn’t be there.

 “Nah, man.  We need your help with training the warriors while we push the paperwork,” I say, pulling him in for a quick kiss.

 “Do me a favor, though?” Charlie asks.

 “Anything, beautiful.  What can I do?” He turns to her, running a hand down her cheek.

 “Work up a good sweat.  I want to help you wash when you get home,” she smiles and kisses him deeply before heading out the door.

 Brandon stares after her for a second.  “How does she do that?” he says, absentmindedly.

 “Do what?” I ask, brow quirking.

 “Turn me on with one sentence and a quick kiss?” he looks at me, his face a mask of shock.

 “Cuz she’s fucking hot,” I say.  I pull him in for a deep kiss.  “And make sure to follow her instructions.  Bathroom sex with you is amazing.

 I hurry out the door before I get pulled into Brandon’s sex appeal again.

 Charlie is sitting on one of the couches as I pace behind her.
 I’m not sure what Devin is going to say, but I’m scared as hell.  No one should know about Brandon being our mate.  Only Lucille.  And she is Goddess sworn to keep our secret for now.  I don’t like this.  Devin is one of our best friends, but if he found out, who else knows?

 “Zak, if you don’t sit the fuck down, I’m going to knock you on your ass,” Charlie finally says.

 “I can’t sit.  I have to move,” I say, not looking at her.

 Charlie takes a breath to say something, but a knock on the door interrupts her.

 “Enter,” I call, turning to face the door.

 Devin and our newest pack member walk in.   

“Devin.  Xander,” I nod to both of them.

 “Alpha,” Xander says, bending at the waist and baring his neck.  “Luna.

 “You don’t have to do that, straighten up,” Charlie says, waving a hand at Xander.  Turning to Devin, she says, “Not that I don’t enjoy the eye candy, Dev, but why is our newest pack member here.

 Devin takes a deep breath.  He turns to Xander and grabs his hand for support, almost without thinking.  “Xander is my mate.

 For a beat, Charlie and I don’t say anything. That’s not possible.  Devin doesn’t turn 21 until tomorrow.  There’s no way they could be mates.  At least, not that they would know right now.

 Then Devin finishes by saying, “One of my mates at least.

           I plop down on the couch beside Charlie, unable to say anything.  I mean, what do you say to that?

           “My thoughts exactly,” Xander says in response to the looks of absolute shock on our faces.

           Charlie is the first to break out of her stupor. “I think you should start from the beginning, Dev.

           And Devin proceeds to tell us the most incredible story of his meeting with the Goddess last night. Of our mate trios and of the war to come. Of his female mate’s abduction and beating and the Goddess’s promise to heal Xander’s mom.  And of her orders concerning Devin and Brandon.

            When he is finished with the retelling, we sit in silence for several moments, each lost in our own thoughts.

            “What I don’t understand is how this whole three people mating thing is even possible, let alone being possible twice in a pack,” Xander says, running his hand through his hair.  He and Devin are cuddled together on the couch opposite us and I have to admit that they make an attractive couple.  Devin’s fiery red hair beautifully compliments Xander’s dirty blonde. Xander’s strong features are both mellowed and made more prominent by Devin’s softer angles.  Even though they just met last night, their body language is that of a couple that have been together for years. So it is with the mating bond.  You suddenly have someone in your life that you can no longer live without. The bond creates this sense of having known each other for your entire lives and love blossoms almost instantly.

 “Well, that is where we can help,” I say.  A group of three mates is called a mate trio and it is based on Selene and her two mates.”  I tell Devin and Xander everything Lucille had told us.  It is their turn to look completely dumbfounded.

 “Well, shit!” Devin’s eyes as round as saucers.

 “That about sums it up,” Charlie says.

 “I really don’t like that we can’t tell Brandon about this,” I say, “especially with this war coming.  We could use his thoughts on this one.

 “I get that, but the Goddess insisted,” Devin says, a sour look on his face.  “And honestly, if we have to let our mate go to get the shit kicked out of her, you can keep a secret from Brandon for a few days.

           “Babe,” Xander says, placing his hand on Devin’s cheek, trying to get his attention.

            But Devin continues to stare at me, tears hanging in his eyes.  It’s almost like if he looks at Xander, he won’t be able to keep it together.

            I stand quickly and walk to sit beside my friend. Gripping his shoulder lightly, I apologize. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t know how you two are even handling this right now. I didn’t mean to act like we had the worst end of this bargain.

          “No,” Devin says on a shaky breath. Xander pulls Devin into his chest.  Devin lets him, leaning into his mate for comfort. Charlie comes to sit in front of Devin on the floor and holds his hand.  “No, I’m sorry. I’m obviously not handling this well.  You have every right to feel the way you do about not telling Brandon, even lying to him. I just…I…” Devin stops as he passes a hand over his face. “I just don’t know how I’m going to let her leave. Even if she rejects me, I’d rather she be safe.

            Tears fall from his eyes as he turns to hug Xander.  Charlie squeezes his leg and I grab hold of his hand. I look up and see that Xander is crying silently as well.  This is fucking great. The Goddess just handed us all a great big bowl of suck and told us to enjoy.  Fucking hell.

           We remain silent, giving Devin and Xander what comfort and support we can.  As part animal, we know that sometimes words can’t truly express what you are feeling and that touch is the only thing that can help.  Charlie gets up on the couch behind Xander and I scoot closer to Devin. We envelope them in our arms and let them cry.  It feels like this won’t be the last time it happens.

             After a while, Devin’s cries quiet and the tears on Xander’s face stop.

             We all sit up, but remain touching each other.  Charlie has her arm sling around Xander’s shoulder, Xander is holding onto Devin’s waist while Devin leans into his body, and Devin and I hold hands.

             “When all of this goes down, I think that we need to have Lucille there,” Charlie says.  “The Gamma ceremony, the Beta ceremony, and the entire time that the Blue Crescent Pack is here. Maybe even when your mate comes back.  We need someone who can understand and explain the Moon Goddess’s will.

             “Agreed,” I say. “I’ll mindlink her to see how she is doing and if she needs anything as soon as we’re done here.

             “No need,” Devin said.  “I had an omega go to her house to check on her right after I mindlinked you this morning. The omega says that she is doing well, but was on the point of dehydration.  Despite Lucille’s protests, I’m having the omega stay until after dinner time.  I will be getting updates every hour and I’ll relay them to you”

 “Thank you, Dev,” Charlie says, smiling.

 “Ok, we need to figure out how this is going to go and the two ceremonies.  And we need to start stocking up on food and necessities for the war, expanding our guard teams and schedules, and increasing training regimenes to ensure that everyone is ready for when the war starts,” I say, listing off items.

“We can’t tell the pack that war is coming without anything ever being declared. We haven’t even met with the Blue Crescent Pack and they are the ring leaders of this whole thing.  The pack, the elders, everyone will think that we are crazy!” Charlie exclaims.

“I think that we have to.  We should tell them all about the Goddess’ visit to convince them that Dev should keep his position and accept me as his mate,” Xander says, speaking up for the first time in our meeting.  “We don’t have to tell them about the mate trios or about Brandon.  But I do think that we need to prep them that a war is coming.  We don’t have to say from whom, even though we all know.

I assess him with a new light and Devin’s face beams with pride.  “I think that is wise council, Xander.  And I agree.  We can’t leave the whole pack in the dark about something this big.

“It might also be a good idea to start firming up some alliances,” Xander says, looking at me.  “Reaching out to packs who either owe you big enough or are good enough friends that they will help out.

“Charlie and I can do that over the next couple of days,” I say.

“And Xander, Brandon, and I can start training the warriors, as well as preparing some defensive positions and escape routes for the pack,” Devin says.

“And our parents can start stockpiling everything that we’ll need for an extended war,” Charlie says.

I nod, mentally compiling a list of packs to call.  “We have until the Gamma ceremony tomorrow night to set up our plans.  And we need to find a Delta to replace Charlie, since she is now Luna.  With war coming, we need to be at full strength.

Mindlinking Charlie, I tell her my plan.  She gives me a dazzling smile and enthusiastically nods her head.

“What about it, Xander?  Will you become our Delta?” I ask.

Xander’s face is full of the shock and surprise he feels.  “Me?” he asks, pointing to his chest.  “I just got here.

“That’s perfect!” Devin says, his smile big enough to show all of his teeth.

“I thought so,” I smile.  “Yes, you, Xander.  You have already shown a head for strategy and logic and, based on the reports from your former alpha, you are an accomplished and skilled warrior.  I would be proud to have you as part of our pack leadership.

“I am honored, Alpha,” Xander says, bowing his head.

“None of that!” Charlie says, pulling an even more surprised Xander into a hug.  “We are Charlie and Zak and you are our family now.

After a beat, Xander hugs her back, but his eyes are all for Devin as he grins.

“Good,” I say as I stand.  “I’ll make the arrangements to have the Delta and Gamma ceremonies together tomorrow night.  After you both take your oaths, you can announce that you are mates and we will tell the pack about the war.

“Then we just have to wait three days more for Brandon’s ceremony and acknowledging our mate bond,” Charlie says, eyes twinkling.

“Another day more to greet the Blue Crescent Pack and meet our mate,” Devin adds, sad eyes seeking out Xanders.

“And two days after that to get our mate back for good,” Xander says firmly.

“Piece of cake,” I mutter as we all head to our separate tasks.

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