PART ONE    —  ( Here is the link to PART TWO)

It had been a day since they had taken Dante and the only thing Devon and Eva would say about Derek was that he had stayed behind to help his sister and her mate get things back in order. She couldn’t be angry with him for wanting to spend time with his sister, she saw her brother all the time, but recalled a time when they had been separated. They were separated once again and things were not right. Mira could have forced herself to move forward. She had done this alone before. But she also had to admit to herself that she missed Derek. He would listen to her and advise her and never judged her. She needed him.

Mira picked up her bag and left the office. She used magic to take her to the portal knowing it’d take forever to get there by other means. She was glad that she had dressed light in black leggings, boots and a loose blouse. The portal was busy but that was a usual thing. She was thankful that it was dark because it made using her energy much easier.

When she caught sight of the blonde it was obvious that the human hadn’t in turn spotted her yet. Mira made her way up to her friend and tapped her shoulder, “Ashley, how long have you been waiting for me?”

“Oh, for the…” Ash had actually started when Mira tapped her shoulder. “I’ve been texting you. Don’t you know how that shit works?” Ashley turned to look at Mira and then her frown became a goofy half-smile before she held her arms out.

Mira hugged her compatriot and looked around. “Any signs of the dragon?”

“She was here but then left again and said she’d be right back. She has business in Iona, seeking information on the situation going on with the dragons that she says might tell us something about the reason you and your brother were targeted. Also, they may have come across another bunch of slayers, you know? The illegal weapons used against supernaturals?”

“Really? She got me one last time…” Mira realized then that perhaps she hadn’t given the dragoness the credit she deserved for being a wiley sort. The dragon knew there were more slayers and she had only offered Mira ONE in exchange for the deal binding to be shifted on Senias?  Perhaps Inea and Dante had more in common than she had previously thought.

“This thing has me really on edge. I’ve not gotten any sleep. It’s like, really exciting. I’ve always wanted to go over to the other side. And Inea said that we were welcomed to come as her guests to the fighting pits in Iona for this business deal. So it has my nerves all tied up.”  Ashley hated to admit it, but she was always the one with her head on her shoulders and always the one who did the safe thing – and now she was stepping over to the other side? They made humans into slaves there! She had to keep her guards up and stay with her friends.

Nearby, a small yellow-blue portal opened and Inea stepped through. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, a backpack over one shoulder. Her hair was braided down one side.

“Are we ready?” She asked her compatriots.

“Definitely. I can’t wait for you to tell me all about Iona. Maybe you can do that along the way?” Mira smirked. Inea shrugged before walking behind the other two toward the guardians of their private portal to the other world. Mira led them both into the shimmering purple veil and once on the other side she was thankful for the darkness that allowed her easy travel.

“Okay, I have to see Derek Weylyn before we go to Iona.” 

“I know. I have no interest in the lycan situation at the moment. I’ll cast the portal for you and I’ll head to Iona to be sure we’re received well.” Inea had no interest now that her love was not with her.  Being there would simply remind her of what she did not have access to.

“He’s at the Weylyn Palace with the others. Right? Would they know us?” Ashley was now concerned. 

Mira looked to Inea, choosing to ignore Ashley. She nodded, and the dragon raised her hand, palm out so that the magical energy flowed from her to a portal.

“Let’s go,” Mira grabbed Ashley’s hand and tugged her through. They were very quickly finding themselves on the outside of a massive amount of bodies dancing to drum-heavy music around a gigantic bonfire in a field. On one side of the field were buildings and what looked to be either a keep or a castle. On the other sides were hills and forests.

“If he has a thing with you, why’d he stay and not come back to you?” Ashley asked.

There was a look of patient irritation on Mira’s lovely face as she looked back at the blonde.

The expression on her friends face told her that was the wrong question. “Well, he’s lycan, I had to ask. Besides, …I… well, nevermind. Let’s just go.”

 “I believe he stayed to help his sister get the Pack back in order along with her mate. Besides, he hasn’t seen her in a long time and he wanted to visit with her longer. Nothing against that is there?” Just inside the darkness Mira stopped and looked Ashley in the eyes, “Now what else were you going to say? You’ve never held your tongue before so why do so now?”

Ashley pursed her lips and her eyes got a bit larger as she took on this thoughtful expression. It wasn’t that she wasn’t going to tell Mira, she was just gauging how to say it.

“He and my little sister hooked up. More than once, Mira. He kind of got attached and she didn’t want to be so, bad feelings all around. Things were awkward and I just – I want you to be sure before you do the same thing. Like, you aren’t under his spell or something, are you?” 

Mira sighed. “No. It’s not a spell.” She kind of wished it had been a spell.  Maybe then, there would be an antidote?

“What? Don’t be mad – he’s hot. Have you seen that ass? Oh, wait… yeah, you have a thing with him…obviously you’ve seen the ass.” Ashley smirked and winked at Mira.

Mira rolled her eyes as she linked her arm with Ashley’s, “I’m not really mad, how can I be? He knows what I am and we both know I’ve had more lovers through my bed than he can keep track of. So him having been with your sister? It doesn’t change this thing between us.” She gave a soft laugh, “Now lets see if I can find that ass.”

The demoness had never been there, but her brother had and so Mira had gleaned the location from him. Mira felt the heavy rhythmic beating of drums and closed her eyes for a moment to just enjoy the sound-waves against her body.  She kept them out of sight with magic and simply watched the activity below. There were those gathered, dancing and yelling and frolicking around the big bonfire, there were those at tables surrounded by torches and huge kegs and barrels of ale and probably moonwine. Then, there was a dais made for the Alpha and his family and visiting guests, also surrounded by torches.  The demoness was looking for one particular lycan within the mass and that was no simple task. “I thought they already had the celebration..”

“Well, if they had the other celebration before, it was definitely not a full moon celebration. That’s a very different thing,” Having grown up around lycan, Ashley actually knew a lot about them.

When she finally caught sight of his shirtless form there was no doubt that it was indeed Derek Weylyn. It seemed he was thoroughly enjoying himself at whatever party they had going on. The demoness had thought he’d have missed her, it seemed that she was the one that had been doing this missing.

Ashley followed Mira’s gaze and squinting, she saw Derek there surrounded by lovely ladies. He was painted up and moving through the crowd toward a dais that held tables and large torches to light everything. She supposed the Alpha and his mate – Derek’s sister were standing there when Derek came up the steps. Nearer the large bonfire further out, the females were separating from the males. The drums beat harder and the lycan females went sprinting and shifting and running up toward the forests and hills. 

Mira turned from the scene as she drew in a deep breath, “I think we can go to Iona now. Inea will be thrilled to see us so soon.” Her heart hurt, but she’d go on.. She always did.

“You sure about that?” Ashley looked over at Mira.  “If you have a thing with him…shouldn’t you be doing your thing with him?”

“Why should I? He seems to have a nice following of other women who are… more like him.” Mira bit her bottom lip. Why bother?   

“This is a full moon hunt. This is where females go to be hunted by the males… or well, you know partners and mates are found? If you’re serious about this thing – how better to show him than to show up out of nowhere to let him hunt you?” Ashley thought it’d be cool to do that. She’d always though the hunts were an awesome way to blow off steam for some and to actually help lycan find one another.

Mira glanced down at the gathering again and then at her friend, “Does it look like he’s waiting for me to surprise him Ash, or does it look like he’s ready to hunt one of those painted females down? If he was serious about our thing would he be painted up and hunting?” She backed away several steps and turned to walk down the opposite side of the hill away from the lycan.

“I guess, if you just want to give up. I mean,” Ashley shrugged, but looked back over her shoulder at her friend. 

The drumming stopped and Mira heard the howls of the lycan fill the air. Mira stopped and turned to look back up at Ashley. “I’m not giving up. I’m choosing my battles.” She crossed her arms and waited as her friend turned back away from her to keep watching the lycan below. 

“He’s not howling, he’s… fussing at his sister? I’m guessing that’s who it is. She’s very beautiful and standing behind the big lycan with the arm bands – so he’s definitely alpha… so it makes sense that the one next to him and just as fancily dressed would be his mate, right? And they are arguing, dude. He’s not out there having fun with anybody. But…” Ashley cast a sidelong glance at Mira, “…you could be seeing all of this if you were up here and not walking off.”

Mira rolled her eyes and with a soft rumbling purr of annoyance the succubus marched back up the hill and then traded a look with her friend before she marched right down to the lycan gathering.

“Uh… I said watch…” Ashley whispered. She kicked off her shoes and took off running down the hill to try and catch up with her friend. “Are you really doing…this?”

A large portion of the Pack were out on the hunt, but those that were present stopped what they were doing to watch the brazen intruder just stroll right through them without a care. Mira didn’t stop until she stood right before the dais and she glared up at the trio upon it.

“What is so terrible about enjoyin’ your heritage?” Twilight was snapping at her brother around her mate.

Derek paused before responding when he smelled Mira. He turned immediately, “Mira?” Derek smiled. She was here?

Kieran normally wouldn’t get involved in brother versus sister anything. But this was a full moon celebration and he was just trying to keep the pup from getting injured by his own sister. The Alpha’s arm stayed between the two.

“They are unmated and so are you! It’s a hunt for unmated!” Realizing what her brother had said, Twi’s head whipped around to look at the woman that was glaring up at them. So this was the reason he was being an ass? The Alpha female walked to the edge of the dais and hopped down to stand right in front of the demoness. Blue eyes met amber and neither seemed to back down.

“You didn’t come back with the others so I came to see you.” Mira called to Derek as her gaze stayed locked with that of his sister.

Twilight stayed right in the other female’s face, “And what makes you think that you have a right to be here this night? You aren’t lycan and you weren’t invited.”

“Are you saying I’m not welcome here?” Mira finally looked from Derek’s sister to him. “Do you agree?”

“At the peace celebration, Zennie was dancing with Wulf and partying with Jaysson and Lingal, and Rawrly all night. Now I can’t have a guest?” Derek huffed and took a step forward. Kieran let him move. He made a valid point.

There was a rumble from Twilight. If Mira wanted to be his mate then she needed to prove her worth. Twilight had hoped that the half-demon wouldn’t even come to this side and that Derek would find someone in their pack to enjoy. But this wasn’t done with, yet. No. 

“If she’s here to prove her right to have me, she’s welcome. Others not of the pack come for the same reason – to prove their place with one of the pack. Those rules should stand for everyone. Right Alpha?” He looked to Kieran, who was making his way to the edge of the stage and then hopping off. Derek hopped off , too and moved toward Mira. Unfortunately, he very soon had a big hand grabbing his shoulder to keep him from the female.

Ashley watched nervously from behind her demonic friend.

“Twi, we allowed dragons, elves, and demons around us before. There was never any trouble. We won’t let there be any trouble. Derek is from Devon and Eva’s half of the pack, anyway. They’re much more open ta such.”

It was obvious that Twilight didn’t trust the demon and the moon just made her wolf that much stronger.

“Their Pack or ours, he’s my brother and he’s been hurt enough by outsiders.”

That comment embarrassed the lycan. His eyes went to the ground. He shouldn’t have told her.

The big lycan moved between the two siblings and looked down at Mira.

“Why’re you here, girl?”  He swallowed and let his royal tongue speak properly with the outsider, “I have heard about you from him and from my son, Devon, who worries about the boy making the wrong attachments. But, Derek makes good points – in the sake of fairness. Also, your brother helped us win back this land of ours. I owe him to give you a chance. So speak true, are you serious about him or are you just playing  – like demons often do?”

The way the Alpha put it had Mira looking up at him with a new zeal. 

“That’s right we play with our food before devouring it, but I haven’t treated Derek as a meal. If I weren’t serious about him would I have traveled so far just to play? I can’t help decisions that were made before me and I can’t promise it’ll always be great with me, but at least I’m honest with him.” She could feel Ashley right behind her and so she stayed her ground and kept the attention on her. Mira’s chin went up a notch, “I came here for him and I won’t leave without him unless he tells me to leave.”

Derek saw Kieran look his way. The younger wolf shook his head. He would never send Mira away. He missed Mira. He wanted her at his side.

“Then get proper clothed and painted and get your ass out there and let him hunt for ya. But know that the hunted ain’t just hunted by the hunter. You got competition out there.” Kieran chuckled. If the demoness wanted the pup that bad, she’d best be ready to take on the females that wanted Derek, too. She might be lucky, since the hunted had already been released, several might have already been taken out of the running.  

“Ashley?” Derek finally saw the other person in the group.

“Oh, Hi Derek! How… how are you?” Well, this wasn’t awkward.  

“Why are you here?”

“I hitched a ride. I have business in Iona, but Mira’s my friend and my ride… so, guess I get to witness this?” She shrugged and rubbed her cool shoulders.

“Guess so.” Derek couldn’t help the look of confused acceptance on his face. He took Mira’s hands in his. He loved looking into her eyes. “Tonight we prove to them that we’re right for one another. Are you sure I’m worth it?”

“Always,” Mira replied before taking a nice kiss, a taste of him, not much.

There was a whistle from the dais. The Alpha had his arms crossed and his mate had her hands on her hips, not pleased by this decision … at…all…

“That’s my queue to join the other males. I’ll see ya out there.” Derek took off running to join the crowd of men on the other side of the fire.

Dropping her bag Mira used the band on her wrist to yank her hair into a tight ponytail and she whipped off the blouse to reveal the black lace bra beneath. It matched her leggings so she felt it’d work. Turning to her friend she nodded towards the fire, “Stay warm, I’ll be back and then I’ll take you to Iona, but first I need to do this.”

“I know. Do this.” Ashley smiled and took the clothing, draping some over her shoulders. She watched Mira go running off into the hills and forest, into the same direction as so many others had already gone. “Good luck,” Ashley whispered. She found it all so romantic. She barely noticed as more and more lycan danced around her and soon she was laughing, swept up in the fun. 

“Uh, Twi?” Kieran turned to his mate and handed her one of the woven pieces of material that trailed his furred shoulder piece. “May want to go fetch the human before she winds up hurt. Not sure who she is, but for now, both the demon and her friend are guests.” He didn’t need the foolish woman to poison herself on moonwine made for lycan. 

 Twilight took the wool draping. Her eyes went from it to her mate’s face twice before she rolled them and shook her head. “Humans…”   


~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018