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Warriors of the Light 2

Astrids Wish
After a hundred years of abuse, Astrid Reznik has finally found a home. Living amongst the Warriors of the Light, he has all he ever dreamed of, a family. Everything changes when the witch sent by the Council of Paranormal Beings to question him ends up being his mate. Suddenly he desires things from another man he never thought possible. Klaus Marinos is a high council witch whose job is to hunt down evil witches who use their magic for evil. Believing Astrid to be no better, he is shocked to learn besides being mates, the young witch is also half fairy. Astrids an anomaly in their world, and Klaus is forced to protect him at all costs. A kidnapping attempt exposes Astrids true purpose for existing, to destroy the Council. An unforeseen evil threatens to take everything Klaus holds dear, and its up to him and the warriors to protect Astrid. Genre: Alternative (M/M or F/F), Contemporary, Fantasy Length: 63,683 words

ASTRIDS WISH
Warriors of the Light 2

AJ Jarrett

EROTIC ROMANCE MANLOVE

Siren Publishing, Inc. www.SirenPublishing.com

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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK IMPRINT: Erotic Romance ManLove

ASTRIDS WISH Copyright 2012 by AJ Jarrett E-book ISBN: 978-1-61926-761-9 First E-book Publication: June 2012 Cover design by Jinger Heaston All cover art and logo copyright 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission. All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

PUBLISHER Siren Publishing, Inc. www.SirenPublishing.com

Letter to Readers
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Regarding E-book Piracy This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book. The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment. This is AJ Jarretts livelihood. Its fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Jarretts right to earn a living from her work. Amanda Hilton, Publisher www.SirenPublishing.com www.BookStrand.com

DEDICATION
For my parents, who I wish were here today to see my dreams coming true. I love and miss you both every day. Its not good-bye, its a see ya later.

ASTRIDS WISH
Warriors of the Light 2 AJ JARRETT
Copyright 2012

Chapter One
Creamy, white skin glowed against the black silk sheets. A man lay stretched out as if on display for all to see, but he was the only one allowed to look. His mouth began to water as his cock lengthened at the gorgeous sight before his eyes. He couldnt see the beautys face, but it didnt matter. The man was his and his alone. With everything in him, he wanted to claim the man. Make him his, forever. The soft ruffle of the sheets as the man moved had his eyes darting from one corner of the bed to the next. The lithe body shifted and twisted with need, silently begging him to come forward. Like a lion stalking its prey, readying to take it down, he climbed upon the bed and crawled between the mans legs. The stranger pulled his knees up, gifting him with the sight of the prettiest pink pucker he had ever had the pleasure to see. He dropped his hands to the mans quivering thighs and ran his fingertips up their length. The taut muscles twitched with every caress. Soft, milky skin felt like satin under his hands. He continued upward until he reached the mans nipples, lightly pinching and tweaking the little rosebuds until they pebbled under the onslaught. A groan brought his gaze up to the mans face.

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The fuzziness around the edges faded away to showcase the mans features. Blond hair fanned out around the mans head like an angels halo. The bluest eyes he had ever seen stared back at his, and for a split second, a smile curved the mans lips. A sensation of coming home filled him to the brim. He felt complete. The years of yearning for something more vanished, replaced by love. He dropped to his elbows to capture the sweet lips of his mystery man. Raw need and desire fueled him forward. Mr. Marinos, Benedict is needing to speak to you now. He says its urgent. The sound of one of the councils operators voices rang out through his quiet room. Klaus groaned as he rolled over and smacked the bedside intercom. I just bet it is. He yawned and stretched out his arms. Tell that prick Ill be there when I get there. Uh, Mr. Marinos, I dont think I can say that to him, the voice responded back to him. Sending a silent fuck you to the Benedict, he hit the button again. Of course not. Tell him Ill be down in ten. Getting out of bed, he headed to the bathroom to take a quick shower. He dropped his gaze and switched the dial from hot to cold. The hard-on he sported wouldnt be going away without any help any time soon, and he had forgone masturbating centuries ago. So that left a nice cold shower to relieve the pressure tightening his balls into tight little stones. The dream had left him unsettled. Hed never had a dream that realistic before. The man lying on the bed seemed almost too real. The skin, the eyes, and the lean muscles that twitched when he laid his fingers on him were definitely too real. Klaus sighed as he stepped into the shower. He wished it were true, that the man was real. Being alone for so long could drive a person crazy, and maybe he had finally succumbed to the insanity of existing without the love of a mate.

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Quickly washing up, he pushed aside the illusion of ever finding his mate. For him they didnt exist, because if they had, why had fate seen it fit to have him live for so long without one? Fifteen minutes later, he sat before Benedict, getting his next assignment. Youre sending me where again? Klaus glared at Benedict. He must have misheard what the man had said. I need you to go and interrogate this witch living with my son. Benedict shook his head. That boy is always taking in strays, but at least this one might have information on Ashers whereabouts. Klaus kicked his feet up onto Benedicts shiny desk. He saw the man bristle from his boldness. He had to bite back his smile. Let the man get upset. Klaus was older and had the full respect of the council even if, technically, he worked in the same sector as Benedict. Which kind of made the man his boss. I must ask again, whats this hard-on you have for finding Asher? Klaus cocked an eyebrow at Benedict. If you ask me, it all seems rather odd to be wasting the councils time on a vampire who has been missing for centuries. Who may very well be dead. Hes not dead! Benedict shouted as he slammed his hand down on his desk, splintering the wood surface. Well, now they were getting somewhere. Klaus always had his suspicions where the two men were concerned, and Benedicts behavior just kept fueling that particular fire. He dropped his feet to the floor and leaned forward on his elbows. How do you know? Did you gaze into your crystal ball or some shit? he taunted the man. Benedict fidgeted with the papers on his desk, avoiding eye contact with Klaus. I just know, and lets leave it at that. Klaus watched the mask of calm collectiveness slam back into place. Like I stated earlier, Im sending you to a town called Branson, Missouri. That is where my son has currently taken up residency, and youre the one going because youre the only witch I trust around my son.

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Well jeez, thanks. He snatched the papers out of Benedicts outreached hand and thumbed through the report as Benedict carried on. It seems my sons mate has befriended this witch that was being kept prisoner with him. The man was held under Malcolm and Lucians care for over a hundred years. We will be lucky if he doesnt go insane. If it turns out that he is damaged, I dont want him around my son and his mate. Klaus glanced up from his papers. Does this witch have a name? Its not in the report? Benedict clicked away on his keyboard, searching through his computer. Oh here it is. His name is Astrid. Astrid? he asked in disbelief. Are you sure its a man? He chuckled. Who would give a boy such a feminine name? With a moniker like that, the poor guy should be allowed to go a little crazy every now and again. From what my son has told me, this man, Astrid, was sold when he was thirteen years of age to Malcolm. He has no knowledge of where he comes from. He only spoke of a mother. Benedict tapped his fingers on the desktop. Pretty heartless if you ask me. God only knows what Malcolm did to the poor man. And in my book, its better to be safe than sorry. So if this Astrid is going to lose it, Id rather him do it here at council headquarters where we can control the damage. Klaus studied the man. He brought up valid points, but there was more to it. The hairs on the back of his neck rose in suspicion. So let me get this straight. You want me to go and question this guy for information on a witch he may not even know? He arched an eyebrow. Benedict looked up from his computer. Its not just about getting information on Asher, but for the safety of my boy and the other warriors in the house with this Astrid. Klaus chewed at the inside of his cheek. Since when did Benedict give two shits about his son? Klaus wasnt the most sensitive man, but

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Benedict lacked emotions more than he did. The man operated like a machine. Benedict was one-track minded and focused strictly on his job. And as of late, that focus had squarely been directed toward a vampire who had been missing for centuries now. Benedict, you dont have to tell me your reasons, but dont sit there and tell me its because of your sons safety that you want this witch. Klaus leaned forward and pointed his finger at Benedict. It is the truth, he shouted back. Contrary to what everyone else thinks, including my son, I do care about him. Klaus didnt want to argue with him. In the end it wouldnt get him anywhere, and he would still be traveling to Middle-of-Nowhere, Missouri. Fine, whatever you say, Benedict, he said reluctantly. Okay then. Benedict cleared his throat. Like I said, I have the plane fueled up and ready to go. All that is holding up the mission is you. He stood up and headed to the door. Once there, he paused and turned back to the man sitting behind the desk. Benedict, has it ever occurred to you that this man may just, in fact, be an innocent? No one is ever completely innocent. Least of all, witches. Klaus grabbed the door handle and squeezed so tight the metal crushed in his hand. Benedict just didnt know when to leave his mouth shut. Watch what you say, Benedict. Lets not forget that I am a witch. Rules or not, I can end you, Klaus spoke the words real slowly, letting his meaning sink in. Benedict barley batted an eye. Like I said, no ones innocent. He turned his back on Klaus and went back to work on his computer. The man had no fear. Not very many people would turn their back on an angry witch, but Benedict did. A man with no fear was a dangerous man. And what exactly had driven the vampire to such lengths Klaus could only guess. But if Benedict wasnt careful, he would push him to beyond his breaking point, and one day Klaus would make good on his promise.

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Without looking back at the man, Klaus left the room. He slammed the door on his way out and knocked the paintings hanging on the wall crooked. He didnt care if the priceless art fell to the floor. The council had plenty of money to replace the masterpieces ten times over. All the expensive art that littered every flat surface and covered each and every wall was a big fuck you to the founding families of the council. Most of them started off living meager lives without the need for big fancy homes with priceless items, filling it to where it was almost bursting at the seams. The council was supposed to be about banding together with only one goal in mind, and that was to keep the innocents of the world safe. But with every passing year it seemed that objective had changed from protecting what they stood for to how much shit each person owned. Klaus remembered when he was a child growing up. His parents werent wealthy, but they were rich in love. He had his mother and father, and that was all he needed. His father was on the Council, but back then it was just known as a coven. It consisted of witches that choose the path of good versus evil. As time progressed, vampires and shifters started to join in the ranks of defending others. They came together on common ground to settle their differences and work together to destroy the evils of the world. Klaus let out a heavy sigh as he walked down the long stretch of hallway that led to his room. He longed for the simpler times when he and his family farmed their land and only got involved with council business when the situation was dire. His father had always told him to pick his battles because some fights werent worth getting involved in. He believed that, too. A bitter chuckled rumbled in his chest. That foolishness cost him his family. Sometimes in life, a person had to bring the battle to the enemys doorstep and catch them unaware. Had he thought that way centuries ago, his parents might still be alive today.

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All he wanted while growing up was to find his mate, fall in love, and settle down on the same land as his folks. Maybe even raise a few children. Give his mama the grandkids she always dreamed of. But that was a fools dream now. The death of his parents caused a part of his soul to die. Now his lifes mission was to protect others from the same lonely faith he suffered. Klaus finally reached his bedroom door, twisted the knob, and walked inside. All upper council members lived on site for safety reasons. There were times Klaus hated being surrounded by people day and night. Sometimes a man needed to be alone with his thoughts, with no distractions. That was the only good thing about traveling as much as he did. It gave him the opportunity to be by himself. Back in early days, he liked it for other reasons. He smiled to himself as he remembered several of those reasons. Mainly the endless stream of men that paraded in and out of his life. Being immortal, with the looks and body of a twenty-seven-year-old, had its advantages. All he had to do was spout off some cheesy pick-up line, and the humans bought it hook, line, and sinker. If they only knew what they invited back to their beds. The things he could have done to them was unimaginable. But after a few hundred years of that, it got old. One faceless man after another didnt hold its appeal anymore. Hell, he didnt even have to flirt with them anymore. All he had to do was tell them he wanted to fuck, and just like that, they would drop trou and let him have at it. Crazy how humans were so reckless with their own lives. Death was inevitable for them. One would think they would treat that precious gift a little better. But time and time again, instant gratification proved more important than longevity. When Klaus entered his room, he headed for the closet to grab his travel bag. He tossed in a couple days worth of clothes, more than enough. All he had to do was mark a new vamp as a Warrior of the Light, so others would know he wasnt dangerous, and to make sure a witch wasnt a possible threat. Piece of cake.

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Vampires were funny like that. If a vampire didnt come from a well-known family, coven, or part of the Light, others assumed they were evil and needed to be taken out. Especially if turned by a dark warrior. And all paranormals thought that witches were the evil, heartless bastards of the bunch. Over the years, with the help of Benedict and his son Ben, the council had changed their way of thinking. But there were so many old paranormals that still lived by old laws that the best way to save these innocent paranormals was to mark them with the Warrior of the Light crest. It could only be given magically by a witch of the council. Klaus grabbed his shaving kit and headed into the bathroom to get the rest of his things for the trip. He flipped the switch and flinched at the sting of the bright light that blinded him. His eyes started to water. The crazy hours he kept didnt allot for much time to rest. He gazed up at the man reflected back at him. The stress of the job had started taking its toll on him. Bags marred the skin under his eyes. It was a good thing he wasnt out looking for a piece of ass. He would scare away any potential suitors. Klaus threw the smaller bag into his suitcase and walked out of his room. The plane was ready, and there was no time to waste. Benedict had been adamant on him questioning this witch ASAP, and he took his job seriously. Klaus was a bounty hunter of his own kind, as well as other paranormals, but mainly witches. Shifters and vampires feared a witchs power, so the council thought it best to send other witches to collect the magical beings. It did make since. Klaus was old, and with age came power so in the witching community he held a lot of clout and respect. A witch would think twice before trying to cast a spell on him. But with that respect came fear. He hated knowing how everyone he had ever met or would ever meet would automatically hate him because of him being a witch. They respected him out of fear, not loyalty, and that dug a little at his soul.

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Klaus loved his job. He helped keep innocent people safe, be it from witches, vampires, or one of the many species of shifters. But all paranormals knew quite well he wasnt above using magic to get what he wanted. He wouldnt think twice about killing one to save many. It was part of the job, and no one was perfect. Death was a part of life. He didnt enjoy having to put down some poor paranormal, but if it was for the greater good, so be it. He strolled into the councils private hangar. Klaus handed his suitcase to the man at the stairs leading up to the plane. Once inside, he took a seat and buckled in. He had a few hours until they hit southern Missouri, and he planned to use those hours catching up on some much-needed sleep. The plane rolled forward, and he felt the small jolt as it rose into the air. Klaus shifted in his seat. All of a sudden he had a strange stirring in his stomach. It was as if impending doom lay ahead of him. His mama always told him to trust his gut, and right now his gut was telling him to run.

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Chapter Two
Klaus, my boy, come here. Yes, Mama? My dear boy. The older woman rubbed her calloused, workworn hands across the little boys cheek. I had a dream about your future. Oh, Mama, what did you see? the little boy cried with excitement. I saw you all grown. She raised her hands high in the air. Tall like Papa and strong as an ox. The little boy squealed with delight. And one day you will hold great power inside you. She gently laid her hand on his chest. Use it wisely, my son. Always for good. He nodded. What else, Mama? I also saw your soul mate. She rubbed her hand over the boys hair. Hair and complexion of fair. Slight of height. A smile to lighten the darkest of rooms, and eyes so blue you can swim in their deep depths. Sounds pretty, Mama. What is their name? Oh, my son. The woman smiled down at the small boy. I did not see that. Her smile faded, and concern creased her brow. My dear boy, I see struggles coming your way. Be prepared, my son. You must be willing to fight for what you want most. Sir, were here. Klaus blinked his eyes a few times to clear away the long-sinceforgotten memory. The words of his mother mixed with the dream hed had earlier caused his anxiety to rise.

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What does it all mean? With a nod to his driver, Klaus shifted his attention to a large home as it came into view. The house looked like a giant log cabin. How very rustic and appropriate, since, after all, they were miles away from modern civilization. A log cabin only seemed fitting. Once the car stopped, he climbed out. Klaus was eager to be on solid ground after the flight and the two hours spent driving in the car to get to this backwoods town. He couldnt believe people actually chose to vacation here. If humans only knew what it truly was like to rough it, this camping business would hold no joy for them. Klaus followed the stone pathway up to the front door. The iron knocker was of a wolf head. Shifter country, he should have known. He shook his head. Wolf shifters had trust issues, and they hated witches more than they hated silver. He grabbed the large handle and slammed it forward to bang on the solid wood door. It wasnt long before he heard footsteps coming his way. The door swung open to reveal a small man drinking something red out of a cup. His nose twitched at the metallic aroma radiating from the glass. Vampire. Can I help you? The man tilted his head to the side as his gaze ran the length of Klauss body. Yes, my name is Klaus. Ive been sent here by the council. Klaus set his bag down and reached out his hand to shake the young vampires. You should be expecting me. The man looked from Klauss outstretched hand then back to his face. The vampires face paled to a chalky white. The next thing Klaus knew, the front door slammed in his face. He heard the lock click into place. What the hell? Hey! I was sent by the Council of Paranormal Beings. He banged hard on the door. Hello! Another bang.

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He stepped back as the door flung open. The vampire Quinn filled the open space. Look who we have here. Klaus rolled his eyes. He and Quinn didnt get along too well. They had a rocky history that hadnt ended well. Hey, Quinn, is Ben around? We have council business to discuss. Quinns lips pinched together as he stared at him. I know, and must I remind you, I am part of the council, you self-righteous asshole. He stepped back and waved his hand in front of him, signaling for Klaus to enter. He crossed the threshold and surveyed the area. The house was massive. Typical alpha housing. They liked the allure of great outdoor living with all the guilty pleasures of modern society. He wasnt complaining. He loved to have nice accommodations when he traveled. Like I said, is Ben around? Klaus hated to be rude, but he wanted to get down to business. He also didnt feel the need to rehash why Quinn hated him again. Yeah, let me get him. Quinn pointed to the front living room. Go in there and have a seat while I fetch him. Klaus waited until Quinn moved out of view before going into the sitting area. He took a seat on the love seat closest to the window. It truly was a beautiful place to live. The town seemed nice and quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. From living in New York for so long, he forgot what it was like to be in the country. He welcomed the silence. It fed his soul. Im sorry about Trevor slamming the door in your face. Hes weird like that sometimes, Ben said as he came into the room. Klaus stood and clasped hands with him. Ben was a good guy. Unlike his father, he had manners. No worries. Ben waved to the couch. Please, have a seat. Lets talk before I bring Astrid in here to meet you. Ben brushed his hand through his long hair. Klaus, Ive never had any issues with you, but Astrid is

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very sensitive, almost childlike. Please, please take it easy on him. Hes had a hard life. He nodded. He wasnt that much of an asshole to be cruel to a person who had been held prisoner. But in saying that, he was still dealing with a witch, a witch who could very well be a ticking time bomb of magic, ready to go off at any moment. I have no intentions of being rough with him, but, Ben, you have to understand I do have to question him. Yes, I know. My father wants to find Asher, and he isnt above using an innocent to get what he wants, Ben accused. I wont allow you to take advantage of Astrid. I will not. Remember who youre talking to, vampire. Klaus stood to his feet. I didnt come here to hurt anyone, but I do have to talk to this witch. The reasons why have nothing to do with your fathers personal agenda. Its the councils procedure, and you know it. He hated to pull rank on Ben, but no one spoke down to him. And he sure as hell didnt like the implication he was Benedicts errand boy. Ben stood as well. I know, Klaus, but you do have a reputation. And lets just say its less than stellar. Bens voice continued to rise. A trail of bodies is usually left in your wake. Klaus flinched on the inside. Once again, his method on handling wayward paranormals had caused him not to be trusted. He had learned long ago that some people werent worth saving. Once a person had tasted pure evil, theyd come to crave it. And when they did, more often than not people died due to their horrendous addiction. Klaus didnt like killing his own kind. He loathed it. When he was younger he had petitioned to have a program to rehabilitate these individuals, but the idea was shot down. The reasoning was evil couldnt be redeemed. After being gutted by a man who had been his childhood friend, he understood the decision the council had made. Even after all these years he could remember it like it was yesterday. He had been given orders to execute a man for killing a family of vampires. Vampires werent on Klauss favorite list of

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paranormals, but that didnt mean they deserved to die. When he received his orders he read through them, and the name of the man in question was a good friend that grew up on the farm next to his familys land. He was for certain the council had made an error. But they hadnt. The sweet boy who he knew growing up had been replaced by a killer. A killer who had no inclination for being saved. It took Klaus almost dying to realize the council was right. He hadnt started wanting to have to kill others, but in the long run it was either them or him, and he refused to be a victim. Klaus took a step forward and bumped chests with Ben. It might hurt his feelings to hear the cold, hard truth, but he wasnt going to tell Ben that. Its a dirty job, but someone has to clean up these messes. And if not me, then who? He bumped Bens chest again. You couldnt stomach the shit I have to do all for the greater good. I only do the bidding of the council. If you dont like the way I handle something, take it up with them. Whats going on in here? Klaus looked from Bens face to the small man entering the room. His looks favored those of the vampire who answered the door. Ben stepped back from him and approached the man. He protectively wrapped an arm around the mans shoulders. Miles, this is Klaus, the witch the council has sent to talk with Astrid and give you and Trev the mark of the Warriors of the Light. Ben motioned him forward. Klaus, this is my mate, Miles. Klaus stepped forward slowly. Before he reached out to shake Miless hand, he waited for the okay from Ben. Having a mate was a sacred thing and caused hormones to run high. Any little thing could be taken the wrong way. To touch anothers mate could be deathly to a persons well-being. Ben nodded, and Klaus stretched out his hand for the smaller man to take. Hello, Miles, nice to meet you. The silence was deafening in the room. Congratulations on your mating.

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Anger lit Miless eyes. He crossed his arms over his small chest and stood glowering at him. Dont play coy with me. I know who you are, and you are not taking Astrid away. He stomped his little foot. I dont care how powerful and mean you are. You will have to go through me first. Klaus wanted to giggle at the show of courage Miles displayed. Not many men or paranormals would ever speak to him like that. The man had balls. Miles, you cant say shit like that. Ben threw a hand over his shoulder toward Klaus. Especially to him. Hes on the council. Your council, not mine, Miles spat back to his mate. Klaus moved to lean against the arm of the couch to get a better seat for the show. There appeared to be trouble in paradise. That was one good perk to not having found his mate. To be held at the mercy of anothers bidding all in the name of love? Fuck that. Klaus wasnt ready to give up control of his life just yet. Baby, it is your council now, too, remember? Ben poked at Miless upper lip, showcasing the small fangs. The smaller man smacked at Bens hand. Whatever. You may have to bow to this guyMiles jerked his chin in Klauss general directionbut I dont. Ben rubbed his mates shoulders in an attempt to calm him down. To watch the pair was really quite sweet. Seeing these two men together made him long, just a little bit, for that sort of connection with another person. That unconditional love could become a drug. To know you would never be alone had to be priceless. The sound of running feet had Klaus turning in the direction of the entryway. In a flash, another small man, smaller than Miles, dashed into the room and behind the vampire. He held on for dear life around Miless midsection. The house seemed to be infested with teeny tiny men. Please dont fight, the newcomer whined.

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Klaus peeked his head around, trying to get a better look at the man. His voice sounded of angels singing, light and soft. His eyes blinked shut at the whimsical sound. It was music to his ears. Where did that come from? I must be more tired than I thought. Klaus gave a quick shake to his head. He needed to get rid of those useless thoughts. The guy barely looked sixteen. The last thing he needed was to bed a young guy who would fall in love with him just as Klaus was falling out of bed. Love em and leave em was his motto. Miley. The man tugged at Miless shirt. Miley? Klaus snorted. He laughed so hard he doubled over at the waist. When he looked up, Ben and Miles were staring at him. He coughed into his hand to mask his merriment. Sorry about that, but you have admit thats a silly name for a grown man. Ben and Miles continued to just stare at him. Okay, maybe some people had no since of humor. The way they glared at him made Klaus feel like he was the one on trial here. He wiped his sweaty palms down his pant legs. Is this Astrid? The small man squeaked as he clung to the back of Miless shirt. Every few seconds he would peek over at him from his place behind Miles. If the situation wasnt so serious, Klaus would love to continue to laugh and joke with the guy. The man didnt appear dangerous, but that didnt mean he wasnt. Yes, this is Astrid. Ben stepped beside Miles, blocking Klauss view of Astrid. He gets frightened easily. But Im sure youre used to people being scared of you? Miles snapped. You probably get off on it. Miles sure didnt like him. Klaus sat back on the couchs side arm. He was tired and hungry and didnt feel like going ten rounds over a man who may or may not be dangerous. The sooner he got this over with, the sooner he could get some rest. This area was nice and quiet. Klaus wouldnt mind hanging around for a few days to catch up on his sleep.

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Yes, Miles, Im used to people being scared of me. He met Miless eyes, daring the man to look away. But I find usually its only the guilty who fear me the most. So tell me, does this Astrid have something to feel guilty for? Fuck you, you asshole! Miles advanced on him, but Ben grabbed him around the waist, cutting off his path. You know nothing of what hes been through. To say hes guilty of anything is the crime. Klaus stood as Ben, with an angry Miles hanging in his arms, stood in front of him. He glanced over Bens shoulder to get his first real look at Astrid. He stumbled back against the couch as all the air in the room got sucked out, as if from a vacuum. Nothing but the sound of his heartbeat filled his ears. The blood in his veins boiled, burning his flesh from the inside out. Hair and complexion of fair, he whispered as he took a step toward Astrid. Slight of heightanother stepa smile that could lighten the darkest of rooms and eyes so blue you could swim in the deep depths. Had his mothers words from so long ago come to pass? Had his dream been a premonition of things to come? Klaus stopped when he stood directly in front of the witch. He studied the frightened man. Astrid trembled terribly from having him so close. Slowly, he reached his hand out to touch the peaches-andcream skin of Astrids cheek. My dear boy, I see struggles coming your way. Be prepared, my son, you must be willing to fight for what you want most. His mothers words rang in his ears. Klaus dropped his hand. He scowled down at the young witch. Fate always had a way of catching up to a person when they least expected it. And it tended to fuck things up.

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Shit! Klaus shouted. Fucking hell. He banged his hands down on the window ledge. Why? Why? Why? he asked no one in particular. His mother had died years ago, and so had his father, so he couldnt ask his mother for her advice on how to handle the situation or at least decipher the cryptic message a little better. What kind of struggles were coming his way? What exactly was he fighting for? He wished he knew. The bond had already begun to form between him and Astrid. There was nothing he could do to stop it. Stupid fate. The muffled sound of crying broke through his resolve. He turned to see Astrid running out of the room with Miles not far behind him. His instincts said to give chase and try to take away his mates sadness. But self-preservation told him to stay the hell away. Living for nearly fifteen hundred years made a man weary of everyone. Even a cutie that probably only weighed a buck ten soaking wet, and that was being generous. What the hell? Ben motioned to where Astrid and his mate had just ran out of the room. Klaus tried to swallow past the lump in his throat. What could he say? He was here to do a job, not to find his soul mate. **** Astrid, Miles said as he chased him down. Astrid, please stop. Astrid raced up the stairs and to his room. Once there, he flopped down on the bed. Tears streamed down his face. He could taste the salty wetness as he gasped for air. The strange sensations running through his body confused him. The man named Klaus scared him, yet for some reason beyond rational thought he wanted the big man to encompass him in his strong arms and promise to take care of him. He just couldnt understand what was going on. He had been up in his room reading like Miles had said to do when he felt like something was pulling him out of his room. Not

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knowing what else to do, he allowed the invisible string to pull him along until it led him downstairs. He followed the sensation into the front seating area where a tall man stood arguing with Ben and Miles. His insides went all mushy, and his knees got wobbly. The mans shoulder-length, auburn-colored hair lay lazily around his face. Astrid wanted to run his fingers through the thick locks to see if they were as soft as they appeared. But the mans large arms that crossed an even larger chest kept him from going any closer. So he hid behind Miles and Ben, sneaking peeks a little at a time. He couldnt understand these feelings stirring in his stomach. Not knowing what it meant, he became frightened. The man was a witch sent from the council to question him. So he must have large amounts of power if the council trusted him. And from what Ben and Quinn said, the council governed over all paranormals, and what they said went. All the laws and council business didnt mean anything to him. Until a few weeks ago, he didnt know they even existed, let alone a whole world outside of the room Malcolm had kept him locked in. He hated being scared of everything, but he didnt know any better. The life he lived with Malcolm taught him one thing, and that was to be afraid. Astrid, buddy, dont cry, Miles said in a soft tone. Astrid rolled over and hugged Miles around the waist. He buried his face into Miless shirt and continued to cry. I know that man down there is scary, but we wont let him hurt you. He let Miles pull him up until he sat upright. Or take you away. Miles smiled. Were a family, Astrid, and remember what I said about family? We always stick together, he whispered. Thats right. Miles patted him on the cheek. Miley, can I ask you something? Astrid bit at his bottom lip. Miles was his best friend. He would help Astrid understand the tingling feeling in his belly.

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Sure, buddy. You can ask me anything. That man down there. Astrid pointed toward the door. Miles nodded. He makes me feel funny. Miless right eye started to twitch. Funny how? A smile spread across Astrids face. Remember when you and Trevor took me rolling down the big hill in the backyard? Miles nodded. And I had that dizzy feeling in my head and twirling sensation in my tummy? Miles nodded again. I felt that when I saw that man. Miles kept nodding his head. Then his breath hitched. Oh god, no! Astrid watched as Miles stomped out of his room. Had he said something wrong?

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Chapter Three
What the hell is wrong with you, man? He wasnt sure if he should tell Ben or not. To find ones mate, especially after so many years, was supposed to be an exciting development. Others went their whole lives without ever finding their mates, and some died never knowing the touch of their mate. And here he stood trying to find a way to rid himself of his. This made him a bastard in more ways than one, and he didnt need Ben vocalizing his shortcomings out loud. Well, Klaus? Ive known you for years. Ive never seen you behave like that. What gives? What gave was with his job, he had no place in his life for anyone. He traveled more than not, never able to lay his head in the same bed for more than a couple of nights. The constant danger he put himself in, all in the name of the council, was no life for a man who, by all pretenses, was a child. In the few moments he spent with Astrid, the man appeared afraid of his own shadow. How could he claim a mate that wasnt his equal? Astrid would be a liability. A liability that could get him killed. Miles came back into the room. His face blazed a beet red, and the vein at his temple pulsed with every beat of his heart. His nose flared as he took deep breaths. The petite vamp looked ready to blow his top, and Klaus just happened to be the bulls-eye. I dont know how, but you need to reverse that bond, Miles shouted at Klaus. He walked up to him until only an arms length separated them.

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It was one thing for him to think being mated to Astrid was a bad thing, but for a complete stranger to demand he give up his mate all together was another. He didnt want Astrid, but hed be damned if this little guy would have a say in what took place between him and the witch. Watch your tone, whelp. This doesnt concern you. He didnt want to be rude, but he couldnt let his own doubts and concerns bleed through the confident image he projected to the outside world. The council counted on him to keep a cool head. Klaus had to be able to think clearly in any situation. But this wasnt just any situation. This involved him personally. Hey, guys, what am I missing here? Ben looked from Miles back to him then back again. Klaus saw it the moment the light clicked on for Ben. No fucking way. Yes way, Miles said without taking his eyes off Klaus. So, besides this prick coming to question Astrid, hes also his mate. Klaus didnt like Miless tone or his attitude. This was some serious shit for him, too. Miles made it sound like Klaus had planned the whole thing. He had no control over this, and it really pissed him off that this newly turned vampire would treat him like some common criminal. Ben laid his hands on Miless shoulders and pulled the man back against his chest. Calm down, baby. I dont think Klaus knew Astrid was his mate until about fifteen minutes ago. Hes just as shocked as Astrid must be. Are you? Or are you upset that youre saddled with a mate whos more like a child than an adult? Someone who knows nothing of your world? Miles scoffed. You wouldnt even know how to take care of him. He bristled under Miless claims. The man condemned him without even knowing him. This was what a witch had to deal with every minute of every day of their life. According to majority opinion, witches were monsters who took advantage of people and turned them

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into their worst nightmares. Some, not all, witches did that, but it didnt matter. One bad apple ruined the bunch, according to popular opinion. Nothing to say? Miles laughed bitterly. Thats what I thought. I can see it in your eyes you dont want him. Why dont you call your precious council and have them send another witch out to talk with Astrid. He flinched at the accusation that he didnt want Astrid or that he couldnt take care of him. Dont pretend to know what Im thinking and feeling. You dont know me, so you have no right to pass judgment on me. From what I hear, youre a killer. You use your magic to get your desired outcome. You dont care who you hurt as long as you get what you want. Miles pulled against his mates hold. Im not an innocent, but this world needs people like me to clean up the messes others would rather soon ignore. Without men like me, chaos reigns down on your precious little world. Ive seen things I would rather soon forget, but I cant because if I do, people die. Whatever you have to tell yourself so youre able to sleep at night, but I wont allow you to mate with Astrid, and by god I will not let you take him from us. Were his family. Were the ones who are helping him pick up the pieces of his life. Youve no clue how hes suffered. No clue. His chest puffed with every breath. This man had the ability to anger Klaus like no one had before, and that was saying a lot since theyd just met. They continued to stare at one another in silence. Klaus couldnt help but wonder what Miles meant by suffering. Benedict told him that the young witch had been held prisoner for over a hundred years, but he didnt give any details. Miles, calm down. You cannot tell him he cant mate Astrid. Its not our decision. Ben turned Miles to face him. Klauss heart ached at the closeness the men displayed. I love Astrid just as much as you

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do, and I would rather cut off my own arm than see any harm come to him, but this doesnt involve us. But Ben held up his hand. No buts, babe. This is Astrids decision just as much as its Klauss. How do you expect Astrid to know what allMiles waved his hands around franticallythis means. He doesnt know what being a mate is, and the only type of sex he has experienced was forced upon him. Hes too fragile to deal with all this right now. Klauss head snapped up. What do you mean forced on him? What exactly has he been through? He wanted to know but was afraid to hear. Miless eyes started to water at the corners. It took him a few minutes before he could speak. Whatever had happened to Astrid must have been really bad. I thought my father told you what happened to Astrid? Didnt the old man give you a report? Ben asked. He did, but not a lot of details since no one has even spoken to Astrid yet. All I know is that his mother sold him to Malcolm when he was thirteen, and they raised him from that point on until he came to live here. Raised? That isnt what I would call it. Miles swiped a hand across his cheek. He was beaten daily by Lucian. But that isnt the worst. The worst is that Lucian also raped Astrid as often as Malcolm would allow. Miless voice cracked on the last bit, and he started to cry. The heart beating in his chest threatened to stop. The blood in his veins ran ice-cold. Astrid had been raped. Not once but several times. His lungs screamed in agony for breath, but Klaus forgot how to breathe. The torture the young witch had endured must have been horrific. It was nothing if not miraculous he survived to tell the tale. Baby, dont cry. We need to be strong for Astrids sake. Ben hugged Miles close and kissed the top of his head.

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Klauss knees gave out, and he fell into the chair. Why had fate been so cruel? No ones life was perfect, but there wasnt even a chance for perfection with Astrid. It made sense now why Astrid was frightened of him. The things he must have endured in the past hundred years had to have left him scarred on the inside. Why is this happening to me? Klauss words were just above a whisper. To you? Miles shouted right before he smacked him across the face. His head jerked to the side. Astrid didnt ask for any of this, and he sure as hell didnt ask to be stuck with a mate who thinks only of himself. His cheek stung from the hard smack, but he refused to rub it. He couldnt show weakness. Strength and control had been drilled into him from an early age. Guilt and sadness were useless emotions that he couldnt afford to feel. It would make doing his job that much more difficult. But every time he thought of Astrid, that was all he could feel. Sadness for the despair Astrid must have felt being held prisoner for so long, and guilt for not being able to protect his mate from that violent past. Klaus screwed his eyes shut and tried to erase the images racing across his mind. No matter what happened now, he was still here to do a job. He blinked open his eyes and stood. Im sorry, Miles. I didnt mean to belittle or disrespect what Astrid has suffered through. I wouldnt wish that life on anyone. He took another deep breath. But be as it may, Im here to do a job, and I will need to spend time with Astrid, like it or not. Miles opened his mouth to say something then clamped his lips down tight. He must have thought better of what he was about to say. I guess I dont have a choice, do I? Klaus shook his head no. Just please be careful how you handle him. Hes so fragile, and Im not sure what might send him over the edge. I will. Believe it or not, I would like to get to know him. I agree a mating is not beneficial for either of us, but friendship is doable.

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Miles nodded. I still dont trust you. But like I said, I have no choice. Miles walked out of the room without any further comment. That was surprising, Klaus said in disbelief. It seemed too easy that Miles just walked away without an argument. Ben shoved his hands into his pockets and rocked back on his heels. Miles doesnt mean any disrespect. Hes just concerned. He loves Astrid like a brother. Astrid saved his life. Plus, if anyone knows how strong a mating bond can be, its Miles. Ben barked out a laugh. Fate can be a motherfucker sometimes. Ben motioned to the waist-high bar that sat against the far wall. Want a drink? Yes, please. Klaus followed Ben and took a seat at the bar. Klaus accepted the small tumbler full of clear liquid and downed it in one shot. It blazed a trail down the back of his throat, causing his eyes to water. The burn subsided to a warm tingling sensation working its way through his body, but it didnt dull the ache he felt for Astrid or the desire he had for him, either. He still heard his mothers warning in the back of his mind. For the first time in his life, Klaus had no idea what to do next. So, old friend, what happens now? He looked up from his empty glass. Im not sure, Ben. Im just not sure. The defeat in his own voice made him cringe internally. He felt vulnerable, and he didnt like it. Ben reached across the bar and rested his hand on Klauss shoulder. I know the feeling. But can I give you some advice? Klaus nodded once. Dont make any decisions yet. Ben shrugged. Get to know Astrid. You might be surprised how things might work out. Klaus chuckled. I dont think our story will have a happy ending like yours and Miless. Im not hardwired for relationships. Sure, Klaus. Whatever you say. Ben set his glass down and headed toward the door. Come on. Ill show you to your room. He grabbed his bag and followed Ben up the winding staircase. As he trailed behind Ben he thought of all that had transpired in the past

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hour. Hed met his mate, a witch who knew nothing of their kind or the governing laws set upon all paranormals. Where to go from here he had no clue, but he had to think of something quickly. Benedict would want an update by tomorrow, and there was only so much stalling he could do. Ben stopped at a wooden door and pushed it open. This is where you will be staying. Mine and Miless room is at the end of this hall, so if you need anything dont hesitate to ask. Ben, wait. Klaus grabbed his shoulder when he started to turn away. Ben turned to him. His brow furrowed. Yeah? Can we keep this whole mating thing from the council for the time being? I havent decided what Im going to tell them. Sure. Ill make sure to tell the others to keep hush-hush about it. Thanks. Ben smiled and left the room. Klaus stood in the entryway, leaning against the doorframe. The sound of a door creaking open had him turning to look across the hall. His pulsed picked up at the sight of Astrid peeking through the small crack. One bright blue eye was all he could see. He started to say something, but Astrid quickly shut the door. With a heavy sigh, Klaus stepped back into his room and closed his door. He slumped back against the hard door, needing its support to keep himself upright. The mating bond was doing a number on his self-control. The need to go across the hall and pull Astrid into his arms and never let go warred with his sense of self-preservation. Klaus pushed away from the door and went to the bathroom to take a hot shower. He hoped the hot water and steam would clear his head and help him regain focus to do what he was sent there to do.

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Chapter Four
Astrid quickly shut his door when he noticed Klaus caught him staring. The man made him jumpynot in a bad way but a way he wasnt familiar with. When Klaus looked at him, time stopped. It took all he could to just take a breath. What kind of power did this witch have over him? Astrid slid down the wall until his butt hit the floor. Over the last few days, Ben tried his best to explain how the council worked and what type of paranormals there were. He also explained how it was because of witches that vampires and shifters existed. Witches were greatly feared among their world. Astrid found that funny. He was frightened by his own shadow, and to think people were scared of him? He just couldnt fathom the notion. For a hundred years, he was held prisoner by a man who couldnt stand the sight of him and treated him like garbage. His own mother didnt even want him and sold him to complete strangers. His home life before he had been taken to Malcolm wasnt great, but at least there he didnt have to worry about being hit every day. He also didnt have to worry about someone sneaking into his room at night. A cold shiver ran through Astrids body as he remembered those nights. He tried to forget but couldnt. He was only sixteen when Lucian started visiting his room. At first Lucian acted like he was Astrids friend, but it was all just a lie. It was a sick game Lucian played until he got tired of playing it. Lucian stole his innocence away. Miles said it wasnt his fault, but it didnt erase the memories. He felt unclean and not suitable to be touched by a lover.

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Astrid brought his knees up to his chest and hugged his arms around his legs. He wanted to laugh at the thought of ever finding someone to love him. Yes, he had had sex before but never because he desired it. It was something forced upon him, and he often wondered if he would ever crave the touch of another in a loving way. He worried he wouldnt be able to stand anothers hands on him sexually. But being around Miles and Ben gave him hope that maybe one day he could find a love of his own. He wanted to be happy like they were. Every day he gave thanks to the powers that be that brought Miles into his life. He hated that Miles had suffered while in Malcolms care, but if it wasnt for Malcolm kidnapping Miles, Astrid wouldnt have met the man and he would never have gotten free of Lucian. Since coming to live with Ben and Miles, his life had definitely changed for the better. He had a family and friends now. People talked to him and wanted to be around him. That had never happened when he lived with Malcolm. The warriors genuinely wanted to be his friend. There was no trick in that offered friendship, just the offer of being friends. Miles told him that Malcolm was a monster and that that wasnt how people normally acted or treated others. He said it would take time, but he would learn to trust again. And he did trust Miles, Ben, Trevor, and the other warriors in the house. They made Astrid feel, for the first time in his life, like he belonged somewhere. Astrid looked around his room and smiled. Ben made sure it got decorated with the things he wanted. He didnt know what he liked, so Miles and Trevor had fun showing him all sorts of things on the Internet. They also introduced him to online shopping. And with the next-day delivery option, he became the proud owner of things. Simple things he never had the luxury of owning before. Miles and Trevor helped him order clothes, shoes, sheets, and a fluffy comforter for his bed. He also got to pick out as many pillows as he wanted. To have clean clothes to wear and a nice soft bed to

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sleep in was something most people took for granted, but not him. Hed never had those simple luxuries, so he treasured them as if they were the most precious of diamonds. Ben said he couldnt promise they would always be living in the same location or house but that he would always pack up all of Astrids things and have them shipped to wherever they called home. The warriors traveled a lot, but Astrid was okay with that as long as he got to stay with his family. While Miles introduced him to computers, Trevor introduced him to gaming. Trevor loved to play on the Xbox, Wii, and the PlayStation. He spent hours showing Astrid how to play his favorite games. He didnt understand most of them, but he tried, and it was entertaining playing with the vampire. Trevor would yell at the screen when something didnt go his way and dance in circles when he won. Astrid enjoyed spending time with Trevor. It was never boring. But when he wanted to learn to read he went to Miles, the more adult of the two. After a hundred years of doing nothing but staring at four walls, his thirst for knowledge was insatiable. Miles said knowledge was power, and Astrid wanted to be as powerful as he could possibly be so that no one hurt him again. Fatigue started to set in, and Astrid climbed to his feet. He wanted to get a nap in before dinner. He pulled back the bright-blue down comforter and eased under the covers. Once he got situated, he thought about the man across the hall, Klaus. He thought about the deep-auburn-colored hair that stood out in contrast to Klauss tan skin. Then there were those haunted blue eyes. Whenever Klaus looked at him, it was if he could see directly into Astrids soul, and he feared what the man might see. Astrid shifted to find a more comfortable position. The stirring low in his gut sent a tingling sensation that caused his penis to twitch of its own accord. Klaus was a man to be feared, but the fear Astrid felt toward the man wasnt that Klaus would hurt himno, quite the opposite. Desire plagued him every time the strong man gazed upon

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him. He wanted to leap into his arms, cuddle his face close to his neck, and breathe in Klauss strong, masculine scent. Even from his room he could smell the manly aroma of heated skin, aftershave, and Klauss own personal musk. This cant be normal. Ive never wanted to feel the touch of another, but thats all I want from him. Please, god, help me stop wanting what I cant have. His shoulders started to tremble as he began to cry. He wasnt normal, and there was no way an older, more experienced man would ever want a throwaway like him. Astrid had nothing to offer, and he wasnt even sure he could stand Klauss touch on his skin. He wanted it, but want and the ability to accept were two different things. **** So let me get this straight, Trevor said as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall. That big scary dude in there is Astrids mate? His brows scrunched up in confusion. How is that even possible? They just fucking met. Its fate, Trevor. Theres no way to stop whats meant to be, Miles said through clenched teeth. It wasnt right for this to happen to Astrid now. It was too soon. He just started to get his life back, and wham, it took a detour of the worst kind. No good could come from being mated to Klaus. The man was sent to more than likely take Astrid away from them. And that thought had bile churning in his stomach. Klaus could also have been sent to kill Astrid. An untrained or even a trained witch was considered deadly in the eyes of the precious council. The council didnt know how childlike and innocent Astrid truly was. Chances were they wouldnt even give him a chance. Well, the council could go fuck themselves, because Miles wouldnt let them take Astrid. He just wouldnt.

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Miles, calm down. Trevor pushed away from the wall and took a seat next to Miles on the floor. Having a mate cant be all bad. Look at you and Ben. Trevor nudged his arm. That seemed to work out for the best. Miles sat silently next to his cousin. Through the window they watched the leaves outside dance around on the ground as they scattered in the wind. The flurry of leaves being chased around the yard reminded him of the first time he met Ben. Like the leaves, Miles was pushed by an unseen force to the man, and his life went scattering up into the air. He didnt mean literally but figuratively. Being with Ben was the best thing to ever happen to him. He loved the man more than anything, but it wasnt an easy road to get to where they were now. Miles had suffered at the hands of Malcolm, and he had only been under that mans evil care for two weeks. He was lucky to come out of that unscathed, but Astrids story was different. Astrid had lived for a hundred years, day to day, not knowing what bad thing would happen next. It wasnt fair to ask a man who had been abused to accept a lifetime commitment from anyone. Astrid needed time to grow and discover for himself who he wanted to be. The man needed to live for awhile without the expectations of having to please another. Miles feared Astrid wouldnt be able to handle what Klaus would want from him. Astrid wasnt sexually mature enough to engage in any type of sexual intercourse. Being raped for years on end didnt make him an experienced lover, and it sure as hell didnt make him ready for any kind of relationship with Klaus. Trevor, its different and you know it. Astrid was taken advantage of in the worst way. Theres no way hes ready for such a big commitment, Miles said. Sex is the last thing he needs forced upon him right now. Hes still healing. Trevor sat quietly beside him. Miles could tell his cousin was contemplating something. God only knew what would fly out of his mouth.

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Dont get mad at me for saying this, but did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, Astrid has some sort of feelings toward Klaus? Trevor held up his hand to silence Miless retort. Just hear me out. Remember when you met Ben? He nodded. Remember how scared you were? He nodded again. But do you also remember how you felt about Ben? How, even with all that crazy shit happening, you couldnt keep your hands off him? Maybe Astrid is feeling those things for Klaus. I mean, shit, the guy is freaking hot. If he was single, Id be trying to hit that. He is single, Miles snapped at his cousin. See, you say that, but we know its not true. Like you said, this mating thing is fates way of giving you that one perfect person. The person who will love and protect you no matter what. And like it or not, fate has put Astrid and Klaus together. Trevor placed his hand on Miless shoulder. Its just a matter of time before something happens between them. If Astrid feels a fraction of the way you did toward Ben, the poor guy is probably popping a boner left and right. And you sitting here in denial about the whole thing isnt helping. What do you suggest I do? Go give him some lube and say, Here you go. Enjoy yourself? Miles pushed to his feet and walked toward the window. He was angry on Astrids behalf. There was no way Astrid was ready to have sex with anyone, even a destined mate. Miles, dont be stupid. All Im saying is you should help inform Astrid. Explain to him the things he is feeling. So if and when he decides to go further with Klaus, hes prepared. Tears burned at the back of his eyes. It just wasnt fair. Trevor, he was abused for longer than either one of us has been alive. How do we tell him its okay to want those things? Trevor pulled him into his arms and hugged him tight. Miles, Im not sure I believe in this whole soul-mate thing, but I believe in you. I see what you and Ben share, and its not ugly or wrong. The love I see between you two gives me hope that one day someone might love me that way. He stepped back from Miles. Maybe this is a blessing in

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disguise. Maybe Klaus was sent here to help Astrid heal, like Ben did for you. Miles had never thought of it like that. He was too concerned that Klaus was sent to harm Astrid. He never once considered that this might be a good thing. Could it be possible that Klaus could help Astrid come out of his shell and not be so afraid all the time? I see those wheels turning. A shit-eating grin spread across Trevors face. I might be on to something, right? Let me hear you say Im the man. He waved his hand around. Come on. Show me the love. Miles started to laugh. How he and Trevor were related he would never understand. Ill give you that. Maybe Klaus can help Astrid. And yes, youre right. I should discuss this with Astrid so he is prepared. Now, lets go eat dinner. Im starving. Trevor wrapped his arm around his shoulders. See how easy that was. I should become a shrink. Im good at problem solving. He continued to laugh as they headed down the hall. Trevor made some valid points, but it still didnt make talking to Astrid about any of this any easier.

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Chapter Five
After supper, Klaus had requested that he have some time alone with Astrid so he could ask him some simple questions. He expected to be met with an argument, but it didnt happen. Miles and Ben both agreed to him talking with his mate. Klaus banged the butt of his fist against his forehead. He needed to stop thinking in those terms where Astrid was concerned. He had a job to do, and getting mated and ditching his responsibilities wasnt it. Taking a deep breath, he released it slowly through his nose. He turned his attention toward Astrid. The young witch sat in the center of the couch with his legs crossed. His gaze was trained downward. Astrid kept twisting his hands over and over again in his lap. Klaus could feel the waves of tension wafting off of the young man. It caused the hairs on his arms to stand on end. He took the opportunity to look at Astrid, to truly look at him. His honey-blond hair had been pulled back off his face. Someone had French braided the smooth locks into a tight braid. His pale skin glowed even in the well-lit room. His small body appeared even tinier on the large leather couch. He looked so fragile, as if crafted from glass. His hands itched just to pick Astrid up and place him on his lap. He wanted to hug him close and tell his mate that everything would be okay. The words sat on the tip of his tongue, but he held them back. This entire innocent act could be just that, an act. Witches were known for their cunning ability to adapt to whatever the situation called for, be it a victim or a hard-ass seeking control. They were an astute species not to be trusted. If a person angered a

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witch, death would be the more welcomed option. But no, most witches took joy out of causing others pain. A witch held the magical resources to turn any living creature into whatever they desired. Klaus knew of one witch that turned a man into a fly. This particular witch had sought out this mans attention. She played coy and sucked the man right into her web. But like most people in general, once she got what she wanted, it wasnt fun playing anymore. She thought him a nuisance, and in order to rid herself of him, she turned him into the pesky insect. Before the poor man could control his shifting ability, he was killed. An unsuspecting human, not knowing that a mans soul lay within the small flys body, swatted him to death. That was just one instance that taught Klaus just because someone appeared weak and naive didnt mean they were. They could be just as, or if not, stronger than him. In the world they lived in, one had to be careful of the evils that lurked in every corner. Grabbing a chair, Klaus turned it backward and sat, straddling it. He rested his elbows on the back and assessed the witch in front of him, an interrogation technique he perfected over the years. If Klaus appeared stronger and calmer than the prospected offender, they typically cracked from his stare alone. A twinge of guilt swamped him for using his tough-cop act on Astrid, but he needed to do his job unabated. He cleared his throat, and Astrids eyes jumped to meet his. Astrid swallowed so loudly it could be heard across the room. So tell me a little about yourself from before you came to live here with Miles and Ben. He held Astrids gaze as he waited for him to speak. Theres not a lot to tell, sir, Astrid whispered. His attention fell to the floor. Oh, come on now. Klaus idly drummed his fingers on the back of the chair. Youre a hundred and thirteen years old. You have to have something to say about your life up until now.

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Astrid fidgeted in his seat, clearly uncomfortable with this line of questioning. He brought his knees up to his chest than wrapped his arms around his legs, hugging them tight. Well, I lived with my mother until I was thirteen. I dont remember much about her. She kept me locked away in my room and didnt spend any time with me. Said I wasnt worth it. She wasnt a loving sort of woman. Nothing I did was ever quite right in her eyes. Klaus nodded. It disturbed him to hear how Astrids own mother treated him. In all his life, he would never ceased to be surprised by the cruelty people showed to one another. He might have been a witch, but Klaus knew right from wrong. He also knew the love of a family, something Astrid hadnt known until recently. What about meeting Malcolm? How did that come about? Klaus asked. He already knew the gist of it, but asking questions was part of his job. He had to know if Astrid was lying about anything. My mother sold me to Malcolm when I was thirteen. Why was that? Did she or Malcolm ever tell you why? He said I wasnt suitable to be around. Astrids voice cracked. Anguish laced every word. He said I was damaged. So much so, my own mother couldnt stand the sight of me. Klaus cursed silently under his breath. Tears ran like a river down Astrids cheeks. The more he listened to the young witch talk, it became clear the victim act wasnt an act at all. Astrid truly was a victim and scared out of his mind. Klaus rose to his feet. Astrids head jerked up, and red-rimmed eyes stalked his every move. The man looked like he wanted to curl into himself and hide away. Anger like he had never experienced before caused Klauss pulse to race. Astrids terror was a living, breathing entity for him. It controlled him. Astrid, Im not going to hurt you. Promise. Klaus held his hands up as he advanced toward the couch. He very slowly lowered himself to his knees and reached a hand out to rub his fingers down Astrids

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jean-covered leg in an attempt to soothe the tremors rushing through his body. Astrid buried his face into his knees and cried. Klaus wasnt sure why, but he climbed up onto the couch. He wrapped his arm around Astrids shoulder and cuddled him close. Then he gently started to rock Astrid back and forth. His mother used to do this for him when he was a child and upset. After a few more minutes of cuddling, Klaus asked another question. Astrid, sweetie, can you tell me anything about a man named Asher? He hated to have to push for more answers, but Benedict would want a report as soon as possible. I already told Ben I dont know anything about that man. Astrids voice hitched. I wasnt important enough to tell anything to. Lucian said I was a nobody. Like a ghost. I was there, but people saw right through me. He pulled Astrid close. The man rested his forehead against Klauss chest and sobbed some more. The overflow of tears quickly began to dampen his shirt. As Astrid continued to cry, Klaus dropped his head forward to place a kiss to the soft hair covering Astrids head. The scent of ripe green apples hit his nose. The smell was so sweet and delicious, Klaus couldnt prevent his head from dipping lower to breathe in the intoxicating scent again. Klaus rubbed his nose back and forth against the lush hair and committed the smell to memory. The urge to claim Astrid prickled at Klauss skin. To see his mate in such distress brought out his protective nature. Not in all his life had he felt this way about another person hed just met. Fate gave him Astrid, and he was starting to think he couldnt deny Astrid anything. To refuse Astrid would just be punishing himself in the long run. Klaus fingered the silky, soft hair hanging down the back of Astrids head. Very gently, he pulled on the braid until Astrid looked up at him. Klauss breath caught. Even in as state of distress, Astrid was still the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on.

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Held entranced by Astrids equally shocked expression, Klaus leaned forward. He groaned aloud when Astrids bright-pink tongue peeked out to wet his dry lips. Klaus moved his hands up to either side of Astrids face and stroked the skin covering his prominent cheekbones. It was the color of peaches and cream, with a slight pink blush. Klaus continued his descent down to Astrids moist lips, closing the distance between them. Fireworks erupted behind his eyelids. Any reservations he had about being mated to the young witch quickly flew out the window. He swallowed down Astrids yelp of surprise. Holding still, Klaus gave Astrid the time he needed to accept or reject the kiss. It only took a few moments before Astrids apprehension appeared to melt away. The young witch gave an experimental flick of his tongue against the seam of Klauss lips. Klaus smiled as he pushed closer to the welcoming heat of his mates mouth. Pushing his tongue ever so gently into the warm, moist cavern, he teased the younger mans tongue into dancing with his own. Astrids movements, at first uncoordinated and rushed, soon became fluent and controlled. Desire wound Klaus higher and higher, and Astrid met him at every level. Blood filled his cock, and it throbbed with every beat of his heart. He needed to get closer to his mate. Just imagining how Astrids tight, heated walls would suck him in and milk the seed from his body with every thrust drove him closer to the edge. He pulled Astrid tighter to his chest, wanting to assuage both their aching erections. But remembering what Astrid had suffered through had him easing back. He wanted to make his and Astrids first time together special to show Astrid what lovemaking between two mates could be like. Loving and caring but most of all, no pain, and if Astrid were to say no, he would honor that decision. He would never force him to do anything. Klaus pulled back slightly and watched for signs of distress on Astrids face. Astrids eyes were still closed, his cheeks had reddened, and his breathing had become rapid. Astrid absently brought his

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fingers to his lips and touched his mouth. So innocent. His angelic features, coupled with his inexperience, made Klaus feel like his touch may tarnish the golden halo above his angels head. Maybe his mate deserved better than him. Astrid slowly stroked his finger back and forth across the plump flesh of his lower lip. Klaus groaned as the sight of such an unintentionally sensual touch. He wanted to devour the supple lips again. Astrid? Klaus very gently pulled Astrids hand away. Angel, look at me. Astrid blinked his eyes open. You called me angel, he said, whispering the words. Klaus grinned mischievously at him. Yes, I did. He lightly caressed the side of Astrids face. Your pure, innocent nature reminds me of an angel fallen to earth, forced to walk among us lowly paranormals. He entwined his fingers with Astrids. I think I like that, being your angel. Astrid beamed a smile at him. Well, you are. Klaus grinned down at Astrid. Klaus had decided from that one kiss he wasnt going to be able to question his mate like some common criminal. Plus, Astrid didnt remember much. If he could get Carter, a fellow witch and a pastreader, out here, he might be able to fill in the gaps. Carter could possibly see more than even Astrid realized he had memories of. I need to go make a phone call. Since were not getting anywherehe winked at AstridIm going to go call a past-reader I know and have him come out here. Its painless, and he can get all the answers we need a lot faster by reading what lays in your memorieshe tapped a finger against Astrids templerather than me sitting here asking you questions you dont know the answers to. Oh. Astrid dropped his head, resting his chin against his chest. I understand. You must be in a hurry to get back to your life.

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Klaus winced at Astrids words. His mate had it all wrong, but Klaus was an idiot for not explaining himself better. He placed a finger under Astrids chin, lifting his head until their eyes met. Angel, my life is here with you now. I will never abandon you. But me and you alone together will get us nowhere. All I want to do is kiss you again. He waggled his eyebrows at his mate. Really? Really, Klaus reassured him. But Im still here to learn of your origins and to find out if you have information locked away in that head of yours that might help the council. But I dont know anything. I swear. Astrid gnawed on his lower lip, causing blood to rush to the surface. Angel, youd be amazed what our brains can retain when we dont even realize were doing it. Dont worry, this isnt a test you can fail. We are just being cautious. Klaus stood to his feet. As he turned to leave, Astrid jumped from the couch and grabbed his hand. He met Astrids pleading eyes. Do you mean it? You promise you wont leave me? I promise. Klaus brushed his lips across Astrids. Youre mine, and I take care of whats mine. What do you mean Im yours? Astrid asked. Klaus cupped Astrids cheek with his hand. Were mates, but Ill have to explain more of that to you later. He winked at his mate. I bet if you ask Miles, he would love to explain it to you. He started to walk backward toward the door. Now Im off to make that call. Will you be okay by yourself? Yeah. Astrid laughed softly. I live here, remember, silly? Astrids smile broadened. Klauss smile matched his mates. Astrids laugh sounded as precious as angels singing a holy chorus as if the clouds parted to bless the people below with hope. And Klaus did have hope. One way or another, he would find a way to make his mate laugh every day and show him how truly special he was.

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He chuckled to himself as he walked down the hallway. Klaus felt a little guilty sending Astrid in Miless direction for answers in the mating department. But something told Klaus that Miles would be perfect for the job. The man was well spoken, intelligent, and most of all, caring. He would go out of his way to make Astrid comfortable with the details of being mated. Klaus pulled his phone from his pocket and punched the number for headquarters. He waited while he was connected. CPB headquarters. How may I direct your call? the operator asked over the line. I need sector one zero nine, he said. Just a moment, sir. Klaus heard some clicking before the call was answered. Sector one zero nine. How may I assist you today? He recognized the voice instantly. Carlos, a fellow witch and good friend. Hey, old man, hows it going there without me? Old man? Youre one to talk. Carlos snickered. Werent dinosaurs still roaming the land when you were born? Klaus chatted with Carlos for a few minutes. He hadnt checked in with his department since arriving in Missouri, and he enjoyed the friendly banter with Carlos. The man was as laid-back as they came. Carlos, I called because I need you to send Carter out here ASAP. Carlos groaned loudly enough, and Klaus was sure the whole department heard him. You know I hate talking to that kid. He gives me the creeps. He dyed his hair again, black this time. The boy better be thankful hes immortal, or all that hair of his would have fallen out by now. Im sorry, Carlos, but I need a past-reader. Klaus sighed. This witch I was sent to interrogate just happens to be my mate. And to put it mildly, when were alone together the last thing we want to do is discuss his terrible past. No shit?

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No shit. I need you to send Carter. Hes the only one I trust to piece together Astrids memories and maybe see things that Astrid has forgotten. Fine. Ill endure his evil stares and smart mouth just for you, Carlos whined. I appreciate it, friend. Klaus took a deep breath. Another thing, dont tell anyone. Keep this between us. I dont want the council catching wind of him and I being mates. I wouldnt put it past Benedict to question my judgment and send out another interrogator, and I will not subject Astrid to one of those cruel assholes. Umm, arent you one of those cruel assholes? Carlos teased. Fuck you, Carlos. Klaus chuckled into the phone. But seriously, I tried to deny this mating bond at first, but hell, Carlos, I cant. When Im around him, I cant think. I can barely string two thoughts together. Its the weirdest feeling ever. Just talking about Astrid had his heart beating double time in his chest. A light sweat covered his palms. All he wanted to do was go find Astrid and sit and cuddle the man in his arms, never letting him go. The truth of what he felt for Astrid hit him like a ton of bricks, leaving him momentarily speechless. Dear god, I think Im falling in love with him already. Ive heard it said that is what happens when one finds their mate. Try not to freak out too much. Fate never seems to get it wrong. Im happy for you. Congratulations, man Klaus smiled. Thanks, Carlos. When he disconnected the call he went in search of Ben. He had to tell him they would be having another guest, a guest that planned on combing through Astrids mind in search of information for the council.

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Chapter Six
Astrid wandered along the hallway in a daze. He just had his first real kiss, and it was amazing. Even now, just thinking about Klauss firm lips on his caused his penis to stiffen. The sensations that flowed from Klaus to him were indescribable. He would have to rank Klauss kiss up there with his love for ice cream, only better. He headed toward Miless room, wanting to ask his friend about him being Klauss mate and what that meant. As he got closer, he could hear Miles and Trevor talking. Do you ever get the feeling were a bunch of bottoms among a shitload of tops? Miles began to giggle. I would have to agree with that, cuz. Astrid stood outside Miless door and watched the two men fold the laundry while sitting on the bed. He was curious to what they were talking about. What are ups and downs? Astrid asked the two men. The laughter died, and the room became so quiet a piece of fuzz could have hit the carpet and Astrid would have heard it land. Miles looked to Trevor, and Trevor turned to him. Astrid, sweetie, I didnt hear you come in, Miles said as he motioned for him to have a seat on the bed. Here, have a seat. Once he was seated on the bed he looked up at Miles. So, what are ups and downs? You mean tops and bottoms, Trevor corrected him. Miless eye shot daggers in Trevors direction. We were talking about, umm Miless voice trailed off.

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Sex, Trevor said as he flopped down on the bed. He positioned his arms behind his head and relaxed into the mattress. Oh, what about it? Astrid asked eagerly. Every time someone started to talk about sex, they would stop once they realized he was in the room. He wasnt a child. He wanted to be part of the conversation, too. Nothing, Miles said in a rush. For fucks sake, Trevor shouted to the ceiling as he threw his hands in the air. You people need to stop treating him like a baby. Astrid nodded his agreement. He understood why everyone treated him like he would break at the first sign of distress, but he wouldnt. And now, more than ever, he wanted to know more about sex. Strange desires burned within him, and he needed to understand it. Astrid needed guidance into the world of making love, because what Lucian made him do wasnt love. You really want to talk about this? He nodded, and Miles let out a defeated sigh. See, when two men are together, one usuallyone usually Miles looked to Trevor for help. An evil grin played across Trevors lips. Astrid, buddy, basically what hes trying to say is usually ones the giver, and ones the receiver. And let me tell you, the receiving is always so much better. Astrid shifted his attention back to Miles for a better explanation. What he is trying to say is one man penetrates the other with his penis, and the other opens his body for the invasion. With proper care given, the man taking the penis feels no pain. Miles started to count his recommendations off on his fingers. First, lube should always be used, and some stretching done before penetration is a must as well. Second, being on your hands and knees is a more comfortable way to start out for the partner taking the penis. Third, deep breaths help with the little bit of pain you may feel. Oh my god. You just made my dick shrivel up with that checklist. Trevor sat forward. Miles, you make sex sound so clinical and impersonal. He turned his attention to Astrid. Astrid, Miles

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brought up some good points and things that should be followed prior to having sex. Trevor climbed off the bed. He sat on the floor directly in front of Astrid. Sex is also about emotions and your body feeling pleasure. When youre with someone that you care about, the sex is incredible. Trevors eyes fluttered shut. You feel a burning in your gut, and the only thing that will soothe that ache is connecting with another person. Trevor blinked open his eyes. The need to be with the man you desire above all others sets your skin on fire with the need to touch and to be touched. Both he and Miles sat stunned at Trevors eloquently spoken words. Astrid had never known the man to speak from the heart or show any serious emotions, really. Trevor, I must say that was one of the sweetest things I think Ive ever heard you say, Miles said to his cousin. Thanks. Im not a total douche. I do have feelings, too, ya know. Astrid thought about what Trevor said. He felt like he had a scorching inferno inside him whenever near Klaus. He wanted things hed never wanted before. The need to please wasnt being forced on him, and he knew deep down Klaus would never hurt him intentionally. He wanted to feel Klauss strong fingers on him, touching him, loving him. A tear sprang to his eye. How could he say love? He wasnt worthy of love after all the things Lucian had done to him, who would want to be near him intimately? He was damaged in more ways than one. Oh, sweetie, why the waterworks? Miles wrapped him in a warm embrace. Astrid tried to speak, but the lump in his throat kept choking him up. Tears burned like lava down his face. Im no good. His words were muffled from gasping for breath. It hurt to know he wasnt worthy of Klauss attention, let alone his love.

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What are you talking about? Of course youre good. Youre one of the sweetest, kindest people Ive ever met. Miles wiped the tears from Astrids cheeks. After what Lucian did to me, no one will ever want me. Im dirty. He buried his face in his hands, unable to see the disgust on his friends faces. No! Trevor bellowed as he jumped to his feet, scaring both him and Miles. You were victimized. You didnt ask for what happened to you. If anyone is dirty, its that sick fuck. He forced things on you that you didnt deserve, and its a miracle that you came out of that house of horrors alive. Trevs right. Astrid, sweetie, you are a sweet, innocent soul. If anyone deserves love and happiness, its you. Astrid let Miles pull his hands away from his face. The sincere smiles on their faces reassured him that they meant what they said. You think I can have what I want? he asked. He wanted his friends honest opinions. Did he have a chance with a man like Klaus or not? Well, that depends. What exactly do you want, Astrid? Trevor asked. His eyebrows raised high on his forehead in question. Klaus, Astrid whispered. Are you out of your mind? Miles shouted. You barely know the guy. Im sorry, Astrid, but I dont think hes the man for you, at least not yet. Miles crossed his arms over his chest. He looked so upset, Astrid could practically see the smoke curling up out of his ears. Miles, its not your decision. Trevor sat down next to Astrid. He examined him with a cool stare. Astrid started to squirm under the pressure. Astrid, just for shits and giggles, can you tell us why you want Klaus? He couldnt explain it really. All Astrid knew was that he felt the burning feeling in his gut like Trevor described. Part of him recognized Klaus like he knew him all his life, a connection with

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another person he never knew existed. A sense of belonging engulfed him when in the presence of the older witch. Because were mates. Miles released an aspirated sigh. Did Klaus tell you that? That son of a bitch. No, Miles. Astrid shook his head frantically. I mean, yes he said that word, but its something else that calls me to him. III feel him here, Astrid stuttered as he brought a hand to rest in the center of his chest. You tell him about this mate business, or I swear I will. And we both know how terrible I am with words, Trevor said. Miles closed his eyes. He took a few deep breaths. When he opened them he appeared to be a little less upset. Astrid, you know how Ben and I are a couple, right? He nodded. Well, in the paranormal world thats called being mates. Fate has picked you two to be together. In all rights, you were made for one another. Astrid gathered from Miless sullen look he wasnt happy about this development. But why? If fate wanted him with Klaus, shouldnt his friends be happy for him, too? Maybe Miles thought him unclean and unworthy of Klauss love. I was right, then. You think Im not good enough for him? Oh, sweetie, no. Miles laughed softly. Its actually the other way around. I dont think hes good enough for you. His eyebrows knitted together in confusion. I dont understand. Astrid, Klaus is so much older than you. He is going to want things I just dont think youre ready for. This mating bond blinds you to everything else. The urge to mate consumes you, and I just think you still need more time to heal without the pressure to have sex right now. That, and you think Klaus will take Astrid away from us, Trevor said from his side of the bed. What do you mean? Astrid asked.

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Sweetie, Klaus works for the council. That means he travels a lot, and if youre mated to him, hell take you with him. Miless voice cracked as he started to cry. Hell take you from us. Astrid started to cry, too. He curled his smaller frame into Miless side, clinging to the only family he had ever known. He wanted Klaus, but he also wanted the family he created with Miles and the other warriors. Come on you two, Trevor said as he hugged them from behind. Just because Astrid has found his mate doesnt necessarily mean he will travel with Klaus all the time. From just meeting the guy once, Id bet some serious cash that if he had a mission to go on that he thought was dangerous, he would leave Astrid with us. Trevor shrugged. Plus, you dorks, theres always cell phones, e-mail, text, and Skype. Even when were not under the same roof, were never more than a call away. Astrid could see the glossy sheen of tears Miles tried to hold back. He didnt want to upset anyone, but he had to be true to himself and what he wanted, and he wanted Klaus. Is this really what you want, little man? Miles asked. Astrid nodded his head. For once he got to decide what he wanted. To make that decision felt really good. It was a start on taking control of his life. But he still needed his good friends guidance. He nervously chewed on the inside of his cheek. It was embarrassing to be a hundred and thirteen years old and not have a clue on how to make love the proper way. No forcing and no beating until someone submitted, like the way he had been taught. He needed to know what to expect from a lover and what was expected of him. Whats wrong, little man? Trevor asked as he ruffled his hand through Astrids hair. Can you show me how to get Klaus to sleep with me? Astrid stumbled over his words. His face heated as if he were standing directly in front of the sun. He feared he might melt into the pretty beige carpet.

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Umm, yeah. Miles, a little help please. Trevor shifted uncomfortably as he looked toward his cousin for help. Trevor, hes not asking you to have sex with him. So calm down. Miles turned to Astrid. Are you sure youre ready for this? Its quite a big step. Astrid nodded his head. He understood their concerns, but he couldnt stay away from Klaus even if he tried. All his nerve endings felt raw. Not being with Klaus caused him pain. Okay then. Miles smiled. Trevor, lets give Astrid here a little crash course in seduction.

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Chapter Seven
Klaus had informed Ben of the witch coming to visit. Ben even agreed it was for the best. With him and Astrid being mates, it would be hard to question him and not get emotionally involved. After leaving the war room, he headed straight for his room. Exhaustion made his bones ache with every step he took. It seemed like hours had passed, not minutes, when he finally reached his bedroom door. The house was so large it was like walking around in a maze. He never knew where he would end up. Turning the knob, he stepped into the darkened room. He removed his shirt without even flipping on the light. He was tired and didnt want the bright shine of the overhead light. Klaus rounded the bed and lay down on top of the comforter. He stretched his arms above his head as he yawned. When he brought his arms down, his fingers brushed across something solid. He sat up and swung his feet off the bed. A warrior always had to be prepared, and he allowed himself to fall prey to an intruder. His hand shot out to switch on the bedside lamp. The room filled with a dim yellow light. Even in the low lighting, he still had to squint his eyes from the small glare. When the initial shock from the light wore off, he took a better look at his guest. He stared in disbelief at his mate sleeping away in his bed, under his covers like he knew he was meant to be there. The need to climb back onto the bed and strip away the blanket from his mates body and make love to him until he screamed his pleasure played in the back of his mind. But to do that would be

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selfish. Astrid needed more time to come to terms with the whole mating situation. He had lived for fifteen hundred and two years. He could wait a little longer to bed his sweet little mate. He walked to the other side of the bed and knelt next to Astrids head. His mates hair lay loose around his face. The golden locks fanned out on the pillow, reminding him of the rays of the sun. The skin covering Astrids face was smooth as marble. He had no stress wrinkles around his eyes or mouth. In sleep, fear couldnt reach Astrids psyche. For that Klaus was thankful. Very slowly, he reached out his hand to strum his fingertips down the side of his mates face. Astrid shifted slightly, seeking the soft pads of Klauss fingers. He wanted more of Klauss touch even in sleep. His heart leapt at the small, unintentional gesture. If all he could get right now were brief moments like this, Klaus would take what he could get. Astrids eyes fluttered open, and a small smile spread across his face. Im sorry I snuck into your room. I just couldnt wait to see you again, Astrid said shyly. His heart melted a little more toward the man. Astrids uninhibited honesty was refreshing in a world of lying and backstabbing. Astrids rosy-red cheeks signaled to him that he was nervous. He took the initiative to seek him out, and Klaus didnt want to scare his mate away from surprising him in the future. He had to say the right thing. Never apologize, angel. Klaus grinned down at him. Im happy that you feel comfortable coming to me. I want you to come to me for everything. Im glad to hear you say that because I do need something from you. Astrids cheeks glowed brighter, if that were possible. Whats that, angel? Klaus asked. He reached out and tucked a lock of hair behind Astrids ear. I want you to make love to me. Astrid lowered his eyes submissively.

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Klaus jerked in surprise. Dear god, help him. A man could only take so much temptation before he surrendered to his own needs. Here Astrid sat asking him to consummate their relationship and to join them together emotionally and physically. He wanted nothing more than to do that, but in the back of his mind that little voice whispered that it was still too soon. It was too soon to give in to his carnal desires for his mate. Astrid still needed time to work through his issues from his past. Sex would only complicate the situation. He was quiet for so long, Astrid must have taken his silence as rejection. Klaus watched as Astrid sat up on the bed and pulled his legs toward his chest, hugging them tight. This was the pose Klaus had classified as Astrids scared and frightened position. Fuck! How can I fix this? Astrid? Klaus climbed up onto the bed and sat next this mate. Astrid, talk to me. His angel brushed his hand away. Its okay, Klaus, really. I should have known I wasnt worthy of you, even if we are mates. Miles was wrong. Youre the one too good for me. Astrids lower lip stuck out in a pout. The words Astrid said slowly sunk in. Klaus started to laugh. Of course Miles would say he wasnt good enough for Astrid. He himself felt the same way. Its not funny, Astrid shouted. Klaus stopped laughing immediately. He had upset his angel again. Tears ran down Astrids cheeks as he rocked from side to side on the bed. Klaus wanted to punch himself for his callous behavior. Astrid, Im not laughing at you. Its what Miles said. Astrid looked blankly at him. Miles was right. You are too good for me. Ive done a lot of bad things in my fifteen hundred years. Im afraid my dark past will leak onto your delicate skin and ruin your way of thinking and being. If anything Ive ever done were to come back and hurt you, I could never live with myself.

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Dont say that, Astrid whined. Youre special to me, and no matter what youve done, I would still want you. Youre mine. Dont you see that? Klaus eyed him warily. He did understand, because he felt the same way, but still it was too soon. Angel, I do, but even without all that its still too soon for us to engage inin...in any sexual activity. Klauss face heated with embarrassment. Hed never felt this awkward when discussing his sex life before. I wish everyone would stop telling me what I need. Astrid breathed out a deep sigh. Im a grown man. I think I know what I can and cant handle. Astrid reached for his hand. I want to feel what lovemaking should be like. I cant take away what happened between Lucian and I, but Ill do whatever you want, just please give me the chance. Klauss teeth clenched so tightly at the mention of Lucians name he thought his jaw would crumble to dust. Me wanting to wait has nothing to do with that man. Klaus was trying his best to reign in his anger for what Astrid had suffered through at the hands of that monster. Klaus gentled his tone when he spoke again. I want you so bad I can barely stand being near you and not touching you. But what I want and what you need are two different things. I could never live with myself if you regretted what we shared afterwards. It would kill me, Astrid. But dont you see, I dont want to wait. It will change nothing if we do it today or tomorrow. I was abused, and Im sick of everyone treating me like Im a broken person. Im dealing with it in my own way. Astrid sat up on his knees and scooted closer to Klaus. I know this may be hard for you to understand, but I love you. I feel you in my bones. And when you deny me, I ache here.

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Astrid grabbed his hand and placed it over his heart. Klaus could feel the heat coming off Astrids body through the shirt. The small thud of his pulse pushed against his hand. His angel yearned for him. Without a second thought, Klaus fisted his hand in Astrid shirt and rolled until he lay on top of him. Astrid gasped in surprise, and Klaus grinned down at his angel. The hunger that crossed Astrids face was all the go-ahead he needed. Klaus covered Astrids lips with his own. He sipped from Astrids heavenly entrance. His tongue came out to lick at the seam of Astrids lips. The need to plunder the velvety, moist mouth had his body humming to claim what was rightfully his. He teased Astrids lips apart and coaxed Astrids tongue into playing with his. Astrid timidly sucked his tongue farther into his mouth, and white-hot pleasure raced through Klauss body from the top of his head down to his toes. The need to breathe had him pulling away from Astrid. Klaus rested his forehead against Astrid as he tried to focus. He took deep breaths, trying to calm his racing heart. Slow. He needed to go slow. Okay, angel, Ill give you what you want. He placed a finger against Astrids lips when he started to speak. But at my pace. I want to take things slow with you. Youre just making excuses. Astrid pushed at his chest. You dont want me. Klaus grabbed Astrids hand and placed it over the rock-solid erection he sported behind his zipper. Astrids eyes widened in shock. Does it feel like I dont want you? He moaned as Astrid gave an experimental squeeze to his length. I want you more than the next breath I take, but we need to take one thing at a time. We have all the time in the world. Theres no need to rush it. Astrid continued to stroke Klauss cock through his pants. Astrid knew what he wanted, and he was taking control of the situation. Klaus could get used to this side of his angel.

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The need to come had Klaus pulling Astrids hands up to the sides of his head. He smiled down at his mate as he wiggled beneath him. Keep your hands right here. He tightened his hold on his mates small, fragile wrist to emphasize his request. Astrid gave him a jerky nod. Klaus held his angels gaze as he slowly trailed his fingers down Astrids clothed body. He would have liked for his mate to be wearing nothing at all. The need to feel soft, smooth skin had Klaus yanking Astrids shirt up to his chin. He left the shirt there and went for Astrids zipper. The prize lying inside was what he truly wanted at the moment. Klaus wanted to taste Astrid and get drunk on his liquid magic. He popped the button on Astrids pants and peeled back the sides. The head of Astrids cock peeked out of the top of his briefs. Klaus reached up and used both hands to pull down the sturdy denim. Astrid raised his hips off the bed to help him. God youre beautiful, Klaus said as he got his first glimpse of Astrids naked body. Astrid had pale skin from head to toe with lightly tanned nipples that had hardened from his touch. He worked his way down to the heavy cock resting against Astrids stomach. The head peeked out of the foreskin, showcasing a drop of pre-cum at the tip. God how he loved his men uncut. Not giving Astrid a chance to decide if he wanted Klauss mouth on him or not, he leaned forward and swallowed his mate down until his nose met the thatch of golden hair surrounding the base. Astrid grunted and thrust his hips into Klauss face as he moved up the length. Klaus rolled down the thin tissue and tongued every ridged contour. He hummed around the head as he brought his other hand up to gently massage Astrids balls and pull on the soft orbs lightly. With mouth on cock, one hand jacking the length, and one hand fondling his mans bits, he very quickly pushed Astrid over the edge. Astrid threw his head back and screamed as hot cum shot down Klauss throat. Klaus ran his eyes up the length of Astrids body as he

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came undone. The tendons of Astrids neck bulged as he succumbed to the love Klaus showed him. Klaus sucked his mates throbbing length until he milked all the cream his mate had to give. The taste of pure bliss erupted on his tongue. He released Astrids softening shaft from his lips and sat up, straddling Astrids legs. Klaus growled in frustration when he couldnt get his pants undone quickly enough. The intoxicating, sweet taste of Astrid in his mouth drove him to insanity. He breathed a sigh of relief as he finally worked his prick free from his pants. Klaus looked up to his mate when he heard Astrids sharp inhale. This was the first time his mate had seen his naked shaft. His size had intimidated many men but not his Astrid. Astrid licked his lips as he ogled his hard cock. The sight of his angels pink tongue running across his lips had Klaus gripping his length tightly in his fist. He pumped his hand hard and fast. His orgasm played just out of reach. Astrid started to move his hands away from his head, and Klaus grunted for him to hold still. Astrid let his hands fall back to his sides and he looked down his body as Klaus masturbated over him. The hungry look in his mates eyes wreaked havoc on his nerves. Astrid rocked his hips up and grazed his semierect cock against Klauss crease. A whimper left his mouth as warm cum spit forth from his body. He hovered over Astrids and painted his chest with his seed. Mine, he declared as the last bit of cum left his body. Klaus fell forward, bracing his forearms on either side of Astrids head. His breathing was still erratic, but he couldnt resist kissing his mates welcoming lips. It was more of an openmouthed kiss with a lot of heavy panting from them both. Never had a hand job been more fulfilling. In fact, it rated higher than any of Klauss previous sexual encounters, and it had everything to do with the innocent creature tucked in close to his chest.

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He shifted to the side and spooned Astrid from behind. He smeared the cooling cum on Astrids belly, rubbing the pearly white strings into Astrids skin as if it were lotion. They would need to shower soon, but for now he liked smelling himself on his mate. Astrid didnt seem to mind his caveman ways. He just wiggled closer. Klaus pulled the covers up and tucked his mate in. Astrid yawned so wide Klaus heard his jaw pop. His mate was exhausted and needed to sleep. Klaus stayed awake until he heard the faint snoring coming from Astrid. He pulled the smaller man closer to his chest. To be able to sleep with Astrid snug in his arms was a gift from the gods. Knowing his mate was safe with him, Klaus finally allowed himself to succumb to his exhaustion. Tomorrow would bring a new day, and they could further discuss their budding relationship.

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Chapter Eight
Astrid awoke, and instant panic had his body tensing. The feel of a warm body pressed up against his backside had him squirming to get away. He could feel a thick cock nestled between his cheeks. Fight-or-flight instincts took over. He wasnt going to keep being a victim. He shifted and tugged at the blanket, trying to put some distance between him and the man behind him. Angel, calm down. Its just me. Astrid stopped struggling at the sound of Klauss voice. He was in bed with his mate, not a stranger, or worse, Lucian. The memories of what they shared last night came back to him in a flash. The smoldering-hot kisses the shared, and the way Klaus touched his body. Heat flushed his face as he remembered Klaus sucking him off. He had never experienced that before and was anxious to do it again. Maybe even perform the act for his mate. Astrid turned in Klauss embrace and tucked his head under Klauss chin. He placed small kisses to the small divot under his mates throat then rubbed his nose into the light fur covering Klauss chest. The curly, fine hairs tickled his nose, causing him to giggle. Whats so funny, my angel? Klaus asked as he dropped a kiss to the top of Astrids head. Your hairy chest is making my nose itch. Astrid propped himself up on his elbow. And it tickles. Klauss eyes were slightly opened as he stared at Astrid. His hair was mussed, and a grin pulled up at the corners of his lips. His mate was sexy as hell first thing in the morning. Even when all disheveled, Klaus still managed to pull off the look. Other men were probably

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jealous of Klauss handsomeness, and they should be. No man should be allowed to look that amazing. Come up here and kiss me. Klaus grabbed under his arms and pulled him up his body. He maneuvered Astrid like he weighed nothing. Theres less hair to tickle you, angel. Astrid was coming to love the nickname. Klaus considered him his angel. After being told for so long that he was shit, it was nice to have someone care so much for him. The love Astrid had for Klaus grew with every breath he took. As he leaned down to Klauss lips, Astrid paused in mid-descent. He caught a whiff of his mates musky scent. His eyes fell shut, and another sigh pushed past his lips as he breathed deep, warm skin and sex. He purred as Klaus ran his fingers up his neck, grabbing the long strands that fell loosely down his back. Klaus gently pulled Astrid into a kiss. Soft, full lips met his own, and it was heaven. Klaus swiped his tongue along the seam of Astrids lips. He parted his lips, and Klaus dove right in. The way his mate mastered his mouth set Astrids skin on fire. Klaus poked and prodded at his tongue, and he answered the call by dueling back. Astrid sucked Klauss tongue farther into his mouth, causing a moan to erupt from his chest. He wanted to taste every part of his mate and couldnt hold back his need any longer. He wanted Klaus to make love to him. Klaus, love me. Make me yours, Astrid whimpered as he grabbed at Klauss hair, pulling him closer. Klaus reached for his hands, detaching his grip from his hair. Angel, remember what we decided last night? Were going to take things slow and see where it leads us. There is no rush to do anything. No, you decided that, not me. Astrid yanked his hands from Klauss hold. Tears filled his eyes as embarrassment and shame swam

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in his gut. Being rejected should have been an old song and dance for him, but it didnt make Klauss rejection any easier. Stop it, Klaus growled as he rolled over on top of him, pinning him to the bed. Im not saying no. Im just saying we should take things slow. Tears fell like rain down his cheeks. He understood and respected his mate for wanting to wait, but what he needed to heal himself was Klaus. To have Klauss loving touch erase the memories of the years spent in Malcolms care. He needed good memories to replace the bad, to make him complete on the inside. Stop saying that! he cried out. Why couldnt Klaus understand that he needed to feel his cock buried deep in his body? To fill him inside and out with his love, claiming him forever. He took a deep, calming breath. It was a form of meditation hed learned years ago to help center himself and his thoughts. I just wish you would make love to me like a good mate should. Klauss eyes became hazy, as if he were in a daze. Very slowly, Klauss head lowered toward his, and then he suddenly stopped. He shook himself, as if trying to clear his thoughts. Whoa, what was that? Klauss brow knitted together in confusion. What was what? Astrid asked. When you said you wished I would make love to you, I felt my mind go fuzzy. All I wanted to do was what you asked. I felt compelled to do as you wished, and your skin glowed slightly. Klauss eyes widened. Oh shit. At the concern on Klauss face, Astrid started to get scared. What was going on? Angel, say it again. Say you wish I would make love to you. I think your wish was trying to make me do it. Astrid had no clue what game Klaus was playing at, but he said it anyways. I wish you would make love to me, right now, he added.

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If wishing for something got him what he wanted, then so be it. Hed try anything to get Klaus to bed him. A surge of heat he hadnt noticed before flared across his skin. Ignoring the odd feeling, he focused on Klauss reaction. The same glazed-over look covered his eyes. When he blinked, it was gone. Klaus took a couple deep breaths as he hovered over him. Astrid, have you ever heard of fairies, or did Malcolm or Lucian ever say anything about fairies within your presence? Klaus asked. No, he said, shaking his head. Why are you asking me this? I dont understand. When you made that wish, I felt the compulsion to do it. Huh? he asked in disbelief. Klaus wasnt making any sense. Let me explain a little of the fairy history to you the best I can. Keep in mind they are extremely rare, as in, no ones actually seen one in person in centuries, and for good reason. Fairies, as a whole, are considered the purest of beings, right up there next to angels. Their magic comes in the form of wishes. Its magic without consequence. All fairies are good by nature. They couldnt grant an evil wish even if they tried. Their magic wont allow it. Astrid stared blankly at him, unsure what all this meant for him. If fairies werent evil then what was the issue? I can tell by the look on your face Im not explaining this very well. Klaus paused for a moment then began again. Lets say someone wishes for someone to die. A fairy literally cannot grant that wish. Even if the fairy wanted to, their magic wouldnt work. And back in the day, before this became known to other paranormals, fairies were a sought-after commodity. Some paranormals believed they could have their own personal wishing machine that could grant them any of their hearts desires, but they didnt realize it didnt work that way. Some fairies were tortured, some even slaughtered for what they couldnt give to their captors. Thats terrible. Tears started to trickle down his cheeks, but he didnt have the energy to wipe them away. The cruelty of others never

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seemed to end. Those poor fairies suffering at the hands of others for things they couldnt control wasnt right. Angel. Klaus turned Astrid to face him. If Im right and you have fairy blood running in your veins, we have a major problem. What kind of problem? Astrid managed to ask past the lump in his throat. Would he ever get a break and just be allowed to live his life? First off, Ive never seen a mix of two species before. It just isnt possible. So if you are, in fact, a hybrid, someone went to great lengths to create you. Mother Nature has checks and balances, and in all of existence there has never been a cross in species, ever. Second, fairies are beings of good, so their magic has no consequence, unlike a witchs. Where a fairy cannot do bad things, a witch can. So, combine the two and you have a magical being that can now do any sort of magic without any backlash. So, in theory, if you wished for someone to die, they would, and there would be no consequence to you for doing it. Some paranormals will see this as a very bad thing and may want to seek you out to capture you to use for their own gain, and others will seek you out to kill you, considering you an abomination needing to be destroyed. Oh my god, I think Im going to be sick. His stomach began to heave. Bile burned the back of his throat as the acid from his stomach worked its way up his esophagus. Angel, just breathe. Klaus rubbed at his back in an attempt to calm him. We will figure this out. Youre my mate. I will never let any harm come to you, I promise. A cold sweat broke out across his skin. Klaus said fairies were rare and people would want him, even kill him, for what he was. Oh god, could he have been set free from one prison just to be hunted down like a wild animal in need of being put to death? Astrid, talk to me, Klaus demanded. It took all he had to pass air through his lungs. All he ever wanted was to find a home with a family and know true love. In the end it

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didnt matter what he wanted. It was obvious the universe was against him ever finding happiness. Astrid, please say something. You all said I was a witch. How can you be certain Im a fairy? His voice sounded weak and defeated to his own ears. Astrid, I can sense the witch in you, but when you made that wishKlaus shook his headI felt the compulsion to do as you wanted, and the way your skin glowed, that is only found in fairies. When their magic powers up, a soft glow starts from the inside of their bodies and shines its way out. Just like I saw you do. What do I do now? You said it would be bad if I had fairy blood. You said people would want me or would want to kill me. Tears made his vision blurry. Im so fucked it isnt even funny, Astrid sobbed. Klaus began to laugh. Astrid had no clue what he found so funny, but it pissed him off that in a time like this his mate would laugh at him. Maybe all of Klauss kind words were a lie and a trick to get what he wanted from Astrid. Let go of me, Astrid shouted in Klauss face. Angel, calm down. His hold tightened on Astrids wrists. Stop fighting me. **** Klaus couldnt understand why his mate fought him. Yes, he was laughing, but he wasnt laughing at Astrid, just at what he said. To hear such dirty words coming out of his mates sweet mouth caused his dick to lengthen and become rigid. Astrid, please, he begged. Im not laughing at you, just what you said. At Astrids blank stare, he explained. You said fuck. Huh? Astrids eyebrows knitted together.

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Such a dirty word coming from such a pretty mouth, it turns me on. He nipped at Astrids bottom lip then rocked his hips forward, grinding his arousal in between Astrids spread legs. When Astrid gasped in surprise, he took the opportunity to seize the delicious, moist heaven he had become addicted to. The taste of his mate was all the fuel he needed to survive. As he kissed his mate senseless, Klaus thought about Astrids concerns. He did tell his mate that he would be sought out for either a prize to be held captive or to be killed for the fear of his power. Cold tendrils of terror weaved their way up his back, surrounding his spine and holding him in place as he devoured his lovers mouth. He deepened the kiss, doing his best to meld Astrid and himself together. The need to protect his mate from the unknown would be his only mission from here on out. The council would have to learn to live without him. Astrid yelped, causing Klaus to come back to his senses. He tasted the metallic tinge of blood on his tongue. Klaus withdrew from the kiss to see what he had done. Shiny red drops of blood beaded up on Astrids full lower lip. The only way to protect Astrid was to mate him. Klaus had enough clout within the council that they would trust his judgment to control Astrid, and the mating bond would strengthen their magic. Together they could keep each other safe. He would be damned if anyone took Astrid away from him. Holding Astrids gaze, he reached for the bedside table. He grabbed the bottle of lube he had stashed there when he first arrived. The time had come to claim his mate. The right thing would be to wait and give Astrid time to live on his own and make his own decisions. But that chance had left the building. Fairies were an endangered species for a reason, and he wouldnt let Astrid become a part of those statistics. Whwhat are you going to do with that? Astrids voice shook with nerves.

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He grinned down at his mate. Im going to do what youve been begging for. Im going to make love to you and make you mine forever. Really? Astrids eyes widened to the size of saucers, and he cleared his throat. I mean, are you sure? Klaus watched as Astrid clenched his fist then flexed his fingers just to clench them back tight again. It would appear his mate was jumpy at the idea. Klaus could understand his trepidation. For the first time in Astrids life, he would have the choice if he wanted to engage in sexual activity or not. Astrid had whined about Klaus not fucking him, but now, faced with the knowledge that that was exactly what was about to happen, he seemed to get a little nervous. He would have found it odd if Astrid wasnt a little uneasy. Im very sure, angel, Klaus said as he sat back on his heels. He pushed up on Astrids thighs so he would lift his legs. Astrid pulled his knees to his chest, gifting Klaus with the sight of his pale-pink starburst. He had to purse his lips together to keep from drooling. He popped the cap to the lube and drizzled the clear liquid over his fingers then traced a finger from the base of Astrids cock, down the crease of his sack, and toward the rippled opening. He circled his wet finger around the tight muscle. On the second time around, he lightly pushed the tip of his finger inside. Astrid jerked and whimpered in response. Klaus quickly removed his finger. Angel, are you okay? Do you want me to stop? He bit his lip while he waited for Astrid to answer. If his mate wanted to cease their play, he would, no questions asked, but he really hoped not. He had just a moment inside his mates snug, hot channel, and he had to have more. No, Astrid shouted. Im just not used to this. I mean, I know that you know Dont say another word, he said, cutting his mate off. He knew what Astrid was referring to, and he wouldnt allow the memory of

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Lucian to ruin what he and Astrid were about to share. This is about you and me, nothing else. Well pretend its both of our first times. Klaus shrugged. And it is. Our first time together, and itll be perfect. When Astrid smiled, he knew he had said the right thing. His mates previous sex life was less than stellar, and Klaus didnt want him thinking about that while they were together. It was the time to make new memories that would last them an eternity. He reached back down and pushed one finger into Astrids tight hole. He watched for signs of hesitation from his mate, but Astrid had his eyes closed. A small smiled graced his lips, and Klaus took that as a good sign to continue. He worked the one finger in and out in a nice steady rhythm, letting Astrid get used to the fullness. Slowly, he worked another finger in alongside the first. He groaned aloud as he watched how nicely Astrids body sucked his fingers in. It was as if Astrids body recognized his and wanted the connection just as much. Klaus used his free hand to pour more lube over his length while he used his other hand to scissor his fingers in and out of Astrids hole. He removed his fingers, to Astrids displeasure, but his whine ended quickly in a moan as the blunt tip of Klauss cock broke through the barrier of muscle. They both groaned in delight as he entered inch by slow inch into his lovers body. Astrid relaxed and welcomed him inside, hugging him close. The hot heat of Astrids tight passage felt sublime to his shaft, setting a raging storm of emotions dancing across his skin. Oh god, Klaus moaned aloud as he bottomed out. He held still, trying to stave off his orgasm begging for release. He had to make this good for his mate. But as his balls rested heavily against his mates ass, his control began to slip. It was like a scratch needing to be itched. He had to move or he would go insane.

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Astrid, never has anything felt so right, he said as he gently pulled out until only the head remained then pushed his length back into Astrids body, causing him to cry out. Astrid could only nod his head in response. His body was covered in a fine sheen of sweat. Klaus loved how his mate trembled every time he withdrew and rocked forward. In an attempt to stifle his moans, Astrid bit his lip, breaking open the small cut Klaus had caused earlier. Seeing the bright-red blood of his mate was a sign to complete the bonding ritual. All the elements for the blood-sex-magic were right there. All he needed was Astrids consent. Tell me, Astrid. Tell me this is what you want. Tell me you want to be my mate. He stilled his hips, waiting for Astrids answer. I want this, Astrid whispered. He let loose the hold on his knees and let his legs fall to the sides of Klauss hips. He reached his arms up and wrapped them around Klauss neck and kissed him softly on the lips. Theres nothing I want more. Make me yours, please. Klaus peeled Astrids arms from his neck and sat up on his knees. He swiped his thumb across Astrids lip, capturing the ruby-red drops on his fingertip. Very carefully, as to not to cause discomfort to his mate, he eased out from Astrids body. He smeared the blood over the head of his cock then bit into his own lip, drawing forth his lifeblood. Astrid watched him with wide eyes as he collected the blood from his lip and mixed it with the blood already gathered at the tip. Not wasting another moment, Klaus guided his swollen cock back into Astrids body. He grabbed Astrids legs and placed them over his shoulders so he could penetrate deep with every thrust. He wanted Astrid to feel his love with every stroke. He squeezed his fingers around Astrids thighs so tight, leaving his mark for him to see in the morning. That thought pleased him. He wanted others to see he had claimed his mate, to know he was taken. The thought of tattooing his name on Astrids flesh for all to see had him snapping his hips faster and faster.

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When Astrid whimpered, he looked down. He saw Astrids rigid hard shaft weeping at the tip. Pre-cum oozed from the small slit, making the swollen crown glow in the dim lighting. His angel needed relief. Klaus spat into his hand then grasped Astrids dick in his fist. The feel of velvety-smooth skin pulled taut over Astrids thick erection made his knees start to wobble and caused the bed to shake. The loose foreskin rolled up over his glans with every jerk of Klauss hand. He sped up his movements as his angel gasped for breath. The sound of skin smacking against skin, Astrids panting, and his heavy breathing combined to make an erotic serenade of their lovemaking. Klauss orgasm built and built until he thought his dick would explode from the sheer joy he felt. Loving Astrid was the easiest thing he had ever done. How could he not love his perfect angel? Astrid had been created just for him. Klaus, Klaus, I cant hold on any longer, Astrid sobbed as he tried to catch his breath. Let go, angel. I have you, Klaus grounded out through clenched teeth. He was about to blow. One and two more pulls to Astrids shaft had him shooting rope after rope of cum from his body. Astrids juices covered his chest as well as Klauss hand. Between the sight and smell of Astrids cum, Klaus let loose like a man out of control. He thrust harder and deeper than before, chasing his relief down like a cop after a criminal. Klaus growled heavenward as Astrids body milked his very essence from his body. He held still as his release rocketed out of him. His cum painted Astrids inner walls, marking him as Klauss from the inside out. Even now he could sense Astrids essence flowing through him. They were as one now. The bond had been cemented. Only death could tear them apart. Klaus released a ragged breath through his parted lips. He relaxed forward, cradling Astrid in his arms, careful not to squeeze him too

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tight. His cock was still buried deep within Astrids ass, but he couldnt fathom pulling free just yet. Mine. He rose up on his elbows at the soft-spoken word from his mate. A smiled played across his lips as he looked down at Astrid. He could most definitely get used to this outspoken side of his angel. As you are mine, my angel. He kissed Astrid tenderly on the lips. Astrid lightly caressed his fingertips up and down Klauss back. He twitched a little at the slight tickle the action caused. So what do we do now? Astrid asked with all the innocence of the world. We, my angel, get some sleep. Klaus extracted his softened cock from Astrids hole and lay behind him, hugging him close to his chest. Once weve rested, well go share the good news of our mating. Astrid started to laugh. Whats so funny? I think everyone knows. Astrids full-body laugh shook the bed. Why is that? You yelled really loud. I think the neighboring town heard you. Klaus joined in his mates amusement. He loved to hear his mate laugh, and he also loved knowing that the word of their mating had already started to spread. If he was as loud as Astrid claimed, his fellow warriors knew the reason why. He claimed his mate good and proper, and the warriors in the house couldnt fault him for that. They would be happy for them, or so he hoped. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you were loud, too. Astrid turned his head to glare at him. Hey, Im not complaining. In fact, next time I want to hear you scream my name as you ride my cock. Okay. Astrids face flushed a nice cherry red.

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Dont be embarrassed about what happens in our room. Were mated. We can do anything we want. He tapped a finger to Astrids chin. Understand? Astrid nodded his head yes. Good. Now lets get some sleep, my angel. Klaus cuddled Astrid close and tenderly combed his fingers through his mates long blond hair until he fell asleep. He was glad he found a way to take Astrids mind off of the whole fairy discovery. Like his mother had predicted, struggles lay ahead of them, but he would fight with every part of his being to protect Astrid. With one more kiss to Astrids head, he, too, succumbed to the much-needed rest his body required.

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Chapter Nine
When they awakened, Klaus carried Astrid to the bathroom for a not-so-quick shower. They touched and kissed until he fucked Astrid up against the shower wall. Once sated and cleaned, they got out of the cooling water and got dressed. Klaus, can I ask you something about this whole fairy-wishing thing? Astrid asked as he pulled a T-shirt over his head. You can ask me anything. Klaus pulled Astrid close and kissed his water-pruned lips. If my wishing didnt work on you, would it harm the others living here? Theyre paranormals, they should be safe around me, right? Well, yes and no. Your compulsion doesnt work well on me because Im old. Astrid arched a brow. With age comes control. Klaus smiled at him. Your witchs half adds an extra punch to the wishing, which can make it hard for new vamps and shifters to deny the compulsion. You have to be careful with that word. You cant force your will onto others. That would be wrong. You understand that, right? Of course I understand that, Astrid shot back. I know right from wrong. Im not heartless. Angel, I didnt mean it like that. I know you would never intentionally hurt someone, but you have to be careful with that word. Astrid nodded. Klaus feared the damage that one little word might do.

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As they walked down the spiraling staircase, he could hear raised voices. When he got halfway down the stairs, he saw the warrior named Finn chasing a young man out the door. Huh, hed never seen the other man before. Any other time, he would inquire about the situation. Being part of the council for so many years had instilled in him to question any newcomers into their world. They rounded the corner and came face-to-chest with a very large man. Abby, Astrid squealed happily as he jumped into the other mans arms. Klaus had to bite his tongue to keep from demanding his mate to stop groping the man in front of them. The man more than likely was just a friend, but it didnt make it any easier to see his mate touching another. The need to cast a spell turning the tower of a man into an insect sat at the tip of his tongue, but that wouldnt go over too well with Ben. Ben had shown him above and beyond the hospitality he deserved, and he wouldnt disrespect the man by turning his warriors into creepy-crawlies. Hey, little man, hows it going? The large man set Astrid back on his feet and patted the top of his head like an adult would do to a small child. Relief flooded Klaus. If the man saw Astrid as a child, there was no attraction in the simple embrace they shared. Im great, Astrid said excitedly. He grabbed for Klauss hand. Abby, this is my mate, Klaus. Pride beamed from his every pore. Hes all mine. Im not alone anymore. Aww, little man, you werent alone before. The man named Abby looked at Klaus. No offense, but I want Astrid to know with or without you, he will never be alone. Were a family here, and he needs to know that. Klaus nodded. No offense taken. He paused. What was your name again?

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Its Abner, but little man calls me Abby. Abner reached out his hand to shake his. Well, Abner, Astrid considers you all to be his family, and family is important. Im very grateful for the love and affection youve shown my mate. Klaus wrapped his arm around Astrids shoulders as he smiled up at him. He kind of makes it easy to care for him. I know exactly what you mean. He never looked up from Astrids face as he answered Abner. The sound of the doorbell ringing brought Klauss attention back into focus. He heard the sound of footsteps coming down the opposite hallway. I got it, Trevor hollered as he headed for the door. He was a funny man, very opinionated and skittish at times. Or at least Trevor was when around him. About fucking time. Weve been standing out here forever, the man on the other side of the door said. Shut up, goth boy. We just got here. Im sorry he was so rude, but is there a Klaus present? He sent for us. Were here from the council. The front door slammed shut. Trevor leaned heavily against the solid wood door, gulping for each breath. Klaus couldnt comprehend the young vampires reaction. What was his problem? Trevors wild eyes jumped to Klauss. They sent more of you fuckers, Trevor gasped in shock and covered his mouth. Oh shit, Im sorry, but you people make me nervous. Witches? Klaus asked. No man, the fuzz. Youre like the police of our world. I know enough from what I learned yesterday that you wouldnt harm Astrid or any of us, but Im not so sure about those guys outside.

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Klaus bit back the chuckle that wanted to break free. The man seemed a little off, but he had Astrids best interest at heart even if he was overacting just a tad. Thank you, Trevor, but those gentlemen out there are my friends, and they are here to help Astrid. Astrid sidled up close to his side. Klaus reached back, pulling Astrid close. He gently nudged Trevor out of the way and opened the door. What the hell was that all about? the witch known as Carter asked. Well, goth boy, maybe if you didnt yell at the poor boy when he answered the door, he wouldnt have slammed the damn thing in our faces. Carlos smiled at Klaus as he walked into the house. Klaus returned the smile. He hadnt seen his good friend in what felt like ages. Listen here, you prick, I do have a name. Its Carter, not goth boy. Get it right or dont fucking talk to me. Carter walked farther inside. Wheres this witch I have to read? My time is precious, and I dont want to be stuck in Nowhere, USA for longer than I have to. There was a loud roar from down the hallway. Klaus turned lightning fast to wrap his body around Astrids. He didnt know what was happening, but protecting Astrid was the most important thing to do. He peeked over his shoulder to make sure everyone was all right. What he saw shocked him silent. Abner had Carter pinned to the wall. Carter had his head tilted to the side, with his neck exposed as Abner sniffed along the sensitive flesh. Tension was so thick in the air it was almost a living entity in the room. No one moved, as if they knew that simple action might ignite Abner into defending what he considered his. And by the way he was pushed up close to Carter and smelling him so deeply, that left only one possible explanation. Poor Abner was mated to a very selfish witch.

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Mine, Abner growled as he started to lick along Carters neck where the witchs pulse beat. Dude, I dont care if we are mates. I belong to no one, Carter moaned as he pushed at Abners wide shoulders. Klaus couldnt tell if he was trying to climb the large man or get away. Abner, you need to put Carter down, Klaus said to the large man. But hes mine. Once again, Im nobodys. Now put me down, you big oaf, Carter snapped. Theres no reason to be rude, youyou big meanie, Astrid said. Astrid stood with his arms crossed over his chest, tapping his foot as he glared up at Carter. Boy did his angel have a temper when provoked. Abby, please put him down. I dont think he likes you smelling him. Astrid gentled his tone when he spoke to Abner. Abner set Carter back down to his feet. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his mate. Klaus could see the pain in the large mans eyes. To find that one special person, only to be denied had to be heartbreaking, something Klaus almost did to his mate. Thanks, Carter said, never looking in Abners direction. Klaus, is this that witch you had me fly out here to read? Yes, Carter. Klaus motioned for Astrid to come to him. Astrid ignored him and went to stand by his friend. Hey, Abby, itll be okay. Astrids small hand encased Abners large one. If you say so, little man. If you say so. Abner rubbed a hand through Astrids hair as he smiled down at him. He looked longingly one last time in Carters direction then spun on his heel and walked out of the room. Do you feel nothing? Klaus asked. Me? He pointed a finger at his chest. I feel tons of shit, but Im too young to be saddled with a mate just yet. I need to live a little more, if you know what I mean. Carter waggled his eyebrows.

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Youre an insensitive asshole, you know that? Carlos said from behind Klaus. Some of us would give anything to find our soul mate, and youre just going to toss yours away like a piece of garbage? Hey, I didnt ask for any of this. Carter waved a hand in the direction Abner left. By all means, feel free to poach my rejects. Im all for giving him to you. Carter Klauss words were cut short by Astrid. You dont deserve Abby. Hes too good for you. Astrids face became flush with anger. I wish you would just go away! Astrid, no, Klaus shouted as he spun Astrid around to face him. Angel, you cant make wishes, remember, he whispered close to Astrids ear. What the fuck was that? Carter held his hands in front of him as if to steady himself from a jolt. What was what? Carlos asked as he peered among the men standing in the foyer. I think we need to go find a quiet room to discuss some things. Klaus caught Trevors attention with his eyes. The man stood so still he blended in with the wall. Trevor, would you please inform Ben and Miles that the past-reader is here, and Ill be with Astrid the whole time. Trevor nodded his understanding and took off. Klaus led the men to the sitting room in the back of the house, where they would have more privacy. After what had just happened, Astrids possible fairy blood had been proven, and Carter and Carlos had witnessed it. By council regulations, they would have to report him as such. **** Abner heard the men talking in the other room. He heard what his mate had said. Carter didnt want him. He even offered him up to his friend. Boy, Abner, you got picked a winner.

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He was just about to leave when Trevor came careening around the corner. Hey, Abs, you seen Ben or Miles? Trevor asked as he peeked around him. No, he said as he turned to leave. Abner, dont let what that douche said get to you. Trevor winked at him. You cant run from destiny. Abner watched as Trevor jogged down the hallway. You cant run from destiny. Well, he sure hoped he could because there was no way he wanted to spend an eternity with a man who didnt want him.

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Chapter Ten
Astrid followed Klaus down the hallway. He messed up big time by wishing Carter would go away, but he couldnt regret saying it. The way Carter treated Abby was unacceptable. Besides Klaus, there wasnt a greater man than the bear shifter that he knew of. When he came to live with the Warriors of the Light, the big man took Astrid under his wing, made Astrid feel part of the group, and kept him safe. They were friends, and friends had each others backs. Astrid glared over at Carter. The man looked quite scary with his black attirewell, black everything, actually. Everything he wore was blackshirt, long jacket, pants, and even his boots. The mans short, spiky hair was black as midnight. All the black made his already-pale skin seem all the whiter if that were possible. At closer observation, Astrid could see that the man wore makeup. No big shocker that is was black. He wore the dark eyeliner around his eyes, making them stand out. Carters eyes were such a dark shade of blue, they, too, almost appeared black when framed by the black eyeliner and mascara. In here, gentlemen. Klaus opened the door and ushered them to a long wooden table with wingback chairs surrounding it. Astrid took the seat farthest away from Carter. His anger still ran at high levels toward the witch. I get that youre not happy with me, Astrid, but Im going to have to touch you for this to work, Carter said to him. Uh-uh. He shook his head. I might catch your cooties. Seriously? How old are we, twelve? Carter flopped down onto the chair across from him. Dude, youre wasting my time as well as

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everyone elses. Grow up. Your friend out there is a big boy. Im sure once he thinks about it, he wouldnt want me anyway. Astrids eyes narrowed as he studied Carter. The witch might have been more sophisticated than him, but he knew nothing about people. It was as if Carter had no feelings whatsoever inside him. The witch, by all accounts, seemed dead inside. What could have caused him to lose faith in the power of love? Love was what saved him. He couldnt fathom someone denying themselves something given so freely. Angel, please work with Carter on this. He will be able to answer questions we cant. Klaus knelt beside his chair and grasped Astrids hands in his larger ones. I understand that youre upset on Abners behalf, but we have more important issues to deal with right now. Klaus held a finger to his lips when he started to speak. Im not saying what Abner is going through isnt important, but, angel, youre my world, and we need to get to the bottom of what is going on with you. He wanted to climb into Klauss lap and never let go. The man always seemed to say the right thing. Astrid turned his hand palm up and squeezed Klauss fingers in answer. Before we get started, there is something I need to inform you of. Klaus looked from Carter to Carlos. If you havent already guessed from what just happened out thereKlaus pointed to the doorI believe my mate may have fairy blood in him. No fucking way, Carter whispered. I knew something wasnt right when you wished Id go away. I knew it. Carter pointed a finger at him. Carter, shut the hell up, Carlos said as he smacked Carter in the back of the head. Hey, Carter whined as he rubbed his head. Yes, it would appear my mate has the ability to make wishes. Im not certain of the extent of his abilities, but you get the gist of it. I would also like to ask for your silence in this matter. We all know the

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history of what happened to the fairy population, and if Astrid is a witch-fairy hybrid, you have to see my concern. Thats absurd. Carter rolled his eyes. Its impossible to crossbreed any paranormal species. Thats what I thought, and thats why I asked you to come here. Astrid doesnt remember much before he was sent to live with Malcolm, so I need you to see what you can find out. Shit, Klaus, Carlos said. If this is true, he is one of a kind. This could be very bad. I know. Klaus reached out to hold his hand. I need to ask one more favor of you two. Both men nodded. If what I suspect is proven, please hold off on reporting him to the council until I know what we are going to do. You have my word, Carlos agreed immediately. Carter sat silent for so long, Astrid feared the witch would turn him in to the council before they even got started. Okay, I give you my word. Now lets get this thing started. Kid, give me your hands. For a fleeting moment he felt a connection to the witch, a sense of understanding, but then he made the kid comment. His dislike for the freaky little man flared back up. He didnt mind his family calling him by the youthful nicknames, but Carter hadnt earned the right to joke or gently tease him. My name is Astrid, he said as released Klauss hand and reached for Carters. Whatever, dude. Carter grabbed onto his smaller hands. Okay, this is how this works. I need you to think back to your earliest memory. From there, I can latch on and go back into your past with you. Carter shrugged his shoulders. Think of it like this. Youre my guide through your life. I see what you show me, and sometimes I can tap into more if you open up completely to me. Does that make sense? Oh for fucks sake, Carter, the man isnt brain-dead, Carlos said, growling at Carter.

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Im just making sure he knows what Im about to do. Carter turned his attention back to him. Do you have any questions before we get started? Will this hurt? Astrids voice was just above a whisper. Good question, actually, Carter said as he tapped a finger on his chin. After a few seconds, he spoke. Not hurt, but you will feel me push at your subconscious. But rest assured, its not painful. Astrid nodded and laid his hands before him for Carter to take. Knowing it wouldnt hurt helped, but he was still frightened about what the other man would see. The past hundred and thirteen years werent the greatest, but when he thought back on those years now, they seemed to have passed in a blur like he didnt exist until he came to live with Miles and the other guys. Carter grabbed his hands lightly. The feel of his smooth, thin fingers tingled the skin covering Astrids hands. It was almost like a jolt of electricity. He bit back his gasp. As if reading his mind, Carter smiled at him. When I do this past-reading gig, my touch has a zing to it. Its normal, sugar. Dont be afraid. He nodded. The kind words coming from the arrogant witch surprisingly eased his nerves. This was Carters job, and knowing how protective Klaus was, he didnt think the man would endanger him, for fear of his mates wrath. Astrid, close your eyes. He did so. I want you to think back to the earliest memory you have. Carter gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. From there Ill do the rest. With his eyes shut, he thought back as far as he could remember. What he saw first was the room hed lived in at his mothers house. The cold and unwelcoming room was just as he remembered. Palegreen walls with a bed and a single dresser were the only furnishings in the room. There wasnt any clutter because he wasnt allowed to have any toys. The room was lifeless, all but for one small boy sitting on the bed, staring out the window.

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Astrids chest tightened when he recognized the little blondheaded boy to be him. He looked so lost and alone as he gazed out the window. He remembered feeling the need to escape and run free like the deer that frolicked in the yard surrounding the house. Oh, how he wanted to get out of that house and leave the woman who he called mother. His mind jumped to another memory. He stood before Malcolm, resisting the urge to bolt out the door. But he knew if he ran, they would catch him. His mother sat off to the side in a high-backed chair next to the fire. Hes all yours, Malcolm. His mothers sweet tone made the hairs on his neck stand on end even now. You know the plan. Treat him as you wish. The meaner the better. She laughed bitterly. Oh, Constance my dear, your evil ways never cease to amaze me, Malcolm said as he gave Astrid the once-over from head to toe. Well get him prepared for the coming. Have no fear in that, Constance. He watched as Malcolm sat back and continued to stare at his thirteen-year-old self. Constance my dear, who is this young ones birth father? He looks so familiar? Malcolm, you know I cant divulge that information to you. Its forbidden. Yes, I know, but still, I must say, he is completely stunning. Malcolm motioned with his hand. Come, Lucian, what do you think of our new houseguest? As Astrid watched, a cold sweat broke out across his forehead. The man of his nightmares stood just behind Malcolm, smiling that evil smile of his. This smile of Lucians always promised pain for Astrid. He is definitely going to be a treat, Lucian said to Malcolm. Can I have him now? In due time, my friend, in due time. He has to become of proper age before he can handle what you have in stored for him.

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Astrid flinched at the laughter coming from his mother and the two men. His own mother cared nothing for his safety. She condoned the abuse that they bestowed upon him. She laughed at his misery. He couldnt take anymore. These were only memories, things that he had already endured, but he couldnt stand it. He did what he always did when the pain became too much. He wished himself away to a happy place. A place where pain didnt exist. He didnt know how long he stayed this way, but he welcomed the peace and tranquility of his wish of serenity. Holy shit! Make it stop. Astrid blinked his eyes open at the commotion going on around him. He saw Carter standing with his back pressed against the wall. His body shook, and perspiration dripped down his face, smearing his makeup along the way. It looked like the man had cried black tears. Carter, what did you see? Klaus asked. Carter took several deep breaths. His chest heaved in rapid succession, and Astrid worried his heart would beat right out if his chest. I need a moment, okay? Carter held a hand in front of him. As his eyes came into focus, his gaze landed on Astrid. How did you do it? How did you survive all that? he asked breathlessly. He thought it best to go with the truth. I wished I was in a happy place, and it numbed the pain. Tears pooled at the corners of Carters eyes. Astrid felt sorry for the man. Granted, he only experienced a fraction of what he had lived through, but still, he wouldnt wish his past on anyone. Carter, did you see anything? Is Astrid a fairy or not? Klaus pushed. I saw it all. Carter turned to Klaus. Get Ben and his mate. I only want to have to explain this once. Klaus nodded. Ill go find them. He turned to face Astrid. Angel, Ill be right back.

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He smiled up at his mate, doing his best to reassure him that he was fine. Klaus rushed out of the room in a whirl. Carter finally reclaimed his seat and sat with his head bent forward, resting his chin on his chest. Astrid could see the slight tremble in the other mans shoulders. Fuck, Carter, what did you see? Carlos asked as he took the chair next to the man. Carter rested his head in his hands. It was awful. The things I saw and felt. It was like I was there, and all those horrible things were being done to me. Thats never happened before. What do you mean? Ive done a million of these past-readings before, but never have I felt like I was in the other persons shoes. Usually Im just an observer, but it was as if Astrid and I traded places. I got a crash course on what he went through, and it was terrible. Carter turned tearful eyes toward him. Astrid, Im sorry for the way I treated you. You didnt deserve that, and you didnt deserve what happened to you. Please accept my apology. Astrid gave him a small smile. Of course, Carter, and Im sorry you now have my memories to deal with. Its not fair to you. I dont blame you, Astrid. This is my job. I just wish I could take away all those years so you didnt have to relive those horrors ever again. Thank you, Carter. They sat in silence as they waited for Klaus to come back with the others. Carter continued to sit in his chair and rock silently back and forth. What he had seen had truly frightened him. Astrid had lived that life, but he was doing a whole lot better than the witch. It seemed his defense mechanism worked out really well for him. Wishing himself to his happy place had saved his sanity.

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Chapter Eleven
Klaus held Astrids hand tight as the others sitting around the table absorbed what Carter just told them. And Klaus wasnt surprised that Ben was the first to speak. Hes a fairy? Ben asked from the head of the oval-shaped table where they sat. Carter made eye contact with everyone sitting at the table, causing the suspense to linger thick in the air. He is as Klaus expected, part witch, part fairy. As far as I know, he is the first of his kind. What exactly does all this mean? Miles asked. Dumb this down for me, because I dont understand any of this. Its like this. Fairies are good by nature, and witches lean more toward the evil side of the spectrum. Witches have the choice to be good or bad. Either way, their magic works when they want it to, but not so for fairies. Okay, Miles sang the word out. And that means what? See, a fairys magic is different from a witchs. Their magic comes in the form of wishes. But heres the kickerits ingrained in their magical makeup to not grant evil or harmful wishes. Huh? Miles asked. Its like this. You wish your day would brighten up. A fairy would grant the wish, but it would come in the form of, lets say, getting flowers sent to you, or a coworker giving you a compliment. Shit like that. They cant grant a wish to give you a million dollars because that would be wrong. Their magic could not physically allow them to do such a thing. Is this making sense?

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The room was quiet as a silent nod went around the table, everyone taking in what Carter said. Klaus knew the basics of what fairies were, but Astrid was the first one he had ever met. He still didnt know what to make of it all. From what you are saying, fairies are pretty much harmless, correct? Miles asked. Carter nodded. So why is Astrid in danger? If the worst he can do is conjure me up a cake or a bouquet of flowers, I dont see why anyone would want to hurt him. Miles turned to Ben for an explanation, but Ben looked to Carter. Miles, there was a time when we didnt know that fairies were as limited on their magic. Carter squirmed, uncomfortable, in his chair and worried his bottom lip. I know a fellow council member who tells a story of a man he was commissioned to put to death. His crime was that of murder. Carters eyes darted toward his and Astrids direction. He murdered a fairy. Astrid gasped and crawled into Klauss lap. His mates frail body trembled in fear, but the story had to be told. He had heard of the tale. It was because of acts like that fairies went into hiding. Why? Miles said, asking what the others all wanted to know. You have to understand, this took place over a thousand years ago before anyone knew of the limitations set upon fairies. This man in particular held a fairy against his will and tried to get him to grant these outlandish wishes. When the fairy couldnt do it, he thought the man was playing him. Not doing it on purpose. He beat the man within an inch of his life. When the fairy still couldnt make his wishes happen, he tied him to a tree. He gave the man one last chance to do as he was told or he would cut off his head. Carter paused for dramatic effect. You all can guess how that story ended. Oh my god, that is terrible, Miles said. But that was a thousand years ago. Paranormals know the truth about fairies abilities now. Why is Astrid in danger? Be straight with us, Carter. Klaus knew why. He knew his mate was special, and because of that he would be a well-sought-after tool for evil. But to speak the

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words out loud would give them life, and he wasnt ready to worry his mate any more than he already was. Its hard to explain. Carter looked to Carlos for help. Let me try, Carlos spoke up. There is no backlash for the magic fairies create. Now, a witch has a cosmic handicap to their magic. Say I turn you into a toad. The toss back is that you can shift into your human form whenever you want. Carlos held up a finger. Now, fairies have no drawback to their brand of magic because its pure goodness. They lack the ability to create evil even if they try, so there is no drawback to their magic. Carlos rested his elbows on the tabletop and steepled his fingers. What makes Astrid so unique is that being, part fairy part, witch, in theory he should be able to grant any wish, be it good or evil, because of his genetic makeup. Carlos snapped his fingers. The loud ping ricocheted off the walls. Magic without consequence. Fuck me running! Miles exclaimed. This could be really bad. No shit! Carter exclaimed. I never thought it possible for a hybrid like this to exist, but someone has taken great measures to create Astrid. If there are more like him out thereCarter pointed toward the windowwere fucked. Klaus sat with Astrid huddled in his lap, taking all the information in. If all this were true, there could be a real epidemic on their hands. A fairy-witch combo causing havoc around the world could make the councils enforcers jobs more chaotic. Fairies were hard to detect. They could hide in plain sight and no one would be the wiser, a breed of paranormals that would be a dangerous foe to have. Astrid, I have some personal information for you. Is it okay to discuss this now, or would you like to do this in private? Carter asked. Astrid nodded his head against Klauss neck. Carter couldnt see the gesture, so Klaus answered for him. Carter, go ahead. Carter rubbed his fingertips against his temples, clearly uncomfortable with what he was about to tell them. Astrid, the

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woman you thought to be your mother wasnt. She was just some evil bitch appointed to watch after you until you were given to Malcolm. Carter turned sad eyes in his and Astrids direction. I couldnt see a father even in your earliest of memories. But I did see your real mother. Your very first memory as an infant was of her face as she held you close. Klaus tightened his arms around his mate when he began to shake. The wetness of hot tears ran down the side of his neck where Astrid had his head tucked in. His heart broke for his mate. He felt the moist, warm breath of Astrids exhale before his mate sat up. Who was my mother, Carter? She was a fairy. Carter smiled across the table at Astrid. She looked a lot like you, but your facial features are a little different from hers. That you must get from your father, but the petite build and white-blond hair, thats all your mothers. She was very pretty. Carters voice became hoarse. Astrid, I felt the love she had for you. You were the most important thing to her. She knew what her fate would be, and she wished she could get you to safety, but there was some sort of magic binding hers. She was trapped. Astrid started to tremble uncontrollably in his arms. The knowledge that he had a mother who did care for him must have been overwhelming. He had lived for so long thinking the woman who sold him to Malcolm had been his mother. Now he knew the truth. That cruel woman was nothing, and Klaus vowed if he ever crossed paths with her, he would kill her. You guys, Im afraid theres more, Carter spoke to the whole group. Of course there is, Ben snapped as his fist crashed to the table, causing everyone to jump. The day Astrids presumed motherCarter made air quotes with his fingerssold him, there was a mentioning of getting him ready for the coming. Carter held his hands high into the air. Dont even ask me what that is. I have not a clue, and neither does Astrid.

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This happened when he was thirteen years old. And there was no mention of it after that. Sorry, guys. After what Carter and Carlos said, do you think Im evil? Astrid turned his eyes up to him. Or that I will become evil? Astrid asked. Klaus combed his fingers through Astrids hair in an attempt to soothe his mate. No, I dont think you are evil or will become evil. There isnt a mean bone in your body. I can refute that. He did wish I would leave, Carter said with a smile on his lips. Klaus appreciated the witchs attempt to make his mate laugh. And shockingly enough, it worked. You deserved it, you big meanie. Astrid laughed through his tears. That I did. But after getting a look into what you suffered through, I think I could do with an attitude adjustment. What do you think? Carter asked Astrid. After another hour of discussion into Astrids past, the warriors broke for dinner. Klaus sent Astrid with Miles while he stayed back to talk to Ben. Several different questions floated in his mind, and he didnt know where to begin. What do you think it all means? he asked Ben when they were alone. I honestly dont know. I feel like I should call my dad, but Im not sure if I trust him anymore. As of lately, he seems to have his own agenda. I know what you mean. I agree we should hold off on telling the council anything. Too many odd things have been happening, and I cant put my finger on it all. Like what? Ben asked as he leaned against the table. For instanceKlaus shruggedAstrid is barely over a hundred years of age, and one would think, even back then, if his mother, a fairy, went missing, someone would have reported it to the council. Then theres the whole issue of creating such a hybrid. Why

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do it? What is there to gain by having a magical source that has no consequence unless youre looking to destroy something big like Like the council. Ben finished his sentence. Exactly. He crossed his large arms over his chest. Im inclined to think for something like this to be pulled off, there had to be years of planning and a ton of financial resources involved. Astrid is the first mixed species Ive ever met. In our world, when two different paranormals mate, a child is never born from that union. The different genetic makeup cant connect to form life. I know. This whole situation is very unusual. Every mixed species couple Ive ever met has had to adopt. As far as I know, there isnt any magic great enough to override that defect. There isnt, he said, deadpan. Being a witch, he knew all the ins and outs of what their magic could do. Astrid being born was nothing short of a miracle. What should we do? Ben asked Klaus, complete seriousness in his tone. I wish I knew, but I dont know how to proceed with this. I do agree with holding out on telling the council leaders just yet. He hadnt even begun to think what he would tell his superiors. The decision to stay with Astrid had already been made, and if that meant swearing his loyalty to Ben, so be it. His mate needed him here. Saying good night to Ben, he went in search of his mate. When he entered the kitchen, Quinn informed him that Astrid had been tired and had returned to their room. After everything Astrid had learned tonight, the poor guy was probably exhausted from the emotional roller coaster, a ride Astrid never wanted to get on but nevertheless had to take a spin on, with Klaus as his side-seat passenger. Klaus combed his fingers through this hair. He tugged the rubber band loose, letting the length run down his back. The headache crushing his skull had his hair follicles hurting, and setting the strands free relieved a little of the discomfort.

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Finally at the door, he tried his best to be quiet. If Astrid was sleeping, he didnt want to wake him. He stepped through the door and gently shut it behind him. The sun had set hours ago, and the room was shrouded in darkness. Do you think Im evil? Klaus turned his head toward the whispered words. His eyes had yet to adjust to the absolute darkness. Fuzzy splotches filled his vision, but he felt his way toward his mate. Angel, I dont think youre evil, he said in a comforting tone as he felt his way across the bed, seeking out Astrid. Do you think the rest of the guys are scared of me now? Astrid asked. Klaus moved his hands over the mattress top until he bumped into a solid mass balled up on the far side. Astrid, dont be ridiculous. The warriors love you and would never think ill of you. He spooned up against his mates back, rubbing his hand up and down Astrids side. But Im a monster. Created to do bad things. Klaus grabbed Astrids chin and wrenched his head around. Stop saying those things. Youre the gentlest of creatures Ive ever met. He lightly brushed his lips across Astrids. I couldnt love you so much if I thought you were evil. Astrids breath rushed out in a heavy sigh. His warm, sweet scent filled Klauss nosecinnamon and vanilla. His nostrils flared, trying to suck more of the pleasing smell deep inside of him. You love me? Astrid asked in a high-pitched squeak. Yes, angel. He shifted Astrid to his side so they could face one another. Cant you feel my love for youKlaus placed his hand over where Astrids heart beat in his chestright here? After what felt like forever, Astrid nodded his head slightly. I love you, too, Klaus, Astrid whispered. But I didnt think Im worthy of your love. Besides being damaged, Im a freak of nature.

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No youre not. He rolled over on top of Astrid, pinning him to the bed. Look at me, angel. When Astrid didnt comply, he gripped the sides of his face and tilted his head upward. Reluctantly, Astrid met his eyes. You are nothing if not the greatest gift ever given to me. To say youre a monster would be questioning my judgment, and I have excellent judgment when it comes to people. You, my love, are innocent of any wrongdoings. He grinned down at his mate mischievously. Now, on the other hand, there are a million evil things I want to do to your body. Does that make me a monster for wanting to dirty up my sweet, innocent angel? Astrid shook his head frantically. No. He pulled his hands free from Klauss grip. Astrid then twined his fingers deep into his long hair. Make love to me. Please. Unable to deny Astrid anything, he allowed Astrid to pull him into a deep, lingering kiss. What Astrid lacked in experience he made up for in enthusiasm. His young lover nipped and sucked at his lips and tongue, silently begging for him to take control of his body. He slid his hands down Astrids back until he was able to cup them around his mates tight, firm ass. Astrid whimpered as he rubbed at his crease. He wanted so badly to rip Astrids pants way and slide into his tight, hot heat, but he thought he needed to show a little more attention to his mate. Astrid needed reassurance that a quick fuck wouldnt allow for. Pulling away from Astrids delicious lips, he worked his way down his neck. Astrid tilted his head up to give him better access to explore the tender flesh. His skin was so soft and smooth Klaus couldnt help sucking up a few bruises to mark his mate with. Klaus lifted up far enough to pull the comforter out of the way. His mate had forgone wearing a shirt, and he couldnt have been more grateful. The heavy breathing coming from his mate was hopefully from anticipation and not nerves. He lowered his head and tongued the

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small pebbled peaks of Astrids nipples. His angel gasped when he bit down with a little more force. Smiling against Astrids skin, he licked a path to the other hardened nipple. He covered the whole circumference and sucked deeply, causing a long, drawn-out moan from his mate. Taking his torture southward, Klaus licked and sucked at his angels hairless chest. A fine sheen of sweat coated the youthful skin. The salty tang was a like a drug driving him wild with lust. Never had he tasted anyone as delicious as his mate. When he reached the waist of Astrids sleeping pants, he tugged the drawstring loose with his teeth. The knot gave way easily, allowing him to nudge the soft material out of the way. Astrids cock lay hard against his stomach. Beads of cum dribbled from the small slit on the spongy head. Klaus longed to drink the wetness down but wanted to tease his mate just a bit before he gave in to their joined hunger. He started his onslaught at the rounded orbs sitting nestled within Astrids tight sac. Klaus started by licking the soft stones then swirled his tongue in a figure-eight pattern, wetting the goose-bump-covered skin with every swipe. Bringing his hand up to cradle Astrids ball sac, Klaus sucked one then the other testicle deep into his mouth. Astrid gasped and squirmed underneath him. Klaus sucked hard as he laved Astrids balls in spit. He added to the taunting by moaning as he licked and sucked, sending vibrations up Astrids shaft. Please, oh god, please, Astrid begged as he thrashed against the bed. Very carefully, he released Astrid from his mouth. He kissed each tight orb once before trailing his tongue from base to tip. Astrid was uncut, and the head of his dick peeked out the top of his foreskin. Klaus was a fan of natural cock. It was like unwrapping a gift, only this gift never stopped giving. He could have his mates luscious prick whenever he wanted.

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Being as careful as he could, he used lips and teeth to pull on Astrids foreskin. He sucked on the thin skin as he pulled downward. Astrid spread his thighs wide at the slight teasing. His mate clearly soared closer to his climax, and Klaus couldnt allow that just yet. Klaus sat up on his knees and spit in his hand then lowered it to stroke his mates length. Astrid groaned and lifted his hips from the bed, trying his best to fuck Klauss hand. He grinned down at his mate. His angel, so lost in his ecstasy, had his eyes clenched tight. He bit his lower lip to the point a small trickle of blood beaded on the skin. Quickly nudging his pants down, he scooted forward and used his knees to push Astrids thighs farther apart. Using his free hand, he guided his cock to the tight entrance of his mate. Pre-cum oozed from the tip, and Klaus rubbed the wetness along Astrids slightly furred entrance. He circled the head around the tiny hole in the center and pushed ever so lightly. Astrid moaned loud and long. He pushed his hips downward, seeking more of Klauss hard cock. Astrids greedy hole fluttered around the head of his dick, trying to suck his length inside. Klaus grabbed the base of his shaft to hold off his orgasm. His cum pooled in his balls, demanding to be set free. After several deep breaths, he rested the spongy crown back at Astrids pink star. Astrid growled in frustration when Klaus pulled back. Klaus set up a teasing little rhythmcircle, push forward, fall back. The pulling away was more for his benefit. Drawing out the sensual torture of his mate drove him closer to the edge of no return. Just fuck me already, Astrid snapped at him. He slapped his hands down on the bed in anger. Someone is impatient. Maybe Ill just stop and make your suffering continue until morning, Klaus teased. Astrid laughed harshly. You do that, and Ill go borrow one of Trevors sex toys hes always talking about. One way or another Im getting my ass filled tonight.

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Astrid moved to roll out from under him. So caught up in the mental image of his angelic little mate with a sex toy buried deep in his ass, he almost let Astrid escape. Oh no you dont. Klaus pounced on Astrid. Astrid giggled as he wiggled his ass until he was back under Klaus with Klauss hips cradled between his legs. Thought that might change your mind. Klaus could hear the smile in his voice. As much as I want to shove a nice big butt plug up your ass, Id rather fuck you hard and fast. Klaus reached for the lube on the bedside table. Stop, Astrid shouted. Klaus halted his movement, afraid he had hurt his angel. Dont look like that. Astrid giggled. Im fine, but I want to try something out. Astrid chewed on his lip while he waited for Klauss answer. Klaus nodded his head in agreement. Anything Astrid wanted, he would give him. I wish your big, hard cock was covered in lube. Klaus eyed his mate curiously. Then he jumped when he felt featherlight touches at first on the head of his cock then down the length. He looked down to see his dick glowing with wetness. His mouth fell open at the sheer shock of what his mate had just done. Did it work? Astrid tried to sit up. I think Im going to love being mated to a fairy. Klaus returned the smile Astrid beamed up at him. He couldnt resist anymore and dropped forward, capturing Astrids lips in a toe-curling kiss. He lightly trailed his fingers down Astrids arms, the skin pebbling in goose flesh under his touch. Using his right hand, he guided his cock toward Astrids center. The tiny hole gave way as he pushed forward. He continued until he was balls-deep in Astrids smoldering heat. They moaned in unison as he sat nestled high and deep in Astrids ass. He started out slow, working the tight channel loose with every thrust. But Astrid had other plans in mind. Bringing his legs up,

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Astrid wrapped them around Klauss hips. He then placed a heel on each of his butt cheeks and nudged hard. Shove that fat cock inside me. Astrid gasped. Fill me up with your hot cream. Astrids direct and descriptive demands caused his movements to falter for a split second, but he quickly regained his control. Oh yeah? That what you want, my angel, for me to fill you so full until you split in two? he asked as he circled his hips, causing his mate to squirm and keen in delight. Oh god, yes. Give it to me. You think you can handle what Im packing, angel? Astrid opened his eyes and stared into his. I can handle anything you give me. Astrid tightened his butt cheeks around Klauss shaft, causing his cock to twitch inside the hot channel. He wrapped his arms under Astrids shoulders and rolled until Astrid sat straddling his hips. Show me. He snapped his hips upward as Astrid sank down his length. Ride my cock. Astrid dug his nails into his chest as he lifted then fell down the long length of his pole. Klaus held on to his hips, helping to direct his rhythm. With every movement, Astrids cock bobbed in time, bouncing and slapping Klaus in the stomach, leaving behind wet kisses with each thump. Astrids tightness was so great, Klaus felt like he warred with the silky walls of his mates ass to reclaim his dick to push back in. Astrids body didnt want to let go of him even for a minute, and that was fine by him. If he could stay connected like this with his mate forever, he would. Im gonna, Im gonna Astrid mumbled. God, Klaus, dont stop. Klaus reached between their bodies and fisted Astrids cock. He pumped in time with his thrust. On the cusp of falling into oblivion, he waited until Astrid was swimming in relief with him.

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Astrids spunk erupted from the tip in long white arches across his chest. The smell and sight of his mates cum covering his chest was all he needed. He came in a roar as his cream filled Astrids ravenous hole. His body shook from the magnitude of his orgasm. Klauss aftershocks were so great, the bed shook each time he jumped in response. He pulled Astrid down to lie on top of him, smearing his angels cum between their bodies. The scent of their lovemaking permeated the air, putting him in a state of euphoria. Every muscle in his body relaxed even further as Astrid drew lazy patterns with his fingertip in the soft hair covering his chest. Angel, I have to askwhere did you learn such explicit words? he asked as he combed Astrids hair off his forehead. Astrid giggled. Trevor. Figures. Klaus chuckled. Dont be mad at him. I asked for his help. I wanted to know what would turn a strong and sexy man on, and Trevor said dirty talk worked for him. He couldnt keep the smile off his face. His cheeks began to ache. Smiling was something he hadnt had a lot of practice at, and his facial muscles were sore. Strong and sexy, huh? he asked as he kissed his way to Astrids ear. Oh, stop it. Astrid slapped at his arm. You know exactly how gorgeous you are. Im just jealous that others have shared this joy with you. Astrid turned his head to the side, away from his. Angel, look at me. Astrid slowly turned to face him. I wont lie. I have had other men and some women, but none of those encounters can even compare to what I share with you. You make me come so hard I see fireworks behind my eyelids. Just seeing you has my dick jumping to attention. He traced his finger down Astrids nose. I love you, Astrid.

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I love you, too, Klaus. Astrid gifted him with a smile and moved in closer to burrow himself further into Klauss side. Klaus continued to caress Astrids back lightly until he drifted off to sleep. As he watched his mate sleep, the events from earlier in the day played back through his head. He struggled with what to do. If they informed the council, he had no idea how they would react, and losing his mate wasnt an option. So for now they would stay mum with the knowledge they had discovered, in order to keep Astrid safe.

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Chapter Twelve
Astrid woke the next morning to an empty bed. The usual paralyzing fear of being abandoned didnt plague him. Klaus loved him and would never leave him. After last night he would be a fool not to believe in his mates commitment. Slowly but surely, Klaus tore down every wall he had built in an attempt to protect his heart. And the funny thing was, he wasnt afraid. He craved all the love and attention Klaus rained upon him. With all that love, there was no room for doubt. Coming to live with Miles and the warriors had filled that void left by not having a family, but Klaus filled the deep void in his soul that only a lover could fill. Klaus loved him unconditionally, even after learning he was bred for evil purposes. It wasnt his fault how he came into this world, but he would be forever grateful for having Klaus. The man loved without question and treated him like he was the most important thing in his world. The rumbling in his stomach caused him to climb out of bed. He bypassed the shower, secretly hoping he could get Klaus to join him later for a wash down. Astrid couldnt keep the smile off his face as he exited his room. Remembering their interlude the previous day in the spacious shower warmed him from the inside out. Hey, little man, whats with the cheesy smile? Miles asked as he walked into the kitchen. I know that look, Trevor spoke up as he closed the refrigerator door and met Miles at the stove. Someone got lucky last night. His cheeks burned with fire. He would never get used to Trevors openness to say whatever he thought, whenever he wanted. The man

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truly had no shame, but that was one of the reasons Astrid liked him so much. Dude, dont even try to deny it. My room is right next to yours, and the sounds you two made last night Trevor blew out a breath. At first I thought he was hurting you. Then I heard you begging for more. Trevor flashed Astrid a wink. So I knew you were in good hands. Honestly, do you ever think before you speak? Miles turned with his hands on hips as he glared at Trevor. Trevor gazed off into space as if contemplating the question. Astrid giggled as he watched the two cousins bicker back and forth. He walked to the cabinet and stretched on his tippy-toes to get a glass then went to pour himself some orange juice. So, little man, Miles said over his shoulder, how you feeling after everything you learned last night? Overall he felt great, better than greatspectacular. He had a family who loved him and a boyfriend who thought the world of him. They all had his back and would never up and leave him. That was a feeling no one could take from him. But learning he had been deceived and lied to burned like a hot poker straight to the gut. Discovering the woman who had raised him wasnt his mother was actually a relief. But with that relief came sorrow. He had a mother, a true mother, who loved him. He had a mother who sacrificed herself to have him. Hot tears stung at the back of his eyelids for the loss of someone he would never meet. Hey, Astrid, you okay? He mentally shook away the dreary thoughts and smiled over at Miles. He would be okay. Life had finally found it acceptable to give him a break, but if he ever got the chance to render his own revenge toward the ones responsible for taking so much from him, not even the hand of god would be able to stop him.

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Im fine, Miley. What are you making for breakfast? Astrid asked as he walked across the kitchen to stand between Trevor and Miles. Like you have to ask. Trevor bumped his hip into Astrids, causing him to bump Miles. Chocolate-chip pancakes with a side of bacon? Astrid squealed happily as he jumped from foot to foot. He couldnt help it. Food got him excited. Of course. Miles ruffled a hand through his hair, and Astrid squirmed away. Times like this were some of his favorite. Spending time with his friends, joking and laughing, made him feel like a normal person. No one judged him for his past and didnt treat him differently for it, either. He was an equal among the guys, and that was the best medicine that could cure his weary soul. Granted, at times he felt like they coddled him too much, but he understood the reasoning for it. All the men in the household loved him and wanted nothing more than to keep him safe, so he didnt mind their overprotectiveness. Miles let him flip the pancakes as Trevor tended to the bacon. He stepped farther to the side to avoid being popped by the sizzling bacon grease. He concentrated on the pancakes, not wanting to drop any of the chocolaty goodness on the floor. Astrid placed the last perfectly rounded pancake on the serving dish and smiled at his hard work. He wasnt a cook by any means, but it made him feel good to contribute. Miles had set the table while he and Trevor finished making the breakfast. He unplugged the griddle and grabbed the platter of hot cakes and went to the table, careful not to bump into anything on the way. They were just about ready to sit and eat when they heard a loud crash. He froze halfway to his seat. His pulse beat a rapid tempo, and by the looks of Miless and Trevors faces, they were just as disturbed by the noise. What was that? Panic laced Trevors words.

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No clue. Miles stood up and slowly headed for the swinging door that led out into the dining room. Little sparks of fear rippled along his spine, causing a cold sweat to break out across his shoulder blades. Something wasnt right. The energy in the air had a black tinge to it. Astrid didnt know how, but he sensed that the blackness had come for him. Miles, no! He jumped from his chair and grabbed at Miless hand. I have a bad feeling about this. Please stay in here. We can go the back way to Bens office. He hated how his hands quivered, but danger lay beyond that door. Another crash had all three of them jumping back a step. The sounds were getting louder and drawing near. Miles looked to the door then back to him. He nodded as if he had made a decision. Okay. Miles grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the side door that led to the hallway. Trevor stood close behind Astrid. He was sandwiched between the two vampires as they moved quietly out the door. Miles went first, peeking around the cracked door just slightly to see if anyone stood on the other side. When satisfied the coast was clear, he led Astrid and Trevor out the door. The sound of pounding feet and shouting heightened the closer to the front of the house they got. The hair on his arms stood up as he heard an earth-shattering shrill wrench through the house. Whoever it came from cried for their life. He just hoped it wasnt someone they knew. The hallway came to an end, and Miles held his hand up to stop them from moving any farther. Once again he peered around the corner to make sure the room was empty. Okay, guys, I dont see anything. Astrid, stay Miless words came to a halt as a hand reached around the corner and grabbed him. Trevor pushed Astrid behind him, bracing himself for a fight. Astrid, no matter what happens, run for the office. Trevor gripped his arms tightly. No matter what, dont look back. Just run.

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Trevor pushed him against the wall and gave one tight squeeze to his hand. Then he was gone. Trevor and Miles were vampires, so they could hold their own in a fight, but still, he worried for them. An unknown enemy was a dangerous enemy. They had no clue how many men were in the house, where exactly they were, and what type of paranormals they were dealing with. He waited a second until he heard someone shout run. Taking the hint, he edged around the doorway. Miles and Trevor were fighting back-to-back with two very large men. His friends small statures were working to their advantage. They were able to move faster and jump higher, deflecting the meaty fists aimed at their heads. Miles and Trevor had drawn the mens attention in the other direction, giving him the opportunity to sneak out unseen. The fight went on, and he hated leaving them behind, but there was nothing he could do to help. He would be more of a liability than an asset. He took off running across the room toward the hallway on the opposite side. Looking over his shoulder one last time, he wished his friends the best. I got you. He grunted as he ran into a solid wall where there shouldnt have been one. He bounced off with such force he fell back a few feet, flat on his ass. When his bottom hit the floor, his upper body went backward from the momentum, and he smacked his head hard against the marble flooring. Flashing stars filled his vision, and he could taste the coppery tang of blood on his tongue. As he lay splayed out on the ground, he slowly opened his eyes. An average-looking man stood before him, but he wasnt normal. The evil smile he bestowed upon him had two long fangs poking out from under his upper lip. Vampire, he whispered as he crab-walked backward toward the wall. Good guess. The man tilted his head to the side and sniffed the air. Fairy?

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He remained silent. If he didnt answer, he couldnt incriminate himself. He didnt know what was happening, but he knew one thing for sure and that was he wasnt going to give out any information to this guy. Come on, fairy. The man bent down to grab his arm. He skidded along the wall and dodged the hand. It will be a lot easier if you just come with me. The man nudged his chin in the direction of the fighting foursome. No one has to get hurt if you play nicely. Astrid, no. Miless shout rang out across the room, causing his ears to ring and he turned toward his friend. Astrid watched as Miles yanked the mans arm off hed been fighting and tossed it to the ground. Miless then twisted the mans head to the side until it broke free of his body. It looked so easy, like picking a grape free from the vine. Astrids attention flew back to the man in front of him as he grabbed for Astrids arm. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash. Miles came charging full force toward them and knocked the man flat on his back. Miles sat straddling the guy, hitting him in the face with everything he had. That the best you got? The man laughed as each punch landed. Im done playing. With that, the man reached his hands up and pushed Miles off his chest. Miles went flying across the room and landed with a thud as he hit the wall. As the man wiped the blood off his face, Astrid crawled to where Miles lay limp on the floor. He shook his friends arm, silently begging him to wake up. The sickening sound of bone twisting against bone had him jerking his head in Trevors direction. The young vamp stood astride the large man, who he had pinned to the ground. He twisted the guys head clean off. Astrid sat in awe with his mouth hanging open at the sight. He never would have expected Miles or Trevor to have it in them to kill another person, paranormal or not. Hmm.

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Astrid looked back down at Miles as he came to. He pulled him by the hand to his feet. The man who had just knocked Miles unconscious was getting to his feet as well, and they needed to get away and find help. Miles. Trevor came to his aid and pulled Miless arm over his shoulders as they stumbled toward the nearest exit. Oh no you dont, half breed, the man snapped as he grabbed Astrid by the hair, flinging him across the room. Trevor stood Miles up against the wall and charged the man. The man was expecting the attack and punched Trevor dead center in his chest. Trevor fell to the floor, gasping for breath. The man laughed bitterly as he walked toward him. He had an easy gait to his walk as if he knew he would be the victor no matter what obstacle got thrown in his path. What do you want? Astrid mumbled. He was doing his best to circle around the man to get back to his friends. Its not what I want. The man paused as he tracked Astrids unsteady movements. Its what he wants. Astrid, Trevor gasped as he held out his hand for Astrid to take. Astrid grabbed on to Trevor as they scooted backward away from the man coming toward them. Your friends cant help you. They will all die in the end. You save them for nothing. When the coming begins, everyone will die. The man stalked closer. Astrid, dude, wish that fucker away, Trevor said as they backed up against the wall where Miles stood. You think that will work? Astrid asked as he grabbed ahold of Miless outstretched hand. Its worth a shot. Uncertainty set like a fifty-pound weight on his shoulders. He had no clue the extent of his magic or if it were even possible to do as Trevor suggested. His wishes didnt work on Klaus or Carter. How could he be for certain it would work on the bad guy coming at them?

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The sound of the heavy footfalls coming toward them drew his attention back to the threat at hand. He made his decision. I wish you would go away. The man paused for a half a second, shook his head, and laughed. Nice try, half breed, but your magic wont work on me, he sneered as he drew closer. Touch him while you wish it, Miles shouted as he held onto Astrids hand. What? Are you freaking mad? Trevor looked at Miles as if he were insane. That would involve letting that guy get close enough to actually touch. How do you even know that will work? I just know. Miles looked at Astrid and nodded. The man lunged forward and clasped him by his biceps. The pinch of fingernails dug into Astrids flesh, causing him to flinch in pain. Without further coaxing, he let the words fly as he gripped the other mans forearms. I wish you would go away, he shouted the words into the mans face. A look of horror flashed across the mans face, and he winced as if in pain. Then he was gone. The man disappeared right before their eyes. Miles. Ben came rushing into the room with Quinn and Klaus fast on his heels. Other warriors filed into the room to assess the situation. What the fuck happened? Are you all right? Quinn asked as he sprinted over to Trevor. Jeez, were fine. Trevor slapped Quinns hands away as he tried to search him over for injuries. Angel, are you okay? Klaus wrapped his strong arms around him. Once in Klauss embrace, everything and everyone faded away as he soaked up the strength his mate gave him. What the fuck happened in here? Quinn asked as he looked over the carnage littering the room.

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He twisted in Klauss arms to look at what the warriors were seeing. He gasped in horror. Blood and body parts from the two men his friends fought against were thrown around the room. Until Quinn pointed it out, he hadnt noticed any of it. Well, we were in the kitchen just about to sit down to eat when we heard a large crash, Trevor began. We had to get to safety, so we made our way down the back hallway. As we reached the end, we got ambushed by two men. So we fought for our lives. Trevor shrugged like it was nothing. Klaus looked from the surrounding bloodshed to each man in turn. You two did that? he asked, skepticism in his tone. Hell yeah we did, Trevor gloated. They came at us, and we just defended ourselves. Thats what those assholes get for underestimating the little guys. Trevor pumped his fist into the air. But it was Astrid who saved us. Miles turned in Bens arms to face them. How? Klaus asked. He wished him away, Trevor said. Coolest thing I think Ive ever seen. That dude just vanished. Is that possible? Ben looked to Klaus. Are his powers strong enough to accomplish making a whole man disappear? I dont know. Klaus did his best to see the answer in Astrids eyes. It didnt work until Astrid touched him. Miles pulled out of Bens hold and went to stand where the man had disappeared from. He didnt wish him dead, just away. So he might come back, Miles mumbled as he circled the spot a few times looking for any signs of the man. Thats it, Klaus whispered. Whats it? Ben asked Klaus. Astrids magic works differently since hes part witch part fairy. To be able to make the bad wishes happen he must have to be

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touching that person hes wishing it upon. Thats the connection. Klaus looked toward Astrid. How did you figure it out, angel? I didnt. Miles did. Everyone stared at Miles. He still gazed down at the ground where the man vanished, completely oblivious to his audience. Miles? Klaus asked. Baby, look at me. Ben took Miles by the arm to get his attention. How did you know that would work? Miles tilted his head to look up at Ben. His friend wasnt registering anything that Ben said to him. Astrid feared Miles might be suffering from shock. Baby, come back to me. Ben brought his hands up to Miless face and rubbed light circles on his bloodstained cheeks. Can you tell us how you knew that would work? Miles grabbed Bens wrist and squeezed so tight, his mates hands started to turn purple. You wont believe me. Astrid watched the exchange between Miles and Ben. He was concerned for his friend. Miles looked truly afraid by whatever was going on inside his head. Miles, I love you. Theres nothing in this world you could say that would make me not believe in you. Tears trickled like raindrops down Miless cheeks, smearing the blood to pinkish streaks across his face. A voice in my head told me, Miless said softly. At Miles confession, a chill ran down Astrids spine. In any world, be it human or paranormal, it wasnt good to hear voices. He looked to Klaus, trying to read his expression, but got nothing. Klaus appeared just as baffled as the rest of the room. Hey, boss? The warrior named Lawson said as he came into the room. Before Abner ripped that poor bastards head offLawson threw a thumb over his shoulderhe said something about the coming. That mean anything to anyone?

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Thats what the guy who vanished said. That he didnt want Astrid but another did. Something about the coming, Trevor informed the surrounding men. What is this fucking coming? And what does it have to do with my mate? Klaus grounded out through clenched teeth. Astrid wanted to know as well. If this was his purpose for being brought into this world, he had to find a way to change his destiny. He had to keep his family safe and protect the innocent people who didnt ask for any of this. The reasons for being created might have been to do evil, but he would rather die before he hurt another living soul.

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Chapter Thirteen
Hows Miles? Klaus asked Ben as he came into the war room where the other warriors sat discussing the days earlier events. They had been sitting in this room when all hell had broken loose. They had been discussing what they were going to tell the council. Bens father had called first thing that morning, demanding answers. Ben was able to deflect him with questions of his own. In the end, Benedict told Ben to contact him later when he had something useful to discuss. Not more than five minutes later, they heard an explosion. They all took off out of the room like bullets leaving their chamber. As they entered the front entryway heading to the hallway that led to the kitchen where Astrid and Miles were, they were met with at least forty men, wearing all black, with soulless eyes. They sniffed the air and kept mumbling the word fairy. Klaus knew then that they were there specifically for Astrid. The enemy had blown the front door clear off its hinges and emerged into the foyer. Their less-than-tactful ambush meant they hadnt come to fight and kill all the warriors living within the house. No, they had come to take one person and one person only then leave immediately afterward. A battle broke out instantly, with him in the thick of it. He fought man after man, clearing a path to the kitchen. Endless amounts of soldiers flooded the house, and Klauss only thought was getting to Astrid. Finally, when the enemies numbers started to dwindle, he, Ben, and Quinn took off toward the kitchen. A mind-numbing terror caused

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his steps to falter as they came into the seating area right off the main dining room. Blood painted the walls, and human debris covered the floor. Miles and Trevor, both new vampires, had managed to rip the heads off two fully grown paranormals. What exact species they were was still unknown. Their faces were too badly scratched up and swollen beyond any kind of recognition. He had to guess the utter fear caused them to react in such a manner because Miles and Trevor were not of the violent sort. But what surprised him the most and was also the reason he sat around this table instead of in bed comforting his mate, was what Astrid had done. His mate had touched a man and wished him gone, and it had happened. There was no sign of a third man in the room, but Miles, Trevor, and Astrid were adamant that there had been a third. The other odd occurrence surrounding the situation was how Miles knew that by touching the man Astrid could make the wish come true. There were so many questions and not enough answers. Hes resting now, but I feel like hes hiding something from me. Ben took his seat. He propped up his arms on the table and rested his head in his hands. Give it time, Ben. Hell talk to you when he himself can make heads or tails of it all. Once he understands, he will talk to you. You have to believe that, my friend, Klaus reassured him. I know, but I just hate that hes trying to deal with this alone. Ben slammed his fist down on the table. I feel so useless when I know hes suffering. Well, I got good news, guys, Eli said as he jogged into the room. I reviewed the surveillance footage from the part of the house your boys were in. He motioned to the disc in his hand. There was a third man. And just like your mates stated, he did just disappear, but not before he mentioned the coming.

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Ben looked to Klaus. Can Astrid still not remember anything about someone mentioning that while he lived under Malcolms roof? No, but hes worked himself up into hysterics thinking hes some sort of evil bomb going to blow any minute, killing us all. He brought his hand up to pinch the bridge of his noise. A headache the size of Texas pounded in his brain. His hands were tied. He didnt know what to do to reassure his mate, because from all that they had learned, Astrid was, in fact, created for evil purposes. But whoever had thought of this grand scheme didnt count on his mate having a heart and lacking the ability to hurt a living soul. Okay, so this coming is something we need to be concerned about. Quinn looked over to Ben. And your mates hearing voices. Ben narrowed his eyes at Quinn, but he ignored the glare and continued on. But the main concern we all should be focused on right now is who were those guys, and who sent them? How did they know where we lived, and how did they know Astrid was a fairy? That information didnt come to light until yesterday. His attention snapped to Quinn. He had been too caught up in his own pain of almost losing his mate that he never considered how this all came about. According to Benedict, no one else knew about Astrid, so that left only one person who would want him. Lucian. Son of a bitch, he muttered under his breath. This couldnt be happening. What? Ben asked. He turned sullen eyes up at Ben. There is only one person I could possibly think of who would want Astrid. You cant possibly think he stayed around here, do you? Anythings possible. Lucian could be just biding his time until he gets Astrid back. He didnt want to think about what Lucian would do to Astrid if he were to ever get him back. Damn, Eli sang the word out, drawing Klauss attention his way.

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What? Eli pointed his finger at that monitor displaying the surveillance footage. Did you see what Miles and Trevor did to those morons? Eli, we all saw it firsthand, Quinn stated with a tinge of annoyance in his tone. No, you saw the aftereffects, but you didnt see those newbies in action. Surprise and awe were written all over Elis face. Here, look for yourselves. Eli gestured to the monitor and hit the play button. Miles was first on the screen. He fought toe-to-toe with a large male. The man kept trying to grab him around the waist and squeeze him in a bear hug, but the wiry little guy proved to be too fast. Just as another came into view, Trevor came rushing around the corner, fighting with the zest of a boxer seeking a knockout. Punch after punch landed with precise precision. Klaus couldnt believe his eyes. That little fucker actually was paying attention during our sessions together. Pride was clear on Quinns face, and if Klauss wasnt mistaken, the glow of affection radiated off him as well. He couldnt put his finger on it, but something simmered beneath the surface between the warrior and the loudmouthed, overreacting Trevor. Looking back at the video, he watched as Trevor and Miles fought back-to-back like well-seasoned warriors. They anticipated each others movements and worked together to fend off the enemy. Miles stepped one way and Trevor the other, and they fought in complete synchronicity. The method in which they fought and moved together was a style that could not be taught. It was ingrained into their DNA, and being related had to be the reasoning for the way they moved so well together. Complete and utter trust in each other was a tool they used to fight off their attackers. When Astrid came into frame, his heart skidded to a dead stop. His mate scurried across the screen, trying to escape out the far hallway but was stopped by a man blocking his path. Even in the video he could see the blind terror on his angels face. His anger

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spiked as the man kept advancing on his mate. He fisted each hand so tight his knuckles cracked under the pressure. Hey, man, hes okay. Quinn offered words of comfort. Your boy already took out the fucker. Be proud, and dont linger on the what-ifs. Itll just drive you crazy. The video came to an end, and Ben turned to face them all. Hate to say it, but I think I need to call my father and let him know what happened here today. We may need his help. Hang on a minute. Lets think about this. Quinn leaned forward and began to tap his fingers on the desk. Lucian took off after the battle at Malcolms home. There have been sightings of him on the West Coast. What are you suggesting? Klaus asked the warrior. Think about it. Benedict kept all his records on Astrids whereabouts in the councils computer system. Are you calling my father a traitor? Ben started to stand up, his face pinched in anger. No, you hothead, Quinn defended. What Im saying is anyone could have hacked into your fathers computer. And if I know one thing about Benedict, he documents everything. If a person knew what they were looking for, it wouldnt be hard to find. Then you have to also consider the whole existence of Astrid. Part fairy, part witch, someone went to great lengths to create him. Who better than a council member? They have access to all kinds of information ranging from species and genetic makeup. The scientists at headquarters have made great strides in finding out how each species functions and develops their gifts. Whos to say someone isnt using that information to forge together species to make a super race of paranormals. Do you think thats possible? You truly believe someone would betray the council? Klaus asked. Quinn never had any love lost for the council, but Klaus worked for them and had for many, many years. He couldnt fathom anyone going against them.

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It does make sense. My father wouldnt tell anyone about Astrid because he had hopes of getting information from him about Asher. He wouldnt kill the golden goose, so to speak. And Quinn has a point about a council member having access to information that not all paranormals are privy to. Fuck me. He looked to Ben then to Quinn. This could be a lot bigger than any of us could have ever imagined. If someone from the council has gone rogue, that is bad. To top it off, there are several members on the council. I wouldnt know where to begin questioning people. Ben, call your dad, Quinn demanded. He and Quinn scooted closer to Bens chair. They peered over his shoulder at the laptop monitor so they were all allowed to talk with Benedict. Son, its about time you got back to me. Benedict never looked up, just kept writing away at the papers on his desk. Got any info for me? Yeah, actually I do. We had some unexpected visitors today, and not just Astrid but Miles and Trevor were put in danger. What? Benedict shouted. What happened? Is he okay? Yes, Astrid is fine, Ben spat at the screen. Not him, you idiot. Miles, is Miles okay? Ben let out a harsh chuckle. Dont act like you care if my mate was hurt or not. Most of the time you cant stand the sight of me, so why would I believe you care about Miless safety? Klaus watched as Benedict shifted his jaw from side to side. It was evident the man was quite irritated with his only child. Son, there are things I cannot discuss with you, but contrary to what you think, I care more about you than you will ever know, and that includes Miles. Benedict took a deep breath then looked in Klauss direction. So tell me everything that happened today. Klaus coughed to clear his throat before he spoke. Not only is Astrid my mate, hes part fairy. He dropped the bomb fast and quick.

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But Benedict didnt look all too shocked by the news. And the men sent here were tasked with taking Astrid to god only knows where. Benedict ran a hand down his face, rubbing the dark skin under his eyes. The man looked like he hadnt slept in days. Stress creased his youthful, immortal face. I always feared this day would come, but I had hopes of preventing it. Father? Ben moved closer to the computer screen. What arent you telling us? Son, there are things you dont know, and it runs deeper than the council. I have my suspicions on who might be involved, but I never knew what form the threat would come in. Benedict chuckled to himself. Now I know. Klaus grabbed the laptop and turned it to face only him. Whats going on, Benedict? This involves my mate. I have a right to know, he demanded. I cant tell you. I wish I could, but its not allowed. My only suggestion is to double up patrols and keep a close eye on Astrid. Keep the man safe. I cant believe thats all you have to say. He shook his head in disgust. It could very well be Lucian looking to get Astrid back, and all you can say is double up patrols. Klaus, please trust me, Benedict begged. Why should I believe you? You could have orchestrated this whole thing. Maybe we need protection from you. Klaus, Ive known you for years. You know Im not someone you have to fear. Im ruthless because I need to be to keep people safe. Benedict swiped a hand under his eye. The gesture suggested that the man had become emotional. Two of the most important people in my life are under that roof. I would never hurt my boy or his mate. That is why I sent you there. You are one of the strongest witches I know, and I needed to keep them safe. I swear I didnt know that Astrid was part fairy or your mate. I would never be so callous as to do something like that.

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Klaus couldnt explain it, but he believed Benedict. They had never been the best of friends, but Benedict wasnt a bad guy. A hard ass, yes, but never intentionally cruel. You expect us to go on your word alone? Quinn asked. Yes, he answered for Benedict. See what you can find out on your side then get back to us. Benedict said his farewells and promised to get back to them as soon as he had more information. You trust him? He seems to be hiding something, Quinn said. I do. Benedict is a mean son of a bitch, but I believe him when he says hes doing this for the greater good. The mans a machine, working day and night trying to keep the world safe from the Warriors of the Dark, Klaus admitted. It was true. Benedict had done a lot of good for the paranormal community. Ive never seen my father react like that. Ben looked up from his lap. Im just worried the old man has taken on too much. Why wont he tell us whats going on? What does he know that he cant tell us? It bothered Klaus that Benedict wouldnt go into more detail on what he knew, but the man had to have good reasons for keeping things from them. The anger Benedict displayed at the assault against Miles and the sheer fact that he showed affection toward his son in front of them all spoke volumes. Benedict had a good reason for keeping his secrets. Klaus just wished he knew what those secrets were. The meeting among the warriors went on for a little longer. Ben doled out more patrol assignments and safety measures that were to take effect immediately. No chances were to be taken with Miless or Astrids safety. Until they could prove Lucian was at fault for the earlier attack, they had to be cautious. Anyone at this point could be a potential threat.

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Chapter Fourteen
Astrid tossed and turned in bed until he gave up and went to search for his mate. He walked out of his room and took the stairs down to the first floor, following the hallway that led to the main office the warriors congregated in all the time. Once at the door, he stood with his back against the opposite wall and waited for the men to emerge from the room. Every now and again he would hear a raised voice, but the sound was too faint for him to make out who the voice belonged to. He knew they were discussing what had happened earlier that day, and him. He didnt fault them for talking about him behind his back. They had every right to figure out the best course of action to take in keeping everyone in the house safe. If they asked him to leave, he would. He wouldnt be able to live with himself if any of his friends got hurt because of him. A hot tear ran down his cheek. He hated feeling sorry for himself, but it hurt to know to save them all he would have to leave them. If the person looking for him couldnt find him then everyone would be safe. It was the only way. Coming to an agreement with his inner voice, Astrid straightened up against the wall. He swiped the tears off his face. Miles had made the ultimate sacrifice to save them all once before, and now it was his turn to return the favor. He just prayed that one day Klaus would understand and forgive him for leaving like this. He walked toward the door and placed his hand lightly on the hard wood, careful not to make a sound. Closing his eyes tight to hold back the sting of tears, he said a silent good-bye to Klaus. Letting his hand

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fall away, he smiled bitterly at the door. It was for the best. He started back to his room to pack a small bag. The sooner he left, the better. Hey, little guy, whats up? He jumped and spun around to see Jensen standing in the doorway. So caught up in his own inner turmoil, he never heard the door open. Well, there went his escape. Hey, Jenny. He gave the warrior a watery smile. You okay? Never better. He wasnt a good liar, but he couldnt confess the truth. Astrid? What are you doing out here? Klaus asked as he came out of the room. Astrid couldnt resist sinking into Klauss embrace, soaking up all his mates warmth. After he left, all he would have would be memories. Memories of the one man who made him feel like he truly was worth being loved. God, he would miss him. The dam broke on his tears, and they fell like rain. He fisted Klauss shirt in his hands and held on. The last thing he wanted to do was leave, but it was the only way. It wasnt fair, but he would make that sacrifice to keep those he loved safe. Angel, whats going on? Klaus asked as he led Astrid down the hallway to an empty room. Astrid didnt look up. If Klaus saw his eyes, he would know what he had planned, and he couldnt allow Klaus to stop him. Klaus tried to dislodge Astrids grip from his shirt, but he just redoubled his efforts and clenched his hands in the material. The sound of the seams giving way didnt even stop him from further tightening his grip. Astrid, youre scaring me. Please talk to me. Klaus walked him back toward the sofa on the other side of the room. When the backs of his knees hit the sofas edge, Klaus pushed him onto the seat. He let go of Klauss shirt to cover his face with his hands. He didnt want his mate to see him like this. The last memory

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Klaus had of him should be a happy one, not one of him blubbering like a baby. Astrid took a deep breath and slowly let it out through his nose. He met his mates questioning stare and did his best to swallow past the lump in his throat. If he didnt speak soon, he would just start crying all over again, causing Klaus to worry even more. I love you, Klaus, he said as he brought his hands up to frame the sides of Klauss face. The man called him an angel, but it was Klaus who was his angel. In such a short time, the man had given him the world and saved him from a lonely existence. I love you, too, angel. Klaus ran his fingertip down the slope of Astrids nose. Tell me whats going on in that head of yours. Nothing. Astrid gifted Klaus with the best smile he could muster up. Angel, you do know its my job to detect lies, right? His brow lifted, and his mouth twisted into a smile. And right now you have all my internal alarms going off. Please, tell me what has you so upset. Im leaving you, Klaus, he mumbled under his breath. He felt Klaus flinch at his words. Its for the best. If Im not here, the people who want me will stop coming after my familyhe looked up and you. Klauss face hardened. The grin on his face faded into a scowl, causing the lines to crease around his mouth. Do you really think that will help anyone? Klaus snapped. He tried to scoot away from the rage barreling off Klaus. When he tried to move, Klaus grabbed his arms and held him in place. No matter where you go, they will find you, and if Im not there to protect you, god only knows what they will do to you. Klaus shook with anger. Astrid remained quiet. What Klaus said was true, but it didnt discount the fact that with him gone, everyone else in the house would

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be safe. He would rather be subjected to another hundred years with Lucian than to keep putting his loved ones in danger. You do realize if you run off that I would come looking for you, and I wouldnt be the only one. His eyes rounded at the claim. Klaus grinned up at him. Never thought about that, did you? He shook his head slowly from side to side. The thought of Klaus coming after him never entered his mind. In the attempt of trying to protect everyone, he inevitably would be putting them all in more danger because they would be focusing their attention on finding him, and their guard would be down, making them susceptible to an attack. I understand why you think that would help, but it wouldnt. Klauss voice softened. Your need to put others before your own well-being is one of the reasons I love you so much. Klaus entwined their fingers. But if you ever try to run off without me, I will tie you to our bed and paddle your ass, Klaus said in a stern tone. His mouth dropped open at what Klaus said. When a small smile broke across his mates face, he realized Klaus was joking with him. He began to giggle. Being tied down and at Klauss mercy didnt sound like a bad thing at all. In the end, Astrid realized the right thing for him to do would be to stay and fight. He wasnt that frightened, defenseless man anymore, and he needed to start acting like the man he had become. If his mate was willing to fight for him, he needed to step up and believe in himself. **** Listening to his mate laugh warmed his heart. Astrid carried too much worry and responsibility on his frail shoulders, and it wasnt necessary. Love didnt come with a price, and he sure as hell didnt need to sacrifice himself in the name of loving him. They were partners, and any obstacle thrown in their path, they would overcome together, not apart.

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The carefree look on Astrids face stole his breath away. The room felt as if all the air had been sucked out, and he couldnt catch his breath. Love flooded his every pore for this one man. He understood why Astrid felt he needed to sacrifice himself for him, because he would do the same for his mate in a heartbeat. But it was his job as a Warrior of the Light to protect those who couldnt protect themselves, and his mate fell into a whole other category of protection. He would give anything to keep his mate safe and to keep him happy always. Klaus, you okay? Astrid asked as he waved his hand in front of Klauss face. Im great. I was just taken with the view. Klaus shrugged apologetically. Oh, stop it. Reaching forward, he grabbed Astrid by the hips and pulled him forward on the couch until his ass sat at the very edge. Astrid gasped in shock and dug his nails into Klauss chest to find his balance. At Astrids surprised expression, he smiled mischievously at him. I mean it, my angel. Klaus hefted Astrids legs up around his waist. Youre the sexiest thing I have ever seen. He stood up, cradling Astrids ass in his hands. And youre all mine. Klaus sat with his back against the couch and positioned Astrid to straddle his lap. Astrids hands came up to wrap around his neck. He wiggled his firm little bottom, grinding his erection against the full length of Klauss cock. Astrids wore a smile on his face as he taunted him, pushing him closer to the brink with every nudge of his groin against his. Klauss head spun, and his hands trembled, but he gritted his teeth and forced himself to focus. He swallowed hard and took a calming breath. Very slowly, he glided his hands up Astrids arms and didnt stop until he held Astrids head in both hands. Pulling Astrid forward, he gently brushed his lips across his. Astrids unsteady breaths warmed his lips as he

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pushed his tongue against the seam of Astrids lips, and they parted to welcome him inside. Tongue slid against tongue in an intimate little dance that left them both breathless. He needed to feel his mates bare skin touching his. Wrenching his mouth from Astrids, he didnt give his mate time to protest. He tugged Astrids shirt up his chest and off his arms. Astrid went to cover himself with his arms, but Klaus stopped him. Dont hide from me, angel. Klaus placed his lips over one perfectly round nipple before switching to the other. He bit down lightly, extracting a deep groan from his mate. Do that again, so good. Astrids words were barely audible. Klaus nibbled and sucked on the pebbled peak. Astrid fisted his hands in his hair, holding him close to the sensitized flesh. Klaus moved to the other and sucked so hard he left a bruise. Astrid rewarded him with moans and keening cries for more. Stand up, angel. He yanked on the waist of his mates jeans. These need to go so we can play. A lazy smile lit up Astrids face. He stood, and the couch cushion dipped under the weight, causing him to wobble and lose his footing. Klaus grabbed his hips to steady him. Astrid placed his small hands on Klauss shoulders to keep him balanced. He tapped Astrid on the outer side of his left thigh, signaling for him to raise his foot into the air. Klaus quickly removed his tennis shoe then moved to take off the other. Once Astrid was free of his shoes, he started at the tip of his mates toes and slowly trailed his hand upward. He could feel the slight shake of Astrids body the closer he got to the bulge pushing at his jeans. Klaus started to drool at the sight of his mates long, hard pole trying to break free. He leaned forward and placed openmouthed kisses to his mates cock as it pushed at the side of his jeans. Even through the tight denim, Klaus could taste the faint hint of Astrids pre-cum, and he wanted more.

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Pulling down the zipper and snapping the button free, he tugged Astrids pants down his legs. His creamy-white skin brightened the room, and he could have sworn he saw his angels aura radiating with happiness. With Astrids pants free from his body, his impressive erection bobbed directly in front of his mouth. The head glistened with cum and offered a silent invitation for Klaus to have a taste. Feed me that pretty cock, Klaus said as he brought his hands up to cup Astrids ass, guiding him forward. Astrids breath came out choppy, but he moved forward, bringing the blunt tip to Klauss mouth. He opened wide and suckled at the weeping tip. A rough moan ripped from Astrids chest as he flicked his tongue into the slit at the top, extracting more of the honeyflavored juices. So, so, oh god! Astrid babbled. When Astrid went to thrust forward, Klaus had to dig his fingers into his hips to hold him still. At Astrids confused expression, he just winked. Holding Astrids cock upward, he flattened his tongue against the base and traced the large vein that ran the length, only stopping when he reached the little bundle of nerves under the flared head. The taste of his mate caused his desire to claw at his insides. It was a living entity trying to break free and claim the man standing over him. Klaus gave in to his desires. He fumbled with his pants to free his dick from its tight confines. Hed be lucky if the zipper marks ever disappeared. He had been semierect since he caught the first whiff of his mate standing outside the office door. Astrid was proving to be his greatest weakness, but at the same time his greatest treasure. He continued to suck his mate while he shoved his pants down his hips. His dick screamed with relief to finally be freed from its prison. I need you, angel. Give me what we both want, Klaus hissed. He pulled on Astrids hand until he sat on his lap. The warm crease of

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Astrids ass hugged at his length, exciting a harsh breath to erupt from his diaphragm. Astrid captured his lips in a kiss. While Astrid took control of his mouth, Klaus reached between their bodies and rubbed at the tender skin behind Astrids balls. Astrid pushed down, trying to rush him, and he bit down on his mates tongue in warning. He walked his fingers back to his mates tight hole. Klauss eyes rolled back as his fingers rubbed over the rippled tissue at the entrance. Using his index finger, he pushed forward until he breached the tight muscle. He slid inside and fingered Astrids hot inner channel. Astrids head fell forward to rest on his shoulder as he pleased his mates hot body. As he pushed the lone finger in and out of Astrids hungry hole, he realized he didnt have any lube. Silently, he cursed under his breath for not thinking ahead. I wish we had some lube. He pushed his finger all the way back in and jerked in surprise. What the hell? Huh? Did you just wish for yourself to be slicked up on the inside? He held his finger still as he waited for his mates response. Uh, no. Astrid let out a started giggle. I was kind of preoccupied. I wasnt thinking or wishing for anything, Astrid swore. When he went to ease his finger back in, he added a second for good measure. Astrid settled back into his touch. His mates body sucked Klauss fingers in with ease. Feel that, angel? he asked as he added a third finger, scissoring them in and out of Astrids quivering hole. Feel how easy my fingers fill you up? So, Astrid stuttered out as he rode Klauss hand. Whats your point?

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Klaus laughed. My point is, love, I didnt have any lube, and if you didnt wish for it then somehow you granted my wish without even knowing I was asking for it. Maybe its a perk of being mated to a fairy. Astrid shrugged one shoulder. I get that youre a little freaked out, but can we discuss this after you fuck me? He couldnt help but smile up at his mate. He liked that Astrid felt comfortable to askno, to demandwhat he wanted from him. The little frightened man he met that first day was disappearing little by little and being replaced with a confident and fearless man not afraid to ask for what he wanted. His angel was slowly but surely growing a backbone, and he couldnt have been more proud. He curled his fingers, pegging Astrids prostrate, causing a shout to surge from Astrids throat. A fine sheen of sweat broke out across Astrids body, and Klaus couldnt resist yanking him forward and licking a path up his chest, only stopping when he reached the little divot under his Adams apple. He kissed his way up Astrids slender neck and along his jaw. After a few more pumps he removed his fingers. He grabbed the base of his dick and used his other hand to rest on Astrids hip. Astrid situated himself over Klaus and lowered himself down on the hot, hard length. He could feel Astrids body give way, and he clenched his jaw tight to keep from yelling out. Once Astrid was fully seated, Klaus went right to work. He thrust his hips upward, bouncing Astrid on his lap. Now wasnt the time for soft and slow lovemaking No it was the time for rough, hard, claiming sex. Klaus had to prove to Astrid this was where he belonged, with him. He needed to erase the idea from Astrids head of ever leaving him. He leaned back against the couch and watched his mate ride his cock with complete and utter abandonment, and it was a thing of beauty. Astrids heavy panting matched his own. The sound of skin

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slapping against skin and their shared moans created an erotic soundtrack that filled the air. Klaus, I need to come. Astrid rested his damp forehead against his. Please, make me come. Taking that as an order, he reached between them and jacked his angels cock. Pre-cum oozed from the tip, coating the length in enough wetness to let his hand glide easily. His own orgasm had reached the surface. He tried to hold it off, but he couldnt. Hot cum erupted from him, shooting deep inside his mate. He couldnt breathe. His body strung tight as he rode the waves of ecstasy. Astrid continued to grind his ass down on his length, seeking his own release. The movement helped prolong Klauss pleasure. As he came back to his senses, he tightened his grip on Astrids throbbing shaft, letting him fuck the tight tunnel his hand provided. Close, oh Astrids words died off as pearly, white ropes shot from his cock. Klaus bent his head forward and opened his mouth. Astrids cream painted his face, and he swallowed down what he caught on his tongue. His taste buds sizzled from the salty goodness. Exhaustion claimed Astrids body, and he fell forward, smashing himself to Klauss chest. Astrids body quavered with aftershocks, and he held him through the small quakes. Pulling out of his arms, Astrid leaned back to look at him. A lazy grin played on his lips. You got a little something right here. Astrid pointed to his cheek then to his chin. And here. Astrid swiped his finger along Klauss chin and brought his finger up to show him. He grabbed Astrids wrist and brought his finger to his lips. He stared into Astrids wide baby-blue eyes as he sucked the finger into his mouth, humming loudly as he swallowed down the salty essence of his lover. I love it when you mark my body with your sweet juices. He reached back and squeezed Astrids firm, rounded cheeks in his

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hands. It lets the world know you belong to me, and I belong to you. Klaus kissed the tip of Astrids nose. Yeah, I think I like that, too. A grin spread across Astrids face. His angel proceeded to kiss and lick his tongue along Klauss face, cleaning up the remains of his release. He relaxed back into the couch and enjoyed the tongue bath his mate gave him. The smooth glide of Astrids tongue across his chin sparked his desire back to life. He fisted his hands in Astrids long, flowing hair to stop his movements. Angel, baby. He chuckled. If you keep that up, we will never leave this room. Astrid agreed and climbed off his lap. He hated the loss of heat his mates body provided, but it was dinnertime, and his mate needed to be fed. If Astrid lost any more weight, he stood the great chance of being blown away by a stiff breeze. He helped Astrid put his clothes on and tied his shoes for him. Astrid combed his hands through his hair as he knelt at his lovers feet. Thank you, Klaus. He glanced up from Astrids shoe. For what, angel? Astrid played mindlessly with the hem of his shirt as he answered Klaus. You know, for talking me out of leaving, and for loving me. Klaus stood up and gathered Astrids hands in his own. No, I should be thanking you. At Astrids baffled look, he explained. Until you came along, I was all alone. You love without question, and you stand up for those you love. I will be forever grateful that I was blessed to have you enter my life. I love you, Astrid. Astrids eyes began to water, and he pulled him close. He didnt mean to make his mate cry, but he wanted Astrid to know how important he was to him. Until he met Astrid, he thought he could live out his lonely existence alone, not needing anyone to survive. But after having Astrid in his life for such a short time, he realized to never find your mate would truly be tragic. The love of his mate filled

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him up and warmed his soul, making facing an eternity not so miserable. In fact, he looked forward to spending his endless life with Astrid. Come on, angel. Lets get some dinner in you. He walked Astrid to the door. He sent up a silent thank you to the heavens for giving him with the most precious gift of all, Astrid.

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Chapter Fifteen
What are you doing here? I came to check on you, baby. Arent you glad to see me? I was so worried about you. As he and Astrid left the room, he heard arguing coming from the foyer. The sound of a thud and a startled gasp had him rushing down the hallway, pushing Astrid behind. The sounds of a struggle met his ears, and he sped up his pace. He couldnt believe what he saw when he came to a stop in the foyer. A man had his hand against Carters collarbone, pinning him to the wall. A man Klaus knew damn well shouldnt be there. Whats going on here? Klaus shouted. The man let go of Carters shirt, and he stumbled as he landed on his feet. He slowly turned to greet him. Oh, Klaus, old friend, how long has it been? He stood speechless for a split second as he realized who it was. Ivan. His eyes darted to Carter. Why are you here? He came because of me. Carter pushed away from the wall to come stand by him. Why? he asked Carter but never took his eyes off of Ivan. We used to date, and he called right after the incident this morning. He claims he came to check on me because he was worried. Carter glared at Ivan. But we know thats a lie. Oh, baby, you know I care about you. Ivan made to grab Carters hand, but Klaus stepped in front of Carter, stopping Ivan from touching him. Klaus, Ivan said. Always involving yourself in matters that dont concern you.

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He was just about to respond when Astrid came barreling toward him. Klaus, whats wrong? Why did you take off like that? Astrid asked as he came to a stop between Carter and Klaus. What do we have here? Carter stepped in front of Astrid, blocking Ivans view of him. Klaus appreciated the young witchs protectiveness over his mate. He had known Ivan longer than he cared to admit. The man was a bottom-feeder who only cared about himself. Plus, he hadnt worked a day in his life, living off daddys money. In Klauss opinion, the man was a spoiled brat at the age of nine hundred and thirty-four years of age. Ivan, just leave. I dont want you here, so please just go. Carter ushered Ivan toward the front door. You would send me away this late at night? Where will I go? Ivan whined. Its hardly late, and youre nearly a thousand years old, and youre a witch. I think you will be fine on your own. Carter grabbed Ivan by the bicep and tried to tug him toward the door. Baby, you sure The Warriors of the Light cant put the son of a high-ranking council member up for one night? The slimy bastard used his family connections to get his way. Klaus could never respect a man like that. Ivan had most definitely put them between a rock and a hard place. Of course we can put you up for a night, Klaus said to Ivan. Well just need to let Ben know, and then we can get a room ready for you. Not necessary. Ivan held a hand up. I can stay with Carter. The fuck you will, Carter snapped. Okay there obviously seems to be a difference of opinion between you two. But I must say I agree with Carter, separate rooms while you stay here. If Abner thought you were sharing a room with another man, he might snap. Whos Abner? Ivan asked but turned his attention to Astrid.

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None of your business, Carter said, cutting him off. Klaus saw the pleading in Carters eyes to not mention he and Abner being mates. Thats not your concern. He looked to Carter. Why dont you take Ivan to Bens office, and he can handle getting him settled. Carter nodded and started walking down the hallway, not even stopping to see if Ivan had followed him. Thank you, Klaus, for the hospitality. Its deeply appreciated. Ivan dropped his eyes to where Astrid stood behind Klaus, peeking over his shoulder. Hello there, young man. Ivan held his hand out to Astrid. We havent had the pleasure of meeting. My name is Ivan, and yours? Klaus took a step forward, brushing Ivans hand to the side. You better hurry up. He nudged his chin in Carters direction. I dont think hes going to wait for you, and I would hate for you to get lost. I think youre right. Ivan laughed and pointed a finger at him. Nice meeting you, young man. Astrid stood with his chest pressed against his back. He then wrapped his arms around Klauss waist. Klaus covered Astrids hands with his own and gave them a small pat. Who was that? Astrids voice shook as he spoke. An overprivileged brat who lives off his daddy. Klaus turned in Astrids arms. No one for you to worry about. Hes more annoying than anything. If you say so. Astrid glanced toward the hallway. Come on, angel. Lets go wash up for dinner. He walked Astrid toward the stairs that led up to their bedroom. As of late, every little thing came off as suspicious to him, and Ivan arriving at the warrior compound just seemed to be another. It made perfect sense for him to want to check up on his boyfriend, but Carter made it seem like they were no longer together, so why would he show up unannounced? It didnt make since. But Ivan didnt like

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being told no, so he probably couldnt get it through his thick skull that Carter no longer wanted him. You coming? Astrid asked from the top step. Klaus had stopped midway up as his brain started to jump to conclusions. He needed to lighten up and focus on the real threat that surrounded his mate, not worry why a man he couldnt stand would suddenly show up to check on his latest bedmate.

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Chapter Sixteen
All through dinner, Astrid could feel Ivans eyes on him. At first he thought he was just imagining it, until he caught the man boldly staring at him. He didnt smile and didnt wink or say boo, just stared at him like he was trying to figure out some sort of puzzle. It baffled him, but he shrugged it off. Maybe Carter had told him he was part fairy, which was a rarity in their world. Once the dinner dishes were cleared, Ben invited Ivan, along with the other warriors, for a drink. Ivan accepted and left the room but not before checking to see where Astrid was. Astrid made a deal with himself that if Ivan kept up his eye stalking, he would say something to Klaus. But it wasnt against the law to look at people, and he didnt want to dump more stress into Klauss lap if he was just overreacting. Astrid wandered around the upstairs hallway. He stopped by Trevors room and played some video games with him. Before too long, he bored of that and went back to wandering the hallway. He passed a cracked door and peered inside. Carter sat in a chair, reading something. The door squeaked when his shoulder nudged it open. Carter looked up and smiled at him. Astrid, what are you up to? Carters voice was gentle and not annoyed to have his peace and quiet interrupted. This made Astrid like the man just a tad more. Nothing. Im just bored. What are you reading? Astrid asked from the threshold of Carters door. Oh, this? Carter held up a flimsy booklet. Its called a comic book. Havent you ever seen one before? He shook his head no. Then come on in and take a look.

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Astrid smiled as he entered the room. Carter got up from his chair and went to sit on the bed where there would be more room for them to sit comfortably. He climbed on the bed and sat on his knees as he looked over Carters shoulder at the colorful book in his hand. Astrid loved books with pictures, and this book had pictures all over it. Carter enlightened him on what comic books were all about, that they usually revolved around superheroes saving the day and putting the bad guys in jail. He explained that there were different kinds and some were even collectors items, whatever that meant. Astrid didnt know. Astrid liked the bright, colorful artwork and the different frames that jumped across the page. And he could classify them as reading material because there were bubbles filled with dialogue among the characters, telling a story. It was a fun kind of book that he could really get into. I cant believe youve never seen one of these before, Carter said in disbelief. My childhood wouldnt have been the same without these bad boys. The smile on Carters face fell away. Shit, Astrid, Im so sorry. I didnt mean to bring that up or be insensitive. His friend sat with his shoulders slumped and his head hanging down. It hit him quickly that Carter was remembering Astrids memories and how he didnt have the privilege of having things like comic books. Sadness swamped him at seeing Carter beat himself up for speaking his mind. Carter shouldnt feel like he had to censor himself when they were together. His childhood wasnt ideal, but it wasnt going to define who he was now. He rested his head on Carters shoulder. Its okay, Carter. My childhood wasnt perfect, but I have a great life now. So lets not dwell on my past, but look toward the future instead. Carter laid his head on top of Astrids and nodded. They sat quietly for a few minutes, and Astrid thought it best to change the

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subject. And he was dying to know what was going on between Carter, Abner, and even Ivan. Carter, can I ask you something? Sure. Do you love him? Love who? Carter asked, and he could feel Carters body tense under his ear where his head lay. Ivan. Astrid rubbed small circles on Carters shoulder to ease the tension that knotted the witchs muscles. Oh, hell no. Carter laughed out loud. Astrid, he and I just spent some time together, but nothing serious like that. He patted Astrids knee. Dont get me wrong, things were fun between us, but it was never going to be a love match. Good, he said excitedly. Then you and Abby can be together. Astrid. Carter breathed out a heavy sigh. Its not that easy. I think I might have already screwed things up with Abner. What do you mean? he asked. Well for starters, the way I treated him when I first arrived, then Ivan shows up, andCarter worried his lower lip with his teeth for a moment before he spoke againand some other stuff took place, but Im not going to discuss those things with you. Is it about sex? he asked without shame. He was a grown man, and he understood the wants and needs that came along with finding a mate. Carters cheeks blushed a pretty rose color. Yeah, were not having this conversation. I understand, but Carter, Im here anytime you want to talk. He shifted and brought his legs out to stretch in front of him, and he yawned as he realized how tired he had become. Dude, stop that. Carter yawned wide. Dont you know thats contagious? Astrid started to giggle, and Carter smiled in turn. Well, little man, I say we call it a night. Im sure Klaus will be

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looking for you soon. He stood up and offered a hand to Astrid. Come on, Ill walk you back to your room. He took his hand and let Carter pull him to his feet. They headed toward the open door, and then they were stopped dead in their tracks. Their path was blocked by one man Astrid really didnt want to be alone with. Leaving so soon? Ivan asked as he smiled at the both of them. It wasnt a friendly smile. Astrid had seen that smile before but on a different face. That smile promised nothing but pain and misery. He knew they had to get away, but how? He tried to get his tongue to work, but it lay limp and heavy in his mouth as if it were numb. Panic had him rooted to the spot. Like so many times before in his life, he was trapped. Ivan, get out of my room, Carter shouted at him, oblivious to the danger they were in. Ivan stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. The distinct sound of the lock clicking into place caused Astrids breathing to speed up. Bad memories filled his mind, and he couldnt stop the slide show of the past from replaying in his head. Astrid tried to open his mouth to scream or something but couldnt make his vocal cords work. I think its time I teach you some manners, my dear Carter. And with that, Ivan pulled back his balled-up fist and punched Carter in the face. Carter never saw it coming and had no time to react. He took the full brunt of the hit and fell in a heap to the floor. Terror held Astrid hostage as he watched Ivan proceed to beat Carter until the man passed out. When Ivan was done with Carter, he stood up and wiped his bloody hands on a handkerchief. He stuffed the small square of material back in his pocket then turned to him. Alarms were going off in Astrids head, telling him to move, run, and escape, but he was helpless to do any such thing. He couldnt even react to help save his friend.

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Astrid, my boy, this wasnt how I foresaw our little family reunion taking place, but we all have to make do. Ivan glided as if on air over to where he stood shaking uncontrollably. Now, son, why dont you give your father a proper greeting. My father? That was Astrids last thought before his eyes rolled back into his head, and the blackness of unconsciousness consumed him.

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Chapter Seventeen
Klaus had gotten distracted talking with Ben and Quinn and lost track of time. Two hours had passed since he left Astrid sitting at the kitchen table finishing his dessert. Now that he was free, he wanted to find his sweet little mate and partake in his own special kind of dessert. He wore a huge smile as he walked down the hallway in search of Astrid. He checked their bedroom first, but no sign of his angel. Heading back down the stairs, he checked the kitchen, TV room, and the indoor pool area, Astrids three favorite places, but still no luck finding him. He headed for the stairs, assuming he must be with Miles or Trevor. The latter caused his head to start hurting. He felt for the guy who drew the short stick and got Trevor as a mate. A handful didnt come close to describing that kid. As he came around the corner, he saw Ben climbing the stairs. Ben, have you seen Astrid? Ben stopped in midstep. The man held a plate in his hand, eating a piece of chocolate cake. No. Have you checked your room? He might be there waiting for you. Ben waggled his eyebrows. Klaus laughed at Bens teasing. I did, but he wasnt there. Maybe Miles has seen him. Or worse, hes hanging out with Trevor. They both groaned in unison. I heard that, you assholes. He and Ben turned to see Trevor and Miles standing behind them. Trevor had his arms crossed over his chest, trying his best to give them a good, hard stare down. He had to bite back his chuckle. Miles

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and Trevor held their own against a couple of dark warriors, but Klaus felt confident in saying he could take both Trevor and Miles in a fight with one arm tied behind his back. Truth hurts. Ben shrugged and continued to eat his cake. Trevor started to gear up to argue with Ben, but Klaus didnt have time for it. Astrid wasnt with his two buddies, so where was he? Have you guys seen Astrid? Hes not in our room, and I cant seem to find him anywhere. We havent seen him, but hes part of the reason we came looking for you. Miles gave Trevor a nudge, pushing him forward a step. Tell them what you told me. Why? Trevor asked. Because I want to see what they think of your little revelation. Miles nudged Trevors shoulder again. The cousins started to bicker back and forth. Ben had finished his cake and stood bored as the pair continued to argue. Apparently having heard enough, Ben roared as loud as he could. As shocked by the sound as Mile sand Trevor were, he startled in surprise. Boys, Im tired and horny, and I really dont have time for this. TMI, Trevor said as he waved a hand in the air. What? Ben said to Miles. Translate. Too much information. Bens brow knitted together as he stared at his mate. Babe, you just told Trev that you were horny. Ben grumbled under his breath. Klaus felt his pain. It had been a long day, and he wanted nothing more than to find his mate and cuddle until they both fell asleep. But no, he stood on the staircase listening to his friends argue. Worry for his mate had him refereeing the men before another argument broke out. Gentleman, I hate to interrupt, but can you get back to what you were saying about Astrid. Trevor stuck his tongue out at Ben, who in response did the same back. Boys, he warned.

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Okay, I was talking to Miles, and we started to discuss Ivans hotness. We? Miles said, interrupting Trevor. Okay, I was talking about Ivans hotness. Eww, Ben said as he took a seat on the stair. I just spent an hour with that guy. Hes a complete douche. Loves himself way too much. Daddys boy. Klaus couldnt help commenting. Back to what I was saying. Trevor narrowed his eyes at them. We went from talking about Ivans hotness to how he and Astrid kind of look alike. Trevor leaned against the banister and waved his hand around as he described the two men. I mean, Ivans hair is a deeper shade of blond, and he is taller than Astrid. But its the facial features that got me. The wide-set blue eyes, straight-edged nose, and the high cheekbones. I told Miles they could pass for brothers or something. He brought up an image of his angel and of Ivan in his mind. The similarities, now that they were pointed out to him, were uncanny. But what did it mean? Astrid didnt have any family that they knew of except Fuck, he shouted as he took the stairs two at a time. He ran to his bedroom to check for Astrid one more time. Please say hes there. The sound of pounding feet followed him. As he got to the room he stopped so fast, Ben bumped into his back. He peered around the room. Still no Astrid. Where was he? You cant possibly think that Ivan is Astrids father? If he is, he has some big balls for coming here, dont you think? Ben bent at the waist to catch his breath. Thats what I thought, honey, but think about it. No one would suspect him. Hell, I didnt even put the possibility together until Trevor brought it up, Miles said. Hold up, Trevor said as he walked farther into Klauss bedroom. Are you guys telling me the hot witch is Astrids father?

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Klaus could faintly hear the conversation going on around him. Concern for Astrid had him on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Has anyone even seen Ivan lately? Ben asked. He left the office way before any of us. He said he had to make a call, but he never came back. The last time I saw Astrid was about an hour ago. I havent seen Ivan since dinner. Whats going on here? Trevor said to Klaus. Shit! Shit! Shit! He searched his room, checking the bathroom, the closet, under the bed, and even tossing the bedding to the floor, searching for any sign of his mate. His stomach began to swim as dread set heavy in his gut. He had a bad feeling itching at his skin, and over the years he had come to trust his instincts, and they were telling him Astrid was in danger. Carter, he mumbled as he walked out of the room. We need to find Carter. He raced down the hallway with Ben, Miles, and Trevor right behind him. When he came to Carters door, it was shut. He knocked loudly once then waited. Carter didnt answer, so he knocked again more frantically. He banged on the door and shouted for Carter to let them in, but nothing. Hey, guys, what you up to? Abner asked as he headed in their direction. Have you seen Carter? He continued to pound on the closed door. No. Abner shook his head. I was coming up here to check on him. His head dropped to his chest as he spoke. We had a fight, and I was just coming to check on him. He exchanged a look with Ben. Ben nodded, and Klaus kicked the door down. He rushed into the room but didnt see any sign of Astrid or Carter. The sound of screaming had him spinning around. Trevor and Miles stood to the entryway of the bathroom. Both men were white as ghosts. He rushed to the pair and pushed past them to see what had them so frightened.

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Oh my god. Carter lay on the tile floor in a pool of his own blood. His face had been so badly beaten, if Klaus didnt already know it was Carter, he wouldnt have been able to recognize the man. Both of Carters eyes were puffy and swollen shut. Black-and-blue bruises marred the bloody skin. He fell to his knees and felt for a pulse. A faint thumpthump beat under his fingers. Abner came barreling through the door, half shifted into his bear form. The pain at seeing his mate so badly beaten had brought on the change. He roared and growled at Klaus. He scooted back and held his hands up, letting Abner know he wasnt a threat to his mate. Abner, Im just checking to make sure hes breathing, he said sympathetically. Still in partial shift, Abner gathered Carter up into his arms. His hands had shifted into paws, and he rubbed his extended nose against Carters cheek. After a few deep breaths and finding comfort that his mate still lived, Abners body started to shrink back to his human form. Who did this? Abner hissed. The man had reined in his bear, but just barely. The beast was right under his skin, threatening to break loose and kill whoever was responsible for hurting his mate, and Klaus couldnt blame the man. We think Ivan. Ben spoke first. He stepped forward and placed a hand on Abners shoulder. We also think he might have kidnapped Astrid and left the house. Abner roared so loud everyone in the bathroom grabbed their ears. The sound magnified in the small room. The sound trailed off as Carter stirred in Abners arms. Klaus moved forward. Carter? Klaus paused. Carter, can you hear us? Baby, Abner said, his voice heavy with tears. Come back to me. Carter jerked in Abners arms and tried to open his eyes. I cant see. Blood gargled in his mouth as he spoke.

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Its okay, baby. Your eyes are just swollen shut. Abner combed his fingers through the blood-matted hair on Carters forehead. Carter, can you tell us who did this to you? Klaus asked, but he already knew. Ivan. Carter gasped for breath with every word he spoke. Ben stepped forward and knelt next to Abner. Carter, do you have any idea where Ivan would have taken Astrid? Carter gave a slight shake of his head. Klaus cursed under his breath. They had no clue where Ivan had taken Astrid, and theyd had a good hour head start. If Ivan hadnt been a witch, it wouldnt be such a big deal, but Ivan was. He would use any means necessary to hide his tracks, and with magic on his side, the possibilities were endless. I failed him. Klaus brought his legs up, resting in his elbows on his knees. He then dropped his head forward into his hands and began to cry. His angel was lost to him. Klaus, look at me. Ben moved forward and grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a hard shake. His head snapped back, and he looked up at Ben. We will find him. I promise you that. Just stay with me, my friend, okay? The trance of utter despair he started to slip into broke. Determination filled his veins. He had to believe they would find Astrid because without his sweet mate in his life, life wasnt worth living. And if he gave up on ever finding Astrid, who would save him from the monster that abducted him? Okay. He nodded his head. Ben stood, and he allowed him to pull him to his feet. Where should we start? I thought you would never ask. Ben chuckled. First, were going to have Elias check the surveillance tapes to see about how long ago Ivan took off with Astrid. Ill also have Elias hack into the citys street cameras to see if we can at least get the general direction Ivan took off in. Hows that sound to you?

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Sounds like a plan. It sounded good and, at this point, like their only option. He had to believe they would find Astrid. Dont give up. Just when you think all hope is lost, a light at the end of the tunnel shines the way. He took comfort in Bens words. The man had suffered through the same turmoil as him, and he made it through with his mate by his side. Ben instructed Abner to take Carter to the room they had set up as their makeshift hospital. Being a paranormal, Carter would heal faster than the average human, but he was still pretty banged up. He would need his wounds cleaned and stitched up. Klaus admired the young witch. Through it all he didnt complain, just kept apologizing for letting Ivan escape with Astrid. They all reassured Carter there was nothing he could have done. When they got to the war room, Ben started to bark out orders, and Klaus had complete faith in the mans abilities as a leader. Hope sparked where doom had settled. He would find his mate one way or another. With the help of Ben and the other warriors, they would bring Astrid back home.

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Chapter Eighteen
He came to when his head hit the passenger-side window. He cracked an eyelid open just a pinch to see where he was. Turning his head just slightly, he saw Ivan in the drivers seat. He clamped his eyelids shut as he remembered how he had gotten in this situation. He had stood talking with Carter when Ivan came into the room. Ivan had made a comment on how he was going to teach Carter a lesson then proceeded to beat the tar out of the poor guy. His stomach started to roll, and bile rose to the back of his throat at the memory of the horrible sounds. Astrid remembered the thud as Carter hit the floor, and the sickening sound of bone crunching under Ivans fist as he pounded into Carter without mercy. Astrid wasnt even sure the young witch had survived. The other thing that he remembered, and probably the worst news he had ever heard, was that Ivan had said he was his father. It couldnt be true. After all this time, he discovered he had parents, and his father turned out to be a piece of shit. Because if his father was a good guy, why would he beat Carter the way he did? Or kidnap him? So many questions sat at the tip of his tongue, but the longer he played possum, the more time he had to try and figure a way out of this mess. I know youre awake, Ivan said from his perch behind the wheel, never taking his eyes off the road. Astrid sat up in his seat. He scooted as close to the passenger door as he could, the handle held tightly in his hand. Maybe he could open the door and jump. He had no idea where they were heading or why, and would rather take his chances of surviving a fall at high speeds from the car than the alternative.

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Dont even think about it, son. The doors have child-safety locks on them. Ivan laughed. How appropriate, dont you think? Being as youre my child and all. Dont call me that, he snapped with more courage than he actually felt at the moment. He continued to fidget with the door handle, trying to wrench it open. If I were you, Id watch my tone. Son or not, Ill still give you a dose of what I gave Carter. Ivan sighed. Thats whats wrong with the youth of today, no respect for your elders. Ivan turned to narrow his eyes at him. Im rather surprised youre not happy to see me. To know youre not just another worthless orphan in the world, taking up space. He couldnt believe his ears. The man truly thought he should be happy about the news that they were related. Of all the time he dreamt of meeting his parents, he never imagined it to be like this with his mother being dead and his father a witch off his rocker. Fear clutched at his neck like a pair of icy fingers strangling the life out of him. His life had just started to get better, and now he was hit with another blow of disappointment. He took a few deep breaths to help calm his racing heart. His stomach began to clench with a mixture of anger and terror. Between his heart convulsing and his stomach aching, he feared he would throw up the beating organ along with his dinner. But he had to be strong and pray Klaus would find him. If he lost hope then he truly would be fucked. A few minutes passed by, but it could have been hours for all he knew. Ivan didnt speak again, so he assumed the older man preferred the silence, and that worked for Astrid. He needed time to think. The memory of when he and Miles had been held prisoner by Malcolm came to the forefront of his mind. They had figured out Astrid could escape from locked rooms if the distance wasnt too far. Maybe being bonded to Klaus would give him that extra boost to get back home. Closing his eyes, he concentrated. I wish I was back home. I wish I was back home. He tried several more times, but nothing happened.

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So he went with a shorter distance. I wish I was in the backseat. But still nothing happened. I know what youre trying to do, and you might as well knock it off. Ivan yawned as he drove on. That leather choker youre wearing is enchanted. He reached up and felt the thin length of leather wrapped around his throat. Its bound your magic, so you cant even wish for a glass of water. He balled up his fist so tight his knuckles turned white from lack of circulation. The man had taken what freedom he had away. He slammed his fists down into each thigh, making a loud smacking sound throughout the car. Why? he asked. Why what? You need to be more specific, son. He cringed at the word son. Ivan might have fathered him, but he was not his father. He didnt have one. Why any of this? Im close to a thousand years old, Astrid, and all my life Ive been forced to live in a bubble of sorts. Being told what I could and couldnt do. So naturally, I found a way, with the help of others, around being held down and policed by the Warriors of the Light and the Council of Paranormal Beings. Ivan grinned over at him. You, my son, are the key to our freedom. The key? He couldnt believe what he was hearing. If Im so important to you, why send me to live with Malcolm and Lucian? Now that, my boy, was your grandmothers idea. Ivan relaxed back into his seat and drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. The sound grated on his already frayed nerves. She is also the one to name you. Giving you that wretched moniker made it easy to find you. Its such a feminine name for a young man. But on the off chance you were smart enough to escape, she thought it would make locating you easier since you have such an uncommon name.. Astrid let the smart-enough comment roll off his shoulders. He was more interested in this grandmother he had. There were more members to this twisted family?

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But we sent you to live with Malcolm so he could toughen you up and make a man out of you. I couldnt very well raise you, being as your grandfather is still on the council. But I can now see all those years spent with Malcolm did nothing to make you a strong and obedient warrior. But I intend on rectifying that. Make me strong? Obedient? Did you know that Lucian beat me, and when he wasnt beating me he raped me? I didnt know the particulars, but after all that, you still kept that fairy goodness inside you. Ivan eyed him warily. I find it fascinating that you are even sane. You must be more powerful than we thought. I still dont understand any of this, he whispered, more to himself than for Ivan to hear. All the information of his past and his family came crashing down on him. He didnt know if he could take any more. As Im sure you already know, youre part fairy, part witch, and that means, in theory, magic without consequence. Ivan flicked on his blinker and took the corner hard. Mother and I were tired of being subjected to the righteousness of others and more than willing to assist in the destruction of the council by any means necessary. Believe me, were not the only ones itching to break out of this prison of a life we are forced to live. You would destroy and kill all those you have ever known just so you can use your magic as you see fit? It was plan lunacy. Ivan kept referring to theythey who? Others were helping his deranged father, but Astrid couldnt figure out how he played a part in any of this. He wasnt powerful by any means. Son, youre thinking too hard. Let it go. All will become clear soon enough. He flinched away when Ivan reached out to touch his hair. Not being fazed by his reaction, Ivan dropped his hand. He truly and honestly cared for no one. Maybe it was that little boy living inside him, but he had to know something, anything about his mother. And Ivan was his only option to get that information.

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What about my mother? Did you even love her? It was pointless to ask, because he had a sinking suspicion he already knew the answer, but he held out a shred of hope. Love? Ivan sound shocked by the idea. Love is for fools. I seek and want only power. You would do yourself right by learning that, son. The more power you obtain, the more respect you get from others. Thats not respect. Thats fear, he retorted back. Call it what you will, but it doesnt matter because in the end its what I want. But to answer your question, did I love your mother, no. She was the means to get me you, and once you were born, she was disposed of. So you just killed her? His breath hitched as he sobbed for the woman he would never get to know. Not me, your grandmother. She hated knowing our pure bloodlines were tainted by me impregnating a fairy. So naturally, after you were born, she had to erase any evidence that you were part fairy. He tried to stop his tears. The truths Ivan spoke were about as much as he expected. Evil beings did evil things, and that was what his family seemed to be, pure evil. Any other questions he might have had faded into the haze. It was weak of him to admit, but he had learned enough for one day. He stayed quiet as Ivan drove down a dark, deserted dirt road. Trees flew by his window in a rush, in blurs of blackness. Outside his window, the world looked cold and cruel, but the harsh realities inside the car he sat in were ten times worse. A few miles down the road, a building came into view. It looked like a metal barn of some sort. Ivan slowed up then put the car into park. As the car came to a stop, the metal doors slid open. Two people came walking out. Clouds filled the sky, preventing any stars from shining through, lighting the earth below. His eyes had adjusted, but he still couldnt make out who came out to greet them. Ivan got out of the car to meet them halfway. He shook hands with one and hugged

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the smaller person. They stood outside the car talking, and then as one, they all turned in his direction. He tugged at the leather binding around his neck, trying desperately to break it free. The small group started toward the car. Astrid began to panic and dug his fingernails into his skin, trying frantically to get the stripe of leather loose. The clouds parted, and as they reached his door, the moonlight shone on the smaller persons face. He couldnt believe what he was seeing. It had to be a nightmare. Ivan pulled open the passenger door. Its been quite some time, Astrid. Astrid held still. There were no words he could use to express the horror that held him paralyzed under the watchful stare of the woman he had thought to be his mother. Oh, I didnt tell you. Ivan chuckled. Astrid, let me introduce you to your grandmother Constance. What? Still, nothing verbal came out of his mouth. His breathing came in heavy pants. It was as if he had been transported back in time. Astrid felt like that frightened little boy who used to hide under his bed to escape the wrath of his mother. But Astrid knew now she was his grandmother. I see some things never change, Constance said bitterly. You better do as we say, or you will find yourself six feet under with your dead mother. Her callous words were delivered without batting an eyelash. She meant what she said. She would kill him if he got too out of line. A cold sweat broke out across his body, and his hands began to shake. Klaus, I wish you were here.

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Chapter Nineteen
It had been four hours since Klaus discovered Astrid missing, but it felt like an eternity. And they still were no closer to finding him now than they were then. If only he could think of anywhere Ivan could have taken Astrid, anywhere. But he couldnt. Until a few days ago, he himself had never been to Missouri for more than a passthrough, so there was not a chance Ivan knew much more than him. He had to have had help from someone. He sat numbly at the table and tapped the pen resting in between his fingers against the tabletop. The light tap-tap filled the quiet void in his brain. All around him people sat talking and planning ways to find Astrid, but all he could hear was the tap-tap. Klaus? a small voice whispered from his left. He still didnt move. He just concentrated on the soft tap-tap. Klaus! The voice steadily rose in volume. Shaking himself from his thoughts, he turned to see Miles sitting next to him, his face drawn in sadness. His eyes were red from shedding so many tears. Klaus could relate, but he kept his grief on the inside. To shed one tear would cause his resolve to crumble to the ground like a house of cards, and then how would he be any good to Astrid? Sorry about that, Miles. He looked away from the men plotting at the table to focus on Miles. How you holding up? Me? Your mate has been taken to god knows where, and youre asking me how Im doing? I was all wrong about you. Miles smiled apologetically at him. Sitting here watching you, I can see how much you care for Astrid.

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Klaus nodded his head. He appreciated the kind words from Miles. The man had rode him hard when he first arrived, but he understood it was out of love for Astrid that Miles acted the way he did. Klaus, I was wanting to talk to you. Miles darted his eyes toward his mate, who sat at the head of the table. Alone. He nodded again and let Miles lead him out of the room. He wasnt accomplishing anything sitting at the conference table while others came up with ideas to rescue his mate. The shock of what had happened still sat fresh in his gut, weighing him down. He was utterly useless for the time being. Miles ushered him into a room across the hall from the warriors war room. Why Miles needed privacy he did not know. Miles took a seat, and he sat across from him. Can I ask you something? He nodded yes. You believe in past lives and being able to see into the future, right? Yeah. He shrugged, unsure of where the conversation was going. Some witches have the ability to see into the future or, like Carter, can look into a persons past. It takes training, but it can be done. Why do you ask? He could feel the waves of nervous energy rolling off the young vampire. Miles worried his lower lip as he stared at the ground. The young man sat silent for so long Klaus had become concerned and made to get to go get Ben, and then Miles spoke. Remember earlier when I said I heard a voice in my head that told me to tell Astrid to touch the man while making the wish, and he would disappear? Yes. Well, the voice is talking again. Miles wrapped his arms around his waist and rocked forward in his chair. Hearing voices was never a good sign. And the timing seemed to be perfect if someone were manipulating Miles into thinking he heard voices. Miles, who do you think is talking to you? he asked gently.

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Miles stopped rocking back and forth and looked up at Klaus with tear-filled eyes. My son. Your son? Are you and Ben planning on adopting or surrogacy? This was the first he had heard of Ben and Miless desire to have children. It also fueled the fire that someone was pulling the strings, making Miles believe this. No and no. Miles wiped away his tears. Our baby. From Ben and I. Youre two men, and last time I checked, we cant have babies. Klaus hated to say it, but poor Miles was losing his grip on his sanity, or worse, someone played tricks on the young mans mind. Miles, I think someones using you in an attempt to cause trouble. I mean honestly, how do you expect you and Ben to be able to have a baby? Klaus was becoming frustrated. Time was wasting. From a wish, Miles whispered so softly Klaus had to lean forward to hear him. A wish? He shook his head. But how? Astrid isnt that powerful. Not alone, but together you are. He leaned against the back of his chair, staring blankly at Miles. According to Miles, he and Astrid would grant his wish to have a baby. That couldnt be possible. Klaus worked his jaw up and down, but he still couldnt make his vocal cords work. He absolutely had no clue how to respond to Miless claim. Anything was possible in the paranormal world, but I know it sounds crazy, but he hasnt been wrong yet. He saved us from that man earlier. And when paranormals mate, we get stronger together. Isnt it possible this could happen? Miles asked, hope in his tone. We have to believe. Its the only choice we have right now. I guess. Miles gave him a small smile, and he smiled back. So, Miles, what is this voice, your son, saying to you now? They had no other leads, so he put faith into Miles and the mysterious voice in his

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head. The voice did help save his mate, Miles, and Trevor from the intruders that broke into their home. Sometimes in life, a person had to take leaps of faith and trust in things they had no reason to, and this was one of those times. Hes telling me that if we pull our energy together we can wish ourselves to Astrid. What? he asked. The only person capable of making wishes is gone. That voice in your head is wrong, he snapped at Miles. He hated to shout at Miles, but it was just one more reminder Astrid wasnt there. He said that the bond you and Astrid share is strong. When you mated, part of your soul, magical energywhatever you want to call itwent into him, and same for you. Part of Astrid is in you, Miles said in a rush. You can tap into that magic and wish yourself to him with the help of us other mated pairs. He said it had something to do with our life force being stronger since were mated, and that energy, when transferred to you, can spark the wish into action. It sounded absurd and impossible, but he had nothing to lose in trying what Miles suggested. He stood up and grabbed Miless hand. He dragged him back across the hall and kicked open the door to the war room. All heads looked in their direction as they entered. He placed an arm across the younger mans shoulders, wanting him to know he wasnt alone. Tell them what you just told me. He nodded his head when Miles turned frightened eyes up at him. Very quickly, Miles filled the warriors and his mate in on what had been going on inside his head. Some were skeptical at first but agreed in the paranormal world that anything was possible. Ben seemed a bit shocked at first but stayed strong for his mate. Klaus couldnt imagine being told that he was going to be a father and that his future son was contacting his mate. As a group, they made the decision to try Miless mystery voices idea. They would gather all the mated pairs and try to wish themselves to Astrid. The only problem was what to do when they got

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there. With Klaus being the only witch besides Carter, who had yet to mate Abner, in the group they would need a way to go in fighting without the handicap of being overpowered by a herd of witches. Ivan was as old as he and probably getting assistance from others. They couldnt go in blind. He and Carter thought it best to call the witches council. Carter was only allowed to tell them Astrid had been abducted, nothing about this fairy blood. That would be too risky, and he wasnt taking the chance they would execute Astrid for that. Now they just waited. Until they got some sort of assistance in play, they couldnt do much. And no matter how bad he wanted to rescue Astrid, he couldnt ask the others to risk their or their mates lives without a cohesive plan in motion. Theyre going to help us, Carter announced as he walked into the room with a thick notebook and his laptop. The witches council has agreed that Ivan has broken several laws and, since Astrid is an innocent, will help us get him back. I didnt expose that Astrid is part fairy. I also didnt tell them we are going to wish ourselves to him. I made up some bullshit story that we were able to track them from security footage. Carter giggled. I didnt want them thinking were all crazy. No offense, Miles. Carter smiled over at Miles. None taken. If it gets Astrid back, thats all that matters, Miles said to the witch. So, how are they going to help us? Klaus scooted his chair closer to Carters as he flipped open is laptop. They are going to set off a magical bomb. What the fuck is that? Trevor asked. He blushed when everyone in the room looked at him. Oh, come on. Im not the only one wondering what that is. Klaus had to agree. In all his life hed never heard of a magical bomb. Its not a bomb in the traditional sense. Its a magical frequency that will attach itself to us. Carter waved his finger between them,

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indicating that they were the homing device. When we reach our destination, it goes off. We will have roughly forty-five minutes to get Astrid out of there before the frequency diminishes to nothing. After that, were all fucked. Carter, how exactly will this bomb help us? Klaus asked as the witch typed away on his computer, only looking up when he poked him in the arm. When it goes off, every magical being with in a hundred-mile radius will temporarily lose their powers until the bomb wears off. Carter looked at Ben. That also goes for shifters and vampires. Basically, we will all be human. Holy hell. Ben smiled. It will be a fair fight those pampered bitches wont see coming. Id have to agree. We will need plenty of weapons, preferably silver. They might be rendered powerless but still need the same methods to kill them. Carter wrote a note down on a piece of paper. I have the mated couples written down as follows, Ben and Miles, Garrett and Lachlan, Abner and me. Carters attention was drawn to the bear shifter leaning against the wall. Carter, you and Abner havent mated yet. Your energy wont help us, Miles reminded Carter. Carter never took his eyes off Abner when he spoke, and Abner seemed to be held in the same trance, staring longingly at his future mate. Were not mated yet, but we can change that. Carter turned back to Klaus. You will need all the help you can get. I have to agree with Carter. We do need the help. But are you two sure you want to go through with this? I will not force you into anything that will compromise your own desires. He wanted to get his mate back, but he wouldnt force anyone to do something they were not comfortable with. Ill do it. Abner stood up straight. I want to get Astrid back and will do whatever it takes to bring him home.

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Okay then. Looks like we have a plan. We leave in one hour. Ben stood from the table, pulling Miles up with him. That will give us time to gather the weapons we need and give those twoBen pointed to Abner and Cartertime to do their thing. Thats not all you need, son. Klaus, along with the rest of the room, turned to see Benedict standing in the doorway with a smile on his face and dressed in black fatigues. The man was a spitting image of his son, but the only difference was where Ben had long, flowing hair, Benedict opted for a high-and-tight military cut. Father, what are you doing here? I was already heading this way after what happened earlier. Thereve been some suspicions regarding Ivan for some time now, and after hearing he showed up here today, I took the first flight out. Youre my son. Benedict looked over to Miles and amended his statement. My sons. How could I not come help? They explained very delicately what was going on with Miles and how they intended on getting to Astrid. If Benedict didnt believe in the plan, he didnt say so. He gave Ben a watch that had a GPS locator in it. When they reached their destination, he and the other warriors could take the helicopters he had commandeered to get to them. Klaus followed the warriors Lawson and Finn to the safe room where they kept all the weapons. They bagged up ammunition, handguns, rifles, scopes, and even knives made from pure silver. If anything, they were overprepared in the weapons department but better safe than sorry. The one hour had passed. Miles said they had to be outside for the wish to work, something about being one with nature and using the elements to help guide their way. When he walked into the backyard, he was greeted by Ben and Miles. Garret and Lachlan came over at once. They were dealing with their own problems within Garretts pack but dropped everything

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when they called for their help. Garrett even brought a few more mated pairs with him and Lachlan. The more the merrier. Abner and Carter were the last to arrive. Carter looked a little winded and disheveled, but he had a small smile on his face. Klaus hoped the duo could work out whatever differences they had. He liked the younger witch, always had, and to find ones mate was the best reward their long lives saw fit to give them. Is everyone ready? Benedict asked the group. He managed to have three helicopters at their disposal for this mission. Once they made the wish and reached their mark, they would activate the magic bomb and the GPS locator. Benedict planned to take off as soon as he got a lock on their location. Yes, sir, Ben answered for them. Benedict strode over to him and held his hand out. Good luck, Klaus. This may seem meaningless at the moment, but trust that destiny has a way of working itself out, and when something is meant to be, not even god himself can stop it. Klaus eyed him warily. Did Benedict know something he didnt? In the end it didnt matter what the man knew. Klaus would sell his soul to get Astrid back unharmed. He shook Benedicts hand and gave a stiff nod. The mated pairs formed a circle in the center of the backyard. One by one, they joined hands. He looked over at Miles, and the younger man nodded. Closing his eyes tight, he concentrated on Astrid, visualizing him in his minds eye. I wish I was where Astrid is. Please, this is all I wish for. He waited for a second then opened his eyes. They all still stood in the backyard. Ben looked at him questionably. Maybe you need to make the wish out loud, Carter suggested. Klaus nodded his head. I wish I was with Astrid. They waited, and still nothing. Klaus released the hands he had been holding and fisted his fingers in his hair. He growled his frustration to the night sky. Why wasnt it working?

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Take off your gloves, Miles said. When no one moved, he yelled. Take off your damn gloves. The leather barrier is preventing our energy from flowing to Klaus. You heard the man, take them off, he shouted as he removed his own gloves. He got back in his spot and grabbed the hands extended out to him. I wish I was with Astrid. He spoke to the starry night sky. He could feel the flow of energy rushing up his arms. It was like water running in a stream up his body, straight into his brain. The circle began to sway, and then poof, they stood in the middle of an open field. Out in front of them stood a small airplane hangar. Holy shit, it fucking worked, Garrett whispered loudly. Klaus motioned to Ben to come closer. Activate the locator. Lets give your dad a head start before we detonate the magic bomb. Good thinking. Ben hit the button on his watch and peered around the area. Where do you think we are? According to your father, we are just east of Springfield, Missouri, Miles said, reading the text message off his phone. Why do you think theyre here? Carter asked him. Im guessing theyre going to take a plane out of here. He eyed the building in front of them. It looks old and abandoned. No one would suspect them to be out here. Okay, lets give my father some time to get in the air before we go in, Ben ordered. Klaus dropped to a knee and pulled one of the scopes from his backpack. He scanned the area, looking for guards that may be surrounding the building. There were a few but not many. That concerned him, because to not have several guards posted along the perimeter seemed unusual. A car pulled up out front of the sliding metal doors leading into the hangar. He motioned for the others to get to the ground before they were spotted. He focused on the opening car door to see who would emerge.

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It cant be, he mumbled to himself. What he saw had him beginning to stand to his feet, but Ben yanked him back down. What are you doing? When Klaus jerked his hand back, Ben lunged forward, tackling him to the ground. What the fuck, Klaus? Klauss breath came out in heavy pants. His body shook with renewed fury. Ben, Lucian just got out of that car, Garrett said. Ben cursed under his breath. He climbed off Klaus and grabbed Miless hand. Klaus rolled to his knees, watching as Lucian knocked on the metal doors. He only waited a moment before someone came to let him in. Detonate that fucking bomb, he said to Carter. Carter closed his eyes for a brief moment then opened them. Its done. Klaus projected his magic at the car parked in front of the hangar. He pushed his energy, trying to cause the car to flip over. When that didnt happen, he looked to where Abner knelt beside him. Try to shift. Huh? Abner looked confused. Try to shift. My magic isnt working, but I want to make sure were all magically handicapped, and not just the witches. He watched as the shifter tried but to no avail. They were all human for the next forty-five minutes. On the count of three, we move forward. Agreed? Without waiting for any response, he began the countdown. One, two, three. They moved forward as one as if they had done this exact same thing before. Klaus wanted to get inside. He didnt want to give Lucian the opportunity to have any time alone with his mate. Also, the pain it would cause Astrid at seeing that monster again had him hustling a little quicker toward the building. As they came upon the building, they split up into two groups, one at the front entrance and one at the back. The guards at either door

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were easy enough to dispose of. Taken by surprise, they were no match for them. Klaus listened as Ben spoke into the earpieces they all wore. On the warriors count, they were going inside. He just prayed his angel would be okay.

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Chapter Twenty
It had been hours since Astrid had seen anyone. Once he was reintroduced to his grandmother, who he had thought was his mother, one of Ivans minions shoved him in an empty office. He sat with his legs crossed in the far corner of the room. If someone were to come in, he would be facing them head-on. He didnt want to be taken by surprise. His hand absently went to the leather binding at his neck, and he tugged at the collar. Even though he was told he couldnt wish it away, it didnt keep him from trying. But in the end, nothing happened. Hed been rendered helpless once again. Urgh! He beat the back of his head against the wall. Just one time he wanted to be in control of something, anything. He hated being the victim. He gazed around the room, looking for something to use as a makeshift weapon. But it was useless unless dust had become lethal. Ivan had brought him to an abandoned airplane hangar in the middle of nowhere, a place Klaus or the warriors wouldnt be able to find easily. So, in other words, he was screwed. In the distance he heard voices. They were coming from far away, and he couldnt make out what they were saying. He crawled forward on his knees and put his ear to the door. The voices grew louder, and the increasing vibrations on the floor warned him whoever was walking toward him was getting closer. The stomp of heavy footfalls had him scooting back against the far wall. The hair on his arms stood to attention when the doorknob turned, and Ivan stepped through the threshold.

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Astrid, my son, I have a surprise visitor for you. Ivan laughed as he stepped aside to let a man come into the room. He gasped, and his heart froze in fear. Even in the poor lighting of the room he would know that face anywhere. Lucian. Instinctively, he threw his hands up to block the blows from the mans fist. His father and Lucian laughed at his apparent distress. Now, Astrid, is that any way to greet me? Lucian asked as he knelt down in front of him. His lips trembled along with his body. The sound of the material of his clothes grating against one another as he shook uncontrollably was the only sound in the room. His breath caught in his chest as helplessness and terror weaved their way through his body. Every bad memory came crashing back to him in fast succession. Dont be afraid, love. Lucian ran his knuckles down the side of his face. He flinched at the touch, and Lucian just laughed. Now that I have you again, no one, and I mean no one, will take my pet away from me again. Im not your pet, he whispered past his trembling lips. And you will never have me. I love Klaus, and you cant beat that out of me. The look in Lucians eyes grew dark, and his hand gripped Astrid by the chin. He bit down on his tongue to keep from crying out as Lucians nails dug into his tender flesh. Hed given enough tears and cries of despair to the man. He wasnt giving him any more. Looks like in your time away from me, you forgot how to treat your master. Lucian loosened his grip, and his eyes snapped to Ivans. No worries, though. We have nothing but time to rectify that. Lucian, do you mind giving me a moment alone with my son? A smiled graced Ivans lips as he asked Lucian for some privacy. Of course. Lucian patted the side of Astrids cheek as he stood up. He smiled down at him then nodded toward Ivan then left the room.

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The breath Astrid had been holding came out in a rush. His lungs burned from the lack of oxygen. He knew there wasnt any love for him where Ivan was concerned, but why, if they needed him, would they hand him over to Lucian? How could they expect him to want to help their cause when he was being abused by the man they gave him to? Why is he here? he finally asked. Lucian? Because we need his assistance with our mission of taking out the CPB, and you were the bargaining chip. It seems he has grown quite attached to you for one reason or another. The aloofness in his tone suggested that he couldnt possibly fathom why anybody would want to be near him. It would have stung, but he didnt care what Ivan thought. Youre crazy. Astrid laughed hysterically. The things that man has done and will do to me. Tears spilled down his cheeks as he shook his head. I will never help you. Astrid fisted his fingers in his hair, tugging on the blond strands until his head ached. See, that is where you are wrong. If you want your precious Klaus to live, you will indeed help the dark warriors cause. Because if you dont, your mate will meet the final death. Astrid couldnt believe what Ivan said. He was blackmailing him to help them. What had he done in a previous life to garner such a shitty, unfair one now? He still wasnt even sure what they wanted him to do. Astrid jumped to his feet. What is it exactly you need me for? he shouted. Im not even sure I can be of any use to you. Im still learning. Astrid. Ivan turned slowly around to face him. Remember what I said earlier about magic without consequence? He nodded, still not understanding. How easy would it be to simply wish away a council member or wish to bend a persons will your way? With you, it will be so easy. Once we take care of all the leaders in charge, the council will crumble, and then the Warriors of the Dark can swoop in and

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take out the rest and any others not willing to bow to the new regime. With the new following, we can do whatever we want. We can live the lives we were supposed to lead with the freedom to use magic as we see fit, not the pompous asses of the council. You would kill innocent people just to get what you want? Yes. Ivan shrugged one shoulder in indifference. Ive done it before. Without another word, Ivan left the room. He slid down the wall until his ass hit the hard stone floor. The coldness from the ground seeped through his pants, causing him to shiver. It wasnt just the falling temperature that caused the chill to run through his body but the utter uselessness he felt. Either way, he was fucked. If he helped Ivan, people would die, and if he didnt, Klaus would die. He was at an impasse on what to do. Resting his forehead against his knees, he began to sob. The injustice of it all wasnt fair. He was a weapon for evil, and his biological father would exploit his abilities in any way he saw fit. He had to find a way to escape and get back to Klaus. Together, and with the fellow Warriors of the Light, they could come up with a way to stop Ivan. They just had to. **** Ive got five in view at my vantage point. What do you got? Ben asked Klaus through his earpiece. He eased his way up and peeked through the broken window. He only counted five individuals, and two of them were Ivan and Lucian. Easing back down, he answered Ben. I can only make out five as well. But I didnt see Astrid among the group. Me either. They probably have him stashed away in one of those rooms on the far end of the building. Dont worry, man. Well find your boy, Ben promised.

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With the bomb set off, preventing any of the paranormals inside from using their magical capabilities, they had to move fast. Time ticked away, and their window of opportunity was dwindling by the second. They had to move now. Ben, times a-wasting. Lets do this, he said over the line. I agree. I say since we got the element of surprise on our side, we go in guns blazing. On the count of three, kick your door in and swarm those bastards. He agreed, and on three, he lifted his leg and kicked with all his might, sending the door shooting across the room. Even without his magic, he was one strong motherfucker. Years of training had prepared him for situations like this one. Sometimes magic wasnt your best resource but your physical capabilities were. And he planned on getting extremely physical with Lucian. The bastard would pay for what he had done to Astrid. As the doors came down, the five men in the center of the room turned toward them. Ivan didnt seem the least bit surprised to have a gun aimed at his head. Oh, how sweet, the cavalry has come to save the little fairy, Lucian teased as his men laughed. Where is he, Ivan? If you want to survive this, give him to us now, and no one has to get hurt. He tilted his head to look at Lucian. Except you. You will die for what youve done. Lucians soulless laugh echoed in the abandoned building. You think so, do you? He nudged Ivan in the arm. Im bored with this. Twitch your nose, snap your fingers, do whatever it is that you witches do and get rid of them. Ill take care of them, son. Save your energy. Klaus blinked several times, not believing what he was seeing. Constance Reznik, Ivans mother, came into view. Not good. If Ivans father ,Van, was a part of this mess, they were in for a world of hurt. Van Reznik, a high-ranking official on the witches council, had allies all over the world. With his connections he could have

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orchestrated the whole thing, Astrids conception and the ultimate destruction of the Council of Paranormal Beings. But it didnt make any sense. Hed known Van since he was a small child. He was friends with the man. Van never showed one ounce of doubt or dislike toward the council. Van fought for equality and justice in their world. He had to be missing something. I see you brought your toys, Constance said as she pointed at the rifle held firmly in his hand. Silly boy, you of all these fools know the power of a witch, especially an elder like me. Whos she? Carter asked as he pushed his way forward. Im the mother of the man youve been fornicating with for the past several months, you twit. Abner growled behind him. Klaus took a gander he wasnt happy to have Carters past relationship shoved in his face yet again. He couldnt blame the man. At Carters blank stare, Constance rolled her eyes. Honestly, son, how did you endure such a simpleton for as long as you did? Im sorry. Carter giggled. Im just surprised is all. I was for certain Ivan was hatched from something, but I guess I was wrong. Carter shrugged his shoulders, causing his rifle to lift. After meeting you, I guess the old saying is true. And whats that? She glared at Carter. The apple doesnt fall far from the tree, and in your sons case, that would be the bitch tree. Constances face pinched in anger at the comment. Klaus couldnt stifle his giggle at the appalled look on her face, and he wasnt the only one. Youll be sorry you said that. She pointed her boney finger at Carter. Through time and space take these cretins out of my space. This time Klaus rolled his eyes at the woman. Constance was an old witch, and she still believed the old ways that words held the power, not the person, but ones power was what made the magic work, not some fancy rhyming words.

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When her spell didnt work, she repeated it. Still, nothing. She stomped her foot and turned toward Ivan. What is going on here? I dont know, Ivan said as he glowered at Carter. He was obviously trying to tap into his own magic and had Carter as his target. Oh, we forgot to tell you. Carter took another step forward and smiled at Ivan. We cast our own little spell. What does that mean? Ivan growled at the young witch. It means your bitch asses are powerless, Ben said as he shifted his attention to Lucian. You, too, fang. As of now, you are all mere mortals. So we will ask again. Where is Astrid? The sound of screeching tires and slamming doors had everyone turning toward the main entrance. The sliding metal door creaked open, and at least fifty different types of paranormals stood before them. Some Klaus knew from council meetings, and some he had never seen before. No magic would help them, but they were still outnumbered. Benedict needed to get there quick, or they were all doomed. So, who wants to play? Lucian snapped his fingers, and his men descended on them.

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Chapter Twenty-One
He looked up at the sound of Klauss voice. At first he thought he was hearing things, only imagining what he wanted to hear. But then he heard Bens and Carters voices and knew they had come for him. How they found him he had no clue, but he was grateful nevertheless. He jumped to his feet and ran to the door. The knob wouldnt budge in his hand. Throwing his shoulder into the door, Astrid tried to break it open. All he managed to do was bruise up his arm. The sound of shots rang out through building, and he dropped to his belly and covered his head. Voices shouting followed the shots. He felt the same tingles of panic he always did when bad things happened. He lay motionless on the floor, not even able to cry out for help. Mindlessly, he began to tug on the leather thong around his neck, and to his surprise it broke loose. He sat up and stared at the thin piece of leather that had held him prisoner. Im free. Courage and hope bubbled up inside him. He had a weapon he could use against his father and Lucian, himself. He crawled toward the door, staying low. With bullets whizzing around outside, he didnt want to get hit by a stray. It wouldnt kill him but still would hurt like the dickens. I wish the door would open. He waited, but nothing happened. So he tried again, and still nothing. Grabbing the knob, he began to shake it and cry out for help. Someone would hear him and come save him. They had to.

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**** It seemed once they shot down one paranormal, three more appeared from the mist. Klaus and the other men were able to shoot their way out of the center of the room and back into a corner where old machinery lay about. They used it to help deflect the bullets Lucians men aimed their way. Ben, where the fuck is your father? Klaus shouted above the noise. As if on cue, the sound of propellers wafted through the broken windows of the hangar, sending dirt and debris flying into the air. Benedict had arrived with more warriors, and gunfire rang out beyond the building. We just might make it out of this, Klaus said as he shot off a few more rounds at the advancing enemy. We better. My mate and I have a child to plan for, and you and Astrid are an important part in that factor. Ben got shoulder-toshoulder with him as they took turns shooting at the enemy. We do not die today, my friend, not today. He looked down when he felt a tugging at his pant leg, to see Miles staring up at him. Cover Carter and I. What, are you insane? he whispered. The offices are just right there. Miles pointed to a small gap that led to a hallway. If you guys cover us, we can get Astrid out of there. Please, Klaus, Miles pleaded. Are you out of your fucking mind? Ben shouted at Miles. Did you forget that youre human right now? Your abilities arent heightened. Which means youre not as strong or as fast as you are when a vampire. Ben, time is running out before we all have our magical components back. This may be our only shot. Our son said not to worry and to have faith in me. Miles smiled sheepishly up at Ben. I added the last part, but its true. I can do this. Now cover us.

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Before Ben could reply, Miles and Carter moved into position. With or without their assistance, they were going to make a run for it. Klaus moved to the other side, angling his gun toward a turned-over metal table, and laid down a cover of gunfire. Ben shouted for the two men to run, and they did. He looked over his shoulder to see them jump into the open space of the hallway. Relief filled his soul at seeing the men safe. Now they just needed to hold off Lucians goons until they got Astrid out of there. **** The sound of footsteps and whispering met his ears. Astrid got to his feet and stood against the wall by the door. When whoever on the other side opened it, he would be ready for them. He clasped his hands together, ready to bring his combined fist down on the first head to poke through the door. The knob jiggled, and Astrids heartbeat speed up. As the door came open, he brought his hands down with all his might but stopped himself at the last minute when he saw Carters wide eyes staring back at him. What the hell, Astrid? Carter? He smiled at his new friend, happy to see him alive. He lunged forward when he saw Miles step out from behind Carter. Wrapping both men in a hug, he held on tight. Air, I need air, Carter gasped. He let go and grabbed Miless hand. Something is wrong, he said in a panic. I cant wish for anything. My magic is gone. Settle down. Carter and some of the witches from the council set off a magical bomb that rendered all paranormals powerless. Dont worry, youll get your magic back, but we needed to hit Ivan where it hurts. And there is no better way than taking away his magic, Carter said with a smile. We neutered that ass wipe.

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Okay. Miles gave Carter a funny look. Lets get out of here. Miles held Astrids hand as Carter led the way down the hallway. The gunfire still filled the air, but they continued on. He kept close to Miles as he followed him. They had reached the end, when a man stepped into view. Not so fast, son. Ivan pushed Carter to the floor. When Miles jumped in front of him to protect him, Ivan punched him in the face. Astrid cried out as Miles fell to the ground. Looking at his father, then back to where Miles lay crumpled over, he did the only thing he could think of. He screamed.

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Chapter Twenty-Two
Klaus fumbled the rifle in his hand when heard a bloodcurdling scream coming from the direction of where Miles and Carter had gone. Ben had heard it, too, and followed his gaze to the entrance of the hallway. A bad feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. Go, we got this. Garrett waved for them to go. They waited until Abner gave the signal before he and Ben ran for their lives across the gap between them and the hallway. He and Ben were a lot larger than Miles and Carter and made for a much bigger target. Abner pointed at them, and they took off. They landed hard as they hit the floor. He groaned as he rolled to his side to see both Carter and Miles laid out cold and no sign of Astrid. Oh god, no. Ben scrambled to his feet and rushed to Miless side while Klaus checked on Carter. Baby, wake up. Please wake up. Miless head lolled from side to side before he opened his eyes. He tried to sit up, but Ben placed a hand on his shoulder, holding him down. Ivan has Astrid. Klaus jumped to his feet and beat pavement down the hallway. He skidded to a stop when he heard Astrid whimper. Easing around the corner, he looked to see what was going on. Ivan held Astrid by the collar, sneering in his face. Rage sent him tearing across the room. Ivan turned as he heard him advancing. He pulled Astrid in front of him and placed the blade of the knife in his hand to Astrids throat. A small trickle of blood dripped from the edge. Not so fast there, Klaus. If you want my son to live, youll back off.

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You wont kill him. Astrid means way too much to your cause. He waved his hand toward the door. Or you wouldnt be going through all this trouble. It was a gamble. Ivan seemed unstable and desperate and capable of anything at the moment, and he didnt want Astrid to become a causality of the mans insanity. Klaus, Astrid cried out. The small action of speaking drove the blade deeper into his neck. He grimaced in pain. You dont get it, do you? Either way, they will come for him. If its not me, it will be someone else. I already sacrificed too much to bring this little twerp into the world. Hes mine. Ivan took the butt of the knife and struck Astrid in the temple, knocking him out. Ivan tossed him to the side, and he fell to the floor with a hard thud. Klaus moved toward Ivan. The murderous rage Klaus felt fueled his steps. Youll be sorry you did that, he gritted out. With one more worried glance at his mate, he lunged for Ivan. So much anger over a half breed, Ivan said as he jumped out of the way. Hes barely worth the air he breathes. If we didnt need him so badly, Id kill him myself. How can say that? He swung his fist out, clipping Ivan on the chin. Hes your fucking son. Theres that righteousness showing through, Ivan spat, his blood darkening the ground. Your family thought they were so superior, spouting off about equality and the need to control what is in our nature. Let me tell you something, we are all not equal. Some of us are better. Ivans punch landed square in his chest. He stumbled back and bent at the waist to get his breath back. Ivan took advantage of his moment of weakness and brought his knee up, connecting it with his nose. Pain surged straight to his brain as blood poured down his hands and he covered his face. He landed hard on the floor. He put his hand up as Ben tried to come to his aid. This is my fight. Stay back. Ben nodded as he herded Miles and Carter behind him.

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You and the councils silly ideas, Ivan remarked as he circled him. How long did you think you could control us? Some of us liked the way things used to be, liked being able to do what we wanted when we wanted. The council stole away our freedom, and now were taking it back. Ivan dove for him. Klaus scrambled to his feet, grabbing his head as his vision swam before him. Rubbing his eyes, he squinted to bring Ivan into focus. The mans face had shifted to something almost animalistic from his anger. Klaus tried to draw Ivan away from where Astrid lay lifeless on the floor. He walked on unsteady legs toward the far corner of the room, away from the others. Youre insane, Ivan. He blocked Ivans punch with is left arm and threw his right fist out, landing it on Ivans cheekbone. Stupid fool, you of all people know magic can only be contained for so long before it blows up in your face. Ivan bent down to pick up his discarded knife. This is your wake-up call. Some of us paranormals are pissed and taking back our lives. The sound of a timer beeping caused Klaus to lose his focus on Ivan. Carter had said when his watch went off they would have only seconds before they were all given back their magical abilities. His eyes shifted toward the men in the corner, and Ivan moved on him, running him up against the wall with the knife pointed up under his chin. Anything else you want to say before you go and meet your parents? Ivan dug the tip of the knife into his skin. **** Astrid came to with Carter hovering over him. He was speaking, but Astrid couldnt hear what he said. Blinking his eyes open and closed, he got his bearings about him. The faint sounds of fighting had him turning toward the battle going on between Ivan and Klaus. He lurched forward, but Carter held him back.

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Astrid, can you hear me? Carter asked. He gave a slight nod in response. Astrid, listen to me. Time is running out. We only have minutes before the bomb wears off and everyone is back to normal. He nodded again, still not comprehending what Carter said. We need to take Ivan out before he gets his magic back. But how? His head shook from side to side as he stared up at Carter. Carter looked over his shoulder then back to him. Miles said that if you wish while Klaus has his hands on Ivan, too, you can kill him. What? Im affected by the bomb, too. I cant wish for anything, he said in panic. Thats the tricky part. You have to get close enough to Ivan that when the bomb wears off you can catch him off guard then make your wish. Carter gave a squeeze to his upper arm. Easy enough, right? But how will I know when that is? When the alarm on my watch goes off youll have only seconds before we all turn back to normal. Carter shrugged. At least normal for a paranormal. Get close enough without being noticed? He didnt think it would be possible, but he had to try. A loud bang came from the corner his mate and father fought in. His heart nearly stopped at the sight of Ivan pinning Klaus to the wall with a knife at his throat. Pulling himself to his feet, he dug deep for courage he didnt know he had. He tiptoed lightly up behind Ivan, listening to the harsh words his father directed at his mate. Anything else you want to say before you go and meet your parents? At Ivans threat, what trepidation he did have faded away. That scared, frightened child begging for death vanished, and in his place stood a man. A man ready to seek vengeance for the years of abuse suffered from the negligence of his very own father. No, but I do, he said sharply. At the loud buzzing sound coming from Carters watch, he dug his fingers into Ivans upper arms. He

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could feel Ivans body tense under his fingertips, and the knife slipped from his grasp. He made eye contact with Klaus. Grab on. Klauss brow drew together in confusion, and Astrid motioned with his chin to his hands. Once Klaus had a hold of Ivan, he leaned up next to his fathers ear. I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for you where you receive the same treatment I did for the past hundred years of my life. He spat the words out with such force spit landed on Ivans face. I wish you were dead. Ivans body began to shake, and he let go. Klaus slid out from in front of Ivan and grabbed Astrid around the waist and backed away from the witch. What have you done? Ivan asked as he slowly turned to face them. Bursts of light shot through Ivans body, and he glowed in the darkness. His body contorted into positions that the body wasnt capable of. The sound of bone cracking echoed off the walls. Ivans mouth opened, but no sound came out. In the next instance he burst into ash, falling into a pile on the ground. Astrid stood there, numb to the fact he just watched his only parent die, by his own hand, and felt nothing. The man never showed him one ounce of love, so it was only fitting. He had no delusions of ever being a family with the man who sired him. Ivan was dead, and he couldnt be happier. Hed threatened his lover and his family. Killing Ivan was the only way to save them all. Angel, are you okay? Klaus asked, running his hands over his body, searching for injuries. Astrid grabbed Klauss hands, stilling his movements. Im fine, never felt better. He smiled up at the man who he loved more than life itself because without Klaus, life wasnt worth living. Klaus returned his smile. His gaze dropped to Klauss lips, and he couldnt help but lean forward and steal a kiss. Bringing his hands up, he twined his fingers in the back of Klauss hair, pulling him closer,

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deepening the kiss. He needed to feel the life coursing through Klaus to prove he was alive, and that they were okay. The sound of someone clearing their throat had him jumping back from Klaus. He turned to see Ben, Miles, and Carter smiling at them. Im glad you two are okay, but I think we need to check on the others before you two can get reacquainted, if you know what I mean. Carter waggled is eyebrows at them. Heat seared his face at Carters words. Klaus wrapped his arm around him and pulled him close. It did get awfully quiet out there. We should go check and see what is happening. This might not be over yet, Klaus said as he pushed away from him. You three stay here while Ben and I go see what is going on out there. Like hell Im letting you out of my sight, Astrid snapped at Klaus. If you havent noticed, I got my powers back, so those, thosehe pointed toward the open doorbad guys better watch out. Klauss eyebrows shot up his forehead until they met his hairline. Okay? He looked over at Ben, who nodded his agreement. Yeah, I think we might actually need both of your combined magic out there if the fights gone south and were getting our asses kicked. Ben and Klaus led the way out. He had to admit, it was eerily quiet beyond the room they were in. As they came to the entryway that led into the main part of the hangar, a collective gasp rang out among the small group. What dark warriors who were still alive were bound and sat in a line before the Warriors of the Light that had come to their aid. Benedict stood in the forefront, arguing with a very pissed off Constance. Astrid had to suppress his giggle at seeing the evil bitch bound like a calf in a rodeo competition. Benedict looked up from arguing with Constance and jogged toward them. Thank god youre alive. He wrapped Ben and Miles in a hug. Both Ben and Miles seemed shocked by the affectionate

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gesture. Benedict let them go and turned to face him and Klaus. Where is Ivan? Hes dead, Klaus stated without any emotion. Oh. Benedicts eyebrows rose. Well, were going to have one pissed-off mama over there when she finds out. Benedict breathed out a heavy sigh. Keeps saying she wants to see her son, yada, yada, yada. I guess she will just have to learn to live without him, huh? To Astrids surprise, Benedict smiled at him. From all he heard Ben say about his father, he was a cruel, unloving man, and so far all his actions showed otherwise. Dad, how are you keeping her from doing her witchy voodoo on you? Ben asked Benedict. We just engineered these handy little talismans that render a witch powerless if we put it on them. So her magical bomb is still in place. The council will be sending these out to all field warriors to use against witches. And lets just say they are coming in handy right now. The choker around his grandmothers neck was a close replica to the one Ivan had put on him. He tugged on Klauss arm, interrupting the conversation. That looks like what my father used on me. Thats impossible. We just manufactured these. No one else has access to them. How did he get... Benedict trailed off. He pursed his lips together as he nodded to himself. Looks like you know where to start your investigation, Klaus offered. I think youre right. Astrid! Constance screamed. He curled into Klauss side at her yelling. He wanted to be rid of her, too, but killing someone just because he could wasnt right. And quite frankly, he wanted to see her pay for her crimes. You dont have to talk to her, Benedict said. But I do need to ask a favor of you, son. Whats that? he murmured.

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We need you to erase her memory of you being a fairy. I want to keep that knowledge just between us and the few others who know the truth. If word got out that you are indeed part fairy, part witch, I believe others would hunt you down and try to kill you. The possibility that you would become evil is just too risky for some to take that chance. But you dont believe that? No. Benedict shook his head. My son is a good judge of character, but Im even better. After meeting you, I can see that only goodness flows through your veins. Benedict clapped him on the shoulder. Thank you, sir. Come on over. Lets take care of that hateful bitch. Her jabbering is giving me a migraine. Benedict walked them over to where Constance sat struggling to free herself from him bindings. Benedict, my husband will have your head for this. Where is my son? Ivan! Constance continued to shout. Oh, shut up. Van is quite aware of what is going on. He came to me months ago with his suspicion about you. I guess you werent as secretive as you thought. What do you mean, Constance stuttered out. What Im saying is Van knew you and Ivan were up to something. He just didnt know what. He asked me to keep an eye on your comings and goings, and it wasnt until Ivan went to visit my son that I started to piece together what was going on. Hes not coming to your rescue, Constance. A stunned look spread across her face, and then her mask of indifference dropped back into place. It doesnt matter. Ive got leverage. Oh yeah, and what might that be? Benedict taunted her. Im sure Van would hate for it to get out that we created a half breed. It would ruin his reputation with the council. So I think Ivan and I are safe from prosecution. Constance grinned up at Benedict.

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Astrid wasnt surprised or upset that she was using him as her bargaining tool to save her skin. Hate to burst your bubble, but that wont be happening, and its only yourself you need to be worrying about. The evil grin fell from Constances mouth. What does that mean? It means my father is dead, Astrid said as he squatted down in front of his grandmother. I killed him. But...how... Her words came out broken. But he was your father. How could you have done that? How could you have handed me over to a monster who abused me every day for over a hundred years? he asked but didnt wait to hear her excuses. Fathering a child doesnt earn you respect and devotion. Its being there to love and protect that does. You couldnt find it in your heart to show him any mercy? she asked, appalled by his choice of action. Like you showed my mother? Constances blue eyes glazed over and became empty, black holes. Maybe you are a Reznik after all. To kill without a second thought. Im nothing like you. It doesnt matter. Your existence should garner me some protection. Trade your life for mine, seems only fair, being how special you are. He reached out his hand to lie on Constances arm, and Klaus stopped him. What do you mean special? Besides trying to destroy the council, what else did you need Astrid for? He looked from Klaus back to his grandmother. He was curious about that one, too. Youll see. When the coming begins, no one will be safe. Not even your little half-breed fairy can save you. What is the coming, Constance? Klaus demanded.

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I couldnt tell you even if I wanted to. Magic binds all things, and a blood oath cannot be broken. Klaus gasped, and Constance started to laugh uncontrollably. Astrid sat back and watched the cruel woman of his youth go mad. She fell apart at the seams, babbling nonsense. By the way Klaus reacted to the blood-oath remark, they wouldnt be getting anything out of her. Laying his hand upon her arm, Astrid stared straight into her eyes. I wish for you to forget that Im part fairy and that you even know me. We are nothing to each other. At his words, she quieted down and nodded her head absently as if she were keeping time to a song. Once he removed his hand from her arm, she came back to life. What am I doing here? Wheres my son? She examined Astrid suspiciously. Who are you? No one. Astrid stood up and let Klaus usher him out of the room. This was his chance for a fresh start, and he was taking it. He would deal with whatever this coming was when it came, but until then he would just sit back and enjoy life. After the events of the past day, he realized how precious a gift life truly was and wouldnt waste a minute looking back.

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Chapter Twenty-Three
So many things needed to be discussed between him and Astrid and among the council, but he couldnt process any more information. He needed to spend some time alone with his mate. Klaus wanted the comfort only his sweet angel could bring him. No words were spoken when they arrived back at the warriors compound. He carried Astrid up to their room and straight to the shower. He turned the nozzle toward hot, and steam began to fill the bathroom. Astrid leaned against the wall, his eyes lifeless. The usual spark of happiness was vacant in the blue depths. Everything his mate had learned had to be taking its toll. Life kept dealing Astrid a bad hand, and he wasnt given the option to fold when it became too much. There was no escape for him. This was his life, but he wasnt alone. Klaus would stand by the man he loved. A battle peeked just beyond the horizon, heading their way a little closer every day, but together they would see it through. Like his mother had said, Astrid was worth all the struggles they had suffered through. And there was still more to come, but he would fight, never giving up on what he and Astrid shared. He couldnt take away Astrids pain or change his past, but he could make his present and future full of love and happiness. Today marked a clean slate for both of them, and the first order of business would be to help his mate relax and take his mind off what happened back at the abandon hangar. He grabbed the hem of Astrids T-shirt and pulled it over his head. He didnt move. Astrid just stood there and let Klaus maneuver his

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body to remove his clothes. Next he popped the snap on Astrids jeans, grabbed the waistband, and tugged off his briefs along with his pants at the same time. Once Astrid stood fully naked in front him, he took the time to scan his pale skin for any injuries. Pale-blue marks covered one shoulder and peppered the skin around his arms. Being immortal allowed for quick healing, but just because the marks went away didnt mean a scar wasnt left in its place. Quickly removing his clothes, Klaus gathered his angel close and walked him into the hot spray. The water felt delicious on his skin, washing away the ugliness of the past twenty-four hours. He almost lost Astrid forever, and hed give anything to erase that from his mind. He turned Astrid away from him and dampened the long locks of his hair. Dirt and blood matted the blond strands together. He grabbed the shampoo and proceeded to wash Astrids hair. After finishing with Astrids hair, he grabbed the washcloth and rubbed the soap against the soft fabric until bubbles dripped down his arms. Starting at Astrids neck, he slowly worked his way down his torso. He was careful not to aggravate the bruises painting his skin. Klaus went to his knees to cleanse the tender organ that hung heavy between Astrids thighs. As he circled the skin right below Astrids navel with the washcloth, his mates cock started to come alive. A soft whimper came from Astrid, and he looked up. His angel had let his head fall against the shower wall, and he slightly spread his thighs a tad farther to accommodate Klauss wide shoulders. He licked a path down the underside of the now fully erect shaft in his hand. Klaus nibbled at the soft skin pulled tight over Astrids erection as he moved. He traced the thick vein that ran the length. The featherlight touches caused Astrids legs to wobble. Not wasting another second, he followed the wet path he made up to the cherry-red top. He flicked his tongue out, collecting the precum as it dripped from the tiny opening.

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Klaus, help me forget, Astrid cried out. He grabbed Astrid at the base and guided the rigid cock into his mouth. As he sucked Astrid down his throat, he lightly tugged on his balls, initiating a gasp of excitement from him. He swallowed Astrid down to the root then slowly worked his way up to the groove under the head, massaging the glans with the tip of his tongue. More. Astrid dug his fingers into his shoulders as he pulled him forward. Positioning his hands behind Astrids legs, he ran them up the backs of his thighs. Grabbing his angels rounded ass, he squeezed and urged Astrid forward. He moved hesitantly at first, but at Klauss prompting, he began to thrust his hips forward, fucking his mouth. He gazed up at Astrid. His taut muscles twitched and flexed as they relaxed from the moist pressure his lips provided. Astrids cock began to swell, signaling his release had neared. He hollowed out his cheeks and sucked on Astrids length and swallowed around the flared tip. Yes, Astrid cried out. The first burst of hot semen flooded his throat in a rush. He gripped the base and pulled back to taste Astrids spicy, sweet cream fully on his tongue. Astrids body quaked with aftershocks as he continued to lick and suck until he let the softening cock slide from his mouth. Placing one last soft kiss to the reddened tip, he stood up and took Astrids mouth in a hard kiss. He pushed his tongue past Astrids lips, letting all the love he had for him pour into the connection. As the kiss deepened, he invaded Astrids space, rubbing his hardened cock against the silky smooth skin of Astrids stomach. The water provided an easy up-and-down glide, causing him to clench his eyes tight and groan into the kiss. The skin covering his dick had stretched to capacity, and he feared if he didnt find relief soon he would explode. Reaching down, he fisted his cock and began to move his hand at a lightning-fast pace.

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On the upstroke, he rubbed his thumb against the head, spreading the pre-cum over the sensitive tip. He broke the kiss and let his head fall back on his shoulders. Astrid started working his lips down his neck until he reached where the shoulder and neck connected. He bit down, causing him to shout to the ceiling. He began to pump his fist faster and faster. His skin burned with heat, ready to detonate at any moment. Get on your knees, angel, he gritted out as he pushed on Astrids shoulder with his free hand. Like a good boy, Astrid went to his knees. Klaus looked down and at the angelic sight of his mate on his knees worshipping him. He gripped his dick in his hand and aimed it at Astrids face as his orgasm was ripped from his body. As the first stream hit, Astrid closed his eyes and parted his lips. Shiny, white cum painted Astrids face. His pink tongue came out slowly to lick above his upper lip where some of Klauss release had landed. He was held riveted by the sight as Astrid brought the cum into his mouth and sighed blissfully. He fell to his knees and captured the seductive mouth of his mate. His taste was on Astrids tongue and lips, and he welcomed the flavor. The kiss lingered and then transitioned to little nibbling love bites here and there. The water cascading down upon them began to cool, and Astrid started to shiver. He stood and pulled Astrid up with him. They couldnt get sick, but he still didnt want his mate to be uncomfortable. Lets get dressed then get you something to eat. Astrid let his eyes drop, and Klaus saw a tear spill before he could hide it. He gently grabbed Astrids chin and lifted his face upward. Whats the matter? Astrids lower lip began to tremble as his tears fell. I just love you so much andand

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Shh, its okay, angel. He wanted to take away all of Astrids pain, but only time could heal those wounds. When I saw my father holding that knife at your throatAstrid met his gazeour time together passed before my eyes, and I didnt know what I would do if I lost you. Astrids hot tears dripped onto his chest, and his throat grew tight. They survived, and it was no use reliving the episode over and over again. He would make sure to show Astrid how wonderful life could be and to never look back. Lucky for you, you will never have to. Klaus laid his head alongside Astrids. A light rumbling vibrated from Astrid chest as he giggled. It has nothing to do with luck. Astrid smiled up at him. Its fate. Were meant to be together. His lips curled up at the corners. That we are, my love. That we are. After drying off and getting dressed, it was inching close to lunch time. He herded Astrid out of their room with a promise to make love to him later. It wouldnt be a hard promise for him to keep. He wanted to stay in bed for a solid week just loving on his mate, validating that they were both alive and together. Oh, darn. He stopped at the sound of Astrids voice. Everything okay? Yeah, I just wanted to pull my hair back. Astrid held up one finger. Give me just a minute. Ill be right back. He ran back into their room, and Klaus waited outside the door. About time you two surfaced for air. We were actually debating whether or not to come check on you two or not. I dont know if your poor heart could have withstood seeing me and my angel together. He laughed at the gagging noises Trevor made.

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He was just about to turn around when something on Trevors neck caught his attention. He walked toward the vampire and turned his chin to the side, examining his neck. Who gave you that? On the side of Trevors neck was the sign for the Warriors of the Light, a sun with the rays bursting out the sides with a thorn vine surrounding it. Only a witch with the consent of the council could give the mark, and he hadnt had the chance to give it to him. So it left the question, who gave him the tattoo? Van did, Trevor said, like it was no big deal. Looks pretty cool on me, doesnt it? He fingered that tattoo, oblivious to Klauss distress. Van? Trevor took a step back from him. Yeah, you know, Astrids grandfather. He arrived a little bit ago, but he didnt want to disturb you, so hes been hanging out with us. And let me just say that is one hot man. Trevor pulled at his shirt, fanning himself. I think Im going to love this whole immortal, never-aging thing. He was left speechless. How could he respond to news like that? Well, Im off. Quinn wants to go for a run. With that, Trevor jogged down the hallway toward the stairs. My grandfathers here? Astrid stood in the doorway, skin so pale it appeared blue. If he was shocked, Astrid must have been doubly so. In the matter of just a few days he met his biological father, paternal grandmother, and now his grandfather. I guess so. He combed his fingers through his hair, irritated that everything was happening at once. He had known Van for years and never had any issues with the man, but after what his wife and son had done, he wasnt taking any chances with Astrids safety. You dont have to meet with him if you dont want to. Astrid nodded as he stared off into space. His eyes were dull as if hed left his body. Then he jerked his head toward Klaus. No, I want to meet him, but will you come with me?

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Of course I will. Where you go, I go. He entwined his fingers with Astrids and headed down the stairs. Astrid squeezed his hand so tight he started to lose feeling in his fingers. When they reached the bottom step, he could hear Ben and Benedict talking to someone. A voice Klaus recognized. The short walk seemed like miles away. He shortened his stride to match Astrids, taking his time getting to the room. When they reached the entryway, Van was facing away from them, and Astrid just stood there silently observing his grandfather. Ben noticed them first and stopped talking. At the sudden silence, Van turned to look at them. He gave Astrids hand a reassuring squeeze, letting him know he wasnt alone. **** He eyed the man up and down subtly. Van didnt look evil, but neither had Ivan. The resemblance between the two men was uncanny. Ivan definitely got his golden locks, height, and sturdy build from his father, the wholesome image every person strides for and found attractive, but behind the handsome appearance could very well lay a monster. The old saying like father like son reverberated in his head. But as the man stared back at him, Astrid didnt see the hate and lunacy his father and grandmother had shrouding their eyes. What he saw was a man whose face creased with stress and, if he wasnt mistaken, a dose of sadness. But for who? Him, the loss of his son, or wife? Klaus, Astrid, Benedict greeted them at the door. Im glad to see you both finally up and moving. He waved his hand out in front of them, inviting them into the room. He looked up at Klaus, who nodded. Taking that as a sign that his mate wasnt worried, he followed Benedict into the room, taking a seat on the couch. He watched as Van timidly took the seat across

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from them. It surprised him to see this older man, his grandfather, seem so unsure of himself. His actions were in stark contraction to his sons and wifes, who, when they walked into a room, owned it and frightened others with the power they wielded. Well give you three some privacy, Ben said as he shut the door behind him and Benedict. After a long stretch of silence, Van broke the ice. Hello, Astrid. He didnt know if he could answer. What if Van tricked him and just ended up being like the rest, letting him down if he gave him the chance? Astrid just didnt know if he could take any more heartache. Hi, he whispered. Klaus shifted closer to him, giving him strength with his presence. God, I dont know what to say. Van laughed nervously. Astrid glanced up to see his grandfather fisting his hair in his hands. The man looked like he was fighting an internal battle within himself. I didnt know, I swear I didnt know. If I knew I had a grandson out in the world, I would have looked for you. His breath caught at the raw emotion coming off Van. He felt the strange urge to go to him, to comfort him. But he held back at the last minute. This could just be an act. How did you not know what was going on in your own home? How could you live with such evil and not see it? Klaus asked. Im not perfect. I loved them even when I knew they no longer cared for me. Vans head fell forward, and his shoulders slumped. But no matter what, I couldnt stop loving them. Tears streaked his reddened face. They were all I had. Van wiped his eyes and straightened in his chair. I realized this went way beyond them just being unhappy with the laws put upon them. They started sneaking off together and being more withdrawn than usual. Every time they looked at me, I could see the loathing in their eyes. I stood for everything they hated. I couldnt control them like I thought I could, so I turned to my fellow council members for

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assistance. But I never imagined it would be something like this. Van spread his arms out to his sides. Astrid heard his words, but he resented that anyone could have ever loved such malevolent individuals. To stand by and say nothing for hundreds of years while they ran rampant, spewing their hate for humans and other paranormals they considered beneath them, was unacceptable. Im not a thing, Im a person. A person who your wife and son sent to live with vile men who stole my innocence, he cried out. It wasnt fair to blame Van, but someone had to be held accountable for what his family had done. I know youre not a thing. Van fell to his knees in front of him. Klaus put his hand up to stop Van from touching him, but at Astrids nod, he pulled his arm back. Van wrapped his long, warm fingers around Astrids. Of all the bad things theyve done, they did do one great thing. What is that? Astrid asked as he shook his head. He didnt understand. They gave me you. Vans voice clogged with unshed tears. As he began to sob, he buried his face in Astrids lap. His eyes started to burn, and the dam holding his own tears back started to crumble. Van seemed sincere, no maliciousness in his tone or actions. It seemed he wasnt the only one living in a hell created by Ivan and Constance. Very carefully, he pulled one hand free and rested it on the back of Vans neck. He let Van cry, not wanting to interrupt. He had years of heartache and disappointment to let go of, and the least Astrid could do was give him a chance. He owed it to himself to get to know his grandfather. And they gave me you. He, like Astrid, had been deceived by those who were supposed to love him. If you want, we can be a family, he suggested as he held Vans hand and reached for Klauss.

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A smiled pulled up the corners of Vans mouth, and he nodded his head. Tears fell from his eyes as he smiled back. Yes, I would very much like that. Over the next few minutes, hours, and days, he got to know his grandfather. The more time he spent with the man, the more he grew to love him. Van was nothing like the other members in their family. He was intelligent, caring, and above all else, kind. The belief that witches were the more superior beings of all paranormals didnt sit well with Van. He believed everyone to be created equal and that a person should be judged by their actions not what species they were born into. Van was a solid leader and an honorable man. He ruled with an iron fist because in a world running amok, he couldnt allow others to get too close or take the chance they would wreak havoc in their world like his wife and son had done. He said if others knew how much of a pushover he truly was, they would take advantage of him, and what kind of leader would he be then? A journal was found among Constances things, and in it she spoke of his mother. She was a young fairy who had come to America to escape an arranged marriage by her parents. Her origins were unknown, but Constance had thought she came from Scottish decent. Little did the young fairy know when she met Ivan that she signed her own death certificate. Ivan lured her into his web of deceit with promises of love and marriage. She was unaware that Ivan was a witch. She thought him a mere human. Not until it was too late did she discover what Ivan had in store for her. Once she became pregnant, Constance took charge of her care and locked her away. They took good care of her because she carried within her womb the promise for a better future for the witches and the Warriors of the Dark. Evil had the same shared goal, be it witch, shifter, or demon, to break free of the hold the Council of Paranormal Beings had on them. And they used Astrids mother as the source for that freedom.

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Constance didnt name her cohorts, but she did state that a witch who practiced solely in the dark arts had cast a spell allowing Ivans seed to take fruit and grow within the fairy. Van said it had to be a very old and powerful witch for a spell like that to come about. Nature kept the balance, and to alter that balance was unheard of. To alter the laws of nature would take more magic than Van could possibly conceive of. Whatever the Warriors of the Dark had planned, it must have been worth selling what little of their souls they had to accomplish their goal of taking over the council then the world. Even with so little to go on, Van made the promise to find out where his mother had been buried. He wanted Astrid to have somewhere to go and mourn his mother. Van said he could do that anywhere, but it was nice to have a place to visit when saying goodbye. Every day brought something new to learn and more love to give. Astrids life had finally taken a turn for the better. Life wasnt easy, but a work in progress. A person had to meddle their way through and find their own happiness and purpose in the life they were given. And he had every intention of living his life to the fullest. With Klaus and his new family in his life, he had every reason to live and help stop the evil that grew nearer every day.

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Epilogue
One Year Later The plane landed at a small airport just outside of San Antonio, Texas. A rental car sat waiting for them as they descended from the plane. They drove the hour it took to get to their destination. True to his word, Van had found where Astrids mother had been buried. Van had called in a favor to have his ex-wifes memories read. Nothing of the coming was visible in any of her memories, which added fuel to the fire that the magical force they were fighting was extremely powerful. Astrid feared the day when that evil came calling. Whatever the plan, it involved him, and he wasnt ready to fight that battle just yet. He had found some normalcy in his life. Klaus had retired from the council to be near him at Bens warrior compound in Missouri. Klaus would still assist when the warriors needed, but mostly he and Klaus spent time just getting to know one another better. They talked and made love like any other couple, and he couldnt have been happier. They had come to Texas straight from council headquarters. He and Klaus had gone to visit Van, and upon their arrival he gifted him with the whereabouts of his mothers burial site. He had a witch, whose specialty was talking to ghosts, confirm that, in fact, she was buried in Texas a hundred and fourteen years ago. The witch didnt speak to his mother directly but read the energy marking the spot. Van wanted to make sure he understood that she had passed on and wasnt waiting to speak to him from the beyond.

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He pretended that didnt bother him. He would have loved to talk to his mother and thank her for bringing him into this world. Maybe in another life he would meet her again. Along with the location was a small photograph of his mother. Van had found it in Ivans paperwork he had locked in a safe in his room. She was classified as trial subject one. Ivan and Constance had gotten lucky the first go-around when his mother conceived him. It saddened him that his mother was reduced to a fucking number, but he was relieved she had been the only one subjected to their brutality. He wouldnt wish that fate on another living soul. Even now he fingered the small photo he kept in his pocket. He remembered every detail on the black-and-white photograph. As he sat there he wondered. He withdrew the picture from his pocket and held it in his hand. I wish this picture was in color. What? Klaus asked from the drivers seat. He didnt answer him. Astrid kept all his focus on the picture held between his thumb and forefinger. As his energy seeped from his fingertips, the picture glowed for an instance, and then color infused the shiny piece of paper. A huge smiled spread across his face as he stared down at the woman who had his eyes. He turned the picture for Klaus to see. Holy shit! You look just like her, angel. I know. Isnt she beautiful? He sighed as he gazed upon every new colorful detail of the picture. Klaus reached his hand over and ran his knuckles alongside his cheek, and Astrid leaned into his touch. Very, just like her son. He had discovered through practice, any innocent wish he made, he could do on his own. The bigger, more sinister wishes he needed Klauss assistance in making happen. They only practiced the dark wishes while at the council headquarters, under Vans watchful eye. Van and Klaus wanted to know the extent of his magic and Klauss involvement in granting certain wishes.

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Granted, he didnt use his magic often. He liked to ignore that he even had any. Magic and being able to grant wishes could cloud ones judgment, and he refused to become a slave to his abilities. Were here. Klaus parked the car along the side of the road. Astrid climbed out and met him at the front of the car. Stretched out in front of them was an open field. Van had bought the property so no one would disturb his mothers resting spot. The surrounding area was gorgeous. Mountains visible in the distance and freshly laid grass ran the length of the property. Van spared no expense doing this for him. A house was being constructed on the property as well. His grandfather thought since they owned all this land, they should have a home to stay at when Astrid wanted to visit his mother. The house was in the early stages of construction, and only a skeleton of two-byfours and some Sheetrock resembled the beginnings of a house. He and Klaus walked around to the back of the house, and right where Van said it would be was a stone path. It curved in a wavy line to stop in front of a large tree. A headstone had been recently put downshiny, black stone with words carved into the hard surface. Kyla Reid. Beloved mother and daughter. You will forever live on in our hearts. He went to his knees and traced the letters with his finger. After Van discovered his mothers name, he went in search of the Reid clan but found no survivors. The rumors were the Reid family had been slaughtered by Warriors of the Dark when they refused to grant them wishes. Van said he didnt know if he believed that or not. A fairys magic may be limited, but they were not helpless beings. Van held out the hope that they would find another living relative who could help fill in the gaps about his mother. He wanted his grandson to know both sides of his family tree. Astrid gazed down at the headstone and smiled.

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Thank you for having me. I may never have known you, but I love you with all my heart. When the time comes, I know I will see you again, Mom. A light breeze drifted across his face. The smell of roses filled his senses, and warmth spread across his body. It was almost like he could feel her there with him. True or not, he believed she was with him. He may not see her, but he could feel her deep inside. Her love lived on in him, and he would spend the rest of his immortal days making her proud. He brought his fingers to his lips then reached out to place them against the cold stone. The sound of Klauss phone buzzing shook him from his thoughts. Were in Texas. Whats going on? Klaus asked. Oh. He paused then his eyes widened. Okay, well be on the next flight out. Standing to his feet, Astrid dusted off his butt as he stared at his mate. Is everything okay back home? Remember me telling you how we were the key to Miles and Ben having a baby? He nodded. When things finally settled down, Klaus told him of the mysterious voice in Miless head, the future son of his best friends, and that he and Klaus would grant the wish for them to have that child. It sounded crazy, but hed come to learn anything was possible. Alone, Astrids magic wasnt powerful enough, but with Klauss combined magic, there was no limit on what they could wish for just as long as they touched whoever they were granting the wish for or on. Well, angel, its baby-making time. A smile grew a mile wide across Klauss face. Klaus wrapped his arms around his waist and hoisted him into the air, turning in a circle. The hearty laughter rumbling from Klauss chest became contagious, and he began to laugh as well. Klaus stopped spinning them and brought his hands up to cup either side of

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his face. Astrid closed his eyes and leaned forward, meeting Klaus halfway. All too soon, Klaus pulled away from him. He brushed his lips once more against Astrids then grabbed his hand and started back toward the car. As he followed his mate, he peeked over his shoulder one last time to glance at his mothers headstone. He said a silent see you later then picked up his pace to keep up with his Klaus. Klaus, honey? Yes, my angel. How does Miles know its time? I mean, we arent even sure what will happen after we make the wish. Well, I guess our future godsonAstrid beamed at his words dialed into his daddys head and told Miles that the wish had to be made today. So we need to get back there so we can touch them and make the wish. Klaus threw his hands up in the air. How this is all supposed to happen is just as big a mystery to me as it is to you. Astrid reached the passenger car door, and Klaus opened it for him to get inside. Klaus walked around the car and jumped into the drivers seat, started the engine, and flew down the paved road. Klaus glowed with happiness at the idea of having a baby around. Astrid smiled to himself. Maybe one day they would have a child of their own. What are you smiling about over there? Klaus darted his eyes to him then back to the road. Oh nothing, honey. He leaned over the console and kissed Klaus on the cheek. Now lets get home and help our friends have a baby. Astrid didnt know what the future held, and he didnt want to know. Bad things happened every day, but so did great things. His life may have started out rocky, but he wouldnt trade a thing if it meant not ever meeting Klaus.

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He didnt have all the answers, and he knew the war was nearing, but he was ready for it. With Klaus by his side, he could take on the world.

THE END
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


AJ Jarrett currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. A lover of M/M romances she has started writing her own stories for others to enjoy. She loves her characters to be antagonistic toward one another but ultimately find their happy ever after. She believes love can be found in the craziest of places and a little humor along the way never hurt, plus to her theres nothing sexier than two men finding their soul mate and falling in love. When she isnt chasing around her kids she can be found sitting on the couch with her trusted laptop giving life to the voices in her head.

Also by AJ Jarrett
Siren Allure ManLove: Warriors of the Light 1: Miles's Awakening

Available at BOOKSTRAND.COM

Siren Publishing, Inc. www.SirenPublishing.com