Home > Gentle Scars (To Be Claimed #2)

Gentle Scars (To Be Claimed #2)
Author: Willow Winters

 


Part I

 

 

Lost Puppy

 

 

Prologue

 

 

Veronica

 

 

* * *

 


No one is meant to live forever. Even immortals. As a vampire, I knew one day my life would be over. I imagined it would be due to violence.

Not because I fell in love.

“Promise me you won’t take the drug anymore.” Vince’s voice is tight, his plea desperate. The bloodied tears that stain my cheeks fail to stop.

I chose this. I did it for him. For us. If there’s a chance for us to have a real life together, one where I won’t grow old … One where I could possibly have a child … it’s for love. I never asked for a mate. In all my decades, I never felt this deep need.

Just as I never asked to be immortal, and now …

“Promise me, Veronica.” All I can do is slowly nod my head.

I’ve turned into a fool for him. Become weak for him. I would do anything for him.

“I promise.” I whisper the words I know are a lie. No one is meant to live forever and this had to be done.

“I will give you everything you need. I promise you, my love. It could kill you.” I sniffle and kiss the crook of his neck. His gentle embrace brings a warmth to my chilled blood. “I would die without you.”

He says that, but expects me to live when he’s gone from this world. He’ll understand. He must. He’s my mate and he’ll forgive me.

“I love you, Veronica.”

“I will love you forever, Vince.”

Our forever.

 

 

Vince

 

 

Weeks before

 

 

The first moment I felt my mate

 

 

* * *

 


How the hell did Devin do it? How could he leave his mate after feeling this?

My fingers ball into fists as I stand on the stage, stiff and all but snarling.

A burning shock lingers in my blood, chilling my skin with a cold sweat and willing my limbs to go to her. To my mate. My heart races, adrenaline coursing through me as the pull to go to her is overwhelming. By order of my Alpha, I’m ignoring the instinctual demand, just as he did last year. With every second my feet stay planted on this damn stage, the pit in my stomach grows larger, twisting and churning. My dry throat closes, threatening to suffocate me. The aching need devours me. I’m practically fucking weak and useless.

I need her.

How the hell did he ever wait for the offering? How could he resist when she was so close and he felt this?

“You will wait.” Devin’s command rings loud in my mind.

My wolf whines, but settles. “It hurts.” My teeth grit as another wave of stinging heat rolls over my body, punishing me for disregarding her. My neck arches, straining against all reason. With my muscles coiled, I fight my instincts. I have no intention of going against my Alpha, but this is fucking torture.

“I’m trying.”

Our telepathic conversation pauses as the young women hesitantly walk across the stage. They reek of fear and anxiety, and the awful stench is a slap in the face. The reverberation of their shoes clicking against the metal stage continues to get faster and faster as more of them scuttle past us. The Authority demands the humans be deathly afraid of the paranormal species. Given my urge to howl in utter agony at this moment, I imagine I could reduce them all to nightmares and lasting trauma if I openly struggled to control myself.

Containing this visceral reaction is brutal. The fear it creates will be rewarded by the Authority, so perhaps there’s a silver lining. The humans’ fear is good for us; not so good for the Alpha’s mate, though. I can smell her dread from here. They call her Grace. Although I can barely focus on her, I’m proud to welcome her into our pack. If she knew more about why these treaties exist and what it means to be chosen, I’m sure she wouldn’t be so damn terrified. But then again, neither would any of the other humans.

A smirk pulls my lips up; I can faintly hear Dom and Caleb’s mate telling Grace something about us having sticks up our asses. The humor relieves the agony for a moment.

“She must’ve met Dom.” I stifle my chuckle at Lev’s comment. Grace’s friend, Liz, isn’t as scared as she should be. Either that or she’s putting on a front. I barely resist the urge to turn my head toward Dom to gauge his reaction.

Caleb snickers and says, “Our mate’s a little firecracker, isn’t she?” I can practically feel his grin. Ever since the two of them felt their pull to her, Caleb’s excitement has been radiating through all of us and his wolf won’t stop panting for her. If he were in wolf form, he’d be drooling with his tongue hanging out of his jaws. Dom’s enthusiasm is dampened by his reluctance to share his mate. I’m sure as hell not jealous of those fuckers. Especially not now that I’ve found my own mate.

Goosebumps spread along my skin. My mate.

“Which one is she?” Jude’s excited so many of us are finding our mates. Perhaps all of our mates are human. It would be a rarity, but then again, so is the continued existence of our pack.

I search the crowd in the direction of the intense pull I’ve been denying. My eyes lock on my mate and travel down her body, appreciating every inch. She’s wearing a black, pleated leather skirt that ends mid-thigh, making her long legs appear even longer, along with her sheer thigh highs. Her high heels add even more to her height. Still, she’s got to be a few inches shorter than me. My gaze longs to strip away each button on her sheer white blouse. Her tanned skin and long black hair, along with her large dark eyes, inform me she’s new to the area. We come to this town for the offering every year, and I’ve never seen her or anyone like her; she must’ve moved here recently. A few strands of iridescent black pearls are settled over her cleavage. Filipino, maybe? I’ve yet to hear her speak. She drips of sex appeal … the only thing I’m certain of is that she’s mine.

“Mine,” my wolf echoes with a growl.

It’s evident she was made for me. Her black hair is pulled into a simple bun, exposing her slender neck that’s tempting me to bite her. To sink my fangs into the tender flesh and claim her. I stifle my groan as my dick twitches. My hands flex once again before fisting, my blunt nails digging into my skin.

My mate’s dark brown eyes are focused on the far right of the stage, then they wander, studying every inch of the stadium and failing to follow my direction. A low growl forms in my chest, scaring the fuck out of the poor girl in front of me.

Shit, I didn’t mean that. I’m too damn desperate for her attention. The need for her to see me nearly overrides my logical side. I need her to watch me like I’m watching her. Just the thought of her locking her eyes on mine makes my cock harden. I can’t wait for this damn offering to be over.

My eyes narrow as I continue to stare at her gorgeous body. There’s no way she’s younger than nineteen. It’s not that she looks older; it’s something about her poise and the confidence she exudes. She’s a woman in every way. My mate should be up here. She should be in line, waiting to offer herself to me so I can take her. Even if she’s only just moved here, the terms of the treaty are clear. My heart speeds up with angst pumping through my veins.

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