Tristan stalked off once Giovanni came downstairs, not giving the vampire so much as a glance. Clearly things were still tense between the two, but that was something they’d have to figure out on their own.
‘We need to talk to Brandon and Clara about this.’ I told Asher through mind-link, ‘it’s no coincidence the place is destroyed hours after we left.’
“This…” Giovanni’s gravely voice filled the air. In his arms was a thick leatherbound book. The pages were stained, but it was in surprisingly good condition. “…took a lot of convincing to get my hands on.”
My best-friend hovered nearby, always glowing whenever he was in the room. I looked up at him, taking in his mountainous physique and curly hair.
Thick brows hung low over eyes so dark they looked black. The connection between myself and the vampires under my rule wasn’t as strong as an Alpha and his pack, but I could tell there was something Giovanni wanted to say.
“The vampire’s you got this from, have they made up their minds?” I asked, thinking back to when I made the choice that allowed these vampires the chance to think without the influence of my father clouding their judgements.
What solidified my choice even more was that Asher never once objected to my ideas or my vision for the future. His only connection to the vampire’s is through me, but he was still looking out for them in what ways he could.
It had taken a couple months, but after the d***h of my father Asher purchased a large sum of land just south of the pack boarders. Our plan was to build houses, provide jobs and clinics that could replace the need to hunt humans. Vampires would be welcome there, but only with the understanding that my father and his arcane ideals were of the past.
With time and the cooperation of the entire pack, we would accept vampires onto our lands and finally redeem ourselves from the bloodshed and mistakes of the past.
The witches currently gunning for my head, that put a kink in things.
“They’re close…” Giovanni nodded slowly; his blank expression unwavering. I was going to throw a ‘but’ in there, but thankfully Breyona beat me to it. “…they want to meet you.”
Asher’s response was instant, as was my reaction to his response.
“Absolutely not.” The golden tones in his eyes fell flat and his jaw clenched hard enough to make Breyona wince.
“Excuse me?” I lifted an eyebrow at my mate, digging my fingers into my hips as I waited patiently for his response.
Out the corner of my eye I could see Breyona backing away, tugging Giovanni to get him to follow. I narrowed my eyes at her, “Don’t even think about running.”
“It’s dangerous, Lola. There’s been two attempts on your life so far, and those are only the ones we know of. Are you going to meet with every vampire family that contemplates switching sides?” I watched as his nostrils flared and the beast that hid beneath his skin stirred.
Arguing was something Asher and I had done from the beginning. His rage didn’t faze me, and neither did his hot-headed wolf. He had a point; I know he did, but things were more complicated than that.
“This thing between us and the witches cannot get in the way of the progress Tristan and Giovanni are making with the vampires. How can I expect them to trust us and come to our side when they haven’t even seen my face?
How can I expect them to call me their Queen when I haven’t made the effort to act like one?” I replied, hoping he could see that for once, I wasn’t trying to be argumentative.
When he snarled and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, I knew he understood.
Asher would risk his own life ten times over for his pack, and I needed to prove I’d do the same for the vampires.
If we were ever going to end the feuding between our kinds, we needed to stop treating the vampires like pariah and give the same support to them as we would our own packs.
“Think you can set up a meeting with them after I get this binding spell removed?” I asked Giovanni, who nodded confidently.
It could’ve been my imagination, but I swore I saw a flash of pride cross his face. Even as it left his face, it lingered in his eyes.
As I thought back to the land Asher had purchased and the construction that finally underway, a thought popped into my head. It had a slim chance of working out, but it was worth a try.
“On second thought, if there are other vampires who are thinking about switching sides, invite them too. I know this isn’t fair to ask of you but try to keep this meet-up as quiet as possible.
The last thing we want is supporters of the late King showing up.” I said with just a hint of sarcasm, and a heavy dose of contempt for the vampires that had rallied against me.
The patrol teams scented them far beyond the pack’s borders, so it was common knowledge to be wary venturing too far out the way.
Since the grand announcement that landed me with a bullet in my chest, they had yet to launch a second a****k…which was relieving as it was concerning.
It was Zeke who last week posed the question we had all been thinking. Were the vampire’s still clinging to my father’s rule in league with the witches?
“Last, I want to pick the time and place. We’ll meet in the new territory Asher acquired. It’s not officially part of the pack, so it’s neutral ground.
It’ll give me the chance to show them our plans, so we can prove vampire’s do have a place in our future.” I s#cked in a breath and let it out slowly. It was a plan, one that might sway a few of them.
“Let them know they’re free to bring what protection they deem necessary, and that we’ll do exactly the same.” Asher tacked on, his voice low and shoulders tense.
“I can’t promise this will stay quiet, but I’ll do all that I can. Any updates and I’ll find you or have Breyona relay them.” Giovanni responded, but I still had the feeling there was something he wanted to say.
My eyes darted between my best friend and her mate, “…is there something you wanted to tell me?”
“My family, they’ve been…more understanding than Tristan’s, but they still have questions. My father is stubborn, but my mother and sister are leaning towards your side. If they choose to follow you as their Queen, my father will too.”
Giovanni replied, but there was a hesitance I’d never heard in his voice before. Always calm and reserved, stone-faced unless Breyona was around, this was the most emotion I’ve heard in his voice without him mentioning his long-legged mate. “It’s not you they want to meet…it’s Breyona and I.”
“They don’t believe a werewolf and a vampire can be mates.” Breyona said with a huff, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms over her chest.
Anger was the one emotion that made Breyona’s voice raise a good octave or two, so I knew she was fuming when she squeaked, “…that father of his called me a mutt, and said I was seducing him since none of our males are up to ‘breeding standard’.”
“Your family wants to meet the two of you?” I grimaced, trying hard not to let my guilt show as I looked Breyona’s way. “…do you want to meet them?”
“I–I think I do, yeah.” She nodded, her hazel eyes hopeful and sincere. I could practically feel her excitement. Her smile wavered, but she pieced it together before it fell apart. “There’s a chance proving the bond between Gio, and I could get his family on your side.
I can’t shift…so, there’s not much else I can do to help you…and I want to help, Lola. He’ll make sure I’m safe the entire time, I promise. We’re best-friends, but you’re also my Luna, and I can’t leave without your permission.”
There was so much I wanted to say to Breyona, but words wouldn’t give back what the shadows had taken. Instead, I placed all my trust in her and in the vampire that hovered protectively at her side.
“When do you plan on leaving?” I asked.
Excitement filled her face, which she held back since I hadn’t yet given her permission.
“Not until after your powers are unbound, that’s for sure.” She replied, and just a hint of relief washed over me.
“You have my permission to leave the pack.”‘ I told her, feeling my heart both ache and soar at the ear-splitting grin that formed on her face.
My eyes settled on Giovanni, who gave me his attention unflinchingly. There was no doubt in my mind that he would protect her till his last breath, but the words left my lips regardless.
“Don’t come back here without her.” I said in a voice that belonged to both his Queen and Luna of this pack.