Athanasios and Ava continue their journey and stop off in France.
All too soon, Alexandros begins to drop in altitude, though slowly; a fact I am grateful for. He homes in on his pack, who are waiting just outside the Shifter Transport Station. Less than a mile away, Alexandros lands and I climb down. The vast dragon huffs at me, nuzzling me like a horse, and I stroke his nose as I lean in to rest my head against him. The scales there are soft and cold.
‘It’s time I shifted back, mate. Thank you!’ he tells me as the dragon vanishes and becomes a man.
“Are you okay?” I ask and Athanasios nods, a huge grin on his face. He marches towards me, eating the short distance between us in seconds, cupping my face and devouring my lips, even though he’s still naked.
“Perfectly, all the better for that flight and kissing you,” he shares. I grin as he lets me go and I hand him his clothes, watching as he dresses. He often has just a few buttons on his shirt done up, leaving most of his chest bare, though now he’s fastened a few more buttons than usual. He tilts his head and then he grins.
“Remember, I can hear your thoughts,” and I shut down my mind from its wanderings about his body being over mine, how alive I felt beneath him. I can feel my face go red but it makes Athanasios laugh heartily before he embraces me again and we begin walking to the Station.
Over We Go
Outside the Station, Aeolus watches for us just away from the rest of the group. So is Cora.
“Why is Cora always outside the group? Has no one tried to be friends with her?” I ask as we head down the hill.
“We have tried, ómorfi; she speaks when spoken to but can sense things far sooner than most of us can. She has been secretive but swore allegiance to Aeolus before I awoke, then to me,” he sighs, his frustration showing through. “I cannot fault her and I will protect her, though why I feel that will tax me, I do not know.”
I nod, gripping Athanasios’ hand tighter as we come within verbal range of the group. Aeolus greets Athanasios and I seek out Cora, then Anastasia. Their faces tell me my actions surprise them and I query why.
“I never expected a dragon’s mate to be so–forthcoming,” Anastasia comments, picking up her pack.
“You’re…nicer than I thought Athanasios’ mate would be. I can tell that some she-wolves back home will be upset,” Cora comments and Anastasia laughs.
“You’re not wrong,” Anastasia replies as she holds my gaze. “Some had designs on Athanasios,” Anastasia tells me. “Not that Athanasios cares that way about them,” she tells me.
“So, I need to watch my back?” I ask as we walk into the Station. Anastasia nods and as we wait in line for the Portal to take us to the place in France, my mind churns.
Croissant and Coffee In France
It doesn’t take long for our group to be called forward and in moments, I feel the pull as I walk through a portal, thanks to Fae technology. In moments, we’re at the Station in France. Aeolus gathers us together as Athanasios comes out last. I grab him, giving him a huge hug as we make our way outside.
As we emerge, Aeolus guides us away from the Station into the local village and we descend upon the café with gusto. For us, it’s noon, time to eat. Anastasia and Cora find me and guide me off to sit with them and two other female shifters, to bring me up to speed on who is who within the camp.
“Athanasios has asked us to be your personal guard,” she tells me as she sits at a table, ensuring I am not near the edge.
“Will I need it?” I ask and she laughs, even though I have the Callaghan blades with me, I might not always be armed with them.
“Let us tell you all about home,” she tells me, guiding me to a corner. Cora follows, as do two other women and they begin telling me about the pack.
“So, they are the ones to avoid,” Anastasia says, nearly an hour later. Her English is far better than my now basic Greek, which they have begun teaching me. Eleni, another she-wolf, huffs.
“It won’t be easy, Ava,” she tells me. “We can help you in watching out for them, but being aware and keeping your guard up will help,” she informs me, the others nodding in agreement. I grin and recall that I have a protective amulet in my backpack which I begin retrieving as we talk. More croissants and pastries arrive and we take another hour to unwind. Between chats with the girls, who I am told are now my personal guard, I charge up my protective amulet, pulling energy from where we are, and the atmosphere everyone is creating.
Athanasios and Aeolus soon begin corralling everyone together and back to the Shifter Transport Station.
Doubts and Kisses
“We’re booked in to transport to the nearest Station to home,” Athanasios shares with me as he pulls me close, waves of calm and anticipation come off him in ripples. The group ambles back towards the Station for the last leg of our journey. “I hope you are not angry with me, for asking Anastasia to become your guard?” He asks as we walk. This is the first time I’ve been to France, I just hope it’s not the last.
“No, I am not. I’ll think I am going to need it, given what Anastasia, Eleni and the other women have been telling me,” I admit and he chuckles.
“This is new,” he says, touching the amulet. “It is magical,” he says and I can feel it pulse as he reaches out to touch it.
“It’s a protection amulet,” I confirm and my husband smiles at me. Husband. That word still sits funny in my mind and I realise, I shared that with Athanasios; and the pack! He pulls me close and claims me, making sure I know and feel the love coming from him, with witnesses. Oh, boy!
“It might be because it is so new to you.” His stare becomes intense, caring and searching. “But I have waited a long time for you,” he admits. Then, our group are called forwards and he nods to Aeolus before he takes my hand and walks through the portal with me in tow.