Authors: Harmony Raines
Tags: #General Fiction
“No. I’ll be fine.”
“But that doesn’t mean you don’t
me by your side. For old times’ sake.” Kurt smiled, looking a little bit like his old self. Mia wasn’t sure how she felt about that. What if he really did want his old presidency back and he went with her and then betrayed her. If he told them Mia was mated to a bear, they might come back here and lynch Joel.
Surely he wouldn’t do that. But she did have to find out one way or another if he truly had changed before she left her mom at his mercy.
“That would be great, Kurt.”
“Are you sure, Kurt?” her mom asked worriedly.
“Absolutely,” said Kurt. “I’ll get a jacket.”
“Do you think they should be back by now?” Joel asked.
“Maybe. Who knows? But Kurt will look after her, Joel.”
They had been waiting for over half an hour, although it seemed so much longer than that. He had paced backwards and forwards up to the front window to look out. He hated been in wolf territory, and he hated Mia being out there without him. It would be different if he trusted Kurt, or if she was accompanied by one of the bears, but as it was, he just feared the worst.
“And you’re sure Kurt wouldn’t do anything to hurt her? I should have gone with her.”
“Absolutely. He has changed. I know it’s hard for you to understand, but he is different. Something happened to him in the hospital.”
“The meds, probably.”
“No. I think it’s more than that. Like how Mia is changed now she has you.” Mia’s mom sighed and then said, “I hate to ask you this, Joel. But you are going to look after her properly, aren’t you? She’s been through so much. I want her to be settled. I have just got my family back together and I want my kids to be happy.”
“I promise,” Joel said. “She will be happy.”
“No biker deal that goes wrong?”
“Nothing like that at all. We don’t run like the Wolf Valley MC.” The sound of Mia’s bike made him start and then go to the window again. “Here they are.”
Despite her outward calm, Mia’s mom still raced to the door with him. They stood side by side as Mia pulled her bike onto the drive and first Kurt and then Mia dismounted. They were laughing, happy and relaxed in each other’s company.
“It went well, then?” Joel asked.
“We left them still fighting over who was going to wear the jacket and be president. First Traff took over, but Piler soon made a grab for it.”
“Yeah, they are not going to choose democratically,” Kurt added.
“Thanks for going with me, Kurt.”
“My pleasure. Now, you two will come and visit Mom and me when we move.” They walked into the house; Mia went to get her bags, which she would strap on to her bike.
“We will,” Mia promised.
“Great, because I want to keep in touch and I can’t visit you, Mia. For obvious reasons.”
“I know Bear Creek is out of bounds for you, Kurt. We will visit you instead, just let me know the address.”
“We will, but it’ll take a couple of weeks.” Kurt hugged her, while Joel stayed back out of the way and watched them. He couldn’t quite believe that his mate was giving up living in her hometown and with her family just to be with him.
But when they were ready, her bags stowed away, and he was perched on the back once more, the reality of the situation set in. Mia drove off, turning to wave once, before they headed out of Wolf Valley. Only when they were past the perimeter of Wolf territory did he allow himself a loud whoop.
Beneath his hands, he felt Mia quiver as she tried to suppress her laughter. But he could tell she was as excited as he was to be about to embark on the next stage of their lives.
“Now it’s my turn.” He got off her bike, glad to have his feet on the ground. She certainly knew how to handle her bike and, although exhilarating to cling to her, the lack of control was unnerving.
“At least you didn’t have an audience,” Mia said, climbing on the back off his bike, just as the other bears could be heard in the distance.
Joel drove slowly up to meet them. Then stopped and lifted his visor to talk to Will.
“Here’s your cash, Mia. We sold the phones. Now you can either take it or join us in the next deal. We’re riding up over to Cougar Ridge to pick up some computer chips. If you want in, just say.”
She looked down at the money. It belonged to the gang she was no longer part of. But it still wasn’t her money. Then a thought hit her. If she traded the money up, and then handed it over to the Wolf Valley MC, any bad feeling between them and her family would be swept away. Who said money can’t buy you happiness? Well, peace from disgruntled wolves, anyway.
“Sure. Let’s go.”
“This is going to be fun. We can blast our bikes up the highway and then climb through the mountains. Just like old times.”
“Just like old times,” Joel repeated.
Will and the rest moved off, Joel following with Mia on the back. She clung tightly to him, feeling the thrill of riding with the bears. They kept a tight formation, and she could tell they each knew what their role was within the group. It was something the wolves lacked. Discipline. Here there was no vying to be in front to suck up to the leader.
The wind whipped at her jacket as they hit the highway and their speed increased. Mia had to wrap her arms even tighter around Joel, but she trusted him to look after her, so she tried to relax and let the thrill take hold of her. Racing along at breakneck speed, not a care in the world now she had left Wolf Valley behind.
Her soul soared; she was finally free. A new life spread before her like the empty highway, ready to be filled with whatever she wanted. Plus a mate, a bear to love and cherish. Life was good. Resting her head on Joel’s’ back she took in the warmth of him, the smell of him, leather and engine oil, mixed with his own unique bear musk. She smiled, her eyes catching those of Ion as he rode beside them. The biker saluted her, and then sped past. It was an acceptance. The other biker bears looked at her as one of their own now.
Turning off the highway, they sped past sleeping houses, their engines roaring in the ever darkening night, only their headlamps illuminating the road as they headed higher now into the mountains. She had never been this way before; Cougar Ridge was not a place wolves went too often. A little like dogs and cats not mixing, cougars and wolves seemed to have a heightened suspicion of each other.
Yet this was where they headed. The road wound up along the lower slopes of the mountain, the temperature dropping as they came out onto a ridge about a mile below the town. It was here that they stopped and pulled over, the bears removing their helmets. Mia did the same.
“This it?” Joel asked.
“Yes. We’re early, they’ll be here soon. I’ve never known Marv be late.”
“We aren’t going into town, then?” Mia asked, thankful that she would not be put in an awkward situation. Riding with the bears had been awesome; it had made her feel better about herself. If there were a confrontation with the cougars, she would have that stripped from her and replaced by the feeling of being the underdog.
That was usually when her claws came out; however, Mia knew a cat’s claws were more dangerous. Her advantage in a fight had always been her speed; she was faster, lighter on her feet than any other wolf. But the cougars would beat her; all sinewy and lithe, she could never match them on the ground.
“Here we go,” Ion said, standing up and heading to where Will was waiting.
“Shall we go too?” Mia asked.
“Yes, not that there will be trouble. Marv is a great guy.”
“Might not be when he sees a wolf with you. Maybe I should stay out of the way.”
“Mia,” he said, touching her cheek. “You are with me, one of us now. It will be fine.” But still she trembled. Not in fear; well, not fear of getting hurt, but fear of not being able to handle herself properly. Making a fool of herself. Next to these cool bears, she felt like Traff, all idiotic and stupid.
Joel stood, pulling her to him and kissing her fiercely. All her fears left her; she couldn’t make a fool of herself in front of him, he wouldn’t let her. “Thank you,” she said.
“Stay by my side. It’ll be fine.”
She hoped he was right, and now was the time she would find out, because one man came down in a beat-up old car, while around them six cougars materialised from out of the trees.
“Marv, you didn’t have to send a welcoming committee.”
The man stopped the car and got out. “Not for your benefit. There have been raids around the outskirts of the valley. Wolves.”
Mia pressed herself tighter into Joel’s toned body. She shouldn’t have come.
“Wolves, this far out?” Will asked.
“Yes. This deal means a lot to my people Will. I can’t risk the cash being stolen.”
“Understood. Then why not let us accompany you back to town? I hate to see you in trouble, Marv.”
“Thank you, Will. The bears have always been good to us. But this deal is not open knowledge. If you all roll into town, then people will know something is up, and that is how word spreads.” Marv turned back to the car and reached inside, pulling out a small package.
“All in there?” Will asked.
“Yes, doesn’t look like much, but they are a new prototype. My son brought them with him when he visited last.”
“How’s he doing?” Ion asked.
“Good, Ion, only a pity he had to leave town to make some money.” Marv and Will made the exchange and then Marv moved back to the car.
Just as he got in, one of the cougars snarled, and the bears immediately took on a fighting stance. The cougar in question changed, standing before them with a grimace on his face.
“You brought a wolf here?”
“She’s with us, Riley.” Joel stepped forward to put himself between Mia and the cougar, who, once human, was all buff and toned; he would be hard to beat. Still, she squared her shoulders and made ready to fight.
“If they trust her, Riley, you let her be,” Marv said.
“No one trusts a wolf.” Riley did as Marv asked, though, and took a step back.
“She’s Joel’s mate. You can trust her,” Ethan said.
“If the wolves come, we will know who told about this deal.”
“She didn’t know where we were going. There is no leak from our side; we came straight here from Wolf Valley. She spoke to no one.”
“Let it go, Riley. The wolves who attacked us were not from Wolf Valley. They range from the north. No idea where they are based. If you hear anything, let me know.” Then as an afterthought, Marv turned to Mia and said, “My guess is they are making themselves strong before they make a move on your town. Having no alpha leaves you weak.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Mia replied. “But I’ve left that behind. My place is with Joel now.”
With a grunt, Marv got back into his car and reversed it, turning it to point up towards Cougar Ridge once more. The cougars flanked it through the trees, Riley snarling at her one more time before he shimmered and was gone, a ghost in the darkness.
“That went well,” Ethan said. “Do you think they are right, about these wolves from the north?”
“If they are, we will have to be vigilant. We are too close to Wolf Valley for things to implode any more than they already have.” Will face showed his concern. “I think we should tell those living in remote corners to be on their guard. And patrols at night might not be a bad idea.”
“You believe there is a real threat?” Mia asked, thinking of her mom and Kurt moving to the mountains.
“This isn’t the first I’ve heard of trouble, Mia.” Then Will smiled. “But then I hear a lot of things that don’t come true. So let’s be on our guard, but don’t let it spoil your happiness.”
“Yes, I bet you have a wedding to arrange,” Ethan said.
“Wedding?” Mia asked.
“You mean he hasn’t proposed?” Kris asked.
“Not had the chance,” Joel said bashfully, looking at Mia with an apology written all over his face.
“There’s no rush,” she said, feeling the first twinges of wedding-day jitters in her belly. “No rush at all.”
They mounted their bikes and headed back down the road, after they were sure that the cougars had enough time to get safely back to town. Despite Will’s assurances, Mia still held onto her fear about a wolf attack. Marv was right; Wolf Valley was a prime target for a take-over by a rogue pack.
Telling herself it didn’t matter to her now did no good. She would go and warn them when she took the money from the sale of the chips, which Will said he would arrange. That was the least she could do. That or find an alpha for Wolf Valley, which appeared to be an impossible task.
“You OK, Mia?” Joel asked when they stopped to collect her bike.
“Yes. Just tired. It’s been an eventful day.”
“Well, now we can go home and sleep.”
“Is that all you want to do?” she teased.
“I might find a little bit more energy for other things.” He kissed her, his tongue pushing into her mouth, tasting her, and then he groaned with desire. “I think I might have to break the speed limit to get back to Bear Creek. I want you, Mia.”
“Then stop talking and get on your bike. I’ll follow.”
Wherever you go
It was so late, the bar was shut, and everyone had gone home from the hangout. Letting them in through the back door, he didn’t bother switching the lights on, he knew the way so well. With his fingers entwined with Mia’s, they took the stairs, Joel walking backwards as he bent down and kissed her.
So eager were they to make love, they left scattered clothes across his apartment on the way to the bedroom. He was pretty sure he heard her T-shirt rip in his haste. He would just have to buy her another one. All he wanted was for her to be naked and to be inside her.
“I love the feel of your skin next to mine,” he said, stripping his T-shirt off over his head and pulling her close.
“Then let’s get these off, shall we?” Mia grabbed his belt and undid it, then the button and the zip, until his leather pants slipped to the floor. “Pity, I like how your butt looks in them.” She slipped her hands over his flesh.
Even better naked