Homecoming by Miranda McGuire

Introduction

Five months and two weeks have passed since Kat left the team and headed to the mountain retreat with Noah to birth her pup.
Today, the guys wait with nervous anticipation for her return…

closes the door to the pool house, shutting the squealing sound of fun and laughter outside. Pulling the cord on the blind that covers the large, slanted window, he hesitates for a moment to watch as a small group of wolf children run around the poolside, squirting Bud and Zak with their water pistols.

Where the pool was empty, it is now filled with a large group of people while a gathering of others continue to eat, drink, and have fun on the lawn. The sun is hot, and it’s an almost perfectly clear blue sky that he shuts out with a creak of the blind. The room falls into dimly shaded darkness and Darius sighs as he listens to what are now muted but playful murmurs of background noise.

He takes a moment to pause and combs his hand through his hair before he strips off his shirt. His skin is cold to the touch, but he can feel a warm flush of weariness and he doesn’t know if it’s the muggy heat of the day or the constant thoughts of Kat swirling around in his head.

There’s a cozy warmth to the temporary accommodation he’s been using to rest in, and as he removes his crisp designer shirt, he admires the curves of his torso in the mirror. The tone of his muscles reveals the dedicated hard work he's put in these past few months and Darius acknowledges his body is in the best physical condition it has ever been.

Continuing to stare at his own reflection he unfastens the polished buckle of his Italian leather belt and is suddenly startled by a noise in the bathroom behind him. He looks up and there in the doorway, naked except for a small white towel and her hair wet from the shower, is “Kat.”

“Darius…” she smiles with a hesitant grin, “how are you?”

“How am I?” He frowns, his mouth agape as he watches her sashay towards him. Her damp blonde hair spills over the bare skin of her bronzed shoulders; her face tanned and glowing as if she’s been out in the sun for hours. Her naked flesh still has a damp sheen from the shower, and the small towel wrapped around her body barely covers her large breasts; breasts he notes now seem a size too large for her.

“Kat, where in the hell have you been?” he asks with concern. “Does Digby know you’re back? If not, we should go tell him because I think he’s losing his damn mind. We’ve all been so worried. I’ll go—”

“Darius… Shh…” She holds a finger gently to his lips and motions him to silence before brushing her mouth against his in a kiss. “Not yet. I just want a moment with you, alone first. I want to enjoy the peace and be here with you.”

“But we should…” Darius smiles, staring at the tanned beauty before him. Naked except for the towel, he can’t help but notice the way those burgeoning breasts spill over the top of the fabric. Her wet hair smells fresh and clean: his soap and his shampoo, but still over it all, he can smell her. Kat’s distinctive smell he hasn’t smelled in so long. The musk scent of her body odor, of trees, grass, and jasmine, and there’s also something more animal—something more wolf.

“Alright, fine. I guess he can wait.” Grabbing her head, he pulls her forward and snakes his arm around her waist. He gathers her close and with his mouth pressed firmly to hers, he forces his tongue eagerly into her throat. A flurry of zapping energy fills him as Kat sinks against the firm taut of his muscled chest and kisses passionately over his lips.

“I’ve missed you so fucking much.” He smiles, drawing in the scent of spiced body wash mixed with her own sensual vanilla musk.

“I know, and I’ve missed you, too. Much too much.” Kat strokes a hand on his cheek and her fingers caress his hair. Her kiss is full of sweet tender passion and as she rolls her head back trembling in pleasure, her green eyes focus on his. “So, how are things? I mean, how has it been here—with you all living together at the commune?”

“Things are good. But they’ll be much better now that you’re finally home. I’ve almost finished the bookcases—the ones in the study but don’t worry, I didn’t dare to touch the books. I’ll need your help with them.” Darius stares deep into her eyes and smiles. The touch of her lips against his feels warm and as he tenderly holds her wrapped in his arms, he buries his face in the crook of her neck and brushes her shoulder with a kiss. “Mm… you smell so good. I missed this.” He grins as a needy and uncontrollable lustful ache fills the front of his pants.

The scent of Kat’s body entices and warms him from the inside and he’s aroused in an uncomfortable and almost pained way.

“You’re learning fast, Master Chief,” she smiles. “I meant learning not to touch my books. It’s a good step.”

“You do know, you don’t have to call me Master Chief anymore?” Darius smiles. “Kat, you’re so beautiful, but… what happened? Riley said you were—”

“Shh… not now. Please, there’ll be plenty of time for explanations later.” She smiles as she kisses him repeatedly. “Right now, I just want to be with you.”

Dropping the towel to the floor, Kat takes his hand in hers and places it gently against the curve of her breast, then throwing her head back, she murmurs a groan.

Her skin feels smooth and warm to his touch, her belly, her breasts, her thighs soft and full. Squeezing her flesh beneath the palm of his hand, Darius swears he can hear the blood rush in her veins. Lightly, he caresses a teasing rub of his thumb against her nipple and playing with it he watches as it puckers against his touch.

Immediately, it sends a wave of feelings flooding between her legs. It seems such a long time since she’s felt the touch of Darius’s hands on her body, but Kat’s quickly reminded of how much she enjoys it.

“Mm… that’s nice.” She moans, gliding her hand across the curved tone of his tattooed chest—tracing the pattern of the new writing burned like a black scar on the skin over his heart. Her name etched in a filigree pattern—entwined hearts—the tattoo seared with a brand deep into his flesh. “You did this for me?”

She looks up and wrinkles her brow as she continues slowly with her finger following the lines of the scar, and mindful of how precious Darius is about his body, this tattoo is a deep and meaningful gesture to show the desire and affection he has for her.

He grins as he looks down in admiration of his own body and is proud to show it off. “You like it?” he questions with a grin.

“Like it? I love it. I love that you did that for me. Darius… I missed you so much. I missed not being able to be with you.”

“I know, but you’re back now and we’ll have plenty of time to be together. Kat, I don’t want you to worry about anything because I can assure you, I’m going to keep both you and the pups safe. You don’t have to be in fear but I also want you to know that I will find him—Auriel—and when I do, I’m going to kill him in the most unpleasant of ways.”

“Shh… not now. Don’t let the past spoil this moment. I just want this to be about us—nothing else.”

Her finger continues tracing the calligraphy scar before she looks up and focuses on his eyes. Staring into the deepening violet pools, she grabs his head and locking her fingers in his hair, she pulls Darius against her lips for a kiss.

The desirable smell of his aftershave is overpowering. It's mixed with the deep sensual scent of dominant alpha pheromones and as Kat nuzzles relaxed against his body Darius settles his mouth, sucking in gentle bites against the soft flesh of her neck.

It might be the first time he’s touched her in months, but he’s quick to notice how relaxed and comfortable she is with him now.

Luna is silent. The wolf’s usual roar of disapproval seems lost to the past and with Luna and Kat at peace—the woman and wolf bonded as one—now more than ever before, Kat can finally exert control over the wolf’s emotions.

Relaxing into his touch, Kat settles herself against the cool of his skin and as he encircles her tightly in his arms, she mumbles a whisper against his ear, “bite me.”

“What?” Darius frowns with a momentary hesitation.

“You heard me. I said, bite me.” She gestures her neck towards him. “Darius please.”

“Kat, no.” He frowns, watching as she stares up, almost pleading with him. Her neck is warm and inviting and as he brushes her tangle of damp curls from her shoulder, he watches the soft thud of her pulse and is soon reminded just how beautifully tempting her blood is. It catches his breath and he hesitates. “Are you sure about this?” Her request is a surprise and as he studies the look on her face, he frowns. “It’s been a while. Are you sure you want me to do it?”

“Yes. I need to reconnect with you. I need to feel you. It’s been much too long. Darius, I want you.”

A tingle of trepidation races through her flesh and it only serves to increase her heart rate. She can hear the gentle thud of her own pulse pound in her ears and as anxiety clutches in the pit of her belly, her body prickles with goosebumps. She feels a sudden pang of apprehension and there’s a secondary moment of hesitation, a pause as she bites into her lip and nods.

“I need you too, but…” Darius holds a breath and stares longingly into her glistening bright eyes as they continue to beg her request. “Kat, what is it?” He can see the desolate, almost lost expression filling her face—like she’s given way to a thought far from here.

“Nothing… No really it’s nothing, I’m fine.” She kisses and snuggles close against his smooth bare skin, holding him tight with her arms gripped against the strong muscles of his back.

Darius growls against her ear and sniffing her skin, he smooths a finger against the pulse rapidly throbbing against the soft flesh of her neck. Each beat of her heart raises the vein from below the surface and Darius nibbles his teeth softly at the vulnerable part between her neck and shoulder slowly, as if tasting a glass of fine champagne.

Kat licks her lips and moans softly in anticipation. Darius’ smell is intoxicating, and she waits patiently as he kisses the delicate flesh with his mouth. Her head tips back and as she inhales slowly he can feel the surge of adrenaline as her pulse races. Taking a breath, he expels a gentle hiss of air through his teeth. The thought of savoring her rare sweet taste is too much after all this time, but just before he sinks their sharpness into her flesh, he’s splashed in the face with a shot of cold water.

Shooting a glance over Kat’s shoulder, he can now see the small toddler boy standing perfectly still watching them.

Wearing only a small pair of red cotton shorts, the boy with a lush of tangled black curls and a soil-caked face stares focused. “Oh…” he cries in a soft, timid tone, as he holds the water-filled toy high and points it directly at Darius.

Kat turns around to see what’s distracting her estranged lover’s attention. Immediately her mouth drops open and ready to call out, she watches as Lukas again splashes the pair with water. Then suddenly recognizing Kat, the wide-eyed child drops the plastic gun and squeals in delight. “Mommy… Mommy, mommy!”

“Lukas!” Kat’s startled and snaps his name. “What the hell are you doing in here?”

It’s a panicked response and a look of annoyed irritation fills her face as she sees the chunky toddler quickly turn and leave the doorway to head back outside.

From where she’s standing, Kat lurches forward to make a grab for him, but too quick, he slips her grasp and they hear him call out with the only few words he knows.

“Daddy… Daddy—Mommy!”

Dropping to his hands and knees on the patio outside the pool room, he instantly shifts; changing from a small boy to a slightly larger black wolf pup. Hurriedly, the youngster scampers away across the garden. The boy’s red shorts are still wrapped around the wolf’s fur body. His deep blue eyes are almost luminescent as he bolts across the grass, and with his tail held high, he’s gone in no time to seek out his father.

Shit!” Kat rubs her head and sighs.

“We need to go.” Darius brushes her hair from her face and collecting up his shirt from the back of the chair, he hands it to her. “Here, put this on. He’s going to go straight to Digby. You should be dressed. He was already tearing his hair out because you didn’t come back with Riley; us being here without telling him is going to make him even less happy. C’mon we need to—”

It’s too late and before the last word falls from his lips, Digby, Noah, and Riley, followed closely by Marco, are at the door to the pool house.

Fuck,” Darius growls. “Whoa… Diggs, before you say anything, we were just coming to find you.”

“Kat… Oh my God,” Digby gasps in delight as he wafts Darius away and ignores him. “Oh my God, where the hell have you been? I’ve been so worried.” His smile lights up the whole of his face as he sighs loudly. “I didn’t think you were ever gonna come home. I thought perhaps you were maybe avoidin’ me? When Riley arrived back alone with the pups, I was so worried. But now you’re here… It’s fine—everythin’s gonna be fine. Oh, and Evelyn… Oh my God, she is so beautiful. You’ve made me so proud. Kat, she’s stunnin’. A real mini you. But why didn’t you come home to us sooner?”

“Digby, I’m so sorry.” Kat frowns awkwardly as she picks up the towel from the floor and holding it, fidgets nervously with the soft fabric. “I’m really sorry. I just needed some time.” She looks up and her eyes meet with Noah. “I just needed some time to get my head together. I didn’t mean to worry you. Now, are you going to come here and kiss me or what?” She smiles and grabbing his hand, pulls him towards her.

Digby moves away from the door and as the jaded concern drops as his face it fills with a grin that stretches wide across his lips. His body floods with a surge of oxytocin and scooping her up in his arms, he’s overcome with feelings of love and desire.

Kissing her passionately, he whispers, “C’mon… everyone will be thrilled to see you. Evelyn’s with QT and the boys… Oh wow… I couldn’t believe how much they’ve grown since the last time I came to the mountain.”

“Yeah, they really thrived being up there. All that fresh mountain air, I guess—that and being wolves, playing and being themselves, it really did them a world of good. And they’ve learned so much. Noah took great care of them—he took great care of all of us. We have so much to be grateful for.”

Taking a firm grip of Noah’s hand, Kat links her fingers through his and as he waits just inside the door next to Digby, he takes a breath.

Kat looks at the two of them standing side by side and after all this time, she’s immediately taken aback by their striking similarity. Noah’s slightly taller than Digby, his hair longer, and his features more rugged from working outdoors in the sun.

Uh… I think I should go to the house and maybe get dressed before I catch up with anyone? I don’t have my clothes and it could be a little embarrassing. That’s why I came straight to the pool house. I needed to take a shower after my shift and with the party going on… well I couldn’t exactly just walk through all those people naked, now could I? Plus I didn’t want all the attention Luna would have brought.”

“Okay, I tell you what… Why don’t you wait here and rest up for a while. I’ll go back to the house and fetch you some clothes. Then we can go get some barbecue food. How does that sound? You can take some time before you have to see everyone. Though they’ve all been so keen to see you since the pup was born, but I guess they can wait a little longer.”

“Digby’s right,” Darius smiles. “Why don’t you rest here, and we’ll take care of everything else?”

“I’m fine. I just need something to wear, but I do think I should feed Evelyn soon. It’s been over a week and the milk I sent with Noah must be gone by now.”

“Uh yeah, sure. I’ll go and fetch her and send QT back to the house for your clothes. Perhaps we can show her off officially to the pack before you feed her?” Digby smiles as he gently kisses her cheek. “Kat, I’ve got this, and I want you to know I’m here for you. Whatever you need, however much time—I’ve got your six on this. Please just don’t shut me out again. I can’t help you if you keep shuttin’ me out, but believe me, I’m really gonna try because I gotta be honest, it hurt—when you didn’t come home. I couldn’t believe Luna would just leave her pups like that.”

“I know. That was cruel of me and I’m sorry, but I really wasn’t ready to come back. Digby, I really am sorry.”

“Well, we’re here to support you now. And we’ve been doing some research on how to take care of you. You don’t need to worry about anythin’. You just need to concentrate on rest and recovery.”

He turns, smiling at Marco, who nods. “Digby’s right. We’re here for you Kat. All you have to do is tell us what you need.”

“Thank you—all of you. I really couldn’t have gotten through the past months without your help and I swear, whatever comes our way, we’ll deal with it.” Kat smiles. “I missed you guys so much and I’m sorry it wasn’t the homecoming you were hoping for but… everything just feels a little strange right now. I need some time to settle and get my bearings after that long shift, so please be patient.”

Digby takes a long sniff of Kat’s smell. Her floral scent is sweet but not like roses—more citrus—like oranges and lemons, but also tainted with a spiced musk. He kisses the top of her head and wraps his arms around her, holding her close as Darius strokes her hair and Noah grips her hand tightly.

“Do you still need me to bring a bottle for Evelyn? I was going to give her one soon but now you’re here, maybe you want to feed her yourself,” Noah frowns.

“Yeah, I’m going to let Luna feed her and try to establish a routine again.” Kat brushes a hand on his cheek and kisses his lips before she turns back to Digby. “I missed this—being with you all.”

“I know but you’re home now and that’s all that matters.” Digby’s voice cracks as he chokes on his tears. “C’mon, guys, let’s get out of here and give her some space. I won’t be long.”

Kat sighs and closes her eyes as all of them, except Darius, leave. A lone tear rolls down her cheek and drips with a splash onto her arm.

“Are you alright?” Darius questions as he brushes the wet salty streak from her skin.

“Um-hm,” she nods silently.

“Kat, what is it?”

“Nothing. No, really, I’m just… I’m a little overwhelmed and tired right now. It’s good. The tears: I’m happy,” she smiles.

“Kat…” Darius smiles as his hand reaches toward her and he slides a comforting arm around her shoulder and while his other hand rests on her cheek, he watches as her eyes soften and yet another tear rolls down her face. “I read your letter. I kind of wish I hadn’t, but I'm also glad I did. What Travis did to you… I’m going to make Auriel pay for that. I should have read the letter much, much sooner—when you first left—and for that I apologize. I just couldn’t bring myself to read your words, but maybe if I’d read it sooner, maybe I could have found him by now and maybe I’d be here offering his head as a welcome home gift. Kat, I want you to know, I will get it—his head. I’m going to take it clean off for you.”

“I know you will. And you’re right, we will make him pay for everything but for now, I just need to keep Evelyn safe. Darius, we can’t let anyone find out about her. Promise you’ll help keep her safe. She needs this pack and she needs you to be strong for her. She’s so special.”

Kat steps closer, closes her eyes and as she tilts her head to one side, it exposes the soft skin of her neck.

The throb of her pulse becomes obvious and Darius inhales deeply filling his senses with the smell of her blood. He closes his eyes and concentrates his thoughts on anything except for Kat as he tries to protect himself from the intense desire released by her scent. With her contented grin continuing to offer permission, he can't resist and as sinks his teeth into the soft warmth of her flesh the blood pools like a satisfying delicacy of fiery spice on his tongue. His eyes glaze over as he continues to savor the pleasure of Kat’s skin between his teeth.

Darius takes a last gratifying taste then licks the two small puncture wounds healing them over. The thud of her pulse pounds loud in his head, it sends a rush of desire flooding through body and in a low whispered growl he purrs, "I love you!"