Authors: Moxie North
Mackenzie was sitting in the grass between the tall runs of grapes. She’d walked far enough in, that when she sat, she couldn’t even hear the noise of their workers in the adjoining fields or the tour busses racing down the road looking for their next tasting room fix.
She was leaning against a post, soaking up the sun. The scent of ripening grapes surrounding her, lulling her into a semi-sleep state. She hadn’t been getting much sleep lately. She’d dream of hazel colored eyes. Green and brown like the forests around him. Him, Conner, the reason she couldn’t sleep, the reason she couldn’t eat. The reason she was so angry at the universe that she couldn’t even stand to be around people.
The fates had royally screwed her over. Maybe in a past life she’d done something really atrocious, she thought. This was some kind of karmic bitch slap.
She was starting to doze off, when her cat perked up. Turning her head to look up and down the row, she didn’t see anything. But the hairs on the back of her arms were standing up. She knew the Tony situation had been handled. Dax had called and let the family know they were all safe. He managed to slip in at the end that he’d been shot. Which, of course, had his mother feigning the vapors.
No, this wasn’t danger. It was something else. Getting to her feet she scanned the back rows of grapes, then turned in a circle until she was facing the house. A figure was walking down from the large patio, on the back of the house, that ran straight into the rows of grapes.
The sun was glinting off the blond hair, the confident stride of Conner Rochon couldn’t be missed.
“Shit,” she whispered to herself. Every time she felt like she was getting a grip on her life, she was Rochon sucker punched.
As he got closer, Mackenzie started to feel panicked. She couldn’t go through this again. Shaking her head at the approaching figure, she could hear herself mutter, “No, no, no, no….”
When he was twenty feet from her she turned and started quickly walking the other direction, still repeating her chant of “No’s.” She hadn’t realized she’d started crying the moment she recognized who it was. Either out of sadness or happiness she wasn’t sure.
She was coming to the edge of the trellises when she turned and held up her hand. “Stop right there.”
Conner halted dead in his tracks. His hands were at his sides, but were turned up like he was trying to show her he wasn’t packing or something.
“Don’t come any closer,” she called out. “You can’t be here, this is MY home. You don’t belong here. Turn around and just leave,” she all but screamed at him.
The wind was blowing from behind him and his scent was washing over her. Her cat was purring at the smell of pine trees and man that it missed so much.
“I need to talk to you,” he whispered, knowing she could hear him.
“There’s nothing to say,” she whispered back. “I can’t keep doing this Conner, please believe me, I really don’t think I could survive walking away from you again.”
The pain in her voice was raw and it tore at his soul. Slowly he lowered to his knees, keeping his eyes on her. Seeing her tears was ravaging him. He knew he caused them, so he took the hits.
“I just want to talk to you. There are things I need to say,” he said, his voice wavering a bit. His throat was tightening as he thought about how this was his last chance. The only chance he’d have to fix this.
“If you’re here to tell me how we aren’t going to work out and that you don’t want me, save your breath. I’ve gotten that message loud and clear.”
Swallowing the lump in his throat he started with, “I’m sorry, Kenzi. So damn sorry. You do deserve better than me. And lord knows you are way too good for me.”
Mackenzie didn’t say anything, she just wrapped her arms around her body, like she was trying to hold whatever pieces of herself that were left, together.
“I’ve been nothing but bad for you. I’ve hurt you over and over again. My shit with my bear, saying that was what was holding me back was just that, bullshit. My bear wasn’t the one with the problem. It was me realizing I wasn’t giving up control to my bear, I was supposed to be sharing it with him. This whole time we could have been a team and I rejected that, I rejected him. Just like I did with you. I was so wrapped up in my issues that I missed out on the gift that was in front of me.”
“You’ll change your mind. Something will happen and you’ll turn me away again,” she whispered. “I can’t take it, Conner, it’ll kill me.”
Conner dropped his head for a moment, the shame overwhelming. His bear roared at him to cowboy up. Lifting his head he offered her all he had.
“I love you, Mackenzie. I love everything about you. Imagining a life without you is worse than death. You’re beautiful and funny and so goddamn sweet, I can’t believe you even exist. You’re perfect for me, and I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to be perfect for you. I want us to be mates, bonded for eternity.” Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a small black box and opened it and set it on the ground, the giant diamond sparkling in the afternoon sun.
“I want you to marry me, right now, today. Just say yes and I have a plane waiting to fly us to Vegas.”
Kenzi stared down at the ring, it was perfect. Exactly what she would have picked for herself. Platinum with a cushion cut diamond. Simple, but kickass.
“I…I don’t know Conner. I want to believe you,” she said quietly. She’d taken a step forward when he put the ring on the ground. It must have been some instinctual female response to being presented with jewelry. Shiny, pretty.
“If you say no, I’ll go home. I’ll wallow in self-pity and the missed opportunity with you for the rest of my life. But if it’s what’s best for you, I’d do it,” he vowed.
Kenzi wanted so much to believe him. She needed to believe him. Her faith in the fates was strong, but you could only get knocked down so many times. She thought this while chewing her lip. She wasn’t ready to give him an answer. She needed more time to think, or to write a pro/con list. Or find one of those damn magic eight balls.
But she didn’t get that extra time, because Conner being Conner, said, “I’ll never be able to forget you though, especially in the shower.”
That was odd. Kenzi raised an eyebrow at him. “Was that supposed to be funny,” she asked annoyed and starting to get a little pissed. This was serious goddamnit! People’s lives and happiness were being discussed.
“No, I meant…” he started to unbutton his dress shirt. When he got to the last button he parted the shirt and slid it off his shoulders.
Mackenzie’s eyes dropped to his sculpted chest. But she wasn’t seeing his muscles. Over his left pec was a heart with what looked like ragged claw marks through the center. Above the heart it said
and below it
in black scrollwork font.
She stared at it for a moment. He’d branded himself with her name. He was not only willing to wear her mark, but he wanted everyone, shifter and human alike, to know who his heart belonged to.
It was enough.
Mackenzie ran towards him and he wrapped his arms around her waist resting his head against her stomach. Kenzi leaned over, her arms circling her neck. He held her so tight, she couldn’t sink to the grass in front of him like she planned.
They held each other for a long moment. Kenzi ran her fingers through his hair feeling his hands roaming what he could reach on her. Then they stopped. Gripping her hips Conner pushed her back from him about a foot. Not letting her go and not looking at her face. He was looking straight ahead. Straight at her stomach.
Mackenzie realized they had a little more to talk about. “Um, yeah, well see…”
“You’re pregnant?” She heard him whisper.
She nodded down at him, not sure what to say. She watched his eyes fill with tears. “You’re pregnant and I almost missed this. I’m so fucking sorry, baby,” he said, placing a kiss on her stomach.
“I love you, Conner,” she answered back.
“I’m the luckiest fucking bastard alive,” he said with such conviction, Kenzi burst out laughing. It felt good. She’d cried so much, maybe she’d cried enough for her lifetime.
* * * * *
The flight to Vegas on the private jet was just long enough for Conner and Mackenzie to seal their bond.
“Baby, I’m going to come,” Mackenzie called out as she rocked her hips up to meet Conner’s. Their eyes were locked as he thrust deep into her. “Wait for me,” he growled. Picking up his pace, his mate was fucking perfect. The mile high club was going to be his most favorite place in the future. He was going to plan lots of trips to re-live this experience.
He ran his thumb over her clit and pressed down as he felt the tingle run down his spine, “Now, Kenzi,” he growled and Mackenzie closed her eyes against the tidal wave of pleasure. Her mouth sealed around his shoulder the same time his did on hers and she felt the first hot spurt of cum fill and coat her inside. Conner’s teeth sank deep into her shoulder, drawing her blood as she bit into him at the same time. Their blood mingled and their orgasm synced into an avalanche of sensations. They were one, or actually three. But their bond was complete.
Conner rocked into her, pushing his seed deeper, like he could get her pregnant again. His pleasure was being replaced with an awareness that was unreal. Their souls were so intertwined he swore he could sense his child.
He was looking at her with such a shocked expression, she asked worried, “Are you okay?”
“I can feel it, him. I swear, it’s like I can feel you and the baby. I don’t know how to explain it,” he said, shaking his head.
“We might just be the first shifters to get pregnant before they completed their bond. Maybe this is an added bonus for all we’ve been through. We get to share the experience of this new life,” she said, running her hand between them to splay over her stomach.
Conner leaned back, keeping them connected and placed his hand over hers.
“Will you marry me?”
Laughing, she answered, “I thought that’s why we were on a plane to Vegas. But not by Elvis,” she reminded him.
“True, but you never said yes, technically,” he reminded her. “No Elvis.”
He watched as she scrunched her brows and pursed her lips like she was thinking through something difficult. Then she laughed at the worried look on his face.
“Yes, Conner Leslie Rochon, I will marry you,” she said wickedly.
Groaning into her neck, he gave her wound a long lick. She returned the favor to his.
“Forever?” He asked her, looking back to her eyes.
“In blood and ink,” she whispered. “Forever.”
Dax Hayes was sitting on the living room floor of Connie and Edward Rochon’s cabin. Crawling over his legs was Micah, Cage and Sophie’s son. He wasn’t crawling yet, but somehow had managed to wiggle his way over to Dax’s shoe laces in no time flat.
In his arms sound asleep was Maizy, Wyatt and Jinger’s daughter. Her identical twin sister Mallory was in Mackenzie’s arms sitting across from him on the opposite facing sofa. Mallory was resting on the just slightly rounded bump on his sister’s belly.
He was going to be an uncle. His parents’ first grandchild was on the way. They were over the moon. Even after their initial shock at their daughter mating with a bear, they couldn’t deny that they were all going to be family.
Dax watched as Conner leaned over Kenzi’s shoulder and placed a soft kiss on her cheek before running his fingers over his niece’s fuzzy head.
These babies were part of his sister’s family now, Dax would die to protect them too.
It was amazing to him, that in a few short months, his sister was going to be holding her own child. Dax knew it should have been him providing his parents with grandbabies to spoil. At fifty-eight he was no spring chicken. But not once in his five decades had he met anyone he’d consider spending his life with, and certainly not his mate.
Would he find her? Did he trust in the fates to bring them together? He’d waited so long, living in California, that he figured a change of scenery was due. Maybe his mate was somewhere else, maybe she was human. He’d never know unless he looked.
He was leaving out of Seattle at the end of the week to tour wineries in Europe. After that, back to Washington to scout out potential vineyards in the eastern part of the state. If he didn’t find her, at least he’d keep busy.
Running his finger over the face of the precious baby in his arms, Dax couldn’t help but wish someday he’d have a mate of his own, a family just for him.
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