[Alpha Asher By Jane Doe] chapter 101
Two Days Before Announcement
“You’re sure they’re going to accept me? ” I asked for the thirtieth time since passing the ‘Welcome to the town of Pine Plains.”
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I had yet to see a single building, house, or spec of life since passing that sign. There seemed to be nothing but unending forest, caps of juniper and pine that inched higher and higher as they veered up the slopes of the mountainous terrain.
The scent of sap and earth permeated the air, mixing with the richness of the trees, slipping through the sliver in the window as we coasted down the highway. The views were incredible; jagged walls of earth surrounded us as we drove through and around mountains.
We had been driving for hours now, but the finality of everything hadn’t truly set in until I saw the sign, reminding me that we were growing closer and
closer to the capital of Asher’s- -of our pack.
” I have no doubt they’ll accept you.” Asher replied from the driver’s seat, the depth of his voice near matching the rumble of the engine as we sped up an incline. Even though the sounds were similar, only one affected me so much.
Eyes I had once thought were honey colored, but were actually full of golden fragments, were locked on me in the passenger seat. The way his eyes would heat when he looked at me for too long, darkening the golden hues into something savage, the impact of it hit me full force every time.
I swallowed heavily when they drifted downwards, to the charcoal-colored dress I had picked out for this special occasion. It was the most professional article of clothing I had in my closet, along with a pair of black pumps. The dress fit to my athletic form,
which had toned even more over the last three months, and ended just above my knees. His eyes ventured back up, taking their time as I squirmed in my seat.
“They will accept you because you are my mate, and you deserve to be accepted. ” He smirked, revealing just a flash of canine before wiping the expression away. “As for our people, they will accept you because I do. They will respect you as I do, and trust will build over time.”
“Wow. They must have a lot of faith in you and your parents. ” I murmured in surprise. The next words that trickled through my brain might have been better left unsaid, but I had a bad habit of letting things slip past my lips. “Not many had that kind of loyalty towards Tyler or his parents. Most of them only stayed because there was no other option.”
” Not everyone is capable of inspiring that kind of loyalty.” Asher said with honesty in his voice, not at all irritated from the mention of my recently deceased ex-boyfriend. The man- -boy, I thought I’d mark, mate, and spend the rest of my life with. The excitement I once felt at being toted around on his arm made me want to gag. Asher’s eyes flickered over to me again, though this time only for a fraction of a second. “You’ll notice that my family
house isn’t very large. Most of the money that is taxed from the members of our pack is put back into the community, and the warriors who protect it.
Actually, a good portion of my parent’s income is from my morn.”
“Doesn’t your dad make money, from being Alpha?” I questioned, remembering how Tyler and I would run through the maze-like halls of his house, which seemed more like a mansion or estate.
There had been a time or two when I was very young, where I had actually become lost within those halls. The first few times Tyler had found me crying in the hallway, and would snicker at me as he led me downstairs. There was never a time where Tyler had to go without something, never a time where his family worried about making ends meet.
“Being an Alpha doesn’t come with a paycheck.” Asher chuckled lowly, the sound rumbling through his chest. Even though I felt like I knew the man well, some of the things he said surprised me. I soaked in every word, feeling out of step in the world of ruling. “A good Alpha takes what he needs to survive comfortably, only if his people are living in the same conditions.”
I replayed his words in my head for the rest of the drive, trying to apply them to my own newfound position as Queen of the Vampires. As we coasted down the curved highway that wrapped around the base of the mountain, I thought of my new role and how much trouble I had encountered in just three short months.
Since the death of their once King, things have been rocky. I was a newcomer , a tribrid without any roots. The ones who followed me did so out of duty and sense of self-preservation, but there were still many who voiced their opinions against me. I couldn’t blame them, not entirely.
After all, my first act in their world had been to assassinate their King.
The dark thoughts that swarmed my head scattered a s my name fell from Asher’s lips, fleeing from the sun that washed my world in tones of gold and amber.
“We’re just a few minutes away.” He told me with a grin, chuckling when my eyes flitted out the window.
“Is the capital of your pack in the middle of the forest?” I asked, lifting an eyebrow at him.
While I had expected a sprawling city, or at least a semi -bustling town, neither Maya or I would have complained if it was. It would give us an excuse to go on more than our morning runs, which had become few and far between already.
“Now you’re picturing huts, and little wooden cabins. ” Asher deadpanned, making me snicker where I sat.
“That and small fishing boats, nightly town bonfires…” My teasing trailed off when we coasted down another hill, and around a sharp curve.
Traffic seemed too thin at some point, making us and the two cars behind us the only ones on the road. In a moss -colored minivan behind us, with rusted rims and a bundle of lavender hanging from the rearview mirror , was my grandma, dad and Sean.
Breyona, her parents, and Mason followed behind, in a blacked-out SUV that held both Giovanni and Tristan inside.
We had decided to bring Holly along as well, to expose her more to the world. It was Holly I worried about the most.
She seemed to shut down once being rescued, fearful of this new place. She rode in the blacked-out SUV with Tristan and Giovanni, even though she could withstand direct daylight. Her half witch, half vampire genetics made sunlight uncomfortable, but not deadly.
As lost in thought as I was, I wasn’t oblivious to the passing forests and ravines. From the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of silver, and turned my head to see the very distinct outline of a wolf dashing through the woods. Anytime it neared closer to the tree line, I could see a flash of silver and a long snout.
“I think we’re being followed.“ I told Asher, nodding towards the passenger window.
He glanced over once, then twice before rolling his eyes and cursing. What I did notice was the very distinct lack of surprise on his face.
“Of course, mom told him we were almost here.“ He snorted, turning his eyes back to the road. I watched the muscle in his jaw move before looking back towards the silver wolf. “The welcoming committee tailing us right now is my younger brother, Brandon.“
“Well, I don’t know how skilled he is at swimming, but he’s running out of ground to run on.“ I snickered, now fully invested in watching.
The forest began to thin out, giving me a better view of my mate’s younger brother. We had talked about his family many times, but Brandon was always a subject that made Asher uptight.
Brandon’s wolf was silver with some onyx patches around his face and ears. Nearly the same size as my wolf, he kept up with us easily, even over the rocky terrain. He was agile , I ‘d give him that. He pressed off of a particularly large stone and landed on four paws just a few seconds later , never losing speed. His eyes, which were a more washed-out shade of Asher’s honey color , kept darting towards us.
”He’s showing off for you.” Asher deadpanned, never once looking over from where he sat. ”If you wave at him, he might never leave us be.”
For good measure, I waved a couple times.
Another minute in and I watched withheld breath as the road we were currently on became a two -lane bridge. There was no more earth on either side of us for Brandon to continue running on, just a steep rocky slope, and a near endless looking lake that glittered beneath the sun.
”He’s not going to jump.” I shook my head, certain of it. A few more seconds passed, but he wasn’t slowing down. If anything, he was gaining speed with every leap and push. I looked towards Asher with wide eyes, ”Is he?”
Asher glanced over at the cliff and was quiet for just a second, ”The fall won’t kill him. Won’ t even break a bone if he sticks his landing right.”
”That’s going to be hard to do as a wolf. ” I pointed out, just a tad more concerned than Asher.
”He’s a fast shifter. ” Asher shrugged, lifting a thick eyebrow at me.
At the very last moment, Brandon’s feet kicked off the ground and into the air. One foot turned into six and then seven, until there was nothing but sky and air beneath his body. With his snout towards the glittering lake, the silver fur shrunk into his body, revealing bare skin, a cocky grin, and a very obvious male appendage. The splash signifying his landing was the last thing I heard.
We coasted over the bridge and back into the densely packed forest without another glimpse of silver fur or toffee eyes.
Now it was my turn to gasp when the forest finally opened up. The tree’s veered off to the left and right, creating a bowl shape around the entire city with steep mountain edge’s blocking everything in.
There were at least three snowcapped mountains off in the distance, each one more jagged and unique.
The entire city was bathed in color. Brick buildings and cobalt shutters, plum colored park benches and flower wrapped street lamps. There were buildings with graffiti art on the sides, pictures that sprawled from top to bottom showing hyper realistic wolves and other animals.
”This is the art district. Anything that has to do with creative expression, you’ll find here. ” Asher smirked softly, some of the harshness in his eyes smoothing out. ”Art galleries, classes, restaurants, and clubs are all on this side of town. The university is actually only a few blocks away.”
We continued through the art district, and I marveled at the random statues that seemed to have little monuments around town. Many of them were abstract pieces, twisted and curved. I couldn’t interpret a single one, but they were all incredible to look at.
”The college students make those.” Asher pointed out as we passed another, ”Mom figured they’d look better around town than in a storage closet somewhere, so every year she picks a few winners to be featured in the city.”
From the art district, it was another ten-minute drive to a modest looking neighborhood, surrounded by little ponds and domed fountains.
The houses were clearly meant for families, judging from the assortment of toys across many of the lawns. The neighborhood was very obviously lived in and loved with great care.
We headed towards the end of the street, and pulled into a long driveway. My heart thudded with every passing second, listening to the sound of smooth pavement beneath the tires of the SUV.
I took a second to admire the house, trying to see a younger version of Asher storming out the front door and down the porch steps. Large windows allowed light into the living room, giving me a glimpse at a leather sectional and a small television.
We hadn’t the chance to climb the porch steps before the front door was opening, and a petite woman came outside. Chestnut hair that drifted just a bit farther than her shoulders, along with a light spattering of freckles across her face. Asher’s morn still looked young, with slight creases around her eyes and mouth. A smile stole her face the moment she saw us both, though I’m sure my face was one of surprise.
”You’re both early.” She squealed, eyes lighting up as she clasped her hands together. She pivoted on her heel and glanced back at us. ”I ‘ll go get your dad! ”
I smirked at Asher as I heard his morn’s voice ring throughout the house, telling Killian to get downstairs and that work can take a minute.
I wasn’t at all stunned to see that Asher was the spitting image of his dad, who gave me a firm handshake and what I assumed was a warm smile. He was much like Asher with the limited facial expressions, the most frequent ones ranged from mildly disgruntled to full blown rage. The only difference were that Asher’s eyes were completely unique from his parents, and that his dad’s hair was a bit on the longer side.
”I have been waiting so long to meet you. All I ask is that you call me Claire, and make yourself at home here. ” Asher’s morn beamed, pulling me into a hug even though I had no say. She was a few inches taller than me, and for a brief moment, my chest
tightened as I remembered my own morn. Our relationship had been tumultuous at best, but there had been a time where I wanted her attention and advice. She gave Asher a smug grin and released me from her grip, ”I told him that once he left this town he’d finally find his mate. I knew from the very beginning it would take someone special to catch his attention. He was just too stubborn to listen to me.”
“Special is a very generous way of describing me.” I nodded, giving her a sheepish grin that showed just how out of my element I was. Fighting I could do, but meeting my mate’s parents- –that was bound to make anyone nervous. I stumbled over my words for a moment before regaining my footing, “Are you sure you don’t mind my family staying here?”
“Of course, we don’t mind. You’re all a part of the family now. It’s been too long since we’ve had a full house. ” Claire shook her head, smiling softly up at Asher’s Dad, Killian. “I ‘ve been beginning to think Killian here enjoys the peace.”
“Of course, I don’t mind if they stay.” Killian grumbled, the look on his face was equal parts pain and adoration.
I didn’t bother trying to stifle my grin, even when Asher cocked a dark eyebrow at me.
Dad, Grandma and Sean arrived just fifteen minutes later, pulling the van into the long driveway.
Grandma veered towards the porch, stopping at the garden that sat just next to the front steps. Colorful flowers sat in rows, with a small wire fence protecting them from smaller creatures. The flowers themselves were wilted, only shadows of their potential.
I watched Dad chuckle to himself as he spotted her, and hobbled over to the trunk to grab some of the smaller bags. Asher and Sean grabbed the rest, hauling them into the house.
“I’ve had nothing but trouble with those plants.” Claire sighed, giving my grandma a tired grin. “I’ve tried just about everything, but they keep dying on me.”
“Don’t you worry, I’ll have these plants healthy in no time.” Grandma waved a hand at Claire, whose grin widened even further.
“Actually, there’s another garden out back. It’s doing a lot worse than this one. Killian’s sister planted them for me, but they really do seem to hate me.” Claire chuckled, leading Grandma inside and to the backyard.
“Your brother left a few hours ago, presumably to welcome you two in.“ Killian grunted, reminding me far too much of Asher with his calm and poised demeanor. “You should be safe to go for dinner without running into him.“
“Is Brandon really that bad?“ I snorted, glancing between both father and son.
Two identical faces of suppressed brutality. Hidden behind smooth skin, dark lashes, and loads of silky hair. Attractive in that savage sort of way. Asher let a small smirk form on his face at my question, while Killian actually rolled his eyes.
“My other son can be exhausting.“ Was all he said before returning to Claire’s side.
We stayed for another hour, and I relished the chaos of it all. Grandma was talking Claire’s ear off about her garden, calling me over every few minutes to join in the conversation.
My dad had liked Killian from the beginning, actually having some friends that grew up in his pack. Dad was recounting his war stories, while Killian added a few of his own. We all but had to pry them away to make the reservation Asher had placed for all of us.
“I think I’m actually going to stay here, dear.“ Grandma smiled softly, but I could see the eagerness in her eyes at a new project. That garden would have no choice but to grow, no matter how much it detested Claire. “I ‘m going to get an early start on that garden. Mark my words, it’ll flourish before we leave.“
“Make sure you eat, mom.“ Dad frowned, bushy eyebrows creasing together.
“Don’t try me.“ She frowned at him, gesturing towards the door. “I made sure you were fed for twenty-five years, leave me be. I know how to feed myself.“
Sean and I snickered as Dad mumbled something incoherent, following us from the house.
Asher had made plans at a restaurant in town, undoubtedly a popular one given it was Friday afternoon. I had been correct when we had to circle the block three times before finding a slim parking space alongside the road.
Upbeat music played from across the street, carrying the mouthwatering scents of fried food. There was a patio outside that overlooked a small lake, and was already freckled with people milling about.
I was relieved to see I wasn’t the only one overdressed. Plenty of she-wolves wore dresses and shorts, enjoying the warmth that came with the fading sun.
As we exited the vehicle and crossed the street to the restaurant, I couldn’t help but feel eyes on us.
Everywhere I looked, people began to notice Asher and I.
A warmth spread down my chest and into my stomach when his arm wound itself around my waist, holding me close under the eyes of half the town.
“I feel incredibly vain for even saying this, but everyone is staring at us.“ I mumbled quiet enough for only him to hear.
“I’m not exactly the most sociable Alpha, if you haven’t noticed.“ He replied, the corner of his mouth twitching.
“Are you making a joke? “ I snorted, narrowing my eyes as I peered up at him.
“Not at all.“ His eyebrow lifted, a smirk stealing his face as he opened the door for me and my family.
A young host with neatly styled golden hair, and a dark collared t-shirt led us to our table, flushing profusely whenever Asher looked in his direction. His cinnamon freckles were completely lost as he stammered a warm welcome to the two of us.
“Looks like it’s not just the she-wolves drooling over their Alpha.” Sean chuckled once we were seated out on the patio, directly beside the picket fence that separated the restaurant from the sidewalk and street.
While it gave us the perfect view of the setting sun and glittering lake ahead, it also gave everyone on the street their own perfect view of Asher and I.
I had dealt with plenty of hate in the past, so I found myself waiting for the petty whispers to start.
“They wouldn’t dare.” Asher said without a fraction of hesitation, reassuring me that this pack was much different from the one I had been raised in.
“Not around you, they wouldn’t.” I smirked, meeting the curious eyes that watched us. “I wonder what they’ll say when you’re not at my side.”
Asher snorted, a quiet sound that I had almost missed. In the depths of his golden eyes, there was more than a hint of amusement.
“You’re excited for them to challenge you.” He stated, as it wasn’t a question. A giggle escaped my lips, followed by my dad’s raspy chortle.
“Of course, she is. Didn’t hesitate to piss you off, even before you met.” He grinned, and the sight made my chest flutter.
This was the happiest dad had been since morn was killed. Grandma was forcing him to leave the house, and even with his injured leg, walking was getting just a tad easier. He was making friends- -rebuilding his life that had once crumbled.
What had been most surprising, was the excitement he showed when Asher and I announced we’d be leaving for the capital of our pack. We had offered they come, of course, without much hope that dad would leave the house. All week he talked about the trip, and how his bag was already packed.
I blinked back the emotion in my eyes, refusing to become a blubbering mess over top of the steak I ordered. Instead, I lived in the moment , the curious eyes along my skin already forgotten.
I was already planning on my midnight trip for leftovers as we left the restaurant, and quite literally stumbled into two people who seemed more than elated to see Asher.
I knew who the first one was instantly. The moment his cerulean colored eyes met mine, the same shade a s Claire’s, and his smirk, the one he shared with Asher.
At Brandon’s side, her arm laced with his, was a woman with pale blonde hair. Her rich, hazel eyes brightened and an excited smile blossomed on her face, turning her cheeks a rosy shade of pink.
“Well, if it isn’t my brothers’ mate.” Brandon grinned cheekily, untangling himself from his companion to take a few steps towards me. He was just a few inches shorter than Asher, but still towered over me. His dark hair was cropped a bit longer, making him look mischievous and rugged. I
felt my own eyes widen and surprise flicker across my face when his eyes dipped down to the dress I wore, “Brother, you didn’t tell me- – “
“Asher!” The blonde squealed, the sound both soft and feminine. She clasped her dainty hands together, painted nails drawing my attention. “Oh, you should have called me once you got in! We could have planned something- – “
Her eyes swiveled to me as I took a step in Asher’s direction, flecks of mossy green showing around her pupil. Her smile never faltered, but I swore I saw a
flash of something cross her eyes that brief second.
“This is your mate?” Her petal-colored lips widened, flashing a genuine smile that was soft and sweet. She pressed forwards and took her hands in my own, ” It’s so incredible to meet you, Luna. I’m Asher and Brandon’s best-friend, Cassidy. We practically grew up with one another, well us and their cousins.”
It was hard to keep up with her enthusiasm, but the kindness she spoke with seemed so genuine. I gave her my own smile and introduced myself.
Her attention quickly turned back to Asher , and I tried not to let that fact grate on my nerves. Shoving my wolf’s instincts down where they could no longer torment me, I paid attention to the conversation, and was surprised at what I had noticed.
Asher was very obviously glaring at Brandon, all whilst Cassidy talked solely to him.
“I think we should definitely get together tomorrow for lunch.” She said with a giggle , brushing her hand against his arm to gain his attention. His eyes flickered down on me when I very obviously stiffened, but Cassidy was still talking. “We have so much to catch up on. Hopefully you won’t be leaving again soon with my birthday coining up next week.”
“We will be in town for a while.” Asher nodded at Cassidy, familiarity in his eyes for his childhood best-friend. “I ‘in sure Lola and I can find time to meet up with you, though not until after the pack meeting tomorrow.”
“Why don’t you invite them to the party Sunday, Cass?” Brandon murmured, a silky smile on his face.
Like a warped version of Asher that I neither liked nor hated, Brandon was the exact opposite of his brother. Brandon tugged on a lock of her pale blonde hair, making her giggle and swat at his hand. His amused eyes flickered over to me, ” I don’t suppose you like to have fun, Lola. Asher here was always so miserable at parties. I ‘d hate it if his mate had the same affliction.”
“Really, it would be super awesome if you came.” Cassidy smiled softly at Asher. Her eyes flickered over to me after a few long seconds, but her smile never faltered. “It’s at a local swimming spot in town. We keep it secret year-round so the tourists can’t ruin it.”
Asher’s eyes were hardened granite, glancing down a t me in a way that made my face and neck flush.
‘Don’t you dare.’ He warned, gruff voice rolling through my head on a wave of command that made my knee’s nearly buckle.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well with commands.
‘It sounds like fun.’ I pouted, ‘Besides, I need to get to know people in our pack and they need a chance to get to know their Luna.’ ‘There will be other oppor——’
“We’ll be there! ” I grinned, feeling his rough growl roll across my mind.