The Lost Slipper Page 23

He growls, picking me up. Our naked, wet bodies are flush against each other as he raises me a little. I have to look down in order to look into his eyes. My hands rest on his shoulders as the warm water runs between us.

“Because you can’t,” he responds.

“However you want to cut it is fine with me, Alpha. I can’t leave because you won’t let me, or I won’t leave because I never want to be without you.”

He smiles up at me, and I lean down, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. He tries to deepen it, but I pull back.

“Guest downstairs.”

He grunts a response.

“My brother is here.” My eyes fill with tears again.

“You remember,” he says.

I just nod my head, a smile pulling at my lips.

“And you love him. He was good to you?” he asks, his hold tightening on me, wanting to know if what I remember was good.

“The best,” I say instantly, because it’s true, and Stone’s hold releases a little. My brother was everything I could have asked for. He raised me after our parents passed. They had us late in life. My mother told me that it can be hard for bears to conceive sometimes. Even rarer for them to have a girl. She always told me I was special.

“Let’s get down there then.”

He places me back on the floor, and we both make quick work of drying off and dressing before heading downstairs.

When I enter the room, Gwen is sitting on X’s lap in a corner chair of the living room while he rubs her belly. My brother comes to his feet, and I pull away from Stone to go to him. Stone reluctantly releases my hand as I run to my brother and hug him. He wraps me in his arms, holding me close.

When we finally loosen our hold, I lean back to look up at him.

“I don’t think you even grew an inch,” he says, smiling back at me. I can see it doesn’t reach his eyes or light up his whole face like it used to.

“You stole them all,” I tease. We always used to joke about our height difference. He ruffles my hair, and I want to cry at the action because it was something he used to do a lot.

I feel Stone behind me and he pulls me a little from Koda. I roll my eyes. Koda just smiles, seeming to like how possessive Stone is with me.

“Did they get you, too?” The question has been sitting there since everything came flooding back. I remember coming home from school. Two men taking me and shooting me full of tranquilizer darts. When I finally came to in the back of a truck, I managed to escape. I’d shifted and run for what felt like hours and hours, or maybe even days. Until the Gray Ridge pack found me. The trauma and drugs must have made everything in my memory go black.

“Yeah, they got me.” His words are filled with pain. “But you got away. Gwen told me they found you. That you couldn’t remember.” He motions to Gwen, who is watching us. X just keeps his attention on Gwen.

Gwen can talk for hours. I’m sure she filled him in on a lot when I was in the shower with Stone.

“You didn’t, though?” I hold my breath. I have no idea why those men came for us. What their plans might have been.

“No, Winnie, I didn’t. I just got free about six months ago. I’ve been looking for you ever since. I had no idea what happened to you. Or which direction you went in.”

“What did they do to you? They had you this whole time. Oh, my God.” My questions fire out. I feel like the floor has dropped out from beneath me. Here I’ve spent years thinking I was just some forgotten cub whose family didn’t want them. In reality, I had a brother who was fighting God-knows-what.

“That story is for another time. I’m just glad I found you. It’s been killing me not knowing if you were okay. I’d learned you got away but nothing else.”

He reaches out and touches my face.

“You’ll stay, right? Here with our pack?” I plead. I don’t want him to go. Before it was just him and me, but we can have a life here. I look up at Stone, who is looking at Koda.

“You’re welcome into our pack. I know it would make my Winnie happy if you stayed. You’re family now.”

Koda’s hand drops from my face, and he starts to smile.

“I’m not shocked you mated to an alpha. You might have been shy, but you could always make anyone smile and want your attention.”

Stone growls behind me, making my body shake and Koda’s smile bigger.

“I don’t want anyone else’s attention,” I say, not looking back at Stone.

“Damn, this family just can’t stop growing. I love it,” Gwen says, breaking into the conversation. “How about we make something to eat? I’m starving.”

“You’re hungry? Why didn’t you say something?” X speaks for the first time. Irritation is clear in his voice. His mate should never go wanting.

“I’m saying something now. We’ll cook something, then we can all get to know each other a little better.”

“I like the sound of that,” I say, smiling from ear to ear.

16 Stone

I stand in the middle of the room, surrounded by the entire pack, waiting for my mate to walk in. Winnie has no idea I’ve set this all up, but hopefully, if Gwen has done her job, they’ll be walking in at any moment.

I’m dressed in a suit, and it feels so strange, but I wanted this night to be extra special for my Winnie. Looking around, I see our entire pack dressed up for the occasion, including Winnie’s stepsisters and stepmother. Even Koda is looking sharp, standing off to the side with Xavier.

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