Mason strolled across the grounds toward the old barn and the spot where his mate was trying to wield an ax and split the firewood clean down the middle. He chuckled to himself at her lackluster performance.
The effort that could wield wasn’t being put behind the swing, and by the time the blade hit the wood, it was more of a tap than a blow. It felt good to laugh, and his mate had pretty much been the only one to make him feel like that in the last few days. She was sexy, a little crazy, and loveable, and he knew he was a very lucky man.
Things had been a little tense around pack land. Maxi and Jon had moved into a cabin of their own, and whenever the witch saw the alpha; she took the opportunity to offer him the stink eye because he’d banished her friend Bree from pack land. He could live with that.
He hadn’t really seen much of Nathanial and his new mate, Zoe, because they were off doing what new mates did best. He could live with that too.
Truth be told, all three sets of new mates were still in the honeymoon period, and he couldn’t say he wasn’t enjoying that part of finding his mate. He guessed in some small way he had Bree to thank for bringing his mate to him, but until that meddlesome wicked witch changed her ways – well, she wasn’t setting foot on pack land again.
The vampire had taken himself off, and Mason didn’t know where. Joel was sulking and refused to shift into his beast while the wolf’s fur still resembled a rainbow, and Mason couldn’t really blame him for that.
All in all, things were changing, and yet, it was pretty quiet around the main house, and Mason was enjoying some alone time with his mate, but he still felt the tension in his pack.
“If you’ve come to tell me this is man’s work…” Kelly said by way of a warning, but she didn’t offer the words just a scowl and a hard, determined stare from under her long lashes to go along with it.
It itched his man-pride to see his mate chopping wood, and yeah, it was or should have been man’s work, because it was easier for him to do, but no – he valued his balls, and he was learning to keep his stupid man-ideas to himself whenever possible. But, truth be told, she could have just chopped his manhood off with that ax because in many ways that would have been easier to stomach.
“If you wanna chop wood, sweetheart, you go right ahead.” Mason offered her a cocky grin, but inside he was dying to take that ax and do the stupid wood himself.
“But…?” Kelly blew up at the stray strands of hair that had fallen over her forehead and narrowed her eyes a little as she waited for the other shoe to drop.
“But?” He shrugged his shoulders and tried to look innocent with a dash of cocky.
“There’s a but – I can feel it in the air.”
“Nope, noooo buts here. I’m not saying a word.” He shrugged his broad, and she grunted. Then she pursed her lips and lifted the ax. “But, your form is all wrong, and if you want to do more than make the wood go ouch, you need to aim the blow and put some strength behind it.”
Kelly puffed out her cheeks before letting that breath go. She took a moment to chew the inside of her cheek as she slowly nodded her head. “I knew there was a but,” she mumbled.
Then she gripped the ax with both hands, rolled it around behind her, and got ready to swing. The mischief hit her mind in a tempting thought, and she pulled on her magic.
Kelly swung the ax down, and fuelled by magic; the blade hit the wood just right. The wood cracked with a sound like thunder, and the two pieces shot off the block.
One gnarly piece headed directly for Mason. His eyes went wide, and his hands came up in front of his body for protection. He caught the cannonball chunk in his hands, and the force took him off his feet with a manly yelp.
The momentum of that fast traveling object sent him back through the air, and Kelly craned her head forward on her neck as she watched with disbelief as her mate flew. The alpha landed on his back on the ground with a heavy thud.
Mason groaned at the impact. “Ouch.”
“Whoops,” Kelly said with a small grimace, but that didn’t stop the need within her to chuckle. She hadn’t meant to launch a cannonball at the man, but it was funny on so many levels.
She swung the ax over her shoulder like a pro as she took a stroll towards her mate. Mason lifted his head and eyed his woman who looked every inch the wicked witch.
With one eyebrow raised, he questioned her sanity. “Whoops?”
“Brute force – right?” She grinned from ear to ear, and Mason groaned again as he chucked the wood away from him and dropped his head back against the ground.
“That’s right, sweetheart,” he bit out.
“Yep, I see how that works, thanks,” Kelly said as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and she turned back on her heels and strolled back towards the block.
Mason groaned as he dragged his body up to his feet and shook out the kinks. “I’ll just leave you to it,” he grumbled.
He neither wanted to watch her do something that he should have been doing, or play target to her witchy aiming mechanism – her shot had been perfect already, and hand on heart – he couldn’t swear to it that she hadn’t meant to do that.
“Might be an idea,” Kelly offered back over her shoulder with a small giggle that he couldn’t miss and only confirmed his suspicions about her intentions.
“If ever there were a time to buy a suit of armor,” he grumbled.
“What’s that, babe?” she called, but she’d heard him alright.
“Doing a great job, sweetheart,” he called back and offered her a thumbs up, as he strolled away with a slight limp to his left leg. “I have a feeling our pups are going to be insane,” he muttered.
Martha turned from the door of the potting shed at the bottom of her garden, tray of little seedlings in her hand, and jumped at the sight of the man that was propping up the side of the shed with his shoulder.
The tray of seedlings fell from her grasp as she lifted her hands and called on her magic for protection.
Martha was ready to zap the intruder when he reached out and snatched the seedlings from certain death, as her brain kicked her backside into gear and she realized who it was. “You know, sneaking up on witches is never a good idea — you can survive a lot, but not even you can survive being a crispy critter.”
Jai offered her a devilish grin as he held out the tray of seedlings toward her. “You really should be more careful, just about anybody could walk in here…”
“Anybody just did,” Martha offered back with a dry, stinging tone.
The vampire offered her a pained expression as the elder snatched the tray from his hand. “And I thought we were friends…”
“Going senile in your old age,” Martha muttered as she turned away from him, but kept a cautious eye on what he was doing at all times.
She might very well have known who he was — but, that didn’t mean that she trusted him anymore that she trusted any other vampire that she didn’t know from Adam.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”
“Tell me more,” Martha bit out.
“Well, you seem to have forgotten that you owe me an apology,” the vampire tossed back. He was following her down the path like a fateful puppy, and she liked animals, but she’d still kick him if he got too close for comfort.
“I do — do I?” Martha snorted contempt for that statement.
“You did zap me for no good reason…”
“I had a good reason — I don’t like you,” Martha tossed back over her shoulder as she unzipped the cover over the small enclosed frame where she liked to acclimatize her babies before she planted them in their respective new homes.
“Me?” The amusement in the vampire’s voice was evident, and it caused her to toss a steely gaze at him over her shoulder as she placed the tray down on the shelving, before she turned her full attention towards him. “Never!” he said, making sure that he sounded as adamant about that as possible.
“What do you want, vampire?” Martha asked as she brushed the dirt from her fingertips before she folded her arms and assumed the posture of a woman that demanded answers and wasn’t to be messed with.
Martha knew one important thing about this vampire, and that was that he liked to stir things up. Well, if he was planning on getting under her skin, she was more than happy to painfully show him the error of his ways.
“If I said world peace do you think that would sound like a stretch of the imagination?”
“I think that would be taking liberties with surrealism…”
“Oh, how you jest at my expense.” The vampire grinned from ear to ear and Martha snorted again. “You can play hard to get, but I know you want to be my friend really.”
“You just keep living in the twilight zone and don’t try hooking me into your over ripened imagination.”
“Someone’s grumpy today.” He offered her a smirk that she would love to wipe off his face.
“Someone’s delusional every day — and that’s not me,” she tossed back.
“I think someone is missing the pack — the witches — that little taste of family that they’d enjoyed…”
“See, delusional,” Martha said as she dropped her hands to her sides and exited the small cage.
“Someone doth protest too much…”
“I’m not protesting at all — I’m busy, and you’re leaving,” Martha said as she started back up the path toward the potting shed once more.
“Far be it from me to ever overstay my welcome, but…”
“Okay, bye-bye,” Martha said back over her shoulder as she lifted her hand and offered him a backward wave.
Jai rolled his eyes and asked himself what he was doing there in the first place. The elder witch was fun, he did like the banter between them, and he didn’t much like it when people cut their nose off to spite their face — which was what she was doing, but still, didn’t he have a life?
He called out after her. “I think you’re going to change your mind…”
“Don’t hold your breath!” Martha stopped in place and turned to look back at him over her shoulder, a small wicked smile played on her lips. “On second thoughts — hold your breath.”
“I’ll be seeing you around,” the vampire called as she turned back to the shed, but when she turned to offer him another barbed put-down, he was already gone.
Martha snorted to herself before she set off for the shed once more. He was wrong — she wasn’t missing the pack — witches — all the newfound sense of family that she’d discovered, all thanks to Bree — that wicked, meddlesome witch.
No, she wasn’t missing any of that at all. Not a jot. Not one iota. Pah!