Claimed (Wolf Essence Book 1)
Cade held my hand, as the elevator doors opened, directing me to enter first. A slight twinge of anxiety bubbled inside me; I wondered if his parents would even care that I am here.
“Just relax, my parents are going to love you. You have to remember; they know you because you were born into this pack. Our parents were close friends, and when they died, it devastated my mom. She always said Celia was more like a sister than a friend.”
The elevator came to a stop, Cade pulled me flush to his body leading me off the elevator. “Please, don’t worry, I’d never let anything, or anyone harms you.” He kissed the top of my head, I blew out a breath as he grabbed the handle on the large metal door at the end of the hall.
The chunky wood tables and chairs gave an outdoorsy feel. The walls had a funky night sky motif, painted in gold, black and purple. It added a mystical aura, enhanced by a bright, full moon with a stage to the right.
The bar was along the back wall and decorated with wolves and stars. Everything felt as if you were in the wild, it was incredible.
“What do you think, Mya? You give it a pass?”
““Hell yeah, I’m impressed. Who came up with this concept?” I asked.
“Making a good impression on your mate, way to go, big guy,” Starling smirked.
“Starling, we got off on the wrong foot the other day. I’m sorry, can we start fresh?”
“Sure, Mya, if it makes my Alpha happy, I’m all for it.” Cade led us to a long table full of the Elders of the Pack.
A striking woman stood, wrapping me in a tight hug, “Celia would be so proud of you,” she muttered. “I’m Myka, Cade’s mom. I know you don’t remember me, but I never forgot you.”
“Thank you so much for welcoming here. I’m glad I found my way back,” my voice broke. Here I was in a room full of people who knew of my birth parents and me. The same parents that as of a few days ago I thought were the ones that raised me.
With so much going on, I hadn’t had time to let that sink into my head. I mean, in a matter of days, my world completely changed course to the town I‘d grown up in and then become the Alpha’s mate. That was a lot to digest, but not impossible. I wanted to know more, about these people and quite possibly find love.
Cade, clapped his hands together, drawing our attention to him. “You met mom and this big brute is my dad, Zander.”
“Mya, it’s a pleasure dear,” Zander smiled and kissed my cheek before sitting next to his wife. I sat on the other side of Myka.
Cade cleared his throat, “I’d like to get things started. When we finish, Leo will have a lunch buffet ready for us with help from Candice.” Everyone clapped, and Cade raised his hands. “First, thank you for coming on short notice. As you know, over the last few months, there have been a few changes to our Pack. It has been an easy transition for me as Alpha, and that’s due to all of you.”
“We still have things to iron out, but that’s expected. We need to deal with the rogue problem and vampires making our town their home. If we don’t take care of this now, it could get out of hand,” Cade emphasized.
“I’ve added guards, to ensure that everyone remains safe in our district. If anyone has any concerns about Pack safety, please don’t hesitate to speak to me, Starling or my father.”
Cade smiled at me before saying, “Please welcome, Mya, who has finally come home.” I felt heat roll up my cheeks, “Stand up, beautiful.” He pulled me into his arms, while everyone clapped. “I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are here,” then his lips brushed against mine.
Everyone hooted, and Cade burst out laughing. “Hey, don’t forget about the annual barbecue this weekend. The Full Moon festivities start next week. Remember, this is a busy time for us. Now, let’s eat!” Leo and Candy, members of the pack who also worked at The Howl, brought out the food.
Once we finished lunch, the Elders left, and the remaining pack gathered around the table. I didn’t know how I was ever going to remember everyone's name; there were so many people in the Pack. Of course, Starling and Denver were all over each other, just as they had been last night.
“You two,” Cade growled, Starling eye roll, a show of disrespect, which immediately caught Cade’s attention. “What the hell are you two doing?” he asked. “Starling don’t ever let me catch you rolling your eyes at me again. You’re an adult and my Beta, but if you act like a goddamned child that’s how I’ll treat you.” This matter stemmed from the previous evening; Denver and Arabella broke up, and now he was seeing Starling. I do not know what happened, but from the way Den was acting, he was hurt bad. Now Bella was catching his wrath.
“Look, Cade,” she started, “Denver and I are just having a bit of fun together, blowing off some steam. If things get serious, we’ll let you know.” She stood up and crossed her arms over her chest. “But, just so I’m clear on this, when did it become Pack business who you’re fucking? Last time I checked, we were consenting adults.”
“Is that so?” Cade asked, “When you two act like fucking teenagers, and it directly affects members of this Pack, it becomes my business.”
“Denver, you were a real shit towards Arabella, last night. You two used to be tight,” Drake added.
“Look, I’m not going to defend myself. Whatever was between Bella and me is over. She wanted it that way, and I moved on,” Denver argued.
“Sure, you do, Denver but you don’t have to be an ass, while you move on,” Cade seethed. “Fuck, you wouldn’t want to see her jumping some guy, would you?”
“Sure Cade, I wouldn’t dream of hurting Bella. I mean she dumped me, after all, something I didn’t see coming. No, she destroyed me, and now you want me to worry about her feelings,” Denver muttered. “I’ll get right on that.” He yanked Starling out of her chair. “This subject is not open to anyone else’s thoughts, and I’m done talking about it. Let’s get the fuck out of here.” Denver knocked over his chair over in his hasty bid to leave.
“Shit, that anger he’s towing needs diffusing. He’s wound up tight, and he could blow at any moment,” Dane clarified. “Why is he holding onto that shit anyway? He’s screwing Starling; it’s not like he can’t get any.” He smiled at me, “Mya, this is, Marley. I think you two could be good friends and it doesn’t hurt that you’re both hot as fuck.”
Cade laughed. “Is that how you get friends, Dane, ‘cause you’re hot as fuck, too? I think you’re a douche most of the time, maybe that’s why we don’t always get along.” They fell into witty banter, it was easy to see that family and Pack were one in the same.
“Yo’ Cade, I just got off the phone with Willow,” Leo said from behind the bar. “She said Milo never made any plans to go up there, she sounded pretty rattled.”
“Shit, that’s not good; I’ll call her from the office. Thanks, Leo,” Cade confirmed “I’ll put Willow on speaker for everyone to hear. Dane, you better call dad and give him the heads up.”
“As soon as we speak with Willow, I will. Marley, are you going to wait here for me?”
“Of course,” she answered Dane.
“Great, I’ll try not to be too long,” she pressed up against him, biting his bottom lip. “Go on, the sooner you get this cleared up, the sooner we can leave.”
“I sure hope we can, as long as everything is okay.” Dane walked through the bar and down the hall.
“Ladies, I have a pot of coffee,” Leo offered.
“Ah, you know the way to my heart, you want one, Marley?” I ask.
“I can drink coffee twenty-four seven, never enough in my bloodstream,” she chuckled.
“We’ll sit at the bar, Leo. I know you and Candy have to set up for tonight.”
Candy chuckled, “Oh hell, girl, I love having other women around. The only one that is usually with me on setups is Starling. It’s great to have some new blood around here.”
“Thanks, Candy, I think I’ll get used to it here. How long have you worked here anyway?” I asked.
“Let’s see, Cade opened this place about three years ago, and I moved here a few months after that. I relocated from out west and was welcomed, warmly.”
“Why did you leave?” I asked her.
“Well, I had problems with a few of the male members. They wanted to mate, and I just wasn’t feeling it, so I decided to move on out. This pack here has plenty of available men, just haven’t found the one, yet. I’m working on it, though.”
“Candy don’t tell me you don’t see those feral young bucks staring at you. Damn, they love you, girl. You’re gorgeous, and I’ve heard that you’ve gone on a few dates with Seth and Milo.” Marley winked.
“Yeah, I have, they are both great, but I kind of like the bad boy thing. Milo fits that bill, but he’s far from ready to settle down.” She continued while wiping down tables, “I’ve tried to play things cool, but he’s such a sweetheart. I just don’t want to be another notch on his bedpost.”
“I think we can appreciate that, Candy. There’s a thin line between being a decent girl and a tramp.” Marley groaned, “It’s the double standard.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” I added.
“I heard Willow called, and Milo was supposed to be there a few days ago. I am a bit worried about him myself. He let me know on Monday that he wanted to go see his sister and sent me a few texts.”
My eyes widened, “You got text messages from Milo? When did you get the last one?” Knowing how worried the guys were about their brother, I knew this information would be important.
“It was yesterday morning, it seemed strange he never messaged me back.”
“Candy, we have to let Cade know about this. Come on,” I led the way down the hall to the office.
The door was slightly ajar, so I popped my head inside. Cade told us to come in, and I had Candy fill him in about the text messages from Milo.
“Do you mind if I look at the texts, Candy.” She handed him her phone, “So, you knew he was leaving? Did he say anything else?” Cade asked her, to which she shook her head. “This is weird, were you two seeing each other?”
“Yes, nothing serious, though. Why, is that important? Cade, I wasn’t trying to withhold anything from you.”
“I don’t think that at all,” Cade assured her. “It was private between the two of you, and I understand that. Right now, we don’t know where he is, and he is not where he should be. You get why I’m upset, but it has nothing to do with you.” Cade reassured her.
“Denver and Starling are heading back now. I want you to speak with them.” His brows knitted together, “This last message sounds an awful lot like he’s saying he wants you two to be exclusive. Did you two ever talk about that before?”
“No, Milo was adamant about not wanting to get tied down. He loves his freedom, so we just dated but he knows how I feel.” Candy was getting tenser the more she talked about Milo, this was hard for her.
Her face flushed, her lip trembled, and her eyes glazed over, my heart ached for her. I grabbed some tissues from the desk and handed them to her. “I care about Milo. If anything has happened to him,” and she broke down.
“We’ll figure it out, Candy, don’t lose hope. We just started looking for him,” Cade muttered as he wrapped her in an embrace.
“The first place I started looking was the airlines, he had a flight booked from Toronto, Monday afternoon,” Dane told Cade. “I’m going to call Devon. He’s Alpha there and a friend of Marley’s. We can go from there,” and he grabbed the phone to call Toronto’s Alpha.
“What’s this all about, Cade?” Zander’s’ imposing stature filled the office doorway.
“I’m not too sure, right now, dad. Willow called and said Milo never made concrete plans to see her. I don’t know if he got on the plane or if it was just an elaborate rouse.”
He circled the desk, leaning against it for support. “Dane brought it to my attention this morning, and I just got off the phone, with Willow. She called during the meeting, and Leo told me she was upset. From everything I can figure right now, Milo is M.I.A., and I have no idea where he is.”
“I just got off the phone with Pearson International. They said he never checked in. So, he must still be in Ontario,” Dane surmised.
“That’s all the info you could get?”
“No, Cade, he rented a car in Toronto. As to why the hell he would do that, is beyond me. He must have had plans because he reserved it for a few weeks. We have to check into this, it looks like we’re going to Toronto then.”
“I agree with you there, Dane. Cade, who do you want to go? Maybe, you should send a few trackers and enforcers to work together?” Zander said.
“We’ll send Denver, with Morgan, Paul, and Ryder. Starling will have to go as well.”
We heard an audible grunt, “Where am I going, Cade?” He turned and met Starling’s gaze.
“We have a problem. Milo is missing….”