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Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising Positions(10)

By:Selena Kitt





The question was directed at Laina, who shook her head.



"I'm not hungry." Sibyl pushed the bowl of stew away from her. Kirstin caught the delicious scent and her stomach growled.



"Ye still need t'eat, banrighinn." Kirstin pushed the bowl closer,



"Don't call me that." Sibyl's eyes filled with tears.



"But ye're, banrighinn," Laina agreed, smiling as Moira put a newly  baked loaf of bread on the table. It was warm and Kirstin couldn't  resist tearing off the end, dipping it into the bowl.



"Here, you eat it." Sibyl pushed it toward her. "You must be starving."



"I ate a rabbit on the way," Kirstin confessed, her mouth full of warm bread. "But this is delicious."



"There's more where that came from, lass," Moira assured her with a pat  of her hand on Kirstin's. "I'll get ye a bowl. Ye see if ye can get this  one t'eat."



"Thank ye." Kirstin washed the bread down with a swallow of mead from the cup Moira set in front of her.



"Moira, this is Kirstin," Laina said, making the introductions. "She's a  midwife in our den-and a healer. She came t'help wit' Darrow."



"Och, well he's a handful," Moira agreed with a laugh, putting a bowl of  stew down in front of Kirstin, who dug in, her stomach making grateful,  growling sounds. "We can certainly always use an extra set of hands  'round 'ere."



She glanced at the door where the maid had disappeared.



"They're afeared of us," Laina explained to Kirstin, speaking of the  maid who'd left soon after bringing Darrow's dishes down. "Wulvers.  Demons."



"They're young and foolish." Moira brought out a knife and began slicing  the bread. "Do'na pay attention to 'em. Lady Sibyl, please will ye eat  some bread? I'll butter it fer ye. Mayhaps some jam?"



Moira brightened at this, rushing off to get some.



"Och, I need me bairn." Laina gave a little groan, sitting back in her  seat and pressing her breasts with both hands, her face pained. "He's  not ready t'wean."



"Ye can express yer milk," Moira suggested. "Since yer bairn's away and yer husband's not yet up to the task."



The old woman chuckled at the way Kirstin gasped, looking at the younger woman's shocked face.



"She's not married, this one?" Moira observed with a toothy grin.



Kirstin flushed, eating stew faster.



"Kirstin?" Laina laughed. "Nay, she's not found 'er mate, nor had 'er first estrus."



"Isn't she a little old?" Moira blinked in surprise.



"Oh, she's had 'er first moonblood," Laina told her, explaining to the  confused Scotswoman. "Wulver woman have their first moonblood sometime  during our thirteenth summer. That's when we can start changin'. Into  wulvers, ye ken?"



"Hm." Moira's face didn't smooth out-she still looked puzzled.



"After our first moonblood, we're ready to be mated," Laina explained.



Laina's words even had Sibyl interested, Kirstin noticed. Sibyl was  listening, spreading the brambleberry jam Moira had brought over onto a  piece of buttered bread.         

     



 



"But we do'na have our first estrus-when we go into heat-until we find our mate."



"So ye only bleed once?" Moira asked in awe. "And then not again until you mate?"



"Aye." Kirstin agreed, dunking her bread into her stew. It was venison, thick, fatty and rich. And utterly delicious.



"Och, I wish I was a wulver then!" Moira exclaimed with a laugh, taking a  seat at the low table with them. "I'd stay a maiden forever."



"Well, there's something to that." Laina smiled, glancing over at  Kirstin. "A wulver woman who's never mated always has control over her  change."



Kirstin nodded in agreement. She still had full control over when she  changed from woman to wulver and back again. There were very few wulver  women who went their whole lives without finding their true mate,  although Kirstin often thought she might end up like the old midwife,  Beitrus, who had trained her and taught her all her healing skills.  Mayhaps that was her calling after all, she mused, taking another swig  of mead.



"But it isn't matin' that brings on estrus," Kirstin interjected. "It's findin' yer mate."



Moira gave them a puzzled shake of her head, looking between the two  wulver women as if trying to figure something out. Then, slowly,  realization dawned on her, even before Kirstin explained.



"A wulver woman doesn't hafta remain chaste," she told Moira, knowing  how shocking that sounded to the Scotswoman. It had been even more  shocking to the Englishwoman who was now their banrighinn-their queen.  Maidenhood was highly prized in the human world, she'd discovered.  "After our thirteenth year, we reach maturity. We can be wit' whomever  we choose after that. But we can'na become wit' child 'til we meet our  true mate."



"Yer true mate?" Moira mused, mulling this over.

"

Aye. Wulvers have one true mate." Laina smiled, glancing toward the  ceiling. Darrow was upstairs, recovering-her one true mate, the father  of her bairn. "Fer life."



"How d'ye know ye've found 'im?" Moira asked. "Yer one true mate?"



"Oh, believe me, ye know." Laina's smile widened, her eyes dancing.  "Besides, a month later, ye change into a wulver during yer estrus, and  ye can'na change back 'til it's through."



"Ye can'na control it?" Moira asked, eyes growing big. "And I thought bein' a Scotswoman was bad!"



Sibyl snorted, saying through a mouthful of bread and jam, "Try being an Englishwoman."



"Sibyl's been workin' on our cure." Laina put her arm around the  redhead's shoulder. Sibyl almost smiled, which made Kirstin's heart feel  a little bit lighter.



"A cure for the curse?" Moira laughed. "Oh what a happy day that would be!"



"Well, the wulver's curse," Laina countered. "It wasn't broken soon  enough for my mother, but maybe it can be for our daughters."



"Raife and Darrow think it's a fool's errand." Sibyl picked the crust  off her bread. "They keep telling me I'm wasting my time. But too many  wulver women have paid the price for not having control over their  cycles."



"Men, they never understand the woman's plight." Moira sighed. "No matter their species, do they?"



"They're stubborn animals, regardless." Laina squeezed her arm around Sibyl, who rested her head on the blonde's shoulder.



"Especially wulvers." Sibyl wrinkled her freckled nose and sighed.



"He loves ye," Kirstin assured her. She knew it was true-she'd seen it  in his eyes. Sibyl was his one true mate, and always would be. "He'll  come 'round. He's jus'..."



"Raife." Sibyl said his name with such longing it made Kirstin's heart break for her.



"Aye." Laina rolled her bright, blue eyes-all wulvers had blue eyes-and groaned.



"I want to give Darrow time to heal," Sibyl said. "But the truth is-he's  probably already well enough to travel. I'm still shocked that wound  didn't kill him instantly."

\

"I told ye, wulvers heal vera fast."



"That's an understatement." Sibyl laughed, and Kirstin thought how good it was to hear her laugh again.



"D'ye want more t'eat, Lady Kirstin?" Moira asked, nodding at Kirstin's empty stew bowl.         

     



 



"It's jus' Kirstin-and yes, actually, I'll take another bowl." Her  appetite was incredible all of a sudden. Moira got up to get her more  food and Kirstin noticed Sibyl was finally eating a little of her own  stew.



"The truth is," Sibyl said. "I'm afraid, if I tell Raife that Darrow could travel now-he'll go... and leave me behind."



"Nuh, he would'na do that," Moira exclaimed, putting a new, steaming  bowl of stew in front of Kirstin, who dug right in. "Would he?"



"He's stubborn." Kirstin made a face. Talk about understatements.



"Well, then we'll have to keep Darrow recoverin' in bed." Laina's eyes brightened. "Ye ken?"



"Aye." Kirstin's smile widened as she caught on to Laina's plan. "Until Raife starts comin' round."



"Oh, aye!" Even Moira brightened "And there are plenty'o'ways ye can  bring a man back to ye, lass. They're simple creatures, in t'end."



"How?" Sibyl looked around the table, frowning. "He won't talk to me, he  won't even look at me! He leaves a room if I come into it."



"Trust us." Kirstin's heart felt a lot lighter, knowing that both Laina  and Moira were in on this new plan to get Sibyl and Raife together  again.



"Ye leave it to us, lassie." Moira chuckled, patting Sibyl's hand. "He won't know what hit 'im."





3





"That man is more stubborn than a corpse." Sibyl slid off her horse, tying it to a tree.

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