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Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising Positions(14)

By:Selena Kitt





"All I remember of her is golden hair fallin' into me face, a  rosy-cheeked smile, and the warmth of fallin' asleep against her  breast." Donal's gaze moved over these parts of Kirstin as he spoke,  from the cascade of dark hair over her shoulders to her definitely  flushed cheeks, and then down, to her bosom, exposed at the V of the  white shirt Moira had brought her to wear under her plaid.



"Alistair had far more of me mother than I ever did," Donal confessed.  "And when she died, me father said... Alistair's heart caved in."



"Nothin' can e'er replace a mother's love," Kirstin agreed softly.



"So what about yer parents, Kirstin?" he inquired as they turned together and started walking slowly through the catacombs.



"Oh, me mother was a healer and a midwife," she told him. "Me father-he was the warmaster fer Raife's father, Garaith."



"But I thought Raife's father... was...?" Donal hesitated, looking at her, as if wondering, but she put his mind at ease.



"King Henry?" Kirstin smiled, nodding. "'Tis not a secret in the pack.  In fact, 'tis the stuff of legend. But Raife never even met King Henry.  Garaith raised him, and Raife always thought of him as his father. And  Garaith treated him as such, passin' on leadership of the pack to him,  even though Darrow was his blood, not Raife."



Donal sighed. "I wish me father'd been s'wise."



"Ye mean, by makin' ye laird instead of Alistair?"



"Aye. He could've," Donal told her. "Scots do'na hold to the  ‘first-born' standards of t'English. But I think he felt he owed  m'mother. And he hoped it'd change Alistair, givin' him that kind of  responsibility."



"But it did'na."



"Nuh. It only made things worse," he said sadly. Then he brightened,  looking sidelong at her. "So yer father was Alaric, the Gray Ghost,  then?"



"Aye." Kirstin laughed, surprised he knew her pack's history. "But t'me,  he was jus' me father. Not grim at all. He loved t'tell stories and  laugh-at least, he did, until me mother didn't return from her fall  medicinal gathering one year."



"Och." Donal's face fell. "Wha'happened, lass?"



"He rode out t'find me mother," she said, frowning at the memory. "T'was t'last night I saw 'im."



"They searched?"



"A'course." she nodded. "But they found no sign of either of 'em."



"I'm sorry."



"Well, I was a mature wulver by then, not a child, like ye were when ye  lost yer mother," she said. "I think t'was e'en harder for me adopted  sister, Laina."



"Laina's yer sister?" He looked at her in surprise.



"Not by birth," she explained. "But when 'er mother was killed by The  MacFalon, me mother had just pupped me, and she adopted Laina and  suckled 'er as 'er own. T'was hard on Laina t'lose not jus' one but two  mothers."



"The MacFalon killed Laina's mother?" Donal's voice shook with anger. He  stopped walking, leaning against the stone of the tombs to look at her.         

     



 



"Yer grandfather." Kirstin nodded, facing him. "Before t'wolf pact."



"She was the one..." Donal breathed, realization dawning.



So he did know the history then.



"Aye. She-wulvers can'na change when they're in estrus or givin' birth,"  she explained. "Both Laina's mother and Raife's were caught in one of  The MacFalon's traps. Laina's mother gave birth to Laina in that cage.  The pup was small enough and escaped. But The MacFalon shot an arrow  through Laina's mother's heart."



Donal closed his eyes as if in pain, whispering hoarsely, "I'm so sorry."



"Raife's mother..." Kirstin went on. "Her estrus'd jus' ended, and she  changed back t'human form. I hear tell that The MacFalon put the naked  woman over his saddle and brought 'er home as a gift to t'visiting King  Henry, and dragged t'body of t'wolf behind 'is horse..."



"I've heard t'same," he replied, opening his eyes and shaking his head in disgust. "So that's how Raife was conceived then?"



"Aye." She nodded in agreement. "And how t'wolf pact came into bein'.  King Henry told t'wulvers he'd deliver the kidnapped Avril-that was  Raife's mother's name-and swear eternal peace between the MacFalons and  the wulvers, if only the wulver warriors would fight for 'im t'gain the  throne."



"Because he was'na King Henry yet, then, was he?"



"Not yet," she told him. "He gained the throne because he had the full force of the wulver warriors behind 'im."



"'Tis a horrible tragedy, Kirstin." He reached out and took her hand,  pressing it between both of his. "So many wulver lives lost. Ye know,  there was a time when yer number was very great."



"Aye," Kirstin agreed with a little shiver. "'Tis the reason the  Scottish king started demanding hunters kill the wolves twice a year."



"Yer pack outgrew this den."



"Our new den's far more secret than this one and I'm glad of it, even  though we have the protection of t'wolf pact," she confessed. "Still,  wulvers've gone missin'. Like me parents. Not as many as a'fore, though.  A'fore..."



She gave another shiver, remembering the stories she'd been told about the days before the wolf pact.



"I've heard 'em, too." Donal nodded. "Men would, as you say, drag their corpses behind 'em on their horses."



"Must've been a surprise when they got back t'the castle and discovered  they were draggin' a man or woman instead." Kirstin gave a little,  strangled laugh at that. "That's when they knew they'd killed a wulver,  not a wolf. The ol' timers say we lost more'n half our wulver population  a'fore t'wolf pact was signed."



"I'm glad there's no longer a feud a'tween us." Donal squeezed her hand  in his. "I meant it when I said I'd defend t'wolf pact wit' me life,  Kirstin."



She met his eyes, seeing the hardness there, behind the softness, knowing he meant it.



"Thank ye."



"Ye know, I saw yer father trainin' in the yard at t'castle when  t'wulvers came. I was jus' a boy," he told her, not letting go of her  hand as they started walking again.



"Did ye?" She smiled up at him as they headed toward the passageway leading between the MacFalon tombs and the first den.



"He bested e'ery wulver or man that faced him in trainin'," Donal  remembered. "All the boys gathered whisperin' how like a ghost he really  was. I've ne'er seen a man or wulver move like that. No one laid a  blade on him."



"He was a fine warrior," she agreed as they moved into the tunnel.



Donal held Kirstin's hand tight in his own. "I'm glad the Gray Ghost's  daughter isn't so evasive-I would'na wanna lose 'er in the dark."



"If ye think me father was fast, ye shoulda seen me mother." Kirstin  laughed, swinging his hand as they walked. "If she had'na been faster  than the Gray Ghost, I would've had two dozen brothers and sisters!"



Donal chuckled at that.



"Besides, don't ye know that wulvers can see in the dark?" she asked, glancing over at him.



"Yes, I did know." Donal squeezed her hand, smiling.         

     



 



"C'mon." Kirstin was excited to explore as she pulled Donal deeper into  the tunnels, following the recent prints she and Sibyl had left in the  long accumulated dust.





4





They made their way down the passage, side by side. Donal carried the  torch to light the way. If the den had been inhabited, there would be  torches lit along the walls, she knew, both for light and warmth. She  didn't mind the damp or the cold-Scots were a hardy people, and wulvers  even moreso.



Besides, with Donal beside her, she couldn't possibly be cold. Her body  radiated like a furnace when he was around. They'd known each other  barely a day, but already she responded whenever he entered a room, or  even when she heard his voice. Laina had spoken his name that morning,  as they went down to breakfast, and Kirstin's whole body had flushed  with heat as if a flame had been ignited inside her belly.



And Laina had noticed.



Mayhaps Kirstin had been successful at keeping it from everyone else,  even at breakfast when her gaze kept skipping over to Donal-every time  she looked at him, he was looking at her, too-but Laina was her sister.  They'd nursed together, hunted together, had their first moonblood  within weeks of one another. Laina knew her like no one else.



Stopping and pulling Kirstin into an alcove, Laina had cupped her face  in her soft hands, searching her eyes. Then Laina had broken into a  grin, laughing at the way Kirstin blushed and pushed her away, but she  knew. Kirstin's protests had fallen on deaf ears, her insistence that it  was nothing met with peals of delighted laughter.

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