Dominic grunted for the umpteenth time since they had risen that morning and they were already three hours into the day. He was already tired of the two men who he’d been sent after. It’s seemed they couldn’t go five minutes without sniping at each other. And for some reason Vayne wasn’t happy about Dominic’s mate and brother tagging along. Crimson and Nico were bird shifters and descendants of the Aarondyte line—albeit a side line of descendants—but still should have been treated with more respect. They had enough of the Aarondyte lineage running through their blood to count as possible sentinel mate, Dominic wondered if Nico was also destined to mate with one of his fellow sentinels. His thoughts were interrupted when Vayne glared at him and snarled.
“Oh, for the love of…” Vayne trailed off as the shout of pain came from behind them on the trail, “Go and get your idiot of a mate and his sibling before they cause themselves some real harm, or announce to everyone within a hundred mile radius exactly where we are.”
Dominic grinned; he’d wondered earlier how much it would take for Vayne to crack—now I know. It hadn’t surprised him when he realised Crimson had followed him. What shocked him was the fact that he’d dragged his brother along for the journey. They’d all left the shifter village three days ago, and with every step he took he wanted to turn around and rush back to Crimson and beg him to come away with him. Now he was glad that he didn’t have to do it, he’d been sent after Vayne and Arron for a reason, maybe this was it—maybe he’d been sent along just so he could find his mate—maybe this was what Lucas had meant about his destiny.
“I swear if they slow us down I’ll kill them myself.” Vayne growled again just as Arron punched him hard on the arm.
Arron frowned at Vayne. “You won’t touch one hair on either of their heads, especially not Dominic’s mate.”
Dominic chuckled at their squabbling as he slipped away into the forest behind. For two men who were supposed to be mated, they sure didn’t act like it most of the time. If Arron said the sky was a nice shade of blue then Vayne would immediately argue that it was red. He honestly hoped his mating with Crimson Redhawk was not going to be as volatile. All he’d ever wanted was to be loved and be loved in return—was that too much to ask for?
Dominic quickly climbed the nearest tree as he waited for his mate to catch up. When they were almost underneath him he swung down somersaulting to land on his feet before them. He grinned at the shocked looks they both wore.
“Holy Shit!” Nico clutched at the shirt covering his chest. “You scared the ever-loving crap out of me.
At first Crimson didn’t say anything. A beautiful blush seemed to ghost over his mate’s skin as he bodily launched himself into Dominic’s arms and clung tight. The only thing Dominic could do was wrap his mate up in his arms and hold him in return. He could breathe a little easier now knowing his mate was close at hand where he could protect him.
“You left without me.” It was a simple statement which tore at Dominic’s heart.
Dominic tightened his embrace fractionally. “I know, and I’m so sorry about that. I shouldn’t have done it.”
“No you shouldn’t have.” Crimson retorted with a snort. “It would have been so much easier if we just left with you.This place is dangerous.” He ended as he gestured to the forest around them. “Do you know how much stuff in this place can hurt you?” Crimson went on.
Dominic picked up his mate and headed back to where Arron and Vayne waited. He didn’t have to look or say anything to know that Nico was following them. When he’d spoken to Nico back at the village he’d found out how close the siblings were.
He shook his head in dismay as he stepped into the clearing when he realised Vayne and Arron were still arguing. Vayne abruptly cut off what he was going to say and stared at Crimson in his arms.
“Is he hurt?”
Dominic shook his head.
“Then who was making all that noise?” Vayne demanded.
“That would be me.” Crimson glared at Vayne. And Dominic smiled as he watch his waif like man face off against Vayne who was quite clearly three times the bird shifters size. Crimson’ voice jumped an octave. “Do you know how much scary crap lives in this forest? Sometimes it just jumps out and hits you for no apparent reason.”
Vayne seemed to be watching Crimson with a slightly bemused look on his face. Arron on the other hand was openly grinning.
Nico chuckled and stated. “He was bitching and moaning about never catching up to Dominic and walked into a tree because he wasn’t watching where he was going.”
Dominic laughed softly only to have Crimson turn his pissed off glare in his direction. Oh his mate had fire in him. Dominic like that—a lot.
“Laugh it up chuckle boy, one of these days the great ones will come back to our world and Karma will bite you on the arse.”
“Great ones?” Vayne suddenly asked, and by the look on his face Dominic knew something of importance was happening.
“Yes, the great ones.” Crimson shrugged, “Shifters might be known as the old ones, but we’re descended from the great ones. They’re the ones of our kind who can shift into all beasts. Their true beast form is that of the dragon. The one true ruler of all the phases of the elements.”
Dominic let Crimson slide down his body until his mate was standing in front of him. Not willing to let Crimson move too far away from him he wrapped an arm around his mate’s waist so Crimson’s back was flush against Dominic’s chest. “How do you know all of this?”
Crimson stepped out of his embrace, turned to him and rolled his eyes. “Because I can read. All shifters are taught at a young age about the greatest creature in the world. We learn it because it is part of our heritage.”
“What else do you know about these great ones?” Vayne demanded, though Arron looked just as curious about what the answer might be.
“Well, I know there’s reportedly only one of the great ones left in all existence. I know some guy named Tondran had him in his grasp and then lost him. I know Tondran is now on the exact same quest you guys seem to be on. I know Tondran left his son in charge of his compound.”
“Not anymore.” Arron said quietly. “The last I saw of Ormand he was most assuredly dead.”
“Huh, I wonder how that happened.” Crimson said in a thought filled voice.
“Could have had something to do with the dirty great knife that Arron ran through him.” Vayne said with a proud smile—it would seem Vayne did have at least some feelings for his mate.
Dominic, Nico and Crimson all stared at Arron in opened mouth disbelief. The forest fell silent as if it knew to make no noise. It seemed like a lifetime of heartbeats passed before they cracked up laughing.
“Guys I’m serious. Arron really did kill Ormand.” Vayne snarled.
“I know,” Crimson howled with laughter, “That’s what makes it so funny.”