Ava closed her eyes as the plane’s tires touched the ground with a hard jolt. She felt Cyrus squeeze her hand and she glanced over at him and smiled. They were home. She bit her lip worriedly and sighed.
“Hey, why the frown? We’re getting married in five days. You should be glowing with happiness,” Cyrus said as he undid his seatbelt and stood up.
Ava smiled up at him and couldn’t help noticing how happy he was. He was so tall and large that he seemed to fill the tiny Cessna. His crystal blue eyes gleamed down at her warmly and his lips curled up in a half-smile as he watched her.
Ava ran her hands through her hair and stood up too. “I don’t have many good memories of Paskell Cyrus. You know that. I am excited to get married to you. I just don’t want Paskell’s bad luck to get in the way of our happiness,” she said as he pulled her in close and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“That’s why we’re here Ava. We need to show the people of Paskell that the hard times are over. You and I are going to usher in a new era of peace and happiness. And maybe a little good luck too.”
Ava reached up and played with Cyrus’s rich brown hair, pushing it over his ears before kissing him quickly. “If you say so,” she said with a wry grin.
Cyrus laughed and shook his head. “You’ll see.”
“Come on you two, you’re blocking the exit and I need to go to the bathroom,” Zoe complained, tapping her foot impatiently.
Ava moved out of her way and smiled as Rory and Poppy hurried after Zoe. Cyrus squeezed her hand one more time before walking back to help her dad with Perry. Ava unbuckled Finn from the car seat and lifted him in her arms, wincing at the automatic tug on her hair.
“Vay-vay,” Finn said proudly and snuggled into her neck.
Ava kissed Finn’s chubby cheeks and sighed happily. He’d just barely begun calling her Vay-Vay during the last few days and she loved it. She held him securely in her arms as she moved to descend the stairs. The relief from having Ben behind bars and her family safe again was still so huge that she got goose bumps. The image of Finn’s gray face and Ben’s crazed eyes would stay with her forever though.
Ava firmly pushed thoughts of Ben away and tried to focus on the now. She reached the ground and walked over to Rory and Poppy who looked a little nervous as they stared around at the breathtaking Canadian scenery.
“You’ll get used to it,” Ava said with a grin as Rory stared at the majestic mountains.
“You told me and of course I’ve seen pictures but this is amazing. I’m speechless,” he said as he closed his eyes and lifted his face to the bright sunlight.
Poppy smiled and held her arms up for Finn. Ava grinned and let Poppy hold Finn and laughed as he pulled on one of her long bright red braids. “He’s a flirt Poppy, watch out,” she warned.
Poppy laughed delightedly and blew her cheeks out big to make Finn laugh. She walked over to Perry who was still making her way carefully down the stairs. She was almost fully recovered from the knife wound to her throat, but she still seemed fragile.
“Seeing Poppy with Finn makes me want to have another,” Rory admitted softly as he watched his daughter charm Ava’s little brother.
Ava’s heart melted as she looked up into Rory’s handsome face. The gentle, kind man had fallen hard and fast for Zoe. She’d thought her relationship with Cyrus had been a whirlwind, but after just knowing each other for a few weeks, Rory and Zoe had flown to Las Vegas to get married and flown back just two days later, ecstatic and ready to start their lives together.
She’d wanted to marry Cyrus in a quick Vegas wedding too, but Cyrus had insisted that the town of Paskell be invited. She was so jealous of Zoe she could spit. She reached up and gave Rory a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“Rory, you and Zoe will make beautiful babies,” she said, laughing as his eyes lit up.
Rory put his arm around her shoulder and smiled. “I hope . . .”, he said, not finishing his sentence as a large, angry man materialized in front of them.
Ava’s smile disappeared as Cole Jansen stared at Rory with murder in his eyes.
“Say goodbye to your husband Ava, because he’s getting ready to die,” Cole snarled before leaping on Rory and taking him to the ground with a vicious blow to gut.
Ava screamed in shock and tried to pull Cole off of Rory who was doing his best to block the blows from Cole’s massive fists.
People came running toward them, but a large black shadow streaked by everyone and within seconds, the black wolf had Cole by the throat, growling as her teeth began to pierce Cole’s skin.
All havoc, shouting and violence ended immediately as Zoe vibrated with barely controlled rage. Cole must have known how close he was to death and remained completely still. Cyrus moved quickly toward Zoe and kneeled down by her head.
“Zoe honey, let go of Cole’s throat. We don’t want the hassle of planning a funeral today okay? Just let go so we can find out why in the world Cole was trying to kill Rory,” he said soothingly.
Ava winced as she helped Rory up off the ground and glanced at Poppy. Poppy had taken Finn over to see Perry and so had missed all of the violence thank heavens. Rory moaned a little and wiped a smear of blood off his mouth with the back of his hand.
“That’s Cole, huh?” he muttered darkly, staring at the man on the ground.
Ava blew out an exasperated breath. “Welcome to Paskell where every man is an Alpha and overloaded with testosterone. See why I left?” she said quietly as Harry joined them and looked Rory over quickly.
“Looks like you’re going to have a black eye. How are your ribs?” Harry asked, frowning.
Rory grimaced and shook his head. “I feel like throwing up, but nothing’s broken.”
Harry nodded his head and then turned around with a glare. “Idiot,” he muttered and strode over to where Zoe seemed unwilling to let go of Cole’s throat.
“That’s enough Zoe. Let him up,” Harry ordered, his hands on his hips and his eyes narrowed dangerously.
Zoe growled low in her throat but did as she was told and let go of Cole’s throat before moving back. She shimmered quickly into her human form and stood up, her eyes glowing with fury as Cole stood up as gracefully as he could and straightened his black t-shirt.
“You better have a really good reason for attacking this man because I’m really tempted to let Zoe tear you apart,” Harry said stepping forward so he and his brother in law were face to face.
Cyrus looked on curiously as he moved to stand by Zoe in case she went for Cole again. Cole shrugged, his eyes dark and filled with rage.
“Well, how did you think I would react? Not one phone call to let me know Harry? Really? I haven’t seen Ava in weeks and what do I find when I meet her plane? This jerk here with a wedding ring on his hand and his arm around Ava. I couldn’t believe it, but no, there’s a ring on Ava’s hand too. You might have saved his life temporarily, but I swear I’m going to kill him if he thinks he’s taking Ava away from me,” Cole swore, his green eyes turning to fire and the muscles in his shoulders bulging menacingly.
Ava’s mouth fell open in shock and she turned to look up at Rory. Rory closed his eyes and laughed a little as he shook his head. “Oh you’re in for it now lass,” he said.
Zoe blinked in surprise and glanced back at Ava, her body relaxing as an amused smile tilted her mouth up. “Not five seconds Ava and you’ve got men fighting over you. That has to be record, even for you,” she said, walking over to Rory and kissing his cheek gently.
Rory wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist, his light green eyes twinkling into hers. “I’m so grateful we’re married. Dating is much too dangerous,” he announced before kissing Zoe lightly.
Ava swallowed sickly and glanced at Cyrus. But his attention was centered on Cole who had watched the interaction between Rory and Zoe in confusion. He blinked a couple times and then turned to stare at Ava. “Wait . . . what? You said you were dating Rory. I saw the pictures. And now he’s married to Zoe?” he asked, sounding relieved.
Ava walked over to stand by her father and looked up at her dad pleadingly. Harry sighed tiredly and put his hand on his daughter’s shoulder as they faced Cole together. Cyrus walked over and stood on Ava’s other side, taking her hand in his.
Harry stepped forward and put both of his hands on Cole’s shoulder as he began to tense again as he saw Cyrus touching Ava. “Cole, so much has happened in the past few weeks. Zoe is now married to Rory and Ava is engaged to Cyrus. I hope that you’ll be happy for them because they have my blessing,” he said firmly.
Ava felt the full wave of Cole’s rage as he stared at her, his emotions pouring off of him in wave after wave of anger, disbelief and hurt. With a howl of rage he turned and leaped into the air, transforming into a large black wolf.
They all watched Cole streak across the air field and disappear into the trees and all the happiness of being home evaporated. Harry lowered his head and shoved his hands in his pockets for a moment before turning and looking at Cyrus and Ava.
“Well, we knew he wasn’t going to be happy about it. Don’t worry though. Give him a few days of running through the mountains and he’ll calm down. You have my blessing so he has to accept it. I won’t put up with any violence where you’re concerned Ava. You’ve been through too much. I want your wedding to be perfect. I’ll have a talk with Cole when he’s calmed down. No worries, okay?” he said and tried to smile before walking over to his son and wife.
Cyrus stared after Cole with a hard look before stepping forward and pulling Ava into his arms. He tilted her chin up and they looked quietly into each other’s eyes for a moment before he spoke. “I’ll talk to him too.”
Ava’s eyebrows snapped together as she gripped the back of Cyrus’s shirt in her fists. “He just about killed Rory. What do you think he wants to do to you right now? We need to leave. If you don’t want to go to Vegas, let’s go to Washington. Right now. We’ll just get right back on the plane and keep going. We can stay there until we’re married. Please Cyrus,” she pleaded.
Cyrus ran his hand down her hair and pulled her closer to his chest as he leaned his head against hers. “I’m not scared of Cole Jansen Ava. I hope he does go for me. Maybe when he’s lying in a pool of blood he’ll finally realize that you’re mine.”
Ava sniffed angrily and pulled back to look up at Cyrus. “I’m so tired of violence and blood Cyrus. I hate it. The sooner we’re married the better.”
Cyrus sighed and looked up at the sky. “We can’t go to Washington Ava. I’ve been on the phone with my mom for days and she’s already sent out invitations to the entire town. Our wedding will be in five days in the town park. She’s so excited and happy. It would kill her if we cancelled. Cole doesn’t get to ruin our wedding. Let Harry calm him down. You’ll see, he’ll be fine,” he said softly.
Ava leaned her head against Cyrus’s chest again and closed her eyes as his heart beat soothed and calmed her. “Tell that to Rory’s face,” she muttered.
Cyrus laughed lightly before nuzzling her neck. “Come on, let’s get home and unpacked. My mom has dinner waiting for us.”
Ava watched Cyrus walk away and frowned. She studied his powerful shoulders and the elegant play of muscles as he moved. If Cole ever did attack Cyrus, it would be a fair fight. The two men were equally strong and powerful. But Cole would have rage on his side. Cyrus looked back at her and smiled, his eyes lighting up before he turned away again and she relaxed a little. Cyrus had something Cole didn’t though. He would be protecting his mate and she knew from experience that Cyrus would do anything to protect her. Cole could never win.