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Love After 40 Epilogues

Updated: Aug 7, 2022



Epilogue - Hale Part 1

So much has happened in the last four months that it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around it. I’m still adjusting to having Jason back, let alone to the other changes to my daily life. The weekend with Erin, the issue of her ex aside, was a good time. We were able to get to know each other more. And no, I’m not strictly speaking sexually.


River and Sage enjoyed their visit to the pack house. They met several of the pack’s youths that are near their age and were able to participate in training sessions. They weren’t on the same level as their peers, but that was expected. Our pack starts training children as young as ten. So the others had years of training experience. But they are catching up quickly.


Returning to the office Monday morning was interesting. Erin and I are still watercooler gossip; we’ve been together for months. And I suppose I can understand why. Human mates are rare, and second chance mates are even more uncommon. But getting my wolf back after eighteen years is simply unheard of.


Of course, only those from the pack know any of that. The rest of the office is gossiping about the marketing director dating the new social media marketing admin. I suppose we are a scandal, but HR handled the situation. Erin no longer reports to me. She’s still in my department; however, all her work goes through Leslie Ponte, the department’s associate director. I have no input into Erin’s work and employment evaluations.


Now I know what everyone is asking about the mating and marking. We haven’t done that yet. We’ve had plenty of sex but haven’t mated, despite having multiple new moons since January to complete our bond. And maybe if Erin were a werewolf, we would have marked the same night we found out we were second chance mates.


But Erin isn’t a werewolf. Erin is human with no experience and actual knowledge of the supernatural world. So we’ve spent these months, much to Jason’s annoyance, getting closer. We go out on dates at least once a week, even if it’s just grabbing a quick dinner or drinks after work.


I knew Jen my whole life, so there wasn’t a need for a getting to know you phase. I want a connection with Erin, which isn’t founded on the mate bond. And with Erin’s past relationships, even knowing I will never leave her as her mate, she has to feel comfortable and ready to take that big step of mating.


On weekends we’ve focused more on family bonding. Austin, Suzie, and I have been showing Erin, River, and Sage all the best spots in the area. Lots of nature trails, though winter made it a little complicated. So as long as there weren’t prying eyes around, we with wolves would shift and let the Carlisle family take in the sights from wolf back.


That Jason was okay with. He’s more than happy to give Erin a ride in all manner that word can be taken. Jax wasn’t as thrilled about one of the twins riding Suzie’s wolf Kayla, but a nip from Kayla put him in his place. I think it helped that it was decided Sage would be the one to ride Kayla. Although both kids are nonbinary, Sage is on estrogen to prevent getting too masculine, making it an easier pill to swallow.


Another thing with family bonding and Erin and I getting closer was cohabitation. After a month of dating, we decided to move in together. As I own my home and it’s closer to Mount Hood and the pack’s capital city, it made sense for Erin and her kids to move in with me. Going from a household of two to three was hard enough when Suzie moved in. Going to a family of six was overwhelming.


Before Erin and her kids could move in, I needed to relocate my home office to give the bedroom to River and Sage, who graciously agreed to share a room temporarily. I say temporarily, as the time frame is all based on how long before Austin and Suzie can afford their own house. Austin has been saving to move out, and they have talked about getting a new construction home in Kavanah Glen.


I don’t know which was more challenging about them moving in. On more than one occasion, Sage or River have walked in on my son and his mate having sex in the shared bathroom. Or I had to go through the basement to make room for them. After Jen died, I put everything of hers in boxes and exiled them because being surrounded by her belongings was slowly killing me in the first couple of years.


I managed to get through sorting the boxes with Austin and Suzie. Jason was helpful, too, in his blunt way. When I was hesitant about opening the boxes, Jason spoke up. He said, ‘I loved her too. I lived and died for her, but she wouldn’t want to be literal baggage. Let the boy keep what he wants, but we don’t need the rest. We hold her memory in us, not in possessions. It’s time to make room for Erin and her kids.’


He was right, of course. Jen’s memory isn’t in possessions but my heart. And I can’t move forward with Erin if I can’t let go of my past. So the things Austin and Suzie wanted for their future home were moved to a storage unit, and the rest was donated.


So it’s been an adjustment for us all. River and Sage are eager for Austin and Suzie to move, so they don’t have to share anymore. Especially Sage, as they have to deal with River’s daily phone calls to their they-friend back in Massachusetts. It’s been hard for River to keep being a hybrid a secret, but I stressed that unless they know that Leo is a werewolf or some other supernatural being, they cannot tell them as it could put the pack and Leo in danger. The latter shut them up.


We’re only a few days away from River and Sage turning sixteen, and the full moon will be a few days later. Beta Sarael has confirmed that both possess a wolf, and from the second she told them, they have been even more keyed up to shift and meet their wolves. But before we can get to their birthday and first shift tonight is the new moon, Erin and I have agreed it’s time.


“So, how does this work? You take mom out into the woods, bite her neck, she gets a wolf and bites back, and you fuck like rabbits?” River questioned, leaning over the arm of the sofa and watching me packing the camping gear.


Blunt as ever, that one. “That is a very blunt and crass way of talking about mating.” I sighed, shaking my head. I’ve had the mating talk with all the Carlisle family. I had been explaining things to Erin, so she knew what would happen, but the kids decided to sit in on it too so they’d be ready for mates. Though with how River talks about mating, I think they paid more attention to Austin’s version.


“But that’s the gist of it, right? Mom will have a wolf tomorrow when you come home, and you’ll be fully mated.” River rolled their eyes.


“It is not a guarantee she will have a wolf. Just because Beta Sarael received a wolf does not mean your mom will too. But wolf or not, she will temporarily have the ability to mark me and complete the bond.” I explained, zipping the bag closed before standing up.


“It’d be cool if she did. Then when Sage and I get our wolves, we can all go on a family run as wolves.” River smiled.


I know how much they are looking forward to having a wolf, and as we get closer to the full moon, the antsier they and Sage will get. I’ve explained how shifting will feel and how they may start hearing their wolves and feeling them stir after their birthday.


“River?” Erin called as she came downstairs dressed in the tear-away clothes the pack uses. I assume she decided she didn’t want to risk me ripping more of her clothes during foreplay.

“Ah, there you are. Okay, I’ve already said goodbye to Sage. So get over here and hug and kiss me.” Erin commanded, beckoning her youngest to her. River grumbled but got off the sofa and hugged their mother, enduring her kisses.


“While we are gone, Austin is in charge. So make sure you listen to him. No running off without telling anyone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Do not make him have to hunt you down.” Erin sighed, giving River a final squeeze.


“I’ll be fine, mom.” I love my son, and he has grown leaps and bounds in maturity since the Incubi war, but he is still less mature than Suzie. “And we both know Austin isn’t in charge. Suzie is. She’s the more grown-up of them.” River scoffed. I considered arguing that point but decided not to because River is right.


“If a pack emergency occurs, follow Austin’s instructions and head to the shelter three blocks east of the house. Call the pack patrol line if there is an issue at the house and Austin and Suzie aren’t here. I left the number on the fridge, and they will respond to all emergencies.” I outlined.


“I know. I know. It’s not like anything is going to happen. Sperm donor got sent packing after Alpha Logan fucked him up hard. Dumbass will never forget pissing off the Bloodmoon Alpha. And the Steelcrest pack will think twice before ever having someone step a toe into this territory, be it to take Sage and me or just passing through on vacation.” River smirked.


I saw Dane after Alpha was done with him. I insisted on being part of the wolves that escorted him to the plane home. I needed to be sure he was gone and wouldn’t darken Erin’s door again. It was bad. I don’t know what Dane may have said while in custody, but he didn’t walk onto that plane. His injuries were so bad he was in a wheelchair. Mikali Hamilton and Colby Delaney were sent with Gamma Charles to escort Dane back to Steelcrest and deliver the message that their pack is on notice to never mess with Bloodmoon again.


While Dane was in the dungeons, River and Sage had been at the pack house. And I may disapprove, but they were allowed to witness the interrogation, thankfully from the safety of a security feed. David felt it would give them some closure to know that the man would never try to kidnap or hurt them again.


The twins returned from the pack house with a newfound respect and awe of Alpha Logan. And David made an impression as River talked about him a lot and has kept in contact with him since. I suppose there are worse role models to have in the pack. I groaned as I picked up a familiar scent.


‘Speak of worse role models, and the worst the pack has to offer will appear.’ Jason growled as I went to open the door before my father could knock.


“What do you want?” I questioned, folding my arms and ensuring I was blocking him from coming in or seeing Erin and River. For my mother’s sake, I introduced them to my second chance mate and her children a month ago. My father made an ass of himself, as I expected. He only had cruel things to say about Erin and the twins. We left before I lost my temper, River had already lost theirs, and I had to pull them away.


“I’m trying one last time to talk sense into you, son. You have your wolf back. You could take any she-wolf as your chosen mate. Don’t waste the rest of your life with a human.” He frowned.


“She is my second chance mate. Chosen by The Goddess. Don’t you dare think you know better than The Goddess. We have nothing to discuss if you cannot see past your bigotry.” I sighed. How I wish he could see the error in his ways. I want to have a happy family. I would like the twins to have werewolf grandparents that will care for them. I want mom to be there for Erin and Suzie too. Show them all she knows about being mated to a Shelton man. But that won’t happen as long as my father can’t see past the tip of his nose.


“Now, get off my property before I lose control of Jason and he kills you.” The fact my father didn’t like Jen and now doesn’t like Erin has put him on the permanent shit list with Jason. “For mom’s sake, don’t make me kill you.” I growled, clenching my fists as Jason was eager to come forward and end this family dispute with blood.


“Then I wash my hands of you. I thought with Jason returning that you could rebuild your reputation. But obviously, you are set on staying in the gutter.” He snorted, turning to walk away.


‘Let me kill him.’ Jason snarled, lurching forward. It took all my strength to keep him back.

‘NO! We kill him, and mom dies! Hate him all you want, but mom has done nothing to hurt anyone! He’s a victim too. Don’t take her life because he’s an asshole.’ I shouted at Jason.


“Everything okay?” Erin questioned, her hand holding mine, acting as a balm. Jason finally relaxed at her touch. I sighed, glad I could let him go.


“No, but it will be. Let’s not let my father ruin today. I have everything we need. So if you’re ready, we can head out to the campsite.” I smiled, pushing away the feelings of anger my father created.


“You’re right. We shouldn’t let him ruin this. Today we will complete our bond; even if I don’t get a wolf, we will still be bound to each other.” She smiled, kissing my cheek, squeezing my hand before letting go.

Epilogue - Hale Part 2

The drive and hike to the campsite were uneventful, thankfully. I’d linked Austin to be careful about his grandfather. Not that I think he’d come back to the house, but I want to be sure. I don’t need him starting shit with the kids. He thinks Austin is a failure for losing his legs and mating with Suzie. And let’s not start on his opinions of River and Sage. It will just anger me to linger even a moment on it.

“Is it weird I’m more nervous about tonight than I was our first time together?” Erin broke the silence as we set up camp.

“Not at all. I’m nervous too. And before you say I’ve done this before, this is different. There wasn’t any risk when I marked Jen. I spoke with Beta John about his marking experience. He was terrified she died because she was unresponsive after the marking. Only later did he realize it was because she was receiving her wolf. But it still scares me. I don’t want to risk losing you.” I frowned.

“That’s why we are doing this on the new moon. There isn’t a risk to me as long as we do this tonight. Getting a wolf is just an added variable. I don’t need a wolf to be happy with you. And I know Jason will still love me if I don’t get a wolf.” Erin assured me, settling onto my lap.

“How did this go from me reassuring you about our mating to it getting flipped?” I teased, wrapping my arms around her. “And this feels like a familiar start.”

“We reassure each other. And at least my shorts aren’t wet.” Erin giggled, leaning in and kissing me.

I laughed a little into the kiss, but our laughter faded as the kiss deepened. It’s good that we were both wearing tear-away clothes because they didn’t stay on for long as we yearned for more. Knowing tonight was going to be our mating had Jason all in and a bit more aggressive than usual as his influence made me more dominant in our caresses, turning into rough lovemaking on the sleeping bag.

‘We have to last longer. The moon is nearly at its apex.’ Jason encouraged as Erin rolled us to take top. I groaned as her nails scraped down my chest as she set a new pace. Just beyond the beautiful sight of Erin riding me, I could see the new moon’s faint outline reaching its peak.

Gripping her hips, I sat up, kissing along her neck, knowing it was time to mark her. “It’s time.” I groaned against the hollow of her neck. I know we agreed to marking, but I still want her permission.

“D…do it.” Erin moaned, rolling her hips, seeking release. I’ve been holding off on letting her cum as I wanted to time it with the mark so it won’t hurt as bad. As I sank my teeth into her neck, I reached between us, my thumb finding her clit to send her over the edge, calling my name so loud birds were flying away from the nearby trees.

“It’s your turn. Even if it’s only temporary, you should be able to mark me now.” I breathlessly instructed, offering her my neck, unconsciously showing the side that didn’t have my mark from Jen.

I growled as she bit me. Initially, it felt like a human bite, like when she bit me during sex. But then I felt the change, fangs pierce my flesh, her hips moving faster as she rode out her orgasm, sending me over the edge with her. On instinct, I bite her mark again, feeling the infinite loop of the bond flowing between us.

Breathless, we leaned our heads on the other’s shoulders, coming down from not just the high of orgasm but from the marking. I could feel Erin’s heartbeat, and when it started to slow too fast, I panicked. ‘Don’t panic. Remember what John said. It will be alright.’ Jason instructed, taking more control to try and counter my emotions.

It felt like forever before I heard a new female voice herself, ‘Hello. I’m Astra.’ Erin sat up, eyes wide as she looked at me, confused, worried, and happy. “Am I hearing things? Did you hear her too?” she questioned.

“Yes. I heard Astra. You have a wolf. And Jason is chomping at the bit to meet Astra.” I smiled, cupping her face, kissing her sweetly. Jason was ready to shove me out of the way to get closer to Astra.

“Um, if they’ll give me a bit to catch my breath. I can try to shift so they can.” Erin suggested.

“Of course,” I assured her, moving us so we were lying down so she could rest before trying to shift. I’m as eager to see Astra as Jason, but I also know that shifting takes a lot out of someone, and Erin needs to be ready before jumping into it.

We laid there for, I don’t know how long, catching our breath before Erin moved to sit up. While it may have been quiet outside, in our minds, Jason and Astra hadn’t shut up, like children waiting to open their presents. “Let’s do this. I’ve heard you explain it plenty of times to the kids. So I think I’m ready. I want to shift and let Astra run free with Jason.” Erin nodded her head firmly.

“Alright, follow my lead then.” I nodded, moving to all fours to make shifting a little easier. Erin followed my example as I let Jason take control. ‘About damn time!’ Jason huffed as my body changed to his white wolf. When he was in control, he turned to watch Astra come forward. She was beautiful, a total opposite with pitch black fur and golden eyes.

After that was a bit of a blur. Probably for the best because no one wants to have vivid memories of their wolf having sex. This is my second mating, and it still is unsettling, and I feel like I belong on some list because of Jason and Astra’s mating. Before the moon set, we had returned to ourselves and settled into our sleeping bag to rest, waking up late in the morning still exhausted.

I smiled in the morning light as I saw the Shelton shooting star on Erin’s neck. “I love you.” I smiled as I traced the mark as Erin sleepily looked at me.

“I love you too. Oh wow…” She blinked, reaching for my neck. “It’s different from your other mark.” Her finger delicately traced the mark.

“What does it look like? I don’t have a mirror handy.” I asked, curious as to what her mark would be. I know John has a different mark because his mate is a human with a new moon wolf. So I assumed it might be different too.

“Well, it looks like the sun but with a crescent moon inside it,” Erin explained, still tracing the details of the mark with a soft smile.

“Unique, just like you.” I smiled, kissing her. “Come on. We should pack up and head home. Hopefully, our children haven’t burnt the place down in our absence.”

“Don’t joke about that. I don’t want to count how many times Sage nearly did that as a child just trying to make themselves something to eat.” Erin shook her head as we both hurried to pack up and get home.

Thankfully everything was exactly as we had left it. We were bombarded upon entering the house, mainly by River and Sage. Austin and Suzie hung back with knowing smiles. Of course, they knew. Marking Erin looped her into the family link.

It would be an understatement to say River and Sage were excited that their mother had a wolf. They were still talking about it days later when we celebrated their birthdays. And now that we’ve reached the full moon, they are even more keyed up. Tonight they will meet their wolves, and Erin can shift with them, allowing Astra a chance to meet their wolves and others in the pack.

‘Is it weird that I’m turned on to be back here?’ Erin whispered through our link as we reached the campsite we’d had our marking. It happened to be the same site the pack uses for new wolves to shift.

‘No. This location holds a special and personal memory for us. It also happens to be where the pack brings our young to shift.’ I assured her as I took her hand, turning my attention to Alpha Logan and Luna Aurelia.

Austin and Suzie had come out with us to support River and Sage on their first full moon. Despite how excited the twins were, they gave their undivided attention to Alpha Logan and Luna Aurelia. Our Alpha and Luna gave the opening speech, almost identical to the one Alpha John Sr and Luna Elizabeth gave when I was a boy. Good to see some things don’t change.

As the moon crested over the trees, the young were called to make their shifts. River had no problems shedding their clothes. They took quickly to the nudity aspect of being a werewolf. Sage was a tad shyer about it but undressed like everyone else. “Remember what I taught you. You’re surrounded by family. We are here so that it will lessen the pain.” I assured them as I stepped back to give them room.

River took to shifting with ease, landing on their paws, their wolf almost pure black like Astra but with bursts almost like flames of green as markings. Sage managed the transition next, landing next to their twin, their wolf nearly identical but with purple markings.

‘Hello, everyone. I’m Lunar.’ River’s wolf greeted, nuzzling Erin’s hand as she pet them before hugging them.

‘And I’m Eclipse. We are both happy to be here with you all. Please shift so we can meet your wolves too.’ Sage’s wolf greeted as Erin pulled them into a hug as well.

The rest of us shifted to join Lunar and Eclipse as all the families of the newly shifted went on a run led by our Alpha and Luna. Soon Erin, River, and Sage will go through their oath ceremony and officially join the pack. And then we will indeed all be family.


Epilogue - Erin Part 1

I can’t believe how far I’ve come. How far my family has come. Two years ago, I struggled to make ends meet, sharing a house with a roommate, my mother, and my two kids. Then by some miracle or Goddess divine intervention, I landed a dream job in the marketing department for Kinsley Industrial. When I moved myself and my kids across the country, I had no idea what I was walking into.

Everything changed when River and Sage signed me up on that Kindred Spirit app. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have connected with Hale. And I can’t imagine my life without Hale. Meeting him turned my world upside down; not all of it was good, but there was more good than bad.

I could have done without the run-in with my crazy werewolf ex. Yes, I said werewolf. I went 45 years, never knowing that all those supernatural beings I’ve read about are real, let alone that I got knocked up by one. Finding out that Dane is a werewolf became a game changer. Hale had to explain how my kids are hybrids and that he is also a werewolf though he lost his wolf when his mate died.

Things happened fast that weekend. Dane tried to take my kids and protect us; the Goddess gave Hale back his wolf. And even better than Hale having Jason back? Finding out I’m his second chance mate! It’s just crazy! And sure, I knew being his mate means we’re soulmates, and he would be with me forever, literally till death do us part. But I’m human and needed more solid footing to stand on before I let myself get swept up in it all.

I was glad Hale was on board with that, even if I knew Jason wasn’t. Jason grudgingly agreed for my sake. If Jason had his way, I’d have been marked the same day we discovered I was Hale’s second chance. But despite his urges to mark me, we waited four months, giving Hale and me plenty of time to adjust to being a couple and then merging our families under one roof.

Which, oh boy, that has been interesting. It was worse than being back sharing a house with my mom and roommate. I don’t mean that negatively. My kids had to share a room and more, so they had to share an attached bathroom with Hale’s son Austin and his mate Suzanne. The amount of times my kids have complained about seeing or hearing them having sex is only a little more than they’ve complained about hearing Hale and me.

And that was just in the few months before Hale, and I completed our bond. Since then, my kids have complained less about our sex life. Because Hale had taught me or trained me to use our mate link during sex, the only sounds are the bed and neither of us moaning. If only Austin and Suzie would learn this trick.

If only adjusting to being a blended family of six was the only hurdle. From completing our bond, I was blessed, though some days I question how much of a blessing it is, with a new moon wolf named Astra. I spent forty-five years as the only voice in my head, and in an instant, I have her there, all the time, and sometimes she gets on my nerves. Hale explained it was normal.

So I’ve been adjusting to that. Just like my kids are adjusting to having their wolves Lunar and Eclipse. River and Sage are, of course, adjusting better than me. It helps that their wolves aren’t unique in that I can only shift on new and full moons. So they can let their wolves out whenever they want while Astra is pretty much stuck in my head 28 days a month.

Like my kids, I’ve had to start training, especially with Astra’s power. How crazy is this? I have powers! I can release light over a specific target area causing significant damage and/or delivering great shock waves of pure force. It’s pretty crazy. Two years later, I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered her power.

My kids have taken to their gifts with much more ease. But again, they are young so learning new things is easy. River’s power is similar but more robust than mine, while Sage’s power is the opposite. I’m rather impressed with how much more control and focus they both became after awakening their wolves.

Lunar gives River the ability to become stronger, faster, and more durable when they come into contact with light, letting them do all sorts of things. In comparison, Eclipse allows Sage to become stronger, faster, and more durable when they come into contact with darkness, letting them do some crazy stuff.

Both were disappointed to realize they couldn’t pull off Jason’s rock-throwing move, but Hale and Austin worked with them to discover ways to use their power. I’m not sure how I feel knowing that they can create what they are calling light and dark daggers and shoot them out in the same way Hale and Austin can with rocks.

I’m very proud of my kids. They have grown and blossomed in the last two years. It’s simply amazing. Of course, these years haven’t been without the difficulties and hurdles they had to overcome. But I’m even prouder of them for facing life’s obstacles and coming out stronger for it.

Now I could bore you with talking about the challenges River and Sage faced to get to their happily ever afters. But those aren’t my stories to tell. If you want to know what happened, you’ll have to ask them. I’m sure they will happily ramble for days telling you every detail of what happened. But this is my story, well, mine and Hale’s. And today is, from a human perspective, the beginning of my happily ever after.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever get married. That was true even before I met Hale. And after becoming Hale’s mate, I didn’t think it would happen. Werewolves don’t typically do that. But during a candlelit picnic dinner in the mountains, Hale proposed. Of course, I said yes. I know we are bonded forever, but a part of me feels getting married solidifies that further. We will legally be bound to each other.

And okay, part of what makes me so happy is that I know this will be his first wedding too. I mean no disrespect to Jennifer. Of everything I’ve learned, his first mate was a kind and lovely woman. But as full-blooded werewolves, they never considered the legal path of marriage. So this won’t be a moment I share with his past. This will be ours.

We decided on October 30th as our wedding date, it would be a full moon, and it’s right before Samhain or Halloween if you want to be generic. I have always loved Samhain, so it was perfect. And while I know a lot of what is going into this wedding is more my style, Hale hasn’t complained. He continues to take all my quirks in stride and loves me for them.

His only input for the event was that we should keep it small, with family and close friends only, and hold it outside. I let him choose the location, and he picked a beautiful place. It set a perfect backdrop for the wedding’s black and rich purple theme. The ceremony and reception were all being held at Noble Ridge Tree Deck. So we would have stunning views from every direction and twinkly lights to add to the romantic feel as we are, of course, having the wedding at night.

While our wedding guest list was small, our wedding party wasn’t. As Hale was Austin’s best man when he and Suzanne got married back in the spring, we couldn’t exclude Austin, and if we were going to include his son, we had to include my kids, and then all the mates got pulled in. And once that happened, Sage and their mate sort of took over coordinating everyone’s clothes. I can’t wait to see Hale in his suit based on Sage's description.

“It’s okay to be nervous, Erin,” Suzanne assured me as she handed me the bouquet of sterling roses and black calla lilies. She should know all about being nervous. She did this several months ago.

“Thank you. I am not sure if I’m nervous or excited. I know Astra is on pins and needles because of the full moon and can’t wait to go for a run after the reception.” I sighed, taking a final look at myself in the mirror.

I fell in love with this gown online. When I shared the link with Sage and their mate, they adored it. Despite it being my wedding, they were the ones with the final say on clothes. I chose a deep purple satin ballgown dress with a fitted bodice, a multi-layered skirt with chiffon, tulle & organza, and fabulous detailed beaded applique. Sage loved it, especially the lace-up corset back.

The dress paired beautifully with the black veil sprinkled with silver glitter and featured the phases of the moon embroidered in black and silver around the hem Sage’s mate found and bought, saying it was perfect for me to wear on a Samhain’s eve wedding. As another find of theirs, all of us were wearing heels tonight, so myself, River’s mate, Sage, and Suzanne were all wearing custom hand-painted platform heels with textured skulls. My heels were white, while everyone else got black.

Sage, with help from their mate, decided on what Suzanne, River’s mate, and they would wear as part of my bridal party. They were all wearing layered black brocade and lace asymmetrical skirts, high neck white lace puffed sleeve blouses accented by black and amethyst brocade corsets. Suzanne’s corset was the waist cincher underbust kind, while River's Mate and Sage wore vest style, giving them a more gender-neutral look.

We all turned as the door to the room opened after a quick knock. River poked their head in with a grin. “Mom, it’s time. Looking hot, My Bunno.” They winked at their mate before focusing on me again.

I breathed to calm myself as it was finally time to walk down the aisle. I’m a bit old for a bride, having recently turned forty-seven but better late than never. Plus, I’m marrying the best man on the planet.


Epilogue - Erin Part 2

Everyone hurried to get in place for the wedding. I was the last to leave the room, finding my mother waiting with a smile. I doubt she thought this day would ever happen either. I’m her oldest but the last to get married. Oh well.


She’s probably the only one that doesn’t quite fit the vibe that the rest of the wedding party is wearing. But far be it for anyone to try and dictate what she should wear. It’s a lovely mother-of-the-bride style pantsuit in a soft shade of purple. She was told purple, and that’s what she picked.


“Ready?” She grinned, offering me her arm. I’m glad she’s here. My sister couldn’t make it; I understand it’s a long trip, and she has her kids to deal with. But at least mom is here to be at my side like she’s always been. She took the whole ‘guess what your grandkids are werewolves’ talk very well.


“As I’m ever going to be.” I nodded. I don’t know if I’d get over my nerves to make it down the aisle alone.


‘Alone? Hello. Do I not count? And, of course, you’d get down the aisle. Hale and Jason are waiting for us. They are doing all this for YOU!’ Astra helpfully reminded me of her presence. Not like I needed the reminder. How could I forget?


I knew the venue was beautiful, but I had to gasp as we walked up the ramp to the raised platform. A path lined with black and purple candles led the way past the few rows of guests. It looked magical. In the distance, I could see Mount Hood, the stars blanketing the sky, twinkling like the lights strung in the trees above the platform.


And there, waiting at the end of the path, was the best view of them all… Hale. Whoa. I assumed he would be wearing a black suit and probably something purple, but I didn’t think they’d get him to wear anything similar to what Sage's mate and River were wearing.


Hale was standing, hands clasped and blue eyes locked on me wearing a black brocade with a faint purple to the design suit jacket and waistcoat, a dark purple dress shirt with silver-tone wolf embroidery on the collar with a matching tie, and black dress pants. I can’t believe he’s wearing it or how incredibly hot he looks in it. Once again, showing just how out of his comfort zone this man is willing to go for me.


‘Damn right, our mate looks hot in everything. My favorite is nothing.’ Astra snickered as we made the walk down to him. I hadn’t even realized I’d walked down the aisle until I stood at Hale’s side.


‘You look stunning.’ Hale spoke through our link as he raised my veil, so the sheer fabric no longer stood between us. He’s even better looking up close like this.


‘You look handsome. I can’t believe they made you wear that.’ I sighed in our link, staring silently otherwise into his eyes, oblivious to the officiant and everyone else in attendance.


‘They didn’t make me do anything. I agreed to this suit choice. You should look to my left at Austin. If anyone was made to wear something, it’s him. He is not feeling this style.’ Hale assured. I glanced, for a moment to his left at his son. Sure enough, Austin was dressed to match, but instead of purple, he wore a white shirt like Sage's mate and River.


I’m sure Suzanne had a hand in making him wear it. Austin would do pretty much anything for her. And he will probably get a reward later for being a good boy. Like father, like son. Both are willing to go outside their comfort zones for their love and know they’ll be rewarded later. I can’t wait to get through the ceremony and reception so that I can reward Hale for all this appropriately.


“Today, this couple comes before us to enter into the sacred covenant of marriage, vowing to be partners through the trials and triumphs of their shared life.” I blinked, turning my head, suddenly aware the officiant was speaking.


We had opted for a less Christian ceremony. Ultimately, what mattered was that we signed the dotted line and legally became husband and wife.


“They are declaring to each other and to all of us present that they will be by each other’s side, no matter what life brings their way. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is regarded as one so meaningful that we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others.” The officiant smiled, addressing everyone.


“Why this moment? Because, despite all our unique differences, love is what we all share. Love is the great unifier — our one universal truth. No matter who we are, where we have come from, what we believe, we know this one thing . . . love is what we’re doing right.” I didn’t realize he was going to be so long-winded.


‘Is this guy going to yap all night? He’s burning moonlight. It’s a full moon, and I will go for a run tonight.’ Astra huffed impatiently.


“Love is why Hale and Erin are standing here. That’s why you all have been invited to watch them stand up here and be reminded that the ability to love or be loved unconditionally is the most precious gift a person can give or receive by someone.” He smiled, gesturing to Hale and me.


“As I ask the two of you these questions, please respond together, making your promises before this circle of witnesses.” He finally began. Thank Goddess. I’m not sure Astra would stay in check if he droned on much longer.


“Erin and Hale, will you honor and respect one another?” He questioned. Well, that’s a no-brainer question.


“We will,” I smiled as Hale and I answered in unison.


“Will you support and assist each other in times of pain and sorrow?”


“We will”


“Will you be present in the difficult and challenging times so that you may grow strong in this union?”


“We will”


“Will you share each other’s laughter and joy and look for the brightness and fun in life and the positive in each other?”


“We will”


“Is it your intention to bring peace and harmony into your everyday ways of communicating?”


What the fuck? What kind of question is that? It’s like he’s trying to throw a curveball at us as all the others we had to say “we will” to.


“It is,” We answered, and I could tell even Hale thought it was a weird one but rolled with it.


“And when you falter, will you have the courage and commitment to remember these promises and take a step back towards one another with an open heart?”


“We will” Please tell me that’s the last of this, and we can move forward with the festivities.


“Are you willing now and always to commit to each other?”


Here I was thinking the question before this was the last one, and he snuck another one in—mutha fucka. Ugh, my children have an influence even on my inner voice’s accent.


“We do.”


This had better be the end of the questions.


I internalized a sigh of relief as I watched him bring out the black and purple braided cord. Finally! We are moving on to the next part.

“This cord represents the marital bond. It is strong enough to hold you together during times of struggle yet flexible enough to allow for individuality and personal growth.” He explained, holding the rope up for everyone to see.


“Please join hands.” He gestured to us before realizing we’d been holding hands since Hale raised my veil. “And now, as your hands are bound, I ask you to declare your vows to each other, repeating after me.” He quickly recovered, starting to wrap the rope around our joined hands.

“Hale, please repeat after me as you look at Erin.” He instructed.


“Like dad’s taken his eyes off her since she walked out,” Austin muttered, causing River to snicker next to him.

“I, Hale Dillion Shelton, promise you, Erin Simone Carlisle, that I will be your husband from this day forward. To love and respect you, to support and hold you. To make you laugh and to be there when you cry. To softly kiss you when you are hurting. And to be your companion and best friend on this journey we will now make together as one.” Hale smiled as he spoke the vows.


“Erin, please repeat after me as you look at Hale.” The officiant instructed.


“I, Erin Simone Carlisle, promise you, Hale Dillion Shelton, that I will be your wife from this day forward. To love and respect you, to support and hold you. To make you laugh and to be there when you cry. To softly kiss you when you are hurting. And to be your companion and best friend on this journey we will now make together as one.” I smiled, repeating the same vows.


“As your hands are now bound together, so shall your lives be bound as one. Keep this cord as a reminder of your promise to one another, and let no one unbind it as long as you both shall live.” He nodded, holding the rope so we could slip our hands out to exchange our rings.


Austin dug into his pocket, handing the rings to the officiant before he could even ask for them. I guess he’s eager to get through the ceremony too.


“We all understand the gesture that you are now making. We all want to reach out to someone and be acknowledged, held, and loved. Taking the hand of the one who loves you symbolizes that unspoken bond. You fell in love by fate, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.”


Oh boy, he’s going to drone on again.


“Every day, as you look down, you will see a brief flash of light, a sparkle as the ring placed on your finger today will shine. It will remind you, again and again, over and over, of your promise to your loved one. Every time you take hands, you will feel that wedding ring on your partner’s hand, and you will both be reminded again. It will always be with you, visible, worn openly, and with pride. It will tell the world that someone loves me enough to make me a promise to share a life.” He smiled a dreamy look in his eyes.


Maybe this guy is just a hopeless romantic and not someone who likes the sound of their voice.


“Hale, please place the ring on Erin’s finger, and repeat after me.” He instructed.


“I give you this ring in token and pledge of my abiding love.” Hale smiled as he slipped the rose gold ring with a split shank design inlaid with partial Gibeon meteorite on each side and moonstone center stone onto my finger.


“Erin, please place the ring on Hale’s finger, and repeat after me.” Now it was my turn.


“I give you this ring in token and pledge of my abiding love.” I smiled, sliding the meteorite and titanium band with a pinstripe of rose gold onto his finger to seal this deal.


“May you enjoy a lifetime of love, peace, happiness, and prosperity. Go in peace. Live in joy. By the authority vested in me by the State of Oregon, I pronounce you husband and wife. Hale, you may now kiss your bride!”


Yeah, he didn’t have to tell us that part. I’d pulled Hale’s face to mine and kissed him after he said, husband and wife. I don’t need anyone’s permission to kiss my man.


“I now present Mr. and Mrs. Shelton!” The officiant called out over the uproar of laughter, clapping, whistles, and howls.


With the ceremony complete, we made our way to the far side of the platform that was set up as our reception area. Everything looked so amazing, and the food smelled delicious. Though not nearly as good as Hale.


The reception was a bit of a blur. Most of the guests were friends of Hale’s that I became friends with within the pack. Suzanne’s parents were, of course, there. I get along well with Edith Walterson. The Bryant family was in attendance. I found it funny that sweet Patricia had to deal with the bold and blunt personalities of her mate and son, David. There were a few others, including some coworkers in the pack.


The cake was the first thing I will never forget at reception. It was stunning. I almost didn’t want to cut into the four layers of decadent chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse filling covered in an artfully designed frosting to look like the night sky topped with a crescent moon with a couple as the topper.


It was as delicious as it looked. No, there was no cake smashing. Hale and I are adults and would not waste food like Austin at his wedding. Also, my kids aren’t stupid enough to try and hold me still for something like that. They got a beat down from Suzanne later for that stunt.



The second thing about the reception I will never forget is our first dance. Sage’s mate took the stage with their band and sang a rendition of Ray LaMontagne’s Hold You In My Arms. It was beautiful, and the perfect song as Hale and I slowly swayed around the dance floor. It was magical and perfect, just like I know the rest of my life with Hale will be.

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