Updated: Jun 9
Chapter 22 - Regina
The video meeting with my family went…I don’t know how to describe it. At least no one spoke against Ivan and I being together. That’s what mattered the most to me. I wanted him to feel welcomed by my family. I knew how hard it was for him to sit there and witness how my family interacted. I know how much he missed his parents at that moment. I missed them too. For me, it was different because I was missing people I didn’t know but wished I had a chance to.
The call quickly went off the rails when we brought up the missing document. While I’m glad that my brother truly had no malicious intentions and thought he’d fulfilled his Beta duties. And I mean, he did. It wasn’t his place to break the Alpha seal to confirm what was inside the envelope. I was equally relieved and pissed when Darren revealed it was Lia behind it all.
I know it’s weird to be relieved by it being that stupid bitch’s fault. But hear me out. I was relieved because it meant it wasn’t my brother’s fault. And it also meant none of the staff at the pack house did this. I didn’t want to think ill of the staff, especially Nicolao, but I knew some might have held a grudge against Ivan’s involvement in the war. So I’m relieved that good people are still good people.
But I am fucking LIVID with Lia. I’m with my Mama. I want to stone that bitch and then knock her over and smash the shards till she’s dust. I know I can’t do that. She’s not a member of my pack, and even if she was from Incubi, I’m not the Alpha, so I don’t get to hand out punishments. Though I’d like to think my Zio would let me at least stone her, even if only for a few minutes.
The amount of plotting that bitch went through to try and force my brother to be her mate is sickening. She’s unhinged, that’s for sure. Or was she truly that perfect of a mate for Gastone? They would be a pairing that proves it’s not always about opposites attracting or making a balance in personalities. I would never outright question the Goddess, but I can only assume she’d pair those scumbags to save others from such a fate.
After the call with my family, it was time to get on task. Papa said we could move into the Petridis villa, which means we must go through Ivan’s place and decide what should come with us and what can stay behind. I dug around his desk until I found a notepad and a pen and jumped up from his lap.
“What are you doing?” He asked, watching me curiously.
“Making a list, of course. I know there isn’t much furniture left at the villa as it was all moved to my parents’ place. So let us get organized and decide from your place what we want to bring to our new home.” I explained.
“For starters, I know we need to bring your bed. There is a study, so that we can bring your desk and office chair.” I outlined as I started making notes.
“That’s all I’d want to bring.” He shrugged.
“Seriously? No other furniture?” I arched my eyebrow.
“Nothing else was mine. Everything else belonged to the Pavesi family.” He explained.
“That makes sense. No problem, we can buy our furniture. Probably better that way. It will ensure everything is a mix of our tastes and tailored to accommodate your height.” I nodded.
“And about the books in here?” I asked, pointing to the shelves of books. “I know we’ll bring your clothes, any photographs you have of your family, and anything affiliated with your business.”
“Not mine.” He shook his head.
“The dishes and cookware?” I arched my eyebrow, and he shook his head.
“The washer and dryer?” I asked, and again he shook his head.
“Okay. On the pulse side, that means less expense in moving costs. We’ll need a moving truck and movers for your bedroom set, office furniture, and personal belongings.” I shrugged and closed the notebook.
“You like to plan everything, don’t you?” Ivan asked as he stood.
“Well, yes. I like to be organized. Call it Beta instinct or that I’m a film major. I like having a storyboard where I can outline what happens and in what order.” I shrugged.
“Is that a problem?” I folded my arms, trying to look intimidating and knowing I was failing.
It’s not easy to look intimidating when your mate is three times your size. If anything, I probably look laughable. Thankfully Ivan was smart enough not to laugh, even if he wanted to. I could tell through the bond that he wanted to laugh. So, kudos to him for not.
“Nope.” He shook his head, a smile tugging at his lips.
“Good.” I smiled and put the notebook on his desk.
“Given it’s already afternoon, I don’t think we’ll be able to get movers out here today. It looks like we will be staying here tonight,” I said as I took his hand. “Which means you can show me around the vineyard and Toria.”
“I can show you the vineyard. But the town….” He frowned.
“You are a free man, Ivan. And after tonight, you’ll live in Incubi, where you’ll be the next Beta to serve Crista.” I reminded him.
“I want to walk the streets of Toria with our heads held high. I don’t know what ingredients you have, and I need to go shopping for a meal I want to make.” I gently tugged his hand.
He sighed but stepped forward and let me lead him out of the office. I grabbed my purse, and soon enough, we were back in his truck, driving into the small coastal village of Toria. It was a rather quaint town. I doubt more than a couple hundred people live here. I held his hand the whole drive, hoping to ease his tension about walking around town.
As we parked at the grocery store, I could feel people staring. As Ivan got out to come around to my side, I saw how some people walking by looked at him and even avoided him, tugging their children along as if he was some monster. This behavior is un-fucking-acceptable. As I climbed out of the truck, I was already seething and heard a woman gasp.
My head quickly turned in her direction and narrowed my eyes. The wheels on the woman’s cart turned to stone making her stumble into it and fall back. I could feel Ivan’s apprehension and the urge to go home bubbling inside. I’m not having it. These people are not going to make my mate feel like a pariah.
“Let’s go inside. Tonight, I’m making you one of my Mama’s specialties, ribollita. It will make for a perfect first meal as a mated couple.” I smiled up at him and squeezed his hand.
Another gasp escaped the woman and the handful of people around us that heard me. Yes, I made sure I was clear in my words. I want them to know we mated. Not that our scents wouldn’t tell them that. I tried to make it clear for these thick-skulled people. Ivan sighed and, without a word, led me inside and got me a cart.
‘You did that on purpose.’ He commented in our link.
‘Of course, I did. I’ve told you before that anyone with a problem with you has one with me. And till I can schedule a photoshoot for us to have signed pictures to hand out to people that stare, calling them out indirectly will have to do.’ I shrugged as I pushed the cart.
People inside stared at us as I filled our cart with the fresh ingredients needed for the soup. Whenever I felt Ivan growing tense, I’d find a way to touch him. Sometimes it was simply holding his hand. I slapped his ass and teased him several times, asking him to get me something off the top shelf. Each time he would relax, and when I would ask him to get something for me, I always gestured for him to come closer and kissed him in gratitude.
That PDA caused more than one accident. These people seriously needed to get a life. If they’d run their carts into end caps and displays because a mated couple kissed, that’s a sign of deeper issues. By the time we were checking out, everyone in that store and probably the whole town knew Ivan Furlan was in town and mated.
I did a tally in my head that I had all my ingredients and enough of each to make enough soup for us. I slapped my hand to my forehead.
“Ivan, I forgot the fresh ciabatta. Can you go to the bakery department and get a loaf?” I asked as I put the last item on the belt.
“Okay.” Ivan nodded as he went around the checkout to get the bread.
“Signoria…” The cashier whispered as she leaned closer.
“Yes?” I arched my brow at her.
“Are you okay? Should we notify someone from the patrol?” She asked, keeping her voice low.
“What the fuck is wrong with you people?” I questioned loudly.
“Shhh….” She quickly gestured for me to lower my voice, her eyes darting in the direction Ivan had gone.
“Enough of this bullshit. You’re worried my MATE will get angry and do something because you are being an offensive shithead?” I scoffed.
She paled as I loudly proclaimed Ivan to be my mate.
“Here’s an insider tip for you and every other dumbass in this town and pack.” I smiled sweetly and gestured her closer.
“I’m the one you should be afraid of,” I growled and glanced at her hand, turning it to stone.
“Spread the word. Anyone who talks shit or mistreats my mate will be on the wrong side of a Petridis.” I snorted, letting her hand return to normal as Ivan returned to my side.
“Last loaf.” Ivan declared as he set it on the belt.
“Perfect timing, cuore mio.” I smiled at him. “She was just finishing ringing us up.”
The cashier quickly started scanning our times, avoiding eye contact at all costs.
‘What did you do?’ Ivan asked as he pulled out his wallet to pay for the groceries.
‘Put people in their place. Don’t worry. No one was harmed.’ I assured him.
As I went to grab one of the three paper bags, Ivan beat me to it, getting all three in one arm. I smiled and shook my head as I stepped around him.
“Well, didn’t I just get the sweetest mate?” I teased.
I smiled, knowing that when we were in the truck, word would have spread like wildfire through the pack link that Ivan Furlan was mated to a Petridis and not to cross her. We won’t live in Madonie, but I’ll be damned if I let them think less of my mate. I want him to feel confident when we come to visit family. It’s been five years. It is time for people to grow up and move on.
“You didn’t have to do that.” Ivan sighed as he drove us back to the villa.
“I know that. I did it because we are mates and I love you. I don’t let people mistreat those I love.” I smiled at him.
I know saying I love him is a huge step, but we are fully mated, and I can’t help that feelings develop fast between mates. Plus, I won’t apologize or take it back. I won’t take it back because he smiled. He genuinely smiled when I said it, and I felt how his heart melted through the bond.
Being together, we’ll face other closed-minded and judgmental people, but we’ll face them together. We will face everything together and be stronger because we are together. There isn’t a challenge the Goddess could put before us that we can’t work together to get through, from moving in together and finding compromises on our tastes in style to a month after our mating facing the reality that we would go from a family of two to three before our first anniversary. I can’t wait to welcome our pup and shower them with all our love.
Epilogue - Ivan
Going to that masquerade ball was the best thing to ever happen to me. Soon to be second best. I know you’re probably wondering what could replace finding my mate as the best thing to happen to me. I will happily tell you it’s the birth of our pup. I love Regina with all my heart, and meeting her changed my life, but becoming a papa is something I believed was even less possible than having a mate.
Finding out Regina was pregnant had a ripple effect of reactions, mostly good. Isadora was over the moon that she was going to be a Nonna. Damon was… sad, not disappointed that we were having a baby. He was sad that he would be away for most of the pregnancy. He’s sent little trinkets from his travels that are customs from the packs he’s visited when a new pup is on the way. Regina has loved receiving mail every week or so from around the world.
Zoe sounded happy for us, though she’d had her own mountains to climb in the later months of Regina’s pregnancy. I’m not going to get into that because it’s not my story to tell, and I’m the guy that keeps his mouth shut. Knowing Zoe, she will tell you about it in her own time. Now that she is back in Nebrodi, she is excited to be Zia Zoe and to spoil our pup rotten.
Alexander… well, his reaction to the news was mixed. He was happy for us but had his issues to work out. And again, like with Zoe, I won’t discuss Alexander and his problems. That’s for him to talk about if and when he’s ready to. For now, he’s at least mostly on track and has shown signs of excitement to become Zio Alexander.
Regina’s extended family was all thrilled about our pending pup. André laughed and said, ‘I told you so’ when Regina told him. He was also excited that our pup wouldn’t be much older than his heir and was talking about how they’d get to grow up together. The princesses Gwen and Christina are excited to meet their Beta but have been arguing about whether we have a son or daughter. Gwen firmly believes we will have a son, while Christina says, girl. They’ve asked more times than I can count, which it is. And I kept telling them we wouldn’t know till Regina gave birth. This didn’t stop them from continuing to fight about it.
Amelia was happy for me, even though she fell into depression thinking about her past fertility issues. After our announcement, I hated making her feel bad or that she had to see her therapist more. Regina and I have been extra sensitive to my sister. And, of course, Amelia had Stephen as she worked through her feelings about it. As gross, from my perspective, as her brother, as it is part of being there for her was having unprotected sex.
How and why do I know this? Because while we are days away from Regina’s scheduled c-section, my sister is happily four months pregnant and due around Christmas. I couldn’t be happier for her. Of course, she’s being extra cautious and following all her doctor’s instructions. Grace is overloaded. She’s super excited to have a cousin but unaware she will be a big sister. I know she will be the best big sister and cousin ever.
“Ivan!” Regina shouted from our master suite.
I wanted to use her nap to make the final touches on my old bassinet. Amelia had found it a month ago at our family villa, but it needed some work as someone had broken it when they sacked our family estate after the war. I was sad to see the state of it, and I have spent these past weeks repairing it. My child may be the next Incubi Beta heir, but they are a Furlan and deserve something of my family.
“IVAN!!!!!!” Regina screamed, and I felt her pain.
I dropped the brush I had used to stain the oak bassinet and rushed to our room. Regina was hunched over, holding the footboard for support with one hand and her enormous baby bump with the other. She was doing that Lamaze breathing with a puddle at her feet. Did she pee herself?
‘Not piss.’ Cain shook his head.
“Oh shit!” I blinked as realization dawned on me.
“I’ve got you,” I assured Regina as I grabbed her hospital bag we prepared ready to go.
‘Damon, we are heading to the hospital now. You may have planned for a c-section, but this pup isn’t in the mood to wait.’ I informed Damon as I scooped Regina up bridal style.
“Ah! Ivan! I know you’re strong, but I’m a whale!” Regina scolded me while wincing in pain from another contraction.
“You are not.” I protested.
“You are my fiery pixie, carrying the future of the Incubi beta line and the product of our love.” I have said similar multiple times after she started showing, which, given her size and how big a Furlan baby is, was earlier than even Delilah began to show.
Regina rolled her eyes but did stop protesting. She focused on breathing as I put her into the SUV. For the moments it took me to get from her side to the driver’s seat, I felt her pain spike and saw her holding her bump again. I took her hand immediately, using the bond to relieve her pain. This is a benefit to the bond and my gift. I can take in her pain and not feel any difference.
Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic between our villa and the pack hospital. We arrived at the same time as Damon and Isadora. They quickly hurried over from their car to ours as they saw me getting Regina out of the passenger seat. Regina was more relaxed now since I was taking on her pain.
“How far apart are the contracts? Has your water broken? Was there any blood?” Damon quickly asked in full doctor mode.
“Two minutes,” I answered the first part as I carried Regina inside.
“Yes, my water broke, and no, I didn’t see any blood,” Regina added.
“You can place her in the wheelchair now, Signor Furlan. We’ll take her from here.” A nurse smiled as she pushed a wheelchair to us as we walked inside.
“No. I’ll carry her.” I shook my head.
“I must insist, it is hospital regul….” She started to argue but was cut off when I growled.
“It’s not worth the argument, Johanna. My son-in-law isn’t going to set her down unless necessary, or she tells him to.” Damon sighed.
“Which room is prepped? I want to check if she’s dilated. And do you have an OR ready for the c-section if we still go that route?” Damon questioned all business.
“Regina, baby, do you want the wheelchair or Ivan to carry you?” Isadora asked.
“Ivan. He’s taking the pain through the bond, and I am not losing that.” Regina insisted like I knew she would.
I can’t be of much other help. It’s not like I can deliver the baby or go through this for her. I might as well do the one thing I’m good at, taking pain without batting an eye. The nurse blinked as she realized I was the reason Regina was completely calm and pain-free despite being in labor.
“Yes, both the delivery room and an OR are ready as requested, Beta,” Johanna confirmed as she led the way to the maternity ward.
I haven’t been in this hospital since the war when I was admitted after Silvano poisoned me. I still don’t know if he did it to help me escape to gain favor with Ignazio or because he wanted me there so that when the group Ignazio sent to blow it up would kill me—neither worked out.
My sister’s group was captured, and I doubt she would have gone through with blowing up a hospital. And I had no intention of escaping. Returning to Ignazio was a death sentence. In this hospital, I found out what Ignazio had done to my sister, and any sense of duty to him for the promised safety of my sister died. When he died, I felt nothing. Well, that’s a lie. I felt relief that he was gone and could never hurt my sister again.
But I digress. I’m in the hospital today for a good life-changing event. Today we welcome our first and possibly only, I wouldn’t dare assume Regina would want to go through any of this a second time into the world. I begrudgingly put Regina down when we got to the delivery room as she needed to change into the hospital gown, get in the bed, and be hooked up to various monitors for her and the pup.
I wouldn’t say I liked it, mostly because, during the whole process, I couldn’t maintain contact with Regina and therefore take away her pain. I hate seeing her in pain. Once she was settled in the bed, I could sit at her side and hold her hand to take the pain away again. It was just in time because when Damon checked on Regina, she was fully dilated, and the head was visible.
All those pregnancy books, websites, and even wisdom from medical professionals and other she-wolves about how long labor can take for a first-time mother were wrong. From the time her water broke to when Damon placed our son in Regina’s arms was about two and a half hours. Noè Damon Furlan, as predicted, was a big pup. He weighed in at over four kilograms and was just over sixty-six centimeters.
He’s perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, my dark hair, and Regina’s blue eyes. And given that he was born naturally with no complications, I guess it proved Regina’s point that she was truly made to be with me. I doubt any other woman could have carried, let alone birth, my son so easily. Within hours of his birth, the hospital staff had a circus of ranked wolves to try and control.
Everyone wanted to see the baby, but there was only so much room for visitors. And given that Regina and Noè needed their rest, I had to tell three Alphas and everyone in the extended family to go home and wait till after Regina and Noè were home to visit. Somehow this was interpreted to throw us a welcome home party.
When we arrived home from the hospital three days later, I was concerned by the number of cars outside. Inside our villa, everyone from our families was waiting with the house decorated in blue and white with moons and wolves and a banner saying ‘Welcome Home Baby Noè!’. It was like the baby shower part two, but now with a theme and gifts more centered on us having had a boy.
Regina cried. It might be from excess hormones, but I’ll keep that to myself. I’ll admit it was a kind gesture from everyone. Noè was welcomed into the family with such boundless love. I don’t think I could have asked for more. Princess Gwen gleefully rubbed it in her twin’s face that she was right about their Beta being a boy while Christina pouted. Grace was over the moon at her new cousin and tried to be the best little helper possible.
After the party and everyone, even the little ones with help from their parents got a chance to hold our son, it was finally just the three of us. And it was my turn to surprise Regina. While she’d enjoyed the party, I’d snuck away and finished the bassinet, set it up in our bedroom, and used the handmade blanket Isadora gifted us as the bedding.
“Time for bed for the new mama and pup.” I smiled as I gently took Noè from her so she could get up from the rocking chair Zoe gave us at the original baby shower.
“Yes, I think you’re right.” Regina yawned as she leaned into me as we walked to the master suite.
“Do you have the energy for one last surprise?” I asked.
“If your surprise is twenty-five centimeters of cock, you’ll have to wait. I may be a werewolf and heal faster than a human, but downstairs is closed for a few weeks.” Regina teased me though I knew to an extent she was serious.
“I’m aware we aren’t having sex for a while. I’ll live. I survived twenty-three years of celibacy. I can survive however long you need.” I assured her as I guided her into the bedroom.
“I…Ivan.” She pressed a hand to her chest as she saw the bassinet. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes. Amelia found it, and I restored it.” I nodded as I gently placed our sleeping son into the bassinet that has held generations of Furlans.
“It’s perfect.” Regina sighed beside me, watching our son sucking at his thumb. “I’m glad Noè will have this Furlan heirloom.”
“Me too.” I sighed as I wrapped her in a hug. “Thank you,” I whispered.
“You’re welcome, though I’m confused. Why are you thanking me?” Regina laughed softly, not wanting to wake Noè.
“For being you. For being everything, I thought I didn’t deserve. For giving me a family.” I answered.
“In that case, I should be thanking you. You gave me all that too.” She sighed, hugging me as tight as her arms let her.
“Come, let’s try to get some sleep before he wakes up again.” She smiled as she tugged me to the bed.
I fell asleep content with Regina in my arms and our son barely a meter away. I’m home and have a family I never dared to dream of. I know there will always be challenges for us. With a new baby, we must adjust our lives around his schedule. And I’ll happily adapt our lives to fit our son.
Epilogue - Regina
I won’t blow smoke up your ass and say the last two years have been perfect. There is no such thing as perfect. Anyone who tells you their life is ‘perfect’ is in denial. My life quickly changed three years ago at André’s masquerade ball. I went from being single to having a mate to having a son. There is only one thing I’d change if I could: finding Ivan sooner.
I do wish I got to dole out Lia’s punishment for tampering with official documents. In the end, she got what was coming to her. She may not have been turned to stone and knocked over, effectively killing her. But who am I to argue with how André allowed Delilah to deal with her?
That was one of the perks of being their surrogate. They let her decide Lia’s fate. It seemed fair that Lia hurt Delilah just as much without realizing it. Lia is still alive, but she’s learned her lesson and may never want to be near a plant again for the rest of her life. And no one in Sicily will ever see her again as she was kicked out of the pack.
But enough of that Liar. Like the rest of my family, I put her in our past and left her there. Too many happy things to focus on. For Ivan and I, the last two years have focused on Noé. He is a sweet boy, not what I would call a quiet giant like his papa. Noé has always had a set of lungs and has never been shy about using them. And I love him, but well, I was happy when we got to the point we felt comfortable letting him sleep in his nursery.
Two months of having Noé in our bedroom had a negative impact on us as individuals and as a couple. It’s like he had a sensor to know when we were kissing more than a quick peck and would start crying. And while I was recovering from giving birth, we weren’t as annoyed, but after I was medically cleared for sex, it was aggravating.
It annoyed me more than it did Ivan, which was another problem. I started to feel that he wasn’t attracted to me the same way after having Noé. The fact that he didn’t seem as upset as me when Noé would interrupt our intimacy was enough proof to me. It caused me to distance myself from Ivan and, in some ways, from Noé. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know what to do with these mixed-up feelings.
It took Ivan about three days to decide to sit down and ask what was wrong. I tried to explain to him how I felt about Noé getting in the way of our relationship and him not being attracted to me. As I sat there crying because I was just overwhelmed by it all, Ivan called my Mama, and when she arrived, he handed her Noé and an overnight bag. He didn’t answer her many questions about why I was crying or why she was taking Noé overnight.
I was confused about what was going on too. It was the first time we’d be away from Noé for over an hour or two. I quickly understood why Ivan sent our son to stay with my parents. I understood multiple times, starting in the living room, kitchen, pool, and shower and ending in our bed. Yeah, there was no doubt that he was attracted to me after a night that could have given the nights from my heat a run for their money.
After that night, Noé started sleeping in his nursery, giving us privacy. And at least once a week, we’d have a sitter, and Ivan would take me on a date. And at least once a month, Noé would spend the weekend with my parents giving us two days of just us. It was perfect, and I love Ivan even more because he took that initiative. He still suggested I see someone about the postpartum to work through any lingering resentment I might have for our son or him.
It’s helped us get past that first hurdle of family life. After that, we fell into a groove, and now that Noé is two, it’s getting even easier. We did have to super baby-proof the villa because after he started crawling, all bets were off. He is right on track developmentally regarding speech and fine motor skills. In height, he’s roughly the size of a four-year-old, which from what Ivan and Amelia have said and the few pictures of them as children, is par for the course with a Furlan.
All this has brought us today, the day we become the Beta couple of Incubi. I’m twenty, going on twenty-one, and at last, Papa and Mama have agreed we are ready to take on the responsibility. Ivan apologized a few times because he thought it was because of him we had to wait. And that may be partially true, but twenty is the age someone is considered old enough to take over a title in Incubi unless there were some unforeseen circumstances like death.
I should be over the moon and getting ready for the big night. And I am. I am so excited for tonight. There’s just one problem. Well, not a problem but a hiccup in the form of a stick sitting on my bathroom counter with a plus sign on the display screen. I’m pregnant. I close my eyes and hold my hands over my abdomen and listen. My healing may not work like Papa and Alexander’s, but I can still feel and hear the fast thumping of my baby’s heart.
“Regina? Are you all right in there?” Zoe questioned, knocking at the bathroom door. “Mama and Delilah are here with your dress. We need to get you ready for the ceremony.”
“What’s wrong?” Mama asked before knocking on the door. “Regina baby? Are you all right? It’s okay to be nervous. Everyone’s nervous when they assume a title.” She tried to reassure me.
“I… I’m okay.” I gulped back the worries.
‘You have nothing to be worried about. Sure, it means I can’t do the run after the ceremony and won’t be able to run again for another however many months. But it’ll be all right. We’ll have a second pup and know what pitfalls to watch out for.’ Gioia assured me.
‘What if Ivan doesn’t want a second baby? He’s said he’s happy with being the three of us.’ I frowned.
‘Don’t put words into our mate’s mouth. Of course, he’s been happy with a family of three and be just as happy as a family of four. So, get out of this bathroom. Tell your female family or don’t. Either way, you need to get ready.’ Gioia snorted.
I sighed, put the test away, and smiled as I opened the door. “Sorry, I worried you. Just nervous. I’ll be better after I’m with Ivan.” I assured them.
“Okay, well, if you need anything, let one of us know,” Mama assured me as she kissed my cheek.
“Let’s get this show on the road, baby sister. It’s time at least all three Petridis siblings are the Betas of Sicily.” Zoe grinned as she tugged me to the bed where the Petridis Beta gown awaited me.
I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at the gorgeous strapless trump gown with its sweetheart neckline that personified the Petridis name as the fiery phoenix rising from the ashes as the first Petridis Beta rose from what was believed the dead after an epic battle whose victory secured the Incubi territory. Many Beta females have worn this dress before me, and now it will be my turn.
Letting my anxiety and concerns about the baby fall to the wayside, I let my family help me prepare. Zoe did my makeup, Mama did my hair, and Delilah did my nails so they resembled little phoenixes. Then last was the gold phoenix necklace. It was a bit chunky for my taste, but it’s a family heirloom, and I can’t say no to wearing it.
“Perfect.” Mama smiled as she looked over my shoulder as I admired my reflection.
“Thank you, Mama.” I smiled and hugged her.
“All right, let’s head to the ceremony before someone starts to cry, and we need to retouch makeup,” Zoe teased as she shooed me away from the mirror.
I didn’t have to ask where my son was. I knew he was with my Papa and Ivan. I was excited to see Ivan in his suit. We had to custom order his suit as he simply couldn’t wear the same suit every Beta before he had. When he saw the original suit, he was apprehensive as it’s a bold look, but he knows better than to argue against traditions and stood still as the tailor took his measurements to make the suit.
I was holding back laughter when we arrived at the clearing, and I saw Ivan standing two feet above the crowd with Noé in his arms. The dark blue, nearly black suit matched my dress, covered in the rising fiery feathers of a phoenix made him stand out even more than his height. He was hiding how uncomfortable he felt, but I knew. When our eyes met, I smiled.
‘You look handsome. I can’t wait to see that suit on our bedroom floor.’ I greeted in our link as I confidently walked toward him, the crowd of people around him parting.
“Mia uccellino…” Papa smiled as he hugged me. “You look lovely and ready to soar.”
“Thank you, Papa.” I smiled though my eyes were still on Ivan.
“Mama!” Noé exclaimed, reaching out for me.
Ivan sighed, passed him to me, bending to kiss my cheek, and spoke to me in our link, ‘The dress is stunning and will look best on the floor with this tacky suit.’
I blushed as I took our son with a grunt. He is certainly a big boy, and I love him. I kissed his cheeks and ensured he looked presentable before setting him down.
“Hello, my handsome uccellino.” I smiled as I fixed his hair. “Mama and Papa will have to go on stage with Zio Alec. So, you will stay with Nonno and Nonna and be a good boy.” I instructed.
“Si mama.” He smiled and kissed my cheek before letting my Mama take his hand.
“Break a leg. Next year it will be us taking our title.” Valter smiled as he slipped his arm around his new mate’s waist.
I’m glad he finally found her, and to think all he had to do was travel to Bloodmoon. Diann is a nice girl, and we get along well. She’s one of Suzie’s friends, so I had no doubts we’d be good friends. And finding her was the light switch Valter needed to stop moping about me being taken. Diann smiled and leaned into Valter with that dreamy, newly mated look in her eyes. Something tells me a new Gamma heir will appear sooner than later.
I took Ivan’s arm and let him guide me to the stage where Zio Alec and Crista awaited us. The whole pack gathered with our extended family from Madonie and Nebrodi for the event.
The ceremony was quick as we drank from the goblet and receded our vows as Betas. I used Noé as an excuse not to shift and go for the run. In fairness, he was getting cranky due to the late hour. Most of the little ones were. I wanted to wait till I had Ivan alone to tell him about the baby. And well after the party and getting Noé to sleep, Ivan had other plans that didn’t involve talking. So it wasn’t till after some amazing toe-curling sex that I finally had the chance.
“There’s something I need to tell you.” I sighed as I snuggled into his chest.
“You’re pregnant,” Ivan stated.
I blinked and leaned back to look at him. “How did you know that’s what I was going to say? I’ve been extra careful to control my thoughts tonight.”
“But weren’t extra careful to dispose of the test.” He shrugged. “Plus, you didn’t want to shift. Gioia wouldn’t have let you use a cranky Noè as an excuse.”
“Oh, my Goddess. So you’ve known the whole night and said nothing?” I gasped.
“I was waiting for you to bring it up.” He shrugged again. “Are you happy that we are having another?” He asked.
“Yes, of course, I am. Are you?” I countered.
“Of course. One, two, ten, I don’t care how many pups we have, Regina.” He smiled softly as he brushed back my hair from my face. “I love you, my fiery pixie.”
“I love you too, my quiet giant.” I couldn’t help myself. I kissed him deeply because he may not always say a lot, but when he does, it’s perfect.
Several months later, on a cold January morning via an emergency c-section, we welcomed our daughter, Nicole Andrea Furlan, all five kilograms and seventy-three centimeters of her. She’s snuggly perfection with my hair and Ivan’s brown eyes. I pray she’s an easier baby than her big brother. But no matter what, I know that we can face anything together. So I look forward to watching our children grow.