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The Birth of an Alpha

By:Theresa Hissong

Chapter One

Liberty shifted back to her human form, wrapping her hands around her pregnant belly. She froze for a moment, unsure if she had seen a flash of light off in the woods or not. During her shift, she could’ve sworn there’d been a bright light several yards away, but now, it was just…gone.

She raised her nose to the sky, inhaling deep. The only scents she could detect were of the two Guardians who’d followed her from a distance. Maybe she was losing her mind? She had a bad case of pregnancy brain, and her thoughts had been scattered over the past few weeks. Her panther was quiet and had recessed into the back of her mind, leaving her human side in control. If there had been anyone out there who hadn’t belonged, she was sure her beast would’ve known regardless.

Talon had told her that very soon, her panther would stop pushing for release and allow her to stay human for the last few weeks of her pregnancy. She could already feel her panther receding in her mind, and the shift had been harder to accomplish over the past few weeks. Could she have missed an intruder on their land? Was she worrying too much?

The worry stemmed from the way things had changed since they’d been found out by the humans. Of course, that was before Liberty had been changed into one of them. The pride was a close-knit community, always lending a hand to each other when needed. There was no money system between them. Some of the pride worked for Talon’s companies, others held jobs out in the human world to pay their bills for things such as cell phones and car notes.

Liberty felt the love of her pride, not as strongly as Talon felt them himself, but she sensed their pain, their love, their happiness, and even their sadness. It was strange at first, but the mystical mojo was there. She understood it now.

The Summer Solstice was only a week away, and the young men of the pride would be fighting for a spot with the Guardians. She’d voiced her concern over the well-being of the men who were finally of age to fight. Talon assured her they were only fighting for dominance and not to hurt each other. He laughed and reminded her that they were panthers and would heal by the following morning. Even though she didn’t like the idea of them fighting, she understood how they would want to prove their worth to the alpha.

“Where have you been?” Talon bellowed. The arrival of her mate didn’t startle her because she’d already sensed him approaching. The weird light was forgotten as soon as she caught his scent.

“I went out for a run,” she replied, pulling her ankle length dress over her head. She held her hand to the back of her mouth as she tried to stifle a yawn.

“You’re tired,” he said as he frowned at her.

“I am,” she agreed, walking to his side. Her mate had been more observant lately. He’d also been very grumpy when she was out of his sight.

“I don’t like you going out on your own,” he said, pulling her into the comforting embrace of his arms.

“Ranger and Savage were out in the woods,” she replied, rolling her eyes against his chest where he couldn’t see.

“That’s how I found out you were out there alone,” he grumbled, tightening his hold around her shoulders. They couldn’t quite mold their bodies the way they’d done months ago. Her rounded stomach was taking up too much room.

“They are little snitches,” she chuckled, knowing the Guardians were just as protective of her as her mate was.

“They’re doing their job,” he huffed, glancing up at the sky. “Come, let’s get you inside. Looks like it’s going to rain soon.” Could that flash have been from an approaching storm? She was really losing her mind. Maybe I do need a nap.

Talon wrapped an arm around her waist, his body bending slightly so he could keep his hold on her even if it caused him discomfort. That was Liberty’s mate; always putting her happiness and comfort above his own.

“Harold wants us to come by for a final sonogram in the morning,” Liberty announced as they walked into the living room. Some of the pride milled about, the males stopping to watch Liberty as she moved toward the large mound of pillows on the floor. She’d become accustomed to the way they gravitated toward her ever since she’d found out she was pregnant.

For the past few weeks, she’d also had this overwhelming urge to be around her new family, and being in the center of the pride’s home was where she was most comfortable. There were pillows which made a huge bed in the corner between the fireplace and the couch. She didn’t have to be told that it was her cub that was in charge of those feelings, either. Liberty knew she was getting closer to her delivery in just over a month’s time. Even with her panther relaxing in her mind, she still felt that animal part of her controlling her new life.

“Oh, this is nice,” she sighed, letting Talon help her down onto the makeshift bed. The multicolored pillows made a huge circle, each one a little different in size. Below it was a thick foam pad to keep Liberty comfortable when she napped during the day. The females of the pride would open the blinds during the afternoon to give her some amount of sunlight as she rested. Several soft blankets were folded neatly by her head for when she got cold.

“Are you ready to eat, Liberty?” Mrs. Shaw, Talon’s mother, smiled. In her hand, she held a platter of food. The scent made Liberty’s mouth water.

“Yes,” she hummed. “I’m starving.”

“Us, too,” Nova said as she entered the living room with Mary Grace walking beside her. They were only a few months behind Liberty in their pregnancies.

Nova took to one side of Liberty, sighing as she found a comfortable spot in the mound of pillows. Mary Grace laid down on the other side, closing her eyes as soon as she rested her head on her arm.

“I just want to sleep,” Mary Grace whispered. Within seconds, her breathing had evened out.

“I’ll bring more food,” Mrs. Shaw chuckled.

When she turned to head back to the kitchen, Talon’s mother stumbled slightly, causing her mate to reach out. “Ma?”

“I’m fine, son,” she said, pushing away his hand. Talon watched her as she left the room, frowning at her back.

“She’s been working at the house a lot, Talon,” Liberty informed him. “She needs to stop worrying about everyone and take a break.”

“That’s my mom,” he said proudly, shaking his head. “She likes to keep busy.”

“I know.” Liberty smiled sadly. Ever since Liberty had been mated to Talon, his mother had been a big part of teaching her all of the duties a mate to the alpha was responsible for. Liberty could tell that Mrs. Shaw still suffered from loneliness, because she missed Talon’s father. Liberty wondered if Victoria would ever find another male to fall in love with, even if it wasn’t possible for them to mate another.

“Eat,” he ordered, bringing her thoughts back to her mate. Talon stood at the end of the makeshift bed, his large frame looking menacing from her spot on the floor. But she knew how soft and caring he really was, especially when he was holding her and their unborn cub.

As if the cub knew its father was near, the little bugger gave a roundhouse kick to Liberty’s ribs, causing her to jerk and then suck in a breath through her teeth. “Ow.”

“What?” Talon panicked, dropping to his knees.

“Your cub is going to be strong,” she laughed, rubbing the spot on her side.

“Not if his mother doesn’t eat,” Talon growled, pushing the platter toward her.

“Yes, sir.” Liberty nodded, her eyes taking in the food that had been prepared. There was steak, chicken, mashed potatoes, a small bowl of fresh fruit, and a hearty salad.

“I don’t see how in the hell you are craving salad,” Talon chuckled. It was a strange craving, but Liberty didn’t care. Being a panther, she should be begging for meats and other proteins, but for some reason, she wanted cold, crisp lettuce and tomatoes.

“That’s what I’m craving.” She shrugged, forking a few leaves of lettuce and popping it into her mouth.

“Not me,” Nova mumbled from her side. Her sister was half asleep as she waited for Mrs. Shaw to return with her meal. “I want ribs.”

“We can get that for you,” Talon said with a grin. “I’ll go put in your request with the kitchen, Nova.”

Liberty heard her sister chuckle from her side. Mary Grace was fast asleep and wasn’t moving. Talon returned a little later with two platters in his hands. Nova sat straight up as soon as the scent of her requested meal hit her. Mary Grace struggled to sit up, one eye closing as she waited for Talon to hand over her food.

“Are you still tired?” Talon asked, then frowned. Mary Grace had been sleeping a lot lately and Savage had voiced his concern to the healer, but Harold had assured everyone that it was just part of her pregnancy. All three women were beyond healthy and their cubs were thriving.

“Yes,” she mumbled as she picked at her food. “I think after I eat, I’m just going to stay here. I sleep better here than in our bed at the house.” In fact, all three women usually spent their time curled up together in the sunken living room until their mates came home from their jobs.

“You stay here with Liberty,” Talon ordered, glancing sideways at Nova. “And the same goes for you.”

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