Sorry for the delay, with my hand healing doing the edits took a while. This story is now complete and will post automatically, daily, until finished. Thank you everyone for your patience.
“So have you spoken him about mating yet?” Casey asked silently.
Vash glared at him. “No, what about you? Have you spoken to him yet? You may be blood-bonded to him but you won’t have the full mate bond without sex.”
“You think I don’t know that? The old fool is getting to be very good at changing subject, or just avoiding the subject all together, so I haven’t got a plan yet.” In the past, when Casey had tried to get Jackson to talk about awkward matters, the vampire always seemed to be able to avoid the subject or even just avoid him altogether.
Vash chuckled then changed the subject when he noticed the looks they were getting form the other occupants of the SUV.
Vash turned and watched the SUV in front of theirs as the convoy wound its way along the narrow road. When they were about an hour away from the camp, he got an uneasy feeling.
“Calm down love,” Casey whispered in his mind as he gently rubbed at the small of Vash’s back.
“Somethings not right,” Vash sent. The feeling was increasing as they got nearer to the camp and were met with no challenge.
“I feel it too,” Casey replied. “But unless we can pinpoint the reason there’s nothing we can do. And there is no point worrying Jackson.”
“I can hear you both, you know,” Jackson sent and they could feel his amusement.
“Then you should be able to feel what we feel too,” Vash snapped.
“I do, but, like you two, I can’t pin anything down. I think—” He was cut off by the sound of an explosion.
The SUV in front of them was lifted in the air and thrown back toward them.
“Everyone, out now!” came the shouted order.
Vampires, witches, and shifters—both in animal and human form—bailed out of the SUVs and headed for the forest at the sides of the road.
As Casey reached the second line of trees with Vash at his side there was another explosion. Another SUV flew through the air and landed a few meters away from their position. Vash grabbed Casey, threw him over his shoulder, and changed direction until they were a safe distance from the road and the wreckages.
“They’ve mined the road,” came a voice from their left. Donald and Jackson appeared and headed straight for them.
Jackson wrapped them both in his arms. “Are you okay?” he said as he tried to hold them and run his hands over them at the same time.
Casey batted his hands away. “We’re fine.”
A shifter ran up to Donald holding a cell phone to his ear. “Sir, we have twenty reported dead so far and thirty with serious injuries. We’ve found three more mines. They seem to be at regular intervals along the road. What are your orders?”
Casey spoke up. “Take me to the injured!” he demanded and grabbed Vash’s hand as the shifter looked to Donald for his input.
Vash growled low in his throat, his lion didn’t like the perceived insult to his mate. “My mate said take him to the injured. Do it now.” The other shifter paled and seemed to be fighting a battle with something before he bowed to Vash and lead them away.
As they left Vash heard Donald say, “How did he do that? That shifter is a High Council beta and only takes orders from me as his alpha.” If Jackson replied, Vash didn’t hear, as he and Casey were led out of range.
Casey called out to Jamie and, after making sure all their little family was alive and well, he asked Jamie to gather the healers they’d brought with them and to head for his position.
He cringed as they followed the shifter into a clearing. Bodies were lined up, and a lot of them were covered head to toe in blankets—that could have been one or all of us, Casey thought in despair.
He headed for the nearest uncovered body and found a vampire bleeding profusely from a stub where his arm should have been. Pushing his emotions down as far as they would go he started muttering the spells needed to stop the bleeding. When he’d finished the stump was healed over and looked to have been that way for months. “I need a bottle of blood over here,” he called out. A shifter ran over and handed a bottle to Casey, who got the vampire to down the whole bottle before muttering a sleeping spell.
Getting up he looked around to see ten healers all working to save the wounded. Jamie was nearby with a shifter and Ben was a few feet away talking to a sobbing female witch.
“Who’s next?” he asked Vash who was hovering waiting to see what he was needed for. Vash, led him over to a couple of unattended wounded.
A glance at the first told him he was too late. “Cover her up, she’s gone,” he said, swallowing and resolutely turning to the next in line.
A familiar face looked up at him. “Brice, what are you doing on this mission?” Casey dropped to his knees beside the teenage trainee witch healer, scanning him with spells between asking questions. Only adult witches had been chosen to accompany the convoy, and the young witch was only fifteen. The scans showed a broken arm, a twisted ankle, a gash in the side, and a concussion.
“I snuck into the convoy. I wanted to see the shifter camp.” His voice was quiet but Casey was pleased to hear he was coherent and obviously understood questions.
“This is a war, not a sightseeing tour,” Casey snapped, then regretted his tone when the young man flinched and tried to move away, hurting himself more. “Stay still, you’ll make your injuries worse. Let me heal you and then you will be accompanying the wounded back home so you can help see to their needs. Is that understood?” He waited for Brice to nod before he started to heal the gash in his side first. “Also,” Casey continued between spells, “You will report to Jamie and me when we arrive back and we will decide on an appropriate punishment for your behavior. We can’t have healers working for us who can’t or won’t follow basic rules that are there for their safety.” Brice looked down as he nodded his acceptance, Casey just sighed to himself and continued to mutter the healing spells.
Vash waited until Casey had finished conferring with the other healers before he led his mate over to a tree stump and forced him to sit and feed.
“You need to look after yourself as well as others,” he scolded, as he offered his arm to Casey and made sure he took a good amount of blood. He then handed Casey a bottled protein shake and watched until his mate had drained the whole thing.
Jackson and Jamie appeared beside them.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jackson demanded, crouching so he was level with them and running an assessing gaze over Casey.
Jamie didn’t say anything, he just slowly lowered himself to the ground and lay with his arm over his eyes.
Vash rolled his eyes. “He’s fine, he just tried to do much, that’s all.” He turned to Jamie. “It seems to run in the family. Give this to him, will you?” he handed another protein shake to Jackson and pointed toward Jamie. Casey gave a weak chuckle and Vash had to stifle a giggle when Casey sent him an image of himself in black leather pants standing with his hands on his hips leaning over a kneeling Jackson. Jackson glared at them but made no comment.
Vash watched as Jackson went into mother-hen-mode. The big vampire gently got Jamie to sit up and then supported him while encouraging him to drink the whole bottle of liquid. Jackson then laid him back on the ground and made sure he was comfortable before moving back near to Casey.
They sat in silence and watched as the injured and the dead were moved into several large trucks to be transported back to Chapmistres. A shout broke their stillness. “Elder Langman,” Jackson held an arm up to get the shifter’s attention. The man trotted over. “Sir, you’re needed by Elder Broking.”
Jackson nodded. “We’ll be there in a moment.”
Turning he checked Jamie and Vash grinned as the man batted his hands away just like Casey had. “I’m fine, I just needed a rest. Now if you’re finished, mom, I need to double check the transports before they leave.”
Jamie sauntered off and Jackson turned to Vash and Casey.
Jackson glared at Casey. “You need to take better care not to do too much. It wasn’t long ago you were in bed, barely able to move.”
Casey glared back at him, then deliberately crossed his eyes and poked his tongue out. “Yes, mom.” Casey’s voice was a perfect match for Jamie’s and just led Jackson to scowl even harder. Then Jackson heard giggling. He turned and saw Vash trying so hard to contain his laughter that he couldn’t stay angry. Then again, he had never been able to stay angry at Casey or Jamie anyway.
“Come on, let’s go see what Donald wants.”
He and Vash helped Casey up as he was still a little weak.
They found Donald talking to a few other soldiers, as they approached he sent the shifters away and turned to face them.
“Is he going to be okay?” he asked pointing at Casey.
“I’m fine,” Casey bit out and pushed away from Jackson, causing Jackson to growl, and glared at Donald.
Donald held his hands up in surrender. “Fine, fine. We are going to continue on foot. The shifters are taking point to sniff out any more traps. The witches are taking the middle so they can be near enough to throw any spells they can in the event of an ambush. The vampires are taking the rear in case the idiots try to surround us.”
Jackson nodded and Donald continued. “As for you three I want you all in the middle of the witches’ section. Casey is a healer not a fighter, Vash hasn’t been trained, and I am assuming you won’t leave either of them.”
Jackson didn’t like not being on the front line but he saw Donald’s reasoning and grudgingly agreed.
They moved a lot slower on foot and so the last leg of the journey took twice as long. They crested a rise and looked down on the shifter camp.
“Shit,” Vash gasped. Below them spread out as far as the eye could see were shifters in their animal forms. Through the bond he felt his shock echoed by his mates.