“Mother?” Daniel stared. He couldn’t help himself. There was a resemblance between Matthias and the woman now starring daggers at him. She was a tall, imposing figure of a woman, with a rather blunt face and graying black hair. If Matthias was over a hundred and could pass for under thirty, how old did that make his mother? The black man on the porch still had his hand on his gun, and hadn’t relaxed despite the presence of the woman. If anything, he looked even more on guard. Matthias was staring back at his mother.
“Yeah, um…” Matthias took a deep breath.
The woman turned to look at him and Anna, and then her eyes widened a little. She whirled back on Matthias. “Matthias Jarlson, why is the little girl pregnant?”
“I can explain.” Matthias immediately held up his hands in a defensive gesture. When the woman folded her arms, he winced again. “That is, uh…” He sighed. “Shit.”
“Language.” She glared.
“It was a cabal, I…” Matthias started shaking his head.
“A…” The woman blinked, then her eyes slowly began turning golden. “Matthias — ”
“I’m protecting them.” Matthias hurriedly interrupted her. “From the cabal, which are the ones that impregnated Anna and are trying to get hold of her again.”
“Where are their parents?”
“In the cabal.” Matthias lowered his hands. “I’m protecting them from their parents.”
“So why not go to the police?” The woman tapped her foot.
“You know cops are all a bunch of assholes.” Matthias shook his head.
Both his mother and the man on the porch straightened and renewed their glares. “We…” The woman’s voice was low. “Are cops.”
“Because their stepdad was a cop and a police chief and part of the cabal and…” Matthias winced again.
“Was?” The woman took a step forward. “Matthias, you killed a cop?”
“No.” Daniel stepped forward. “I did, when he was going to kill Matthias.”
“And they’d have killed Rosa to,” Anna spoke up.
“Rosa?” The woman raised an eyebrow. “You went to Rosa? After what you pulled I’m shocked she didn’t sell you out…”
“Well…” Matthias rubbed his forehead.
“She sold you out.” The woman sighed. “And you’ve got a cabal after you.” She lowered her hands. “So you decided to come here, to my home.”
“I didn’t realize you’d be here. I thought you were dead.”
“You thought I was dead?” She blinked.
“I sent flowers! And I killed the —” Matthias cut himself off.
“Killed the?” She lowered her head.
“The terrorist group responsible for the bomb that I thought…” He sighed. “Look, they were assholes anyway so it’s not like it was a big…” Matthias turned toward Daniel. “Please for the love of god help me stop talking.”
“Anna is standing out in the rain.” Daniel shook his head. “And that’s not good for her.”
“Right.” The woman gestured at the man on the porch, who promptly vanished into the house. Daniel caught a glimpse of a curtain moving, and realized someone else was inside. “Anna, was it? Come in, let’s get you something warm to drink. I’m Magda and that was Stephan, since my son couldn’t be bothered to make introductions.”
“I’m Daniel. This is my sister, Anna.”
Stephan found Ash cowering a little, and knelt down beside him. “Hey, Ash. They are coming in. You going to be okay, or do you want to go to Magda’s room?”
Ash made a whimpering sound before heading toward Magda’s room. Stephan followed, and sighed when he saw Ash crawl under the bed. Based on what little Magda had told him about her son, he was giving serious consideration to crawling under there as well. He came back into the living room to find Magda setting the two kids down on the couch. Matthias shot him a look that suggested he wasn’t exactly forgiven for the tazing. Well, this should be fun. “Mags?”
“He okay?” Magda raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah.” Stephan nodded.
“Who else is here?” Matthias narrowed his eyes.
“A friend.” Magda narrowed her eyes right back before returning her eyes to Stephan. “These are apparently Daniel and Anna. They are aware of the werewolf thing. Matthias is working for Daniel.”
“Uh…” Stephan glanced at the young man. “No offense kid, but how does someone like you afford a werewolf bodyguard?”
“I, uh…” Daniel turned a little bit red.
“They have lots of sex.” Anna shrugged.
Matthias and Daniel immediately turned toward her with wide-eyed looks. “Anna!”
“What?” She blinked. “You do.” She looked up at Magda. “I’m not supposed to know about it though.”
“Matthias Fredrik Ingvar Sigurdr Jarlson.” Magda’s eyes were fully golden.
“Why don’t I make some food for the kids…” Stephan shook his head. “And you two go catch up?”
“Yeah.” Magda was staring at her son. “Let’s do that.”
“I uh…” Matthias leaned his head back against the porch post. “Alright, let’s start over cause…” He took a deep breath. “I thought you were dead.”
“When?” Magda leaned on the post across from him.
“Almost thirty years ago. I heard you were in Ireland.”
“I was.” She nodded. “Didn’t stay long. Just long enough to get the name of someone who could get me clean IDs.”
“Yeah.” Matthias nodded. “Going to need a set of those for Daniel and Anna. Daniel’s prints are on file.”
“He a crook?”
“A paramedic. They ran his prints as part of his background check.” He rubbed his neck. “I’m glad you’re alive.”
She smiled, then glanced at the house. “How much trouble are you in, Matthias?”
“Funny.” He gave a bitter laugh. “I was actually most of the way out when those two fell into my lap. They…” He shook his head. “It’s complicated on a whole…” He took a deep breath. “They are witches, Mother.”
“Witches?” She straightened. “Full on, or just gifted?”
“Just gifted, from what I can tell, but it not a small thing. Daniel didn’t kill the guy with a gun. He put a hand on his shoulder and drained the life out of him in less than a second, then used the energy to heal me. I’d just come out of a fight with three other wolves and…” He opened his shirt to show her the vanished scars. She actually stepped forward to touch his skin. “Yeah. All he was trying to do was heal a couple basic bullet wounds that were on their way to good anyway. Nearly dropped himself instead.”
“A healer.” She whistled. “Oh Matthias, if anyone finds out they will never stop hunting him.”
“I know.” He nodded. “And Anna, she…” He ran a hand through his hair. “She’s young, she should barely be able to do anything, but…” He met her eyes. “She was getting in my head for nearly two months without me even noticing and…” When she started to narrow her eyes, he held up his hand. “And I think she somehow managed to get it on straight. For all I know, she could be the real deal. Full witch.”
“You brought them here because of the wards.”
“Figured I could walk them through getting them back up, but if you’ve been keeping the place up…” He closed his eyes. “How come you didn’t contact me?”
“After what you did, Matthias?” She sighed. “I was afraid to. Afraid I’d find out you’d gone rogue and have to…” She swallowed. “As long as I didn’t know, then I wouldn’t have to risk having to hunt down my own son. And I couldn’t face that.”
“I wish I could reassure you and say…” He shook his head. “All I can say is that I found a line I couldn’t cross and I’m trying to…” He met her eyes. “I’m trying.”
“I’m glad.” She smiled. “Welcome home, Matthias.”
“Is that really his whole name?” Anna looked up at Magda as she dug into her plate.
“Yes.” Magda smiled.
“It’s a funny name.”
“Seriously?” Matthias raised an eyebrow. “You’re poking fun at my —” He blinked suddenly and started to come out of his chair.
Magda immediately stood up and blocked him from moving. “You will leave him be.” She glanced at the hallway where Ash had vanished again. “Stephan, would you mind…”
“No problem.” He nodded and took the plate he’d just made up as he limped into the other room.
“What’s going on?” Matthias frowned.
“We came out here to help a friend recover.” Magda sat back down, gesturing for Matthias to do the same. She wasn’t even sure how she’d begin explaining Ash. “There was a rogue pack. They hurt him pretty badly, and for that matter did some damage to Stephan. I put two of them down, but the third got away.”
“I can help.” Daniel immediately spoke up. “I don’t know if Matthias told you, but —”
“You’re a healer.” She nodded. “He mentioned it. Ash is…” She took a deep breath. “Physically, he’s fine.”
“Then maybe I could help.” Anna sat up straighter.
“Perhaps, but I think it would be best if you learned what you were doing before you tried.” Magda nodded to the girl.
“Oh.” Anna nodded. “Right.”
“Ash was hurt very badly by werewolves, Matthias. We believe he saw them kill his father.”
“Does he know about you?” Matthias frowned.
“He does. It’s a complicated situation.” She shrugged. “How is he?” She asked when Stephan came back.
“He’s not talking.” Stephan shrugged. “I think he wants to come out and investigate, but all three of them at once is a bit overwhelming for him.”
“I’ll introduce Matthias after dinner. I think he’ll have an easier time with the others.” Magda nodded.
“Yeah. He caught on to Matthias being a wolf.” Stephan sighed. “He’s scared.”
“He’s smart.” Matthias stabbed his fork into his dinner. “We’re going to need to discuss you tazing me.”
“You’ll have to excuse Stephan.” Magda smiled. “He’s got a bad habit of tazing Alphas.”
“Can I have a cane like his?” Anna turned towards Matthias.
“No.” Daniel and Matthias said the word simultaneously.
Ash was sitting on the bed when the door opened. Magda entered, followed by the big man that had threatened his pack brother. Ash debated diving back under the bed, but instead lowered his head and growled. The big man glanced at Magda and just raised an eyebrow. Magda sighed. “Ash, this is my son, Matthias.”
He made a questioning whine. “Yes, he is a werewolf, but he won’t hurt you.” She reached out and ruffled his hair, and he bowed his head under the caress. “Stephan and I won’t let him.” Ash made a growling sound. “I won’t let him hurt Stephan either.” Ash nodded, then tilted his head and barked at Matthias, who was staring at him with a confused expression on his face. Magda shrugged. “Ash says hello.”
“I uh…” Matthias rubbed his head. “Hi?”
Magda smiled. “Ash, would you like to meet the others?” She petted him. “The little girl is Anna, and her brother is Daniel.” Ash made a whining sound, then bent his head and picked up the stuffed ewok. He squeaked it as he looked up at Magda. “I’m sure they’d love to play with you.” She petted him, and he made a happy sound. She turned to look up at Matthias.
Matthias shrugged. “I’ve got nothing.”
“I can hook the trailer up to the electrical, and we can sleep in there.” Matthias leaned on the porch railing. “Rather not have to keep draining the bathroom though.”
“We’ll manage.” His mother smiled. “I can fix up the room under the stairs for Anna, so you and Daniel can have some privacy.”
He smiled before he turned and looked back at the house. Anna was sitting on the floor with the damaged young man, showing off her stuffed horse collection. “He’s safe around her, right?”
“Provided she doesn’t try getting into his head. He had a full psychotic break.” Magda sighed. “I’m not sure even a trained psychic in control of their abilities would do well in such a situation.”
“I’ll remind her.” He nodded when Daniel stepped outside to join them. “Hey boss.”
“Hey.” Daniel smiled. “I asked Stephan if I could take a look at his leg and he said he’s not entirely sure yet he believes in werewolves, magic is going to take him a bit longer.” He hesitated a moment, then grinned. “So, what was Matthias like when he was little?”
“Going there already?” Matthias reached out and ruffled Daniel’s hair.
“Like I’d pass that up.” Daniel rolled his eyes. “Seriously, though?”
“I am just pleased he stopped biting people before he started growing fangs.” Magda smiled. “He was born a warrior, much like his father.” Her smile became sad. “Very much like his father.”
“What was your father’s name?” Daniel raised an eyebrow.
“Jarl.” Matthias shrugged.
“Oh, so…” Daniel chuckled. “Yeah, Jarlson. How’d you two meet?” He tilted his head.
“Father saw her getting accosted by some ruffians, and headed over to rescue her. By the time he got there, she’d dealt with the matter.” Matthias winked. “It was love at first fight.”
Magda groaned. “You are not too big to put over my knee.”