Cass felt much better about what had happened involving the Monroe Construction worker the week before after she and Joshua had performed the Lundberg Introduction ceremony over the weekend. She remembered how nervous she had been before the ceremony, not knowing what to expect. She rehashed the events in her head.
Joshua had told her it was not a big deal, because it would just be him, her, and her Aunt Rose and not like the large packs that treat it similar to a coming out ceremony or in the Hispanic culture like a Quinceanera ceremony. Joshua did not think Cass needed to buy a fancy dress or anything like that.
He had received instructions from his grandmother on necessary parts of what should be set-up, said, and then in general what he needed to do physically to make the Alpha bond. Joshua had not disclosed to Cass what that would be and when she had arrived at his apartment that evening it looked very different. The couch and chairs had been pushed to opposite sides of the room, creating a large space in the main living area. Joshua had created a eight foot diameter, three-quarter circle of crimson and ivory rose petals with what looked like a small pillow in the middle. At the back of the circle and behind the pillow was one of the small side tables with ivory candles aglow and a large book, similar to a bible.
Joshua stood next to the open door and welcomed both Cass and her Aunt Rose. “Thank you for coming and welcome to my den.” Cass could not help but smile at the reference to his apartment as a den. Joshua smiled back feeling Cass’s growing excitement and in return pushing out as much calm as he could muster.
Cass blushed feeling the familiar sensation that started at her fingertips and began to spread across her body. Recognizing that Joshua was calming her, Cass took a deep breath and tried desperately to relax. Her Aunt Rose nodded and smiled at Joshua, as he maneuvered in front of them after closing the door. Cass noted he was dressed very sharply in charcoal grey trousers and a black V-neck sweater and with everything set-up in this way she felt like it was Valentine’s Day and not a wolf pack Introduction Ceremony.
“It’s beautiful,” Cass said unsure if that was permitted.
“Trust me Cass, everything has its purpose. Thank you though,” Joshua replied nervousness edging out in his voice. "Come, stand just in front of the circle.” Joshua indicated the spot he wanted her. “Rose, can you stand to the right side of the circle opening, representing the female family members.”
Rose took her place, as Joshua moved into the circle and turned around seeming to block the entrance. Joshua took a deep breath and placing his clasped hands in front of him, he looked directly at Cass and began by asking, “Who brings this female before the Lundberg pack?”
Suddenly Cass’s Aunt Rose responded as if she had rehearsed this for days, “I, Rose Blume, bring Cassandra MacIntyre before the Lundberg pack.”
As if by cue Joshua held out both hands palms up, “I, Joshua Lundberg, call Cassandra MacIntyre forward to be recognized by the Lundberg pack.”
Cassandra swallowed hard. This was it and there was no going back afterwards. She stepped closer and carefully laid her shaking hands on top of Joshua’s, stealing a couple of quick glances at him for reassurance that she was doing this right. She found it very difficult all of a sudden to look him directly in the eye. She wondered if it was Joshua’s Alpha influence over her or her nerves that caused this.
Joshua stepped closer and then did something that surprised her. He bent forward and sniffed the area from her collarbone to her ear in one long inhale. “This girl is of age and indeed a family member of the MacIntyre pack. For what purpose does she seek to be a part of the Lundberg pack?”
Again Cass was surprised by her Aunt’s sudden response, it was as if she was familiar with this ceremony. “This girl is alone and packless. She seeks to be a member of the Lundberg pack to learn and be guided in the ways of the wolf. To find protection, respect, and love in your den.”
Joshua glanced quickly at Rose when she spoke the last words. His mouth tight and eyebrows creased, as if something Rose had said was wrong. Then he focused again on Cass saying, “I accept you Cassandra MacIntyre to be a part of the Lundberg pack, for you have no other pack. Come, kneel and be accepted by your new Alpha.”
Joshua turned away from Cass and now holding only one of Cass’s hands allowed her to enter the circle and led her to the small pillow to kneel upon. Cassandra was glad she had chosen the pleated shirt to wear instead of the pencil shirt. She would have had a horrible time getting up and down to kneel on the pillow. She slowly descended into a kneeling position on the pillow before the table with the book and candles. Joshua released Cass’s hand and stepped forward placing himself between the table and Cass. He grabbed the book from the table and then held it out in front of her. It turned out it was not a Bible, but a Lundberg family book adorned with the Lundberg crest from Germany.
He gently took Cass’s right hand and placed it on top of the book, covering hers with his own. She could feel the tingles of excitement growing. “Do you Cassandra accept the Lundberg family rules by which you shall live by from this day forward?”
Why was Joshua so nervous? Cass's mind began to race with ideas of what was to come. Cass quickly licked her lips, as they had become dry with anticipation and her own nerves. Her voice was breathy as she answered, “Yes.”
“Do you accept the protection provided by Joshua Lundberg as your Alpha and the decisions he may make on your behalf towards your Coupling and Uniting in the future?”
Cass swallowed hard, this was why they were doing this right? She needed to be safe from other wolves like that of Monroe and his men. Once she was under the Lundberg pack no male could touch her without Joshua agreeing. She answered quickly, but meekly, “Yes!”
Joshua slid his hand from on top of Cass’s and put the book back on the table. He now moved around behind her and he must have made a silent motion to her Aunt Rose, because Cass caught a glimpse of her movement from her right periphery and then heard her Aunt’s steps as they headed to the door. Cass was tempted to turn and see if indeed her Aunt was leaving, but she was to afraid and instead heard the tale-tell sound of the large wooden door slide once to the right and then again to the left and clang as it closed completely.
Why had her Aunt left? What was there left to do that her Aunt could not be here for? Cass was beginning to worry now that she would be expected to shift or make some ridiculous wolf sound that she knew she would not be able to do yet. Then she heard Joshua kneel behind her and felt his hands as they grabbed her around the waist. She could feel his warmth as he pulled her back against him and then nuzzled his nose into the area just below her ear. All of her fear and building anxiety seemed to melt away and she closed her eyes succumbing with his gentle kisses down the sensitive skin of her throat. Joshua’s left hand moved from her waist to her bicep and he clutched her there now. Chills rippled across her skin and electricity cascaded through Cass’s body.
Cass remembered now in her haze that Joshua had said that the ceremony ended with the Alpha male of the pack accepting the new female with some gesture or expected activity and participation of the newly accepted pack member. Joshua had said that his grandmother’s pack, the Hanover’s, had endured a nip on the neck. His mother’s pack had made her endure a lick by each male of the Sinclair pack. She had not expected to be touched and seduced in this manner.
Then suddenly, before Cass could register what was happening in her mind, she felt her body being toppled down and to the right. She caught herself with her right arm outstretched and landing on her right side. Joshua leaned hard over her and pressed one hand down on her head so that she could not turn her body over and lay on her front, exposing her neck. His other hand held her tight on the shoulder and his bared teeth now came down upon on the side of her throat. Fear and surprise made her gasp. Cass heard a growl from Joshua and she closed her eyes tight with tears threatening to form in her lashes. Had he shifted?
“You are mine now!...Do! You! Understand!” Joshua rumbled in her ear, emphasizing each of the last words.
All that Cass could do was answer with a terrified, “Yes!”
Joshua released her and pushed away leaving her in the crumpled position of submission on the floor. He fell back to a seated position with his knees up and head bowed and wrapped within his arms hiding his face. Cass took a moment and gathering a breath realized that Joshua had not hurt her. Cass sat up slowly relieved and wiped away the moisture that had threatened to fall from her eyes a moment earlier.
“I am so sorry Cass!” Joshua said shaking his head. “I had no choice, I had to make you submit to me as your Alpha.”
Cass sat for a minute and looked at the despair that she saw Joshua in. It had been the final gesture required of the Lundberg pack, she had to know her Alpha’s strength and feel his dominance. Somehow this realization just suddenly popped in her head, like she had opened the book on the table and there it was written down on page one-hundred. Cass moved quickly to Joshua and pulled his arms down that seemed to hide his face from the act of shame he had just committed.
Cass looked at him with determination, trying not to think of what he had just done as a personal threat against her, but just a part of what had to be done within the Lundberg family ceremony. “I am okay Joshua – a little surprised, but okay.”
Joshua snapped his head up and grabbed the back of her head forcing her forehead against his. “I hated having to do that to you, knowing the fear and stress it would cause you. I didn’t want you to think that I was anything like Monroe.”
“I understand why you had to do it…I just wish I could of known and been prepared,” Cass retorted and then added shyly, “I liked the other parts of it.”
This made Joshua smirk a little with Cass’s obvious forwardness towards the way he had held her, nuzzled her, and kissed her neck. He smiled and closed his eyes, while Cass did the same with her cheeks blazing hot with embarrassment. The most amazing thing happened in that split second they both closed their eyes. Cass could see herself in the dream that seemed to haunt her childhood. The golden red wolf that seemed to never cease in chasing her, once again approached, but she was calm this time in knowing it was Joshua. The wolf not only approached this time, but rubbed up against her and she could see that she was not in her human form, but she was transformed into a silvery white wolf with tips of black on her ears and at the end of her tail. Her eyes were the still the sky blue that they had always been. She could see her shifted form for the first time ever.
Cass’s eyes popped open and she found herself staring directly in Joshua’s hazel eyes. Her mouth parted as if she wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words. Joshua grinned and fixating on her face he remarked, “You’re going to be one stunning wolf, once we can get you to shift!”