He loved him. His mate loved him. No matter how many times Vet reminded himself of the fact that Richard loved him, each time he thought it, the idea became more unbelievable than the time before it. His mate, his man, his Richard, loved him. Vet shook his head, well aware that the big goofy grin stayed on his face.
"Oh, get that smug look off your face," he heard Richard mutter as the smaller man walked past him, balancing one of the triplets on his hip. Had it really been three months since he'd heard those words? Richard had only said them once, but Vet knew that he still meant them. It was in his every touch, his every word. The way he kissed him, the way he took care of him, the way they made love. Yeah, Richard still loved him, he just had to make the smaller man say it again.
"What? You got a problem with me smiling?" he teased the other man as they worked together to bring the triplets, the groceries, the shopping bags, the feed, the mail, the packages, the deliveries, and the rest of Richard's furniture in from outside.
"I got a problem with it when you're smug for no reason," Richard huffed as he dragged in a large bag of potatoes from outside.
"Well, why don't you ask me what I'm smug about then," Vet grinned as Richard flopped down onto the couch in the living room, smiling over at the triplets who smiled and giggled back at him.
"I don't care to know," Richard pouted, knowing damn well what had Vet grinning like a Cheshire cat. He did feel somewhat guilty, he hadn't immediately told Richard that he loved him when the smaller man had first said it, but he had told him since and each time all Richard had done was smile, kiss him and say "I know." Which he guessed was something, but it just wasn't enough. He wanted to hear his mate tell him that he loved him again. He wanted to hear it everyday, for the rest of their lives together.
"So, have you heard from Tommy?" he asked, deciding to change the subject as he came to sit next to Richard on the couch. He heard the other man sigh in sadness.
"Not since he tore out of here when Anton shifted in front of him. I don't even know if he's okay. He won't answer any of my phone calls, text messages or emails. I feel like such an idiot, I really thought he'd be okay with the whole shape shifter thing. I didn't think he'd spaz out, and the fact that he and Anton are mates? Well, that just makes me feel worse," Richard confessed. Vet felt his heart clench at the sound of his mate's sadness and guilt and pulled the other man snug against his chest.
"No one blames you. Ton doesn't even blame you. He's hurting because his mate left him, yes, but that's directed towards Tommy, not you. He's grateful that you gave him the opportunity to even meet his mate in the first place. Don't beat yourself up over this, baby, please. It will work out. It always does, fate doesn't make mistakes when it comes to putting people together. Trust me," he stated firmly before he kissed the other man's temple. With a sigh Richard nodded and then turned on the tv before snuggling into Vet's chest, his arms wrapped around his big cowboy as they lay on the couch watching some sappy movie.
"Gods above, where did all the good visual entertainment go," Richard moaned and Vet snorted. "What?" he questioned.
"Visual entertainment? Why don't you just say movies man?" Vet chuckled. "Ain't nobody here to try to impress wit' your ten-dollar words and your New York education. It's all simple folk here. Just say movies," Vet laughed as Richard's face flushed with embarrassment.
"That's just how I talk Vet," Richard responded, embarrassed. Vet's eyebrows rose and he realized that even after being mated for months, making love, raising children, running a ranch and a farm on top of being the alpha couple for the Tate Pack, there was still so much about his mate that he didn't know.
"I'm sorry baby. I wasn't tryin to pick on you none, just don't want you to feel like you gotta put on airs or nothing out here," Vet reassured his mate.
Richard nodded and smiled, "Yeah, I know. And even though it doesn't seem like it, I'm more relaxed here, and have been since I got here, than I have been at any other point in my life. This is me relaxed and comfortable."
Vet nodded and opened his mouth when he caught a whiff of smoke. He lifted his nose to sniff the air and smelled more than just smoke, he smelled fire and he smelled wolves, lots of wolves about ten different wolves, and these wolves that had no permission to be on his property.
"Richard, baby, I want you to listen to me. I'm gonna get you and the triplets locked up safe and tight in the pantry. There's a door in there, unlocks by knocking on the wall behind the cereal boxes, it leads you into a bunker downstairs that leads into a hallway that leads you to another piece of property at the edge of the forest. I want you to wait in the pantry for two hours. If after two hours, I haven't come to get you, I want you to take the triplets to the bunker in the basement. Wait there for a few more hours. If sunrise comes and I'm not there, I want you and the triplets to go to that other house, call my fried Ross, he'll get you all to safety," he commanded his mate, "Do you understand me?"
Richard shook his head, "No. What the hell is going on Vet? Why are you telling me this? What's happening?"
Vet opened his mouth to respond and smelled fifteen more wolves that had joined the ten from before and with them he smelled one familiar wolf and they were getting closer...Bobby Ray. He looked over at his mate, memorizing his features, caressing his face before he stood and quickly grabbed a large duffel bag. Grabbing clothes, diapers, formula, bottles, wipes, shoes, and food, he threw them all into the duffel. He grabbed the baby Bjorn and lifting Amy into his arms placed her inside before strapping her to Richard's chest. He rushed over and opened the special order stroller they'd gotten, the one with three seats, made especially for the triplets. Pulling back the visor on the back last seat, he put the duffel bag inside of it. He turned and saw that Richard had already picked up RJ and was placing him into the stroller, so he grabbed Curt and placed him in the front. Giving each baby their pacifiers, he hurried his mate and their children to the pantry.
"Okay, so here's what's going on. Bobby Ray is back, probably to get revenge and he's got upwards of twenty five other wolf shifters with him. They've already set fire to one of my buildings, probably to smoke us all out of the house so that we can attack. The other men'll be waiting on me outside the back of the house, but I gotta make sure you and the kids are safe before I go out there and deal with this. I gotta save the horses and the other animals. Gotta save the members of the pack that work and live her, most of all I gotta make sure my family, you and our babies are safe. So I gotta go out here and kick some ass, but I can't do that if I'm worried about you. Now you remember what I said for you to do?" he questioned his mate, his words coming rapid-fire, slurring slightly as his body became poised, ready to shift at any moment.
Richard swallowed thickly and nodded before lifting up on his toes and kissing him deeply. "You just make sure you stay safe you hear me Vernon Tate? I love you and I am not raising these kids on my own," the smaller man sniffled.
Vet's heart leaped in his chest. He'd said it again! Granted he'd said it in a moment of extreme emotional distress, but he'd said it nonetheless. With a cocky grin he nodded. "I love you too and that right there gives me a reason to make sure I survive. Now go on, git." He pushed his mate into the pantry and heard as the smaller man settled down the triplets. Pulling his key out of his pocket, he locked the door and then ripped the clothes from his body and rushed towards his sliding door, opening the door and then shifting. He'd let Bobby Ray get away once and he'd returned, seeking revenge. The stupid man didn't realize that he'd only returned to let Vet finish what he'd started. This time, one of them wouldn't be walking away alive. and Vet had everything to live for.