We walked back to the castle hand in hand. Flora was humming a tune I didn’t recognize, but she seemed content for the first time since the coronation. We shouldn’t have kept her locked up in the room like a princess. She was a warrior and she deserved her freedom.
The Alpha council meeting had gone well. We mourned the men we lost, and the men we caught. Jeff was dead, and his father, the two-faced royal was scheduled for execution in two moons. It seems like we had cut off the head of this operation already, and it was just a matter of tying up a few loose ends.
Killing those involved after they gave us another name, and just not stop till we got them all.
I turned my head to see my mate gazing far off, her attention not on the path ahead of her. No wonder she tripped all the time. In eight days would be a full moon, and she would transition. I had to prepare her for that, but she was strong woman, both mentally and physically.
Suddenly, she straightened up and stopped humming, looking at me with glee. I raised an eyebrow, not entirely trusting. “So, does this mean I can finally train with April?” She asked me and I let out a dark laugh. Of course, she was thinking about this. She’d been asking April to train her secretly since a while, but my people were loyal to me.
“I suppose so. After the transition.” I told her sternly but that didn’t stop the slight spring in her step at my words. I was glad she wanted to learn to be a good fighter. It was stupid to assume that only men had to do the fighting.
“I wonder if I could go swimming right now.” She mused, and my hold on her hand tightened. She looked at our entwined fingers and then at me with a frown. “It’s not like I’d run off to swim, Reece.” She told me, but there was a hint of a smile in her voice. She was right, I was too protective.
I ran a hand through my hair in frustration. There was another difficult discussion I had to have with her, but the moment was so good, and she was so content, I didn’t want to ruin it.
“Flo?” I asked her anyway and she turned to look at me, sensing something off in my voice. “I was looking for you in the room and your phone rang – your mom called like six times.” Her face contorted in horror and I immediately assured her, “No, no. She’s fine - we’re still watching her apartment. I think Jeff just decided that she was inconsequential to this whole operation.” She relaxed again and suddenly I felt stupid for bringing this up anyway.
“Alright I’ll call her back when we get home.” She told me, ignorant of my inner turmoil. I decided to just go ahead and blurt it out.
“Also, some guy called Collins from AVA called. He left a voice mail.” She looked so lost that I knew I had spoken too fast.
“Collins from AVA? We – Oh my God! What’s the day today?” She asked, her hand subconsciously holding mine tighter. She’d stopped walking now
“It’s Thursday. The party was on Monday.” I told her and watched her eyes calculating. They widened in alarm and suddenly she was dragging me behind her as we ran back to the castle.
“I was supposed to meet him!” She told me and I nodded even though I already knew that. I knew everything about him. Director for the AVA production company. He was the best in his genre – the one that Flora had gone out for dinner with the night we met again. I had my people run a background check and everything after Jeff. I’d trust no one from her past life.
But, was it her past life?
“Your lives are crashing, Flora.” I whispered lowly as we ran, but she heard it. Of course, she heard it, all her senses were improving now. Flora halted in her steps and I narrowly avoided crashing into her. This girl was a disaster.
“Reece?” She asked me, all urgency forgotten, and I knew she was here in this moment, with me. All her attention on analyzing my face. I took a deep breath, trying not to reveal what I felt so she could go ahead and tell me what she really wanted in her life.
“Is that something you still want to do? Continue writing movie scripts?” I asked her and a surprised expression crossed her features. “Well, of course. It’s my living. And I enjoy it.” She told me as if it was that obvious. I nodded, cautiously, careful not to say something stupid like, ‘you don’t need to earn a living,’ and offend the shit out of her. I was glad she wanted to be financially independent.
“But you see when you become a werewolf, it is difficult to stay away from your mate – especially if he is an Alpha, and a King – you won’t be able to concentrate for long and we also need to protect you at all times. And you are still going to take time adjusting to all the changes your body will go through, and not to mention we don’t even know much about your Nihl powers. And Tasmin and Jura and everything else-“
“Reece!” She interrupted me and I paused. No one really interrupted me midsentence, although I guess I was rambling.
“What’s this really about? I can handle multiple things, Reece. Look at Zia and Hank. Sienna and Cole?” She asked me and I mulled over her words.
“It’s difficult, but it won’t be impossible. So, what’s really going on?”
“I feel like you’ll run away once the pressure of Queen gets to you.” There, I said it. My worst fear was that she would want to live a normal life. Not everyone wanted the additional thrust of responsibilities that came from being mated to me.
Flora gave me a blank stare. And then she straight up started laughing. I felt my face heat up. I was so nervous today.
She stepped forward and stretched on her toes, her other hand gripping my still wet shirt and pulling me down to her level. She placed a small kiss on my nose, and then a longer one on my lips.
“If I had to run away, Reece, then I would’ve already done that.” She told me softly, asking me to trust her. I did.
“You’re sure? I don’t want you to feel like you need breathers all the time.” He told me and I nodded. “Everyone needs breathers regardless, but I’m sure.” She told me. I analyzed her face, my wolf purring at her words in contentment. What was I offering her anyway? If she did think of running away, would I let her?
“Besides, I’m not stupid. I know you can track me after we’ve marked each other.” She told me with a mock pout and at that I cracked a smile. I snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her flush against me. “You’re never escaping me.” I promised her, my heart warm.
“I don’t want to.”
That was all it took to break my control and smash my lips against hers. She responded with just as much enthusiasm, making Zuka and me howl in approval. He was glad he was going to get a wolf counterpart now.
“Why don’t we go out to dinner today? Something simple and nice. Nothing extravagant.” I asked her and she beamed at me. “My favorite kind of meal.” She said. I gave her a grateful smile, “Let me go get changed out of these clothes.” I gave her a mock glare for pushing me into the water, but she only laughed and ruffled my hair. I let her, because only she was allowed to treat me like a kid.
“Sounds good, I think I will change into something nice, too!” She told me, her eyes getting a faraway look as she though about her clothes. “April can show you to Zia’s work chamber, she has tons of dresses that she has already made for you.” I told her and her face fell slightly, “Zia’s clothes are too extravagant. I was thinking more like jeans?” She told me with a pout, and I laughed, but urged her nonetheless. “I’m sure you’ll find something.”
We met up half an hour later. Flora had picked a simple grey dress. It had a high neck, and came just above her knee. It was shimmery, but not glossy. She looked stunning. I had on my best suit.
She looked at me as she walked over in the main lobby and raised an eyebrow. She was checking me out shamelessly and Zuka howled in pleasure.
“Someone cleans up well.” She told me and I kicked myself for not telling her that first. In my defense my brain couldn’t process anything apart from how beautiful she looked tonight.
“You look gorgeous.” I told her, and then leaned down to place a small kiss on her cheek. Her face flushed in response, but she was beaming.
“I though this was a simple dinner? You’re dressed for hosting a TV show.” She teased but I only smiled. There was no way I was ruining this. We got into the car, with just two other cars tailing us and I felt Flora’s enthusiasm build. Why hadn’t I done this before? Made her feel special? I would take her on more dates, and we would spend more quality time – watch movies and go for walks. We used to do it all the time before.
Pulling her in my world had made her grow up too quickly. She deserved to feel carefree sometimes, and deserved to be taken care off, and not fighting people every step of the way.
“I spoke to Collins by the way,” She told me casually as we walked into the rooftop bar that I’d bought out for the night. She trailed of mid-sentence as she looked at all the decoration and the lights and the elegant ambience of the space. I had to really give Sienna more hotels to run, she was always doing such a fantastic job.
“Oh, Reece. It’s beautiful.” I could swear that she would start crying happy tears. She just stood there looking around, while I stood there looking at her. The rooftop was on a cliff, overlooking the sea. We had to drive a good forty-five minutes to get here, but it was worth it. Once again, Sienna had picked a good spot.
She left my hand to walk to the railing that gave her the breathtaking view of the vast sea beneath her feet. I could feel how she felt through the bond. Could she feel how nervous I was?
“It’s so beautiful.” She said again, a faint whisper. Her back was towards me, and I took that as my moment.
Silently as ever, I got down on one knee, just a few feet behind her. This would be the only time I would be submissive. Zuka purred in anticipation, waiting for her to turn.
I reached inside my coat and grabbed the small velvet box.
She turned around.
Several emotions passed through her face, lost, dazed, surprised, aware, more surprise, a whole lot of blushing, and breathlessness. She was out of breath? I loved the effect I had on her. With unsteady steps she walked closer to me, her eyes still not able to believe what they saw.
“My lives are now crashing too.” I told her, understanding that there was now a human aspect to my life – Flora. I would adjust to things just as she would. The coronation, the marking, were werewolf rituals. There were some human rituals to follow as well, I would never forget those. And this was just the start. A proposal. An engagement. A marriage. Sealed together with vows.
“Flora Lori, my beautiful mate, my heart, my soul, my Queen, my everything. Would you please do the honor of marrying me?” My words were calm, confident. All my nervousness gone as I saw how she looked at me. How happy she was.
“Yes.” She whispered a simple tear sliding down her cheek. I got off my knees, took her hand and slid the ring that fit perfectly on her ring finger. She didn’t even glance down at the ring, her attention was only on my face, on my eyes, still taking me in as if I were a sight to see. I needed to get her a pocket mirror.
I raised my other hand and wiped the lone tear from her face. Then, I held her by the side of her face and leaned in to kiss her. She returned, shyly, but with all her heart. Letting me in her mind as she did so I knew exactly how she felt. It left me speechless – that someone could love me so unconditionally, so wholly. We broke apart and I beamed at her.
She fished out her phone, and said, “Here’s another human thing – documentation.” And then raised her phone to take a picture of the two of us. I wasn’t even ready. “Maybe I should start a new album, I deleted all our old pictures from before.” She told me, her face red from the admission. I barked out a laugh, she was so adorable.
I still had our old pictures somewhere, but instead I said,
“This would be a memorable beginning.”
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