Waltz of the Lioness - Revised

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Duty Calls - Brock's POV

For the life of him, he could not help but wonder what on earth her parents were thinking of keeping so much from his little mate. Maybe she was a fanciful child and there was a reason for not filling her head with things they may have felt were romantic in nature, but to allow her to think that she would not be able to bear cubs seemed extreme, at the best. There was a line, and somewhere along the way, her parents not only crossed it, but they hurdled right on through to the next millennia.

To not even be aware that there would ever be the possibility of conception was inconceivable. She could not even seem to fathom the possibility. When she turned unbelieving eyes on him, he was nearly knocked back from the expression.

“Cora,” he called to her softly, “did your parents not share anything about mating with you?”

She nodded as best as she could in his cupped hands, even if her eyes would not hold his. Refusing to give her a chance to turn away from him, he continued to hold her face in his hands. A part of him willed her to hold his gaze with those magnificent pale eyes of hers, but his will was no match against her innocence and upbringing. Instead, he let the room grow quiet as he waited for her to disclose what she had been taught.

“They said that there will be those that will find their mate, their true mate, and those will be the lucky few. But, as an omega, it would never happen for me. That I was to be mindful of the mate that they chose for me,” her voice cracked as raw emotion at the admission filtered through, and he flinched. “They said they would do their best to find a suitable mate who actually wanted to care for me,” her little frame shuddered beneath his touch, a solitary tear creeping down her cheek and colliding against his thumb. “They said my obedience would fetch them a good amount.” After she finished speaking, she caught her bottom lip between her teeth and averted her eyes.

The lion soul within him roared, his claws extending as he stood ready to pounce. His poor mate had been made to believe she was anything but desirable, and that there was no hope for her to find anything but an arrangement that she must settle for. A relationship where she would more than likely be subservient in, and certainly not fitting of the queen she was. How could they not see how special she was?

He pressed her head against his chest and kissed her forehead, wanting to chase those unpleasant thoughts from her mind. “That won’t happen, my sweet.”

A knock on the door prevented him from saying anything else. When he acknowledged the intrusion, the door opened allowing his brother admission.

Cora shrunk behind Brock, covering herself from view. Standing in front of her, he let those that dare enter catch a glimpse of his full-frontal. He had nothing to hide, or be ashamed of. If it would allow his mate to take refuge behind him more securely, he would certainly grant her that small token. In all honesty, he welcomed the feeling of her pressing her small frame into his back.

“Oh,” Landon averted his eyes after they settled on Brock’s naked form. “I did not think you would bid me entrance if you were still…” he gestured with his hand in his direction indicating his natural state.

Brock chuckled. “We have witnessed one another naked, many times since you were born. This is nothing new,” he chided.

“Aye,” Landon said, with a lopsided grin. “But not so much when you are at half-mast, my brother,” he teased.

Brock cast a quick glance down at himself, smiling smugly. “Another few minutes, and I am sure it would have been a lot bolder,” he mocked. “Now, I take it you came for another reason than to just ogle my naked body?”

Though his comments had been made in jest, he let the chuckle rumble in his throat. If he continued to stand there with his mate wiggling and squirming behind him, he would not be able to prevent his half-mast from becoming a full one. The way that she moved against him was pure torture, one that he tried to put out of his mind.

The teasing jests had his brother chuckling as well, though the rumble in his chest made him all too aware of his inopportune timing. “Aye, but it seems that at least one of my questions has already been answered.” His brother nodded his head towards where Cora remained hidden behind him.

The pride swelled inside him. There were times when a heat could last for the full five days in order to conceive, and there were times when a heat ended without conception. However, her heat ended before the third day. She had been primed and ready to go, learning to enjoy the pleasure he was able to grant her.

His arm reached around him and pressed her closer to him. “She is a worthy mate, brother.”

“No doubt. Word of her lioness has been circulating. Rumor has it she gave you a run for your money, eh?” His smirk taunted him, but Brock would not rise to the bait.

“You should see the marks she left in her wake. She is every bit my equal.” He hated speaking about Cora as if she were not there and was keenly aware of her as she clung to him.

His brother chuckled, then froze. For a moment, his face twisted as though puzzling over something. “Is-” The word hung in the air between them before he shook his head. When he returned Brock’s gaze, he frowned. “We still have the matter of your...fiance.”

Brock blew the air out of his lungs, a breath he had not realized he had been holding. “I don’t really see the problem, Landon. The law is binding. There is to be no interference with a true mating.”

Though his brother knew their laws and customs almost as well as he did, he was not so certain about the lovely creature that clung to his backside. It was for her benefit that he reiterated them, making them clear so that his mate would understand the nature of their bond. As sheltered as he can imagine her life as being, he wanted to make sure that she understood that there was nothing that would stand between them.

“And that is not under contention, brother.” Brock watched as his brother’s face pinched with annoyance. Though Landon was strong and formidable in his own right, he was more than agreeable to acknowledge Brock as their king. The look on his face only suggested that he disliked being in his own shoes at this moment, being the bearer of what appeared for all the world to be ill-gotten news. “There is still a matter of the marital contract, which included a treaty for the coalition between the two prides.”

Brock grumbled, knowing he could not avoid it. Why did people have to make things so complicated? It was easy in his estimation. He found his mate, one that could bear him cubs and provide him with an heir. What else was there?

With his fiance, there was no love, no potential of ever birthing cubs, no hope of anything but a marriage of contractual obligations. She was several years older than him, wanting merely his title and power from that marriage and nothing more.

He ground his next words out. “Then you marry her!”

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