The Bite of a Cougar
The tremors of Brock’s anger spread through the room. If his arm had not been secured around her, Cora would have felt the need to flee to the other side of the room. The gruff anger in his voice rattled her, the mere thought of being on the other side of that anger caused her to shudder against the warm press of his body.
With the mention of the marital contract, Brock’s muscles tensed beneath her small hands. The misery she felt for being the one that had come in between him and his fiance, causing his displeasure, was overwhelming. The guilt and humiliation gnawed incessantly at her insides. It would not matter what he said, nothing could diminish the inappropriate actions of her lioness, in her opinion. And in light of this new information, she found it difficult to hold back the sob that wanted to rupture from her throat. Everything happening now was her fault, she had made this mess and wasn’t quite sure how to fix it, if it even could be fixed.
“We should at least meet with them and discuss another course of action.”
Landon’s voice was tainted with irritation, even though it did not seem to be at his brother’s expense. In fact, towards his brother, there was a genuine tenderness, an unwavering devotion. They were both comfortable in one another’s company, not complying with the conventions that were held under normal regard for royalty.
Cora admired the camaraderie between them, at least until the agitation crept into their voices and the scent of their potent resolve made her all too aware of her current circumstance. For whatever reason, next to Brock, she was keenly aware of his brother’s presence in the room.
Brock ran his hand through his mussed hair and exhaled a lungful of air. “Yes, I know. Just let me get a shower. It has been a long couple of days.” Everything showed in his words. His whole body went slack, and he rubbed at his eyes.
“So I have heard. We will wait for you.” Both understanding and approval coated Landon’s words, though it sounded similar to pity to Cora’s ears.
When she heard the door click closed, Brock turned and pulled Cora into his arms. The sudden shift made Cora go rigid before he lifted her chin so that her eyes met his. Lowering his head, he pressed his lips firmly against hers. Without pulling away, his lips lifted in a smirk against hers.
“You can always join me in the shower,” he murmured against her lips, his tone husky and sensual.
Her eyes went wide at his bold words as she gasped and stepped away from him. From her peripheral, she already noticed his once soft and pleasurably delicious anatomy had risen and was twitching in her direction.
A blush stained her cheeks as she practically babbled. “But I-I...my heat…”
His hands slid down her arms to clasp her hands in his. He brought one of her hands to his lips and he kissed it slowly, singeing the spot where his lips pressed as it sent a fever through her body. When her body shuddered at the endearment, he smiled and held her gaze.
“You are so exquisite, and so very untainted in so many ways. Even if you do not understand your body,” he started, releasing one of her hands and lifting it to the folds of her robe.
Her breath hitched as his hand made contact with her overly hot flesh, her skin breaking out in gooseflesh. His hand slid smoothly down the flat surface of her abdomen and danced through her dainty curls before dipping to meet the slick heat of her folds. Running his fingers expertly against the needy flesh made her gasp with raw need, her body arching towards his touch as her head fell back.
The death grip she had on her robe loosened as she reached out to clutch him, her body threatening to come apart beneath her. Brock growled huskily at her response before his body went rigid.
When his touch fell away from her, her eyes popped open to stare at him with eyes glazed. The smile he offered looked nearly tortured and she frowned, dropping her head and wondering what she had done wrong.
Taking her chin in his hand, he lifted it to meet his gaze. “Even if you do not understand your body, all the pleasures it can know and give, it knows me.” He leaned over and kissed the tip of her nose. “And I will wait for you to come to me, Cora.” The words made her belly swell and she reached a tentative hand to touch his. The man smiled down at her before adding, “The invitation to join me in the shower is still open.” With raised brows, he watched her. The nearly imperceptible flinch must not have been as minuscule as she thought. He chuckled at her reaction and shook his head. “No? If you change your mind, you will know where to find me.”
The man moved away from her and walked towards the bathroom. She could not prevent herself from watching him walk away. Muscles in his back undulated hypnotically beneath the skin and the tight, muscled curve of flesh above his thighs...the heat rushed through her and she forced herself to avert her eyes. His body looked like that of a god that should be worshipped and, with her eyes, she did just that.
His naked form was still something of a wonder to her. There was so much there for her to explore, to touch, to taste...another swell of heat ran through her. Was she really over her heat? The man could do the most sinful things to her with merely a look, a glance, really.
Just as he walked through the door, he turned sideways to give her a long, knowing look that produced a rosy tint to devour her face. Lifting an inviting brow at her, his eyes held a heat that only deepened her blush at the sheer insinuation held within them. The intensity caught her breath and she was sure she would drown in the riptide of the pleasurable promise he offered.
When she remained frozen where she was, her hands once again clutching the robe at her chest, he gave her a soft, understanding smile. Pushing the door to the bathroom towards the frame, he allowed it to remain open a sliver so that she could still see movement from within.
With the door separating them, Cora felt like she could breathe again...think once more. And with the ability to think came the direness of her situation.
She couldn’t help but consider her situation, as well as how she could possibly manage to extricate herself out of it for both of their sakes. He had told her they were mates, that this was her home, but that was just impossible. Either he was foolish or he was lying. The only other possibility was that her mother, Darcy, had been lying to her. The thought was as easily dismissed as it came. Of all the people in her life, her mother was the constant.
Then there was his fiancé. Landon still referred to her like that: fiancé. The marital contract was certainly a point of contention between them, sounding all too important to be just swept under the carpet. By the sounds of it, no good could come from what happened between her and Brock, and that didn’t even include how she had single-handedly thwarted her parents' plans.
That won’t happen, my sweet.
It was what he had said when she had told him of her omega status and how her parents were trying to find someone that would actually care for her, how she would fetch them a fair price. His words had cut her deep. Now that she was without her virtue, everything her parents had been planning for her was all for nothing. No one wanted an omega mate, let alone one without her virtue.
So why was Brock tossing that word around as though it meant something? None of it made any sense to her and she grumbled quietly to herself. The one thing that was blatantly clear: she was an omega and he was a king. Nothing could come out of what had happened between them unless he expected her to be his paramour. The thought made her stomach churn.
The more she tried to solve the puzzle in her head, the more the pieces seemed like they belonged to different puzzles entirely. She did not have all the answers, but she felt like she needed to take some time, take a breather. There were so many questions running around in her head, and she had no idea who to turn to ask them.
The fact that she had been sheltered was painfully obvious to her. She had been kept away from society for the most part, with the night of the ball being the exception. With what her lioness did, she now understood why her parents had been so demanding when it came to keeping her in a cage.
Darcy had homeschooled her from such a young age, using old school books that were many years outdated. Living on the outskirts of the pridelands had its own issues, including not having access to the internet. Even though there were very few neighbors that lived that far out, she was always forbidden to go beyond their property line.
Her parents explained that it was in her best interest that such restrictions were made. Until now, she had thought of them as overly precautious, or overly protective. From the beginning, it was always about controlling her beast. Though she worked hard to prove to them that she could, keeping her buried deep inside her and not letting her surface since she was young, they still forbid her from any public situations. And now it all made sense. Her lioness had walked in and dominated that event, and she was now bearing the burden of that turn of events.
Just in a couple of days' time, she had gotten a crash course on those intimate things that her mother had yet to share with her. Though Brock had seemed willing to answer her questions, she felt so foolish and naive asking him things that he seemed to consider common knowledge. But then, he was their king, and he had other more important business to attend to than to fill in gaps of her understanding of such commonplace things.
Dropping her eyes, she looked down the front of her and cringed. There were no clothes that she could change into, and this thing was nearly in ruin. The house would be too far to walk to from here, but she really couldn’t stay.
Opening the bedroom door, she poked her head out. She was not sure what she would find but was surprised to find a blonde woman ready to knock on the door. The knot in the pit of her stomach grew as she recognized the woman.
“Oh, sorry.” Although she said it as an apology, the surly tone was hard to miss. “I was looking for my fiance.”
There it was, she still considered herself his fiance, as did his brother, and no doubt the coalition would as well. The woman’s hair was a few shades darker than her own pale blonde hair, though her eyes were a much paler blue. If she had to guess, this woman was older than her by at least fifteen years. Cora did not speak but merely nodded her head slightly in the direction of the bathroom.
“Ah, yes. I can imagine he would want to wash off all the...smells of his infidelity,” the woman didn’t even try to hide the disdain in her tone. “That awful rule about not being able to interfere with mating. It has to be awful to have to force oneself to mate with someone that was not of their choosing,” her voice mocked Cora, and she felt every cut the woman made. The woman’s gaze slid down Cora’s form to land on her covered abdomen. “But, now that you carry his cub, we can continue with the wedding.” She turned her gaze back to Cora’s, a smile consuming her face that was neither friendly nor pleasant.
Cora grimaced, hurt and confusion were written on every part of her. “What do you mean?” The innocence rang solid, and her timid voice only echoed it.
The wicked smile smeared itself across her face, and Cora suddenly felt like an animal cornered. “Certainly you understand that Brock is the king of this pride. As such, he has the right to have any number of paramours or concubines, whether they can bear him cubs or not. You know,” she leaned in conspiratorially as Cora took a step back. “...someone to slake those ravenous needs that a man of his status has. Surely you understand,” she righted herself, holding Cora in her narrowed gaze.
“However,” the woman before her shrugged, “he still needs a woman to rule by his side.” She flinched and the woman was only too eager to pounce, offering a pretentious laugh by way of humiliation. “Oh, my dear girl! Certainly, you could not have been foolish enough to think that you would be the only one to warm his bed? Or simple-minded enough to believe you, a trivial omega, would be worthy of ruling by his side?”
Cora shook her head, knowing these were the same thoughts she had been thinking of only moments before this unbearable woman showed up at her door. Clearly, the woman was not through with her humiliation yet. “Though, he won’t really need you at all, unless he wants to have more cubs. I mean, I am more than woman enough to warm his bed and satisfy his appetites. So, he may call for you...what? Once every few of years?” She sucked in air through her teeth, making a disapproving noise at Cora. “Gosh, sweetie, that must be pretty tough to find out that your life is nothing more than a baby-maker for the king.”
Once again, Cora shook her head. The woman watched as defeat overwhelmed her, tears starting to brim. “I didn’t want...this wasn’t…” Her voice was low, quivering with doubt, hurt, and self-loathing.
“Oh, sugar,” she put on her best syrupy-sweet charm. “I know that you are not to blame here. It has to be hard for you being in such an awkward position.” She paused, casting her eyes over Cora in an almost thoughtful appraisal of her. “Gosh, I can only imagine how your parents must be feeling, what with you going missing for three days!’ Those words made Cora flinch, causing the woman to smirk in response. “You want to go back home, don’t you?” She paused, waiting for Cora to respond. She only offered the merest nods of her head. “Well, you know what? I think I can help...I’d like to, really. I mean, what woman would want the life you will be subjected to if you stay?” Taking in Cora’s small frame, she continued. “I am sure I can get a set of clothes, a car...yeah, we can make this work.” From inside, the bathroom door swung open and the woman slinked further back into the hallway. As she was leaving, she lowered her voice to a whisper and called over her shoulder. “I will come back in a few. Be ready.”