“As much as I enjoy laying in bed with you...” I turned my head on the pillow to look at Rhys, enjoying the smug smirk on his lips as turned his face toward me. His hair was ruffled up and messy, eyes bright with mischief. The more time I spent with him the more I got wrapped up in him and the things that he had me feeling, physically and otherwise.
“I believe you have still paperwork waiting for you at your office and I have a lunch date...“I patted him on the arm playfully as I got up out of the bed, feeling his eyes rake over my naked flesh as I walked toward the bathroom. It had been a long time since I felt so comfortable with myself or with someone else. Silas had stolen that from me when he had held me hostage with his “love”. I grabbed the extra toothbrush that Astrid had brought over for me when I had first arrived, turning on the faucet and running it under the water. I grabbed the toothpaste and squirted a bit onto the bristles before I began the process of cleaning myself up.
“Who do you have a lunch date with?” I glanced toward the door to find Rhys leaning against the frame. He truly was a feast for my eyes, it was unfair that he should be so inhumanely gifted in his looks. I looked away from him to the mirror above the sink, my brows furrowing as I looked at my own appearance. My blonde roots were beginning to show and my skin still flushed from the sex.
I spit into the sink, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, “Your mother. I got her number from Dace the other day.” I replied stiffly, knowing that he was going to be upset. He had made it clear to me that he didn’t want me going around his mother but hadn’t given me a reason. I knew he had thought I was going to drop the issue but that wasn’t my way. He had made his feelings known, I had considered them, and made my own decision about the matter.
“You did what?”
I rinsed off my toothbrush, turning off the water and tapping it lightly against the sink. I did my best to ignore the way my body reacted to his agitation, turning to face him with a blank expression, “It’s not a big deal. I got the number from Dace and gave her a call while you were at your office yesterday. I asked her if she wanted to get some food and she agreed.” I dropped my toothbrush into the cup next to the sink and brushed past Rhys as I exited the bathroom. I glanced toward the alarm clock on the side table, frowning when I noticed I only had thirty minutes before I was supposed to meet with Astrid.
Rhys stalked behind me, “Not a big deal? Dove, I told you not to get ahead of yourself. Which you disregarded when you decided to go behind my back and make plans with my mother. I thought I made it pretty clear that I didn’t want you around her.” He growled low, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end. This was the most frustrating thing about Rhys. He believed that his words were laws and they were meant to be obeyed. Perhaps if I was one of his pack members I would feel differently, but I wasn’t. I was supposed to be his mate. His equal.
I continued to keep my back to him, going to the dresser to grab some clothes. He had kindly cleared out a drawer for me, “Do not growl at me, Rhys.” I said in a firm tone as I pulled my drawer open and grabbed a bra and a pair of underwear. I tossed a look at him over my shoulder, “You made it perfectly clear that you had feelings about us being around each other but you never gave me a reason why. I didn’t realize me wanting to get to know you and your pack better was such a problem.”
He crossed his arms over his chest as he heaved a long sigh, “That’s not what I am saying, Dove. Stop putting fucking words into my mouth.”
I slipped my arms through the straps of my bra, one at a time, “Then stop leaving me with unanswered questions where I have to assume everything. It makes asses out of us both.” I snapped back as I reached back to fasten the two sides together. As much as I enjoyed how complete I felt when I was around Rhys. He drove me up a fucking wall. He was the worst at communicating, not that I was that great at it either. All I knew was I was tired of fighting about everything little thing.
Rhys let out a growl, reaching up to comb his fingers through his hair in agitation, “You’re the most frustrating woman I’ve ever fucking met. You really like to needle me...”
I leaned forward and stepped my legs into my underwear, slowly sliding them up my legs, “Yeah well you’re no picnic either.” I mumbled under my breath as I settle the pink lace on my hips, feeling a little better that I wasn’t naked. At the moment that was likely to lead to another session in his bed, while we tried to sort out our frustrations in the form of orgasms. My body was more than welcoming to the concept. My mind however was putting a stop to that thought immediately. I fixed my hands on my hips and stared at him, “What is the real issue, Rhys?”
He stared back at me, giving me a look that said he didn’t appreciate my tone. I gave him a look that I hoped conveyed that I didn’t give a damn. I watched his jaw tense as he ground his teeth together, “She and I had difference of opinions where you were concerned. She over-stepped her bounds. So I told her she could cool off until she learned her place...basically...” He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. I couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth.
I snorted, turning away from him as I grabbed a t-shirt and jeans, “You’re such an asshole. Learn her place? That woman is your mother, Rhys.”
“She threatened you.” He threw out as if that made it perfectly okay. I hadn’t been there. I didn’t know what had been said but I knew I didn’t want to become something that tore apart their relationship.
I pulled the t-shirt on over my head, “That’s because you’re her only son and she didn’t know me. I was a stranger that showed up beaten to hell. So I don’t blame her for that. Plus, you said yourself that your kind doesn’t really trust humans.” I ran my finger through my hair, trying to smooth it over. I glanced in his direction to find him watching me with a furrowed brow, obviously upset that I was making valid points. I gave him a small smile, wanting to soothe his ruffled fur, “Trust me, mother’s love me.”
“Not my mother.”
I rolled my eyes, stepping into my jeans, “She will once she gets to know me and sees that I’m not threat. That will never be able to happen if you keep us apart because you’re afraid of what might happen . If you want me to be apart of your life then it’s going to happen eventually. Get over yourself. If I can handle you, then I can handle her.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of yourself.”
I lifted a brow, “Are you doubting me?”
“No, of course not.” He moved towards me, reaching out and grabbing hold of my arms in a gentle touch. Rhys looked stressed as he stroked my skin with his fingers, “I’m just saying you don’t know my mother like I do. She is a hard woman to crack.”
I let out a tiny sigh, enjoying and hating the way his touch brought me back into a calm state. It was like taking a dose of a drug, “Well I’m your mate. So that must be worth something. I must have some kind of leadership, don’t take no shit qualities...even if they are slightly buried inside of me.”
I watched as he cracked a small smirk at my remark, “You already proved you don’t take shit the other day at the bar.” I knew his mind was traveling away from the conversation to what had happened after we had left the bar. My body flushed at the memories as well.
I pulled away from him, knowing from the look in his eyes where this was leading, “Good, then trust me on this one.” I snapped the button on my jeans.
He let out a sigh, holding my stare, ”Fine, but you will take my cellphone with you. If anything gets out of hand I want you to call Dace. He will bring you to me immediately.” I found myself smiling at his words. He might be frustrating, trying to communicate with him might be like pulling teeth but I knew everything he did was because he cared about me. He wanted to protect me from the dangers of the world. I only needed him to understand that I had been through it and I could handle myself.
“Deal.” I leaned up on tip-toes and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips.
Astrid sized me up as I took a drink from my water, “It looks like you are doing much better from the last time I saw you.” Her tone was light and friendly but her body language told a different story.
I placed the glass back on the table, ignoring the interested gazes of people in the bar, “I am feeling much better. Rhys has been taking good care of me.” He had been taking good care of me. He wasn’t a very sensitive man but he had his own way of showing his feelings towards me. Minus the whole slight kidnapping debacle, things had been going pretty well.
“Yes I am sure he is.” She replied flatly as one of the waitresses approached our table. I tensed at her tone, clenching my hand into a fist under the table. I obviously had a lot of ground to cover with this woman. She was nothing like a human mother, and I knew there were actual teeth and claws involved if I pissed her off.
"Luna, What can I get for you?”
Astrid turned her face, greeting the girl with a smile that reminded me of a queen greeting her subjects, “Larissa how many times do have I tell you to call me, Astrid?”
“Right, sorry.” She bowed her head slightly, “What can I get for you, Astrid?”
“I’ll have my usual.” Astrid glanced toward me, “What do you want?”
When we had come last time Rhys had ordered for me, so I had no idea what they served. I thought about grabbing the menu but the expectant look on his mother’s face had me second guessing that move, “I’ll just have whatever you’re having.”
Astrid held my gaze for a moment which made me want to take back what I had said but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want her to think that she could intimidate, even though I was certain that’s exactly what she was doing. Perhaps I should have listened to Rhys, maybe I couldn’t handle his mother.
“Well there you are.” She turned back to Larissa with her friendly smile, “How is your mother doing? I meant to stop by yesterday but I got held up.” I watched the way Larissa brightened at the question and personal attention. This was part of the interaction of the pack, they treated each other like family. I had seen it back in Silas pack, though this seemed more free form and with him it was more of a dictator containing his subjects.
Larissa shifted from foot to foot as if she had excess energy, “She’s doing well. We take each day as they come. She’ll be happy that you asked about her, Luna. I mean, Astrid.” Rhys mother gave an incline of her head, holding the poised smile.
Larissa looked from Astrid to me, looking a little uncertain, “I’ll be back with your food in a jiff!” She turned and waltzed away from our table with pep in her step.
“So I’m guessing it was your idea to have lunch with me?” Astrid questioned as she met my gaze.
I gave her a smile, “That would be correct. I thought it might be nice for us to get to know each other.” I really wanted this to go well. I wanted his mother to like me, especially since I planned to mate her son.
I was found myself surprised by her question, brow furrowing, “Well I just thought since Rhys and I--”
“Rhys and you, what? Because you two are fucking you thought that we should be friends? That I should welcome you with open arms?” There was no denying where Rhys had gotten his crass attitude. Obviously the apple didn’t fall far from the tree was a very apt statement for these two.
I sat up a little straighter as my face grew hotter, “No, of course not. Rhys and I are--”
She jumped in again, “There is no you and Rhys. I don’t see a mark on you. Right now you’re just a human who is living on the compassion of a man who should know better than to get caught up in such silly things. I can tell my son really likes you. And I am sure you really fancy him, but you’re from two different worlds. You must see the situation that puts everyone in. There Alpha always having to worry about the human girl...”
Even though I had expected the harshness. I still felt thrown by it, “I understand that you don’t like me--”
“It’s not about liking you.” She replied calmly, “It’s about the fact that you brought trouble into my town and to my pack. My son is a bleeding heart like his father. He still has a lot to learn about being an Alpha of pack.”
“With all due respect--”
“Don’t waste your nicety on me” She took a sip from her water, “If you have something to say then say it properly.”
I stiffened, something inside of me bristling. She wasn’t giving me the proper chance to explain myself or the situation, ”Fine.” I practically growled the words at her, obviously hanging out with werewolves was beginning to rub off on me, “First, I didn’t plan on bringing any trouble here. I told Rhys I would leave, but he wouldn’t let me. He wanted to help because he is a good guy. I’m not just some girl your son is fucking, for your information. I am his mate, and I won’t let you talk about our relationship so disrespectfully.” My chest was heaving as the anger rolled through me.
“And maybe you’re right that he could learn a couple of things about leading but he’s doing the best he can from what I’ve seen. You doubting him isn’t helpful. You don’t have to like all of his decisions but if you expect this pack to remain together then you need to support him and stop being so contrary to everything he does. If you want him to actually lead this pack then you need to let him. He is going to make mistakes. He’s far from perfect but he always puts this pack first.” I fell silent, hands fisted on the table in front of me.
Astrid stared at me, silently and for a moment I felt I had said too much, taken it too far. I didn’t regret what I had said only that I may have said it a little more passively. She leaned back into the booth, “It must have taken a lot of courage to say all that to me, knowing who and what I am.”
“I probably shouldn’t have talked to you like that.”
“Probably not, but I like you more for it.” Astrid gave me a small grin, that had me feeling even more uncertain than I had been before, “I can only imagine what you’ve been saying to my son.” She leaned forward pressing her elbows into the table, familiar green eyes full of mischief.
“I’m going to give you a chance to prove your worth as my son’s mate, human. You think you can run with the wolves? I guess we’re going to find out.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but I had a feeling Astrid was going to make sure to challenge me at every turn.
Larissa chose that moment to approach with our plates of food, “Here you are, Astrid.” She set down her plate first, before turning to me.
She down the plate in front of me and I felt my eyes widen. There was a huge piece of steak on the plate, blood and other juices dripping from it. Next to it was a large helping of mashed potatoes, followed by green beans. This was more food than I could possibly put away. “This is a lot more than I was expecting...” I looked toward Astrid to find her chuckling softly to herself as she was cutting into her own large steak.
“You’ve got a lot to learn.” She put the piece of rare meat into her mouth, giving me a closed mouth smile while she chewed. I look back down at my plate with my stomach already protesting at the amount of food I was about to ingest.
“Go on eat up. You’ll need those calories if you’re going to have a chance of keeping up.” Rhys mother was obviously enjoying herself at my expense, but at least I was making moves in the right direction.