HEAT

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His Worthiness

Hycinth

I still couldn’t wrap my head around it—tomorrow I would be in heat.

The concept was impossible. Unfathomable, even.

Before Leander captured me several weeks ago, I never thought I’d consider the remotest possibility of mating with him.

I hated him.

How foolish I’d been…

I’d had no idea just how confounding the mate bond was, turning my thoughts from utter loathing to a feeling dangerously close to love. It scared the hell out of me.

And now...here we were.

As the day drew near, Leander gave up all of his administrative Alpha tasks, his Wolf not allowing me out of their sight even for a moment. Hell, getting him to agree to bathroom privacy had been a full-blown argument.

But I’d put my foot down. I did not need Leander hovering over me while taking a shit. Just the thought made me cringe with embarrassment. And it wasn’t like I was going to magically ‘poof and disappear’ once the bathroom door closed.

Even now, Leander’s darkened gaze shifted frequently between him and his Wolf as he sat in a nearby chair, watching me intently while I got ready. Lips turned down into a frown, he muttered, “I don’t know why we have to go out. Wouldn’t it be better just to hang out here?”

Sitting at the edge of the bed, I pulled on my combat boots and sighed. “Leander, I don’t want to just sit in our bedroom. We stayed in for the past two days. A bit of fresh air would do us both good.”

Cerulean eyes darkened. A muscle in his jaw twitched. He remained silent, unmoving.

I stood to my feet and took a step toward the door. “If you want to stay here, fine, but I’m going—”

“You smell too good,” he interrupted, his voice hard.

As if that thoroughly explained everything.

I stopped and stared at him. “What in the world are you talking about?”

He joined me on his feet and strode right into my personal space. He looked shockingly sinful in dark jeans slung low on his trim waist, accentuating his thick and powerful thighs. A black henley pulled across his chest, revealing the ridges of his pectoral muscles and rock hard abs.

My Wolf gave a predatory lick of her lips as she took in his exceptional physique. Her thoughts were clear. She’d have her tongue on him soon.

Leander’s head came down, nose skimming my neck.

I shivered at his closeness.

He inhaled deeply. “Your scent is changing...the closer you get. It’s driving me crazy.” Tongue flickering out to trail along my collarbone, he groaned, ”Fuck. You taste even better than you smell.”

Biting back a whimper, I took a deep breath to steady myself. For a moment, I considered fighting fire with fire. Maybe if I rubbed my breasts against Leander’s chest, I could use my sexuality to persuade him to get what I wanted.

Yeah, definitely do that. My Wolf snickered in the back of my mind.

Her response caught my attention. She’d been pushing for weeks to get ass-up beneath our mate. Quickly, I realized her sarcasm was on point. It hadn’t missed my attention that Leander’s cock remained hard for almost all of the past two days. Throwing a spark on his pent-up sexual desire would not result in our leaving this room. No. The outcome would be just the opposite—me on my back with my legs wrapped around his waist, and him doing deliciously wicked things to my body.

Using every bit of self-control I had, I placed a hand on his chest. He pulled back to look at me. Instead of tapping into his sexuality, I decided to appeal to his dominance. “Please...” I batted my eyelashes and then looked down at the floor submissively. “I just want to take a walk with you.”

“You dangerous little female,” Leander growled. My ruse didn’t fool him, but at the same time, my approach worked.

Taking my hand, he stepped away and led me toward the door with a heavy sigh, “Ever wanted to speak to me at the training center anyway.”

Sounded good to me.

When we made it outside, I inhaled deeply. Fresh air and the scent of recent rain filled my nostrils. It was glorious. Heading toward the training building, I squeezed Leander’s hand tighter. He glanced down, his lips curling into a radiant smile at the happy expression on my face.

Inside the building, my eyes adjusted to the lower light.

I’d expected a routine outing, something to keep my attention so I didn’t go stir crazy waiting for the next day, but in an instant, everything changed...

Because, without warning, the overwhelming scent of unmated males hit my sensitive nose, stunning me with its intoxication. So powerful and alluring and shocking, I almost stumbled.

And I wasn’t the only one affected. My Wolf was already in my eyes surveying what she considered fresh meat all around us. Oh, the possibilities...

What the hell?? I’d never reacted this way to any other Wolf apart from Leander.

Shit...maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea.

But as much as my brain realized there might be a problem, my body nor my Wolf had any intention of walking away.

Leander didn’t seem to notice my shift in attention as he led me through the crowd to Gwen. When we reached Gwen, I sat on the bench next to her. Leander kissed the top of my head. “Ever is in the back. I’m going to speak with him. Will you be alright for a minute?”

“Yes,” I breathed, trying to keep my expression neutral. Probably.

Leander walked away.

Focusing on Gwen, I noticed her mouth was turned down into a frown.

My heart rate accelerated. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing...” she hesitated, confusion in her expression. “It’s just that your scent...it’s really...strong.”

My brows furrowed. “Leander said the same thing. Do I smell bad?” Feeling self-conscious, I forced myself not to sniff my armpits.

Gwen tilted her head, her gaze running down my body as she studied me intently. “Most female’s scents change as their heat gets closer. But yours...I’ve never smelled anything like it...” her voice trailed off and then continued almost to herself, “I wonder if it’s because of the ceremony tomorrow.”

Gwen was still speaking, but abruptly, I found my attention wholly drawn in the opposite direction—to where two very powerful unmated males were sparring.

Chests bare, bodies slick with sweat, they aggressively fought back and forth. A flurry of grunts and the surprisingly seductive sound of fist impacting skin and bone rang out. Captivated by their brute physicality, my Wolf sized them up. Strong. They would breed impressive pups.

I stood to my feet and took a step in their direction. Gwen jumped up and grabbed my hand to stop me. She looked in the direction I was headed and whispered urgently, “Hycinth, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

I didn’t listen, too interested in the male potential across the room. My Wolf flashed her canines, and I twisted my hand from Gwen’s grip. Without another word, I couldn’t seem to help myself as I gravitated toward the two large unmated males.

When I reached them, both wolves stopped fighting. Their heads snapped in my direction, attention equally riveted to me. Their nostrils flared, wolves in their eyes as they hungrily assessed me from head to toe. The shorter one licked his lips.

Before they could speak, Leander was by my side!

He grabbed my elbow and hissed in my ear, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I was stunned by my own behavior when I yanked free and stepped away from him, defiantly pushing my chest out. My Wolf bared her teeth at him, a warning only she would get to decide who she let into the den with her. Leander might be our mate, but nature dictated the survival of the fittest, a demand for the strongest.

...maybe Leander wasn’t the most powerful male.

Perhaps he didn’t deserve her.

My Wolf demanded a demonstration of his strength.

...proof of his worthiness.

Leander eyes went wide with shock and then narrowed. Feral voice dripping with danger, he rumbled, “What is it that you want, little mouse?”

Fuck, if I knew. My Wolf seemed to be leading this show.

Leander glanced at the two males in the ring.

They were now salivating at me and assessing Leander as an opponent. There was nothing subtle about their expressions—no less than an outright challenge.

Also, our confrontation had drawn the attention of two additional unmated wolves, both huge in stature and both extremely interested in the potential female in heat up for grabs.

Leander’s dark gaze locked on me. He gave a hard nod toward the group of males, voice turning into a deadly purr, “Do you see something here you like?”

My chin remained high, stance defiant, my Wolf waiting for Leander to prove he had something better to offer before she made her decision.

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