Werewolves were known for their sexual pride. More than humans, sex was part of what defined us, from the moment we hit sixteen to the day we take our last breath. The Mating Season emphasized it, making us even more sexually aware of ourselves and the people around us.
For male wolves, it was easy to get hard. For females, it was easy to get wet. This, the chemical reaction of our body to lust, was also something we took pride in. Because our body was much more aware than regular humans, and its reaction was also stronger to a certain degree.
An impotent male werewolf at the prime of his life was an anathema. A female werewolf who couldn’t get wet was unheard of. Both, when occurred, felt like a disgrace and degraded the person who couldn’t be turned on.
That’s why I understood for the same time Shade’s side, understood he must’ve felt the same shame as I did. Must have felt less wolf because of it. And so when he looked me in the eye after I confessed the true degree to which Damon twisted me psychically, there was no judgment, only horrible understanding.
Words weren’t needed at the moment. Shade got it. I didn’t need him to say he was sorry or something pitiful as that, and he didn’t. He only embraced me again, tightening me against him. I let myself be hugged, even though it was close to impossible for me to hug him back. My arms wouldn’t let me lift them.
But Shade didn’t need me respond, as long as I was less terse. After a few minutes of silence, he let me go and dragged me back to the sofa, seating me flush next to him. “I have a suggestion, an idea,” he said, staring at me intently, “and I think it might help both of us.”
I nodded, my tears already dry on my face. I again managed to get myself under control, which was good. Vital to my current state. “I’m listening.”
He took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. “We need to have sex.”
At this, I looked away. “Never thought I would hear this statement from you,” I croaked out as a lame try at joking. I hadn’t joked in a long time and I was kinda rusty.
He didn’t reply to that, thankfully, and explained his meaning instead. “It’s not longer an option to stay away from it. Neither for me nor for you. We need to get the fear and pain and shame over with, and we can only do it one way.”
I could see the logic behind it. Still. “I’m not sure I can do this,” I said quietly, looking anywhere but at him. “If I was the old me I would’ve jumped your bones by now, but I can’t. Just thinking about it...” I shivered and folded my arms around myself in an instinctive protective gesture.
“That’s exactly why we need to do this,” Shade said and then sighed. “Look at me, Daisy. Please.”
Flinching, I forced my head up and my eyes on him. His hand cupped my cheek. “I don’t want you to do the same mistake I did,” he told me, regret on his face, “I never took care of my sexual inability issue. I let it seethe inside me and locked anything away. I don’t want it to happen to you, especially when you haven’t been like this for as long as I am.”
Just remembering what he’d been through, how many tough choices no one should’ve had in the first place, made my hand rise suddenly and grab the front of his shirt. “I hate that you’ve been through shit,” I said quietly, my eyes still on his. “It makes me sick just thinking about what was done to you. How can you even suggest having sex after that?”
His thumb caressed my cheek as his eyes turned darker, more intense. “It’s been sixteen years for me. While the memories will always be in my head, I’m already a mature man, and I found my mate. I want to get over my problems. I want to overcome my issues that hang like a sword pointed at my head. I want to feel lust and passion and love and everything in between. And I only want to feel these things with you. Only you. You made me want to change, remember?”
I winced just hearing that. “But I can’t... Not so soon...”
He grabbed my head in his hands and pressed a kiss to my forehead. It made a shocked gasp escape me. “I’m not coercing you into anything, Daisy,” he said, muscles growing taut. “I’m not him. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. It’s a suggestion and I only wish you can at least think about it while we stay here.”
I could see the truth and logic in his suggestion. Shade didn’t want me to be swarmed by my own feelings now that I was free of Damon’s clutches and become even more sexually scared. He wanted me to plunge straight into the muddy area, and he wanted to be there with me, jumping as well.
But it felt... I felt...
“I’ll think about it,” I managed to whisper.
“That’s all I wanted you to do,” he said, and, pressing one last kiss to my forehead, he rose to his feet. “It’s late. Let me show you to your bedroom.”
Nodding, I followed him inside and then he escorted me to a bright, airy bedroom that was the guest room of this house. He bid my good night, caressed my cheek one more time, and then left. And once he wasn’t there, I felt everything crushing back.
The loneliness. The void. The desperation.
Doing my best to catch my breath, I stumbled deeper into the room and took off my clothes, putting on the white pajama shorts and blue tank top and crawled into the soft, cushy bed. As I put the blanket over me, a sob burst out, tearing my throat, and then another, and another, and tears pooled on the pillow as I found myself crying until sleep took over, blissfully dreamless.
When morning came, I got dressed in the blue clothes from yesterday and went to the ensuite bathroom, cleaning my red, splotchy face and trying to look more alive. Then I combed my hair, which was so easy now that it was short, and once I was finished, I went out of the room.
And hit by a divine smell of food.
Following the scent, I found Shade drinking coffee and sitting near the dinning table. He looked extremely refreshed; his hair was still wet from a morning shower he probably took, his muscles were relaxed some, and he looked... pretty good in gray sweatpants and black tank.
He watched me as and offered me a nod and a small, tiny smile. “Good morning, Daisy.”
I nodded back and sat at the dinning table, my eyes now devouring the food that was outspread on it. “Morning.”
Shade poured orange juice into my glass and I looked at him puzzled. Last night he put out every dish I liked. This morning was no different; bacon, omelet with onion, white cheese and grain bread, not to mention that orange juice was one of my favorite... “I don’t know if it’s just luck or you’ve been spying on me back in the day.”
He arched an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“The food,” I motioned with my chin at the table. “It’s my favorite dishes. Yesterday, too. How did you know?”
This time, his smile broadened a bit, transforming his face, making him seem far younger than he was. “I asked your sister before I came to get you.”
I started. For the past twelve hours I’d forgotten I had other people in my life back in Lumen that were probably worried. But I couldn’t handle this line of thought just yet, so I buried it away.
What he said, however, sent a wave of warmth through me. “I never knew you cared enough,” I said. Not like this.
Shade grabbed my hand under the table and looked at me seriously. “I always care for you, Daisy. From the moment our gazes collided and I realized you were my mate. I was just never good at admitting things, especially of the emotional kind.”
Jolting at his words, I snatched my hand away and averted my eyes. Then I just ate, hoping he would feel that I wasn’t interested in talking. Thankfully he wasn’t daft and he let me be.
Once we were finished, Shade broke the silence. “Come with me. I have something to show you.”
Frowning, I followed him out of the living room and up to the third floor. There, he opened a door to what looked like a gallery; white walls filled with drawings on canvas. My eyes went wide as I looked around me, not knowing where to look first. Then my eyes landed on one piece that caught my attention and I walked toward it, barely aware of Shade staying put.
The piece was full of dark colors. It was a profile of a woman with pretty face yet her eyes were red, indicating the evil withing. Her hair was blonde tinged with dark and it blew in the wind of the picture. The scenery was of a cliff in the night, and the moon was so small, and the stars so vast. The piece gave a vibe of loneliness that came out of evilness. It wasn’t something most people would relate to, but I did.
I did so much.
Then I looked down at the signature of the author and saw an eloquently written name. Squinting my eyes, I realized the elegant font made up the name Weston. “Who’s Weston?” I asked and turned around, finding Shade still at the entrance of the room.
Shade seemed like a man out of a different planter when he was so far away. His hands in the pockets of his pants, he gave me a sad smile and said, “I am.”
I blinked. “What?”
“My birth name is Weston Shade,” he told me, and for the first time since I’d met him, he looked... defeated. “And this gallery is full of my paintings.”