Lucy blinked. Twice. Confusion warred with acceptance, but I also knew from listening in on the nurses in the hallway, that the medication they had her on was some pretty heavy shit. Holding a semi-coherent conversation was about all I could expect from someone under heavy doses of morphine. I just thanked whoever was looking out after stray wolves that they had kept a careful watch on my little beauty.
“I…” Blinking again, she tilted her head as if she hadn’t heard me right. “You smell like pine.”
I grinned, utterly unable to help myself. The void in my chest after my rejection was slowly being filled, warming me from within. The more time we spent together, the more my heart would sew itself back whole, just as the more time we spent apart, the more I would weaken at the loss of her.
“I do,” I agreed, my lips tugging a little as my smile threatened to widen.
“And…I don’t hurt,” she mumbled numbly.
“That’s the bond,” I told her. “It heals what’s broken. I’ve never heard of a second chance coming along as quickly as yours, but it negates the pain you felt when he rejected you.”
Her eyes stared blankly, and I knew she was chewing over this new information.
“My wolf,” she said. “I can barely feel her. Just a hint of her in the back of my mind.”
“That happens, sweetness. When you are healing, she may go into hibernation. She’s probably doing her damnedest to get you healed up quickly, though it might affect other things like your family mindlink and your ability to shift—which, of course, you shouldn’t do until you are completely healed at any rate. The doctor will explain more.”
“How…how do you know so much?” She looked vaguely wary, and a lot confused.
“Destiny Pack is very remote, so much of what we know has been passed down from generation to generation. Everything is written down—even the slightest bits of lore and thoughts on the Moon Goddess, who many believe doesn’t exist. In our tomes of old, we know her as the first female shifter by the name of Selma, meaning ‘divine protector’. We don’t know where she came from, for the stories don’t go back that far and it’s not like paper could be had for pennies on the dollar like now, but she was said to be the first Luna of Destiny Pack who disappeared into the wilderness after her mate, Gabriel, passed from war. His name means ‘warrior of the Gods’.”
That might have been information overload, as I saw her blink again a few times before nodding slowly. It was as if chewing up the syllables into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Then, she surprised me and blinked over at me again, a question in her eyes before she could speak it.
“When can I get out of here? This…hospital, is it?”
“Knock, knock.” The friendly voice of Doc Denario sounded from the doorway, his ever-present stoicism at odds with the cheerful timbre of his voice. “May I come in?”
If I hadn’t been there, I was certain he would have barged his way in. Since I was pretty certain he knew who this woman was to me, I stood to make the introductions.
“Lucy, this is the doctor that saved your life, Dr. Denario.” I turned to Melvick Denario and nodded. “Doc, this is Lucy, my mate.”
His eyebrows rose in feigned surprised as he sauntered into the room to take up the other side of the bed.
“Congratulations, West. I’m happy that this little fighter happened to stumble upon our pack then. Most fortuitous.”
Sometimes the dude talked like a 19th century playwright, but I appreciated his discretion as always.
Dr. D fielded our questions with his usual patience, letting her know what her aches and pains consisted of, how long the recovery time was likely to be, and then assuring Lucy she could leave the moment she had a place to stay.
“With me,” I answered swiftly. “Of course, she will stay with me.” I hadn’t asked, but I didn’t feel comfortable having her live in the packhouse with strangers, and there wasn’t a spare home in the whole pack.
Even so, the doctor raised a brow at Lucy, asking her the question before the words slipped out of his mouth.
“That alright with you, dear?”
Lucy looked to me. Then the doctor. She nodded her head a few times looking dazed, though she appeared to be a tad more alert than a few minutes ago.
“The morphine will wear off quicker on us shifters and she should be good as new in an hour or so,” Denario told me. “She’ll be a little groggy, but that too shall pass after a good rest in a comfortable bed. I’ll set her up with some crutches, though I don’t think it wise for her to use them for a day or so until I’m certain her arm won’t pop back out of its socket.”
“I’ll carry her.” I offered before he could do something ridiculous like lend her a wheelchair. The small hospital only had one, and I had two functioning, strong arms. It was a pleasure and a privilege to care for my female.
Pulling her up into my arms in a bridal carry, I grabbed some paperwork and some pills the doctor shoved at me, stuffing them into my jacket pockets before hauling ass out the door and into the fresh air. The light was dimming in the east, the sun just barely visible above the highest peaks to the west.
“Where do you live? Do you have your own house?” she asked as I trudged through the tall grass towards my home to the northeast.
“I live alone,” I told her. “It’s small but comfortable. Could use a bit of sprucing up, but I’m not much for feng shui and all that.”
Outside the clinical smell of the hospital, her rose scent invaded my senses, nearly making me dizzy. I was certain her fragrance would fade once we were marked and mated; it was the scent of her that pulled me in almost as much as her tender touch. The best, though, was that I could smell her purity. She had been untouched by any other male. At least, where it counted.
A virgin. Thank God.
Not that I would have rejected her if she wasn’t, but after Carla’s whorish ways, it was a breath of fresh air to find my second chance that was the complete opposite of my first true mate.
Someone called out my name and I nodded back. A few more wolves called out their greetings, some of them probably only curious about the scent of the new wolf.
“When do you think I’ll get my wolf back to normal?” she asked as I was opening the front door to my modest home. “I want to let my parents know I’m alright. You know, so they don’t worry too much. I don’t have their phone numbers memorized and my cell phone is back at home.”
Telling her that we didn’t use cell phones this far out into the wilderness would have done nothing for her anyway, so I decided not to tax her with that information just yet.
“You usually go off for a few days without telling them where you’re going?” Was she a sweet but rebellious little she-wolf? If so, I would have my hands full. Right now, if I didn’t know where she was at, I think I’d lose my fucking mind.
“No, I mean—I’ve gone off for 12 hours or so by myself before, but that was only recently when…when things started to happen between Zach and I.” She licked her dry lips and I set her down on the couch, her feet resting on an ottoman I placed in front of her.
“Drink?” I offered.
She nodded vigorously.
“Water? Fruit Juice?” I wasn’t about to offer her a beer or glass of wine—not on top of the morphine.
I hopped to and grabbed both her and I some water, talking as I filled two glasses with ice and fresh water from the tap.
“We have fresh mountain spring water here,” I told her loudly. With her wolf asleep inside her, I knew her senses wouldn’t be as keen as they usually were. I could have been wrong, but it was better to play it safe than sorry. “We have a well and pump behind the packhouse and everything is filtered and treated right here.”
I heard her mutter appreciatively and thought she was probably still drowsy from the medication. I hurried my ass out to the living room once I was done and handed her a glass with a straw.
“Thank you,” she murmured, her eyes cutting away from mine.
“Hey.” She looked over at me, all big, blue eyes. “Don’t look away from me. I like seeing your face.”
A flush rose high on her cheeks, but she didn’t look away again.
Pure. I can smell your purity, sweet girl.
“I’ve never been with a man in that way.”
It was like she could read my mind already.
“Me too,” I told her before she could ask. Her eyes widened before her brows knotted cutely over her nose.
“How?” That was an easy question to give. “My whole family always waited for their mates. It was difficult at times, especially after being pledged as Beta to Paul. I know many women wait ’til they’ve found their mate to have sex, but it’s not at all common with men.”
She nodded, canting her head to the left as she thought to herself.
“I knew who I belonged to four years ago almost, but still, we waited. We wanted the first time to be special and not something we regretted. Zach agreed, even though Alpha males are known for having a higher than normal libido. Since I wanted it that way, he said he would wait. I…I’m glad we did now.”
“I wish I knew I had you years ago,” I told her bluntly, the words spilling out before I could think to retract them from my tongue. “I’ve been a fucking mess for years now since…since I was rejected by her.”
Our gazes locked for a moment before Lucy blinked.
“Why? Why did she reject you?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“She wasn’t a good person. Still isn’t. Pack whore, as far as I’m concerned. She didn’t even think to wait for her mate to fuck every hard dick within shouting distance. I smelled her a few days after turning 18. Found her riding some guy’s dick right before she went and rejected me.”
“I’m...I’m so sorry, West.”
I shook my head.
“It’s okay, Luce. Long before your time.” I cleared my throat. “I know you probably can’t say the same as you were on good terms with your…your mate, but I don’t regret her rejecting me. Right now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”
I kind of wanted to smile at the candid conversation we were having. For a human, I imagined it would seem strange to be talking so openly about sex and ex…whatever the human equivalent was to mates—if there was any—but for a newly found pairing like us, it was completely normal. Since I could smell her innocence, it was only natural it would be talked about as soon as we found each other—or I found her.
Or, did she find me?
“I didn’t know what else to do to stop the pain,” she mumbled lowly. “It felt…it felt like I was dying—like every molecule and neuron was bursting with pain. The only thing worse than knowing he was going to reject me was the rejection itself. I…I didn’t know what else to do to stop from hurting.”
I straightened up and moved closer to Lucy. Her pain was my pain, even if hers was the result of a fresh rejection.
“They say anticipation is better than getting the thing you want? Well, it’s not so true when what you’re anticipating is a broken heart and the feeling that nothing will ever be right in the world again. Sounds silly—childish even, doesn’t it?”
“Not at all.” I pulled her into my arms as gently as I could, making sure to keep any weight off her left shoulder. “We go as slow as you need with this, alright, sweet girl? I waited five years for a chance like this to come along. I’m in no rush.”
I pulled her into my arms and pressed a soft kiss to her temple, letting her form relax against mine until she was asleep. Then I carried her into my bedroom. I would give her her own if she wanted, but I knew my scent would calm her when she woke, and that was all that mattered right now.
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