A Royal Mate

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Part 30

I woke up the next morning to the soft sounds of voices. Val and her mate were talking and giggling in the kitchen. My heart clinched at the sound but I was truly happy for her. I swung my legs over the side of my bed and got up. Making my way to my closet I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror that hung on the back of my door. I looked like hell. My eyes were sunken in and were rimmed with black circles. My lips were pale and dry cracking slightly in the corners and my face lacked any hint of spirit within me. I turned away in disgust and grabbed some clothes from my closet. Today was Saturday and usually Val and I went to the farmers market but I guess her having a mate now changes things. I sighed as I threw on some leggings and a loose fitting pink tee.

When I walked out my room Val ran up to me grabbing me in a hug and kissing my cheek. "Farmers market today?" My eyes lit up.

"You mean you still want to spend time with me even though you found Austin?"

She laughed "As if finding my mate could keep me from you. Please, Anna. And besides he loves the market too."

I laughed and it felt good. I was going to have to get used to being the third wheel now but I was ok with it especially since Val was my family. I didn't know Austin well enough to say the same but there was something about him that made me feel comfortable and at ease when he was around, almost like a protective big brother.

We grabbed our totes and set off to the market. It was at the edge of the city so the walk was a bit longer than the one into town but the day was so beautiful that I didn't mind. When the warm breeze hit my face I closed my eyes tilting my head up towards the sun and took in a deep breathe. I would be ok.

I was standing at a booth paying for some fresh blackberries when someone bumped into me knocking me down. I braced myself for the impact but a set of muscular arms grabbed me before I fell. I looked up ready to tear into whoever was barreling through the narrow aisles when the assailant smiled and said "I am so sorry. Did I hurt you?" I was so stunned at his beauty and his British accent that I couldn't speak. He cleared his throat and said it again "Ms. are you ok?"

Shaking myself from his trance I chuckled and said "Yes, yes I'm fine. You just caught me by surprise that's all." He let me go helping me steady myself and stepped back a few feet.

"Well, now that I've gotten your attention." He gave me a debonair look with a wicked smile. While wiggling his eyebrows. I burst out laughing.

"Is that normally how you pick up women?"

"Too cheesy? How about, hi I'm Parker."

"That's better. Anna" I stuck out my hand but instead of shaking it he grabbed it and kissed my knuckles making me instantly blush.

"Anna it has been a pleasure but I am in a bit of a hurry, as you've already seen. Until we meet again."

"Nice meeting you too, Parker." I watched as he walked away then looked back over his shoulder giving me a toothy smile.

Snap out of it Anna. You just lost your mate. Remember?

I gasped at my subconscious realizing she was right. How could I have flirted with some beautiful stranger when my one and only, my soulmate, my mate chosen specifically for me by the moon goddess herself, was no longer here? I must be losing it. That's it! I have officially gone insane. I turned back around and met a curious set of eyes causing me to jump and throw my blackberries at them.

"Austin! You scared me. Don't sneak up on me like that, ok." I said clutching my chest while breathing heavily.

"Who was that?" He said through clenched teeth and a tense jaw. His fists were balled up by his sides and his chest was puffed up like he was ready to fight.

"Whoa! Easy tiger. He just accidentally ran into me and almost knocked me down. That's it. He apologized and left." I was confused by his question. Then I was mad. Who the hell does he think he is? He doesn't even know me.

Turning on my heel I stormed off to find Val to tell her she better put a leash on her man before I do. My face was as red as a tomato and my palms had nail marks from me clenching them so hard. I decided it was best for me to just cool off before I spoke with her. I didn't want to be the cause of another broken heart even if she had a crazy mate. Nor did I want to ensue chaos from shifting into my wolf in the middle of a crowd.

I walked a little more around the market slowly feeling my anger subside when I found a booth with some beautifully painted pictures. As I was looking around I came across a drawing of a massive black wolf with white eyes. My heart dropped to my knees and my hands began to sweat. My vision blurred and I became weak. My knees buckled and I almost fell when a man came up behind me and caught me.

"You alright there, little lady?"

I turned around and saw an older gentleman with grey hair holding me up. I looked at him then at the painting and I could see he was thinking the same thing. He gently sat me in a chair and handed me some water as I somehow mumbled a thank you. I was speechless but I kept staring at the painting.

He looked at me then towards the woods. "I have been painting that wolf for years now. He always does the same thing. He shows up in those woods and peers into the town. Then he howls but not loud enough for anyone to hear him. But I do."

"Ha-ave you s-seen him lately?" I asked with the smallest shred of hope as I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for his reply.

"Not for some time now. I thought he got scared off."

I dropped my head as I asked "When was that painting done?" Pointing to the beautiful picture of my mate.

"I painted it while I was at the block party last night."

I jerked my head out up looking into his tired troubled eyes and said "You mean..."

He nodded, stood up and walked back inside his booth.

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