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"When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower itself."
“I don’t know, I guess it’s just something I can’t switch off, you know?” I comment as Roman and I walk together through the festivities. His hand tightens around mine in comfort. “When I asked Noah about hunters, back when he was here I asked him about it and he said only the first born took on the curse. Nothing about triggering it.”
“In all honesty, Mae, I think that they were both left out of the loop just as much as you were. Hunters are complex beings, they were made of magic and are sustained through death. There isn’t any one simple thing about them and I don’t think Carter or Noah have been given enough information to figure that out,” he replies and I nod.
“I know,” I reply. In fact, there is nothing I understand more than the idea that nothing is as it seems when it comes to the hunters. “I just can’t stop thinking about it, no matter how much I try or how much I want to. It’s always just… lingering, the lies, the threats, the war.” I suck in a harsh breath and shake my head. “I wish it wasn’t this way.” Understatement of the century.
“It won’t last forever. Elijah knows what he is doing and he hasn’t reported any more situations since the last outburst. Carter is complying and I have full faith that we will be able to use whatever information we get to assist the war effort. Hopefully when the King returns he has a solution to it all,” he says but despite how hopeful his words are, they all still rest on ifs.
“I guess,” I sigh, glancing around at the people around us. Some steal sly glances in our direction, giving into the crave to spot their leaders so close but most are too engrossed in their own moments of happiness that our presence is overlooked.
I can’t help the tang of jealousy that spikes in my heart at their ignorant bliss. At their ability to just live without the fear of the world impounding hanging over their head. It’s almost hard to imagine not living like this, so much so that I have to force myself to remember that there was a time where I was like them.
But that was a lifetime ago and I was a version of myself so starkly different that the hope of ever returning is baseless. “Are you hungry? You barely ate anything at the buffet,” he asks, his brows furrowed with concern like I can’t survive an hour without eating.
“I think whatever those cakes were kind of put me off if I’m being honest,” I say, eyeing the foot stalls we near sceptically.
Roman lets out a hearty laugh and pulls me closer to him. “Is that so?” He teases, grinning at me with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “You don’t need to worry, the cakes offered by the priestess are extremely difficult to source. The likelihood of a vendor selling anything infused with that kind of herb is extremely slim,” he says.
“But not zero?” I counter and he laughs again.
“If you’d like we can go back into our kitchen to eat, if it makes you feel more comfortable,” he offers and I shake my head.
“Maybe later,” I comment and the smell of the food from the vendors drifts in my direction, each stall exuding it’s own devious scent. It’s tempting to just give in and eat all of it, that much is undeniable. But still, I’d rather just wait and make something when we get back to our kitchen instead. Even if I have to settle for toast over whatever is in the mouthwatering burgers from the stall directly in front of me.
“Alpha, Luna!” The two of us turn simultaneously towards an older woman in a stall, ushering us over. I glance at Roman briefly and he smiles, assuring me in his own way that I haven’t got anything to worry about.
“Please, come and partake in my stalls activity, it would be a great honour to have you,” she says and I look at her stall. Intricate paintings line the stall on various easels, pictures of beautiful landscapes and portraits and abstract objects fill the space like an explosion of colour.
“Did you make all these?” I ask, moving forward from Roman to look more closely at her work.
“I did, Luna Superior. Please, if you see one that you like take it free of charge, nothing would honour me more than my work in the home of the superiors,” she offers, a large smile on her face.
“That’s very sweet,” I reply just as Roman manages to connect to me once more, his hand resting on my back like our bodies are magnets bound to stick together one way or another. “What is the activity you offer?” I ask, curious and her eyes twinkle at our mere presence, something that I don’t think I will ever get used to.
“Please, come this way,” she says before guiding us through the gallery to the back of her stall. I expected to find cables and chords in an organised chaos behind the stalls of the glittering market but instead, the end of her stall in encased by hedges, what used to be an entryway and the side shut off with a velvet cover, alienating the space.
Situated in the centre of the area sit four easels facing one another in a set of pairs with stools and trolleys of equipment next to them. “I offer lessons, I can teach anyone how to put their thoughts onto a canvas. Of course many just want to paint freely so the choice is yours,” she says and I give her an appreciative smile.
“We can paint ourselves, thank you. And if we could ensure privacy…” Roman interjects before I can take up her gracious offer.
“My painting ability says otherwise,” I laugh and the woman smiles at my joke, awaiting a joint response.
“We don’t want to hold your other customers up, I’m sure the Luna has more skill than she lets on. She is too modest for her own good,” Roman jokes back, nodding to the woman who bows her head slightly in the way all wolves do. A show of respect and an answer as she exits the space, pulling down a golden rope to let another thick sheet of velvet fall over the stalls back, encasing us completely.
I shoot Roman a look. “I think she wanted to help,” I comment, my raised brow eliciting a sly grin.
“Did she?” He asks, feigning innocence. I roll my eyes. “Alright, maybe I did want her to leave. It feels nice now, but wait a couple years and the constant pandering will wear you down,” he jokes and I can’t help but feel a pang with his words. Years.
“I guess the quiet is nice,” I comment, only able to hear a faint hum of the market through the thick plants surrounding us. “But you seriously underestimate me if you think I can paint,” I add and a laugh escapes his lips, almost like it took him off guard.
“At all?” He asks as he takes a seat on a stool. I ponder taking the one adjacent to him but decide against it, moving to the one opposite him. Mainly because I am not lying when I say my skill is subpar and having him see it will be slightly embarrassing but also because the distance the easels create is comforting.
On this night… with whatever magic spell is floating through the air I’d rather just take my chances and sit a bit away and I think that he would too. If he has felt the surge of tingles that erupt at even slight contact tonight he hasn’t let on, nor has he shown any signs that he feels remotely flustered around me.
“At all,” I reply looking at the blank canvas with no clue as to how I am going to make anything even slightly pleasing to look at. “What do I even draw?” I ask, unable even figure out the first damn step.
Roman laughs again and I notice him beginning to pour paints onto an easel. “I don’t know, just have fun with it. Paint whatever comes to your mind,” he suggests and the only thing that I can think of, the only image that invades all reaches of my mind when I close my eyes to conjure up some creativity is him. It’s enough to make me suck in a harsh breath.
Roman’s head leans around the canvas with a smile. “Got anything?” He asks and I pick up my paintbrush. “Yep,” I reply, as casually as I possibly can.
“I’ll tell you what, let’s make some fun out of this,” he says and I stop pouring out the pink acrylic paint onto my easel momentarily. “Let’s put a time limit on this, an hour max. Best painting wins and looser has to make dinner when we get back, whatever the winner decides,” he says and I laugh smugly, putting on my poker face.
“You’re on, Alpha. Hope you fancy brownies for dinner,” I retort and he laughs, picking up his brush.
The next hour floats by smoothly, Roman and I talk here and there but for the most part, we just work on our own paintings. Admittedly, I underestimated just how therapeutic it felt to work with paint. Even if my final product is… well, something.
“Are you ready yet?” Roman asks, for the third time and I quickly smear a few more splotches of grey into the background before grimacing at the final product.
“You sure we can’t have another hour? Perhaps a new canvas?” I ask, looking at what is no doubt pre-school level art.
Unable to contain his patience anymore, Roman stands from his stool, walking around. “Come on, I’m sure it’s not that ba-” He stops short when he sets eyes on my painting, bringing a hand to his mouth to conceal the grimace.
“Hey!” I exclaim, swatting his hand away.
“Sorry,” he says, a slight smile creeping onto his face. “Its just… I mean… what is that?” He asks and I turn my head to the side, examining it with him.
“Well I don’t want to say now,” I mumble, successfully embarrassed.
“No, please, I promise I won’t laugh,” he says sincerely and I eye him sceptically before letting out a sigh.
“It’s a pig,” I profess, pointing at the blob of pink. “An abstract pig,” I add, though it really wasn’t my aim.
I can tell Roman is trying to contain himself as he cocks his head to the side further, letting out a hm. “Oh, yes, I see it now,” he says, trying to be encouraging. “Like… the tail,” he says, his finger hovering over the work.
“That’s the ear,” I say dejectedly and a chuckle escapes his mouth so quickly I almost don’t catch it before his hand curls into a fist and rests over his lips once more. “It’s horrible, isn’t it?” I say and he shakes his head.
“No, no, Mae honestly it looks pretty cool,” he says. “I love the… originality of it,” he says and I laugh, covering my eyes with my hands.
“Oh shut up, it’s shit,” I say slumping. “It’s beyond salvation,” I confess and he leans in closer to me.
“Don’t say that,” he says before pressing his back up flush behind me, making my body erupt in sparks. “Here, let me help,” he says, gliding his hand over my arm until it rests over my own. He guides my hand to pick up a paintbrush and swirls the end of it into black paint.
He leans his free hand onto the exposed edge of the stool and I notice the way the muscles in his forearm flex as he supports his body, his sheer strength shown in such a small, insignificant way. He moves my hand with the brush and begins to paint black lines onto the canvas so methodically it calms me in a way. Each stroke holds a purpose, a certainty almost and I turn my head to inspect his face as he fixes my art.
His brows furrow over his blue eyes that remain transfixed on the painting and I notice the way his full lips pull into a firm line of concentration. He looks so engrossed, so at ease with the disaster of paint I created and in a way, it makes him more handsome.
My hand stops moving and he snaps his head, his eyes widening slightly to find my gaze set directly on him. Our faces are just an inch apart and his eyes, once full of control and aim falter as they flick down to my lips and then to my cheek. The corner of his mouth raises slightly and he drops my hand, sending the paintbrush falling onto the grass, as he brings his own hand to my face, his thumb brushing over a spot on my cheek.
“You have some paint-” I don’t let him finish his shameless admiring as I lean up and plant my lips over his, overcome with the need to just feel him, to be closer to him.
His hand moves from my cheek, swiping along my skin before running through my hair as he pulls my head in closer to his, leaving sparks erupting in his wake. He moves his hand from where it sits on the stool and pulls my furthest leg towards him, swivelling my body on the stool do I sit in front of him, his lips not once leaving mine.
He positions himself between my legs and pulls me closer, supporting my body with arms as he moves from my lips and to that tender spot on my neck which explodes with a tingling sensation that moves through my body and straight to my core, making me gasp out for air.
He leans in closer to me and my hand hers to the side, landing in the pallet of pink paint. I reach my hand back, without thinking and rest it on the back of his neck, pulling his head closer to mine and placing my lips over his. If he notices the smear of paint over his skin he doesn’t let on and instead, his fingers find the hem of my shirt and he starts to pull it up, making me break away from him again, this time to far enough away that he furrows his brows distastefully and leans back in, following my movement.
I bring my pink hand up and rest in on his cheek, smiling as I realise what I’ve done. “Not here, not now,” I say breathlessly and he pulls back, one hand still resting on my waist as the other reaches up to his cheek.
An amused grin works its way onto his face. “And why not?” He says seductively, his voice coming out in that husky drawl that sends shivers up my spine.
I shoot him an incredulous look and he leans in closer to me, placing tender kisses onto my neck. “Don’t you want the pack to hear you calling out my name?” He says, his lips stretched into a smirk over my skin.
I push him away and he laughs, putting a safe amount of distance between us. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I reprimand, rolling my eyes and he holds his hands up defensively.
“My apologies, Luna,” he says and I take the time to turn to the painting. Immediately, after just a few additions by Roman it looks somewhat more like an actual pig. Maybe more along the lines of an abstract pig, but given the starting point and the finished result… its a major improvement.
I glance back at Roman, noting the look still flashing in his eyes and jump off my stool, breaking him from his lustful trance. I make my way around his large frame. “Let’s see what you’ve come up with then,” I say and any and all hopes of me getting brownies completely flew out the window as my eyes set on his work.
“Woah,” I say, staring at the painting. The painting of me. “This is like really good, Roman,” I say, looking at the pure detail in his work. It isn’t lifelike in the way it looks like a picture but instead has different colours, clearly separated that together mould into my face.
“You like it?” Roman asks and I turn to him, my brows furrowed.
“I didn’t know you liked to paint,” I confess though it does make me remember my file. The one from his private office with a perfectly sketched photo of me. Considering this was done in an hour, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was just a damn doodle.
“I used to,” he says, shrugging. “My mother likes to paint, it is one of the many hobbies that I could have without my father intervening. If there is one person he’ll listen to in this world, it’s her,” he says and I shrug. I guess the same thing applies to him and I on many levels.
“Has there been any developments in his case?” I ask, I’d been so preoccupied with other issues that Marcus had managed to take the back burner like usual.
“He is still in the cells. I think there is more to his motives than he is letting on. He is many things but stupid is not one of them and killing you would have been a very stupid mistake,” he says, the thought coming off his tongue like venom.
“Hopefully it all gets resolved, your mom doesn’t deserve to go through that,” I say and he nods.
“No, she doesn’t,” he says with a sigh before giving me a tight smile. “Anyway, enough talk of that. This is supposed to be an eclipse festival,” he says with a smirk and I return the smile, letting the subject sweep under the rug.
“This is really cool though, she taught you well,” I say, pulling the conversation back to art.
“You can have it if you want, it is yours to claim really,” he says and I laugh loosely.
“Is that not slightly conceited? I mean where will I hang a photo of myself?” I say and he smiles.
“I was thinking we could frame it in gold and hang it above the main pack entrance, let all of the world see your beauty,” he says cooly and my face goes blank.
“Ummmm,” I start, “you know I think we could put it in the closet. Yeah that’d be a great spot, right near the… coats,” I finish and he laughs.
He opens his mouth to say something but the velvet curtain opens to reveal the stall owner who looks over both of us, smiling when she spots the marks of paint on us. “I just came to check on how the two of you were going,” she says, moving into the space.
Romans hand finds my waist and he pulls me to him. “We were just finished, actually,” he replies for the both of us. “If we could have both of the paintings packaged and sent to our office that would be wonderful. Please take extra care with the work of the luna, she made quite the self portrait,” he adds, taking the figurative bullet that is my pig painting.
“Of course, thank you both so much for coming, your presence is not only a blessing but an honour for my business,” she says, a hand to her heart.
“The honour is all ours. Whatever is purchased by the pack tonight, send the bill along with the paintings. Your gift and workshop should be experienced by all tonight,” he adds, and it startles me. The price of the paintings in the pop up gallery were high, extremely high. But then again, Roman’s extensive wealth always manage to surprise me.
She looks just as shocked. “Thank you Alpha, thank you Luna. You are too kind,” she says.
“Goddess be with you,” he says and I nod my head towards her as we leave the stall, entering the stream of public yet again.
A beat of music starts up again and Roman turns to me with a smirk, holding out his hand. “Care for a dance?”
The pop of the toaster shocks me slightly and I hear Roman laugh from behind me. “How tired are you?” He asks and I rub my eyes at his question, letting out a chuckle of my own.
“Dancing really takes a lot of energy,” I yawn, covering my mouth. “Not all of us have the stamina of a supernatural being,” I add and he sends me a smug smirk.
“Never thought that’s something I’d hear you complain about,” he quips back and I shake my head, a tight lipped smile on my face. I knew the second I opened my mouth he’d find a dirty joke to make at my comment.
“Ha, ha,” I say reaching for the jar of jam, opening it and sticking in the butter knife. “You could have absolutely anything and you want toast with jam?” I ask again, just to confirm.
His hands wrap around my waist and he presses his front into my back, hugging me from behind. He rests his head on my shoulder, overlooking my actions. “I wasn’t planning on using the last of your energy on cooking,” he mumbles, holding me tighter.
“Well I didn’t make this for nothing,” I say, placing the toast onto the plate. He mummers something into my neck and begins placing kisses down my collar bone, his hands moving underneath my shirt to rest on my skin. “Well if you won’t eat it then there is just more for me,” I announce and he grumbles something into my skin before retracting.
He rests his body onto the counter opposite mine and I hand him a plate containing toast. I spare no time eating my own but when I look up I notice his eyes trained solely on me, on my every action as I finish my food. His own toast lays untouched beside him and I place my place down, furrowing my brows.
“You going to eat that?” I ask, pointing to the toast and he moves forward, placing his hands on either side of me, caging me in.
“Screw the toast,” he says hastily and instead he leans in, kissing my lips fervently. His hands move to cup my ass and he hosts me up onto the bench, letting out a grunt of pleasure as I open my mouth to him and deepen the kiss.
warning: ✨ s t e a m y ✨ scene ahead
He pulls up my shirt and I let him, watching as he breaks the kiss to discard the fabric before flicking his eyes over my exposed body, a smirk working its way onto his face. It takes him a second to connect his lips with mine again and he reaches his hands over the exposed skin on my back, sending sparks running through my body like its an electric field.
My fingers grasp the hem of his shirt and he aids me in pulling his shirt over his head, his toned chest gracing my vision.
“You really aren’t hungry?” I ask breathlessly and he groans into my neck, the vibrations on my mark making me bite down on my lip to stop from making a sound I’ll regret.
“I change my mind on what I want to eat.” Is his only response and my core tightens at the implication, making me wrap my legs around his midsection, eliciting another groan from his mouth. I can feel him hardened beneath me and I let out a gasp as he pulls my body even closer to his, removing any inch space that existed.
“Have you taken your pills?” Roman asks, just like he always does. Ever so cautious. I nod, pulling his head back in to mine, urging him along. We haven’t been intimate for a while but I don’t think it is the wait that is making my body go haywire.
Every touch, every kiss, every movement from his body makes me loose another ounce of control, like whatever energy existed between us before has been magnified. I trail my hand down the crevices of his chest, savouring the way his abdominal muscles tighten under my touch. When my hand doesn’t stop and instead lingers on the edge of his pants, just above the tight bulge he jerks his hand off my back to instead rest on the counter.
The clammer of items behind me make him curse out and he pulls his hand back, his hand covered in jam. I laugh at him and he smiles too, moving towards the sink next to me before washing it off, bringing his attention back to me almost instantly.
“Where were we?” He says in between a laugh leaning back in to kiss me. My hand moves straight to the bulge over his pants and he sucks in a harsh breath before pulling me closer to him, making my legs wrap back around his torso.
“You are going to be the death of me Maeve Evans,” he mummers into my neck and his hands move to the waistline of my jeans, connecting around as he unfastens my button and pulls them off, kissing down and then up the length of my torso as he does, his eyes, darkened by lust, never once leaving mine.
He connects his mouth onto my mark once more and he tucks his finger underneath the side of my panties, beginning to pull them down.
I glance over his shoulder as he bites down softly onto my mark, making me let out a moan that only encourages him to further pull down my garments slowly. “Wait,” I say, looking at the glass windows behind him. “Not here,” I say and he continues kissing my neck.
“No one will disturb us,” he says into my neck but I pull back from him.
“Not here,” I reiterate and he looks at me before nodding. He picks me up from the counter and I wrap my legs around his waist as he moves us into the living room, walking through it to a hall that attaches.
“Where are we-” he cuts me off by placing his lips over mine, his hands resting firmly on my ass as he leads us down a hall and into the first room on the right before closing the door into what appears to be a guest room.
“Good?” He mummers through kisses and I nod, making him smile into the kiss before throwing me onto the bed gently and standing at the edge. The room is dark, the only light offered though the cracks in the curtain but I can still see as he takes off the rest of his clothes, discarding them at the end of the bed before climbing overtop of me, continuing to kiss me with a desperation I haven’t seen before.
He places a tender kiss on my lips and then pleases me, our bodies connecting over and over like the moon has given us a douse of gasoline for the smouldering flame. With each moan, each thrust, each kiss the mate bond between us ignites in sparks and I let my mind be overtaken by them, by the euphoria they give and the sanctuary they provide.
Ya’ll happy now?