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Phillip’s hands held my waist as mine held his shirt. Our lips were moving together as one, refusing to let go or pull away. Phillip’s lips found my neck, sucking on my skin.

His teeth grazed a spot and I pushed against his chest. “We can’t do this yet.”

He pulled away and frowned. I knew his wolf wanted this and I knew he did. I was allowing it as well. But I didn’t want to do it until Phillip was ready for sex and he wasn’t ready.

I grabbed his hands and smiled at him. “We will eventually. I promise.” I gave him another kiss, laughing against his lips.

“What?” he asked.

I pulled away, looking down at his pants. “I can’t imagine being a guy and not being able to hide my ding dong.” I gestured to the obvious boner that was poking me.

His whole face burned bright red as he tried to cover it up.

I got off his lap and sat next to him, sighing. “Jason and I had a talk yesterday. He hates us because our parents were killed for doing what we’re doing now. I don’t care if it kills us and we have to fight. I’ll do whatever the hell it takes to be with you.” I looked at him.

He nodded his head. “I’ll do the same. I know not everyone agrees with our love. I’m prepared for that. I’ll kiss you until the end of time. I’ll love you until forever ends. I will never give up what we have just to be safe from attacks. What good is living if I’m miserable the whole time? For what? To be safe and alone? I’d rather risk everything with you just to create smiles and memories. That is a life worth living.” He squeezed my hand.

I kissed him, pouring all my passion and love into this kiss. It was deep but slow, different from our usual kisses.

Phillip pulled away, his pink lips forming a small smile. “What was that for?”

“I may be a strange kind of girl, but I am easily swooned by romance. I am absolutely in love with the fact that you just said you’d much rather live a life with me rather than alone because at least then it was worth living. It makes my heart flutter at the words that you think I make your life worth living. You have no idea how much it means to hear that. It means the world.” I brought my legs up on the couch, cuddling into his side.

“Of course. Life means nothing to me if you’re not in it.” He kissed my head.

I pulled the blanket over us, watching the fireplace that didn’t flicker with flames. “If you could just say that every day as we wake up, that would be great,” I joked.

Phillip chuckled and laid back, holding me in his arms as I laid on top of him. “You deserve to hear those words every day. I’ll do my best.” He pushed my hair back, studying my face with an awestruck expression.

I was unsure of how I’d gotten so lucky to find a man like him. What did I do to deserve this kind of respect and love? Even good girls didn’t get this kind of man.

The two of us laid there in the warmth of my living room for hours before we fell into a sleep full of dreams.

I woke up to the sound of a whale mourning. The crying was low and spaced out. Lifting my head, I looked at Phillip and noticing the tears staining his face.

I reached out and wiped his face, frowning. “Why are you crying, my love?”

Now noticing I was awake, he turned to see me and tried to erase the evidence. It was useless. I’d already seen it.

“I can’t get over this, Shani. I can’t get their faces out of my head. It was so easy to kill the other wolves. They hurt you and I had no correlation to them other than being in the same pack. But Sawyer and Whitney were friends. I watched them die because they wanted to kill us. They already tried to kill you countless times.” He sat up, sitting me up next to him.

I looked at his hands, noticing the tremble. He was shaking. He was hurting.

“Philly, I can’t say I understand because I don’t. But I’m here for you. They tried to kill me and I realize that hurt but not in the way it hurts you to know they betrayed you so strongly.” I grabbed his trembling hands and rubbed my thumb over them, kissing his knuckles. “Whatever you need to do to grieve, do it. I’ll be here.”

Phillip buried his face into my shoulder, sobbing. My arms wrapped around him, giving him a hug. I closed my eyes and ran my fingers through his hair, being his shoulder. His cries didn’t stop.

My gut clenched at the sound of his sorrow. I could not bear hearing him hurt as much as he was but no matter how much it hurt me, I had to remind myself that it hurt him even more. I had to be strong for him. I had to let him find security and comfort in my arms. That was what love was.

For what seemed like hours, Phillip poured out his emotions to me. I hadn’t truly realized how much it hurt him to see those two turn on him and be executed. I could not begin to understand what that was like. Betrayal was one of the worst pains of all.

I laid Phillip back as the sobbing came to an end. I tucked him in, kissing his forehead. He’d cried himself to sleep. He deserved the rest. He needed to let his mind process this.

I got up and turned around, looking at Jason. The silence was deafening. He motioned for me to follow him and we went outside, sitting on the ground. I picked at rocks buried under the dirt.

“What is it that you want to say?” I sighed.

Jason swallowed, looking out upon the woods. He had his knees bent and his elbows resting on top of them with his hands dangling in front of his bent legs. “I... Shani, I know I haven’t been the best brother. I’m awful. I’m not supportive. I’m a liar. But that’s my fault. I never noticed how caring you could be.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The way you let Phillip show his emotions. I was surprised by the way you handled it. He was in pain and you held him. It’s not very common for a man to just cry like that around his mate. We don’t want to be vulnerable or show weakness. The way you handled it will guarantee that he trusts you. He will trust you to show you his real side. He won’t have to feel locked up,” he said.

I looked at him, wrapping my arms around my knees. “It’s not a weakness. It’s not weak to cry. It’s healthy. Men are usually taught to hide their feelings but I don’t want that. Men don’t realize that it’s other men who say that. Women want men to cry. We want you guys to be expressive. We want the raw parts of you. That is what connects us emotionally. I can’t emotionally connect with Phillip if he isn’t being real with his emotions in front of me.”

Jason nodded, smiling. “I’m not just a terrible brother but also wrong. I was wrong to say you two should split up and be miserable. Shani, you really love him. I can’t steal that from you just because of idiots who don’t want you to be together. We’ll all fight. We’ll fight for you guys to have a future no matter how long it takes. In the meantime, spend time with Phillip. Show him how much he means to you. That’s what matters. He deserves you.”

I shivered, pulling my cloak tighter around my shoulders. “I will. I’ll make him feel so damn loved. He won’t be able to question it.”

My brother laughed and shook his head.

My mind wandered to the idea that I could possibly be in danger again. What if word got around? I didn’t want more wolves to come after us. I wanted my chance at happiness.

“What’s next?” I asked Jason.

“What do you mean?”

The wind came rushing at us, trying to knock off my hood. “I mean, what about the pack? Will I ever become part of the team? I want that. I want to be part of it.” I smiled.

He shrugged. “We can surely try but that’s up to Blake. He’s the alpha after all.”

I laughed. “Oh, for sure.”

We both heard the front door and looked back. Phillip stood there, watching us. “Is this a bad time?”

I shook my head and patted the ground next to me. “Join us.”

He sat down and smiled a bit, grabbing my hand. “What are we talking about?”

“Me becoming a pack member. It would be pretty cool, don’t you think?”

“Yes.” Phillip yawned, fixing his glasses. “I’m so hungry right now.”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know. I saw some mushrooms stuffed with jalapeños and cheese in the fridge. Those look good.”

I pressed my lips together. “I can’t. I mean, you can certainly make them but I hate jalapeños. They are far too spicy. They say the seeds hold all the spice but that’s a lie. I still need milk after eating a seedless jalapeño. And when they’re on actual food? No. Picking them off doesn’t help because the spice soaks into the food and it’s still too spicy.”

“I wouldn’t take you for the kind of person to hate spicy food like that.”

I smirked to myself. “Why, because I’m Jewish?” His eyes grew wide and he shook his head endlessly. I laughed and grabbed his face. “Relax.”

Jason stifled a laugh of his own. “Really?”

“It’s fun. His face is priceless when I pretend he offended me.” I wiggled my eyebrows.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Jessie said with her jaw hanging open. She shut the front door and sat down by Jason. “You always forget about me.”

“I’m sorry.” He kissed her and I looked the other way.

I looked at Phillip and laid my head on his shoulder. “We need to do something. I’m not the type to wait around. We need to request to see Blake and Kara. I want to become part of the pack.” I closed my eyes, feeling the exhaustion seep in. My body was so weak.

“I’ll arrange a talk with them. I just don’t want you to get your hopes up in case they reject your proposal.”

I laughed. “They love me. They won’t reject it.”

“Are you okay?” He looked at me.

I nodded. “Yeah. I’m just really tired and now my mind is loopy because of it.”

Phillip nudged me, a big smile plastered on his face. “Go to sleep.”

“I don’t really want to,” I whined.

“You make no sense to me.” He shook his head and nudged me.

Jason stood up as he heard a howl.

I looked at him, creasing my forehead. “What was that?”

“I’m not sure. I have to see check it out.” He took off running, leaving Jessie behind. She shook her head, mumbling to herself something about Jason always forgetting her.

I wasn’t too sure what was going on. Was it a wolf from their pack? Was it a war being started? I wanted to know right away.

Phillip tightened his grip around me and I knew this couldn’t be good. We had just defeated two bad wolves and now we’d be up against more. I just wanted to focus on being with Phillip. That was all I needed.

The three of us looked up as Jason came back in new clothes. He panted a bit, looking me in the eye. “You need to come with me, Shani.”

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