“So, I suppose you don’t need this key,” someone calls from behind me, startling me. “I didn’t think you would,” Percy continues, a smug smile on his face as he pockets the key. He walks forward from the shadow of a nearby tree, taking the bags from my hands and gesturing for me to enter. “Ladies first.”
“Thank you,” I say, stepping inside as he follows suit, closing the door gently behind him. I’m a little surprised to see him here, and even more surprised by his manners. Sure, we’ve had this sort of easy banter, but mere hours ago he was red-faced and ready to kick me out. I’m suspicious of his change of heart to say the least.
He simply nods, setting the bags down on the couch. “I see you’ve found your way to the mall without getting lost.”
“Skylar took me,” I answer, sidestepping the fact that she believes she’s his mate.
He rolls his eyes. “Of course she did.”
I smile. “What do you mean?”
“She’s nosy. Trying to get her claws into you before anyone else so that she can claim to have met you first. She’s very into status.”
“Yes,” I snicker. “Yours, to be specific.”
“I know,” he sighs, running a hand through his hair. “But I don’t think she’s who the moon goddess has chosen for me.”
“I kind of like her,” I admit. “She took some getting used to at first, but hanging out with her was actually a lot of fun. And now I can say that I knew the Black Moon Pack Luna before she became royalty,” I joke.
Percy chuckles, which is a stark contrast to his towering frame and menacing eyes. Upon taking a closer look at him, he’s actually pretty perfect.
I realize I’ve been looking directly into his eyes and clear my throat.
“I’m sorry, it’ll take me some time to get used to the way y’all do things around here.”
He shrugs. “Don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t expect you to follow werewolf protocol. Just don’t tell anyone. I don’t want them to think I’m getting soft.”
“No, of course not. I’ll let them know how scary and authoritative you are,” I say slyly.
He gets a challenging look in his eye, an eyebrow raised questioningly at me. “Do you think that I can’t be scary and authoritative?”
I lean back against the island, my eyes roaming over him once again. “No, you definitely can be,” I tell him honestly. “You exude Alpha-male pheromones, for sure.”
He grins at me devilishly. “Good. I thought I’d have to teach you a lesson for a second there.”
I’m not sure how he meant it, and I feel like I should be insulted that he feels the need to school me on anything, but all I can feel is my panties dampening. I stiffen, suddenly aware that he has the nose of a wolf, and can probably sense that I’m… getting aroused by him? Am I aroused by him?
He seems to notice what I have only a mere second later than me, and he stalks towards me, his body so close to mine that I can feel his heat radiating up and down the length of my body. His hands are gripping the countertop on either side of my waist, his knuckles turning white and the sound of the marble fracturing breaks the silence in the room. His dark eyes are staring into mine, and I’m no longer seeing any animosity—they’re full of pure lust. There’s a low growl emanating deep from within his chest and I shiver. I feel as though there’s something pulling us together, daring me to reach out and touch him. I can see confusion pass over his expression before he speaks.
“What is going on?” He spits through gritted teeth.
I look away from his eyes, desperate to break the spell we’re under. Why is this happening? I instead gaze at his collarbone, and then down towards the collar of his shirt, and then further still to his broad chest. I wonder what it would feel like if he pulled me to him, engulfing me in his strong arms?
My head snaps up, an image of Halston in my mind and pain breaks through the trance. I’m just projecting my feelings onto Percy. That’s it right?
I clear my throat, confused and heartbroken. I’ll never feel about anyone again the way I felt about Halston. He was my literal other half.
“I’m sorry,” I manage to croak around the lump in my throat, tears burning my eyes. “I don’t know what that was, maybe I did something and I didn’t realize… I don’t know… this was a bad idea. I shouldn’t be here avoiding things…” I trail off, realizing that I’m rambling.
“Hey,” Percy says softly, a tone so calm and comforting that I wouldn’t have guessed he could ever muster it. “It’s okay, Aria. I know that you didn’t do anything—I wasn’t accusing you of that… again.”
“How can you be so sure?” I ask, my voice sounding to my own ears embarrassingly vulnerable.
He smiles a show stopping smile, and rubs his hands gently up and down my arms. “That, witch, was what one might call attraction.”
I push him away with a startled laugh and roll my eyes at him. He stares me down and I ponder it for a second. “Maybe you’re right,” I tell him, biting my lip.
“Careful,” he growls a warning. “I’m awfully tempted to come over there and bite that lip for you.”
If he wasn’t staring me down with bedroom eyes, that sentence may have been comical, but instead shivers run up and down the length of my body and I have to hold myself back from making a move.
“I have a fiancé!” I blurt out, unable to stop myself. The need to diffuse this situation is too strong. “A witch-mate of sorts.”
He pulls back, taking a stunned step away from me. I’m not sure why he’s so surprised though. Is it alarming that someone would want to marry me?
“I thought you told me you didn’t have a mate,” he accuses, his tone angry for reasons I can’t comprehend.
“I… it’s a long story.”
“I have time,” he challenges me, crossing his arms over the chest I was just drooling over.
“I don’t understand why it matters to you,” I respond.
He blinks rapidly, unable to form an answer. “I don’t have an explanation for you—it just does.”
“That’s not good enough,” I hiss, unwilling to share any information of Halston with him. It was hard enough telling Skylar about it.
“It’ll have to be!” He thunders, the veins in his neck popping out and his beautiful eyes darkening.
Part of me is livid that he thinks he can speak to me this way—demanding answers from me like I’m pack property or something. My magic jumps to my fingertips, eager to show him that he can’t boss me around. However, there’s another part of me that I don’t understand. A part of me that wants to just roll over and submit.
The word pops into my head again and I freeze, unsure where it’s coming from. My magic retreats and I can feel myself spiraling. It gets harder to breathe, my chest tightening painfully. My vision blurs. I hear Percy say my name, but he sounds far away. I stumble forward and then everything goes black.