Until She Wakes
How can she not understand? Is this a trick? Is she doing something to me?
I don’t think so, Atlas, my wolf, purrs happily.
How would you know? I grumble my response.
She’s the one, he insists.
I have to admit that this does feel very real. The anger coursing through me that she has a so-called mate is nothing like I’ve ever felt before. How else would I explain what’s happening?
More importantly, what do I say to Aria? She seems oblivious to what’s happening right in front of her eyes.
“I don’t have an explanation for you—it just does,” I finally say, unable to decide what to do about this.
“That’s not good enough!” She hisses at me, and I can’t fight the fury that builds in my chest. I need to know about this other man who’s claimed my mate as his own, and I need to know now.
“It’ll have to be!” I thunder ferociously, the thought of someone else’s hands on her driving me mad—and worse, the thought of her actually wanting someone who isn’t me.
We glare at each other for a moment in angry silence and then suddenly her expression changes. Her eyes glaze over and she appears to be somewhere else entirely. She begins to sway slightly, breathing hard.
“Aria?” I ask, panic rising. “Are you okay?”
Her eyes roll back in her head and she begins to fall. I lunge forward and catch her before she can hit the floor. I scoop her up in my arms, heart pounding.
“Aria?!” I ask again, but there’s no response. I kick her shopping bags into the floor and lay her gently on the couch. Talon and my Gamma, Rhett, rush through the door, responding quickly to my mind-link.
“What the hell did you do?!” Talon demands, leaning down and pressing his palm against her cheek. I can’t help Atlas’s reaction when I jerk my brother up by the back of his neck and sling him to the wall, feral snarls erupting from deep within my chest.
He growls and pushes me back, ready for a fight. “What are you doing? Are you insane?”
Rhett steps in between us, growling his warning. “Enough,” he roars at Talon and then looks at me. “What happened, Alpha?”
“We were just talking and she passed out,” I say through my teeth. While I’m definitely annoyed by Talon’s possessive reaction towards Aria, I still know that I don’t want to hurt him with this. After the loss of his mate, and believing that Aria may be his second chance, this would crush him.
“That doesn’t explain why you attacked me, brother,” Talon spits.
Rhett looks at me suspiciously. “He’s got a point, Percy. What’s going on, man?”
I sigh and throw a disapproving glance towards my brother.
“Do you want me to leave or something?” Talon demands. “Is this something I shouldn’t be privy to? What are you hiding, Perseus?”
“She’s my mate,” I admit, not meeting anyone’s eyes. I can’t see Talon’s reaction.
“First Talon, and now you?” Rhett asks. “Don’t you think it’s time to admit that she’s casting some sort of witchy spell around here?”
I can feel my eyes turning black, Atlas itching to put my Gamma in his place.
“Atlas is sure she’s our mate,” I say simply.
“Just this morning you wanted her out of here!” Talon erupts suddenly. “And now you think that the girl who could possibly be my second chance mate is yours?!”
“Atlas is confident that Aria is my mate. How about Alistair? Is he sure about her?”
He glares at me, fuming.
“This doesn’t explain her passing out,” Rhett interrupts. “She forget to eat today, or what? What happened?”
“We had a moment…” I try to explain without giving Talon too many details. “And then she told me about her fiancé and I may have gotten pretty mad. The next thing I know she’s about to hit the floor. My first thought was that she was up to something, but Atlas is certain, and honestly she seemed to really have no idea why I’d care so much about her fiancé.”
“If you trust her, then we will, too,” Rhett says.
“This is all insane!” Talon exclaims, looking at the witch lying peacefully on the couch. “If she’s your mate, then what am I feeling?”
I run a hand through my hair. It makes me sick to think about. What if Talon and I are both her mates? What if she has to choose between us? And what of this witch-mate?
“I don’t know,” I tell him, sighing. “I was happy for you when I thought you’d found your second chance mate, but the second I laid eyes on her…” I trail off.
“As soon as you saw her you changed your mind about her staying…” he finishes for me. “I couldn’t imagine why you’d change your mind about her so easily, but that’s it, isn’t it?”
“I suppose it was,” I say, dropping down on the couch by Aria’s feet. I feel exhausted. “This is more complicated than I ever imagined.”
“What do we tell her when she wakes up? You don’t think she knows that she’s your mate?” Rhett asks.
“I guess we tell her nothing. I’ll have to figure this out on my own because as far as I can tell she has no inkling that I’m her mate, she only knows there’s definitely an attraction between us.”
Rhett nods. “We’ll say nothing about this to anyone.”
“Thank you,” I tell him. “She’s okay, right?” I ask now, worried that she hasn’t woken yet.
“I don’t know—she the doctor…” Rhett says, an amused smirk on his face. “She’s breathing, so we should just take that as a good sign.”
I rub a hand over my face and take a deep breath. “It’s late. The two of you can go now.” The both nod and turn to leave. “Talon,” I call after him and he stops, his back to me. “I’m… sorry…”
He bows his head, but says nothing. In the Alpha world a ‘Sorry’ is rare. He knows the significance of it. He leaves without a word, and suddenly the silence is eating me alive. The clock on the mantle reads 10:45 PM. I gently pick Aria up from the couch and carry her to the bedroom, laying her on the mattress. I remove her sandals and pull the comforter over her before making myself comfortable in the chair in the corner of the room. I won’t leave until she wakes.