A Warriors Heart

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Trees and rain

Lucienne

The soft scent of trees and rain engulf me as soon as I step out of the education center. I curse the smile that pulls at my lips when I see him. He’s leaning against a tree across the street. I can feel the nervousness rolling off of him from here.

Damn my wolf. I want to follow the others to the packhouse for lunch but I can’t. We watch each other closely as I walk toward him. He’s wearing dark jeans and a white t-shirt, I’m not used to this feeling of being so intensely attracted to someone.

“I... will you have lunch with me?” His voice is low and unsure. The confidence that usually radiates from him is gone. He’s definitely nervous.

“Sure,” I know my face looks confused. He wants to have lunch with me?

I follow him to a large park with a playground. Under a large covered picnic area he has table set up with at least a dozen boxes.

“Are more people joining us?”

A light blush tints his cheeks and I feel the anger disappearing from my chest. The bond between mates is really unfair. I don’t want to forgive him so easily.

“Umm...no. I panicked and got too much... I got the soup of the day and sandwiches then... too many cookies. Also, there is coffee, tea and lemonade. I wasn’t sure what you would drink...” he’s rubbing at the back of his neck, nervous.

I sit down and watch him, waiting for him to sit. After a few quiet minutes I realize that he is completely lost.

“Cole?”

He looks at me before chuckling, embarrassed, he sits next to me and his arm brushes against mine, goosebumps spread over my skin.

I hope he can’t feel how much that affects me.

He hands me a cup with some kind of chicken stew in it.

We eat in silence for a minute.

“Um...where are you from?” He asks suddenly.

“Dinan, it’s a small town in northern France. Our packlands are on La Rance, it’s a river.”

“Who is your Alpha?”

“Alpha Victor, he never came here for training, if you’re wondering. His son Raphael did though, about three years ago.”

I can see the wheels turning in his mind.

“He brought the future beta with him, Florian.”

“Raphael and Florian! I remember them!”

“They said this was the hardest thing that they’ve ever done,” I laugh, remembering how exhausted they were when they returned home.

I notice the hint of pride in his smile as he looks down at his lap.

“Where are you from?”

“Washington originally. I came here for training when I was twelve, then I kept coming to complete the next level, then the next. By the time I completed the whole program this place felt more like home than home. Elijah offered me a place as a trainer here, then I became a coordinator whenever we have to travel to another pack to help them.”

“Do you do that often?”

“Travel? Sometimes, it’s usually only for a few days, though.”

“You like it, don’t you? I can see it when you talk about it.”

“I’m good at it,” he shrugs, “what about you? What do you do?”

“I’m a nurse at my pack hospital.”

We make small talk while finishing our food. Not surprisingly, we have a lot in common. He’s very serious and reserved, I want to know what his laugh sounds like.

He reaches forward and pulls one of the boxes forward on the table, opening it to reveal chocolate macarons. The next box is filled with blue ones, then pink, then orange.

“Want to try fifteen different cookies?” He shakes his head with a small smile.

“Pass me one of those blue ones,” I laugh, taking a small bite, “blueberry.”

“The pink ones taste...like pink,” he grimaces, “what is that?”

I laugh and try one, “some kind of berry maybe? Your guess is as good as mine.”

We taste several more cookies, critiquing each.

He runs his hand over his face before letting out a long sigh.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing, Luci.”

My heart flutters at the nickname.

“I don’t know what I’m doing either...” I cautiously place my hand on his knee. He tenses slightly.

“I’m not... loving... I was going to stay away because I didn’t want you to have to deal with all the shit that comes along with me. Believe me, it’s a lot. I can’t stay away from you though. My wolf has been so... I don’t panic... I plan and act with intention. Beating the shit out of Jordan was... I can’t lose it like that but I can’t control my wolf right now.”

“So, are you saying this lunch was a mistake?”

My eyes burn and I pull my hand from his knee, knotting my fingers together in my lap.

“No! Fuck! That’s not what I meant... I just wanted to explain why I acted the way I did when we first saw each other. I though it would be better if you could move on because I’m not sure I can do this, not the way you deserve.”

“If you hadn’t seen me training with Jordan would you have ever talked to me?”

“I was trying not to, to let you move on but... I think eventually my wolf would have snapped and I would have had to.”

I nod, I don’t know how to respond to this. I don’t know how to tell him that through everything, good and bad, through whatever his baggage, I’m utterly his. I accept him as my mate, flaws and all. There is a reason why we’re paired, I won’t question it.

“I didn’t think I had a mate. Year after year, not finding you... I gave up, I stopped searching. It became too painful to keep holding onto hope.”

“I understand that,” I whisper sadly, “I did the same thing.”

“You know,” he scratches nervously at the back of his neck, “I didn’t… I didn’t sleep with that girl. I was going to but… my body knew what was good for me before my head did.”

I give him a small smile. I know he’s struggling with this. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt that he ran into the arms of another woman immediately after we found each other but I understand him better.

“I’m sorry you got stuck with me...” his voice is so soft and full of regret.

“I’m not.”

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