Adlaric sat on the bench in his closet as Eve rapidly spoke. Since he had admitted his real title, she hadn’t stopped speaking. This is why he had waited so long; she was freaking out. For a second, he regretted his decision.
She stopped between sentences and turned to face him with her thumb between her lips. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
He looked into her eyes and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “It’s a lot to handle,” he answered, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Wait,” she stopped. “This is why you aren’t with her?” She stopped again, thinking through her words. “You think your life– all of this–will give her cold feet?”
His eyes looked tired as his hand fell into his lap. “Wouldn’t it?”
“It’s a lot, I do admit, but you told me mates were designed perfectly for the other. That means if you are King, naturally she is Queen. Your life isn’t one to be ashamed of, Adlaric, quite frankly,” she scratched her forehead with her finger. “Your life is one you should be immensely proud of. You’re King. I don’t know much, but I’m assuming most wolves are happy under your domain and you spoke so fondly of the duties of being King. But disregarding that, even if all of this did intimidate her, you being you would make it all worth it.”
Evangeline smiled and stepped toward him. “I think if you lose her it will be because she didn’t realize you wanted her in the first place, not because your life presents problems for hers.”
Adlaric grabbed her hands and ran over her knuckles with his thumbs as he thought about what to say next. He swallowed thickly before looking up at her. “Shouldn’t she be able to have a normal teenage life? Once she mates with me, she will have responsibilities she cannot ignore.”
“How old is she?”
“She’s young, but she’s not an idiot. She can make her own decisions. In fact, everyone around her will tell her she needs to make these big, life-changing decisions. My point is, she has responsibilities anyway, and I’d think she would like to go through them with you more than by herself. I think you should give her a choice rather than deciding for her.”
He stared at her for a moment. It was so heated, she began to blush and pull away. His grip stayed firm on her hands, keeping her in place. He was going to tell her. He was going to tell her that she was his mate and that he was born to protect her from the harsh would.
He was going to tell her about his past and he would stay with her for hours asking her about her life, her passions, her greatest dreams. He would tell her and spend the rest of his life cherishing her with every fiber of his being. He was going to tell her and give her the choice; if she decided to leave, he’d let her, but if she decided to stay, he’d ask for her hand in marriage because if they were mates in his world, he demanded she be his in hers.
“Evangeline I–” Adlaric was interrupted by Dimitri walking into the closet.
“Adlaric–” Dimitri stopped and looked at them both. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were occupied. I came to inform you about investigation.”
Adlaric stood up and grabbed Eve’s hand hand. “What is it?”
Dimitri looked at Evangeline skeptically. Did she know?
“Our trackers followed the man who invaded Eve’s house and the scent of Eric. Both led to Waldenburg, Arkansas. When our trackers investigated the dilapidated building where both scents were present, they were ambushed.”
Adlaric was already walking out the door, with his mate by his side. She could feel the slight tremor in his hands as he reached for the file Dimitri was holding. He was angry, and rightly so. He dropped her hand to look over the file.
“What are the numbers?” Adlaric asked.
“Four dead, five injured, three missing, my King,” Dimitri said hesitantly.
Eve bit her lip; Adlaric really was King. Dimitri must have sensed the anger radiating from the other Lycan which is why he used Adlaric’s title.
“It’s much worse for the other side, however; almost the entire faculty has been accounted for or killed. Three escaped. The building seemed to be a testing facility; there were cages in the basement where children were found. Eros’ story checks out.”
There was a moment of silence before Adlaric snapped the file shut and turned to Evangeline.
“Go,” she encouraged. “You have to go.” She understood that his Kingdom came first. She was glad it did; he was responsible for so many individuals, it would be irresponsible if he put something else first.
“When I get back, you and I are going to spend the evening together and I will answer whatever questions you may have. Stay here. Be safe.I will have a Lycan with you at all times. I have to tell you something once all of this is over.”
She held Adlaric’s eyes for a moment before he and Dimitri quickly paced down the hall. She smiled at their backs.
Adlaric wasn’t just some man she met in Russia. He wasn’t a prince. He wasn’t a CEO. He wasn’t untouchable. And he most certainly was not cold.
Adlaric was everything a man should be encompassed in a beautiful exterior. He cared with every morsel of his body, he fought for the underdog, he encouraged advancement. He dropped everything when his Kingdom was threatened.
He was a King. A King Evangeline wouldn’t mind bowing to. The more she learned about him, the more she admired him.
She noticed every detail about him. She saw his wrinkles and his scars. She saw how he was his biggest enemy. She saw his insecurity. She saw every crippling detail of the big bad King, and still, his image in her eyes never paled. It suddenly occurred to her.
Standing in a hallway, in pajama bottoms and a shirt that was ripped, in the midst of a crazy, Lycanthrope world, Evangeline realized– to her –Adlaric was absolutely perfect.
Evangeline Ademasayo was completely, irrationally, and cripplingly in love with the Alpha King.
It took another second to realize he had someone destined for him, so she smiled again, although it was painful. She’d rather break her own heart than to break his.