It physically hurt Stone to step away and help her off the table. The way he easily handled her was starting to stir something new within Karen. She became less and less embarrassed about her weight with every touch. That negative energy was morphing into desire.
Since Stone had few work-related issues to discuss with Sol, the couple ventured to Alpha’s house. When they appeared holding hands, both Sol and Light's faces exploded with joy. The father-son duo seemed to be their number one fan.
Karen noticed that Stone had to bend his head to pass through the entrances. The sight was a weird one, as it certified just how different he was.
The men disappeared to work, leaving Karen with Arabella. Since the luna had a few things to take care of herself, she apologized and went her own way. Light took a nap, so Karen was left with nothing but her thoughts for an hour. She didn’t mind the silence. She knew that she would find her place in Titanium eventually, but the discovery required time.
A loud thud alarmed her. She looked up, and found Stone rubbing his forehead by the doorframe.
“Stop trying to hammer down my house, you tall motherfucker!” Sol yelled from upstairs.
The cry of a baby split the air.
“Sol!” Arabella scolded.
“Sorry!” Sol threw back.
Karen stood and worriedly tried to reach for Stone’s forehead. He laughed and then kissed one of her wrists. He wasn’t concerned about the pain in his head. He had gotten quite used to the sensation of his forehead meeting concrete.
“I’m fine, doctor. I don’t have a concussion.”
She glared at him and brushed his hair from his forehead to examine the skin. Though she knew that it would take far more than a wall to take down a Beta werewolf, she still couldn’t help but fuss over him.
“Mmm, this feels nice. Remind me to slam my head into more walls,” he grinned.
Karen rolled her eyes and ruffled his hair messily before walking to the living room. Sol was on a couch, feeding Light a bottle while glaring at his Beta.
“You’ll have to change his diaper to make up for this,” he warned.
“Time to go! See you later!” Stone called out before placing a hand on Karen’s back and guiding her to the entrance.
“Come back here! I was serious!
Stone rushed out, making sure to duck his head.
He typed his afternoon away, wanting to get rid of work to dedicate his night to Karen. She messed around with Cynthia while he worked, asking the system anything from jokes to his birthday.
They watched a marathon of movies, and Stone talked through all of them. Karen was convinced that he had memorized the script of all the characters.
“So in the original Superman comic–”
She yawned, cutting off his sixtieth fact. A sharp poke to her side made her yelp.
“Don’t tickle me!” she reprimanded as she covered her stomach with her hands.
“Then pay attention.”
She squinted at him before vengefully blurting, “Cynthia, tell me more about Stone’s testosterone levels.”
Karen laughed at his adorable terror, and he whined at the unfairness of her games. In a move that felt as natural as breathing, he swept her into his arms and began carrying her upstairs.
This time, tenseness didn’t strangle Karen. Maybe it had something to do with her fatigue, or maybe she finally accepted that her differences were safe with her mate.
She stared at his stubbled jaw as he continued to mumble something about her being mean.
When they reached her bed, he placed her down and then stood straight. Like the gentleman that he was, he waited to be welcomed onto the sheets.
Karen read the unspoken question within his expression and answered with a sharp pull to his hand. It wasn’t mighty enough to make him fall down, but it communicated her intentions.
They sat against the headboard like the previous night, staring at their socked feet as they analyzed the joys of the day.
“I see Sol is as lively as ever. Poor Arabella has probably lost a fistful of hair from stress,” she murmured past the fog of sleepiness.
“Yeah. He’d jump head-first into Hell for her and Light, though.”
The statement made her wonder something she had no business wondering about.
“What?” he pushed when she halted.
“Nope. You have to tell me now.”
“I was just thinking… when I ran that day, why didn’t you try to stop me?”
Memory lane latched onto him and dragged him down a trip. He remembered the day their gazes embraced those two years ago. She had been staring at him one second, and eloping with rejection the next. Stone simply watched her disappear, not at all shocked by her reaction. As pitiful as it was, he got used to people walking away.
“I’m used to people running, I guess,” he shrugged. “When my parents left me, it was just something I had to accept. When I joined Titanium and people kept their distance, I just had to deal with it. I got used to the idea that life expects me to conform to people’s rejection and that if I do a good enough job, then they’ll keep me.”
Confusion painted her face. “What do you mean by your parents leaving you?”
“I mean it literally. I grew up in an orphanage.”
Guilt tore holes into her intestines, and she neglected to breathe for a whole minute.
Stone pulled at a faint stain on his shirt as he finished explaining his origins. “I ate up the idea that my parents would show up and keep me if I was a good kid. I tried my best, but they never came. When I hit puberty and started growing rapidly, I got really fucked up in the head. I knew no one was going to adopt me. Who would want a twelve-year-old that looked like a twenty-one-year-old man?"
He sighed. “Time heals, but it also decays. I see now that I should’ve gone after you that day.”
He moved his calm gaze to hers, only to find that Karen’s face became a river.
She hiccupped, unable to find the words to express how regretful she was for letting him waddle in the puddle of self-doubt for two years; The same puddle his parents had tossed him into.
“Karen,” he pressed in an unusually stern voice. He reached for her face and wiped her tears away with a touch that countered his tone. “Stop this. It’s not necessary.”
“You had your reasons. Now quit crying, or I’ll make you watch another Superman movie.”
She disobeyed him, choosing to toss herself into the sweet man’s arms and sobbing herself to sleep.