She had showered, paced, and reached for the doorknob enough times to make her dizzy. She had an apology to deliver, but none of the words she planned seemed right. Stone was probably sulking somewhere in the house, taking her rejection as fuel to hate himself some more. As his mate, she had a responsibility to prevent this. He had already suffered enough because of her.
Figuring that just showing up would mean a lot to him, she pushed the door aside and searched for his room. She counted her steps as she neared the master bedroom, needing something to focus on other than dread.
The door to his room seemed bigger than all the other ones. Before it could intimidate her away, she raised a fist and dropped it on the wood.
She pushed the door aside and entered the room, locating his massiveness immediately even if he was submerged in darkness.
“Is something wrong?” he asked without moving from his spot.
“No. I’m just so sorry about today,” she explained as she inched closer.
“It’s not,” she countered as she continued to defeat the space between them. “I freaked out and left you.”
She reached for his bedside lamp and fussed to turn it on.
“Really? Look at me in the eye and tell me I didn’t make you feel terrible,” she asked as she palmed his face.
He shook his head. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“But you didn’t scare me. I just didn’t know how to channel my thoughts properly,” Karen admitted with an exhausted sigh.
He kept his eyes on her as she sank onto the bed. “I didn’t want to ditch you like that. It was just an ugly reflex. We just have to take things slow, yeah?”
“Well, I see your neck is working fine again,” she jabbed with a soft smile.
He stared at her eyes which looked hazel under the ministrations of his bedside lamp. “Cynthia gives better massages than you,” he joked back.
Karen snorted as she examined his massive bed. It seemed fit for an entire family. “Can I… sleep here with you?”
The proposition was a scandalous one, but she wanted to soothe the burn she left when she flinched away from him. She had to show him that she didn’t find his hold repulsive.
“I don’t know," Stone hesitated as he pulled a pillow over his bare stomach. “I move a lot in my sleep. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” The way he dropped his head, chewed his bottom lip and squeezed his pillow made her wonder how in the moon she could’ve run away from this guy twice.
She crawled across the sheets, making herself comfortable beside him without sharing another word. Stone didn’t dare to twitch. The last thing he wanted was to trigger her again.
“Can you turn off the light, please?”
He looked at the side of her face with despair before slowly reaching for the lamp. A small click descended them to darkness.
“You can lay down,” she added moments later.
He slid down the bed as commanded, keeping his fingers intertwined over his stomach. Karen sighed before snatching one of his hands and throwing it over her waist.
He turned slightly but kept his pelvis a foot away from her. He could feel the softness of her stomach through her pajama shirt, but didn’t dare to entertain his temptation of sliding a hand under her shirt and caressing her skin.
Many heartbeats later, he finally trusted himself to dip into a peaceful abyss.
Karen’s fingers twitched with awareness. She yawned and nuzzled her face deeper into Stone’s earthy scent. She opened her eyes, bringing with her the decision that this was how she wanted to wake up every night.
Stone’s nervous eyes were there to greet her.
She examined her greedy position. She was on top of him, her cheek on his left pec and her mouth worryingly close to his nipple. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled as she rolled off him. “You should’ve woken me.”
Stone kept his mouth shut– not wanting to risk sharing the fact that he had liked the danger of her licking him.
“So, what do you want for breakfast?”
“Cereal will do,” he grunted through the thickness of his voice.
“Really? You want something so basic?”
In truth, he didn’t want to tire her with chores. She was his mate, not a maid. He didn't want to give her any reason to leave.
“Cynthia, does Stone usually have cereal for breakfast?”
“No. Beta Stone tends to have fatty breakfasts. His body needs the sustenance to–”
“Shut up!” he snarked.
Karen shook her head disapprovingly before getting to her feet and walking to her room. She retrieved her cellphone, choosing to skip a shower since she had taken about three the previous night.
She found two missed calls from her brother, and returned them.
“Hey Alex, can you get Sean for me?”
“One sec. He broke Eva’s laptop, and she’s chasing him around the yard.”
Karen shook her head with a smile, missing her family’s antics. “Did he need me for something?”
“No, he just wanted to threaten your mate. How is he, by the way?”
“Stone?” Karen chuckled as she walked down the stairs. “He’s a child dressed as a mountain. He’s super sweet.”
“Aww… oh shit. I have to go. Eva caught Sean.”
Before Karen could offer a goodbye, the girl was gone. With amusement tickling her, Karen entered the kitchen and began breakfast.