Marcus couldn’t believe William wanted to challenge him for Eloise. He got the drop on Troy and him when they were waiting for Eloise to change out of the wedding gown. Shifting into his bear when Eloise threw her shoe at William gave him a chance to strategize. William would be much faster than him, but with his bulk he would be able to overpower William.
William swiped at him and he batted him away, not without having a claw catch his paw. He growled and charged at William. The living room had a ton of furniture to block him from back away from Marcus’ charge. He hit the mountain lion head first and caused him to crash through the couch. The couch gave way easily as the two large shifters crashed through it. He heard Eloise smother a scream and used the moment William was still disoriented to check on his mate. She was standing near the front door with her hands over her mouth.
He must have spent a minute too long because William launched himself onto his back and bit down. The scruff on the back of his neck protected him from any true harm, but he roared in pain. William shook back and forth trying to tear his fur apart. Shaking his back, he managed to dislodge William and turn around to face the mountain lion head on. William’s muzzle was dripping with his blood, his bear roared. No one harmed him without paying the price. This animal stole his mate, tried to bind her to him and destroyed his home in the process. There would be no mercy for this lunatic.
What he hadn’t expected was William to turn on Eloise, he watched as the animal bared its teeth at her. His haunches bunched and Marcus knew he was going to pounce on her. Shoving the pain from his mind he rushed William from the side. He used his teeth to latch onto his shoulder catching the thick muscle he tugged until he felt it give way underneath his teeth. William wouldn’t be able to use that leg until it healed. This gave Marcus the advantage and he used it, rearing onto his hindlegs he swiped at William’s face. His claws caught him across the muzzle drawing spurts of blood.
Slowly William shifted back to a human with large gashes on his shoulder and face. Marcus remained a bear, he didn’t trust him not to try and shift to kill him.
“She is mine!” William yelled, his eyes wide with insanity. He pointed a shaky finger at Eloise who was trying to open the front door with no success.
“I’ve never been yours!” Eloise yelled back, Marcus could see the anger in her face.
“How could you do all this just to take a woman who didn’t want you? I told you at eighteen you and I were not meant to be. You’ve wasted ten years of your life trying to come after me. You could have found a wonderful woman to love you, but instead you decided you had to have me. You’ve killed two people in your pursuit of me. I don’t love you William and I never will. End this now, I am begging,” Eloise told him, her eyes filling with tears.
“I’ve loved you for so long, I don’t know how to live without you,” he admitted. Marcus sensed his injuries were causing him severe pain. His skin started to take on a sickly pale as he continued to ooze blood from his shoulder.
“You never had me,” she reminded him. Taking the moment, he shifted back to human form and grabbed a pair of shorts sitting nearby.
“I can’t live without you,” William whispered and slumped to the floor. He’d passed out from blood loss. Eloise made to move toward him but Marcus growled,
“Don’t move. I will tend to him. Do you have anything we can bind his wounds with? Shifters heal quickly, but they need to stop losing blood to do so.” He walked slowly toward the unconscious man, while Eloise stripped more fabric from the awful wedding dress. Kneeling he pressed a hand to his throat and felt the slow beat of a pulse. William wasn’t dead, the injuries he’d inflicted wouldn’t kill the man. Eloise appeared at his side holding stripes of white material. He took his time making sure to tie it tightly. He hated the man, and yes he wanted him dead, but Cody asked for him to be taken alive.
“Are you alright?” he asked Eloise. She looked shell-shocked staring at the man who had stalked her for the better part of four months.
“It is finally over?” she asked. He nodded and went to pull her in for a hug before he noticed the blood on his hands. She gasped and stepped behind him, he felt her fingers gently touch the place where William had bit him.
“Sit down,” she ordered in a no nonsense tone.
“I am fine Eloise,” he began, but one look at her face told him now was not a good time to argue. Normally he hated being fussed over, earlier that year he’d sustained some burns from the warehouse fire saving Roxie’s art. She’d wanted to help him, but he’d brushed her off and took care of himself in the shower. Feeling Eloise touch him made him feel calm, and he found he needed her to touch him. He needed to know she was safe and nothing would harm her from now on.
“You are not fine, now sit,” she commanded pointing to a chair. He sat down and turned so she could get to his back. Watching her, she rushed into the kitchen and found a cloth. She wet the cloth and came back to wash off the blood. He could feel the cuts were starting to heal, but with the depth of William’s bite it would take a few days to fully heal.
“Does it hurt?” she whispered, not wanting to worry her more he shook his head. It did sting, but her ministrations helped ease the pain.
“I will heal in a couple of days,” he assured her, her worry was pouring off her in droves and he wanted to calm her down. Reaching over his shoulder he grabbed one of her hands and kissed it.
“I love you,” he told her and she placed a feather light kiss on his shoulder.
“I love you too, thank you for rescuing me. You really are my knight in shining armor.” She placed another kiss on his shoulder and he felt her teeth nip.
“We should thank Rhett for needing more help and Josie for having her events,” he remarked, turning around he pulled her into his lap. She placed her hands gently around his neck and gave a small smile.
“True. The night you walked into the club Josie was telling me I needed to get a boyfriend. I’d told her I had no time for a man, how wrong I was. I cannot imagine my life without you,” she said. He couldn’t wait one more minute and crushed his lips on hers. Sweeping in with his tongue he possessed her mouth. Their tongues danced while his hands slipped into her hair keeping her close to him.