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Nathaniel seems hesitant at first, then reluctantly nods his head in agreement. Why is he so nervous? His anxiety is making me fearful – can he not control himself as a wolf? Am I in danger? I don’t feel afraid so why is he scared? He clearly is picking up on my nerves because he tries to reassure me but is doing a really shitty job at it.

“I’m sorry Emery – I don’t mean to scare you,” he groans begrudgingly. He sounds so convincing – not. Maybe I’m pushing him? Who am I to ask anything of him? I’m nobody, despite his claims to the contrary. I’m so dumb. This is why I get hurt by men – I fall hard and fast and allow myself to be blind to their faults. All one has to do is look at Stephen to prove my point.

I step out of Nathaniel’s embrace, which causes him to growl, or maybe it is Harou. I don’t know now. It still doesn’t frighten me, if anything it confuses me further.

“You’re not scaring me, Nathaniel,” I protest. “I’m sorry if I pushed you or made you uncomfortable. You don’t owe me anything,” I am trying to give him an easy out, and at the same time make the quickest escape I can. I’m so embarrassed. What the hell is my fucking problem? I just MET the man and I’m already putting my hands on him and letting him touch me. Have I lost my fucking mind? Especially after everything I just went through with Stephen – the whole reason I’m on the goddamn run, and I let my guard down so easily? I’m a stupid fool.

Yet I want to keep touching him and feeling his hands on me. Oh. My. God. What the hell is my problem!? Argh! I hate myself! Stop stop stop! Stephen kept secrets and they only hurt me in the end, so if Nathaniel wants or needs to keep secrets – I have to walk away. Now!

I turn from him and start walking towards what I hope is the right direction for the hospital. My car is totalled, but hopefully someone can point me towards a nearby town where I can buy a used one for cheap. I need to get going – Maine is still a long ways away. I have no doubt Stephen is looking for me – if for no other reason than his fucking pride. He will be pissed off and embarrassed that I ran away, so no way he’s going to let me get away with that unpunished. No. Way.

I need to go.

Without Nathaniel making a path for me, it is a lot harder walking back. Why wouldn’t I just follow the same path? Because I’m dumb and stubborn, that’s why. It doesn’t matter anyways because I don’t get far before Nathaniel catches up to me. He firmly but gently grabs my arm and stops me, turning me to face him.

“Please, Emery. Don’t leave.” His face looks pained, which causes a pain in my chest. What the hell is that about? His eyes are more blue than black, but I’d swear there is an intense, internal struggle taking place. He takes my hands in his, his breathing ragged while he seems to fight to find the words. I stay quiet, giving him all of the time he needs.

“Emery, Harou wants nothing more than to meet you,” his eyes turn mostly black before the blue returns. That is so incredible to watch, I can’t help but wonder what colour his eyes are when he is aroused. That thought sends me down a whole new line of naughty thoughts and images, and based on the very deep growl Nathaniel now gives me, he and Harou are well aware of the direction I’ve gone in.

“Emery… that is precisely why I’m worried about letting Harou out…” he moans as if in physical pain. I don’t get it. He takes a step closer to me, and plants a soft kiss on my forehead. This time, the moan is mine. A shot of heat from my forehead goes straight to my core, at the same time there is a tug in my abdomen that pulls my body involuntarily towards Nathaniel. There is no denying the physical attraction between us – my body definitely desires his.

“Nathaniel… I don’t understand? I trust you not to hurt me,” I whisper as I wrap my arms around his neck pulling him even closer. I know none of this makes sense and I’m behaving recklessly, but at the same time I also don’t care. I’ve never responded to anyone’s touch like this before, and I want to feel more. I want to know what ‘this’ is, and I want more of ‘it’. I can’t believe I’m considering staying, but for the first time in as long as I can remember – I’m not looking to run.

“Emery, we won’t hurt you – I promise.” I nod, showing him I believe him and trust him. And I do. I have no reason to, but I do. One hundred percent. Of course, I trusted Stephen once too and look where that got me. No. It will be different this time – I know it. I feel it. “But Harou is desperate to claim you, Emery. Make you ours.” I nod half-heartedly, indicating I have no idea what he means but I’m trying to be understanding. “When we claim you, Emery, it is painful for you. We’ll minimize it the best we can, but it is still going to hurt, however briefly.” OK… that’s sweet. But he’s this worked up over a few minutes of pain? I know he doesn’t know anything about me, but he has no idea the kind of pain I’ve already endured – for hours at a time thanks to Stephen. If Nathaniel is this worked up over a few minutes of something that can’t be avoided – no wonder I feel so safe with him. Jesus. He’s fucking amazing. The complete opposite of Stephen. Maybe there is a God after all?

“We have a lot to learn about each other Nathaniel, but I promise you I’m stronger than I look.” I try to reassure him, and the smile he gives me is knee-buckling. Jesus, he is a beautiful man. It really should be illegal to be this perfect. Tall, wide and all muscle, tattoos covering him almost everywhere that I can see, with long blonde hair that is almost more silvery white than blonde that hangs to his shoulders. I wonder what Harou looks like – if he is the same colour as Nathaniel’s hair? And when his eyes are blue – wow. Dark, almost cobalt. I want to crawl into them and swim forever, as weird as that sounds.

“I have no doubt about that Emery, believe me baby, no doubt at all.” His smile grows larger, and he rests his forehead against mine. God, his proximity to me has every single cell in my body on high alert, all of them screaming ‘take me!’. The wetness between my thighs is a truly clear indicator of how my body feels about the entire situation. This time when he growls, I have no doubt it is Harou making the noise, because the groan I’m sure is coming from Nathaniel.

“My love, you should know that werewolves have enhanced smelling abilities,” he moans at me with an incredibly sexy smile on his face. What does that mean? He and Harou can smell really well, so what? Oh. Oh shit. Now I get it. Oh crap. With alarm and mortification my eyes grow round as I stare into his. Can they smell my arousal? No. No way. Surely not. Nathaniel tucks his face into my neck, inhaling deeply. I close my eyes as my entire body shudders in pleasure, and I feel a new wave of moisture escape me. “Christ Emery…” he groans again as he licks my neck and starts taking tiny nips on my skin. Christ is right. How is it possible for me to be so turned on already?

With a loud groan Nathaniel abruptly steps back and holds me at arm’s length. His absence from my arms immediately makes me cold, and I stumble from the lack of his support. His eyes are swirling rapidly, and it is clear to see the evidence of his own arousal straining against his pants. I lick my lips as my own imagination joins the party, and Nathaniel’s groan in response is extremely low and guttural. I think he has a rather good idea of what I’m thinking about. It takes him several seconds to regulate his breathing before he speaks, but he keeps his hands on my arms the entire time. I think both of us need the security of the physical contact, however minimal.

“Emery, you need to know everything before you commit my love. I don’t want you to regret anything someday because you didn’t have the facts going in.” His voice is sincere, but his face is conflicted – worried. I love that he wants to make sure I’m fully prepared, but it is clear he is also worried I’m going to turn tail and run. It is what I do, after all.

I let him sit me back down on the rock, but this time he sits beside me with an arm around my shoulder. It helps me to stay warmer, and the contact is comforting.

“When werewolves mate, they mate for life. For Alphas and Lunas, that bond is usually even stronger.” I look at him, silently asking him what that means. “If our connection is as strong as I think it is, Emery, and we mate, when one of us dies, the other will likely not survive for long. Neither of us will be able to live without the other – it is like two halves of one soul. I’ve only seen it twice before, thankfully after the pair lived to very old ages but neither lived more than a few hours after their mate passed.” His eyes look deeply into mine, as if to ensure he has my full attention. “All werewolves have true mates, Emery, but only a select few Alphas and Lunas have a connection like this. I don’t know why we were chosen but I need you to understand what it will mean if we mate – if we claim one another. As a werewolf you wouldn’t hesitate but as a human you have more of a choice than we do.” I nod to indicate I have heard everything he has said, but I don’t interrupt. Shit. That is intense.

“How do we, uh… mate? Or, claim one another?” I hope that isn’t a stupid question. I’m guessing mating with one another is simply what it sounds like – sex. It better not be sex with Harou! I am not fucking a wolf, no matter how much I like him. I’m not into bestiality, even if that animal is a part of Nathaniel. The only cock entering me is his, thank you very much. He smiles but not in a way to make me feel stupid.

“Mating is as it sounds my love – you and me.” I start to interrupt but as if sensing what I’m about to ask, he interrupts me first. “Harou will always be ‘with’ us, Emery but you’ll never mate with him, my love. Unless you’re into that, in which case, you and I need to have a whole other fucking conversation,” he laughs. Thank God. Ok. That answers that, and it does make me feel a whole lot better. Sorry Harou.

“Okay, thanks. I was wondering that – sorry, I’m just not into, uh…” I stop there, not sure how to finish the sentence without hurting his feelings, or his wolf’s. He smiles and lets me off the hook.

“He will always be there, and he can see everything, hear everything but it is me you’d be with…” his breathing starts to get heavy. “Me who would kiss you… touch you… taste you…” Oh God yes please… his eyes are hooded with desire as he leans in and stops just short of my lips.

“Nathaniel…” my voice is breathy, my own wanton desire blatant. We stay like this for several long seconds, as I wait for him to compose himself. From everything he has already told me, he needs to be in full control of himself and won’t do anything until he feels he is. His mastery over himself astounds me.

“Emery, the claiming is painful for you my love. Like I said, it is going to hurt no matter how much we try to minimize it. Harou wants to claim you – we want to claim you, but I’m fucking terrified of losing control of him in that moment…

If we hurt you Emery, it will fucking destroy us.”

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