I sigh with relief when I finally conclude the lecture. Two of the longest hours of my life. Everyone starts trickling out of the lecture theatre. Glancing at the door, I see Ezekiel waiting, as promised. He smirks and nods his head at me.
Rosemary stands up and puts her bag over her shoulder. As she and her friend make their way down the steps, I call out to her.
“Miss Moore? Could you stay behind for a moment, please,” I call to her.
Her head shoots up and her eyes meet mine. They’re a warm brown and wide with surprise. She hesitantly hovers near the first row of seats as the last students leave.
“I’ll wait outside,” Oya tells her.
I watch her, attempting to keep my face stern. She shifts from foot to foot, obviously very uncomfortable. I can’t help but enjoy this. I know it’s wrong of me, but it’s like the sick pleasure a cat gets out of cornering a mouse. Except the only place I want to eat this girl is between her legs.
My lips twitch and I struggle not to smile. She nervously walks towards the desk. Her arm is across her body protectively, holding her left elbow with her right hand.
“Uh, Sir? Is something wrong?” She asks sweetly.
She keeps her gaze on the ground and I don’t like it. I want her to look at me, always. I look over to Ezekiel and he enters the room. Rosemary looks up in surprise. Her mouth parts in panic and she glances anxiously at me.
“Sir?” She says warily.
I smile at her. A predatory smile that has her taking a step back.
“There is something wrong, Rosemary,” I start casually as I begin walking around the desk.
She watches me, unsure of what I’m going to do. She swallows hard and I watch her throat move with the action.
How I want to sink my teeth into that throat...
“Ezekiel and I have been waiting eight years for our mate,” I tell her.
I reach the front of the desk, a metre or so away from her. I rest on it and cross my arms over my chest. Ezekiel continues for me as he comes to stand next to me.
“We were so excited when we first saw you and realised, we’d finally found you. Only, our mate decided to ignore our bond. We have been waiting patiently for her, we have given her a few days for it to sink in.”
I smirk at my brother’s words.
“And now, we are done waiting. You are our mate, Rosemary, you must accept that.”
Rosemary looks back and forth between us, a shocked look on her face. She licks her lips and both of us hungrily follow the movement with our eyes.
“I don’t even know what they really means,” she replies, her voice barely above a whisper.
“We only want to talk, kitten,” I reassure her softly. “Please, just let us talk.”
She glances between us both and then at the door.
“Okay,” she concedes. “Where should I meet you?”
“Are you free tomorrow? We could pick you up and take you to our house, we’ll be able to talk freely there without being disturbed,” I suggest.
Ez shoots me a look and Rosemary hesitates.
“Would you prefer somewhere public?” Ezekiel asks her. “We could meet in our offices, instead.”
Rosemary nods quickly. “Yes, that would be better. Thank you.”
“Okay, tomorrow at 12. We’ll bring food,” Ez agrees.
Both of us can barely sit still. The clock says 11:57 and I’m watching the seconds go by, waiting impatiently for our mate to arrive. I’m so relieved that she agreed to talk to us, just talk. She’s been fed a load of bollocks from her religious grandmother and we need to try and undo some of the damage she has done to our poor mate’s way of thinking.
After exactly a minute, there is a quiet knock on the door. Ez all but lurches out of his seat and opens it. Our mate is stood in the doorway, her hands grasped nervously in front of her.
“Rosemary,” Ez says her name on an exhale. “Come in.”
She blushes and shyly enters our office. He gestures for her to take a seat on a chair that faces both of our desks, where we are sat.
“Thank you for coming,” Ez starts. “Honestly, we only want to talk to you. We need to communicate for us to be able to move forwards, and we can’t do that with you running away each time.”
His tone is bordering on scolding and Rosemary winces a little. She chews on her bottom lip, pulling it between her teeth.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbles. “When I’ve run away…I’ve been running to church.”
“Church?” I repeat the word.
She looks up at me and swallows. “Yes. To pray…for answers.”
Ezekiel and I share a look.
“We know that you don’t know much about mates. Could you tell us about your family and your upbringing? Only say as much as you want to,” Ez coaxes her gently.
We don’t want to get Oya in trouble for mentioning things that we shouldn’t know. We want Rosemary to tell us herself.
Keeping her eyes fixed on her hands on her lap, Rosemary answers.
“My mother was a human from Malaysia.”
That’s explains her beautiful looks and caramel-coloured skin.
“She met my father, a shifter, when she was younger. They had me and when I was ten, my mother was killed in a car accident. My father died three days later.”
My heart aches for her and I want nothing more than to comfort her, but I know that she needs space from us right now.
“My parents had explained to me what I was growing up, I was prepared for my first shift at sixteen. I’ve had friends since I was a child who are shifters. They explained the basics of what mates are. I know that my father died because he could not live without my mother.”
She takes a deep breath and looks back up at us.
“I was expecting to meet my mate. My grandmother insists that I marry them as soon as I meet them. I-I was never expecting t-two,” she stumbles over her words and her expression becomes pained. “I visited my grandmother and told her about the two of you…she did not take it well. She demanded that I reject you.”
“Do you know what it means to reject your mate?” Ezekiel asks for me.
I’m too angry to speak. My hands are fisted on my lap and my jaw is clenched. I breathe deeply in and out of my nose.
“Not exactly, no,” Rosemary replies hesitantly and sneaks a glance at me.
“When you reject your mate, you break the bond between the two of you. It is dangerous and only done as a last resource. We have not done anything to deserve your rejection, so it is not a rejection that the Moon Goddess would back.”
Rosemary frowns. “And the Moon Goddess, she is like your God, is she not?”
“Yes, but you do realise she is your deity, too?” Ez pushes gently.
Our little mate’s frown deepens. “There is only one God to me.”
Ez and I share another look. We’ll come back to that later.
“Anyway, because the Moon Goddess wouldn’t back the rejection, it would be incredibly painful for the three of us. It might even kill us.”
Rosemary’s expression turns pensive, and she stares off into the distance. We give her a moment to let this sink in.
“I think my uncle was rejected,” she says thoughtfully. “I remember him as a child. He was my father’s brother. My parents told me that his mate did not want to be with him, he died a week later.”
“Then you know how dangerous it is. Please, Rosemary, don’t reject us,” Ezekiel pleads with her.
Rosemary looks at him in surprise and shakes her head. “I won’t reject you,” she says softly. “But I am still not comfortable with the fact I have two mates. In the church, polygamy is a sin.”
“Isn’t there polygamy in the Bible? I swear a load of people have multiple partners.”
Rosemary frowns. “In the Old Testament, yes. But that was a different time and marriage is between two people, not three.”
“But we’re not getting married,” I cut in. “Obviously we can, if you want. Our parents did. But it’s different, Rosemary. We’re mates.”
I decide to finally contribute to this conversation, not content with sitting on the side-lines anymore. Ez warned me beforehand not to get carried away or scare her, but I won’t have my mate sit in front of me and tell me that our bond isn’t right.
“In the world of shifters, it is not dirty or sinful or wrong to have two mates. We have a mother and two fathers. Their relationship is not sinful, it is full of love. The Moon Goddess has chosen for the three of us to be together, there is no shame in that.”
Rosemary swallows hard and looks between the two of us.
“Does this mean that the two of you are romantically involved?” She asks, her voice concerned.
Ez snorts with laughter and I shake my head.
“No. We are brothers, nothing more. I have no sexual feelings for Ez. Our relationship is purely centred on you. Although, I think there is incest in that precious Bible of yours.”
Rosemary flushes and looks down at her hands. “Okay,” she mumbles.
“Mates are the greatest gift our kind gets,” Ezekiel says. “We have been blessed with you and we only want to protect you and make you happy. Please, let us be with you.”
Our little mate looks between us, looking less nervous than she did when she first walked in.
“I just need some more time, please keep being patient with me,” she says. “But I promise, I’m not rejecting you, I’m just confused. This is hard for me; it’s going against my faith.”
“We know, kitten,” Ez reassures her. “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you. If you have more questions about mates, you can ask us, but I think you should talk to Oya about it, too. That way, you know we aren’t manipulating you, that we’re speaking the truth.”
“I know you wouldn’t do that,” Rosemary responds softly. “I might be confused about whether this is right or not, but my body trusts you completely, I trust you.”
She seems confused as to how that is possible, to trust us without knowing us properly.
“That’s the mate bond,” I explain to her. “You are drawn to us; your body knows that it is safe with us.”
A silence falls on us as Rosemary contemplates what we have said to her.