“Thanks for lending me some clothes, dude,” I said as I took a seat at Anthony’s island counter in his tiny kitchen.
He lived alone in a bachelor flat inside the large building, where everything seemed to happen.
“Sure, fits perfectly,” he answered while pouring us two mugs of freshly brewed coffee.
I was very thankful for the clean set of clothes and relaxing shower since I had still been in my work uniform, covered in anything and everything animal.
“Can I ask you a question?” I asked as soon as he sat down and slid the hot coffee my way.
“Shoot,” he replied while taking his first sip.
“What’s the deal with you and Fran?”
Anthony tensed up a bit and placed his mug down onto the island counter.
“Is it that obvious?” He asked with a stiff smile.
“Well, I mean, everyone can see you guys are quite fond of one another,” I answered truthfully.
Anthony sighed deeply and leaned back onto the hard, wooden chair.
“I care about Fran a lot. Man, who am I kidding, I love her. Very much.”
“So why don’t you guys mate?” I asked while taking a sip of my own coffee.
“No, I could never do that to her. She has a mate somewhere out there, who could make her happier than I ever could. Who am I to take that away from her?” He answered sounding quite broken.
“What about me?”
“Don't you have a mate?”
Anthony looked reluctant to answer and stayed quiet for a few seconds.
“What do you mean?”
He sighed again and rubbed his forehead in frustration, “because I am cursed.”
My brows shot up and I stared at him in disbelief.
“When I was younger, I did something,” he said, avoiding eye contact, “something I am not proud of. And because of what I did, I am pretty sure the Moon Goddess has cursed me and assigned my mate to someone else.”
I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. What could one say?
“Are you sure?” That was all I managed to get out.
“Positively,” he replied and took another sip of coffee.
“It was a long time ago; I have paid my dues and have worked hard to make up for what I did, in many different ways,” he answered and gave me a forced smile.
Wow, I really knew nothing about him. This was the first time I actually had a chance to speak to him and got a glimpse into the real Anthony. He was so quiet when we went out together as a group the other night.
“Does Fran know?” I asked after another moment of silence.
“No, she doesn’t.”
“Are you going to tell her?”
“I wouldn’t matter. In fact, it might only complicate things.”
I believed him. From what I have seen, Fran would give up many things for her loved ones. And for Anthony, I had no doubt she’d be willing to give up a chance at finding her mate in order to be with him and make him happy.
When they looked at each other I only saw love and adoration.
The guy had been through a lot.
If he had to lose Fran also, it would be a devastating blow.
I woke up the next morning to my best friend placing a warm cup of coffee on my bedside table. The calming aroma quickly filled the room, and I felt the bed dip as she sat down next to me.
“How are you feeling, Babe?” She asked in a gentle tone while placing her free hand caringly on my leg.
I opened my eyes and saw her looking at me with a mixture of empathy and pity. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want her to look at me like that. And most of all, I didn’t want any of this to be happening. Couldn’t everything just go away? Wasn’t there some way I could turn the clock around and never have met Conner in the first place?
I should have just stayed away from him as I had planned to.
Now, my wolf has already warmed up to him and things were really getting messy.
“I feel like I have been hit by a bus,” I rasped out, not even attempting to move or get up.
“You look like you have been hit by a bus,” Fran confirmed in an attempt to cheer me up.
“Thanks,” I mumbled while turning onto my back and staring up at the ceiling.
Fran took a few sips of her coffee as we sat in silence for a while.
“You know, he asked me to check up on you,” she said after a few minutes.
I felt my wolf stir inside me and I flicked my gaze towards her.
The moment my eyes landed on Fran; the corners of her lips turned up into a slight smile.
“Who?” I asked while shuffling to sit up and lean my back against the headboard.
“Who do you think?” She asked sarcastically and cocked a brow at me.
My wolf was awake now and pacing in my head. She thought there might be a chance that Conner has not turned his back on us completely, but I was sceptical. I didn’t want to get her hopes up just so it would be crushed a little while later.
I took the cup of coffee from the little table beside me and blew gently on the hot steam slowly rising from the surface.
“Conner asked Anthony to send me up to check on you,” she continued when she saw I was not going to comment on her previous statement. “Anthony found him on one of the steps outside and they began talking.”
I huffed at her, “Anthony talking? Nice try Fran.”
She chuckled lightly, “it’s true.”
Letting out a deep sigh, I took my first sip of coffee and closed my eyes as the soothing hot liquid slid down the back of my throat, filling me with a momentary sense of comfort.
“I think they are becoming quite good friends,” she said with a shrug as she also took another sip.
“Where is he now? Conner, I mean?”
I watched Fran’s eyes glaze over as she probably mind-linked Anthony.
“He is still at Anthony’s,” she replied with a glint of excitement in her eyes.
I guess this wasn’t bad news, but it didn’t mean it was good news either.
“Anthony says they talked all night and Conner fell asleep on the couch,” Fran said with a bright smile on her face. “Come on Mel, if he didn’t want you, why would he stay and find out all he can about us from Anthony?”
“I know, Fran, but it feels like he is just dragging my torment out,” I answered truthfully.
“Don’t be so pessimistic, Mel, you need to get your game face on!” She said while jumping off the bed. “Besides, it is not over until the fat lady sings, so get your ass out of bed, put some makeup on and go seduce your man until he is eating out of the palm of your hand!”
I kept lying in bed as Fran pretty much ransacked my closet, looking for, and I quote “the perfect dress to impress”.
At that very moment, I felt very tired and drained, but also very thankful for my best friend.
If it wasn’t for her, I would have stayed in bed the entire day, feeling sorry for myself.
But I guess the new plan was going out and meeting both Anthony and Conner for lunch.