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Chapter 4


“Melena, there you are, sorry for taking so long,” I heard the familiar voice of Doctor James, Lionheart’s veterinarian and I turned around quickly to face him.

“Here,” he handed me a smallish, white cooler box with a bright red cross painted on the side, “Doctor Keller asked for these, although I couldn’t get my hands on the number of antibiotics he had asked for. Is it ok if I get that to you next week?”

“How much did you manage to get?” I asked absentmindedly while pulling the lid open and peeking inside. My eyes immediately landed on the familiar yellow label and I picked up the top bottle to see another laying directly underneath it, “this should be enough to last us until next week, thank you, Doctor,” I answered while quickly scanning the rest of the box’s contents.

“Everything else is in there, along with some extra blood bags,” he said while handing Doctor Keller’s handwritten list back to me.

“Thank you very much, Doctor.” I extended my hand.

He shook it enthusiastically and gave me a slight nod, “always good doing business with you guys. Remember to send the proof of payment to my private secretary and not to the zoo,” he said one last time, before walking away.

Just before I also turned to leave, I saw the zookeeper from earlier exiting the building upfront with a black, plastic bucket clutched in his fist. For a second, I contemplated whether I should leave and get the meds to Doctor Keller as soon as possible, but my heart soon got the better of me, and before I knew it, my feet were carrying me towards my mate as he made his way through the paved pathways to a quiet section in the zoo with almost no public activity.

When he finally stopped in front of one of the cages up ahead and started to fiddle with a huge cluster of keys clipped to his belt, I stopped at a safe distance to watching him unlock the heavy metal door and casually step into the enclosure.

I stood there waiting for another few seconds, but when he did not come back out, so I walked up to the cage to peer inside. What I saw when I glanced over the safety rail actually truly startled me for a moment.

Conner was running around inside with a fairly large brown bear chasing after him. The only thing that made my racing heart calm down a bit, was the fact that he was laughing wholeheartedly, and stopped for a second to ruffle the bear up before bolting into a different direction.

The two were playing.

It was an amazing sight to behold.

I have never seen anyone play with a bear like that before and on top of it all, he was my mate. I stood there in awe, watching them play, delightfully unaware of my presence.

After a while, I lifted my nose in the air to inhale deeply. I couldn’t smell my mate’s wolf at all. His scent must have been masked by all the other wild scents of animals lingering about. To be quite honest, it kind of stank in there amongst all the cages.

“Alright big guy, I will see you again tomorrow, don’t eat your treats too recklessly, you don’t want to choke on it again, do you?” Conner spoke to the bear while dumping the insides of the plastic bucket onto its feeding area.

I could not seem to shake the goofy smile off my face as I stared at the two. The bear immediately bolted for the food and started to gobble it down like the beast he was.

“Yeah, sure, ignore me, why don’t you?” I heard Conner’s deep, husky voice as he grabbed the empty bucket and started to head back my way.

Placing my palm over my mouth, I tried to muffle my giggle, but a squeaky sound escaped, and he glanced up at me in surprise. Obviously, he had thought that they were alone.

“Oh, uh, I didn’t see you there,” he said awkwardly while scratching the back of his neck and pulling the heavy metal door open to step out.

I studied Conner’s movement with amusement while casually leaning against the safety rail, checking him out quite openly. Very bold, I know, but what could I say, he was my mate, and he was absolutely gorgeous.

The khaki uniform he had on fitted him like a glove and stretched wonderfully around his thick upper arms as he pulled the heavy gate shut behind him. I could barely breathe as I gawked at his muscular form underneath the thin fabric of his shirt. My mouth involuntary started to water as Conner turned his back towards me, hastily locking the enclosure back up and tugging on the latch to make sure it was secured.

“Is he always like that?” I asked, gesturing towards the bear who had by that time almost cleared the entire heap of vegetables.

Conner’s eyes followed my gesture and a smile immediately tugged at his lips, “who, Big Al over there? Never!” He replied very sarcastically, dragging out the first ‘e’ in the word never.

I stared at the greedy bear totally entertained by it for a bit and found Conner’s eyes burning into me the moment I turned back to face him. Who was staring now?

Unable to mask my emotions, I grinned in satisfaction knowing that I had caught him staring.

“He, uh, tends to eat so fast, I had to Heimlich him once,” Conner explained while walking closer to me. Obviously trying to keep the conversation going between us.

I drew my brow up at this strange new piece of information, “really?”

Conner chuckled huskily and kept moving closer until he finally stopped only a foot or two away from me. His eyes were mesmerizing, with just a hint of mischief behind them and I could not seem to look away from those intoxicating emerald orbs.

“Yeah, bears have remarkably similar body structures to ours, so when it happened that day, I kind of panicked and the first thing that came to mind was the Heimlich,” he said with an adorable shy smile playing across his handsome face. “It worked,” he said again while gesturing playfully towards the greedy animal.

We were both leaning against the rail, side by side, as we stared at Big Al in comfortable silence.

Because Conner was finally in such close proximity to me, I could smell all of him and man, did he smell good. I closed my eyes for a second, inhaling deeply so that I could burn the wonderful scent of my mate into my mind forever until it hit me.

He was not a? Wait, what?

Startled, I turned to face him, and he cocked a brow at me in question.

“D-don’t you smell me?” I asked quietly, leaning in closer to him.

“What?” He asked back with confusion written all over his face.

“I mean,” I stared at his face for a moment, trying to read his expression, “you’re not a-?”

He drew his brows up even more and turned to face me completely, “not a?”

“Shit,” I mumbled under my breath.

He was not a wolf.

Things had just turned ‘complicated’ up to level expert.

“Is everything alright?” He asked while reaching out to touch my arm.

The moment our skin connected, faint electrical sparks ignited between us and he jerked his hand away from me instantly.

Both of us were now staring at each other with eyes as wide as saucers.

Confusion and frustration finally got the better of me and I spun around to swiftly walk away.

“Hey, wait,” I heard him yelling from behind, but I did not stop, nor did I turn around to face him. My mind was racing, and my wolf was close to the surface, begging for me to shift so that she could claim our mate.

I heard loud, heavy footsteps approaching from behind after which he fell into step with me quite easily. At that stage, I would not dare look at him, so I kept my eyes fixed onto the ground and clutched the box of medical supplies tightly in my fist.

“Can I see you again?” He asked as I practically sprinted towards the exit.

I didn’t respond.

I didn’t know what to say.

“Did I do something to offend you?” I heard him asking just before I stepped into the revolving door that would lead me out of the zoo.

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around to face him. He looked flustered and slightly out of place.

“N-no, you were perfect,” I managed to say with a sad smile, before stepping into the door and walking out the other side, away from my handsome mate.

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