Falling In Love With The King Of Beasts

Chapter 36: A Hard Night - Part 1

Chapter 36:A Hard Night – Part 1

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Unfortunately, Reth didn’t make it back to the cave until well after high moon, when Elia was already asleep. He crept into the cave and shuddered. Her scent was everywhere and every molecule in his body responded. She must have spent a great deal of time in there today. He wondered what she’d been doing.

He remembered the look on her face when he ran from the Market and guilt washed over him in a wave. She’d looked so lost—and more than a little suspicious. He couldn’t blame her. Behryn was right—he really wasn’t doing a good job of hiding his emotions. She had him turned upside down and she wasn’t even trying. But he’d been taken off-guard by her question—what had made her think they’d met before? He should have just told her. He was going to have to tell her. If she learned it from someone else she’d never trust him. He knew that, though he couldn’t say how. Another Creator-given instinct.

He sighed, but the deep breath pulled her scent into his nose and made him ache again.

It wasn’t natural for Anima to stifle the mating urge, especially after the ceremony. He’d given himself to her, body and soul. He knew enough of the human ways to know she had no way of knowing that. But for him… for him being apart from her, unjoined, was like losing the use of a limb.

A very insistent, demanding limb that burned with desire and could be very inconvenient.

Reth swallowed. He had to talk to her. But how? When?

He crept through the cave, to the bedroom. There were no lights on, but his eyes didn’t need them. So he slipped in on silent feet, undressed and walked to the sleeping platform, sitting on its edge as he considered her.

She was curled like a child amongst the furs, warm and peaceful. And, if he didn’t miss his guess, completely naked.

Reth let a low growl of desire putter in his throat. Maybe he should wake her—not to talk, but to—

“Reth?” her voice was thin and rough. She cleared her throat as she sat up, the furs falling away from her at first, until she hastily pulled them back up again. Too late. He’d already had an eyeful of her beautiful breasts and the beast in him roared to have her. He had to turn away. Her scent—warm and flushed—was bad enough. Combining that with the sight of her pink skin was going to cut through the last cord of his control.

“I’m very sorry to have woken you,” he said, his voice deeper than usual. “It’s been an eventful day and I need to tell you what’s going on.”

She blinked and pushed her hair back off her face. “Okay,” she said. “Are you okay?”

Her question humbled him. He should have been the one to ask her that, first. Before anything else.

He sighed and buried his face in his hands. “I’m so sorry, Elia,” he breathed into his palms. “I’m sorry you were alone today. I have handled all of this so wrongly. Please forgive me.”

The furs rustled as she shifted, moving to the end of the sleeping platform. Then, with a waft of her scent, her hand appeared on his shoulder. “I’ll admit, I wish I’d seen you today. But I know you have to do your job. Candace was… very helpful. What’s happened? You don’t need to protect me, Reth. Tell me. I’m… I want to be the right woman for this. To be queen.”

He wanted to lick them.

“You are the right women, don’t let any of them tell you differently,” he growled forcing his eyes away from her bare shoulders. “They’re only unused to change. Everything happened differently than all of us were expecting yesterday. The Anima… we scent things, we know things, we’re so used to seeing events ahead that when we are taken by surprise it can take some time to adjust. Most of them have never met a pure human before. They don’t understand the differences in our worlds. And many are also unaware of the plots thickening in the Wildwood today. So… give them time. Be patient. They’ll come around once they have a chance to see you as I do.”

She tensed, but nodded. “Can you tell me, though? How you see me? I’m afraid… Yesterday was such a shock… I’m afraid I let you down. I didn’t understand what was happening and—”

“Don’t apologize, Elia. We were both thrown into circumstances we hadn’t prepared for. I should have explained better.”

Her hand left his shoulder and she shifted to sit, cross-legged, just next to him, pulling the furs up until they wrapped her to her neck, which was something of a relief. Reth turned more towards her on the edge of the platform, his knee pressed against hers, and held her gaze. He realized she probably couldn’t see him clearly. To her eyes he was probably barely more than a moving shadow in the dark. But perhaps that helped her. She seemed much more open tonight than she’d been yesterday.

“Can you explain now?” she asked quietly.

Reth sighed.

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