I nearly teared up at Samuel’s admission. He’d always been the calm triplet, the one who came after his two brothers had messed up and tried to repair things. He opened his arms, and I snuggled into his embrace, enjoying the peace and quiet that came with him. “I’ve missed you too,” I admitted against the cotton of his white shirt.
“We’d never have hurt you,” he said, his right hand stroking my back. “You know that, right?”
I found myself shrugging, remembering what his brother had done the day before. “I don’t… I don’t know, Sam.”
“We’re not going to hurt you now either. You’ve always been our mate in our minds, you know. It’s…it’s difficult for lions to lose someone like you. It drove us all a little crazy.”
I drew back at his words and stared into his eyes. “What do you mean?”
He winced as he took a step back too and racked his hand through his honey blond hair. “When you left, it felt like a part of our hearts, our souls, disappeared with you. Our lion souls had already accepted you as mate. To have you gone so suddenly changed them.”
“They became more…unruly, I guess. We had difficulties holding onto our control. We got into more fights, with each other but also with the other members of the Pride.”
Oh no. “Is that why they all left?”
He nodded, his face somber. “When Sara…died, they decided they couldn’t trust us with the Pride. Not on our own, not without a female there to keep us together.”
“But now, I’m back.”
“You still haven’t accepted us, Jade.”
I cringed, my thoughts spinning. All this because of me? All this because I’d gotten scared and thought I needed to be more independent? “I’m trying,” I finally said, unable to think of anything else to add.
“I know, baby. I know.” He pulled me back into the safe hold of his arms.
I felt his mouth against my hair and closed my eyes. What the hell had I done?
We spent the day talking and cuddling, leaving the safe haven of my sofa only when our stomachs grumbled too loudly for us to hear each other over the noise. I cooked for him, enjoying his compliments over my polished skills. Sara and I used to spend hours in this room, baking and cooking and just hanging out together. Like mother and daughter, I guess. She’d taught me all she’d known, but in the past few years, I’d been able to spread my wings and learn about different types of cuisine, my tastes a lot more varied, my technique too.
I added dill to the egg mixture and quickly stirred it. Opening the fridge, I bent down and took out red bell peppers. When I dropped them onto the counter however, something in the air felt different. I looked up and caught Samuel’s gaze on me, his eyes hot and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. From him, at least. “Sam?”
“Sorry, baby, but I can’t help myself. My lion wants you so very, very badly. He wants me to spread you on the table and take you hard. Now.” His voice becoming growlier by the second, he stepped toward me.
I felt my eyes widen at the sight of his pants tenting in front of him. This was Samuel, little Sam, or rather not-so-little-Sam anymore. I gulped and thought of what to do next, but nothing had hit me by the time he reached for me. He gave me time to pull away. However, after his earlier speech, I couldn’t in all consciousness not give in to him. And so, I stood there and watched as his head lowered.