I shuddered at Leo’s order, wondering where he wanted me to go. Was he telling me to go back to my car and leave?
It’s only when I felt the breeze caress my bare arms and legs that I realized he’d told the others to move away from me. I risked a furtive glance to the left, then to the right, and when I was convinced I wouldn’t be accosted again, pulled myself upright. “Thank you,” I managed to mutter.
“What the fuck was that, Jade? Did you really think we were going to hurt you? For pity’s sake, how long have you known us?” Leo’s eyes flashed fire as he stood feet from me. He was still pissed; that much was clear.
I automatically went on the attack, as I always did with him. He just brought the worst out of me. He always had. “You were touching me!”
“We’re your mates! If we want to touch you, we will!”
“Leo.” Samuel came to stand between us, effectively stopping our argument before it escalated into something worse. Things just never changed…
I huffed and crossed my arms, even slid my shades back down over my eyes. I was irate, and yet I knew we were both right. And that’d always been our problem. We both thought we were right, no matter what. He’d decided early on I would be their mate, even though I was human and they weren’t. I hadn’t said no, but had still made it clear I wouldn’t fall for them that easily. I might be weaker, would always be, but I wasn’t without tricks.
And so, as I remembered all that, I turned back to him and said, “You know my terms. They haven’t changed.”
I whirled around to face Trent. “What?” What could that possibly mean? They didn’t want me anymore? The thought was so disheartening, I found myself gasping. What would I do without them? I had no family left. Sure, I might have rebelled for a few years, but this Pride was my home.
“You’ll have to choose.”
Huh? I blinked. “Choose what?”
“Not what, who,” Logan said.
“You were right. We’ve talked about it and decided we can’t expect you, a human, to take all of us as your mates. So, we will seduce you, and you will pick one of us.”
“And then what?” I gulped. They’ll seduce me? Oh my God!
“The one you pick will become Pride leader.”
“But…” I let my voice trail as I turned to Leo. He was our leader; he’d always been. “I don’t understand.”
His eyes dark, he inclined his head. “It’s for the best. There are not enough of us left. We can’t handle any more problems or disagreements.”
“Who’s left?” I found myself asking, remembering mated families, even grandparents living on the outskirts of the Pride zone.
What Leo said next turned my blood to ice. “No one. We’re the last ones left.”
I stepped into Sara’s cabin, now my own, Leo’s words whirling inside my head. How had it gotten so bad in such a little time? Was it because there were no more females in the Pride now that people had left? Could it be my fault? I bit my lower lip and forced my focus onto my surroundings instead. Her scent hit me first. It spoke of lazy summer days, of cooking bake-offs in the sunny kitchen, of laughter and tears and silences. She’d been my adoptive mom, and I missed her so bad. A choked gasp rang out, but it took a little while to realize it’d come from me. Before I could stop them, tears were pouring down my face, my mouth open on a silent scream.