The Alpha's Temporary MateBy: Victoria Davies
The entire forest seemed to freeze for the endless minute it took for him to respond. He opened his mouth but no sound came out. A frown crossed his face and a growl rumbled from his throat.
Her heart froze. She’d been wrong. He couldn’t do it. He didn’t love her.
Reaching out, he hauled her into his arms, pressing his mouth to hers.
Chloe clung to him for balance, reveling in the sensations she hadn’t expected to feel again. When his lips left hers, the sweetest words she’d ever heard dropped from his mouth.
“I love you, witchling.”
She blinked, sure she’d imagined the halting words. Though she’d practiced and planned, she’d hadn’t really thought she’d succeed in this venture. But Kieran had said the words she needed to hear.
“Again,” she breathed, her hands twining in his shirt.
“I love you.” He shook his head. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say that again. Didn’t think I had it in me. But when I heard the words from you…” A surprised laugh escaped him. “Then you said them, and it didn’t seem quite as hard.”
“You mean it?” she said. “Can’t take it back, you know.”
“Never.” He drew her close, leaning his forehead against hers. “Though you’d made it clear we were over in New York, I kept wracking my brain for a way to make it up to you. I’ve fought bloody battles and three little words stumped me.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“I know it’s fast,” she said.
He shook his head. “Mates always know each other, even if it takes them a little while to clue in.”
“Mates?” she whispered.
“The first time I stepped into your office, my wolf knew you were different.” He drew back to meet her gaze. “You’re not a wolf, though. How do witches find their mates?”
She smiled, running her fingertips along his jaw. “I don’t know how others do it,” she said. “In my opinion, we sign up for ridiculous bargains and then fall for the last man we should ever want.”
A smile split his face. “Is that so?”
“Yeah,” she said. “One thing I do know, wolf. When I find my mate it will be forever. No more running.”
He glanced at the priestess over his shoulder. “Then how about it, Chloe? We can make it official right here.”
Her jaw dropped. “You’re willing to sign up for eternity when a few days ago you couldn’t even choke out a couple words?”
“And I’ve regretted it every since. My world shrinks without you in it. I never want to feel that way again.” He cupped her face. “I know you are it for me, whether you want to take part in the ceremony now or fifty years from now. That reality will never change.”
She opened her mouth to argue they should wait, but words failed her. Hadn’t she believed he was it for her even when she’d thought there was no hope? The man of her dreams was standing before her offering her everything she’d ever wanted. A family. A home. A mate.
Mating wasn’t an accident, and it wasn’t temporary. If she believed he was it for her, there was no reason not to leap.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes.”
His triumphant laugh echoed through the field as he gripped her by the waist and swung her around.
“Thank you,” he said as the priestess moved forward. “For coming back tonight.”
“Thank you for trying to hire me,” she replied.
He chuckled. “I told you back then, didn’t I? I’d marry the woman who truly saw the man that I am.”
And here he was, about to do the wolf version of that very thing. Chloe couldn’t help thinking back over the twists and turns that had led her here. As Kieran leaned back down to claim another kiss, she knew Jessica had been right. Some things were worth fighting for and Kieran would always be one of those things.
“Ready for forever,” he whispered to her.
“You did promise me time,” she teased. “Now we have an eternity of it.”
An eternity of happily ever afters, which she couldn’t wait to start.