The Lost Slipper (Fairytale Shifter Book 3)(10)By: Alexa Riley
Something moves inside me, like fur rubbing up against me from the inside. I close my eyes to see if I can feel it again, hoping that something is there. Maybe she’s finally waking up, but it’s gone just as fast as it came.
“I figured this is where I could find you.”
I turn around to see Dominic behind me, the look on his face somewhere along the lines of pity.
“I just wanted to make sure she got home okay.” I stood at the ridge line of the woods, watching until Winnie walked into the house. As soon as the door was closed behind her, I did a perimeter check of the house to make sure it was safe.
At one point I thought I caught the scent of something else, but then the wind changed and I missed it. I was turning to leave when Dominic called my name, so whatever it was, I must have imagined.
Walking past him, I don’t say anything else. What can I say? My mate doesn’t want me. I’ve let her down by trying to protect her.
“You know you can talk to me.” Dominic’s footsteps follow softly behind me as we make our way back to my house.
I give up trying to get away from him, and we fall into a comfortable silence on the walk back. I decided against driving, needing to be outside and not caged in my truck. Especially after waking up in a cell.
“I’ve failed her,” I finally admit after a few minutes have passed.
“No, you haven’t. You did what you thought was best. She needs time to understand what being mated means. We all know how she’s felt about you for so long. I think she feels as if you were backed into a corner and you had to choose her.”
Anger rushes through me, and I turn, pushing Dominic into a tree, my forearm on his throat. “I always wanted her,” I grit through my teeth.
Dom pulls against my arm, and after I see him start to turn blue, I let him go. “I’m sorry, brother. I’m not angry at you, I’m angry at the assumption that I was indifferent to Winnie, when all along I struggled daily not to take her as mine, even if we weren’t mated.”
Dominic leans over, putting his hands on his knees and coughing. “You’ve got a funny way of showing it. You sent her away and then kept her at arm’s length for the past four years.”
“I’m the leader of this pack. What was I supposed to do? I have to take care of everyone and everything. The safety and protection of this place falls on my shoulders.” I stand there with my hands stretched out, searching for a better solution. “What was I going to do? Run away with Winnie and leave everyone behind? Because that’s what I wanted to do. And what would have happened if I would have mated with someone else while I was on the run with her? Or she with someone else? Where would that have left us? I had no choice, Dom.”
Dominic stands up and looks me in the eye. He’s my best friend and my beta of the pack. If anyone can tell me what to do, it’s him.
“You have a choice now, Stone. If you want Winnie to be your mate, then you’ll have to work for it. She deserves to be chosen above everything, including the pack. Even if it was for her own protection, you need to make her see that and show her that you’re a good mate.”
I nod my head, understanding what he means. This won’t be a traditional mating, and I need to do whatever it takes to make her mine.
As I walk back to my house, I come up with a plan. I need to make it impossible for her to say no. And I need to make it clear that I choose her, not because I have to, but because I always wanted to.
* * *
I run my hand through the long hair on the top of my head, trying to push it out of my face. Squaring my shoulders, I give myself a little encouraging push and walk through the doors of the bakery.
It’s early, and the bakery hasn’t opened yet, but I saw Dom go by to check on Winnie this morning and he left the front door open for me.
Ruby’s Goodie Basket smells of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and my mate. She must have been the one doing the baking this morning, and both scents are making my mouth water.
The bell attached to the door jingles as I walk in, and I watch as Winnie comes out of the back room, still wearing her apron. “Sorry, we’re not open ye—”
▶ Also By Alexa Riley
- · The Lost Slipper (Fairytale Shifter Book 3)
- · Growling for Mine
- · Taking What's His (Forced Submission Book 4)
- · Blackmailing the Virgin (An Alexa Riley Promis...
- · Devotion
- · His Alone
- · Fall Into Place (Taking the Fall)
- · Claimed Princess (Princess Series Book 3)
- · Beauty Sleeps (Fairytale Shifter Book 2)
- · Owning the Beast