Dayton smacked his hand off the doorjamb, a muffled curse escaping his lips. His bedroom was empty and he knew without a doubt that Rayne hadn’t come downstairs. He walked quickly to her room and looked in finding it empty as expected. She had run. He had seen it in her eyes but had hoped she would stay.
Ultimately the decision was hers and he knew that. She wasn’t one to be caged by anyone. It didn’t stop him wishing she had stayed so he could repay her for all she had done for him.
“She isn’t used to relying on others.” Freya’s quiet words had his head turning to see her standing at the top of the stairs. She looked perfect as always having changed into a pair of jeans matched with a red summer top which showed off her pretty curves very appealingly.
His mouth was watering instantly. Not only did she look great but it was the most casual he‘d ever seen her dress, almost as if she was slowly letting go of the rigid control she enforced upon herself.
“You can relate to that,” he answered, leaning against the wall and crossing his arms. He wanted to kiss her luscious mouth so much but he wanted her to come to him first. So far he’d been initiating all their contact. He had to know if she wanted him as much as he did her.
“I’ve relied on Nors my entire life,” she countered walking forward slowly as if she couldn’t help herself. “It is others I have an issue with.”
His lips quirked. He loved her brutal honesty. She just opened her mouth and spoke, never stopping to think of just what she was revealing about herself. She reached him and stopped, her eyes glued to his, waiting for him to do something. When he didn’t move she reached up carefully and captured a lock of silver hair.
He held himself still as she caressed his hair, then her eyes darkened and she let go, taking a step back. He moved then, sliding an arm around her waist to pull her against his body. “What was that?”
She evaded his gaze but he cupped her chin gently, bringing her eyes back to his. “Talk to me, Freya.”
Resistance flared in her eyes for a moment and then she frowned. “You haven’t taken me to your bed. You touch my body, kiss me whenever you want to, you show me you want me but you fail to follow through. Your actions are confusing. At first I thought you were bedding Rayne but you’ve told me that isn’t so. It leaves me with only two options available. You still hold Faith too close to your heart or you don’t really want me.”
It was such a vulnerable admission coming from her that his heart twisted sharply in his chest. He teased his lips gently across hers. “You forgot the third option, honey.”
She pulled back frowning at his teasing tone as well as the endearment he used. A perfect eyebrow arched in his direction. “Which is?”
“I could be romancing you,” he chuckled lightly, brushing his knuckles against her cheek. “I may want to bend you over that banister right there and fuck the living daylights out of you but it’s not what you need, Freya. You may think it is and I know we’d both enjoy it immensely, but then I’d only be proving to you that I’m just like every other man you’ve ever known. Out to enjoy your body and nothing else.”
His earthy words certainly sparked her desire even as her confusion grew. “Sex is natural. It’s what males and females do. You are constantly being frustrated because you’re not achieving your physical release.”
Dayton did laugh then tightening his hold on her as she stiffened at his laughter. She sounded very altruistic but he was sure her own sexual frustration was driving her just as much as her concern for him was. “I’ve survived five decades without real sex, honey. I think I can manage a few months more.”
“Months!” Freya all but squeaked the word out, her eyes flying to his to see if he was joking. He made her so hot she was about ready to scream to get him to take her and ease the burning ache he set inside her. He was laughing at her still and her anger kicked in.
“Perhaps I am not willing to wait months,” she said darkly, moving out of his arms. “There are plenty of other willing males who would not turn down a night in my bed.”
Dayton’s smile froze on his face though he managed to contain the growl which threatened to rumble out of his chest. His vampire was testing him, pushing at the boundaries he’d set.
“I have no doubt there are, honey,” he drawled softly. “But I’d have to kill every man who touched you. As long as you’re willing to accept the consequences then feel free to indulge yourself.”
Her expression remained calmly neutral though her eyes narrowed slightly. “Possessiveness, aggression, typical Were traits when dealing with mates. You contradict yourself with your behaviour, Dayton. Your mate is dead.”
She was so keenly intelligent it was scary. He had no idea just how much she knew about pack and Were life. Now he had to judge just how much to let her know. Too much and she may take off as fast as Rayne just had. There was a fine line between easing her into his life and keeping secrets from her. She deserved the same honesty she gave him.
Dayton turned and walked to his room, holding the door open until she followed him and entered. He closed the door behind them and quickly straightened the bed. The reminder of Rayne being there would most probably be one she wouldn’t be comfortable with.
He stretched out on the bed and patted the spot beside him. She came with more alacrity than he thought she would. “You’re right about my behaviour in one aspect and wrong in the other. I am not contradicting myself. It is uncommon but not unheard of for a Were to find a second mate. It has probably only happened a handful of times in the last three hundred years but some have found happiness after their loss.”
Freya blinked slowly, quickly sifting through the information he was giving her. She hadn’t known it was possible for a Were to mate more than once. He said he wasn’t contradictory in his behaviour at her taunt about finding another man, which could mean he was alluding to only one thing.
“You think I am your new mate.” The words whispered out on a shocked gasp.
“Oh, I don’t think, honey. I know.” His eyes danced with amusement at her stunned expression.
She didn’t know how to react to this. Her heart rate was kicking up a healthy beat because he was effectively telling her that he considered she belonged to him. No one had ever dared to try and claim her the way he was. It was both thrilling and irritating at the same time.
She knew her emotional attachment to Dayton was stronger than anything she’d ever felt for anyone before. His pain had made her weep, her own actions which had caused that pain breaking something deep inside her. This man before her pulled out her softer side, made her vulnerable to him. It was frightening how easy it was for him to touch her on such a primal level.
He would demand full surrender though. No matter that she was the stronger of the two, the oldest and the more lethal one. He would want her to submit to him and she knew she was incapable of doing so.
“I will not submit to you.” There was no point hiding from the issue. She didn’t want to hurt him by rejecting him but he had to know that she wouldn’t come to heel at his command.
Dayton burst out laughing, doubling over and clutching at his stomach he was laughing so hard. Freya growled, her anger igniting instantly. The urge to hit him was strong but she didn’t want to really hurt him. She pushed him hard until he fell off the bed and landed on the floor with a loud thump. She expected him to be angry with her but he remained on the floor laughing even harder.
Curiously she looked over the side of the bed and then shrieked when he pulled her off and she landed on top of him. He rolled over immediately trapping her beneath him. He was still laughing and there were tears in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Freya,” he managed to get out between chuckles. “Just the thought of your name and the word submit being in the same sentence is enough to make me die laughing. You wouldn’t know how to submit if your life depended on it, honey. I don’t know where you got the crazy idea that I would expect that of you.”
Her irritation evaporated and she stared up at him perplexed. “Isn’t that what mates do? One is more dominant than the other?”
He leaned down and took her mouth. It was impossible not to. He wanted to stroke her all over so he could wipe the confusion from her exquisite face. She opened to him instantly inviting his tongue in to taste her sweetness. Dayton groaned and dived in eagerly, teasing her mouth erotically with his.
“No that’s not what mates do,” he whispered against her softness. “Mates love and protect each other. They spend hours kissing and licking and stroking each others hot bodies and they make beautiful babies together. There might be times when one is more dominant than the other but only if the situation calls for it. Does Nors dominate Ashleigh?”
Freya frowned. The heat of his body pressing against hers was making her want to do things other than talking but she knew she had to have the answers to the questions inside of her too. She was about to answer yes to his question and then her frowned deepened.
“When Nors really wants something Ashleigh concedes to him,” she answered slowly. “And yet when she has a need, he will do anything to ensure it is taken care of.”
“Sometimes Nors is the more dominant one and other times it is Ashleigh,” Dayton smiled as he stroked her cheek gently. “You view dominance as someone ordering the other person about and forcing them to bend to their will. Nors and Ash don’t truly dominate each other, they compromise. He can force Ash to do what he wants but he knows he’ll hurt her if he does. She knows there are times when he needs to be taking care of her so she lets him because it will hurt him if she doesn’t. Mates don’t want to hurt each other, Freya. It’s the last thing they’d ever want to do.”
She was quiet as she digested the information, applying it to what she knew of her family and seeing the truth in it. It was actually a very subtle dance Nors and Ashleigh performed in their relationship. They did it effortlessly and they found such joy in it. She stared up into Dayton’s expectant face. He was waiting for her reaction.
This was what he wanted from her? For them to be bound together exclusively forever, dancing the same dance as all the other mated couples? Part of her yearned for what Nors and Ashleigh had. A larger part was frightened of it. She didn’t think she had the capacity to bend in that kind of relationship.
Her eyes connected to the streak of silver in his hair. Dayton had chosen a mate before and had suffered unbearably for that choice. Choosing her was another mistake. Surely he had to see that? Faith dying had almost destroyed him. What would she do to him when she let him down as she knew she would? It was what she specialised in; letting down the people she loved most in the world.
And she did love this wolf so much. She was pulled to him like a moth to a flame. Every time she was apart from him she wondered what he was doing, who he was with, when she could be close to him again. So far she had managed to behave herself, control her more feral instincts despite the confusing emotions battling inside her. But that would end and she’d do something awful, hurt someone and he would hate her.
Freya pushed at his chest, breathing a sigh of relief when he acceded to her silent command and stood up. He held a hand out to her and she accepted it rising gracefully as he tugged her up.
“You’re making a mistake,” she said quietly pulling her hand back. “I would not make a good mate. I don’t have the ability to compromise with anyone. I can’t be like Nors. I would force my will on you because I am the stronger of us. I would damage your spirit.”
Dayton wanted to curse out loud but he held it in. He could see the conflicted emotions in her eyes. She wanted what her brother had so much but she genuinely believed she was incapable of having it. It was too much for her too soon.
“I believe in you, Freya,” he said gently. “I know what you’re capable of even if you don’t believe it right now. You not only want this, your soul is crying out for it, for someone to love you unconditionally.”
“You know what I’ve done,” she hissed moving away from him to pace the room in agitation. “You know what I am. How can you just wipe that out as if it doesn’t exist?”
He watched her carefully, hearing the plea she probably didn’t even know was in her voice. She wanted forgiveness so badly, yet didn’t believe she deserved it.
“Your past matters nothing to me, Freya. But I do want your present and your future to be with me.” He caught her, halting her pacing until she was looking up at him with an angry scowl on her face, denial in every bone of her beautiful body.
“I want to annoy the hell out of you until you push me off the bed. I want to be at your side as you work through your emotions and learn the correct ones for any given situation. I want you in my bed so I can show you what real love feels like between a man and a woman who are not out for just their own sexual gratification but want to give their partner as much pleasure as they can. I want you, Freya Eriksson. Forever.”
She yearned for what he spoke of, craved to give in and believe that she could have what he described. “And when I fuck up?” she ground out. “When I disappoint you, hurt someone you care about, what then, Dayton? Will you still want me or will you curse me?”
He framed her face gently in his hands and teased his lips over hers. “Why didn’t you hurt Rayne? You wanted to. She was a threat to you. Why didn’t you act on that threat?”
Freya stood so still, her heart beating hard in her chest as Dayton’s touch both soothed and excited her. He was a sneaky wolf, changing directions in their conversation to throw her off balance, using touch at the same time to focus her when she was becoming wild. She suddenly realised he’d been doing this since she’d returned to the compound with him. He’d been handling her the whole time and that sparked her anger again.
“Answer me, Freya,” he whispered against her lips, his tongue licking slowly over her bottom lip tempting a moan from her. Anger warred with desire as she fought not to take his mouth in a hard, punishing kiss which would hopefully soothe some of the pent up frustration running through her body.
“Because she was your friend,” she hissed out reluctantly. “I would have caused you pain if I had acted on my instincts.” The admission was ripped out of her.
“And mates don’t inflict pain on each other,” he whispered softly. “You could never hurt someone I care about, Freya. I’m sure you will fuck up many times in other ways but I’ll still be with you, I’ll still catch you when you fall. I won’t ever wash my hands of you and leave you alone. No matter what.”
“Why?” It was a confused plea, a need to understand why he was willing to fight so hard for her.
“Because you will do the same for me, honey,” he groaned softly, his fingers burrowing in her hair. “You already have by forcing me to confront my emotions over Faith. You broke through all my barriers and led me home to my family. You saved my life and cared for me even when I thought I hated you and wanted you dead. I fucked up spectacularly and you stood by me and picked up me. You didn’t give up on me as I will never give up on you. We’re meant to be together, Freya. We’re mates.”
He made it sound so easy, that all she had to do was reach out and take what he offered. She had hurt him when they were alone and he didn’t fault her for it, instead he saw it as necessary to achieve a greater good. He attributed coming home to be her doing, a gift she had selflessly given him. She didn’t believe that was true herself but he believed it and he took joy from it.
This wonderful man was offering her things she’d never dreamed she could ever have. And she wanted them so badly, she wanted him so badly. If she didn’t then she wouldn’t be staying in a wolf compound, afraid to leave him, to be alone again. He believed in her so completely.
“I’m scared I’ll fail again,” she finally admitted. “Before it wouldn’t have been so bad but now…Dayton, I’m so frightened of failing you.”
He crushed her tightly to him, stroking her hair gently. She sounded so vulnerable and his protective instincts needed to make her feel safe. She’d had to take in a lot and it was overwhelming her. “I’m not, Freya. You could never fail me. All you have to do is tell me when it becomes too much for you. I’ll be there to hold you and keep you safe when you need a bit of extra strength. I’ll always be there for you.”
Freya believed him. The conviction in his voice was total, his arms a protective cage around her. Her wolf would never leave her floundering in a sea of emotions that was so alien to her they caused her pain and confusion. He would drop everything to help her if she asked him to.
She didn’t deserve him but he appeared determined not to let her go, so she clung onto him, surrendering to him completely because he touched her soul and made her believe in happy ever afters. “Please, don’t ever let me go.” It was a plea from the very depth of her heart, her voice trembling.
“Never!” he vowed his arms tightening even more. “You’re mine, Freya. No one will ever take you from me, not even you. We’ll go slowly until you feel comfortable. There’s no rush, honey. We have all the time in the world.”