The Lion's Pride(8)

By: Terra Wolf & Olivia Arran

I could feel myself starting to relent, my willpower weakening. What harm would it do to hear him out? “Okay…” No sooner were the words out of my mouth, he strode out of the room, Andy hot on his heels.

The door swung shut behind them, the room falling silent again.

“Right,” I muttered, walking over to a chair and sitting down. “For a woman who’s trying to avoid men…” My voice trailed off, the sound loud and just plain weird in the empty room. Dampness between my thighs served as a reminder of how badly I was keeping that promise.

As my body cooled and my heart rate slowed to nearly normal, the feeling that I had missed something important nagged at me. But what?

I’d just had sex. Not the end of the world!

With the owner of this club. Zane Sarson. And from what I’d just heard, he was a typical playboy—rich, mysterious, aloof, and popular with the ladies.

Sound like anyone you know, Lara?

I slapped my head, hoping to knock some sense into myself. I was an idiot! The ink had barely dried and I was hooking up with a replica of my ex.

Who had told me to wait here until he got back. Like I was a dog. And I was doing as I was told, like I always had.

Well, hell. The sex had been good—but not that good.

I lurched to my feet, decision made. My thighs slid together, an ache blossoming between them.

Okay, maybe that last bit had been a lie.

But it wasn’t stopping me. No way. This was a new start—I was in charge. I got to decide what I did, and didn’t, do.

I pushed open the door and stormed down the stairs. More like hobbled, actually, tenderness flaring with each step. Scooping up my shoes, I slipped them on. Kate and Tina seemed wrapped up in the dating thing, both engrossed in conversation, so catching their eyes, I shot them a quick wave and headed for the door.

At the threshold, I hesitated, the urge to turn back and find him shooting through me. “Have you got a pen and scrap of paper that I could borrow?” I asked the girl at the front desk. Grabbing them off her, I jotted down my number, scrawling my name underneath. If tonight had meant anything to him, he’d call. But did I really want him to? What about a fresh start?

Telling the judgmental voice inside my head to shut up, I handed the paper to the girl. “Could you pass this to Zane for me, please?”

She didn’t even glance at it before sliding the note inside a large book. “Sure thing.”

There. If he didn’t call, I was fine with it. Totally. After all, a one-night stand is what I’d been after, right?

* * *


I glared at the empty room as though through sheer willpower I could magic my mate back into it. “What the fuck do you mean she left?”

Andy peered around my shoulder. “She’s not here.”

“I can see that!” I growled, the urge to hit something—anything—flooding me. “Where is she?” I strode over to the window, scanning the crowd below. She wasn’t there. Fuck!

“I don’t know, do you want me to ask Stacey?” At my blank look he continued, “At the front desk? You know? The girl who—”

“I don’t care. Yes, go ask her.”

He turned to leave, then paused, his hand on the door. “Can I just ask, why?”

My fingers itched, frustration tearing at me. Why had she left? “Why, what?”

“She seemed like a nice woman, and don’t get me wrong, I had spotted her earlier, but—”

I was across the room, my hands around his neck in a matter of seconds. The door shook as I slammed him against it. “You don’t ever look at her in that way again! Do you hear me?” A distant part of me knew I was overreacting, but I couldn’t help it. The mating hadn’t been completed; I had pierced her skin but not said the words that would bind us. She wasn’t mine, but she was. It was screwing with my head. Not to mention the fact that my lion was going ballistic inside of me, threatening to tear out of my skin. He couldn’t understand any better than me why our mate would walk away.

He frowned at me, ceasing to struggle. “Shit! She’s your true mate, isn’t she?”

I took a deep breath, forcing my fingers to loosen around his neck. I couldn’t go around taking it out on the members of my pride. It wasn’t his fault. It had to be mine; somehow I had managed to screw this up. Everyone leaves you… I silenced the whisper. No, I was not a child anymore. I didn’t believe that rubbish. I had people who loved me—my ragtag family did. For some insane reason.

“Go, speak to the girl on the door. Find out if she saw Lara leave and who she was with.” Meanwhile, I was going to have a little chat with Gretchen. Lara didn’t seem like the kind of woman to come to a club like this on her own, looking for a hook up. The fact that she hadn’t taken part in the speed dating gave me some hope. “Send Gretchen in, will you?” I called after him, already resenting the look of pity he shot me before heading downstairs.