Barbarian's Mate(6)

By: Ruby Dixon

I am the only male to have two mates and yet have never touched a woman.

“This is awful,” she sobs, struggling to her feet. “You hate me and I hate you.”

She hates me. The words cause an ache in my chest that outweighs the ache in my groin. She thinks I hate her. I deserve that. I have pushed her away with every opportunity.

The truth is that I do not hate her. I could not. She is sunlight and warm smiles. She is laughter and happiness, and those things are lost to me. I have not been happy since Zalah died cursing my name.

And every time I look at Jo-see’s face…I have known this day would happen. I have known there was a connection between us from the day I picked up the small, broken human female out of the strange cave they arrived in and carried her back to the tribal caves. I knew then there was something between us, and I have fought it ever since.

Not because she is not worthy, but because humans are fragile and I am terrified at the thought of losing a mate…again. I frown at the thought, and that is when Jo-see looks up. Her jaw stiffens at the sight of my frustration and she glares at me. “Don’t look at me like that. I would have picked anyone but you. I can’t believe I’ve wanted this for so long and now this…” Her lip wobbles and the tears start to fall again.

Each teardrop is like a knife in my chest. “Stop crying,” I tell her, and it comes out more harshly than it should.

She dashes a hand over her cheeks and finds the strength to glare at me again. I will take her glares. I will take anything but her tears.

“We must be sensible about this,” I tell her and step closer. My entire being reacts to her nearness. The khui in my chest hums its song so loudly I think the entire cave can hear it.

Jo-see gives me another irritated look and sniffs. “Of course we’re going to be sensible.”

Good. Then we are thinking along the same path. My cock surges against my leathers, desperate to bury inside her and fulfill the bond that resonance has brought between us. My entire being aches with the need to possess her, and the resonance is quickly taking over my thoughts. I can see nothing but Jo-see, smell nothing but her delicate scent, imagine nothing but running my fingers through her soft mane and pressing it to my lips. I cannot help myself - I reach out and touch her soft hair. “I will be gentle, Jo-see.”

She skitters away from me as if burned, her eyes going wide. “Wh-what?”

Does she not grasp how a kit is created? “We will go slow if this is your first time.” I do not tell her it is mine as well.

The look on her face changes to one of disbelief. Her jaw drops and she clenches her fists at her sides. “Are you men-tahl?” She hisses the words at me and then looks around as if to make sure no one else has seen. “I’m not sleeping with you!”

Sleeping? She truly does not know how a kit is made. “We will not be sleeping. When a male takes a female—“

She presses her small fists to her forehead. “Ohmigahd. I know how babies are made, you twit!”

I frown at her anger. There is no point in getting frustrated. “This is not my choice either, Jo-see, but resonance cannot be denied—“

“I. Don’t. Care!” She slices a hand through the air, as if cutting something. “We are not mates. I am not sleeping with you.”

Irritation is flooding through me, a potent mixture with the ache of desire and the onset of resonance. I am a mix of emotions, all of them strong, and my patience is nearly gone. I cross my arms over my chest. “Then what would you have us do?”

“We’re not going to do anything!”

I give her a skeptical look. I have seen too many resonances to think that this plan will work. There are some pairings that fight the inevitable, but they always give in. Then there is my unfulfilled resonance with Zalah, which haunts me to this day. But if she thinks we can just ignore the call of our khuis, she is mad. “That will not work.”

She presses a hand to her forehead again, and strangely enough, I want to pull her against my chest and comfort her. Jo-see’s frustration and unhappiness is distressing to me, even more so because I am causing it. “I need time,” she says after a moment. “I can’t handle this tonight. I can’t.”

Her words chill me. It reminds me of Zalah, and Zalah’s refusal to answer the call of resonance. But that was many, many turns of the seasons ago, and Zalah is long dead. Jo-see is here, and Jo-see is now my mate. It will not turn out the same.

It cannot.

I will not survive it.

But Jo-see’s pain eats at me. Even though my every instinct is demanding that I pull her into my furs and touch her until her ‘no’ becomes ‘yes’, then she would hate me.