**Episode 19! We’re nearly done. It won’t be much longer now, but I hate to give a definitive amount and then break my word. Just know that it’s soon coming to an end. For now, enjoy!!**
“Why you so antsy?”
I snorted a laugh at Archer’s abysmal grammar and shot him a look. He didn’t appear to be paying any attention to me, absorbed in his game as he was. His Switch was propped up on the arm of the chair, and he had a controller in each hand. Though his posture was relaxed, he didn’t take his gaze off the console.
“I’m not antsy.”
Archer scoffed. “You can’t sit still, dude. It’s annoying. I’m busy over here.”
I scoffed. “All you’re doing is decorating your island.”
“It’s a complex theme that requires…never mind.” He shot me a glance, just a fleeting look, then back to the game. For a few seconds there was nothing but the sound of the game soundtrack. Then Archer said softly, “If you’re that anxious about what’s going on, you could always call her to get an update.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” It was clearly a lie and we both knew it.
Archer gave me a droll look.
I pointedly ignored him. Lots of things about this relationship had been a surprise, but none more so than a far too observant teen who had gotten comfortable enough to speak his mind. Honestly, I loved it. Archer had been steadily working through his feelings about everything, but Fiona’s visit the other day had seemed to tip him over the edge. He wasn’t holding himself back anymore.
Archer’s shout startled me enough that Oscar dug in to keep from getting knocked off my shoulder. He gave an angry yowl. I petted his head to help settle him down as Walker came tearing in from the other room, eyes wide and scanning for trouble.
“What? What happened? What’s wrong?”
Archer just rolled his eyes and jerked his chin in my direction. “Your mate needs cuddles or something. Lane is all wound up over the case and he won’t admit it because apparently pretending we don’t feel things is what we’re doing now.”
“Arch!” Walker started, shocked at his son but I couldn’t help the belly laugh that escape. Archer had delivered his speech in such a dry tone, never taking his eyes off what he was doing, that made it all the funnier. When I finally got myself somewhat under control, I saw the little smirk on his lips.
“You heard the kid,” I said, holding out a hand. “I need cuddles or something.”
Walker smiled and dropped down next to me on the couch, pulling me into his arms. I was taller, so it took some maneuvering, but we managed to get it sorted out quickly. We were getting good at that, and the thought had me smiling and letting him take more of my weight. Even Oscar found himself a new spot on my hip, kneading my thigh before settling. Walker kissed my forehead and then pressed his nose against my hair. He liked it when all he could smell was me. I liked that something so simple could bring him joy.
“What’s going on, babe?”
“He’s got ants in his pants. Like you used to tell me when I was little. Except I usually had to go to the bathroom, and I don’t think that’s Lane’s problem right now.”
I laughed again, even more tension releasing. Did this kid know what he was doing? “Thanks, Arch. I got it from here.” I snuggled tighter against Walker, pushing my face down against his chest and just listening to his heartbeat for a long few moments as I got my thoughts in order. “I expected to hear from Fiona by now. It’s been two days.”
“And you aren’t calling her because…?”
I sighed, not wanting to say it out loud. It sounded petty and I liked to think I was better than that. Even though part of my motivation for the whole thing had, in fact, been rooted in pettiness. But if I couldn’t say it to my mate, then who could I say it to?
“Because I don’t want them to know that I’m invested. I walked out to prove a point, but damn if I don’t want to know what’s going on, where they are on the case, and if any of the leads panned out.”
Walker chuckled, the vibrations against the top of my head made me shiver. He squeezed me tightly.
“Honey, they know you’re invested. Fiona knows what kind of man you are. As, I’m sure, do the rest of them. They’d be stupid to think you weren’t invested. And if that’s the case, then they’re more idiotic than I thought.”
“Yeah.” I let out a gusty breath, mulling that over. “So either they don’t have anything to tell me, they don’t want to tell me, or they’re playing their own game, wanting me to be the one to call in.”
“Or all three,” Archer chimed in, still appearing to only be focused on his game.
“Or that,” I agreed. I adjusted my position so I could nuzzle into Walker’s neck because he enjoyed that. The neck was an important zone for wolves, and I’d learned quickly that I could rile Walker up just as easily as comfort him simply by scenting his neck. The thing was, in the process of learning that, I’d come to experience the same emotions. I got just as much out of it as he did. I wasn’t going for excitement right now though.
I’d save that for later.
Walker slid his fingers into my hair, rubbing my scalp, which further helped to settle me. After a long few moments, I felt better. He didn’t have magic, not like I did, but I sometimes I had to wonder. Because right now, just snuggled against him, my previous anxiety had melted away. I was ready for a nap even.
“So, are you going to call?” Walker asked, voice smooth like velvet.
“Yeah. In a bit. When I feel like moving again.” I kissed the juncture where Walker’s neck met his shoulder. Oscar took the opportunity to stand, stretch, and then paw at my pocket. A second later, my cell phone rang. “Then again, maybe I won’t have to.”
I pushed against Walker’s chest—coping a quick feel—so that I could sit up enough to answer the phone. But to my surprise, it wasn’t Fiona’s name on the screen.
“What?” Walker asked, no doubt reading my sudden tension.
“It’s the director.” I stood quickly, swiping across the screen. I couldn’t imagine why Director Mitchell would want to talk to me. “Agent Willis.”
“Willis,” she said, her tone as abrupt and no-nonsense as usual. “In my office. Thirty minutes.”
She hung up without another word, which was wholly like her but still irritating. What was even more surprising was that she made the call herself instead of delegating it to her admin. Louise, at least, would have been more polite.
“What’s going on?” Walker stood, worry lines on his face.
“I don’t know. Guess I better go find out.”
Walker grabbed me and kissed me soundly, making sure I felt it all the way down to my toes. When he pulled away, he kept a light grip on my face. “You’re mine, Delaney Willis.”
Walker’s lip curled in a not-quite smile. “Come back to me.”
“Be safe, Lane.” Archer had laid aside his game, crossing the room quickly to touch my neck with fleeting fingers. He was marking me too.
I glanced back and forth between them and my heart swelled. If someone had told me I’d find myself with a mate and a teenage stepson, I would have thought they were crazy. But now, here I was. And I was happy with it. Glad, even, for this family we were creating.
I marked them both, even though I could scent it like they could, but somehow needing my scent on them, just as theirs was on me. Then I kissed Walker one more time, promised to be safe, scooped up Oscar, and headed out the door.