**Episode 6! Definite turning point. Only a few more episodes to go. Enjoy!**
I still had dinner to make. Even though Andreas told me I could take a break, walk away and talk to Eoin, this was my job and I took it seriously. More than that, feeding the pack had become one of my greatest joys. I wasn’t about to shirk my duty, even though Eoin and I obviously needed to talk. So after Jorge bandaged my finger—I was more than capable of doing it, but Eoin’s distress made me give in—I got back to work.
Eoin stayed close, as was his habit, and when I finally finished prepping, I wiped my hands on a towel and turned to him. For once he was letting me see all his emotion, the neutral mask he was so good at nowhere to be seen. While I appreciated that more than I could say, the anxiety clear in his expression made my heart squeeze.
“Okay,” I said softly, tossing the towel aside and then rounding the island. I stepped in close, but not touching, and tried for a smile. “I’m all yours.”
Eoin let out that whine again, the one that was all wolf. “That’s the thing.”
I studied him, trying to parse out the meaning of his statement but failed. “I don’t know what that means.”
Eoin practically radiated tension, and he shoved his hands in his pockets. He wouldn’t look at me either. It was so far from his normal behavior that while I hadn’t really been worried before, I was now. I touched his forearm with soft fingers, and he shuddered out a breath.
“You can tell me,” I cajoled softly.
“Don’t leave, okay?” Eoin’s voice was strained. “If you don’t like what I say, don’t leave the pack. I’ll steer clear of you if you want, won’t bother you at all, but you can’t leave because that would be bad and—”
“Hey.” I had to interrupt because he was rambling and Eoin never rambled. “Just tell me, because your sort of freaking me out, and then we’ll figure it out.”
Eoin finally looked at me and his eyes were filled with equal parts hope and fear. For a long few moments, he didn’t speak, just breathed and by the deliberate inhalations and exhalation, it was clear he was trying to center himself.
“Some wolves,” he began, voice soft but sure, “find a person that they know, from first meeting, is meant to be theirs. It’s a rightness that settles into their souls, and though it’s not a guarantee of happiness it’s as close as it can get. Because this person is their mate. And even though a relationship is still work and communication, it’s a lot easier to do. It was like that for Andreas and Cal.”
“Okay?” I wasn’t sure what the backstory was for, but I was willing to listen to whatever he had to say.
“Usually it’s another wolf.”
The weight with which the statement was spoken meant something. The more I thought on it, the pieces started to fall into place. But even as hope filled me, I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. I was going to need Eoin to spell it out for me.
“Usually…but not always?’
“Not always,” he agreed. His warm brown eyes implored me to make the leap, and I wondered why he didn’t just say it. Perhaps the big strong beta was just scared enough that saying the words was too much.
“Eoin, are you saying… you and me…you think—”
“I know.” He sighed. “I know you’re my mate and I knew it within minutes of meeting you. But you knew nothing about this world and I wanted you to get settled and comfortable before I told you.”
It was a big deal and more than I’d been prepared for. My mind whirled, and even though there was a spark of happiness at the declaration, other emotions overrode that. Anger that he hadn’t told me immediately. Confusion at what came next and worry about what it all meant. Even worse, concern that the only reason I was here in the first place was because of Eoin.
I narrowed my gaze. “Is that why Andreas offered me the job?”
“No!” It was too loud and I jumped at the sound. Eoin immediately reached out, probably to soothe, but I took a half-step back. I didn’t want to get away from him but I didn’t want him to touch me right now either. Eoin quickly dropped his hand and then shoved it back into his pocket.
“No,” he said again, and the sincerity was so clear I believed him. “You’re here on your own merits. And we’re all glad for it.”
I nodded, still trying to wrap my mind around all the information.
“So that’s why you’ve been sticking so close. Taking care of me.”
“Yes.” Eoin huffed. “Well, no because I would have done that anyway for a new pack member, helping them get adjusted and settled. But normally we would have taken turns, and I just couldn’t be away from you.”
I nodded again, still not able to figure out exactly how I felt about everything. There was a part of me, the one that wanted to belong and have a person who was just for me to love and take care of me, that really liked the idea. And I genuinely liked Eoin. On top of that, I’d always thought he was gorgeous. But the more logical side of my brain urged caution and contemplation before I said anything more.
“I have to start the fajitas.”
“Keir,” he said, his voice full of longing and something else I couldn’t define. It tugged at my heartstrings. But I needed to think, and the best way to do that was getting lost in cooking. Besides, I had a pack to feed.
“You just sit there like you always do, and help when I need it and then…” I had to take a breath because half of me wanted to put this off as long as possible. But that wasn’t fair to either of us. “Then after we eat and I clean up, maybe you and I can take a walk and talk?”
“Yes, absolutely.” His face lit up in that smile I so seldom saw, but oh how it changed his entire demeanor.
I still wasn’t sure what I would say, or how I felt, but we both deserved the conversation. For now, I would cook steak and chicken fajitas with all the fixings, and extra spice for Jorge and Meri because they loved it. After that, we’d see.