**Episode 7 and the second to last episode. Next week, we’ll have the conclusion (god willing and the creek don’t rise). I’m already a day late with this one, but sometimes that’s how life goes. Enjoy!**
Eoin sat through prep and cooking, helping when I asked and staring at me with both hope and trepidation in his eyes. Focusing on the meal wasn’t the easiest thing, but I needed the time to just ignore the “big thing” for a while. It was my go-to method of dealing; pretend it didn’t exist for a bit until I was ready to handle it.
But cooking and eating only took so long and before I was ready, everything was cleaned up. I stalled as long as I could, shooting glances at Eoin. He was being patient, never pushing, and I figured it was better to put us both out of our misery. We needed to talk, and it wasn’t anything bad, so why was I worried about it?
“Wanna walk with me?” I asked softly.
Eoin hopped up, his smile tentative but there. Surprisingly, he waited for me to take the lead even though he was practically vibrating. It was easy enough to take his hand, and as soon as I did, his entire body relaxed. His hand was big and warm, enveloping mine, and when he twined our fingers together, I couldn’t help the smile.
“I love walking the property,” I said softly, giving him a little tug. Eoin opened the back door and we stepped out on the porch where we’d had our first conversation. I let out a tiny laugh, remembering how grumpy he’d been, and how confused I’d been at his concern. Now it all made so much more sense. “It’s so beautiful out here.”
“Andreas wanted to create a sanctuary for us.”
“He accomplished that, I think.” I glanced up at Eoin. “The pack likes it here, right?”
He nodded and I knew it wasn’t my imagination that he shuffled a little closer to me. We were still holding hands, but now we were practically touching all down our sides. Which was a feat really, since Eoin had a good six inches of height on me, and a heck of a lot more width. Plus we were moving, walking at a gentle pace.
We continued that way in silence for a while. I let my mind tumble over all the implications of what being his mate was. I had a lot of questions, and I would get to them eventually. But first I had to decide how I felt about it. the attraction was the easy part because I’d thought Eoin was beautiful from the first moment I’d met him. That feeling had only grown the more I’d gotten to know him. So I wasn’t worried about that.
But it was everything else. The permanent commitment to a man I was only just getting to know. The binding my life to his and all the implications of that. Joining the pack, because right now I had the option to walk away if I wanted to. But that would all change if I accepted Eoin as my mate.
And what happened if I didn’t? What would happen to Eoin if I chose to deny the mating? Would he pine for me until his dying day? Be able to move on with someone else eventually? Was he even attracted to me now or was it simply because of the mate pull, and if it wasn’t for that would we never have had a chance?
Eoin stopped and turned to face me, then touched my face with exceedingly gentle fingers. “Your heart is pounding so fast.”
“Would you even want me if you didn’t think I was your mate?” I blurted the most recent thought.
“First, I don’t think. I know.” He swiped my cheek with his thumb. “And secondly, I obviously don’t know for sure. But I think so. You’re admittedly very much my type, so there’s an really good chance that, yes. I would absolutely want you.”
I scowled, suddenly seeing green. “So you basically just have a type and I happen to fit and you’ve been with plenty of other guys who are exactly like me?”
Eoin’s chuckle made me frown but when he cupped my face in both hands and leaned in close, but not quite touching, my breath caught.
“I’d be lying if I said the jealousy wasn’t hot.”
“I’m not jealous,” I grumbled, lying through my teeth. It didn’t matter that jealousy was completely ridiculous and uncalled for given the situation. Or that I normally wasn’t a jealous person Just hearing him say that had made me a little ragey.
“I think, perhaps, you feel a little bit of the pull too, hmm?”
“Maybe.” I sighed and let him take some of my weight, leaning into his hold. “I dunno. I feel like I’m going a little crazy. My brain is all over the place. I have so many questions.”
“And I’ll answer them all. I promise. Where do you want to start?”
“I don’t know!” If it came out a little whiny, it couldn’t be helped. I took a breath, and then another, forcing my brain online. “What does this mean for us?”
Eoin tilted his head, brow creased, before his expression cleared. “It the simplest terms? We just start building a life together. We talk and compromise and kiss and more.” He added an eyebrow waggle which made me snicker. “Date, I guess, you could say. Except exclusively and no talking to anyone else or doing anything with anyone else and we—ooof.”
I pushed up onto my toes, cutting him off by bringing my lips within a millimeter of his. I’m pretty sure I stepped on his foot in the process, which caused his huff of breath. This close, I could feel more than see the way his lips curled.
“What happens to you if I say no?” I stayed close on purpose, so he’d know I was curious and not think I was going to do that. Because I was pretty dang sure I wasn’t going to.
“I’ll feel your loss in my soul for the rest of my life. It’ll be hard but, you know, I have my pack.”
I didn’t miss the slight tremble in his voice, and though he was doing his best not to influence me, I could tell it would be a lot more difficult than “hard.”
“Maybe, if you wanted to, you could kiss me and we could see how things go?”
Eoin’s sharp inhale barely registered before he pressed his lips to mine and made me feel it all the way down to my toes.