**Here it is, the final episode of Lane and Walker. It’s been a long time coming, and I hope you enjoy!**
“To be honest, I didn’t expect you to take the job.”
I looked up from my new desk into the face of Agent Jasper O’Neil. His expression was impassive, his voice neutral, and I couldn’t read him at all. I didn’t know him well enough to guess. That would change though.
“To be honest, I didn’t know if I would.” I sat back and studied him just as hard as he was studying me. After a moment, he relaxed, his shoulders loosening, and he crossed the room to his desk. He sat, the swiveled his chair to face me, so I did the same.
“So why did you?” Again, his tone gave nothing away.
I took a moment to decide how I wanted to handle this. AIC Wright had partnered us together, but other than a few weeks ago when Archer had been missing, I’d never had much to do with him. O’Neil had been at the agency for half as long as I’d been, in the Special Victims Unit the whole time. I knew he had to be a solid agent or Sharon wouldn’t have kept him on. So I could either go on the defensive right off the bat or give him the benefit of the doubt.
I decided on the latter.
“Because I’m good at it. Because it’s important to me to help people, to see justice done.” I met his gaze head on. “Because my mate and my stepson supported me in doing it.’
O’Neil nodded. “Just so you know, there was talk about that. About you getting together with a victim.”
I squinted. “It wasn’t my case, first of all. Walker wasn’t the victim. And more than that, he’s my mate.”
Holding up his hands, O’Neil shook his head. “Not me, man. I just wanted you to know what some people are saying. I got your back.”
“Okay.” I didn’t trust him yet, but I wanted to.
“Look,” he took a breath, then slid forward in his chair, bringing us closer together. He lowered his voice in a conspiratorial way. “We do things differently here. Wright told me she wanted you here for years, but it didn’t work out. We like your brand of morals, and we’re not above bending the rules if needs must. So do the stupid training on protocol, but know that I’ve got your back. Wright and the rest of the team do too.”
I wasn’t a shifter so I couldn’t tell by scent if he was being sincere. But he seemed to be, and I decided to trust that. I did trust Sharon, so it wasn’t hard to extend that to O’Neil. Jasper.
I had a feeling he and I were going to work just fine together.
Walker was there to greet me at the door when I finally made it home that night. And it was home now, as of a few days ago. I’d given up my lease and officially moved in. Archer had grumbled about it, but that small smile he’d given me belied his true emotions. Sure, at least part of it was because of my cat. Oscar loved Archer almost as much as he loved me.
I set Oscar down and he immediately took off for Archer’s room. I didn’t expect anything else and didn’t worry about him as I turned my full attention to Walker. His sweet smile was the absolute highlight of my day, and stepping into his arms made contentment course through me. I still couldn’t explain it, whether it was that we were fated or just Walker himself, but it didn’t matter either way. Being in his presence, or even better in his arms, just made me feel better.
Walker kissed my neck, then my cheek, and finally my mouth. Taking, possessing, owning me until I was panting. Only then did he pull back, still cupping my face, and gave me a wink.
“How was your first day?” Walker’s cheeky grin made me roll my eyes.
“Funny.” I pecked his lips and then pulled out of his arms to loosen my tie. Because I was still watching Walker, I saw his eyes darken. I smirked, loving that he was so open in his desire. I never had to guess and that was better than almost anything. I still dodged his reaching hands. Now was not the time.
Walker laughed and turned back to the stove, stirring whatever was there. “No really, how did it go?”
“Good. I think.” I tossed the tie on an unused bit of counter. “Jasper’s a surprise?”
Walker cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
“I’m used to my partner being…a lot more of a stickler for rules and protocol.” I undid the top buttons of my shirt, then undid the sleeves and rolled them up. Walker was stared at me and licked his lips. I chuckled. “Now is not the time, babe. What are you cooking?”
Walker blinked twice before he gave himself a shake. “Spaghetti. Garlic bread is in the oven. And Archer baked a strawberry cake for dessert.”
I gave him a soft smile. Those were my favorites. “What are we celebrating?”
“You.” Walker glanced toward the door, probably making sure that Archer was nowhere in site. He set the spoon on the side of the stove, and crossed the room. I went easily when he pulled me in. “You’ve been through a lot, and your life has changed in a big way. Good ways, I think but it’s a lot. And, you know, now you’re doing what you love in a new way. That’s a awesome.”
My heart melted. It was something simple, making my favorite foods for dinner, but it showed me how much Walker cared for me. Wanted to celebrate me. In all my relationships, I’d never been with anyone who did something as simple and kind. I slid my hand up his back, and then into his hair, rubbing his scalp. If I hadn’t already fallen in love with him, that would have done it.
“I love you. Thank you.”
His face lit up, sheer joy in his expression. “I love you.”
I bent to kiss him, but before my lips made contact, Archer made a gagging noise from where he suddenly appeared.
“And I love you both, but can we eat now? I’m starving.”
I threw my head back and laughed, holding onto Walker so I didn’t fall over. Three months ago, I was sure my life was in shambles. Walker had changed all that. I never expected it, and I was still finding my way, but for the first time in a long time, I finally felt like my life was going in the right direction. I had a job I could believe in, a mate who loved me, and a stepson who made me laugh and who was an all around good kid.
It was a far cry from where I thought my life would be but honestly, I couldn’t be happier.