**Okay episode 2! To say Sean was surprised by Nico’s slip of the tongue… Let’s see what happens next. Enjoy!**
The fact that he refused to look at me was concerning. Ever since the day we met, he always gave me his full attention—including eye contact—when I was speaking. But right now, he was doing everything he could to avoid me short of walking out of the room. When he finally opened his eyes, he kept his gaze fixed on the far wall. And when I moved so I was in his line of sight, he dodged. It was so unlike him I started to get worried.
I took a breath. “I don’t understand what’s going on. I need you to talk to me please.”
It took Nico a few minutes, but I was nothing if not patient. I tried not to let my anxiety get the better of me, because it would just set Nico off. But then I realized that maybe that was exactly what needed to happen. If he knew how much this was freaking me out, and he held to his usual pattern, he would do anything he could to soothe me. So I stopped trying to regulate my breathing and letting a calmer head prevail. The instant I gave myself the permission to freak out, I could almost feel my blood pressure rise.
Nico jerked his head up and then narrowed his eyes while taking a deep breath. A second later he was at my side, reaching for me. He stopped short of actually touching me, probably unsure of whether I would allow it now that he’d dropped his revelation. But I wanted snuggles, so I leaned in, and he quickly wrapped his arms around me.
I let out a shaky breath and gave him more of my weight. “So. Um.” I cleared my throat. “Mate?”
Nico didn’t reply in words. I didn’t know if it was because his wolf was still close to the surface, or if he just didn’t want to talk. But he let out a grumbly sort of growl that sounded like agreement to me. After a year of living together, I liked to think I knew his sounds as well as he knew my scents.
I kept my voice soft as I asked, “Were you going to tell me?”
“No. Yes. Maybe?” Nico shoved his nose against my skin, where my neck met my shoulder, and breathed deeply. That seemed to calm him some and he snuggled me tighter against him. “Probably. Eventually.”
That was a lot of words but I would have to trust that he was being honest. He’d never given me an indication that he would lie, so it was easy to do. Keeping this from me was a pretty big thing though, and if we had any hope of a future, we would have to sort this out between us before we could move on.
“And you haven’t told me yet because…” I lifted his head with a gentle grip on his hair so I could look into his warm brown eyes. Nico looked scared. I made sure there was no judgement him my tone as I added, “We’ve been living together for a year, you know?”
Nico huffed out a breath. “But you’re human.”
Oh. Oh goddess. Of course. My heart sank as I understood. I started to pull away.
“And you don’t want a human—”
“No!” His voice rang out, echoing in the kitchen. He could be really loud when he wanted to and I couldn’t help the flinch. Nico immediately shushed me, soothed me, not letting me go but no longer hanging on for dear life. “No, that’s not it at all. But you don’t feel the pull the way I do. You don’t know down to your marrow that I’m the right one for you. Not like a wolf. So I wanted to give you time.”
“Okay. But time for what?”
“To fall in love with me first.” The way he said it, so matter-of-fact, clued me in that he thought that was obvious.
I sighed, but it was more in exasperation than anything else. When the little crease between his brows appeared, I couldn’t help the chuckle.
“But Nico, dear, sweetie…you haven’t given me any indication that you were interested in me.”
The confusion only seemed to grow, his expression pinching further. “Uh, yes. I have.”
I thought back over our usual interactions. About the way he was constantly in my personal space and how he was always interested in my day to day life, the goings on, my mood and my emotions. About how intently he listened when I spoke and how helped me problem solve and vent when I needed to. About how he bought things he knew would make me happy. Could that be it? Did he think he was conveying his interest in me when I’d been looking for something else entirely?
“Okay. We clearly need to talk.”
The whine that escaped Nico was so distressed my heart dropped into my stomach. “What’s wrong?”
“When humans say that, it’s bad.”
It wasn’t funny, because he was clearly genuinely upset. But the absolutely pitiful way he whined that almost made me laugh. Instead, I pulled him in and did the cuddling for a change. He resisted, but only for a split second, before he let out a long breath that reminded me of a dog settling down.
“No, it’s not bad. Not this time. I just think we’ve had unintentional miscommunication. Because my human brain expects certain things, and clearly wolf shifter’s do things differently. Or maybe just you. And we just need to sit down and communicate clearly about things because Nico?” I stroked the back of his neck, and he turned his head just enough to peer at me with one eye. “I honestly had no idea that you wanted anything more than friendship, and I’ve been shoving my own thoughts and feelings way down deep.”
“Really?” he asked in a small voice.
“Really really.” I took a chance and kissed he cheek, and the satisfied rumble that rolled out of him made me grin. “But first, I need to feed you, because you need to replenish those calories.”
“Okay,” he said happily, snuggling in again. Which, to be honest, was a little awkward standing in the kitchen with him having a good six inches on me. And also he was still naked.
“And pants. You need to put on pants.” I gave him a little shake when he harrumphed. “Yes, put on the pants. I know you’d rather just prance around naked but there will be no distractions until after we communicate.”
“But then we can get distracted.” It was a declaration and Nico didn’t even give me a chance to respond as he loped off to go get dressed.
I watched him go, and then when he disappeared into his room, I allowed myself to simply breathe for a moment. Today had taken a turn I’d never expected. I’d honestly thought that Nico was nothing more than a good friend and excellent roommate, and I’d been so conscious not to do anything to jeopardize that. Now everything had shifted and I needed to get my head on straight.
Because I’d always wanted Nico. Deep down where I hadn’t let myself acknowledge it. Now things were different. Good different. At least I hoped so.
I heard Nico’s door open and I shook myself out of my thoughts. First, feed the wolf. Then we would talk. After that? Well we’d see.