**Let’s see what Ryder and Bryce are up to. Considering how things started for them last week, they probably deserve it. Enjoy!**
The best part about being a wolf shifter was running in fur. Not that I knew what it was like to be truly human. I always had the heightened senses, the extra strength, the sense of community and pack. But when I left my human shape behind, embracing the wolf part of me, and ran on four legs, there was not a better feeling in the world.
Because running in fur, with my mate at my side? That was the best thing I’d ever experienced. I didn’t think it would be any different than running with my pack. I hadn’t expected the sense of connection I’d feel with Bryce right beside me. He was bigger than I was, more muscular and faster, because he was an alpha. But he didn’t use it to intimidate or coerce, to bully or push. No, Bryce was all caretaker and protector. He ran slightly ahead of me to make sure the path was safe. He caught a rabbit, and while he took the first few bites, he nudge the majority of it, with the choicest parts, toward me. He watched my back while I drank from the creek.
I was more care for by this man I barely knew and had only been mated to for a day, than I had my entire life.
When Bryce steered me toward the house, I went willingly enough. We’d gone farther than I’d thought, and though it was harder to tell time in my wolf shape, I knew it took us a while to get back. I didn’t really think of it as home yet. I wasn’t sure when that would change. I hoped it was sooner rather than later. But I had to believe that once our scents were thoroughly intermingled, that my things were just as prevalent as his things, once we used that great big bed of his for something other than sleeping…
I shook that thought off because we’d made it back and Bryce shifted the moment we hit the deck. We’d been too exhausted last night to do anything other than fall into bed, barely even having the energy to change out of the wedding clothes and into sleepwear. I hadn’t even had problems sleeping, which was usually a problem for me when I wasn’t in my own bed. And in the light of day, with an exhilarating and head clearing run behind me, I didn’t know if that had been because I’d been so tired, or because I knew, already and without a doubt, I was safe with Bryce.
But now I was admiring his body as he shifted into his skin and it was glorious. He was a stunning man, all hard lines and tight muscles and broad shoulders. Physically, he was exactly my type. I didn’t want to rush into the physical side of our relationship, and I was more than happy to take things slowly. It felt right and I was glad that Bryce was seemingly on board. That was something we would have to talk about, I supposed. Probably something we should have discussed in those few conversations before the actual wedding.
“You okay?” Bryce’s voice was a deeper rumble than normal, his vocal cords still adjusting to human shape. I tilted my head in question, and liked that Bryce chuckled. “You’re staring at me instead of shifting back.”
Oh. Right. I was supposed to shift too, because we needed to eat and replenish calories. And talk. Not necessarily about where my thoughts had been going earlier but just in general. Otherwise, we’d never get to know each other.
“Want me to go inside? Give you privacy?” Bryce said softly.
I immediately started shifting. That was silly. We’d changed to wolf together, and there was no reason to hide the reverse. It took me a little longer than it had him, but within a minute, I was crouched on the boards, panting as the last of the tingles faded away. When I looked up, Bryce’s gaze was fixed on me, pupils dilated.
That was nice to see. But not something I was ready to act on at the moment.
“Food?” I croaked, my voice not yet ready to work.
Bryce shook himself and then smiled. “Yeah. Of course. Let me just…I’ll go make food.”
I opened my mouth but before I could say anything, he was in the house. I shook my head, a little amused and a lot surprised. Usually, alphas didn’t cook. Even if they were good at it or liked it. It was the responsibility of lower pack members to prepare meals. Bryce was proving to be an atypical alpha in multiple ways.
By the time I got inside and pulled on a pair of sweats, Bryce had done the same and was at the stove. Ingredients were lined up on the counter, and he turned when I walked into the kitchen to give me a half smile.
“I wasn’t sure what you wanted, or what you like, so I have hamburgers here, but I can do steak too. And fries, but if you prefer I can do mashed potatoes or roasted—”
“I can do other sides too,” he continued as thought I hadn’t interrupted. “Whatever you like. Just tell me. I can order something if—”
“Alpha.” I made my voice firm and I stepped into his space as I said it. All that combined was enough to make him stop and actually look at me. I touched his chest, feeling how fast his heart was beating, and smiled. “Relax. Burgers and fries are great. Can I have two please?”
“Yeah.” His voice dropped and he licked his lips. He cleared his throat. “Whatever you want.”
I stretched up on my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Thank you. I appreciate that.” I patted his chest as I lowered back onto my heels.
“I just want you to be happy,” he said softly. “I don’t ever want you to think you made a mistake by agreeing to mate me.”
He was absolutely proving that I didn’t need to worry about that at all. As long as he kept doing exactly what he was, listening to me and taking care of me, I couldn’t imagine that would change. As long as he let me do the same in return.
“I am happy and I don’t regret it,” I assured him, knowing we’d have to talk more about it. But that was for later, as we settled into our new relationship. “But I want you to be happy too. And not regret it either.”
His grin was blinding. “Trust me. I am and I don’t.”
I returned the smile. “Then we’re going to be just fine.”