**Here it is! Episode 9 and the conclusion for Rowan and Luca. It’s been a ride, and went places I didn’t expect, but now they’re settled. Or at least getting there! We’ll start a new one soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!**
I closed the door behind Agent Willis and let out a sigh, leaning against the cool wood for a moment. It didn’t take a whole second before Luca was behind me, gathering me into his arms and holding me tightly. I turned in his arms and rested my head in the crook of his neck. It was as though the spot had been made for me since my forehead fit there perfectly.
Luca rubbed my back but didn’t say a word, just held me and let me breathe. It was what I needed. The interview had lasted hours, Agent Willis had done his best to be kind and gentle with his questions. His partner hadn’t shown up with him, and I’d let him record everything. Before he turned on the device, he implied his partner wasn’t as compassionate as he was. Or maybe empathetic was a better word. Either way, I appreciated that he took care to ask me what he needed to but had been kind about it.
“You okay?” Luca’s voice rumbled through his chest, and it comforted me even more. I snuggled in closer, though it wasn’t really possible, and then squeaked when he picked me up. It startled a laugh out of me and I clung on while he walked the few yards to the couch and sat, settling me half across his lap.
“Eh. I don’t know.” I took a few moments to really take stock of my emotions, then pursed my lips. “Is it weird that I feel kind of, I dunno, relieved?”
“No.” The firmness in his tone made me smile. “It’s not weird at all. You’ve been in fight or flight for most of your life. It has to be a relief to know your abusers can no longer hurt you. Or anyone else, for that matter.”
I squinted one eye at him. “You’ve been talking to Tenley, haven’t you?”
He shrugged one shoulder, not the least bit ashamed. Not that he should be. Our pack counselor was as wise as she was fair, and had a way being blunt without being harsh. Without her, I wouldn’t have made the progress I had.
“She’s going to not so gently insist I see her regularly again for a while.” I sighed, but I wasn’t upset. Right this moment, I was okay. But I was sure that wouldn’t last. I licked my lips. “I might, uh, have a little bit of a setback. So just, you know, you need to be—”
Luca stopped me with a quick kiss. “Sidestep, not setback. Healing isn’t a linear process. See her as much as you need to.”
I smiled then. He was so supportive, and I appreciated it so much. But then a thought struck, and I sat up straighter, grabbing his biceps.
“Luca, you have to…I mean…” I stopped and took a breath. “Yes, this brought up a lot for me. And it’s going to be rough for a bit.” I paused again, squinting as I thought. “Though probably not as bad as before, since I’ve come along way. But what I’m trying to say is that if you need some time for yourself, or a break or—”
“We aren’t breaking up!” It wasn’t a roar, exactly, and time was even that much would have made me flinched. But it was Luca, and I trusted him, so I didn’t.
“No, no,” I soothed. I loosened my hold and started petting. “That’s not what I mean. But your mental health is as important as mine, and even though I’m a little broken—”
“You aren’t broken!”
I continued like he hadn’t interrupted. “Doesn’t mean that I take priority. Remember? So if you need some time for yourself, I want you to take it, okay?”
He made some grumbling noises but didn’t say anything as he gathered me in close again. He stuck his nose against my neck, rubbing and scenting me. I just smiled and held on, let him do his thing, because I knew there was a comfort in that for him. When he was done, he adjusted our positions until he was lying down and I was lying on top of him.
For a few minutes, we just stayed like that, breathing in sync and listening to the ambient noises. Luca hand creeped in my hair and started rubbing my scalp. It was so soothing that I almost nodded off. I knew that was part of the stress of the day, the high emotions crashing down, but the rest was all him and the contentment I felt in his presence. A couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have expected that. Wouldn’t have believed it even. But the time spent with Luca had changed it all.
“Rowan?” his voice was barely above a whisper.
“Hm?” I stretched a little, then snuggled into a more comfortable position.
“I love you,” he murmured, tone sure. “Just want you to know.”
“Mmm. That’s good.”
“Mhmm.” I kissed his collar bone. “Because I love you. And it would suck if it was just me.”
Too quick to track, Luca flipped us over, so I was on bottom, and he was crouched over me, staring into my eyes. I smiled and reached for him, putting my hands on his face just so I could touch him. When he bent to kiss me, it was sweet and loving, with just a hint of the passion he’d shown me before. I was ready to take it there, but he pulled back before I could. I wasn’t worried. I knew we’d get there soon enough.
Then he settled his body weight on me, and the deep pressure relaxed me even further. It was like my own personal weighted blanket, but with the exact right amount of pressure, and I sighed happily.
This was just the start of us, and it wasn’t always going to be easy. But I knew it would be good and exactly what we both needed.