Chapter 3

Nerezza’s Point of View

He had found me. Saved me. And I had no idea what his name was. I was certain I was going to die in that alley. Had known those men were trailing me ever since I left my makeshift home. Scouring for food in this city was a nightmare. The men were worse. Yet, he had noticed instantly. Came to my rescue the moment the fire inside me had burned out. Somehow, he had proved that not all men were animals.

There had been no reason for me to carry on, anyways. My parents had died. Left me with no siblings or anyone to turn to. But he had come. Given me a ray of hope in my otherwise dark world. When our eyes met, I knew what he was to me instantly. The connection was there. The warmth that surrounded us. I wanted to fall into his arms. Breathe a sigh of relief and never look back. My own knight in shining armor.

I had followed him like a wounded puppy. Fell into step beside him as if it was second nature. Couldn’t believe that we had gotten each other within this hollow world. But I still didn’t know his name.

So, when he was cleaning me up, I took my chance. Asked him what his name was. Priamos. It melted off of my tongue and crashed into my heart. Made me believe in all of those silly love songs my father used to play for my mother. The connection was there from the start. The willingness to be with him even when things got rough. But that was the newly formed mate bond talking.

The wolf inside me was overjoyed at getting him to myself. The more skeptical side of me warned against him. Warned me against any man I met. They were all deranged in some way. Had their priorities warped and bent. Not my father. Never my father.

They were on a date night when things had gone south. When their car crashed into a truck, killing them instantly. My world had been ripped apart at that moment. Ceased to be almost entirely.

Then Priamos showed up and I came alive once more. The fire that had kept me alive for so long had burnt out completely. Flourished into cooling water the moment he cleaned my face.

After my shower, I stepped out in the towel. He had put the clothes on the floor, neatly folded. I smiled, beside myself, and picked them up. A large T-shirt and some boxers. No pants. Not that he would have pants that fit my thighs. Quickly, I wiggled into the shirt and headed out.

Priamos was in the kitchen, cooking on the stove. His back was turned to me, the black T-shirt he was wearing nearly splitting at the seams around his arms and shoulders. His legs looked defined in his jeans as well. Worker boots on his feet. Black hair glistened in the late afternoon light. Olive skin. Stubble on his chin.

I was lucky to have someone this good-looking. Hard-working. By the looks of this apartment, he wasn’t doing too bad for himself. Better than my parents could ever manage. Minimalistic décor. But his body was anything but minimal. From this angle, both of his arms had sleeve tattoos on them. I moaned inwardly and trudged to the kitchen.

“Thank you for helping me and for letting me clean up here,” I said. He turned and smiled at me. His brown eyes caught in the light. I smiled back, looking at the floor.

“It is a pleasure. You are my mate, after all.” He said. I scoffed and looked away.

“About that, I am not sure that we should rush into anything. We need to get to know each other first. Maybe take it one step at a time.”

Priamos chuckled and switched off the stove. He dumped two slices of French toast into a plate and my stomach rumbled. When was the last time I had had a decent meal? Before my parents had passed away. Right before I was kicked out of the shitty apartment we had lived in. It felt so long ago but it was only two months.

“I agree. But I want you to stay here with me. It would be more personal that way. I work during the week but we can cook together at night if you want?” Priamos offered. I shook my head at him and walked closer. Planting my ass on the chair in front of him, I slid the plate closer.

“I don’t think that is a wise choice. If we were to take it slow, we can’t be in each other’s space so much. We might mate out of sheer instinct.” I tried to counter the offer. Priamos gave me a lopsided look.

“You would rather remain on the street than live with me?” Priamos asked in a dangerously quiet voice. I recoiled from it. From him. Bared my teeth. I hated that he knew I was barely living. Barely surviving. But I hated more that he pitied me for it.

“Excuse me, I can take care of myself. Just because I don’t have a home doesn’t mean that I need your pity or protection. I don’t even know you!” I exclaimed and sliced a piece of the bread in front of me. It smelled delicious. I bet it tasted even better.

“By the looks of today, your odds are better with me, your mate, than out there alone. So, stay. I will sleep on the couch and you can take the bed. It isn’t that fucking difficult.” Priamos growled. Before I could take a bite, I shoved the plate away. My eyes locked with his, showing him how I wouldn’t budge on this subject.

“We need our space. Date for a while. See where this goes.” I urged. Priamos rolled his eyes and strutted past the kitchen island. He came deathly close to me. His breath fanned the side of my face and I felt every fiber of my body wake up. Say hello to this dream of a man beside me.

“I am not asking you, I am telling you. I am your mate and I won’t let you put yourself in harm’s way by sleeping in the fucking street. Now, shove away that ego of yours and eat your food.” He whispered harshly into my ear. I shivered. Swallowed hard. I refused to look at him.

“Just because I am your mate doesn’t mean you can order me around. Let us get that clear from day one.” I hissed but gave in anyway. I caught his smile from the corner of my eye. Wanted to roll my eyes but refrained.

“How did your parents pass?” He asked me and moved away. I was grateful for the lack of his presence close to me. I couldn’t trust my body not to betray me and give in to his touch. To his demand. I was still very much a virgin and this man could just look at me the right way and I would lose it without question.

I finished chewing the food in my mouth and swallowed. “Can we start with more light topics? I don’t really like speaking about it.” I admitted and put another piece of bread in my mouth. Priamos nodded and braced himself on the counter.

Veins popped beneath his skin. Made his tattoos stand up. I stared at it. Itched to run my fingers over it. Feel the callouses of his hands on my skin. I couldn’t stop the blush when the last thought popped into my mind. Priamos noticed but didn’t comment on it.

“Fine. What is your favorite color?” He asked.

“Green. But not neon green. More like a dark green that you only find in the forest.”

“Favorite flower?”

“Iris. Especially the blue one. I think it makes everything look less harsh. Pair it with a nice white rose and you have the best bouquet.” I said and took another bite. The flavors mingled together and I moaned in my throat. Priamos smiled at the sound but his eyes had darkened. I understood that look. Felt much the same when I looked at him. Damn this mating bond.

“Blue irises mean hope and faith, do you know that?” He said and I shook my head. “My mother grew them in her garden back at the pack I was born in. She imported them from Asia. They were her pride and joy. Such a faithful woman, that one.” I cocked my head to the side.

“What happened to her?”

“That is for another time. It is almost dinner and I would like to freshen up the room before you go to bed.” Priamos said. He wiped his hands on his jeans and walked up the stairs I had noticed earlier. My eyes followed him up. Noticed how his calves stretched his jeans tightly.

If I was to stay here, it wouldn’t be long before we did things I would regret. The prospect was both damning and exciting.

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