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Chapter 10: Innocence

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I try to put myself to bed not long after Theo misses dinner. Something came up last minute before he could return from his hour-long errand, and the pack always comes first. This doesn't bother me—I understand his commitments as Alpha—I simply wish we had the time alone.

I lie under my blankets hoping for a good night's rest but only find myself sleepless and wondering about Theo and the things we could have worked through tonight.

At some point, I get thirsty and leave my bed.

As I head downstairs for a glass of water, I catch Theo's scent potent in the air. I pause at the bottom of the stairs and decide whether or not I'm ready to face him again, yet our mate bond hastily coaxes me onward.

Theo is already looking at the entrance to the kitchen when I step into it. He's leaning over the counter with his elbows on the countertop and an almost empty plate between his forearms.

"Hi," I say as I wander in.

"Have you eaten?" he asks.

"Earlier—with Elise."

He spears his last piece of roast chicken. "I planned to be here but there was a fight at the fields and not for training. People were injured."

I settle at the other side of the counter in front of him. "Is everyone okay?"

"They will be. I just had to sort some things out, but it took longer than I wanted."

"It's alright. I'm just glad everyone is fine."

Silence settles around us until Theo changes the subject.

"What did your sister say in that letter I gave you yesterday?"

"The same things my family told me when I was at Rowan: she's worried, I'm in danger, it's not safe, I shouldn't trust you."

Theo lets out a short, breathy laugh, judging. "What do they think is going to happen to you?"

"I don't know. They just think I'm better off with them."

"I don't want you going back there; the same thing is going to happen and killing more of them will only make Alpha Rowan more insufferable."

"Never?" I question as though I'm tasting the word in my mouth; it's rotten. Lily hurt me by sharing my secret, but I wouldn't want to never see her again.

Theo eases a little. "I know this is difficult. I'm sorry your family is reacting the way they are—that it has to be this way."

I mumble, "It doesn't have to be this way."

"I can't change who I am to them."

"Even if that's true, and my family never supports our match, we can change how we are with each other like you said, or, sort of said." I go to the cabinet where the glasses are kept, letting my hand trail behind me along the edge of the countertop as I come around it. "Kalilah said the first weeks of matehood are bliss, so should we try...harder? Because I don't want to fight like we did the other night or be at odds at all."

It's obvious Theo heard me; he's taking his time with his answer, always at my most impatient moments. I take a glass and shut the cabinet door.

When I turn around, he asks, "You want to be how normal mates are?"

I look at the glass cup. "Yeah. I want to trust the Goddess—believe she mated us for a reason."

"And you know how mates usually are?"

I nod, my insides dropping.

"You want to sleep in my bed?"

"With you?" I meet his hazel eyes.

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