Eden hovered a few steps from the door. He pulled himself together. Get a grip. Don’t mess this up.
Eden hadn’t ever been in love, but he’d tried. He used to date occasionally, but the last time was two years ago. Eden had waited for love to hit him. He was kind and gentle with the girls who’d obviously hoped to be with him, but the certainty that somewhere his destined mate waited for him, kept him at arm’s length emotionally.
He took a table near the window, caressing Liberty with his gaze. He drank in the sight of her.
Her light brown hair, streaked with sun-lightened golden strands, fell around her shoulders, held away from her face by a wide black satin ribbon. She moved elegantly, her slender form emphasized beneath the dark blue café server’s ankle-length apron.
When she turned and saw him, her expression held pure joy.
Eden stood as she approached his table. He smiled at her, knowing his expression would match hers. His instinct was to hug her close. In his rapidly beating heart, he felt as if he already knew her well. His wolf bowed to her, so he placed a hand on his chest and inclined his head in a swift old-fashioned movement before he spoke. “Liberty, it’s great to see you.”
Liberty stared at him.
It was as if she’d seen into his soul. Her eyes glowed with recognition and—yes, he knew that look—hope.
“It’s good to see you back.”
She gripped her little order notebook with knuckles that were turning white as he looked them over, wishing he could kiss the tension away.
He sat, deciding that might make her more comfortable.
“What can I get you?” Her voice was so laden with emotion Eden had to take a deep breath before he could answer.
“I noticed you did spaghetti when I read the menu. I’d love some.”
“It’s tomato and meatball sauce tonight. Is that okay?”
Eden experienced a wave of tenderness as a little frown appeared fleetingly on her face.
“It’s perfect, thank you.”
“We bring a short French breadstick and a side of grated Pecorino Romano, too.”
Eden smiled, not wanting to say he never used cheese. “Could I get a glass of ice water?”
Liberty nodded. “I’ll pass your order in.” She turned to go.
Eden gazed after her.
All through eating his meal, he rehearsed what he’d say to her. He lingered over coffee and then another cup waiting for closing time. At nine, Liberty’s helper, Craig, left along with the last customer.
Liberty came over to Eden with the coffeepot in her hand. “Would you like more coffee?”
He put his hand over his cup. “No, thank you. I’m good. Unless…unless you’d like to get a cup and join me? If you have time?” He bestowed a charming smile on her, hoping she’d join him.
“Sure, I will do that. I’ll just lock the door.” She flipped the open sign to closed and clicked the lock on the door. She was on her way to the counter with the coffeepot in one hand when Eden caught up with her.
He stood next to the counter and waited for her to pour coffee into one of the café’s signature blue cups. “Could we sit up here in the low light? I feel a little exposed at the window table now you’ve closed.” He desperately wanted a few moments of privacy with her. “People might think you’re still open.”
He brought her coffee cup to a nearby table that had already been cleared and pulled out a chair for her.
Liberty’s eyes lit up with pleasure and she sat. “Thank you.”
Eden brought a chair for himself closer. “Thank you for having coffee with me before I go off to my empty motel room.”
She glanced over at the table where he’d left his coffee cup. “Oh, let me get yours.”
Eden stopped her with a gentle hand on her arm. Touching her made him tremble. He looked into her eyes as she turned her face to his. She’s mine. She is mine. Finally—my love, my mate. “No, it’s okay.” He moved his hand from her arm reluctantly.
She faltered and then nodded. “So you haven’t bought a place yet?”
Through the haze of falling in love with her and recognizing his long hoped for mate, he understood her need to know about him. “I have, but it’s not furnished yet. It’s the apartment over the store, not far down the main street on the opposite side to this café. It used to be a shoe shop. I’m opening an office, though, not a store. I hope to move in tomorrow. Things are arriving.” He soaked up the pleasure of being close to her. He longed to touch her again. Doesn’t she know I’m a wolf, too? Doesn’t she feel this urgent need to hold each other close? I’d stopped believing in the wolf bond, but now I know it’s true. He reached for her hand. “Liberty, I’m so very glad I came here. I never expected to meet someone like you, but I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to have met you.” Eden had no reservations about going after Liberty. If the stories he’d been told about the wolf bond were true, she’d know, even subconsciously, that he was meant for her.
She didn’t answer, but she left her hand in his and her eyes betrayed her desire.
Eden’s stomach tightened as she curled her fingers around his. For some reason the satin sheath of her fingers brought to mind another place he’d like to explore. His cock stirred, and he transferred his gaze to her mouth. He leaned toward her, needing to kiss her so much.
She leaned closer to him.
The space between them seemed to grow thick. Eden couldn’t pull away.
Liberty was a whisper away and then as he closed his eyes, her lips touched his.
He fell into the kiss, drifting in the intense pleasure until every muscle in his body felt melted, except for his cock, which was rock hard and straining at his jeans. He couldn’t open his eyes. They were heavy with lust. He didn’t want the kiss to end.
She still held his fingers, but he slipped his other hand around her head, into her hair, grasping a fistful of the silken wealth and kept her face to his so that he could prolong the kiss. As soon as one ended, he took another, lingering, murmuring low sounds of enjoyment. He’d kissed before, received kisses before, but never like this, never felt drugged and melted.
Copyright Elodie Parkes, Siren Publishing 2015