Amara was just so tired. She’d spent years running from her past, only to end up in job after job that sucked the life out of her. She had nothing to show for her hard work except circles under her eyes and pity from others.
Lost didn’t begin to cover how she felt. She wasn’t like the other lightning-struck. She’d never been. She never took chances because she had to fight for what little she had and she didn’t want to lose that, too.
Yet now, look at her.
In a new realm, between two men who wanted her as their own.
Could she do this? Could she give in?
She sucked in a breath as they walked through the large doorway, the men on either side of her watching her reactions. Maybe she could roll with the punches. Maybe she could…take that chance.
Maybe this would be the adventure she never thought to have.
It was past time, after all.
Malik awoke with a shout, his body sweat-slick and his pulse racing. The nightmare had come again, this time with a vengeance. The Pride had burned around him, their echoing screams never leaving his memory. He was a lion shifter, a prince, and would one day be the Leo of his people.
And yet, he had no successor.
No mate. No bond.
If he didn’t make changes soon, he knew his dreams would become prophecy, instead of simply nightmares.
With a sigh, Malik got out of bed and strode naked to his dresser where his phone chirped. The sound had thankfully pulled him from the dream where he’d stood alone amongst the death and destruction of his people. Glancing at his cell, he saw that Tristan, his long-time friend, had texted him, letting him know he wouldn’t be available for the next few weeks. It seemed his buddy had taken the leap and was doing his best to find a bond with not one, but two mates.
He was happy for Tristan, so damn happy, but he knew he wouldn’t have that. He’d been alone for too long. He might not be as old as Tristan or some of the other races, but lion shifters were different.
With that nightmare and now Tristan’s news, Malik knew he had to do what was expected of him. He didn’t want to, but it was past time he did what he had to in order to protect his people.
A knock on the door pulled him from his thoughts, and he quickly pulled on his jeans. He’d been sleeping in the middle of the damn day since he hadn’t had a chance to sleep before that. But now, the person he needed to see was here.
When he opened the door, he did his best not to lean forward and inhale Eliana’s sweet scent. His lion loved that scent and wanted more of it. They both wanted to roll around in it and let it seep into their skin. And because of that, he knew it was time to do what he had to do.
“Come in.” His tone was short, and Eliana raised a brow at it. It hadn’t escaped her attention that he hadn’t leaned down to kiss her or rub his nose along her cheek like he was prone to.
“Were you sleeping?” she asked. “I thought you said I should meet you here for dinner, but if you need to go back to bed because of work, I don’t mind.” From the heated look in her eyes, he knew what she wanted to do in bed.
“I’m sorry you came over here, Eliana. I should have called you.”
She tilted her head. “What’s wrong, Malik?”
“It’s over.” There. He’d said it. As long as he did this quick, it would be okay. Just like tearing off a bandage. “It was fun while it lasted, but I’m looking for something long term and you’re not it.”
He was a fucking asshole, but if he didn’t push her away, he’d do something monumentally stupid. Like mate with a human. His kind couldn’t mate with humans. Not that she knew about his kind and what went bump in the night. Her friends might, but Eliana didn’t. And he knew the secrets of his kind were far more important than a human’s feelings. Even if it killed him to break her heart…and perhaps his.
Lions couldn’t mate with humans because of the way their bonds were created. They chose to mate, rather than allowing fate to decide. And because he hadn’t been able to find someone to mate with in all this time, he’d have to allow the Pride to choose his female. If Eliana were anything other than human, he and his lion would have chosen her. But because his fate was fucked up, he’d never have her.
And he had to push her away before the other lions heard of her existence…or before he fell even more in love with her.
Tears filled Eliana’s eyes and her hand shot out. He let the slap come, relishing the ache.