As lions couldn’t mate with humans, he’d walked away.
Hopefully, Eliana would listen to him, would forgive him.
But he wouldn’t grovel. He would one day be Leo and a Leo didn’t beg.
No matter what might be needed.
“Eliana, let us go with you at least,” Faith said.
“Let them be alone,” Tristan put in, his eyes on Malik. This was his friend, or at least had been at one time. They weren’t brothers, weren’t warriors together, but they had once been closer than they were now. Endless time and responsibilities had separated them, but at least the man stood for him now. “For now,” Tristan added, his eyes narrowing. “They should speak alone for now as they need to get the facts straight. But know this, Malik, if you hurt her again, you won’t just have a pixie on your heels but also the rest of us.”
“And we won’t hold back for long,” the large dragon said from the side.
Of course, Eliana was friends with a dragon. Why wouldn’t she be?
Malik had never been so wrong in his life, and now he had to make sure he didn’t lose her again. Because if he messed up, he had a feeling it would be the women at the table tearing him limb from limb, not the dragon or the fae in front of him.
Eliana pushed Seth’s hands away and picked up her bag. “Let’s talk then, Malik,” she snapped. Fire slid into her eyes and he wanted to take a step back. He’d seen lionesses in a rage before, but he had a feeling they had nothing on a pregnant Eliana right then.
She moved past him, keeping her distance, and he let out a breath before following her. He didn’t miss the glares sent his way, or the fact that the bear shifter at the table was casually sharpening his claws even in human form.
Dear goddess, this crew fought for their own like no other.
And while he liked the fact that Eliana had that—them—in her life, now that she was carrying his cub and he could be with her, she was his to protect. And once the others—as well as Eliana—understood that, things could go on like normal.
As he made his way to the sidewalk in front of Dante’s Circle, he stopped by Eliana, who clutched her bag to her belly.
“You’re going to need to drive as the others drove me here,” Eliana said, her voice emotional. “I’m too big to fit behind the wheel safely.”
He licked his lips as he studied her face. She was paler than he remembered, but that could have been from the shock of seeing him. Her shaggy red hair was longer now, brushing her shoulders in layers. When he’d last seen her, it had looked as though she could afford to gain a few pounds. Now, she was round with his child and had filled out nicely. He wanted to reach out and cup her face or even put his hand over her belly, but he didn’t.
He didn’t know what to do and that wasn’t like him.
In fact, he hated it.
She held up a hand. “Not now. My ankles hurt and I have to pee. Again. I don’t want to go back in there though because I don’t think Tristan will be able to hold back the mob a second time. So, did you drive here? Or do we need to take a cab? Either way, let’s go. We can go to my place because you sold yours.” She raised her chin as he tried to process the fact that she’d been to his place after he left. Or rather, what had once been his place. “Yeah, I went to your old condo. Sue me. I was trying to tell you about little squirt here. But whatever. So, cab or car?”
He blinked. “Little squirt?”
She pointed at her belly and raised a brow. “Car or cab?”
Apparently, she wouldn’t be talking about any true details until they went to her place and he’d have to be fine with that. Because, frankly, his mind was still whirling over the fact that she was pregnant. He’d gone into the bar to find her so he could figure out what they were going to do about mating.
He’d never once thought she could be pregnant.
That changed everything.
And yet, it didn’t change a thing.
He cleared his throat as she shuffled from foot to foot. Her ankles were hurting, she’d said. So maybe he needed to once again get his head out of his ass and take care of the woman carrying his child.
“I drove,” he finally said. “Here, let me help you.” He took her elbow, hopefully keeping her steady. He honestly didn’t know what to do to help her. He may have been around some pregnant women in the Pride before, but he’d never really thought about how to help them beyond protection.
When she didn’t pull away from him, he counted that as a small victory and led her to his Range Rover. She raised a brow at him when she saw the SUV, and he shrugged.