The Lost Slipper Page 10

“You dare threaten our alpha’s mate?” It takes me a minute for Gwen’s words to register. They take the air right out of my lungs. It’s silly because I know Stone wants me to be his mate, but the reality of what that means comes crashing down on me in hard waves. Knowing what all this means makes it a little hard to breathe.

I reach out and grab the counter to steady myself. I can barely stand up to my bitch stepsisters and I am supposed to be the alpha female of the Gray Ridge pack? There’s nothing alpha about me.

Suddenly, I feel like something has been ripped from me. Jesus. One second I’m all I’m not your mate and I don’t want to be your mate! I’ve only pined to be yours for years! and now I’m all sad because I think I really can’t be his mate. My head feels like its spinning.

I look up to see Trish baring her neck to Gwen.

“Get out! And go wash last night’s stink off you.” Gwen’s words are hard and to be obeyed. I watch as Trish scurries back out of the bakery, and if she’d shifted, I have no doubt her tail would’ve been between her legs.

I take a deep breath, making my way out from behind the counter to sit in one of the chairs. Gwen comes to kneel in front of me, putting us at eye level…almost. I still have to look down at her just a little.

“I’ll never be like you,” I tell her. Her eyes go soft, and I know she knows what I mean.

“Stone doesn’t need me, Winnie.”

“He didn’t seem to need me either until he was made to,” I remind her. Or maybe I’m reminding myself. I fell into a dreamy haze this morning when Stone was here, the one he’s always put me in when he’s near. Old habits are harder to kick than I thought.

“I’ve known Stone my whole freaking life, and I’ve never seen him go after something he wants. In fact, I can’t name one thing I can recall Stone ever taking for himself, now that I really think about it.”

“I…” I come up short as I try to think of an argument, but I can’t think of anything either. Everything with Stone is about the pack and about what’s best for everyone. Maybe he has his own little secrets like I do. Well, I thought I had secrets. Stone seems to know about the one I thought I’d been keeping—sneaking out and taking pictures with a camera that took me over a year to save up and buy, and it isn’t even that great a camera.

“Why don’t you give him a chance?” Gwen pushes. Her tone isn’t firm like she often uses with pack members. She’s really asking. Not putting an edge to it, not making it sound like a question when it’s really not.

I want to tell her I’ve given him a ton, but the image of him this morning, all half-shy, presses in on me, making the mate mark tingle again.

“I’m not his type. I look nothing like you guys.” I motion down to my body.

Gwen laughs, and it makes X—who I’d forgotten about—growl softly and sweetly, like he’s enjoying the sound of her laughter, and it makes me smile.

“Winnie, I think you’re his type. I’ve noticed his eyes on you.” Gwen stands, grabbing my hands, pulling me to my feet.

“His eyes on me?” I feel my cheeks burn at the idea that Stone has been openly looking at me and someone noticed. “Like before yesterday?”

“Oh, yeah!” Her eyebrows wiggle.

“She does that when she’s talking about something related to sex,” X says, and we look over at him. “The eyebrow thing.” He nods as he finishes, like he had to explain the eyebrow thing to me because I might have been lost. I often forget that Xavier hasn’t been around people much.

Gwen just winks at him.

“How about I help you with the bakery today, then we go upstairs to my old apartment and you let me do a little makeover? Nothing much. Maybe just give him a little more to look at.”

The idea of giving Stone a little more to look at compels me to nod.

“I’ll stand guard in case the funny-smelling blonde tries to come back.” X folds his arms over his chest.

“You do that, baby,” Gwen tells him, and I burst out laughing.

6 Stone

I’ve spent all day preparing for Winnie to come over tonight. I called the bakery and Gwen answered, letting me know that Winnie would be ready and at my house at six tonight.

I’d seen Gwen and Xavier on my way home this morning and asked for some advice on cooking. Gwen seemed all too pleased to help me, saying that she would go have a talk with Winnie. I’m hoping that her friendship can work in my favor. I’m willing to use every trick up my sleeve if it means Winnie will be mine.

Running around the house and cleaning up, I want everything to be perfect. I made a simple dinner of spaghetti. Gwen said it was idiot-proof, and she knew Winnie liked it. I just hope I did it right. I really want to impress her.

When it’s just before six, I rush into the bathroom and take a quick shower. It’s strange now that my cock gets hard, having never had that happen before. I’m not sure if I welcome the feeling or not. It’s almost painful. Anytime I’m near Winnie, or catch her scent, my cock gets so hard and thick, aching to be inside her. I rub the soap across it, feeling the warmth of my hand. But no matter how much I stroke it, nothing will happen. I’ll only cum inside my true mate, never before.

I was so hard when I was around Winnie this morning, but the second I left her and almost bumped into Trish, it went away like it had never even happened. Then when she put her hand on me, I felt nauseated. Having another scent on me besides my mate’s made my blood run cold, and I let Trish know it. I explained that Winnie is my mate and that she should be more careful with her flirtatious nature. I may have been hard on the little wolf, but she needed to know. Everyone in the pack needs to know, so I spent the day sending messages to everyone and even other packs around Gray Ridge to let them know I’m mated. Winnie may deny me now, but I’ll never want another. For as long as I live, I will be mated to her. And I want everyone to know it. It is my first step in showing her that she is mine. That I will always choose her first. That I am proud to have the little bear shifter as my mate.

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