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The Alpha's Temporary Mate (Fated Match)(86)

By:Victoria Davies

His mouth opened but all he could think of were the times he’d heard his pledge of love tossed back in his face. Those little words had turned into daggers that had ripped into him again and again. They brought nothing but destruction and ruin to all they touched.

Speak up. Be what she needs.

Silence stretched.

Chloe looked away. “I’m done, wolf. Be with Lisette or don’t. It no longer has anything to do with me.”

“Anything else,” he said, lunging forward. “Ask me for anything else. I care for you, Chloe. I want you by my side. You make me think of spending a future with you when I’ve never entertained such thoughts before. You’re the one I want.” He took a deep breath. “Be with me. Please. If you want me to beg, I’ll beg. Just be with me.”

For a long moment silence reigned. His heartbeat filled his ears as he waited for her response. He’d never thought he could ever want a true companion again, but that’s what Chloe was. She was the one for him. He couldn’t lose her now. His pride was a small price to pay for her forgiveness.

“You can say that,” she said, her voice softer, “but you can’t love me?”

“You don’t want me to love you,” he said, desperation tingeing his words. “Look at what happened when I loved before. It ruined an entire pack and sent my lover fleeing across the globe. I destroy the things I love.”

The softness vanished as rage lit her eyes. “Bullshit. We are not your sordid past and I am not Lisette. You are more than one bad experience, Kieran, and if you felt for me the way I feel for you then three little words wouldn’t be your Everest.” She backed away from him. “I’m not going to keep fighting you. I can’t. Let me go heal so that when my mate finally comes along, I do not push him away because of the scars you left.”

The pain in her eyes froze the protest on his tongue. Again he was hurting someone he cared about. Being with him had turned his vibrant, happy witch into the desolate woman before him. His love was more curse than blessing, just as he’d always known it was.

“Good-bye,” she said, with a finality that ripped into him like claws.

Spinning on her heel, she headed for the door.

He watched her go, unable to voice the words that would bring her back.

When my mate finally comes along, she’d said. Which meant she didn’t view him as a possibility. Even though their relationship had started to heal the pack. Even though their touch calmed his wolf in a way he’d never experienced.

Even though he wanted her more than he wanted his next breath.

He ran a hand down his face. Chloe wouldn’t waver. He’d seen her stubbornness first hand. And being unable to give her the words she needed, he had no right to fight for her.

Hell, she’d be better off with a mate who was whole. One that didn’t carry damage from the past.

And him? Maybe Lisette was right. They kept circling back to each other. Maybe that was the best he could ever hope for. Not a real mate but at least a partner to help protect the pack.

The idea of doing his duty left a bad taste on his tongue. Not even for his people would he participate in a mating ceremony.

Not if the woman at his side wasn’t Chloe.

Chapter Twenty

Pounding filled her head.

Chloe groaned, pulling the covers up to cocoon herself. The sound dulled under the blankets.

Which meant it must be from the front door and not her brain.

“What?” she called, kicking her legs out of her cozy bed.

“Open this damn door.”

Jessica. She sighed, shrugging on a housecoat. “Coming.”

Padding to the door, she flipped the latch and let her friend in.

“Two days of silence,” Jessica said, pushing in with a pair of coffee cups in her hands. “No texts. No calls. Nothing.”

“Sorry.” She grabbed one of the cups and led the way into her small kitchen. “I told Vivian I was taking her up on her offer of time off. Didn’t think more needed to be said.”

“The bastard broke your heart,” Jessica replied. “Good girlfriends show up with chocolate and offer a sympathetic ear while you bad mouth the ex.”

“Where’s the chocolate?”

The succubus pulled a bag out of her purse and handed it over.

Selecting a Mars bar from the stash, Chloe gestured to the table. “You can stay.”

“So who do I need to kill?” Jessica said, dropping into one of the empty chairs.

“No one. I’m fine.”

“Yes, you look it. Three-day-old eyeliner is all the rage.”

She stuck out her tongue before taking a sip of the decadently sweet coffee.

“What happened?”

Chloe opened her mouth to lie then caught herself. She’d been doing that too much since Kieran came into her life. The deal was over, the check cashed, according to Vivian. There was no need to continue the charade in her personal life.