Looked like men were the same, no matter the species.
As she started to press play, the doorbell rang. Kat sat straight up against the couch and shot December a nervous glance. “It’s Liam,” she whispered.
December frowned. “How do you know?”
“I can smell him. Or—I think it’s him. I’m still getting used to this heightened-senses stuff,” she whispered again.
Gritting her teeth, December looked away from her friend and back at the television. Now that she concentrated, she could actually smell him too. Ana had called December after she’d left the ranch that morning, because she’d been worried about her—and the other woman had promised to come by tomorrow to answer all December’s questions about the changes she was going through—but Ana had already explained that Kat had more noticeable abilities since she’d been bitten. Since December was pregnant by a shifter, she had heightened senses—which made her nausea even worse—but she wouldn’t fully develop all her extrasensory abilities until after her baby was born. Ana had also explained that even though December’s body had adapted to her child’s, her strength level would remain human until later. It was all too much to digest right now. And seeing Liam would just make it that much harder after the way he’d acted earlier. Pretending not to notice the faint masculine scent that reminded her of the forest in spring subtly twining around her, she pressed play.
“What are you doing?” Kat sat her popcorn bowl down and started to get up.
“Do not answer that! I don’t want to see him.” She did, but not right now. Not when her head was so messed up. He’d ignored her all day. He could suffer too.
Her friend eyed her disbelievingly and sat back on the couch. “You’re sure?”
“What if it was Jayce at the door?”
Nodding, she picked her bowl up and sat fully back. “Good point.”
When the doorbell sounded again, she turned the volume up. After the way he’d tried to brush her off earlier, telling her he’d take care of her or move her out of town as if she were some shameful secret, she had a lot of things she wanted to tell him but knew all she’d do was cry if confronted now. Next time they met, she wanted a level head.
Next the banging started but she ignored that too. Rolling her eyes, she shoved the thick blanket off and headed for the kitchen. As she put the ice cream back in the freezer, she heard the movie stop; then the front door opened.
When she heard Kat and Liam talking, she wanted to scream. What the hell? A few seconds later Kat walked into the kitchen. “I want to watch the movie and we can’t do that with all that racket. Just talk to him, please.”
December knew Kat didn’t give a crap about the movie. She started to respond when Liam stepped into the kitchen.
“And that’s my cue to leave.” Kat quickly disappeared, leaving her alone with Liam.
He had bags under his eyes. She’d noticed it at the ranch, but they seemed more pronounced now under the bright lights of her kitchen. Some perverse part of her was happy he wasn’t sleeping well.
When he took a couple more steps inside, she moved back until she hit the counter. She wanted to curse herself for showing weakness, but the reaction was instinctive.
Liam stopped dead in his tracks and spread his hands out. “I’m so sorry, December.”
She glared at him. “It’s easy to say that. What are you sorry for?”
“For…abandoning you when you needed me most. I saw how messed up Jayce was when Kat got taken and I thought…I thought it’d be easier on you if I was out of your life. I’ve brought you nothing but pain since we’ve met. You never would have been a target if not for me. I thought…” He shook his head slowly.
“You thought you’d make a decision about our future without consulting me?”
He jerked back at her question. “It wasn’t like that.”
“It’s exactly like that. Since we’ve met, you do things you think are right without asking me first.” She took a few steps closer to him, needing to fill some of the gap. Needing to gain control.
When she did, he also took a few tentative steps toward her but didn’t respond.
“So why are you here?” She tried to keep her voice cold but couldn’t. It cracked on the last word. He still hadn’t explained himself.
Taking her off guard, he fell to his knees in a completely submissive position. “To beg your forgiveness and ask you to take me back. When I said I’d take care of you and the baby, I meant it, but I think you misunderstood what I said. I didn’t mean without me. Unless you want to live without me of course.” When she didn’t respond, he shoved his hands in his pockets and suddenly looked so lost and confused, it made her anger waver.
Hating to see him like this, she covered the distance between them until they were inches apart. Grabbing his hands, she tugged on him so he’d stand.
His dark eyes instantly flared with undeniable lust and she smelled something…spicy, masculine. Maybe it was an effect of the pregnancy. Or maybe she was just scenting his lust. “Will I turn into a wolf now too?” she blurted. She hadn’t had any weird animal urges and she’d been so angry earlier she’d forgotten to ask. When she’d spoken to Ana, her anger had faded, but by then she’d been too afraid of the answer, so she’d skirted the subject, figuring she’d find out when Ana came to see her.
Half smiling, he reached out and cupped her cheek gently. “Not while you’re pregnant, but later you will…. Speaking of, you need to see a doctor soon. A shifter doctor. I found one in the next county who handles pregnancies.”
Even though she was still confused about her feelings, she stepped closer into his embrace and wrapped her arms around his waist. The feel of all that raw strength brought back so many naked images, but she forced them away. They still needed to talk. “Why can’t I go to mine? I thought you said the baby would be born…human.”
He nodded. “He will, but…shifter pregnancies are shorter by about two months. That’s probably why you got sick so fast. I don’t really know, though. This is all new to me too. I was only eight when my father’s pack…uh, well, when my first pack died. I don’t have much experience with cubs.”
“Wait, did you say he? You know something I don’t?” Her eyebrows lifted.
“We’re having a boy. I don’t think I can deal with a girl.” He actually looked terrified at the thought.
“Are you going to love this baby any less if it is a girl?”
“No! I just…I don’t know what I’d do with a girl. And if she looked like you, I’d be screwed. You two would gang up on me and get your way with everything, I know it.”
Clenching her jaw against a smile, she shook her head. “It’d serve you right to have a little girl.” She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment when he didn’t respond. “I’m still pretty mad at you.”
“I’m still mad at myself.” He tightened his arms around her.
From where they stood, she had a clear shot of the hallway that led to the front door. For the first time since he’d arrived, she noticed two big bags sat in the foyer. “What are those?”
“If you’ll have me, I plan on staying here with you. I know living on the ranch would be too hard on you and—”
She stiffened slightly. “You assumed I’d forgive you?”
He winced and shook his head. “No, I just hoped.”
“I need to know something, and you better not lie to me. If I wasn’t pregnant, would you still be standing here in front of me?”
“Yes.” His answer was immediate and soothing. He reached up and took her face between his big hands. The contact sent tingles scattering across her skin, and when she met his eyes, she saw the depth of his feelings for her. They were raw and primal and he wasn’t holding anything back from her now. “I love you, December. The short time apart was enough to kill me. It made me realize I’m not strong enough to walk away from you. Life isn’t going to be easy for you in the beginning. Not all people accept shifters and—”
“I don’t care about that. And don’t ever try to make a decision about our future or my life without consulting me first. I won’t live like that.” She couldn’t live like that.
“I won’t, but I probably will screw up from time to time. You bring out all my protective instincts.” His deep voice enveloped her like a warm embrace. One she’d been desperately craving the past few days.
Smiling at his honesty, she leaned up on her tiptoes. “I love you too, Liam.”
A low growl tore from him and those dark eyes of his went molten hot as he covered her mouth with his in a hungry, frantic dance. She couldn’t help it. Tears sprang to her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. When he tasted the saltiness, he pulled back, uneasiness in his gaze.
“These are happy tears. I’m pregnant, I can’t help it,” she murmured.
Immediately he broke into a wide grin. “You’re going to be a great mom.”
The statement surprised her. She hadn’t really thought about it. Except for the morning sickness, it almost didn’t feel real. Her eyebrows pulled down as another thought occurred to her.
“What is it?”
“So what exactly…uh, do shifters get…” Crap, she didn’t want to be the one to bring up marriage, but she didn’t know if shifters even got married. She knew that bondmates stayed together forever. Or she thought they did. But if she understood correctly, mates could still leave each other. And he hadn’t said anything else about bonding.
“Do you not think I’ll be a good dad?” The question was asked with such raw honesty she jerked back. His dark eyes were filled with concern and uncertainty.
She shook her head. “No! I mean, of course I think you’ll be a wonderful dad. Probably too overprotective, but that’s okay. I just wondered if shifters married or, uh, not that I think we should get married just because—”