Jaecar paused outside the massive door that looked like something blocking the way to a dungeon. He lifted his fist and hesitated. Wondering what he could possibly say to her.
The door cracked and there was a series of chains that Samantha peered through. Her look going from accusing to surprised.
He blinked at her.
"Just a minute." She closed the door, and he heard all the chains unbolting. Dread swirling through him. Knowing that if he mated her tomorrow it would be far too easily done because of her trust in him.
Trust he'd have to shatter to possess her. He swallowed a bit of bile at the thought.
She opened the door. "Jaecar? You've never come to my hut except to reinforce it. Is that why you're here..."
Clearly, she sensed he'd not have come so late at night, the eve before the Mating Moon for such a thing.
"Jaecar?" She gave him a quizzical look at his prolonged silence. Finally, she opened the door widely. "Come in."
He ducked his head and obediently entered. Turning to her. "Samantha..."
But whatever he'd have said trailed off at the sight of her in the light of her fireplace. The orange flames danced through her coppery hair tinged with white and gold highlights. Making her flawless white skin seem even more surreal in the dimness. She wore a long white nightdress ruffled at the collar and cuffs. A remnant of a more civilized world before the pack plagues. Her blue eyes locked on him and she was backing up slightly.
Showing the hint of fear that made him take a step forward as a low growl rumbled his throat. His predatory nature reacting to her retreat.
Eyes rounding, she froze at seeing the reaction he was having.
Jaecar wanted her. More than he could imagine wanting any other creature. Just standing in her hut was surrounding him with her alluring hut. Tantalizing his sensed and generating an instant arousal.
Already he could smell the dusky hint of her sex which would become deliciously enhanced beginning tomorrow afternoon. A lure to draw in the males.
Though the females would become increasingly roused tomorrow it was nowhere near to the extent of the males. Merely enough to keep her damp enough to not be harmed during the matings of the night.
Thinking of it in a plural sense, reminded him that Draven had threatened to let multiple men rut her. Just knowing it made him want to mark her immediately before anyone else dared touch her.
But no one would abide by the marking without the mating.
And Jaecar was aware no one would believe he'd made Samantha unless she exhibited the rage and betrayal to prove it.
That thought made his chest tight, but he understood what the options were.
It was clear what he'd do. And he couldn't guarantee he'd be any gentler with her under the Mating Moon then any other Asara male. Especially sense I'd been stamping down my desire for her under every Mating Moon for the last several years.
Samantha thought he was kind to help her reinforce the hut. But he did it every year so he wouldn't tear his way in when he turned and forcefully take her while he was his animal.
It was a legitimate fear.
"You have to pick a mate tomorrow, Samantha." He said more harshly than he'd intended. Resisting his animal instinct to throw her to the floor in her hut right now.
"I'm not doing that Jaecar. You know that. You help keep me from it." She took another step before the fire to peer at him as if he'd lost his mind.
The way she was looking at him, made it clear that she'd no idea that standing before that fire in that thin muslin nightdress made it utterly invisible. Making the outline of her small pert breasts with jutting nipples painstakingly obvious. And the dark nest of her hair at the crux of her thighs, look soft enough to sink into right now.
"Dammit!" He turned his back to her. Shoving his hand through his hair. But that image of her body was branded in his senses. Causing the racing of his heart. The yellowing of his eyes and the slitting of his pupils as he resisted the urge to push her against the wall.
"What's wrong with you tonight, Jaecar? Is it the Mating Moon?"
"Yes, it is." He forced his tone softer but there was still the hint of danger in it.
She instinctively retreated to stand between the mantle and the wall in the deepest shadows of her hut.
He heard her soft footfalls taking her there. Painfully aware of her every movement. The sweeping of her nightdress along her feet stirring her scent upward to waft through the small space like steam from a decadent dessert.
Luring him closer.
"Jaecar...Do you need Aloira?"
Samantha was aware that Jaecar usually expended his energy on Aloira under the Mating Moon. As many of the males did. She and her best friend were willing breedables who hadn't yet taken to pup.
Both women seemed to have their gazes on the Hayden brothers or Jaecar. Wanting a fierce Border Guard of their own.
Neither of the girls favored Samantha and she'd learned why over the last few years. Aloira didn't appreciate the time Jaecar wasted on her.
She'd once caught Samantha. Putting a clawed hand to Samantha's throat and pinning her to a tree near the river to demand. "Why does he waste so much time on you. A female unwilling to submit when he has one such as I? A breedable who knows how to..." She stepped back from Samantha and seductively stroked her throat and down to the hollow of her cleavage over a green dress. "Please a male..."