Prompt: "You're the worst."
As much as I wanted naked and wet time to lead to something more, my body was totally against me. The pain was building and that throbbing pulse was almost all I could feel, even with Ritch’s soapy hands sliding down my body.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered.
“What? Why?” He looked up at me, literally on his knees at my feet, his head the perfect height.
I waved hand toward my groin with the hand that wasn’t bracing me on the wall. “It’s not you.” Ritch’s hair was slicked back, darkened by the water, and I could see trails of water sliding down the lean muscles of his back to the upper curves of his ass.
His cheeks pinkened. “Oh. Well, duh, you’re exhausted. A few hours ago you had bones sticking out of your leg. Even if you were, ah, up for it,” he cleared his throat, “I wouldn’t let you risk hurting yourself.”
“Wouldn’t let me?” I raised my eyebrows.
Ritch nodded decisively. “It’s not the right time.”
He had that right, at least. I wasn’t going to mate him in the shower, the marks of those other men who’d touched him on his body and my injury reminding him of my failure to protect him. It was killing me to wait, but, in the meantime, I could still use the time to further his wooing.
Wooing. I suppressed a snort. If Deke heard me say that, he’d never let me live it down.
“Okay,” I said mildly. If nothing else, Ritch needed to know I respected his opinions—especially when it came to sex.
“Okay? That’s it?”
I nodded. “I agree with you. When we mate, I want both of us healthy and ready for it.” If I had my way, he’d be so ready he’d beg me to bite him. He’d never have to ask twice.
“Mate?” His voice squeaked, and he cleared his throat. Ritch’s eyes were comically round.
“Of course.” I leaned down and helped him to his feet. He wasn’t blinking. “I haven’t made my need for you a secret. I want you as my mate, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get you to agree.” I ran my thumb over his lips. “What else did you think my kisses meant?”
“I don’t… I mean, I didn’t know for sure. If the stuff you said was just posturing. For everyone else.”
“It’s not posturing. You’re going to be my mate, and I’m going to be yours. You’re going to smell like me, and I’m going to smell like you, and no one will be able to mistake our bond.”
“But I’m a human werekin. And I can’t give you babies.”
I shrugged. “My brother was a human werekin. We’re not prejudiced in our streak. And I don’t want kids. I want you.”
Ritch swayed closer, his lips closing just over the tip of my thumb still caressing them. “Tease. You are the worst.” He scraped his teeth over it, staring at me, and I growled. “I bite back.” I wouldn’t, but I liked the way he shivered at the low promise.
“Not tonight…?” His response came out more like a question.
“Not tonight.” I reached for the showerhead behind him and rinsed us both off. We were clean enough. “Bed. Together,” I said, just in case he didn’t know that I wanted him in my bed with me. “You okay with that?” I couldn’t take away his choice, even if it killed me to ask.
Ritch took a moment. “Yeah.”
We got out, and he helped me dry off, and then he braced himself under my arm and I hopped over to the bed. Exhausted, in pain, I slumped on the side of the bed.
“Do you need some water?”
“No.” I shook my head. “Just some sleep.”
Plastic bag gone, Ritch helped me get situated on the bed with my leg elevated on a pillow. Then he went around to the other side and crawled under the covers. “Oh, I forgot to shut off the light.”
I stopped mid-reach as he slid back out of bed. He went over and turned off the lights, then I heard him try to navigate back in the dim light. It was enough for me to see, but he must not have been able to because he ran into the end of the bed.
I chuckled, not even trying to suppress it.
“Stop laughing! My toes are killing me. Next time you can turn off the lights.”
“Okay.” I held out my arm when he got back in the bed, and he snuggled in close. I yawned, my jaw popping. “Good night.” It was daytime, but, whatever.
Things weren’t so great when I woke up later. Ritch had moved away from me, and he was whimpering in his sleep. I tried to roll toward him and a spike of pain jabbed through my leg. “Son of a bitch!” I snarled.
“What?” Ritch jolted and sat up. He looked around wildly, scooting away from me. It was even darker in the room, but the whites of his eyes were practically glowing because they were open so wide. “No!”
“Damn it.” I couldn’t reach him, and I was fighting the urge to throw up.
He got tangled in the blankets and couldn’t get free. After a moment of struggling, he stopped and froze, curling into a ball and ducking his face against the bed.
“Ritch. It’s me, Park. You’re okay. You’re safe with me, in my bed. Come on, mate. Look at me.” I deliberately eased my voice, trying to make it calm and soothing. “Look up, please.”
He hesitantly moved, barely lifting his head and panting raggedly. “P-Park?”
“Yeah, it’s me. You’re safe.”
“It was just a dream. Come here.”
I waited anxiously to see what he’d do. Finally, he untangled himself and eased closer. I held out my arms, leaving them wide open for him.
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