I narrowed my gaze at him. “If you wanted me so badly, then why’d you ignore me?”
“I was trying to let you adjust. To give you space. Like Mr. Dawson asked. Not to mention your family. It wasn’t easy to stay away from you.”
I opened my mouth with a retort, but he held up a hand.
“No. Not as hard as adjusting has been for you. But seeing the guys following you around…” His eyes flashed even brighter. He paced all the way to the other side of the creek and when he came back they were amber again. “I did something awful to you. Everyone thought it would be best if I stayed away, gave you time to get used to everything before I staked my claim as your mate.”
It killed me to say it, but I had to ask. “And if I didn’t want to be with you?”
“I’d let you go. Or try to.” He ran his fingers through his hair, making it stand on end. “No. I don’t know that I could do that. I’d wait. I’d do my best to win you over.”
“Okay.” I swallowed my nerves. “The whole mate word freaks me out. So let’s just leave that out for now.”
The smile that spread across his face made me melt.
Yep. He was dangerous.
“Deal.” He held out a hand and pulled me off the bedrock.
His hand brushed against my arm and a tingle ran up it. “What’s that?”
Something was better than nothing. “I’ll take it.”
“It’s our mate bond settling in.”
My heart kicked into over-drive. “Hey! Ix-nay on the ate-may word.”
“Don’t freak out on me. A deal is a deal. Our wolves are on a different level than us right now. But we’ll catch up. We’ve got time.”
“Time.” My gut was screaming at me that I didn’t need any time to know he was the one, but my brain knew better. “But don’t I have to choose before my birthday?”
“I don’t think they’ll hold you to those rules.” He brushed his fingertips along my face, and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Just try to relax.”
Heat spread through my body at his touch. “Right. Relax.” The guy was turning me into a mumbling moron with the touch of his fingertips. This was bad news. Or maybe good news, depending on how I looked at it. I shook my head, trying to clear it. “Can I ask you a question?”
“You can ask me anything.”
“How come I don’t see anything from you?”
He raised his eyebrows, proving that I’d managed to catch him by surprise. “I’m not just an alpha. I’m Alpha. You’ll only see what I want you to see. Or what you ask to see.”
“How come I get stuff from Chris? Isn’t he an alpha?”
He ran his hand over his stubble. “I guess you really do need to read the book.”
I pushed him away from me, but he didn’t budge. “Jerk. That’s what I was supposed to be doing.”
“What I meant was that there is alpha and then there is Alpha. The level of power a person has is unique to that person. I have more than Chris—much more than him—and since I found out about your abilities, I’ve been trying to guard my thoughts.”
That made sense. Mom did that too. She wasn’t as good as Dastien was, but she was decent at letting me only see some things. “One more. Why do you call Mr. Dawson, Michael?”
“That’s his name.”
I gave him a soft punch in the shoulder.
He grabbed my fist and opened it to link our fingers together. “My parents died when I was eight. Michael was their best friend, as were the Hoels. But Michael was the one who took me in, raised me.”
I felt terrible for asking. “I’m sorry. That must’ve been awful.”
I stared at his larger hand enveloping mine. “Why did you leave? At the party after…” He’d run away that night. It bugged me that he’d done that.
“I didn’t leave you at the party, but my wolf had control. I shifted and couldn’t let myself get close to any of the other people there.”
I remembered the wolf outside my window that night. “You waited outside my window?”
“Until your light went out.” He pressed his lips together for a second. “And I was outside your room in the infirmary as you transitioned back and forth for days on end. You didn’t stop changing forms until I finally broke into the room—”
I so didn’t want to hear about that. I slapped my hand over his mouth. He bit it softly, and I felt it all the way to my core. I rubbed my hand off on my jeans.