My jaw dropped open, and I sat there stunned for a second. “But you called me that when you first met me.” He couldn’t have known then that he wanted to be my mate. He couldn’t possibly have known. “I remember distinctly you calling me princess and being annoyed about it.”
He nodded slowly, not looking away from me, and I could feel what he felt when he saw me that first time. He really had liked me—more than liked me—from the beginning. I couldn’t be anything other than shocked. I’d been attracted to him, but the idea of spending my life with him had seemed so far-fetched at the time.
Only now, it was a reality.
Holy moly. I was bonded—more than married—to a freaking wolf.
I felt his amusement at the direction my thoughts had gone, and instead of weirding me out, it made me feel a little more comfortable. I wasn’t sure why, but even if part of me thought this whole thing was nuts, another part of me was thrilled. And knowing that he’d felt this way all along… It made me more secure. Like it was okay to want this—safe to feel like this—because he wanted it just as badly.
Being in his head was odd. Teresa had visions and slipped into peoples’ minds all the time, but I never had. I almost felt like an intruder, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know more.
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“When Muraco called to tell me you were coming, he mentioned that mating with a wolf could rid of your oath. Even though you were tied to someone against your will, you wouldn’t take a mate to get out of it. I took that to mean you didn’t like Weres. But when I saw you, I knew. When the others heard what I called you, they knew, too. But I wanted to give you a little time to get used to this. If we hadn’t been trapped, I would’ve given you a lot more time.”
It was true. I’d said that I didn’t want to bond with a wolf, but he wasn’t just any wolf. He was my wolf.
I leaned forward slowly. Even though I was still a little bit unsure, I couldn’t stop myself from kissing him. The second our lips touched, it was almost too much. I could feel everything he was feeling, and it only made my feelings—love and lust and everything in between—that much stronger.
When we finally pulled apart, he rested his forehead against mine.
I looked into his dark brown eyes and smiled. “Thank you.”
“For being you. I…” I wanted to say that I loved him, but I was scared. My heart was pounding. It was almost like I was jumping off the highest cliff.
“I know you do. I can wait for the words.” He paused. “Just because we hit fast forward here, doesn’t mean that we have to skip all the other steps. We have time. Lots of it.” He picked me up off his lap and placed me in front of him and I missed being so close to him. “We should get out of here before those brujos come back.”
Raphael. What was I thinking, wasting time like this? We had to go.
I took Lucas’ hand when he reached down for me.
The room was a ruin of smoking ash. The smell was horrible, but it was better than being dead. The only thing left untouched by all the grime was the saint. He rested there, still perfectly preserved. Only missing a hand, some hair, and a few accessories.
I reached down, and put the hand in my purse. At the last second, I spotted the on the floor in a pile of ash across the room and went to grab it. The knife had our blood on it, and I wasn’t leaving a drop of it behind.
Lucas made a face at the hand sticking out of my purse. “Witches,” he said with a laugh.
“Without magic, we’d be dead right now.”
“True enough, princess. True enough.”
We stepped over piles of ash and rot on our way out. By the time we reached the exit, I was more than ready to be outside. The cool mountain air flew over my skin as Lucas pushed open the door, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now all I had to do was get to San Jose and somehow heal Raphael.
I was enjoying the air so much that I didn’t notice Lucas had stopped walking until I was jerked to a stop. “What?”
Lucas growled, looking ahead of us, and I turned. All I could see was forest. But I knew Lucas had much better night vision than I did.
I stepped back to stand next to him as we waited.
The brujos are still here, Lucas said in my head.
What? I tried answering back the same way.
There. In front of us. They’ll be here in a second.
They? My stomach knotted as I took in the severity of that word. It sounded like more than just one of those creepy brujos. Just Father Valentine? I asked.