Alpha Owned(19)By: Milly Taiden
“Accept our loyalty as our Alpha’s mate.”
Tears clogged the back of her throat. More people got on their knees and displayed their neck. She had a hard time holding it together. The pack had accepted her. The crazy thing was that she’d been questioning her decision about them from the moment she’d opened her eyes that morning. Had she made the right move?
Standing there with a dry throat and no words to come close to how surreal everything felt, she made her decision. If he wanted her, she was his. No more, no less.
Chris had carried Michelle to be seen by the local doctor the previous day, so he was missing. Once everyone had pledged their loyalty, he took her by the hand again and led her down another path. They walked hand in hand in complete silence to what had been her favorite spot as a kid. It was a huge old wild fig tree with a massive trunk and so many branches she loved to stare at it for hours.
They sat down by the trunk and for a moment neither said anything. She rubbed her sweaty palms down the sides of her pants.
Ryker grabbed her hand in his and met her gaze. “I love you, Ciara.”
The words pierced her heart and filled her with warmth. “You do?”
He nodded. “Have since forever it seems.”
She cleared her throat. Nerves got the best of her. “Be real.”
“Seeing the prettiest girl smile just for me, made my heart race only for you from then on.”
Wow. Her feelings for him broke out of the box she’d locked them up. “I…”
“I know you love me. You don’t need to say it.” His blue eyes focused on her lips. “But I need you to give us a chance. I know you said you would last night, but now, with your hormones no longer making your decisions for you, I am asking again. I want you to be with me. I don’t want anyone else.”
God. How could she ever have doubted him? Still, inklings of questions dirtied her happiness. “Ryker. I do, love you. But how do we know this is right for us? We lead two different lives.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old napkin. She frowned. Watched him unfold the paper with so much care you’d think it was made of gold. Then he handed it to her. Her heart stopped. Her fingers shook. And she knew then he really did love her.
“It’s the napkin from our picnic.” She mumbled.
Their one date. She’d arrived early to set up the picnic. In her restless wait, she had doodled his name with little hearts a ton of times on one of the cloth napkins her mom had packed for them. She had shoved it into the picnic basket when they’d left, so she didn’t know how he got his hands on it.
“Mom!” She gasped.
He lifted a hand. Slowly, he caressed her cheek with his fingers. “She gave it to me after you went away for school. Told me you’d come back because you loved me.”
It was then she stopped kidding herself. She opened her mouth and let her feelings loose. “I do love you. I have for too many years to count.”
“I’m sorry if my telling you that night that my mate had to be here with me scared or upset you. I only wanted you to know what was coming.”
She shook her head. Sad that she’d let other people’s words ruin their once budding relationship. “It wasn’t you. Before you showed up the day of our picnic, some girls had told me you couldn’t be serious because I wasn’t a shifter. I guess it always stayed with me. They said you needed a shifter for a mate and I...I refused to believe that a human was good enough for an Alpha.”
He shook his head. “Good enough? You’re more than that. You’re perfect. Everything about you is perfection, Ciara. From your gorgeous eyes to your voluptuous curves. I love it. All of it.”
“You mean that, don’t you?” She asked in awe.
“I do. And while I want to ask you to stay, I won’t. I want you to choose the path yourself, but know my heart belongs to you. And if you don’t stay, there will never be another woman for me. If you do stay, I won’t push you to lead with me, but let’s be together.” He said softly. “Please.”
Happiness bounced around in her chest. “What if I want to be your mate in every sense of the word and lead the pack with you?”
She found herself on her back with a smiling Ryker staring down at her. “Then I can make that happen. Anything you want, sweetheart.”
“I’ll stay with you, Ryker. I love you.”
His head dropped. He nuzzled her lips with his. “I love you too. I’m glad I finally get to keep my mate.”
She was beyond happy that the man she’d wanted and loved for so long loved her back just as hard.