“Here you go,” Kieran said, showing me to a door. ” You’ll be staying in here. All your luggage should be inside already.”
I snapped myself out of my thoughts to give a smile. ” Thank you. I really do appreciate it.”
“And if you need anything, I’m just across the hall in the room over there.”
There was a door where he pointed, and I promptly nodded.
…And then… silence. Not quite awkward but not entirely natural either, but it spread between us nevertheless.
“Um… well, I guess I’ll get some rest—.”
“I’m really sorry,” he said quickly. Almost as though he’d been holding onto it.
“Today could have gone a lot smoother and I think I may have overwhelmed you a little.”
I stared at him, a little shocked that he was the one apologizing to me rather than the reverse.
“What? No, no, I’m fine,” I said. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I honestly am thankful just to be here.”
“Well, just with the whole thing with Daniel being a bit aggressive… and then Allison may be coming off a little strong. I wish that you’d had a better start here.”
“Oh… no, they’re fine. Really, it’s my fault for showing up last minute.”
I was trying to brush off the topic, but the Allison situation was apparently bothering him. A crease formed between his brows as he seemed almost conflicted.
When he did finally start to speak again, his tone was far more serious.
“I could tell that she made you uncomfortable, but I hope that you’ll give her a chance. She is a really nice girl when you get to know her. I’m not sure if you noticed but there aren’t many other girls around here. I think she just got a little excited and forgot about personal space.”
I was starting to feel even worse about my reaction to her, a pang of guilt slowly chewing me up inside.
“Of course,” I said. “She was lovely. I’m looking forward to spending time with her.”
But then he searched my face and my heart quickly sank, knowing that he was probably able to read me. Just like he always could. I’d never hated that ability of his more than I did right then. And the worst part was that I didn’t even know why I felt that way about her. There shouldn’t even be a need to have this conversation right now.
“…She means a lot to me,” he finally said quietly.
“After my mother died, she took it the worst of all of us. Wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep… just a little kid, walking around everywhere in a daze. For a while, we were worried we’d lose her as well.” He paused for a moment before taking a deep breath, looking away.
“It was years before she finally came back and it wasn’t without a lot of work. She found solace by connecting with her faith, which I was happy about, but she still relies on me heavily.”
I felt so guilty that I could have thrown up. Hearing all of this was so incredibly heartbreaking.
But the way he was venting… I could tell this was something that had been weighing on him for a while. I wasn’t entirely sure if he was telling me about her for my sake, or if he just felt the need to finally talk to someone about it.
Perhaps I was the first person he felt could truly understand, given my personal history with grief.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is… I hope that you’ll warm up to her,” he said.
“Which is probably not my place to ask, especially considering everything you’re probably going through right now. Hell, it’s actually pretty selfish—.”
“Hey,” I said, grabbing his head gently in my hands. it was enough for him to stop and meet my eyes.
“You don’t have anything to worry about. Your sister was nothing but sweet. I’m just… tired from a long day.”
It was probably a once-off anyway. Just a bad reaction or flare from the drugs. The next time we met, I was sure things would be better.
…And if they weren’t, then I’d just make it work. Somehow. I was determined.
Kieran was giving me so much by allowing me to come here. To help me get better and learn more about myself. The least I could do was be nice to his sister. Not that this should have even been an issue. The girl hadn’t done anything wrong. She just… hugged me.
But it apparently meant a lot to Kieran hearing me say it. And, truthfully, that was all that mattered. He seemed to quickly relax under my touch and I took a second to study his features, momentarily absorbed by all the different emotions that always filled me when we made contact.
He wasn’t like anyone I’d ever met before. He was caring, understanding… gentle. He was everything that I felt I wasn’t… and it made me gravitate to him like a moth to a flame.
I felt myself then slowly lean in closer, arcing upwards as my body moved on its own. My craving for him now turned into a hunger, needing his warmth around me.
His face was still within my grasp but I found that I didn’t need to coerce him. Already, his gaze was changing focus, flickering up and down between my eyes and mouth. Inching ever closer as his hand then found my waist, pulling me towards him.
…And then, finally… his lips met mine.
Turning those sparks into flames, a sensation I’d found myself withdrawing from the last few days, missing it after experiencing it just once. His touch, his taste… it was an addiction.
I deepened the kiss, my mouth starting to move against his hungrily. Needing more… Needing to feel everything…
And as I trailed a hand down his chest, feeling every muscle hidden behind his shirt, I wanted nothing more than to find the hem and trace a hand back up under it.
But he moved before I could.
With a small push, I felt my back and then found the door behind me, his grip on my body tightening… his fingers pressing into my skin. As every second ticked by, I found that I was losing myself a little bit more.
“Kieran,” I sighed as his mouth moved to my neck.
His hand then moved down my waist, wandering lower until he held a firm grasp of my leg from behind my thigh. Squeezing it once before lifting it up against him.
But I needed to be higher than this to wrap myself around him properly, something that we both must have realized. Only, as he went to lift me, it was then that we heard it.
And we instantly broke apart.
Simultaneously, we both looked down the hallway and caught the startled eyes of an embarrassed-looking girl. The one I recognized as the maid from earlier today.
“Alpha heir,” she fumbled out, quickly averting her gaze. “Apologies.”
And Kieran immediately let me go, taking a step back.
She definitely wasn’t the only one embarrassed though. Whatever she was feeling, I was probably ten times more mortified. This wasn’t exactly the kind of impression I wanted people to gossip about after one day.
“What is it?” he asked her.
If he was annoyed or upset in any way, it wasn’t noticeable. He somehow sounded completely neutral as he spoke to her.
However, unlike Kieran’s demeanor, she shuffled uncomfortably where she stood.
“I um… I came to ask if you or Miss Reid required any food brought to your rooms.”
Kieran looked at me and raised a brow, silently asking me the question, but I quickly shook my head. Up until a minute ago, I’d only been hungry for one thing… and it wasn’t food.
“We’re fine,” he called back. “Thank you.”
The girl quickly gave a bow and left without another word. Truthfully, I don’t think I’d ever seen someone so eager to leave before.
But with it now just the two of us again, Kieran looked back over to me and silence fell once more.
Though I was still a little embarrassed over being caught, a part of me still wanted to continue from where we’d left off. To invite him into the room with me and ask to spend the night together. I had the feeling that, whatever this thing between us was, I’d only just scratched the surface of how good it could really be.
But as he inhaled deeply with a sense of finality, I realized he wasn’t of the same mind.
“You said that you were tired… I should really let you get some rest.”
…But I wasn’t so tired anymore.
“Right,” I agreed, contradicting my thoughts. “…I did say that.”
“And you’ll probably have another long day tomorrow too.”
…Only, I was still eager for today not to end yet.
I stared into his eyes and proceeded to silently plead for him to lean back over and resume our moment… but I wasn’t so lucky.
“Goodnight, Raven,” he said.
…And, with that, my first day at the Ashwood ‘pack’ came to an end.
The next morning, I awoke to a light knock on the door, finding a lady there to ‘assist with getting ready.
Though confused, I allowed her into the room; a space larger and grander than any guest residing I’d ever seen. But it was through her that I was able to learn a little bit more, like how her job was referred to as a personal ‘attendant’.
Something that apparently was a bit different from a normal maid.
I declined the offer of letting her help me get changed, finding that a little too weird, but was grateful for her showing me to the dining area afterward. This was the place where I was to meet. Kieran for breakfast.
Kieran and I made small talk as we ate but didn’t mention the night before at all. Though I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. A part of me was wondering if he’d treat me differently today; greet me with a kiss or touch my hand as we spoke. But he seemed to act normally.
To be fair, I still wasn’t entirely sure what we were. For all I knew, public displays of affection were off limits or frowned upon here. Or maybe he just didn’t think we were serious enough to announce it to anyone. All of which I could totally understand and respect.
For now, I would just follow his lead.
“Time to go,” Kieran then said, looking down at his watch. “I said we’d be there by ten.”
I drank the last sip of my coffee and placed the mug down.
“Where are we going?” I asked, having not heard about any plans yet.
Kieran scanned the area, looking at the people in the dining room with us. There were a few scattered around, either eating breakfast or working, but none of whom looked to be paying us any mind. Or, at least, there were none who looked like they were actively listening in. Though 1 knew all too well how looks could be deceiving.
“Come on,” was all he said, avoiding the question… and I followed behind him.
It wasn’t until we were back in his car that he finally gave me the answer I was looking for.
…And it was one I was both grateful for yet nervous about.
“Kieran… where are we going?” I repeated, getting a little worried by his aversion.
“Sorry…,” he said, turning the car on. “I just wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to make it public knowledge. I’ve set the appointment up to protect your privacy as much as possible.”
And though I had an inkling of where we were going based on just that response, he very quickly confirmed it before I could ask.
“We’re going to the hospital,” he said. “They’re going to do a full evaluation of your condition.” And off we went.