Aeron first saw his mate on the battlefield. Jericho is a hunter, and after he was wounded, Dominic decided to keep him close inside the mansion’s infirmary. Aeron has been visiting him during the night because he’s not ready to talk to him just yet, but he knows things need to change, and fast.
Jericho thought he was going to be tortured and killed when he woke up in the shifters’ infirmary, but instead, they healed him and talked to him as if he hadn’t tried to kill them. Dominic Nash wants answers, and Jericho knows he can’t keep quiet forever, especially after finding out he’s the mate of one of the mansion’s inhabitants.
Most pride members don’t trust Jericho. He understands it, but he still wants to help since they were able to change his mind about shifters. He knows going back to Brad and the hunters might get him killed, but he needs to do it, both for Brad and for Aeron. Will he be able to stop Brad from attacking the pride again? And if he doesn’t, what will happen to the pride, and to him and Aeron as a couple?
Aeron hovered by the door, his focus on the man in the hospital bed. He couldn’t believe he’d found his mate. He’d thought it would take him much longer—years, maybe decades. He was only twenty-five after all, and his life hadn’t been easy until now. He’d thought meeting his mate would make everything better, but the man was a hunter.
Aeron chuckled darkly and shook his head. Of course his mate was a hunter. When had Aeron’s life been easy?
“What are you doing here?” Jared asked from behind Aeron.
Aeron softly swore. He’d hoped to be able to leave the infirmary without meeting anyone. He knew people would have questions, or would pity him, and he didn’t want that.
He slowly turned to Jared. “Visiting.”
Jared smiled and nodded. “I see. You can go in the room, you know.”
“I don’t want to wake him.”
Jared’s smile dimmed. “You still haven’t talked to him.”
It wasn’t a question, so Aeron didn’t answer. They both knew he hadn’t. He looked at Jericho again, wondering what he’d say if his mate was awake. Hi, I’m Aeron, and I know you hate paranormal creatures, but we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives together, so if you could forget about that bit, it’d be great.
Aeron snorted and Jared arched a brow. Aeron shrugged. There was no way he was telling Jared what he’d been thinking about. “So how is he?” he asked instead. He wanted to know. He might not have talked to Jericho yet, but it didn’t mean he didn’t care.
“Why is he still in the infirmary then?”
“You know I shouldn’t give you that information.”
“I’m his mate.”
“But you haven’t even talked to him yet.”
Aeron sighed. “Has he told you to keep me in the dark?”
“Are you going to?”
“No. I think you need to talk to him, though. Keeping your distance won’t help, not in the long run.”
Aeron shook his head. “I can’t, not yet.”
Jared pressed his lips together, but he didn’t insist. “He still has some headaches,” he said, looking at Jericho again. “He sleeps a lot. He won’t tell me about it, but I know he’s sometimes dizzy and confused. It’ll pass, though.”
“So he’s still here because he’s not well enough to leave yet.”
“I wouldn’t say that. If he’d been any other pride member, I’d have sent him back to his room, but his situation is peculiar, to say the least.”
“Right. He’s a hunter. Who knows what he’d do if he were free to move around?”
Jared shook his head. “You know I’m not the one who makes these decisions. Dominic thinks it’s safer both for Jericho and everyone else to keep him here. I’m just obeying the orders I was given.”
“So you’re telling me you’d let him go if it were up to you?”
“I’d keep an eye on him, but yes. I’d let him go if the circumstances were different.”
Jericho groaned and tried to shift in his bed, but his wrists were still tied to the sides of the bed, so he couldn’t roll to his side, no matter how hard he tried. He was probably going to wake up any minute, and Aeron couldn’t be there when he did. He wasn’t ready yet.
“You’ll let me know if anything changes?” he asked Jared.
Jared’s eyes were soft when he answered. “Of course I will.”
Jared could make Aeron’s life a lot harder if he wanted to. He could forbid him to sneak into the infirmary to see Jericho or stop telling him what was happening. Aeron might find a way around it, of course, but he’d rather not. He wanted to keep Jared’s friendship, and he hated the idea of sneaking around, or rather, of sneaking around more than he’d been doing lately.
It wasn’t like he had a lot of friends apart from the other Nix. He’d fled the pride, wanting to see things, to do more with his life. He didn’t understand how Wyn and Cerris could be happy just taking care of the mansion’s gardens, but to each their own. He’d decided to finish his studies, studies he’d started hiding from his tribe. He was an architect now, and he lived in Chicago. Or rather, he had lived in Chicago.
He wasn’t sure what was going to happen now. He’d been spending a lot more time in Whitedell, obviously, but it couldn’t last forever. He knew he didn’t have to worry about money—Dominic would help him if he needed it, or Nysys, and Aeron had some money in his account. But Aeron didn’t want to lose his job. He’d taken some time off for family reasons, but it wouldn’t last forever. He’d have to choose, and he still didn’t know what he’d choose.
He tried to imagine living in Whitedell again as he looked at Jericho one last time before turning around and leaving the infirmary. He didn’t think living with the pride was something he could do, especially not with Jericho as his mate. No one knew about that yet, or at least no one who would give him problems for it.
Not that people would try to hurt him or Jericho if they knew. The pride was accepting, and no member would ever hurt another member, but they had their limits. Aeron was already part werewolf, and he knew some people were wary of him. Having a hunter for a mate would only make things harder. Maybe he could move to Whitedell, though. He could find a house in town and live there with Jericho.