Sydran grinned as the smell of bacon and eggs wafted to his nose. He flipped the eggs perfectly onto a plate—sunny side up, just the way Jindi liked them. She was still sleeping, even though it was almost 9 am. That was another thing that they had adjusted to when they first married and moved in together after the wedding—he was an early riser, even though some cases kept him up late. His morning routine, after all, was to wake up and go running with the sunrise. Lately, though, he hadn’t been able to—not wanting to risk running as a wolf and attracting the Town Council’s attention, especially for the sake of his pack and to keep them all safe.
Running as a human did well enough to fend off the anxiety of not transforming in so long.
Sydran snatched a piece of bacon and shoved the whole thing into his mouth. Immediately, the crisp flavor exploded and he fought to keep from groaning out loud. Perfectly done.
“Morning,” Jindi mumbled. She rubbed her eyes as she made her way into their open kitchen and plopped down on a barstool opposite the counter from him. The counter was directly across from the oven, stove, and refrigerator with barstools on the other side of it so they could see each other, even though Jindi sat on the living room side. Then, there were two exits to the kitchen—one on the left, that led into the dining room, and one on the right, that led into the living room.
Jindi rested her elbows on the counter top and laid her head in her hands with a deep sigh. She definitely wasn’t a morning person, and her exhaustion slammed into him, but it made him grin.
“Wake up. I’ve got a surprise for you.” Sydran placed the plate of eggs and bacon in front of her and snatched off a few slices of bacon for himself, since he didn’t care for eggs.
Jindi lifted her head and her eyes lit up at the sight. “You made breakfast for me?”
Sydran nodded and reached into the fridge to grab them both some orange juice. Along with it, he snatched his toast from the toaster and began to butter it. “I know you’ve been stressed lately, so I wanted to surprise you.”
“I appreciate it. Thanks, Sy.” Jindi hummed. “This is really good. I didn’t know you were such a good cook.”
Sydran tossed his toast onto his plate and sat on a barstool beside her with a shrug. “I am when I want to be.”
Jindi gazed down at her plate, gnawing on her lower lip. “Sy? I—uh, I think I’ll stay home today.”
Sydran’s gaze softened on her and his chest ached. Fear pulsed inside her and, thus, him as well. He wrapped his right arm over her shoulders in an attempt to comfort her. “Have you called your boss yet?”
Jindi shook her head and took another bite of her eggs. “Not yet. I will after we’re finished eating.”
Sydran removed his arm from her and sat the bacon in his left hand back onto his plate. “You know what? I’ll stay home with you today. We can make a date of it.”
Jindi shot him a narrowed look and smacked her fork against the plate. “Sy, you’re on a case! You can’t just take a break. The families need you.”
Sydran gritted his teeth and gazed out the window to the left—tucked into the corner beside the fridge. He knew that—and he wanted to help, to catch this rogue wolf and give the families closure, and keep future victims safe. But as he stared at Jindi and saw the longing in her eyes, as well as felt it pulsing inside her chest—the ache for him to stay with her—it was all too much. Every fiber of his being, especially his heart, wanted—no, needed—to stay with her and take care of her. His mate.
Sydran lost all composure and snatched her into his arms. The movement yanked them both off the barstools as he brushed his lips against hers. His fingers laced around her neck, gently so, and he led her to the couch in the living room. Her legs tripped over the arm of the couch, so she fell onto it and he fell on top of her, but propped up his arms to keep his weight off her. “I love you, Jinds. I love you so much.” Sydran sighed and breathed in the scent of her—the sweet smell of lotion and laundry soap.
Jindi giggled and held her hands over his chest. “And I love you, Sy. So very much.” She ran her fingers through the stubble on his jaw. It tickled, so he shivered in response.
Sydran flipped over off her and smoothly landed on his backside on the floor. He grasped her hands in his where he sat to the side of the couch.
Jindi flipped over onto her side to face him, interlacing their hands. “Why do I feel this pull toward you, like—like I can’t get close enough? Is this the mate bond? Or what all couples feel?”
Sydran shook his head. He didn’t know. He’d never known love before her. It was powerful—the most powerful thing he’d ever felt—to wrap her in his arms and protect her, to keep her safe and care for her, to give her anything she wanted, if he could. Slowly, carefully, Sydran leaned down and planted a single sweet kiss on her temple. It was a sign of his affection, a kiss to show her everything he felt in his heart and couldn’t say with words. That kiss said: I love you, I’m here for you, I’ll take care of you.
Jindi’s eyes met his—those blue eyes looked at him, as deep and vast as the ocean itself and he lost himself in her loving gaze. So open and kind and trusting of him, despite that he was a werewolf and she a human. That love inside her eyes told him everything, spoke louder than anything she could have said to him: I love you too and I will always be here for you.
Though he loved the wolf pack here and this place was his home, he’d been dropped off by his parents as a young kid. His whole life, he’d always wondered why? Why hadn’t he been good enough for them, why had they left him? Not once had he ever had answers—they’d disappeared and he accepted his new life here with his new pack, his real family.
As if she could feel what he felt—which, she very well could have, if she concentrated hard enough through the mate bond—Jindi reached her hand up and caressed his cheek. Her fingers played with the stubble on his jaw, but it was her gaze that held him close. “I want you, Sydran. You’re good enough for me.”
It was more than just physical—it reached deeper than that, into the bones and blood of his body, into the fabric of his soul, and into the depths of his very existence. She loved him and she loved him and wanted him, when no one else in his life ever had. That resonated with him through the bond, drumming inside his veins in time with his fluttering heartbeat.
Sydran kissed her with everything he had, with all the love and loneliness and fear that they both felt. In that single, beautiful moment, Sydran felt like he finally belonged, like he was one half of a whole, as if he wasn’t just an outcast who had been dropped off, or a lone detective living his life to help others. No, he mattered to her as she did to him and, together, they lived and loved…
And were one—one life, one heart, one soul.