Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.


Quince was seemingly oblivious to the tension in the air as he wandered about the small den of the cozy house in which I had spent the majority of my life. He examined the china plates hanging from the wall; he tapped the cute bobble-head cats on the shelves and grinned as they nodded back at him; Quince even gazed at the pictures that adorned the walls, such a soft-spoken, thoughtful look about him. I found myself staring at one photo in particular.

It was the only picture I had with my mother, when I was just a baby. The photograph still mesmerized me, so I could not condemn Quince as he stepped closer and brushed his fingers over the glass. My heart suddenly became very heavy in my chest.

“I’m sorry, Elaine,” Quince murmured, dropping onto the third and final couch cushion. I did not even fight him when he pulled me into his chest, but his words were wasted on such deaf ears.

My mother was a beautiful woman: her hair was the same platinum color as mine, and we shared the same eyes, surely. She had a very slim, oval face, and all of her features were soft and small. Even her skin seemed to glow.

Everything about her screamed both warmth and elegance, from her genuine smile to the way she cradled me as gently as was humanly possible. I did not understand how a man could condemn someone so perfect and pure.

“I did not mean to stare.” I returned to the world to find Quince smiling down at me. “But she’s just so very beautiful… She looks exactly like you, Elaine.” I stared at him, dazed by the gentle and adoring look in his eyes as he caught my hand and placed a gentle kiss in my palm before closing my fist around the gesture.

“So you still mean to tell me that he’s your ‘friend,’ Elaine?”

My face burned bright red, and I jerked from Quince immediately at the sound of Lucille’s voice. But his pesky arm refused to let me go, wrapping itself around my shoulders and keeping me too close.

“Lucille, I—”

“No, I knew you’d get dragged down by some man someday. But I didn’t expect…” She smiled sadly. “I had hoped you would find someone else, not like your father.”

Quince tensed, and I did the same.

“How can you possibly…?” I shook my head fervently. “He may not be perfect, but I don’t fear him! He has never laid his hands on me, Lucille. You just got the wrong impression.”

“All I needed to see was his eyes,” she whispered, staring past me and at Quince. “You are not what I wanted for her.”

“What did you want then? Some simple farmer from a remote state? My eyes… I may not have silver eyes, but she is the only one—”

“Do not dare speak of that!” she hissed, suddenly on her feet. “You will not say such a thing!”

Lucille… She knew about what people in Home called ‘mates’? But how?

“You may not want to hear it, but I know it. Everyone in Home knows it; everyone in every sector knows it!”

“Goodnight, Elaine,” Lucille muttered, not once looking at me.

I stumbled for words, but soon she had shuffled out of the room. My head immediately snapped toward Quince, and his eyes were slammed shut as he surely waited for his punishment.

‘“You said you wouldn’t! You said you wouldn’t bring up this whole ‘mates’ thing!”

“She is trying to keep you from me!” he begged, gripping my forearms.

“I’m the only one who can keep me from you! You would be wise to remember that, Quince,” I growled, ignoring the way my chest rumbled in protest. “Behave!”

He nodded fervently. “I’m sorry, Elaine… But she hates me! I don’t even know why! I wanted to win her over, so you wouldn’t look at me like you are now… I’m sorry.”

“She has to know something is up,” I whispered. She knew I was trying to leave. “Quince, I can’t just up and leave her!”

His face blanched. “You… You want to stay here? Forever?”

“Oh, stop…” His face was so sunken, so sad. I shook my head, forcing a smile as my fingers brushed against his cheek. Quince leaned toward my hand, his eyes half-lidded.

“Elaine, be careful,” he breathed in such a seductive voice that my heart jolted in my chest and my face instantly went hot. Then he groaned, shifting to get closer to me as his arms wrapped around me. “Do you know what you do to me? How impossible you make it to behave?”

“Stop talking,” I sputtered, grabbing his face with firm hands and dragging him closer. A sly smirk split his lips as I pulled him over me, and a groan slipped past my lips as his skin sent electricity pulsing into my veins.

“Elaine,” he growled, his eyes now completely hazy—a look that mirrored my own, “I want to make love to you.”

“Then do it.”

He looked away, obvious torture on his face. “But I can’t.”

I whimpered loudly as he retreated, but not even grabbing his arms stopped him; rather, he just pulled me onto his lap and held me tightly.

“Lucille already hates me without a reason; deflowering her godchild on her couch is quite a valid reason, on the other hand.”

“Then you’re not allowed to touch me,” I muttered, nestling into his chest regardless. Damn it, I couldn’t stay mad at him when his hands were all I needed to survive!

“Me?” he choked, glowering down at me. “You started this with all of your hormones slapping me in the face!”

“They didn’t slap you! You act like you can smell this lust you cause!”

He smiled. “Babe, you can smell mine, too.”

I wrinkled my nose. “I can not, that’s weird!”

He rolled his eyes at me like this was a joke that I was playing on him. “Elaine, this jet lag is getting to me. Where is your bedroom?”

“You think I’d let you in my bed after tormenting me like this?”

He had the best puppy eyes I had ever seen!

“Elaine, please? I can’t sleep unless I can tell you’re safe; and I don’t know you’re safe unless I can reassure myself by just tightening my arms around you. Please?”

I growled under my breath. “You suck.”

He brushed his lips lightly across mine before removing me from his lap; of course, he did stop and hold out a hand to help me up—chivalry and all that.

“I’ll accept that. Now, follow me like a good little mate,” he teased, tapping my nose with his finger.

I, naturally, stuck my tongue out at him before allowing him to all but drag me up the stairs.

But, God help me, why did the word ‘mate’ suddenly make me want to pull him closer instead of run far, far away?