Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.

A Perfect Pairing

Something soft brushed against my cheek in a gentle and rhythmic pattern, and a sigh of relaxation slipped past me. Quince... I knew he wouldn't be able to stay away for long, but it was impressive that he was able to get his pack here so fast! My hand fluttered out and caught his hand as a smile slipped onto my face.

"Quince," I muttered sleepily, allowing my eyes to refocus on his gentle face.

Only this face was not the gentle visage I expected!

A scream tore past my lips, and I jerked away from the stranger sitting in my bed. I screamed for Arianna, for my mother, for Quince. I screamed for someone to get this man away from me!

"Stop screaming, Elaine!" the man, with a voice low and fluid like molasses, demanded, his silver eyes narrowed in obvious annoyance before he threw his hand over my mouth. "People will think I'm murdering you!"

I nodded slowly, and he was a bit hesitant in removing his hand.

"Who... Who the hell are you?" I spat, clutching my blanket tighter to me to act as a shield.

This man... He had the platinum hair, spiked up—like how my Quince wore his hair. And his face harbored sharp features and a strong jawline. Again, like my mate. His build was tall and lean, but he had broad shoulders. If it had not been for his obviously White lion characteristics, a fleeting glance would have led me to believe that Quince had come for me. I guess this was the closest that my father would get to accepting Quince as my mate—I mean, he had picked out a male who looked like Quince, only White-ified.

Once I looked closer at him, however, I knew it was not my mate. Quince's eyes were always sparkling and swirling with emotion, but this man had orbs of hardness and emptiness—shallow pits. I could never love a man who had such vacuous eyes, no matter if he was beautiful like my mate. His soul just didn't match.

"This hatred is unfounded," he drawled, staring at me through those hard eyes that made me cringe farther away from him. "Elaine, I'm your mate—Tiberius."

I shook my head. "Okay, you're Tiberius. But you're not my mate."

"He told me you were brainwashed by the Transvaals of the Central Sector," Tiberius muttered. "He's not your mate, he's just another male."

I grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled it aside. "He's my mate, Tiberius! He's not just some male looking for a female either—he's the damn lead male!"

" quite the eyesore."

I growled at him when he took my hand and removed it from my shirt. His skin... It was just like when Camden had touched me—it didn't feel right! I felt disgusting!

"Don't touch me!" I snapped, shirking away. "Just don't touch me!"

"Ah, the lovebirds! Tiberius, I see you've met my little runaway."

I cut my glower to my father who was standing in the doorway with his arms crossed over his shoulder. My mother was hanging onto him like an alcoholic to a bottle of gin, but her tortured eyes were on me. Fate had given her a horrible, disgusting creature for a mate; I could not condemn her for this failure.

Gerald, however, was a completely different story.

"What do you want?" I spat, allowing the snarl to slip onto my tongue.

"I'm just here to see my daughter with her mate. It is a perfect pairing, don't you think, Christine?"

My mother stared mutely at her feet, nodding absently. He sneered at her, but his good mood didn't seem permanently dampened.

"Oh, Quince came back? I didn't see him."

"You are such a rotten bitch!" he snapped, proving that I had been wrong about his mood. "Tiberius, that White lion beside you, is going to be your mate, Elaine. Elaine..." He scoffed. "Get used to it."

"Like hell I will."

My father just smiled. "Tiberius will have a lot of fun with you, won't you, son?"

Tiberius glanced to me, but I quickly looked away and redirected my gaze. Yes, this wall was very interesting; I could stare at it forever.

"Yes, sir," he muttered almost unperceivably.

"Christine, let's leave them to discuss the next few days, shall we?"

"But Gerald—"


My eyes darted back to them, and my mother was giving me the saddest look: the look of a mother who had failed her daughter. But then her head hung, nodding mutely. And they were gone.

I wanted Tiberius to leave to, but—

"Look, Elaine," the lecher groaned, sitting carefully beside me—so close that we almost touched yet far away enough that we didn't. "I didn't ask for this, just so you know. We just need to have one cub, as I see it. Then he'll get off our backs. I hope we can at least be companions in this, but I know love is nearly impossible. At least give it a shot—for our child."

Bile rose in my throat. One cub was one too many!

"No," I whimpered, backing away from him. "No! You're not my mate! You're not Quince!"

"I'm perfectly desirable, Elaine," he muttered, cutting me a cross look. "I'm not saying we have to mate right away. Your father said he wants me to ease you into the idea."

"That doesn't sound like him."

He nodded, smiling tentatively. But he just didn't look sincere. Or happy. "He doesn't want you to hate and neglect our cub. So he's giving us five days to bond first."

"That sounds more like him," I scoffed. "But it doesn't matter: I'm not mating with anyone but Quince."

"It's not an option."

I glared at him.

"None of that is ever going to happen!"

"You don't seem to understand this... If a lion around here refuses to obey the lead male's orders, it's punishable by death. You might not care about living without your little mutt—but I do. After day four, I'm going to stop caring about winning you over, Elaine. I'd suggest you get it over with while I still care about making our union remotely pleasant for you."

He pressed a disgusting, sloppy kiss to my cheek before pushing himself from the bed, leaving me to sit in the agony of his revolting phantom touches.

My hands fluttered to my stomach. Quince's cubs were supposed to grow here, not Tiberius's spawns! I blinked fervently before tears could fall: I had to be strong, for my mate's sake. This would ruin both of our lives. I could only imagine how hurt he would be if he had to rescue me and a cub that was not his. Obviously waiting around for the cavalry was just not an option.

But how on earth could I make a hasty escape with a cub in both arms!
♠ ♠ ♠
Since I clearly can't hack these out after work, I decided to use my last ten minutes as a free woman to upload another chapter. This will hopefully make up for the lack of updates lately!

Well, as always, thanks for reading :)