Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.

The Inevitable Retreat

"Quince," I whimpered, unable to remove my eyes from the image before me. I could only see the back of his head, but the strawberry hair was something I'd longed to see for far too long. The man's back tensed, and every muscle seized in that instant.

He dropped my father like a sack of dirt before slowly turning toward me.

His olive eyes sought me just as hungrily as my own gaze devoured him, and his bare chest heaved with laboured yet controlled breaths. My mate's gaze trailed over every inch of me spastically before settling on my neck, on the spot that bore the mark of his impressive jaw.

"Quince," I whispered again, reaching out with shaking arms and begging him to come back to me. I would crawl on my knees if he would only be mine again. Forget my status, this man was my all.

"Elaine," he growled, his lip curling back as his eyes formed into mere feline slits. The action revealed the elongated canines that had overpowered his human features.

I cried out in complete disorientation, blinded by the speed that allowed him to have engulfed me in his arms by the time I had blinked. He had somehow dragged me from the bed and off of the floor entirely, and he cradled me protectively to his chest as his nose brushed against the mark on my neck. My fingers greedily clawed and tugged at his hair to try and pull him closer.

"You're mine," he snarled, suddenly snapping away from the mark and latching his lips onto my jaw. His chest rumbled as he pressed rough and panicked kisses along my face, and his hands fumbled as he grabbed at my face and dragged my lips to his own.

Any pain I had ever felt, any dejection that had ever filled any part of me... It was gone now, as his lips moved hurriedly across mine and dragged me into a dance that only he could make me reciprocate.

"No... Please don’t cry."

He suddenly pulled back, his thumb brushing a stray tear from my cheek.

"I'm sorry," I whimpered, clutching at his shirt. "I'm so, so sorry."

"You’ve nothing to apologise for," he insisted, brushing his calloused hands over my face. "Nothing."

My gaze drifted back to the other side of the room where Tiberius stood with the child. He met my gaze with a blank stare, the perfect poker face, as he held the child securely in his arms.

"We both know that's a lie," I told him shakily, brushing my fingertips over his jawline.

"He..." It was easy to tell when the red anger washed over him. "That's the bastard that raped you! You sick asshole!"

I tried to correct him, but he had already leaped from me and veered right for the victim in the corner. Thankfully, Leonard moved as a blur and slammed Quince into the wall. Arianna cringed away, surely not able to stomach the thought of her mate being harmed—by her own brother-in-law, nonetheless.

"Think clearly, Quince," Leonard told him calmly, not at all acknowledging all of the struggling on my mate's part. I guess this was the White Lion superiority. Leonard was certainly the epitome of strength. "That man who is lying over there on the floor, the one you just beat into unconsciousness... He has a hell of a lot more to do with that cub than Tiberius does."

"Like fucking hell he does!"

"You're a stubborn fool," Leonard muttered before glancing back toward me almost lazily. "Elaine, tell this oaf."

"It's not Tiberius' fault, Quince. It's my father's. Please don't hurt him; he's taken good care of me these past few months." I smiled to Tiberius with all of the strength that I could muster. "Don't hurt Tiberius."

"But he raped you, Elaine. I felt it..." Quince suddenly stopped resisting, and his face twisted up in pain. "I felt it!"

I glanced back to the man on the floor, and I found that my mother was already dragging him out of the room. To be tied to such a burden... I saw the tears in her eyes, but I had to push it aside as I stepped up to Leonard and Quince. Unfortunately, Tiberius chose to step toward the two as well, and Quince's eyes zoned in on the person he deemed to be a threat.

"That's this bastard's cub, isn't it!" he snapped, clawing and trying to break past Leonard. "It is! Damn it, it is! What gives you the right to steal my mate from me, to steal my cubs! Leonard! Let me go! Damn it, just let me fucking go, you bastard!"

Tiberius glanced lazily to him before he stepped up to me.


"I said that I know that there is nothing stronger than the mate bond," he admitted with such a sad smile. "Not even the bond of a child compares to it." He reached out and placed the crying boy in my arms, securing the bundle before stepping back. "I don’t expect you to ignore that. It's not my cub anyway, not really. It could never be, no matter how much I wished to have it be so.

"You'll want to get going. I'm sure Quince's lions are fighting valiantly, but you won't want to be here when Gerald wakes up. You no longer have the surprise element."

Quince stopped stirring, and his eyes planted firmly on the cub. There was a hint of regret, but mostly I saw longing. He wished the cub was his—just as badly as I wanted it to be.

"Leonard, let me go," he whispered, and Leonard stepped back. "Elaine... We need to go. We'll come back with more allies later, but this was just a rescue mission. I have to call a retreat."

I glanced back to Arianna.

"Come with us," I begged, grabbing her hand.

"No. Take my sons. If we don't stay, you won't have eyes on the inside. We'll get out later." She smiled to Leonard. "Won't we?"

"Of course we will." Then Leonard looked to me. "They're in Arianna's room, just down the hall."

I looked to Tiberius.

"When you're free of him, you're going to find someone—"

"There's no time for that, just go, Elaine," he sighed, shaking his head. "Don't think about me."

"But I have to believe that—"

"Not everyone gets the happy ending. Now go."

I simply couldn't believe that for even a second, but Quince suddenly tugged on my hand.

"We have to go," he whispered apologetically. He took the cub from me, and I gathered my nephews in my arms. "They just have to hold on until we get reinforcements. Gerald is going to rot in the ground for what he's done."

I couldn't help but notice how Quince just kept his eyes on the cub before his gaze would periodically flicker to me.

What did he see? That soulless silver stare?

"I love you," I mumbled as the lions of his pack suddenly submerged us in a sea of beasts that flowed toward the forest border.

He smiled sadly. "This should have happened sooner, Elaine. Then this wouldn't have even happened... But I'll love him. And for all I care, he's my cub, not that White's. He's my son, Elaine. And I love him." He stared at the cub for a moment longer before his eyes drifted to me. "I love you."

"I kept hoping he would have olive eyes."

Quince shook his head. "We'll be home in a few hours. Just focus on running."

My gaze was trained on the two crying babes in my arms.

How could I focus on running when so much was being left behind?
♠ ♠ ♠
This took a while to get out...given the fact that I was without internet ever since moving into my new apartment! And so begins another school year. But I'll try to stay on top of my stories, too, so thanks for reading! :)