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Cat Scratch Fever Page 6

by Sarah O'Rourke


  “Sugar…” Beau stalled hesitantly, reaching out to touch Alexa’s arm lightly.

  “Don’t play dumb now, Beau. Just answer the question. Have you fucked April?”

  Beau shifted uncomfortably as he shot a seething look of pure rage in the blonde’s direction. “I can’t believe she came here intent on making trouble. Don’t worry, chère. I’ll have a chat with her, and she won’t cause you any further distress.”

  “That’s not an answer, mate. Just tell me the truth,” Alexa demanded, growing impatient. Hell, they both knew the answer. The question was merely a formality.

  Frowning, Beau’s jaw clenched and his face reddened with shame. “Yes, chère. I’ve unfortunately shared her bed a few times in the past. We weren’t a thing though and we were never in a relationship.”

  Alexa snorted. “Does she realize that? It sure didn’t sound like she did when she spoke to me.”

  “Oh, I’ll be rectifying that shortly and reminding her of exactly where her place will be in the future. Which, for the record, will be nowhere near either of us.”

  “Sure,” Alexa responded tightly, wrapping her arms around herself as if she could shield herself from the unpleasantness that had marred what should have been a wonderful night.

  “It’s been over a year since I was with her like that, chère, and I promise you, it was long before I’d ever met you. I know this will make me sound like a world class asshole here, but she meant nothing to me. She was a body I used to find relief for a hard-on,” he explained quietly.

  “Uh huh,” Alexa murmured, squeezing her eyes shut. She really didn’t want to hear this, but she’d asked for the truth. She owed it to him to listen. No matter how much it made her want to vomit.

  “What you must understand, though, is while I may have shared my body with her, I never shared my heart. I’ve always saved that for my beloved mate. It belongs to you alone. My affair with April was brief and ill-advised. There is absolutely nothing between us now. I would never dishonor you in that way.”

  “I’m sorry, Beau. I hear you saying it happened before me and rationally, I have no legitimate reason to be angry with you, but I can’t stand her. In thirty seconds, that woman made me hate her. She’s such a… a bitch! I can’t stomach being near her,” she declared, sending April another hostile glare.

  “And I can’t bear that my foolish past dalliance with her is causing you pain. If I could go back in time and change things, I would. Just know that from the very moment I scented my mate on the sultry bayou breeze, I’ve been loyal only to you. It will only EVER be you, sweet Alexa, until the sun sets on my final day and I draw my last breath. That is my solemn vow to you. I swear it on the lives of my pack.”

  Alexa acknowledged him with a slow nod. “I hear you, and I believe you, Beaumont. I truly do. I guess I’ve just got to wrap my head around the fact that, unlike me, you’re not a virgin. Occasionally, I guess I’ll run into one of your conquests, huh?”

  “You make it sound like I’ve been some kind of Casanova, sugar. I can assure you the number you’re probably imagining and the actual number of females I’ve been with are radically different. I’m no virgin, that’s true. But I’ve never been a manwhore either. As for past conquests, I don’t have a clue if you’ll ever run across one again. What I do know is any you do encounter will have meant no more to me than April. That equates to nothing. Like I said, it makes me sound like a first-rate prick, but it is the truth. Plus, after the things I intend to say to April, word will very probably get around that I will not tolerated ANYONE fucking with my mate, physically, mentally or metaphorically.”

  Based on the look of barely banked fury she still saw reflected in Beau’s eyes, Alexa almost felt sorry for April. Almost. But not nearly enough to try and stop Beau from doing what he felt like he had to do. “Okay, Beau.”

  Bending his head to capture her lips in a tender, but meaningful kiss, Alexa wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Enjoying his mouth on hers for far longer than was socially acceptable, she finally convinced herself to pull herself away from him. “People are watching,” she chided against his parted lips.

  “Let them look,” Beau returned carelessly, nibbling at her lower lip. “Panthers are a tactile breed. They expect to see mates being openly affectionate. Besides, doesn’t the naughty minx inside you want to show April exactly who owns the alpha’s soul.”

  “Oh, it’s not your soul I want to hold. It’s your heart, Beau,” Alexa informed him tremulously.

  “Chère, you already own that. It belongs to you and you alone.”

  And staring into those pale yellow eyes of his, she began to believe that was true.

  Chapter Five

  Beau

  Watching as his mate giggled at something his brother whispered in her ear, Beau smiled. He was grateful that his sweet Lexie would be in safe hands for the next few unpleasant minutes. Lord knew that he didn’t want her exposed to any more of April’s venom. His gut burned like acid because Alexa had dealt with his ex-lover at all, and he wanted to strangle her for being stupid enough to think she’d be welcome in his home tonight or any other night. He’d made it clear to her months ago that whatever she thought they’d had together was OVER.

  Tonight, she’d come here hoping to regain the upper hand.

  Smiling grimly, Beau was happy to show her just how wrong she was. Meeting her eyes across the room, he jerked his head toward the door, indicating with his eyes that she should follow him. Her excited face told him that she also thought he wanted something more than a chat. He was going to relish informing her otherwise.

  Because no one fucked with his beautiful mate.

  Nobody.

  But especially not his ex-lover.

  Shortly, he’d have that situation rectified.

  Crossing the room to where his mate sat safely ensconced between his mother and his brother at his long dining room table, he settled his hands over her shoulders with obvious familiarity and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. “Sugar, I’m going to have that conversation we discussed earlier and then I want to show you around the property, yeah?”

  Tilting her head back, she smiled and nodded. His stomach sank at the expression on her face. Because while her lips turned up in a strained smile, her eyes no longer shined with the excitement they’d had when he’d pick her up at her place. Instead, she appeared weary and defeated, and this only made him itch to give April the harshest punishment he could imagine. Bending, he pressed his cheek to hers, whispering for her ears alone, “Rest easy for me, bébé. I’ll make sure that bitch knows that I am very much your shifter, and that it’ll be you takin’ my cock tonight and every night in the future.”

  Only when Alexa’s face flushed at his promise and a little of her light shined on him once more did he even marginally relax. “I will see you soon, sugar.” At her nod, he headed for the door, sliding out of his huge dining room and out the back door in the kitchen. A few footsteps later, he easily found April, Leaned against the railing in a darkened corner of the cabin, she waited for him. And if her coquettish pose hadn’t nauseated him, what she said surely would have done the job.

  “Hey, lover,” she purred throatily. “I knew that little human would never hold your interest long and you’d come back to me.”

  His jaw turned to granite at the insult she’d just thrown at his mate, and his hands clenched at his side so he didn’t give into the urge to go for her throat. Even his panther was enraged on Lexie’s behalf and it paced angrily inside him, waiting for the opportunity to attack. “You’ve assumed very wrong, April,” Beau informed the woman grimly.

  Blinking innocently, April straightened, probably because her own panther sensed imminent danger. “What?”

  “You come into my home and choose to disrespect my mate, filling her head with blatant lies and needless worry? I have to ask, how stupid are you?” he questioned coldly, his golden eyes swirling with blackened rage. “Your alpha just asked you a question!” He r
oared several seconds later when she still hadn’t responded.

  Dropping her head submissively, April’s face tightened. “She isn’t good enough for you, Beau. She’ll never be what you need,” she whispered.

  “And you assume you are what I need? Someone who could be so callous and cruel to a woman that’s done nothing wrong? Oh, believe me, April, you are far from what I need. And if I hadn’t known it before, I certainly do now! You are a spoiled little bitch and you disgust me. Knowing I’ve had my hands on you makes my skin crawl.”

  Jerking her head up at his insult, April’s eyes flashed. “You loved me once!”

  Beau laughed cruelly. “I fucked you, woman. I took what you offered. I used you. I never loved you! And before you seek to accuse me of misleading you, we both know that I never lied to you about what we were to each other. I was a convenient body for you , and you were the same for me. Nothing more. There was no deep emotion on my part, April, and if there was on your side of things, then that is on YOU!”

  “But…”

  “No!” he denied harshly, slicing a hand through the air violently. “You have said more than enough. You made a grievous error tonight in throwing our past dalliances in my mate’s face. You see, only recently have I learned what true happiness feels like and how fulfilling it is to have something real and honest with a woman. I know the peace that comes with finding true love. That is what I have with my mate. That is what she freely gives me. And you sought to destroy that for me tonight. And April, that is an intolerable offence that you’ve committed against your alpha. You know the laws of our people as well as I do. NO ONE – not human, nor breed – shall interfere between two bonded mates!”

  “She isn’t like us, though, now is she?” April reasoned desperately, reaching out toward Beau.

  Taking a step back before she could stain him with her filthy touch, he shook his head. “It does not matter. She is mine!” He thundered as April’s head dropped in submission again. “Mine to love. Mine to cherish. Mine to protect! And you attempted to sabotage the single most important relationship in my life and you must face the consequences of your actions.”

  Pressing her lips together, April kept her head down and nodded.

  “For your crime, I banish you from Cartersville, Louisiana. For five years, you must remain at least one hundred miles from this town. I suggest you use this time to seek your own mate, April. I assure you, once you find your other half, you will understand why I took such aggressive measures. You can thank my mate that I’m not banishing you permanently. It’s only because of her kind heart that I am not having you shunned from the pack completely. You have thirty days to vacate the area. Do you understand?”

  “Yes, my Alpha,” April whispered as tears rolled down her cheeks.

  “Then I suggest you get out of my sight before I change my mind and decide to go back to my original punishment,” he snarled, unmoved by her sobs.

  Watching as she ran past him and she disappeared into the darkness, Beau shook his head. April had been stupid for testing the strength of his mate bond, and he found it impossible to pity her. Not when she could have cost him everything. That had been a foolish play on her part.

  “Beau?” Lexie’s sweet voice called from behind him.

  Looking over his shoulder, he smiled at his woman, holding a hand out to her. “I’m here, sugar.”

  Rushing toward him, Lexie’s worried eyes found his in the shadowy darkness. “Are you okay? I heard you shouting?”

  Wrapping his arms around her as she reached him, Beau smiled down at her. “I’m perfect now. Got you back in my arms and I’ve noticed that people have been leaving,” he said with a nod toward his long driveway where several sets of headlights were inching up the gravel lane.

  Nodding against his chest, Lexie squeezed her arms around his waist. “Yep, I think Marc passed the word along the table that the Alpha wanted some private time with his new mate,” she shared with a genuine smile. “Then your momma started making noises about grandbabies and folks really started hitting the door,” she laughed.

  Beau’s arms tightened around Alexa as he rested his chin on the top of her head. “And have you finally decided that you are to be my mate, little one?”

  “Depends. Did you make it clear to the Bayou Bombshell that you’re a one woman kitty cat?” she questioned him a little uneasily, her small body growing stiff against his.

  “Sugar, she definitely knows that I’m only ever gonna purr for you,” he answered truthfully. “Besides, you won’t be seeing April again for at least the next five years.”

  “Beau! You promised you wouldn’t shun her,” Lexie cried unhappily. “I met her parents in there and they were nothing but nice to me. I don’t want them punished for her mistake,” she worried aloud.

  “She isn’t shunned, chère. She’s only been banished. If she chooses, at the end of five years, she may return to Cartersville. Hopefully she’ll use the time to find her own damned mate. Although, I think I feel sorry for that poor bastard,” he muttered under his breath.

  “She loved you, Beau,” Lexie murmured.

  “Bullshit. She doesn’t know what love really is. Not yet, anyway,” he returned firmly. “When she finds her own mate, then she’ll understand. She’ll also better understand why I took this action. At any rate, it’s done now. I want to spend the rest of the night chasing far more pleasurable pursuits.”

  “What kind of pursuits?” she asked playfully, biting lightly at his chest.

  “If I’m lucky, the kind that have my dick buried in that tight, wet pussy of yours,” he suggested huskily against her ear. “How do you feel about that, mate?”

  Lifting her head to meet his gaze with sparkling eyes, Lexie smiled beautifully, “I feel like we need to go say goodbye to your mother and brother so that we can make your wish into a reality.”

  “Chère, I’ve never been more convinced that you are exactly the mate for me,” Beau replied gratefully, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.

  Chapter Six

  Alexa

  An hour later, Alexa waved happily at Beau’s mother as Marc helped her into the passenger seat of his SUV. Leaning her head against Beau’s chest as they watched the last of the guests depart, she hummed happily, her entire body awash with excitement, the sensual promise in Beau’s earlier words still burning in her belly.

  “Well, as nice as the party was, I’m glad it’s back to just us,” Beau said as he closed the front door and guided her back into the living room. Pulling her into his lap as he sat on the huge buttery leather sofa that dominated one entire wall of the living room, his arms held her securely while his lips turned to hers, taking them in a gentle kiss. “Besides the obvious exception to the evening, did you enjoy yourself, Lexie?”

  “I did. Your pack really loves you, Beau. Everyone couldn’t wait to tell me stories of what a strong leader their Alpha was. Did you pay those people to sell you to me?” she teased, kicking off her heels before pulling her feet up to the couch.

  “No, but I would have if I’d thought it would help,” he answered truthfully. “I’d do whatever it took to make my mate feel happy among us. I want a lifetime with you, sugar. I’ll do whatever helps me achieve that goal the fastest.”

  Running her hand down his hard jaw, Lexie exhaled a long breath. “I don’t think all that effort will be necessary, Alpha LaForte. I’m thinkin’ that my new mate is pretty awesome.”

  “Your new mate, huh?” he echoed, as he lifted a hand to settle against the curve of her neck. “Does that mean that you’ve officially decided that you belong to me?”

  “I’ve decided that it’s very possible that I belong with you,” she clarified, pinching his arm for emphasis.

  “I’ll take you any way I can have you, chère. I’ll never betray the faith you’re placin’ in me. I can’t guarantee that things will always be easy for us, but I swear that I’ll always honor our mate bond first and always,” he reassured her as he pulled her closer, hugging
her to him.

  “Beau? She questioned, her voice nervous and a tad uncertain as her vulnerable eyes met his. “What you said earlier…about being in love with me… did you mean it?”

  “Of course I meant it, Lexie. You’re it for me. My own compact, curvy happy ending,” he shared with a proud smile. “Is it really so difficult to believe that I’ve given my heart to you.”

  Lexie shrugged. “A little,” she admitted. “Nobody ever has before now. I don’t think my own parent’s loved me. I was a nuisance they didn’t want unless it was to claim me as a tax deduction. You know how my past relationships have turned out. I’ve never really known what being loved was like.”

  “You’re gonna learn, chère. I’m gonna shower you with so much love that soon you’ll be able to forget all those shitty memories. They’re in the past. I can’t promise you that we won’t have moments of trouble, but I can swear that even during our trials, you’ll always feel my love and the love of my family. Couldn’t you tell, sweetness? You’ve got Momma and Marc wrapped around your little finger. There was even a moment there where I thought I’d have to fight my own brother for you. That poor bastard was so jealous the fucker was turnin’ pea green.”

  “That’s not nice, Beau,” Lexie chastised him lightly, shaking her head at his antics.

  “Might not be kind, but it’s true. You’re wanted, sugar. By me. By my family. By my pack. Because you make me a better man, a better panther, and a better alpha.”

  Lexie’s eyes filled with tears. “How’d I get so lucky?” she whispered, rubbing a hand against his solid chest.

  “Remember you said that when you’re sitting beside me at the first pack meeting. Those assemblies are a headache and a half,” he grumbled.

 

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