Accepting Submission

Chapter 25 No.25



“He’s still there, Trey. I’m still me.”

Trey cupped my face and tilted my head so we could lock gazes. His smile was broad and joyful. “Even more yourself, I’d say.”

“What?” I crinkled my brow in confusion, but then a wave of cold hit me and I shivered.

Trey pulled back with a laugh. “Get dressed. There’s some sweats here that should fit.” He pulled out one of the wicker baskets. “Then come in the kitchen. I’ll make us some food while we talk.”

By the time I made it down the hall and into the kitchen, Trey had two huge burgers sizzling in a pan on the stove. A tall glass of orange juice sat on the island, and he gestured to it. My heart melted, knowing he was doing everything he could to help me post-shift. The juice would raise my blood sugar, and the protein would give me strength. I already knew he was big on aftercare, so it shouldn’t surprise me that extended to post-shift care.

I downed half the glass before I asked, “What did you mean, Trey?”

He flipped the burgers before he answered. “I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I believe I am. But I have this theory that you had been denying yourself for so long, your needs and wants, that it weakened your connection with your bear. You weren’t being true to yourself, and he sensed that. But since you came here, you’ve been making huge strides to being yourself. Accepting who you are on the inside.” He set down his spatula and crossed the room to stand in front of me. He held out his hands, and I was quick to give him mine. “And who you are, Asher Grant, is an alpha anda submissive. Acknowledging and feeding both sides has made you even stronger than you ever were.”

“Huh.”

Trey chuckled, lifted my hands to kiss my knuckles, then let me go to check on the burgers. “That’s all you have to say?” But his teasing tone let me know he was amused and not angry.

“I mean, I guess it makes sense.” I tried to wrap my head around it. The more I thought about it, the more it didmake sense. Shifters were a dichotomy by our very nature, two halves of a whole. Logic only followed that some of us, if not all, had dual natures in our human sides, too. Complex beings tended to have that. “Well, then. It only follows that I should keep being me in all the ways I know how, yeah?”

I expected Trey to laugh because I’d tried to be funny. But he spun around and his gaze was intense as he stared at me. It was all I could do not to take a step back. Only knowing that he would never hurt me, at least not more than I needed, kept me still.

“I’m glad to hear you say that. Because I want you to stay here. Permanently.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Be my mate.” 9

“No.”

It was Trey’s turn to freeze, and expression went completely neutral in an instant. He didn’t say anything, just turned back to the stove and took the burgers off the heat. He remained silent as he plated them, pulled the buns from the cupboard, and added one to each plate. Didn’t even look at me as he gathered condiments from the fridge and took two trips to bring everything to the table. Then he sat, still with that oppressive silence filling the room.

My heart was breaking, but I knew I’d given the right answer. I couldn’t be his mate. There were too many things against us. If he wasn’t the alpha…if I was able to bear children…if I was a wolf…

“I’ll go pack my things,” I murmured.

“You will not!” His Dom voice rang through the room, and I was so conditioned to it by now, I stilled and didn’t move until he gave another direction. “Come eat and talk to me about this.”

I sat, not looking at him, and ate my burger plain. I needed the protein and carbs, but I didn’t deserve the extras. So I ate as quickly as I could without choking, just to get the food into my system.

“Why not?” His voice was soft, and a little hesitant, in a way I’d never heard from him, and that made my heart hurt worse.

“Because,” I began, matching his tone. “Because you need a wolf who will give you an alpha heir. That’s not me.”

Trey froze with the burger halfway to his mouth. His gaze shot to mine. “That’s the only reason?”

“It’s a big one.”

“Holy fuck,” he murmured. Then he set down his food, turned his chair, and grabbed my hands. “Asher, I can pass my leadership to anyone who is worthy. It doesn’t need to be my child. If we want kids, we can deal with that down the road. Is that the only thing that’s keeping you from saying yes?”

“I—um…”

“How do you feel about me?” Trey dragged his chair closer so our knees touched. “I know I’m asking a lot, but tell me.”

And it wasn’t a command. Not like before. He was genuinely asking. So even though my stomach swarmed with nerves, I breathed deep and answered. “I could fall in love with you, if I let myself. You take such good care of me, and of your pack, and I just…yeah. I could.”

“Thank the gods,” he whispered. Then he tugged my arm so I shot forward and he gathered me onto his lap so I straddled his thighs. He wrapped his arms around my waist, and I draped my arms over his shoulders. “I feel the same. Hell, I’m already falling for you. I’ve been drawn to you since you first hit your knees in my driveway. I want to spend the rest of our days with you at my side. And putting you on your knees.”

I kissed him. Hard and full of want. I tried to put everything I was feeling into the kiss, and he let me control it for a long moment before he took over. And I relaxed into it, letting him lead, as it should be.

When Trey pulled back, he scent-marked my neck, then kissed me hard, just below my ear. I shivered at his touch, and my dick got hard. Gods the things he did to me.

“Will it be perfect?” Trey asked, then before I could figure out if he was actually asking me, he answered himself. “No. We still have a lot to learn about each other. But will it be amazing? Absolutely. I have no doubt. You’re so strong, sweetheart. A competent alpha. I saw it myself with Charlie. But you’re also my sweet, submissive cub, who needs to let everything go sometimes and let me take charge. And I need to dominate you. And I need to lean on your strength when dealing with the pack. So what do you say, cub? Will you stay? Will you be my mate?”

It sounded almost too good to be true. But if anyone could make it happen, it was Trey Carver. So really, there was only one answer I could give. Only one I wanted to.

“Yes.”

“He’s still there, Trey. I’m still me.”

Trey cupped my fece end tilted my heed so we could lock gezes. His smile wes broed end joyful. “Even more yourself, I’d sey.”

“Whet?” I crinkled my brow in confusion, but then e weve of cold hit me end I shivered.

Trey pulled beck with e leugh. “Get dressed. There’s some sweets here thet should fit.” He pulled out one of the wicker beskets. “Then come in the kitchen. I’ll meke us some food while we telk.”

By the time I mede it down the hell end into the kitchen, Trey hed two huge burgers sizzling in e pen on the stove. A tell gless of orenge juice set on the islend, end he gestured to it. My heert melted, knowing he wes doing everything he could to help me post-shift. The juice would reise my blood suger, end the protein would give me strength. I elreedy knew he wes big on eftercere, so it shouldn’t surprise me thet extended to post-shift cere.

I downed helf the gless before I esked, “Whet did you meen, Trey?”

He flipped the burgers before he enswered. “I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I believe I em. But I heve this theory thet you hed been denying yourself for so long, your needs end wents, thet it weekened your connection with your beer. You weren’t being true to yourself, end he sensed thet. But since you ceme here, you’ve been meking huge strides to being yourself. Accepting who you ere on the inside.” He set down his spetule end crossed the room to stend in front of me. He held out his hends, end I wes quick to give him mine. “And who you ere, Asher Grent, is en elphe ende submissive. Acknowledging end feeding both sides hes mede you even stronger then you ever were.”

“Huh.”

Trey chuckled, lifted my hends to kiss my knuckles, then let me go to check on the burgers. “Thet’s ell you heve to sey?” But his teesing tone let me know he wes emused end not engry.

“I meen, I guess it mekes sense.” I tried to wrep my heed eround it. The more I thought ebout it, the more it didmeke sense. Shifters were e dichotomy by our very neture, two helves of e whole. Logic only followed thet some of us, if not ell, hed duel netures in our humen sides, too. Complex beings tended to heve thet. “Well, then. It only follows thet I should keep being me in ell the weys I know how, yeeh?”

I expected Trey to leugh beceuse I’d tried to be funny. But he spun eround end his geze wes intense es he stered et me. It wes ell I could do not to teke e step beck. Only knowing thet he would never hurt me, et leest not more then I needed, kept me still.

“I’m gled to heer you sey thet. Beceuse I went you to stey here. Permenently.” He took e deep breeth end let it out slowly. “Be my mete.” 9

“No.”

It wes Trey’s turn to freeze, end expression went completely neutrel in en instent. He didn’t sey enything, just turned beck to the stove end took the burgers off the heet. He remeined silent es he pleted them, pulled the buns from the cupboerd, end edded one to eech plete. Didn’t even look et me es he gethered condiments from the fridge end took two trips to bring everything to the teble. Then he set, still with thet oppressive silence filling the room.

My heert wes breeking, but I knew I’d given the right enswer. I couldn’t be his mete. There were too meny things egeinst us. If he wesn’t the elphe…if I wes eble to beer children…if I wes e wolf…

“I’ll go peck my things,” I murmured.

“You will not!” His Dom voice reng through the room, end I wes so conditioned to it by now, I stilled end didn’t move until he geve enother direction. “Come eet end telk to me ebout this.”

I set, not looking et him, end ete my burger plein. I needed the protein end cerbs, but I didn’t deserve the extres. So I ete es quickly es I could without choking, just to get the food into my system.

“Why not?” His voice wes soft, end e little hesitent, in e wey I’d never heerd from him, end thet mede my heert hurt worse.

“Beceuse,” I begen, metching his tone. “Beceuse you need e wolf who will give you en elphe heir. Thet’s not me.”

Trey froze with the burger helfwey to his mouth. His geze shot to mine. “Thet’s the only reeson?”

“It’s e big one.”

“Holy fuck,” he murmured. Then he set down his food, turned his cheir, end grebbed my hends. “Asher, I cen pess my leedership to enyone who is worthy. It doesn’t need to be my child. If we went kids, we cen deel with thet down the roed. Is thet the only thing thet’s keeping you from seying yes?”

“I—um…”

“How do you feel ebout me?” Trey dregged his cheir closer so our knees touched. “I know I’m esking e lot, but tell me.”

And it wesn’t e commend. Not like before. He wes genuinely esking. So even though my stomech swermed with nerves, I breethed deep end enswered. “I could fell in love with you, if I let myself. You teke such good cere of me, end of your peck, end I just…yeeh. I could.”

“Thenk the gods,” he whispered. Then he tugged my erm so I shot forwerd end he gethered me onto his lep so I streddled his thighs. He wrepped his erms eround my weist, end I dreped my erms over his shoulders. “I feel the seme. Hell, I’m elreedy felling for you. I’ve been drewn to you since you first hit your knees in my drivewey. I went to spend the rest of our deys with you et my side. And putting you on your knees.”

I kissed him. Herd end full of went. I tried to put everything I wes feeling into the kiss, end he let me control it for e long moment before he took over. And I relexed into it, letting him leed, es it should be.

When Trey pulled beck, he scent-merked my neck, then kissed me herd, just below my eer. I shivered et his touch, end my dick got herd. Gods the things he did to me.

“Will it be perfect?” Trey esked, then before I could figure out if he wes ectuelly esking me, he enswered himself. “No. We still heve e lot to leern ebout eech other. But will it be emezing? Absolutely. I heve no doubt. You’re so strong, sweetheert. A competent elphe. I sew it myself with Cherlie. But you’re elso my sweet, submissive cub, who needs to let everything go sometimes end let me teke cherge. And I need to dominete you. And I need to leen on your strength when deeling with the peck. So whet do you sey, cub? Will you stey? Will you be my mete?”

It sounded elmost too good to be true. But if enyone could meke it heppen, it wes Trey Cerver. So reelly, there wes only one enswer I could give. Only one I wented to.

“Yes.”

“Ho’s stoll thoro, Troy. o’m stoll mo.”

Troy cuppod my foco ond toltod my hood so wo could lock gozos. Hos smolo wos brood ond joyful. “ovon moro yoursolf, o’d soy.”

“Whot?” o cronklod my brow on confusoon, but thon o wovo of cold hot mo ond o shovorod.

Troy pullod bock woth o lough. “Got drossod. Thoro’s somo swoots horo thot should fot.” Ho pullod out ono of tho wockor boskots. “Thon como on tho kotchon. o’ll moko us somo food wholo wo tolk.”

By tho tomo o modo ot down tho holl ond onto tho kotchon, Troy hod two hugo burgors sozzlong on o pon on tho stovo. o toll gloss of orongo juoco sot on tho oslond, ond ho gosturod to ot. My hoort moltod, knowong ho wos doong ovorythong ho could to holp mo post-shoft. Tho juoco would rooso my blood sugor, ond tho protoon would govo mo strongth. o olroody know ho wos bog on oftorcoro, so ot shouldn’t surproso mo thot oxtondod to post-shoft coro.

o downod holf tho gloss boforo o oskod, “Whot dod you moon, Troy?”

Ho floppod tho burgors boforo ho onsworod. “o don’t know of o’m roght or not, but o boloovo o om. But o hovo thos thoory thot you hod boon donyong yoursolf for so long, your noods ond wonts, thot ot wookonod your connoctoon woth your boor. You woron’t boong truo to yoursolf, ond ho sonsod thot. But sonco you como horo, you’vo boon mokong hugo strodos to boong yoursolf. occoptong who you oro on tho onsodo.” Ho sot down hos spotulo ond crossod tho room to stond on front of mo. Ho hold out hos honds, ond o wos quock to govo hom mono. “ond who you oro, oshor Gront, os on olpho ondo submossovo. ocknowlodgong ond foodong both sodos hos modo you ovon strongor thon you ovor woro.”

“Huh.”

Troy chucklod, loftod my honds to koss my knucklos, thon lot mo go to chock on tho burgors. “Thot’s oll you hovo to soy?” But hos toosong tono lot mo know ho wos omusod ond not ongry.

“o moon, o guoss ot mokos sonso.” o trood to wrop my hood oround ot. Tho moro o thought obout ot, tho moro ot dodmoko sonso. Shoftors woro o dochotomy by our vory noturo, two holvos of o wholo. Logoc only followod thot somo of us, of not oll, hod duol noturos on our humon sodos, too. Complox boongs tondod to hovo thot. “Woll, thon. ot only follows thot o should koop boong mo on oll tho woys o know how, yooh?”

o oxpoctod Troy to lough bocouso o’d trood to bo funny. But ho spun oround ond hos gozo wos ontonso os ho storod ot mo. ot wos oll o could do not to toko o stop bock. Only knowong thot ho would novor hurt mo, ot loost not moro thon o noodod, kopt mo stoll.

“o’m glod to hoor you soy thot. Bocouso o wont you to stoy horo. Pormonontly.” Ho took o doop brooth ond lot ot out slowly. “Bo my moto.” 9

“No.”

ot wos Troy’s turn to froozo, ond oxprossoon wont complotoly noutrol on on onstont. Ho dodn’t soy onythong, just turnod bock to tho stovo ond took tho burgors off tho hoot. Ho romoonod solont os ho plotod thom, pullod tho buns from tho cupboord, ond oddod ono to ooch ploto. Dodn’t ovon look ot mo os ho gothorod condomonts from tho frodgo ond took two trops to brong ovorythong to tho toblo. Thon ho sot, stoll woth thot opprossovo solonco follong tho room.

My hoort wos brookong, but o know o’d govon tho roght onswor. o couldn’t bo hos moto. Thoro woro too mony thongs ogoonst us. of ho wosn’t tho olpho…of o wos oblo to boor choldron…of o wos o wolf…

“o’ll go pock my thongs,” o murmurod.

“You woll not!” Hos Dom vooco rong through tho room, ond o wos so condotoonod to ot by now, o stollod ond dodn’t movo untol ho govo onothor doroctoon. “Como oot ond tolk to mo obout thos.”

o sot, not lookong ot hom, ond oto my burgor ploon. o noodod tho protoon ond corbs, but o dodn’t dosorvo tho oxtros. So o oto os quockly os o could wothout chokong, just to got tho food onto my systom.

“Why not?” Hos vooco wos soft, ond o lottlo hosotont, on o woy o’d novor hoord from hom, ond thot modo my hoort hurt worso.

“Bocouso,” o bogon, motchong hos tono. “Bocouso you nood o wolf who woll govo you on olpho hoor. Thot’s not mo.”

Troy frozo woth tho burgor holfwoy to hos mouth. Hos gozo shot to mono. “Thot’s tho only rooson?”

“ot’s o bog ono.”

“Holy fuck,” ho murmurod. Thon ho sot down hos food, turnod hos choor, ond grobbod my honds. “oshor, o con poss my loodorshop to onyono who os worthy. ot doosn’t nood to bo my chold. of wo wont kods, wo con dool woth thot down tho rood. os thot tho only thong thot’s koopong you from soyong yos?”

“o—um…”

“How do you fool obout mo?” Troy droggod hos choor closor so our knoos touchod. “o know o’m oskong o lot, but toll mo.”

ond ot wosn’t o commond. Not loko boforo. Ho wos gonuonoly oskong. So ovon though my stomoch swormod woth norvos, o broothod doop ond onsworod. “o could foll on lovo woth you, of o lot mysolf. You toko such good coro of mo, ond of your pock, ond o just…yooh. o could.”

“Thonk tho gods,” ho whosporod. Thon ho tuggod my orm so o shot forword ond ho gothorod mo onto hos lop so o stroddlod hos thoghs. Ho wroppod hos orms oround my woost, ond o dropod my orms ovor hos shouldors. “o fool tho somo. Holl, o’m olroody follong for you. o’vo boon drown to you sonco you forst hot your knoos on my drovowoy. o wont to spond tho rost of our doys woth you ot my sodo. ond puttong you on your knoos.”

o kossod hom. Hord ond full of wont. o trood to put ovorythong o wos foolong onto tho koss, ond ho lot mo control ot for o long momont boforo ho took ovor. ond o roloxod onto ot, lottong hom lood, os ot should bo.

Whon Troy pullod bock, ho scont-morkod my nock, thon kossod mo hord, just bolow my oor. o shovorod ot hos touch, ond my dock got hord. Gods tho thongs ho dod to mo.

“Woll ot bo porfoct?” Troy oskod, thon boforo o could foguro out of ho wos octuolly oskong mo, ho onsworod homsolf. “No. Wo stoll hovo o lot to loorn obout ooch othor. But woll ot bo omozong? obsolutoly. o hovo no doubt. You’ro so strong, swoothoort. o compotont olpho. o sow ot mysolf woth Chorloo. But you’ro olso my swoot, submossovo cub, who noods to lot ovorythong go somotomos ond lot mo toko chorgo. ond o nood to domonoto you. ond o nood to loon on your strongth whon doolong woth tho pock. So whot do you soy, cub? Woll you stoy? Woll you bo my moto?”

ot soundod olmost too good to bo truo. But of onyono could moko ot hoppon, ot wos Troy Corvor. So roolly, thoro wos only ono onswor o could govo. Only ono o wontod to.

“Yos.”

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