Evanne Lorraine
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Amber’s Powder Room Escape


This scene didn’t make it into the finished version of A Promise of Amber, but it was hard to delete. :heart:


Amber was hot enough to pant. She resisted the urge. If she started panting, then everyone would think she was eager to mate with Hunter. Nothing could have been further from the truth, so she kept the smile numbing her cheeks firmly in place and took in the vast room with its ugly mismatched furniture and the sad remnants of Seaview’s pack. Hunter stood cool and calm and a million miles away from her childish dreams of what mating day would be like.

While the rest of the pitifully small party visited, the smile she’d worn for hours slipped. Tension knotted the small muscles in her neck and shoulders into an unrelenting ache that made her want to scream.

Too hurt to stand there in her mother’s beautiful red mating gown, politely listening to Hunter and his friends for another second, she excused herself on the thin pretense of using the restroom and hurried through the great room.

Dozens of stares bore into her back. She couldn’t shut out the feelings of curiosity, concern, and burning pity bombarding her until she slipped into the relative privacy of the oversized powder room. The door closed and she sank onto a cushioned bench by the vanity.

A glance at her own glittering eyes in her much too pale face made her turn away from the revealing mirror. The breath she’d unconsciously held whooshed out, but the tightness in her shoulders remained.

Running away didn’t solve anything. All she’d done was gain a little time to figure out what to do. Honor and pack law demanded she keep the promise her parents made before her birth. The mockery of a mating ceremony was the last thing she wanted, but without Hunter and his enforcers the few surviving members of her pack would all wind up goblin prey. No matter how she felt, she couldn’t let everyone down by rejecting the Alpha. She hated not having a choice and she hated him for not loving her.

The entrance to her temporary sanctuary cracked. Amber tensed, poised to dive into a stall until she saw her friend, Dawn’s worried face. Behind the pretty Beta, her mate Paul loomed protectively wearing a craggier version of Dawn’s concerned expression.

Smoky anger wafted from the Beta as she turned and handed the pups in her arms to her mate with a brisk warning. “Don’t let anybody in.”

The big Alpha nodded solemnly as if he took orders from the tiny female all the time. Hearing Dawn give her Alpha mate an order almost made Amber smile.

After firmly closing the door, Dawn whirled and crossed to where Amber slumped. “Males.”

Dawn huffed the single word with so much empathetic energy that Amber stood. An actual smile stretched her mouth, and she hugged her friend. Sinking back to the bench, she clamped her jaw to hold in a rising fit of giggles, laughter that could easily turn into hysterics.

The dainty Beta fisted her hands at her hips, which made her look quite fierce. “You say the word, I’ll tear up and eat the stupid mating license.”

Amber’s thoughts sputtered and a watery laugh erupted.

Joining her on the bench, Dawn put a comforting arm around her shoulder and squeezed. “Don’t worry, Paul won’t let anyone bother us.”

Her kind support undid Amber. The shaky laughter changed to horrible racking sobs. A lifetime of tears streamed down her cheeks while Dawn held her, patted her back, and murmured, “Go ahead and let it out, sweetie. Everything will be all right.”

When her crying jag slowed to hiccups, Amber scrubbed at the last of the flood with the heels of her palms. “I really thought he cared. That’s what hurts the most.”

“He does.”

Amber blinked at her friend in disbelief.

“Though he may not fully realize how much you mean to him, just yet,” Dawn explained with calm practically.

In spite of everything, hope lightened Amber’s heart, “When you do think he’s going to have this epiphany?”

“Right about when the mating bond hits him,” Dawn said smugly.

Amber’s hopes sank as fast as they’d risen. “He’ll be devoted when he has no choice.”

Dawn narrowed her eyes. “Do you really care why he would die to protect you, will be committed to you forever, and will always worship the trail beneath your paws?”

“When you put it like that, not quite so much.” Amber sniffed and dabbed at her nose with paper towel.

“The goddess knew what she was doing when she arranged for the male to be bound to the female who’s the perfect match for him. Her timing is pretty wonderful too when you think about it. Total commitment right before creating a new life is an excellent plan.”

Amber snatched another paper towel, wet it with cold water, and patted her eyes. After trying to ease the swelling and redness from crying, which was about as hopeless as winning Hunter’s love, she tossed the soggy towel. “Paul adores you.”

“He does…now.”

“Not in the beginning?” Amber swiveled toward her friend.

Dawn snorted daintily. “The silly Alpha was drowning in a sea of blonde fur. “ She cut her gaze to Amber. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Amber brushed away the notion with a wave of her hand.

“Anyway, Paul didn’t even know I existed. Seriously, I don’t think he’d ever really looked at me, but I’d stared at the handsome dog enough for both of us.” She sighed.

“What happened? The mating bond smashed sense into him?”

“I like the image.” Dawn grinned. “Though I’m not sure it’s really accurate. In our case, I sensed the connection between us long before he did. But I was almost superstitious–afraid to trust my intuition, because I wanted him so much. Do you know what I mean?”

Amber nodded. “What changed?”

“Hunter’s Moon, my first heat, and me finding the courage to run next to him. He caught a whiff of my scent and he was mine.”

“Do you really think this is the way the mating bond will work with Hunter and me?”

“If you’re the female for him, yes.”

Amber’s heart lurched at Dawn’s cautious ‘if’. She knew there would be a catch. If she returned to the great room and completed the ceremony, then he would be stuck with her whether or not she was his destined mate. Although most males never found the one special female designed to be theirs alone, what if Hunter found his match someday and his perfect mate was some other female?

Living with him while he yearned for someone else would shred her tender Psi heart. Then too, his happiness mattered more than it probably should, just not enough for her to sacrifice the lives of the pack. There would be no more sex without setting some serious ground rules, but she couldn’t ignore her promise.

Dawn washed her hands and pulled a lipstick out of her pocket.

Her friend’s distraction gave Amber time to use a touch of glamour to repair the last of the puffiness from crying. She kicked up her chin, let out a deep breath, and pasted back on her fake smile. “Let’s go. I have a stubborn Alpha to mate.”

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