Home > Tarian Silver Lion (New Tarian Pride #2)(10)

Tarian Silver Lion (New Tarian Pride #2)(10)
Author: T.S. Joyce

Louder, Ronin repeated, “Do you want to know why?”

“I would rather know why you are doing this,” Talon snarled, feeling like Ronin was taking a knife down his torso and releasing his guts slowly.

Ronin’s eyes were bright gold-green as he growled, “Partly, she gave him to the Red Dragon because it was best for the cub, and partly she did it for Vyr, who was losing his mind without offspring. But the biggest reason was that Rose was afraid to get attached to the cub, and have him taken away. So you see, she’s given you a gift that you don’t realize yet. She’s given you her time, and she doesn’t give that away lightly. Not unless she feels like the risk is worth it. Talon…she thinks your worth it, or you wouldn’t have her attention at all.” Ronin’s eyes flashed with anger, and he lifted the side of his lip in a snarl. “Don’t fuck it up.”

The Alpha walked around the back of the truck and sauntered through the open gates of the lumber yard. He didn’t look back. He’d just put a bomb in Talon’s mind and was letting the time run out on it. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

He had fucked up. He shouldn’t have ever pursued Rose. He wished he was different and worth it, like she thought he was, but the cold, hard truth was, he wasn’t worth a damn to a woman like her. She deserved the world.

And what had he been doing since he’d come here?

He’d been staring out the windows, feeling trapped.

Looking at the road with a sense of urgency. A sense of longing.

He’d used sex with Rose as a coping mechanism to deal with the chaos of his life. He’d tried so hard to get his lion to anchor to this place and get him to stay. To cut the chaos out of his life. He wanted his lion to let him keep her.

He’d failed. That much was evident by the bone-deep urge to run now. His lion was practically roaring for him to walk away from all of this.

Rose was a goddess and he was a fucking disaster.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

And standing in this old, dusty parking lot, watching Ronin disappear behind a stack of lumber, he knew what he was going to do. What he had to do.

He couldn’t keep a tender heart like Rose’s safe. They weren’t alike.

He’d tried so hard to fix his lion’s roaming glitch that somewhere along the way he’d gone and fallen in love.

In love.

With a Pride member.

With a non-roamer.

A non-rogue.

With a steady woman who’d grown her roots deep and strong.

Fuck.

And the longer he stayed, the more he was going to bond her to him and ruin her.

The longer he stayed, the more he was going to hurt Rose.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

His heart was going to be very empty without her.

Chapter Seven

Rose had an idea.

A tiny inkling of the beginnings of an idea.

A little seed that could grow into something beautiful if she worked hard enough.

As she stood outside the florist, her attention drifting from the bouquets of roses sitting in the window to the woman inside, Annamora, talking to the manager about filling out an application for when they were hiring again, that little seed started to grow.

There was a flyer taped to the door, right under the building number, 1010. A loose corner of the paper was flapping in the wind, practically begging for Rose to pay attention to it. The flyer asked for flower growers to contact the shop so the owner could support other local small business as much as possible.

Inside, Annamora nodded and smiled as she said her goodbyes to the shop owner, but her smile had ghosts in it. The girls had all struck out on the job search today. Emerald was with Maris and Sora down the street, but Rose could see them from here. They were settling on a park bench, talking to each other. They looked upset.

They’d been sheltered and in an abusive situation in the Old Tarian Pride, made to feel like they were nothing. These women needed something to boost their confidence so they could start thriving in the New Tarian Pride. Because right now, they were still all scared as little bunnies and uncertain, heads lowered, eyes always on the ground. They had trouble talking to the males in the Pride, and they were good ones. All of them. Crass, sometimes rude, definitely perverted, but down to their core, they were good. And still, these lionesses were struggling to break free of their submissive habits.

But that flyer…

Something about it felt special.

She pulled out her phone and called Talon’s number. It was her first time calling him, and butterflies beat their wings in her chest. She shifted her weight to the left, then to the right, fidgeting as the phone rang and rang. He was the first person she wanted to talk to about this. Honestly, he was the first person she wanted to tell anything to.

This is Talon, leave a message at the beep.

Beeeeeeeeeep.

Shoot. “Hi, it’s me, Rose.” She let off a nervous laugh and gripped the cell phone tighter. “I just had this idea. You know how I said I’ve been bored and having a hard time adjusting to retirement? What do you think about maybe me setting up the greenhouse as an income-earning flower-growing business? Oh, I can talk to you about this all later. See you so soon. Headed to dinner with the girls. I’m rambling. Talk soon.”

She almost, almost said, “I love you.” It was so close, the words right on the tip of her tongue, but instead she hung up quickly and exhaled a steadying breath. She’d called a man first. How very modern of her.

Tonight, she was going to buy the girls drinks and cut loose, give them some time away from their own heads, because Talon had taught her something important. A break from the tough stuff, even if it was a small one, could make a world of difference for someone.

And tonight she would talk to Talon all about her greenhouse plans to get the girls back on their feet.

Chapter Eight

Angel Fire, New Mexico.

The other three envelopes tumbled right from Rose’s fingertips to the ground, and she stared at the postcard.

It had been two weeks since Talon had disappeared without a word.

Two weeks since her world had gone dim and the colors had lost their vibrance.

Oh, he’d called her once a few days after he’d disappeared. She’d been in the greenhouse cleaning up and missed the call. The voicemail had been short and sweet. And heartbreaking.

His voice sounded gruff and thick. All he’d said was, “I’m so sorry, Wildcat.” It had sounded like he was crying, but she knew better. Steel men like Talon Lawson didn’t cry.

Emerald had kept her updated on where he was and how he was doing for the first week, but it had gotten too hard for Rose to know, so she’d asked Emerald not to talk about him anymore.

Her heart had no business breaking over a man she only spent a few days with. A man who had never made her any promises.

She tried to explain that to her heart, but the pitiful little thing refused to listen.

She’d forced herself to stop checking her phone for his messages and looking at the driveway expectantly, hoping his Chevelle would be rumbling toward her.

He owed her nothing, no explanation; he was free. There was no need for anger at him. He’d told her from the very beginning he would leave, and maybe the way he did it made it easier on both of them.

Honestly, she was grateful, because he’d reminded her that she wasn’t done yet. That she was alive. That she was sexy, playful, and worth a damn. And that, in itself, was a great gift. And if that wasn’t big enough, the deliveries started arriving a few days after he left. Over the last two weeks, everything she’d needed to fix up the house had arrived at her doorstep. Ronin and a couple of the boys from the Pride had started coming over and fixing the place up with her. On the deliveries, there was never a name to claim who paid for the supplies, but she knew it was him. Talon. Her Talon, even if he didn’t know she thought of him that way.

Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Under the lettering, there was a picture of a beautiful mountain with ski slopes.

She turned the postcard over slowly and read the block print letters.

Hey Wildcat,

I swore I was going to make a clean break to make this easier on you. I’ve picked up and put down a dozen postcards in different places and talked myself out of sending them to you. I tried not to send you anything so you could forget about me, but the selfish side of me doesn’t want you to forget. Apparently, I’m no good all around. All I think about is you.

I’m sorry.

Talon

Rose clutched the postcard to her chest and squeezed her eyes closed as a mixture of joy and regret washed through her. Her eyes burned with tears because she really really wished he was here, telling her those words instead of writing them from so far away.

Rose made her way to her fridge, lifted a magnet, and tacked the postcard under it. Then she pulled out her phone and texted him, knowing he would never text her back.

The snow looks beautiful in Angel Fire. I hope you find peace there. Send.

Chapter Nine

San Antonio, Texas

This one came on a Friday, one day shy of one week after the first one, and it had a package with it.

The postcard had a picture of a the Riverwalk, all lit up at night. It was beautiful. She flipped it over.

Wildcat,

It sure feels empty out on the road without you. I keep looking over at the passenger seat and imagining you sitting there, hand catching the wind out the open window, smile on your face, hair a beautiful mess. Emerald told me what you’re trying to do for the girls. Giving them work in your greenhouse and teaching them a trade. Teaching them to plant. You’re one helluva woman. Hopefully this little present helps. I wish I could do more. You deserve so much more.

I’m sorry.

Talon

After she put it on the fridge next to the last postcard, she opened the package and cried a little, hoping this would be the last postcard that brought tears.

It was a plastic container organized with flower seed packets, set in alphabetical order.

She hadn’t gotten flowers from a man in decades. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Her grandson, Grim, sent her roses with the thorns cut off sometimes. Pink ones because they were her favorite. But that was her grandson, not a man courting her. Perhaps Talon didn’t mean for it to feel big, but for her, this counted.

   
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