"Thank you so much for the opportunity to meet with you," I said, smiling as I stood up, shaking the interviewer's hand.
"It was my pleasure. You'll know our decision in a couple of days." She smiled back at me and motioned for me to leave the room.
I slid out the door and walked down the hallway, my head held high. I had done amazingly well in my interview. I had a great feeling about the job. When I was down the hall and out of earshot, I did a little victory dance. Then I took a deep breath and headed out of the building into the fall sunshine.
"How did it go?"
I jumped. I turned to my left; Devlin was leaning against the stone railing for the museum stairs, holding two cups in his hands. He had on worn jeans and a battered leather jacket; his expression was soft, curious.
"You scared the crap out of me," I murmured, swatting him on the arm. "What are you doing here, anyway? I'm beginning to think you are stalking me."
He grinned at me; it was eerily similar to the wolfish, self-confident smirk he used to have. "Kind of, but not really. You're not in danger yet. I'll let you know when I get to the point of kidnapping and mutilating your body."
I giggled. "Let's hope it never comes to that." I was surprised how much I was beginning to enjoy his company after all we had been through back home. I was even slightly happy to have him there to talk to.
"No, seriously, I saw Karen's post on Facebook about your interview today and thought this would be a good time to get you alone." His eyes softened and his grin was warm. "I brought you a pick-me-up: hot cocoa." He extended one of his arms toward me.
I smiled gratefully, taking the cup, my fingers brushing against his as he released it into my hand. Our eyes met, and for an instant, I was wondering if I had known this Devlin, would Tyler and I have stood a chance? Feeling guilty for the thought, I turned away and started walking toward the nearest bus stop.
"So," he said, clearing his throat and falling into step beside me. "How do you think you did? At the interview?"
I smiled up at him, brushing a loose strand of hair out of my face, then returning my attention to the sidewalk so I didn't trip in my six inch heels. "I think it went really well."
Devlin's smile brightened. "That's great!"
"Thanks. I really hope I get it. It would be wonderful to get some experience in my field before even leaving school."
"Well, I'm rooting for you." We were silent for a moment, sipping our cocoa and walking toward the bus stop slowly. Devlin broke the silence. "So, how are you and Tyler doing?"
"Devlin," I said in my warning voice. It was one thing to attempt a friendship with the guy; it seemed wildly inappropriate to discuss my marital relationship with my husband's ex-rival.
He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not trying to interfere or play Devil's advocate. I just want to know."
I sighed. "We're doing fine. I mean, we have some issues, but what relationship doesn't?"
"Anything in particular?" he asked, sipping his drink. His expression remained mildly curious, like he was genuinely concerned about our relationship, but for some reason, the idea of sharing anything with him made me leery.
"Look, I kind of think you're the wrong person to be talking to about this. You don't like Tyler and you care about…" I paused, not sure I wanted to voice his feelings out loud.
"And I care about you. A lot. So much so, I might be in love with you," he said, matter of factly, his gaze never leaving mine. "That's why I want to know how you're doing, being married to my worst enemy." His expression softened with desire, his eyes staring deep into mine. "No. I am in love with you," he whispered, reaching up and letting his fingers brush my cheek.
"Stop it," I muttered, turning away and picking up the pace. "I love my husband."
He sighed, jogging to catch up with me. "I know. I'm sorry. I'll behave, I promise." He fell into step with me. "I am seriously concerned about your happiness, Madeline."
I stopped and turned to him. It was the first time I could remember him calling me by my full name. It sounded soft and sweet coming from his lips. I swallowed deeply, wondering why he was affecting me this way after how he had treated me before.
"You're really just trying to be a friend?" I murmured, not truly believing him, kind of wishing I could confide in him; he understood the Pack laws and I could share those concerns with him, whereas I couldn't really with anyone else.
"Yes. I want to know I at least lost you to someone who can make you happy." His voice was sincere and his smile was genuine.
We sat down in the covered bus stop, and turned toward each other. I sighed. "For the most part, I am exceptionally happy. Tyler treats me well and always puts me first. He's working full time, taking classes, and still makes time for me. I'm truly lucky. But I just found out his dad is very sick and he didn't tell me about it. And he just told me about the Pack law about heirs so I'm feeling a little pressured to get pregnant." I swirled my cocoa around in the cup, looking down at my hands. "I want to finish school first. I want to have kids, a ton of kids, but I'm not ready yet. I'm still a kid myself. And knowing I have to be pregnant by our third anniversary is a little bit too much pressure." I looked back up at him and smiled. "Other than that, we're fantastic."
Devlin smiled softly. He looked uncomfortable thinking about Tyler and I have children. "I'm sorry about the law. There's really no way around it." He looked at his feet. "I wish I could help with that one. More than you know."
"Why?" I had a good idea and I wasn't really sure why I wanted to him hear say it, but I had to hear again how he felt about me.
"Because the idea of him being able to touch in the intimate way I want to… conceiving a child with you," he looked down at my stomach and sighed. "Well, it makes me sick, Madeline. It'll break my heart when you finally get pregnant. It will mean I have no chance whatsoever."
"Don't you not have a chance now?" I was confused. "I thought only one wolf could mate with one human at a time. Mating for life."
Devlin grinned up at me, his eyes warm and sexy. "Well, that applies to Pack members. I'm not a member of a Pack anymore. The general wolf rule is that if the wolf and his mate haven't had any offspring yet, the mate is fair game. But, you have to win the mate's heart from the other wolf. You can't force them into anything." He inched a little closer to me. "So, if I can convince you that you belong with me before he gets you pregnant, you could be my mate."
My head started spinning. Tyler had never mentioned any of this to me; he probably didn't feel he had to because he thought he didn't have to worry about Devlin anymore. Suddenly, though, the Pack's law about conceiving children quickly made more sense. I shook myself out of my trance in time to see the bus that would take me to my apartment pull up.
"Fascinating. But we both know you don't have a chance at taking me from Tyler," I said it playfully, trying to show him that I didn't mind being friends, but anything more wouldn't happen.
His smirk deepened, and a strand of his long, dark hair fell into his eyes. They were warm with longing and gave me shivers. "We'll see, Madeline. We'll see." He stood up, kissed my cheek in an attempt to be friendly, and started off down the sidewalk backwards, his gaze never wavering from mine as I climbed aboard the bus.
As I watched him walk away, I had strange feelings surging through me. Excitement at being so desirable to a man other than my husband. Fear that the man was Devlin. And disgust that I would even consider him in any way other than a previous tormentor. I had to put a stop to this friendship before it got out of hand. And I started by chucking the rest of the cocoa he'd given me out the bus window.