Each of these deleted scenes are from various books. Don't worry, I'll let you know which ones. And please remember, they're all unedited!
Luna waited in the kitchen when Eli came home from his short date with Emory.
“Well?” she asked when he rounded the corner.
“Nothing,” he said. That wasn’t completely true, but he wasn’t sure how much of the night he wanted to tell Luna. His sister was so much like Emory it freaked him out. Had Luna had anywhere else to go, Eli knew she’d have taken off the second Rhett didn’t return after the battle. But, just like the rest of the females still there, she was out of options.
“Did you tell her?”
“She knows, Luna.” He pulled a beer from the fridge, closed the door, then leaned against the cool stainless steel. “Her Pack showed up while we were trying to talk.”
“Which ones?” Luna asked as she sat on the bar stool and leaned onto the island, watching him.
“All of them. Literally every single member of Big River showed up and they were not happy to see us together.”
“Well, no shit, Elijah. Did you think they’d be all cheers and smiles to see one of theirs with a member of Tammen? They hate us,” Luna said.
Eli looked at his little sister and his heart hurt for her. She’d been just as much a victim to Rhett as Big River. Yet, just because of the Pride she’d been forced into, the rest of Shifter society saw her as no better than the rest of the lions.
And then an idea hit him. It was probably a stupid idea, but he was willing to try just about anything to make Emory realize things there were different. He’d do anything to get her to at least give them a shot.
“Have you ever met Emory?” he asked, trying to act casual.
But, just like any other time in their lives when he’d tried to con her into doing something for him, she saw right through him. “They’re not going to let me onto their territory, either, Elijah,” she said, sitting back and crossing her arms.
“I didn’t say anything about you going there, Luna,” he said, trying and failing to look shocked that she’d even suggested that. But he dropped the act. It was no use with his only sister. “Okay, all I’m saying is maybe you can happen to drop into her work, or maybe show up at Moe’s when they’re there. Emory can see you’re normal and maybe—”
“Did you just say normal and me in the same sentence?” she said, cocking one blonde brow at him.
“You know what I mean. I think she has in her head that everyone here is blood thirsty and evil. Let her see that the Pride is just like hers.”
“But it’s not, Elijah. You know that. Those people? The Pack and Clan? They’re all friends and hang out and stuff. We barely tolerate each other.”
Eli dropped his head back against the fridge and stared at the ceiling. Yeah. She had a point there. It wasn’t like anyone from his Pride hung out at the bar, other than a few of the males. It wasn’t like the females were friends and went shopping or did whatever chicks do together all the time.
His nostrils flared with the deep inhale and he let it out in a rush of air from his cheeks. “She won’t want to stay here with the way things are now,” he said softly, his eyes unfocused and across the room. He imagined Emory in her Pack, how she interacted with everyone, how, even when she was mad back at the bar, the love for her friends was still evident. And then he pictured the way there was no love shared among the lions of his Pride. He pictured the females who’d volunteered to be there, the females who’d mistreated the younger lionesses. He pictured the males who still thought of women as property, who hated Eli for the way he was changing the Pride.
And then, he tried to picture Emory among these people.
With a shake of his head, he realized she might have been right. He just couldn’t see how this would work. Even if her Pack welcomed him with open arms, he couldn’t leave his people to be led by someone with darker intentions, someone who thought like Rhett, someone who would go back to treating the females like shit.
The realization he might just have to let Emory go hit him like a fucking hammer right in the heart. He could swear he felt every piece of his soul splintering, every piece of his entire being cracking and crumbling. The physical pain at just the thought of losing her was about to buckle his knees and send his lion into a rage.
“Fuck,” he barked out, setting his beer on the counter so he could push the heels of his hands against his eyes. “What the fuck am I supposed to do?”
“Fix it,” Luna said, as if those two words solved all his problems.
Pulling his hands from his eyes so he could stare at her as if she’d lost her fucking mind, he tilted his head to the side and sucked his teeth. “Great. And how do I do that?”
She shrugged and raised both brows. “If I knew that, I wouldn’t still be stuck here, now would I?” she said, then scooted off the stool and left him standing there.
How could he make his Pride more like Big River? How could he turn these assholes into good people? He’d have better luck befriending a damn rattlesnake.
“Behind every great man is a great woman…or something like that,” Luna called out as she climbed the stairs to the room she shared with another female.
Riddles. Fucking riddles when he was so close to just handing his body over to his lion to weed out the lions who’d hinder his chances with Emory.
And then Luna’s words sank in: Behind every great man is a great woman. Maybe he couldn’t change everyone there, but maybe with Emory’s help, he could make them better. Or at least run off those who refused to change, refused to grow.
Now, he just had to figure out how to chill his lion out long enough to come up with a plan to get Emory there.
Emory sat in the lawn chair and listened to her Pack talk, but she could tell they were watching her, tip toeing around a certain topic…
More specifically, whether she was mated to the lion or not.
She’d felt something from the first moment she’d laid eyes on him, but refused to entertain it. She’d chalked it up to a long drought in the bedroom. It had been over a year since she’d gotten laid. She wasn’t one of those chicks like Nova with a crazy high libido. But she was a mature, independent woman and liked an orgasm just like anyone else.
The second time she’d met Eli had been at the bar. Her wolf had gone insane in her head and she knew, just knew she was screwed before she’d ever actually talked to him. He’d seemed to have felt something too by the way he kept watching her.
If she’d had any doubts about his mind set before, they had all been laid to rest when he’d bitten her. He could pretend it was for her protection all he wanted. It had worked, of course. His bite had kept the wolves away from her, told them she was claimed and no longer up for grabs. That had pissed her off, but not her wolf. Her wolf had rejoiced deep inside Emory’s mind even as Emory had tried to get away from his teeth.
“You okay?” Callie leaned over and whispered.
Emory pushed all thoughts of Eli to the back of her head and forced a smile. “Just dandy,” she said and sounded bitchy and sarcastic in her own ears. “Sorry,” she muttered, rolling her head to try to ease the ache in her neck. “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”
“You can talk to me if you want,” Callie offered. “I know more than anyone here about lions.”
“Yeah, but you said yourself, lionesses were pretty much kept out of the loop when it came to anything to do with the Pride,” Emory said, leaning her head against the rest and rolling it to look at Callie.
“Right. But I can tell you I’ve never seen Eli be cruel to anyone. Ever. He was the only one who ever stood up for the females. I’ve even seen him get in the middle when a male was—”
Growling erupted beside Callie and startled her. Micah’s eyes were bright blue as he watched his mate.
“Not me, Micah. I wasn’t going to say anything about that jackass Brent.”
His nostrils flared as he inhaled deep. Closing his eyes, he took a couple more deep breaths, and when he opened his eyes again, they were back to his normal color. “Sorry,” he said and leaned over to press a kiss to Callie’s shoulder.
He’d gotten way better about being so possessive and angry anytime he thought about Callie in danger or in pain. Callie had done that. She’d somehow managed to tame his beast and he was almost pleasant to be around. Almost.
Micah turned back to the conversation, but Emory could tell he was still listening to Callie and Emory closely. She couldn’t have even a remotely private conversation, not with all the Pack sitting nearby. Hell, they’d probably have to wait until everyone went to work when she was off just to talk to the girls.
That is, if she decided to truly open up.
Then again, who else could she talk to about all this? She didn’t know a damn thing about being mated, or about being claimed. And by someone she actually wanted, not just some male who tried to coerce her into his Pack.
“What are you going to do?” Nova asked from Emory’s other side.
With a heavy sigh, she looked around the fire to see everyone watching her. “I don’t know, guys. Okay?” she said, hating the fact that no matter what she chose to do, someone was going to be pissed at her.
She’d always done what she thought was best for her Pack, for her family, for everyone but herself. For once, she wanted to do what made her happy.
But could choose a male who’d attacked her Pack? He might not have directly fought anyone, might not have been one who’d hurt any of her friends or family, but his Pride had. His Alpha had. He’d followed Rhett’s orders and had been there the day Nova’s dad had almost been killed. It had been Eli’s Pride who had killed Colton’s dad.
And now he was the Alpha of those same males. He was the Alpha of the Tammen Pride.
“Emory,” Tristan said and shook his head.
“I know,” she said softly, pushing to her feet and heading to her house. She needed to be alone. She needed to think.
“Goodnight,” she called out before stepping inside and locking the door behind her.
Her Pack would be out there another hour or so. Nova and Gray would probably go in a little earlier if Rieka woke up, but they’d be out there, talking and bonding while Emory laid on her futon and stared at the ceiling.
Bullshit. She wouldn’t be just lying there. She’d be obsessing over the way Eli’s lips had felt on hers. Did her Pack know he’d kissed her? She hadn’t told anyone, but could they smell his fresh scent on her the way she did?
His lips had been so soft. He hadn’t pushed her for more, but sadly, she’d wanted more. She’d been tempted to climb his body like a freaking tree and wrap her legs around his waist. She wanted to throw her arms around his neck and pull him closer.
Images of his naked body that morning tortured her. He was covered in tattoos, and there didn’t seem to be any pattern to them. But even though it was a collection of different designs, they were all cohesive. And made him all that much sexier.
What the hell was it about that male, other than the fact her wolf had already laid claim, that had her so obsessed. Yeah, he was super fucking hot, but she’d seen a lot of hot guys in her life. But even before she’d seen him naked and seen his glorious cock, she’d found him attractive. She laughed softly to herself. Attractive didn’t come close to how she felt about Eli. He was sexy as fuck.
Yeah. That fit better.
Everything below her belt was warm and she rolled onto her side to keep the temptation to touch herself to fantasies of Eli at bay. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d touched herself to thoughts of Eli, but now that they’d actually spent more than a few seconds together, now that they’d actually talked, it felt different.
“Ugh!” she growled out and flopped back onto her back.
Why, of all the people on the planet, did her animal have to pick a fucking lion. A lion, for crying out loud. And not just any lion, but a Tammen lion.
“You suck,” she whispered to her lion then felt a little silly for going off on a piece of herself. They might have their own thoughts and bodies, but they were still the same being. Neither of them could survive without the other.
What was Eli doing right then? Was he lying in bed thinking about her? Was he obsessing over their kiss? He’d seen her naked the day his Pride had attacked; had he liked what he’d seen or had he even noticed?
And how pathetic was she that she wondered whether he liked her naked when his Pride had come to attack her Pack?
She hated to admit it, even to herself, but she’d liked hanging out with him, even if she’d tried to push him away the whole time. But she’d meant what she’d said; they could never work. He’d want cubs and she never wanted to be a mom. Never. She knew that wouldn’t change. It had been that way as long as she could remember. She loved Rieka and was glad Nova had had her, but that was as close to parenthood she ever wanted to be. She’d just always be the super aunt, always spoiling everyone else’s kids.
Then there was the even more pressing matter of where they’d live. Even if Gray allowed Eli to stay with her in Big River territory, Eli was the Alpha of Tammen. He had a responsibility to the lions. He had a responsibility to the females there.
And there was that stupid jealous tinge in her stomach again. He didn’t have a mate. Obviously. Surely, he wouldn’t have clamped down on her neck if he’d had a harem of females waiting for him back home.
Okay, now she was just being stupid. He didn’t appear to be a liar. Or at least she hoped he wasn’t. Everything he’d said so far was truth. Why would he lie about something like that?
And if his end game had been just to get her back to his home, why wouldn’t he just say that? Why wouldn’t he just tell her she was now his mate and she had to stay with him?
Because he knew her Pack would never allow it.
But she knew, deep down, there was way more to it than that. He was just a good guy. Even when Callie had arrived, he’d been calm and respectful and had gotten Trever off their property. When Brent had tracked Callie to Moe’s, he’d tried to get Brent out of there, he’d tried to keep things calm. It wasn’t his fault Brent had been a total douche canoe.
Laughter made its way through her walls. It was obvious her Pack wasn’t keen on the idea of her being with Eli. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have all come busting up her date…non-date.
She smiled into the dark. She could keep calling it that all she wanted, but she knew exactly what that was today. She and Eli had had their first date. It might be their last, but she’d always remember how sweet and protective he’d been when he thought someone had upset her.
He was definitely big enough to protect her, but she didn’t need that. She always swore if she ever found a mate, they’d have to accept the fact she’d lived that long without a man’s protection and would continue to live that way. She wanted someone who complimented her life, not someone who felt she needed to be kept under his arm and guarded from the rest of the world.
Her thoughts went to Tristan, the way he glowered at her all night. She knew what was going through his mind, but that was his own problem. His opinion was none of her business. He had to fight his own inner demons. There was literally no way she could make his past better by who she chose to have in her life.
Pushing to a sitting position, she folded her legs under her and stared through the front window. She could hear them talking and laughing. They weren’t talking about her, but it still burned her ass that every single one of them had an opinion on how she should live her life. She hadn’t told Gray to stay away from Nova, even though there had been a fight between the Alpha and Second the first day she was there. She hadn’t told Micah to stay away from Callie, even though she knew having the lionesses in their territory could and did cause a war with her Pride.
The Tammen Pride wasn’t under Rhett’s rule anymore. So what was their problem? It was all fine and dandy to be protective of someone you loved, but she was a big girl. She’d lived on her own for years before finding Tristan and then eventually Big River. Life had been good since then, but she’d survived just fine before.
She wasn’t thinking of leaving them, but come on; couldn’t she at least get the same respect she’d given the two males when they’d found their mates? She didn’t remember hearing Tristan bitch and moan about Callie and Nova. Then again, Emory was really the only one he talked to.
Standing and crossing the room, she grabbed a water bottle from the fridge and downed half of it before setting it down and leaning against the counter. Why couldn’t this all be easier? Why couldn’t her animal have chosen another wolf? Hell, it would’ve even been better if she’d chosen someone from Blackwater or Ravenwood, not someone from a rival fucking Pride.
Well, at least it wasn’t a Deathport wolf.
Laughing at herself again, she carried the bottle back to her futon, laid down, and pulled a pillow over her head to muffle the sounds of her Pack calling out goodnights as they ended their night.
“Night, Emory,” she heard Nova yell.
“Night,” she yelled back through the pillow.
Feet clomped onto the wood porches, doors opened and closed, and then she was met with the sounds of silence. She’d probably end up with another pillow over her head if Callie and Micah decided to make love again tonight. That was really, really something she didn’t need to hear. All it would do was bring up more naughty thoughts of Eli.
With a heavy sigh, she rolled over to her side again and just let her mind wander. She fell asleep to images of Eli’s beautiful golden-brown eyes staring down into hers.