Lupo’s thoughts went to Jasmine, and he wondered about their first Christmas together. A day that would never come and he could only imagine.
“I’m sorry.” Paride leaned to pat Lupo’s shoulder. “It was insensitive of me.”
Lupo gave him a small smile. “It’s okay. I have to get used to her not being around anymore.”
The were-puma opened his mouth to say something, closed it, tilted his head, then finally said, “Would you like to talk about her?”
Paride’s request startled Lupo. He usually didn’t talk about Jasmine. Besides his imaginary dates, he only mentioned her to his fathers. “What do you want to know?” he surprised himself saying.
“How did you meet?” Paride asked.
“I delivered V to her building.”
“Was it love at first sight?”
“You could say that, although I saw her face only the night we ran away.” Lupo smiled at the memory.
“What do you mean?”
“She was a Purist—”
“No way!” Paride scoffed, his eyes wide in surprise. “Your soulmate was a Purist. I can’t believe it.” He slapped Lupo’s arm. “They are the most elitist among the shifters. One of them used to sneak into the den a while back because he was friends with a reject boy, and he told us the most incredible stories about the Purists. They are worse than my parents’ sect. I mean the Puma Aryans are insane, but they don’t force their women to hide under those black garments.”
Lupo chuckled. “I hated that chiton with all my heart.”
The image of Jasmine raising the hem of her shapeless dress filled Lupo’s mind. She reached down, baring her feet and ankles, then stopped and looked at him…
Lupo’s heart slammed against his ribcage at the sight of her white skin. Then he lost his breath when she started removing her flats by loosening the black ribbons hugging her shapely calves.
“You’re killing me,” he whispered.
“I’ve just started.” She made a come-hither gesture, then when he was standing in front of her, she gently pushed him down on his knees and raised the foot still wearing her shoe.
With shaky hands, Lupo accepted her challenge and placed her small foot on his raised knee, then he slowly caressed her calf, untying the bow and releasing the ribbon. He took his time to remove the small shoe, then while he kept her foot down with one hand, he ventured up with the other. His fingers moved along the shape of her leg, discovering her one inch at a time.
At the knee, she covered his hand with hers from above the fabric. “Your touch is… too much.”
Her admission filled him with pride. “I’ve just started.” He slowly caressed his way down her leg, reached her ankle, then smoothed the fabric back in place, and finally took her hand in his. “Let me see you.”
One fat drop of rain splashed over Lupo’s nose, and he blinked back to reality…