“Suddenly, I smell a pleasant forest scent… No way!”
After the jacket, the next thing that touched her body was his pheromones. Alec was marking Lauren from head to toe with his own pheromones. It was called a pheromone shower, an act of claiming ownership by covering the other person’s body with one’s own pheromones from head to toe.
“Wait a moment!”
His pheromones were more overwhelming than the falling raindrops. Lauren staggered, her legs failing her. Alec supported her by holding onto her shoulders.
“Just hold on a little longer. At least I have to cover up that damn dog smell on you.”
Lauren pushed his chest away. Even beneath his wet shirt, she could vividly feel his cold and firm skin. Even though he was as cold as a plaster statue, her palms felt hot when they touched him. It would be a big problem if he started heating up like he was in heat.
“Just do that much.”
“Don’t accept things like that carelessly from now on.”
Alec glared at the jacket that had fallen to the ground as he spoke.
“When a guy tries to make a move on you, push them away.”
After confirming that his pheromones had transferred onto Lauren’s entire body, Alec withdrew his pheromones and swept back his wet hair. His smooth forehead appeared beneath the wet strands.
Enthralled by his beautiful facial features, Lauren’s gaze was stolen by his golden eyes. Beneath his long, black eyelashes were elongated pupils, like a snake.
“I didn’t realize.”
Lauren quickly lowered her gaze. Are snakes always like that? If she kept staring at those eyes, she felt like she would be completely mesmerized.
“Why didn’t you know? You’re a wolf. Wolves are supposed to have a sensitive sense of smell.”
“I can smell other scents just fine, but I’ve never been good at detecting pheromones. The first time I smelled strong pheromones was when I smelled yours.”
“Yeah. Your pheromones feel exceptionally strong.”
Alec nodded satisfactorily. It seemed that his mood had improved slightly from being drenched in the rain and pressed against the ground.
“Are you going home?”
“Yeah. You should go back too.”
Lauren turned on her heels. The thought of lying in bed while listening to the sound of rain made her feel content. She should also open the window of the second-floor living room where Evelyn’s portrait hung. Evelyn also loved the sound of rain.
Just thinking about it made her heart warm. So, forgetting about saying goodbye, she quickened her pace. And when she arrived in front of the front door…
I realized I hadn’t said goodbye to Alec properly.
And I feel someone following me.
Lauren turned around. That persistent guy was following her like a chick.
‘Why is he chasing after me in such a pitiful state? I can’t even chase him away.’
‘It’s because he’s got a screw loose in the top of his head. He’s a merchant by nature, he must have been tired.’
‘Don’t compare yourself to a merchant, Lauren! Those guys are all scam artists.’
It was two years ago. I remember Evelyn getting angry about being deceived into buying a fake jewel ring. I wanted to throw the ring, now a memento, in the ocean with her ashes, but I threw it some distance away instead, for fear of upsetting Evelyn again.
Now Alec was like that fake jewel ring. A fake adult, a shell of an aristocratic man that everyone envied and feared. I wondered if he, too, had been found out and tossed into the ocean with a whole bunch of someone’s anger on him.
‘How can you run a business if you’re that naive.’
He imitated a worn-out guy, but there was no trace of a child in him now. He had just imprinted on a woman he had never met before, and now he was soaked in rain and following anyone around.
Lauren was about to tell him to go away when she looked up at the sky. Seeing the never-ending raindrops, it seemed like it would rain all night.
‘I should give him an umbrella or something.’
With a sigh, Lauren opened the shop door and went inside. Alec followed suit and stepped inside.
The dim interior was colder than outside in the rain. Shivering from the chilly air, Lauren hesitated for a moment. Alec stood with his arms crossed.
The first thought that came to mind was ‘dangerous.’
It was strange. He seemed just fine when he was getting wet outside, but now he exuded an intimidating presence like a snake ready to swallow this teahouse whole.
He occupied the center of the teahouse and looked around. The heavy atmosphere he emitted weighed heavily on the surroundings.
Instinctively, the hairs on my back bristled. A compulsion crawled up my spine as if I were about to let this snake take over my territory. Not just this space, but even myself.
‘I should quickly give him the umbrella and send him away.’
Lauren rummaged through the corner of the counter and grabbed the longest umbrella. This should be enough to shield him from the raindrops falling on that big guy.
When Lauren was trying to lift her stooped upper body, her head spun and her legs weakened. It wasn’t anemia. Lauren knew this feeling well.
‘He poured out pheromones like crazy!’
Lauren’s cheeks were burning. She had to get rid of that guy before her symptoms got worse. Didn’t something similar happen here a few days ago?
Lauren put strength into her legs and walked slowly towards Alec. Her gait must have looked unnatural, but Alec was not coming towards her. He was standing in his place, looking down at her as if waiting for her to come to him.
“Here. Use this and go back.”
When Lauren held out the umbrella, Alec stared blankly at it. More precisely, he was looking at the small white hand that was holding the umbrella. He didn’t take the offered umbrella and instead sat on a nearby table.
Lauren tilted her head in confusion. If his fingers were shaking, she would understand, but he didn’t look cold at all, even though he was wearing wet clothes. His robust body that was revealed under his wet clothes was not something that would not shiver due to the weather or temperature.
Alec shrugged his shoulders and complained about the cold again. She was such a stubborn woman who didn’t believe what he said. If she had been any other woman, she would have laid me down on the bed and climbed on top of me. Making the excuse that she was going to warm up my body.
“Oh, I see, it’s been raining, so you might be cold.”
But that brick of a woman was nodding her head in disbelief. It seemed like she had a harsh look in her eyes that said, ‘What do you want me to do about you being cold?’ while holding out the umbrella again and making it clear that she wanted to chase me away.
‘It seems like nothing ever goes as planned with this woman.’
She had been trying to seduce me saying that she could only smell my pheromones, and now I wondered why she was keeping her distance from me.
This kind of push-and-pull game was new to him. Alec let out a deep sigh and turned his eyes. The loser had to retreat.
“Don’t be mean and give me a cup of hot tea.”
“Sorry, but business today is over.”
Lauren refused him sharply and forcibly placed the umbrella on Alec’s hand.
Ha! Alec snorted as he alternated between the umbrella and Lauren.
“You said you were a god and boasted about your broad-mindedness, but now you’re just a cold-hearted merchant.”
“Merchant? Are you saying that I’m a scammer?”
Lauren pointed at herself with her mouth wide open. When she heard the word merchant, she remembered that story of buying a fake jewel ring.
“You treat me like a scammer, lumping me in with merchants, even though I only sell tea? That’s a bit of a leap of logic. Ah, I hope I’m not wrong.”
Alec rubbed his chin and snickered.
“You tricked me, erased my memories, and ran away, so calling you a scammer is fitting. You trampled on the innocence of a male who imprinted on you.”
“Please stop talking about it now. That’s already settled!”
“Settled? Ah, yes. I almost forgot to mention that you compensated me with 34 sillons and 9 cents. Never in my life have I met a better hustler than you.”
Lauren opened her mouth to refute Alec’s words, but she had nothing to say. How long was she going to endure this? Even precious tea leaves would taste bitter if they were steeped for this long.
‘If only I could punch that black-haired head once.’
Lauren glared at the crown of Alec’s head, clenched her fists, and took a deep breath.
It was better this way. Her emotions had subsided a bit due to the sudden surge of anger and desire.
Meanwhile, Alec had pulled up a chair and sat down, completely relaxed.
“Just a cup of hot coffee and a fruit tea.”
“Oh, and don’t forget to put two spoons of honey in the fruit tea.”
“You want me to make two cups?”
“I said I’m cold from getting soaked in the rain.”
Alec repeated his initial request while unbuttoning his shirt. As he rolled up his wet sleeves, his firm wrists and perfectly defined forearms exuded masculine charm.
But Lauren’s gaze was still fixed on Alec’s tantalizing head, which was perfect for punching with a honey-coated fist.
‘That’s right. This bastard is a snake, he can’t withstand the cold.’
She had heard that aquatic shifters have difficulty regulating their body temperature. Lauren struggled to get up and headed for the kitchen. Fortunately, thanks to that tantalizing man, her mind was clear.
Lauren brewed coffee and fruit tea with boiling water and placed two cups on Alec’s table.
“Hurry up and drink it and leave.”
Alec looked down at the two teacups in front of him and pushed the one with fruit tea towards the opposite side.
“You can have this one.”
“I don’t need it.”
Just as Lauren was about to turn around and head back to the kitchen…
“It’s lonely drinking alone.”
Alec gently took her wrist and smiled bitterly. But today, for some reason, Lauren was indifferent and unresponsive.
“Fine. Go ahead, leave me. I just met with the clan that abandoned me, and I’m feeling down, but being alone is better.”
Alec let go of Lauren’s wrist and sipped his coffee. Lauren silently sat in the seat across from him, looking at him.
“Why aren’t you leaving. Do I look pitiful?”
Alec chuckled as he swallowed another sip of coffee that wasn’t even hot.
“No, it’s just because you’re just like me.”
Lauren gazed silently at the hot fruit tea. The yellowish tea, which contained dried apples and pears, emitted a sweet aroma, but it was too hot to drink right away.
“That’s not true. I have too much money to be like you.”
Alec joked and laughed bitterly. He felt comforted by the fact that Lauren showed her true feelings. It was as if he and the wolf who had been watching over him had similar circumstances. Both of them were strange in their own way.