Tommy swallowed thickly and tried to push back the fear clawing at his throat as he stood shakily to his feet and muttered something unintelligble to the room before rushing towards the bedroom where he grabbed his bag and began to stuff his clothes and belongings inside of it. He felt more than heard Ton follow him into the room. He ignored him and continued to grab clothes and shoes, undergarments and only stopped when Ton grabbed his arms and held him tightly against him. It was only then that he realized that he was shaking.
"Ssshhh. It's okay beautiful. Don't you know by now that I'm not going to let anything happen to you? Don't you remember what happened to the last men that attacked you?" Ton whispered reassuringly into his ear. Tommy nodded as he remembered his attack and the news reports that came in shortly after about the "wolf" attack on the men who had done it. He knew that Ton would do everything that he could to protect him and although his mate was huge and a wolf shifter to boot, he wasn't Adam Quinn. Adam Quinn was ruthless, cold-hearted, and he had connections...seedy, underhanded, illegal connections, as well as respectable, wealthy, high society ones. The fact that he'd been arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced was largely in part because of the overwhelming evidence, photos, videotapes, audio recordings, threatening emails and text messages that proved that Adam had been ruthlessly and senselessly beating Tommy for a while. If they hadn't had those key pieces of evidence Adam would never have seen a courtroom. So it didn't make sense that the man could be out of jail. That he could have found him. That he was still threatening his life.
Tommy pressed his body close to Ton's and took a shuddering breath, "I don't want anything to happen to you," he whispered into the bigger man's chest. He felt Ton stiffen slightly and pull back a little to look down at him.
"You were trying to run to protect me?" he asked incredulously. Confused by the disbelief in his mate's tone Tommy merely nodded his head. Had he broken some sacred wolf shifter mate code or something? Was he not supposed to try and protect his mate? Was he supposed to simply let Ton take care of him but never reciprocate? Tommy snorted mentally. That would never happen. If Ton insisted on taking care of him and protecting him then he would just have to get used to the fact that Tommy would be doing the same thing for him.
"I can't remember the last time that someone tried to protect me," he heard Ton whisper in shock and he felt his body fill with warmth at the underlying sound of awe that tinged his mate's words.
"Well, get used to it. I may be small and like to dress up in drag, but I am all man under here and I protect what's mine," Tommy said fiercely, wrapping his arms around Ton's waist and placing a kiss on the cowboy's chest. He felt Ton's chuckle rumble through his chest and sighed contentedly. He was still afraid for Ton, and for everyone else on the ranch, Adam could be vicious when provoked. He didn't want to put anyone in danger but it seemed as if his mate was refusing to let him leave and to be quite honest, he didn't really want to go anywhere anyway. He had never felt safer than he did at that moment with Ton's arms wrapped around him tightly, their hearts beating in sync with each other. He wished the rest of the world would just fade away, but he was aware that that was impossible. Life continued, regardless of the tender moment that he was sharing with his mate, the world kept spinning, and their guests were still sitting in the dining room, probably wondering what was going on...THEIR GUESTS!
Tommy stiffened and then stepped out of Ton's arms with a gasp. Ignoring the other man's look of confusion, he hurried into the bathroom and gave a small cry of dismay at his appearance. His hair and makeup were smudged. Shooing Ton out of the bathroom he set about the task of fixing his appearance before returning to the dining room table and the people who waited there.
Ton grunted when the bathroom door shut in his face and turned to head back into the dining room, barely sparing a glance at his mate's hastily packed bag knowing that the smaller man wasn't going anywhere without him tagging along. Stepping back into the dining room he was happy to see that no one had left. He was coming to realize that the number of people who cared about him was a lot bigger than just his sister Luci. He hand friends, their mates, their families and now...he had his own mate. A little spitfire who had been willing to leave him, just to keep him safe, even though Ton was so much bigger than him. It was almost as if Tommy didn't see his size. It was a little bit of a relief, especially when that seemed to be all that others could see.
"How is he?" he heard Richard ask and he nodded with a small quirk of his lips. He had never been happier than the day he'd gone to pick up the alpha mate's best friend and smelled his mate among the crowd. When he saw the beautiful little man sashaying his way he had struggled to remember that his mate was there when all he wanted to do at that point was to lift Tommy into his arms and fuck him against the nearest wall. He'd been the happiest cowboy around when he'd discovered that the beautiful little man and his mate were one and the same. He had been waiting for his mate his entire life and he'd be damned if he was going to let some punk ass come and threaten the man that he loved.
Ton pulled up short, his head tilting to the side and his eyebrows flew into his hairline. Loved? Did he just say love? He didn't love Tommy. He couldn't love Tommy, it was too soon. Regardless of what those romance novels that his sister read and he, you know, glanced at occasionally said, mates did not fall in love instantly. The possessiveness, the protectiveness was there, the connection was deep and long lasting, but love? Love was not an automatic thing. He shook himself out of his mental stupor. He couldn't love Tommy, it was way too soon. He'd obviously just thought that because of the fact that his mate's life was in danger, yeah, that was it. The danger to his mate made his wolf snarl and growl and struggle to get out, while making his human self, emotional and mushy. Just like he was some goddamn chick in one of those sappy romance novels. Next someone would ask him what was wrong and he'd answer and say something stupid and Tommy would be standing right there, they would argue and Tommy would leave then Adam would kidnap him and he would spend the next...oh fifty pages or so, trying to get him back, when he would then admit his love for the smaller man, Tommy would say it back and the book would end with them having sex in some impossible way, with a lot of moaning, groaning and trite dialogue. Life did not imitate art.
"Hey man, what's wrong?" he heard Ross ask him and before he could open his mouth and say something incredibly stupid like, "Oh you know, my mate, you know the cross-dressing human? Has got someone trying to kill him and I think I may be feeling something for him, but that's not possible, because he's a human and I'm a wolf. He may be my mate, but he'll never be my lover," he smelled his mate return to the room. Turning towards him, he felt his mouth drop open in amazement and his breath catch in his chest.
Tommy had changed into a pair of tight jeans with a red cotton shirt that hung off one shoulder, the sleeves coming ending right at his wrists. He had pulled his hair up into a ponytail at the top of his head, He had replaced his makeup, his lips were a soft shade of red, looking plump and wet, and he was wearing a pair of red pumps. He looked breathtaking and Ton felt his wolf growling inside of him, wanting to claim his mate, on the table in front of everyone. More than that, however, he wanted to fall to his knees before the other man and wrap his arms around him and beg him to never leave him or let him go.
With that thought in his head, the truth smacked him like a two by four. He was a character from a fucking romance novel because he realized at that moment that he loved his mate. Hopelessly, fiercely and forever.