Jared leaned back on a nearby tree, looking at her with a curious expression.
“You’re very pretty."
She felt heat race over her skin. The admiration in his eyes embarrassed her and inside her wolf sniffed with disdain.
“Is there something up between you and Erik? TJ swears you two are scented like Mates, but…” He shrugged. “You’re not acting like it. Just in case you’re interested in a –”
“I don’t want to get involved with you.” Maggie’s tongue tripped over itself in her hurry to turn him down. An icky sensation covered her at the thought of touching anyone but Erik.
Jared laughed out loud, his face split with an ear-to-ear grin. When he finally got himself under control he wiped the tears from his eyes and sucked in air. “I was going to ask if you were interested in a little advice. Sweetie, if you’re scented to the Beta, I’m not going anywhere near you in a sexual way, even if you beg. I’d like to keep the family jewels intact and usable for a few more years.”
She didn’t think she could be any more embarrassed. She’d been jumping to conclusions left and right lately. “Sorry.” She lifted her gaze to find him still grinning. “So, what’s your advice?”
Jared shrugged. “You don’t seem to know much about him. The mate thing is supposed to be cool, as in you know for certain they’re the only one for you. Yada yada. I know it works. I’ve seen it with the Alphas, and with others in the pack. I still think there’s nothing wrong with a little good old-fashioned conversation to go along with the instant physical attraction and the lifelong chemical bond.”
Maggie stood stunned for a moment.
“What? You look like I just suggested the two of you go bite heads off live chickens or something.”
She snorted. “I’ll confess your advice is not what I expected to hear.”
Jared adjusted the straps on his pack and pointed up the trail. He resumed talking as she walked beside him. “Why? Because you heard I like the ladies? I do, and if you weren’t taken I’d be doing my damnedest to romance you. But I’m not stupid, I like more than a tumble. Sex is fun, but my hand is a lot safer than a regular routine of loving and leaving without more than a howdy-do and goodbye.”
Maggie walked in silence for a minute before facing him. “That’s good advice.”
He winked. “And if you’re not mates, then…”
She swung at him lightly and he danced ahead of her, laughing. She took a deep breath and followed.