It's a Free Country
For the next few minutes, I bordered on unconscious. I could hear some shuffling motion, doors being opened and closed, a few gasps and Grey’s worried tone. Atticus had disappeared somewhere.
Reece was carrying me so gingerly, as if I weighed nothing more than a book, and for quite a while now too. My eyes were still shut and my face was towards his chest - his bare chest. The contact was soothing, and it made me feel sleepy but I refused to pass out.
We were indoors now, I could tell because the cold AC air hit me, and I shivered slightly.
“She’s cold, switch on the heater. Somebody get me a change of clothes. Where are the towels? Where’s Dani?” Reece kept giving out orders.
Who were these people? The hotel staff maybe?
“Yes Alph- Mr Wolf.” Came a man’s voice, sounding apologetic for the title he was about to use.
What did that mean? Alpha?
“It’s okay.” Reece replied, his tone warm despite how tensed I could feel his muscles were.
He’s a good leader.
“What happened? Seriously, she looks white!” Grey hushed softly to Reece while the rest were bustling around.
I tried not to move, hoping they’d continue to converse openly.
“She’s fighting it Grey. And I can’t even blame her - after what happened - why should she ever trust me?” The anguish in his voice was the only indication of how close he was to a breakdown. It tugged at my own heart and I had to suppress the pain that blossomed.
“Alpha it wasn’t your fault - you couldn’t have known,” Grey spoke desperately. “Please calm down or you will hurt someone.” He spoke more urgently.
“She’s in my arms, Grey. I’m not in danger of losing control”
What the heck is going on?
He stiffened after a second, and I didn’t hear any more conversation. After a minute of silence I heard Grey say, “Okay. Link if you need anything.”
I heard the distinct sound of a door being shut and I knew that we were alone.
Reece moved forward and placed me on the bed, and I immediately missed the warmth he provided.
I opened my eyes to see him turn around to a set of towels as he opened one up.
“Reece.” my voice was low. He immediately dropped what he was doing and stood by me. His eyes going over every inch of my sleeping form.
“How are you? Are you okay? ” His tone was laced with worry. He sat down on the edge of the bed with one hand gently stroking my wet hair.
“Yeah.” I spoke without meeting his gaze, which was now fixated on my face.
He took the towel and sat on the bed next to me, “are you sure?” He asked again and I nodded.
“What happened?” I looked directly at him this time, it was my turn to read his eyes.
Reece averted his gaze,“I’m not sure Flora. I think you just over exerted yourself.” He was lying. I was so sure he was lying.
But the concern was real.
“Reece, is something going on? Something you’re not telling me?” I tried again and he sighed. I could tell that he didn’t want to lie to me.
“Flo, you need to rest.” He wasn’t going to answer and I knew that, but that only got me more agitated. If he refused to clear the air then he was only going to confuse me more.
Why couldn’t he just open up to me?! This is what happened the last time as well! Secrets secrets secrets..
My mood soured and I wanted to be alone, to sort this out in my head. He was not going to let me think straight.
I tried to get up from the bed but Reece’s hand pushed me down firmly.
We’ve reduced to one word conversations now.
He was unreadable as he said it, but what use was a wall to me? I needed emotions, some indication of what was going on.
“I want to go back to my room. Shower, sleep. I’m all wet and cold.” I protested, as I moved to get up again.
His hand held its place, and effectively so did I.
I still felt so weak and yet a small fire had lit inside me. I wouldn’t be able to stay calm for long.
“I’ll fix that for you.” He then moved to grab the towel and a fresh set of clothes.
“You won’t be able to last a shower. So just please Flo, don’t fight this, okay?” He said softly.
That wasn’t entirely true, I might’ve been able to do it, but I knew there was no point in arguing with a wall, it would not yield.
Reece’s hand hovered over my robe, towards the knot I’d tied.
I burned red, my cheeks flaming at the thought of the scanty bikini I had on.
“Stop! Stop! I’ll do it.” I spoke urgently, before he could proceed further.
Reece looked at me once before nodding.
“I’ll be outside.”
“I’ll call you if I need anything.”
I welcomed the space gladly as it calmed some of my inner turmoil. I needed to think straight.
I needed answers as well! Enough was enough!
“I’m done!” I shouted as I put a towel around my wet hair. I was wearing a pair of clothes that were kept for me by the hotel staff, the shirt was so large that I had to roll the sleeves over several times before my wrists could be seen. Not to mention that the pants were as loose. I feared that they’d slip off but the shirt was long enough to cover enough of my legs, just in case.
They smelled like Reece - earthy and sweet.
He was inside in a flash.
“Don’t sit up! Lie down.” Reece reprimanded and something inside me heated up again.
He made me change into his clothes, refuses to let me leave the room, and refrains from explaining this behavior!
“I’m fine, I’m feeling better now.” My words lacked the common courtesy and politeness that I generally used.
Not that he cared, he pushed me back down onto the bed and raised the covers up to my neck in a flash.
“Reece!” The sudden movement startled me.
“Shhhh. Sleep.” He murmured over me. His calm attitude was only serving to agitate me more. He was acting like he was completely oblivious to how unacceptable his behavior was!
“NO.” I got louder.
“Okay then at least stay put.” He bargained and I fumed.
Why should I do anything he says?
I sat stubbornly against stacked up pillows, with my arms folded across my chest as I glared at him.
“You’re not going to tell me what is wrong, are you?” I incensed.
Reece just shrugged, his expression helpless, “in a while. Not yet.”
He could see I was close to the brim now, I’d snap any moment.
One of his hands moved to my shoulder, and he sat next to me on the edge of the bed.
The contact calmed me the slightest bit.
“I don’t know.”
“When will you know?”
“I don’t know.”
“And when will you know that?”
“Flora..” he warned and I returned his annoyance with a glare of my own.
God I was trying so hard to be humble! That was it.
“Don’t ‘Flora’ me! You’re hiding things again!” I yelled at him and he seemed to be taken aback.
I tried to get up once more, but I forgot a small detail; his large, warm hand on my shoulder was tightly holding me in place.
He was a swirl of emotions himself, I could see them in his eyes. So much that he held back that it seemed to overwhelm him.
And yet he said NOTHING.
“Reece let go.” I seethed, not hiding my irritation at all.
“Absolutely not.” Even his words were annoying. His short, instructive replies with dominance ingrained in them. Like he was a born leader.
Well it’s a free country.
“You are not the boss of me.” I fought back, trying to pry his hand from my shoulder.
Have I mentioned that his grip is like iron? Only it doesn’t hurt.
“I don’t want to see you hurt, stop struggling.”
“I’ll do that when you stop acting like everyone needs instructions.” I snapped back at him.
His eyes widened slightly, probably at my bold words.
“You’ve changed over these two years.” Was that admiration in his voice?
“The Flora I knew wouldn’t even raise her voice.” Definitely admiration. What the hell is wrong with him? He’s unstable.
“Well you should’ve kept in touch.” The words didn’t come out with as much anger as I’d have liked. Instead, they leaked of sadness and I immediately wanted to change the topic before we delved further into this.
But he caught on, his eyes getting slightly darker as he sighed.
“Flo..” So much pain? He had no right to it.
“I said let go! You can’t keep me here!” I yelled again, both my hands on his as I tried to declaw the arm from my shoulder.
Why oh why was he so much stronger?
“Stop fighting me all the time, it’s not going to get you anywhere.” He spoke in a conversational tone, making it seem so casual.
“Get me anywhere? What is wrong with you? What does that even mean?!” My voice was no longer restrained as I struggled completely now. He moved closer and placed both his hands on each of my shoulders, he did it with such ease, nothing I did was even affecting his movements! Like trying to scratch a diamond with a feather.
“If you don’t stop struggling I promise I will make sure you can’t move at all.” The sincerity of that threat hit me hard and strong. He spoke so calmly, that it bordered on threatening.
I froze at his words, my body locked for impact. What had gotten into him?
“You’re weak right now! And yet you chose to waste your precious energy on something so futile! Goddess! Just rest a while!”
Okay, he was definitely mad now.
Good job Flo, now he’ll never let you go.
I stopped struggling as I mulled over his words. Then, with a defeated sigh I slumped back into the pillows, watching him with wary eyes.
He got like this sometimes, even before. Unyielding and protective to a whole new level. It was..scary.
“What’s the time?”
His sharp green eyes moved to mine, assessing me as usual. He knew I was trying to change the topic and he was debating if he should let me.
“It’s 6:45.” He answered after a moment.
Some vague part of my memory resurfaced and I bolted up.
“What’s wrong!” Reece straightened up as well, his hand immediately enclosing mine.
“I have to go pick up Xena! I will be late! I completely forgot.” I said more to myself as I moved towards the lower edge of the bed.
The next second I was dragged back and pinned under the half naked body of Reece Wolf.
“You are not going anywhere and you’re especially not driving!”
I think it was safe to say that I’d pushed him over whatever edge he was.
Tsk tsk. Such mood swings.
But I couldn’t concentrate on anything except how his chiseled chest felt against my tender one. How the weight of his body on me was doing things to me that would be very, very bad. His hands were on either of my sides holding my own, thinner ones, down firmly. But the most encompassing was his gaze. Two dark green eyes looking straight into mine, challenging me silently to even dare to move an inch.
Well, I dare.
“Bite me.” I challenged him in my moment of bravery and his eyes went black.
He stiffened above me and I could feel the ripple of his muscles more prominently.
His eyes, did they really change color..?
“Don’t tempt me.” He spoke with a thick voice and I couldn’t help feeling that there was an undercurrent to his words. He genuinely meant that.
“I will send somebody to pick her up. It’ll all be taken care of.” He continued.
I just stared at him, mute. The sparks that were flowing from the contact had somehow diminished my ability to speak.
It felt so good. So intense, but so good. When we were so close, all logic flew out of the window - I just felt right.
All I wanted to do was to put my arms around his neck and pull him closer.
Why did we ever have to break up? Why did he shut me out? Scream and say all those horrible things? I needed answers. I needed answers before -
His eyes had changed, they were back to their forest green shade, and I was sure it wasn’t the lighting.
“Okay.” I spoke in daze and he nodded at me.
And just like that, the moment was over. He got off of me and moved towards the end of the room, reaching for his cell phone.
Rejection washed over me like an ice bucket. Everything was so messed up, on one hand I didn’t want this to happen, and on the other I wanted it.
The sight of his back towards me made me want to scream in frustration.
What did he want?! He did all these things that incited my ridiculous fantasies and then he chose not to act upon it? What was he doing?
What was I doing?
Friendship isn’t a good idea if you can’t stay away.
My blanket came off and my feet were on the ground in a moment. I needed to leave.
Reece was still facing his back to me, talking on the phone and I decided to make a dash for it.
“I’ll just drag you back.” His voice startled me, he hadn’t even turned around! He placed the phone back down and faced me.
“And this time, I might even consider handcuffs.” He added and I went crimson. My heart was in a frenzy.
What was he doing to me?! Couldn’t he see that his actions still affected me? That I needed to take off or else I’d be reduced to a blithering shivering mess? If he could, then God, he was just cruel.
“I’m fine. I’d like to go back to my room.” I couldn’t stand to speak like this, like I needed his permission. My voice was wavering.
“Just sleep here.” He sighed as he walked closer.
“Nope.” I moved to the edge of the bed, further away from him.
That’s right Flo, keep a strict, no contact policy.
“Flora..” He was exasperated, his eyes had dark circles under them. He didn’t step closer, but it was only a matter of time.
“You should sleep though, you look tired.” I deadpanned as I moved further away. I would keep up my facade. I would not let him see what he can do to me.
He was in front of me in a flash, but this time I was expecting it.
“How do you do that!?”
“I saw you there and then-”
“I’m fast.” His tone was mocking and I felt my anger rise.
Let’s just get to the point.
“Reece. What do you want from me?” I asked him, maintaining complete eye contact.
His eyes widened a fraction, maybe he didn’t expect my upfront attitude - I had changed over these two years after all - and he stared at me determinedly.
“For you to get some rest. That’s what I want.” He spoke evenly.
“Well I want some answers in return.”
“Deal,” he agreed, and then added,” some.”
And I want you to stay a foot away from me.
I got back into the bed and pulled the covers up, but I didn’t lie down.
Reece moved to sit next to me, he was twiddling his thumbs.
“You know what’s wrong with me.”
“That’s not a question.”
“Alright fine. Yes I do.”
My heart beat sped up.
“Why won’t you tell me?” My voice was soft, sad.
“Because you’re not ready for it yet.” He said simply, shrugging his shoulders.
“Is it fixable?”
“Yes.” His answers were short, to the point.
We were quiet for a moment; so many questions brimming over but I didn’t think my picture was going to get any clearer.
“I have a question.” Reece said suddenly.
“That is not the deal.” I countered, but he went on anyway.
“Don’t you want to know why I apologized? After all this while?” He was slightly leaning in, his eyes never leaving my face as he tried to read me. I thought about it, I had wanted to know - yesterday - but today I’d realized that it was a lost cause.
“I did, but now not so much.”
“That’s two questions.” I countered again.
“Why, Flora?” He asked, ignoring my statement and I sighed.
“Because it’s in the past, it doesn’t matter.” I said while looking down, at my hands. Why bother when everything was beyond repair?
“It doesn’t matter anymore?” His tone made me look back up at him, he seemed so helpless.
“Yes, I suppose.” I said carefully, trying to read him.
He raised both his hands and put them on either side of my face.
“So you don’t like me anymore?”
I choked at his words, had he just asked me that?! So directly? I tried to turn my face away from his smoldering eyes, boring into mine, but his hands effectively cut off that escape. My heart was beating so fast, I was certain he could hear it.
Did I still like him?
Yes. No shit, yes.
And then I stupidly said, “that’s not true.” Right before realization struck me and my eyes widened.
What had I just admitted to?! Oh my god why can’t you keep your shit together for one single second!
Reece who was looking at me heartbroken suddenly beamed at me, his pearly whites showing off like I’d just given him the world. My expression turned horrified as I moved out of his hands, jerking my head back and desperately looking for a way out of this.
And then he pulled me closer, leaned forward himself, and my eyes widened further as our lips were about to touch.