Disguise

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Right About Now

I surfaced and resurfaced. One moment I was in the brightly lit reception, the next I was in an elevator, the next a hallway, doors on either side.

I could hear worried tones.

“What happened to her?”

“Oh dear!”

“To think she found out like this..”

“I wonder what Alpha will do.”

I knew that I was in Reece’s arms throughout the journey because of the unmistakable sparks that I felt despite my partially subconscious state. I could also hear him barking out orders to people. Maybe he thought I was not coherent. And he would be right. Nobody in their senses would let a man-wolf carry them. I had to really consider that therapist again.

“I said, give me a count! I need to know!” His voice boomed just above me, and I shivered at the threatening tone.

“Noori! She’s still awake! Give her some more!” Fear pooled into my stomach. He wanted to knock me out?! I had to fight!

“No..!” I managed to groan, fighting the onslaught of pain that came with the slightest movement.

I heard a door being opened and the next second I was gently set on the bed. I missed the warmth he provided. The sparks disappeared and suddenly my body was throbbing even more, as though he was the painkiller I needed. With great difficulty I managed to open my eyes.

We were in one of the hotel rooms, I think it was the one Reece was staying at because it looked closely similar to mine. Basement 2? I couldn’t recall. Reece was standing at the foot of the bed, helping the doctor unpack her supplies. Grey and Dani stood at the doorway, their faces tense and their expressions matching Reece’s. He raised his head to look at me and our eyes met. A chill ran down my spine and my eyes widened in alarm.

He froze before he quickly recovered and moved closer to the head of the bed. The bed sheet under me was soaked red due the slice in my arm. Alarmed at his approach, I tried to raise myself but screamed when the sudden movement burned me. I was in too much pain to try this.

His firm hand pushed me back down instantly, as his jet black eyes burned into mine. “Don’t move! You’re hurt.” He commanded, and I wanted to submit to him. From behind him Daniella let out a low warning,” You’re scaring her, Reece. Don’t yell.” She went back to help Noori.

I looked back and forth between the four of them - Reece next to me, staring down the length of my body with barely restrained anger and grief, Daniella trying to keep everyone calm, Noori too focused on her own equipment and Grey - what was he doing?! I could see him pacing back and forth in the outside corridor just beyond the door, yelling to no one in particular. “Round them all up! Ask them once to co-operate or else finish them! No, don’t keep any prisoner!” He sounded so livid, never had I seen him like this. The usual goofy and calm Grey yelling like a storm.

I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t possibly escape them without a diversion and I couldn’t even move! I was trapped! A large, warm hand came to rest on my forehead and I flinched, making the pain flare.

“Don’t- don’t touch me!”

Reece looked at me in agony and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look at us.

“Flora...” he whined softly and I tightly shut my eyes and shook my head. “This is not real. This is not real. None of this is real. This is just a nightmare, a horrid horrid nightmare.” I opened my eyes again. They were still there.

“She’s in shock.” Noori finally looked up at me, a large needle in one hand. I whimpered at the size of that thing. “Stay away!” I yelled meekly as I tried to get up yet again. Reece’s hand came down on my shoulder and held it’s position this time, not letting me move. “Flora, please. Please try to relax. You are safe now, we won’t hurt you.” He spoke so tenderly, so warmly that his words had an effect on me. They were calming me down. His touch, his sight, his voice - all of it was helping me relax now. How was he doing that?!

“Flora, baby, you need to let Noori have a look at you right now. Please, you’re hurt and you need to let us help you.” I gulped loudly, eyeing them all with suspicion and fear. I’d known them for two years! How could I trust them after today!? They weren’t even human!

But, they hadn’t done anything to hurt me yet. I mean, if they had too, then they should have by now, right?

“Flora, please. Just let us help you.” Daniella spoke this time, turning her head to flash me a solemn expression. My eyes darted between them again, calculating, judging. I took a deep breath, trying to think clearly with the pain. And then finally, I nodded.

“Okay. But you can’t knock me out.” I knew this was stupid. Physically, they could do whatever they wanted and I wouldn’t be able to stop them, and yet they waited. They really wanted it to be my choice.

“But Luna, it will hurt.”

“I know.”

Next to me, Reece let out a frustrated groan. “Flora! You are in pain! I can’t see you like this!” His words only gave a slight indication of how truly on edge he really was. But I knew from the way his other hand clenched the bedpost and his breathing which came in spurts that he was trying not to give away how tormented he felt.

My heart clenched at the sight of the man. He looked tortured and hurt. I wanted to help him, I really did. But how could I trust them when they’d been feeding me a lie all this while? I’d dated a werewolf for a year! Oh god this whole situation was insane!

“No knocking me out.” I maintained my position despite how much effort it took to even speak.

“At least let me give you something for the pain.” Noori supplied, reaching into her suitcase to take out a different syringe. It was filled with red liquid. I eyed it warily, could I trust her to not drug me?

“Flora, I will overrule your decision if you don’t allow this.” Reece’s words made the whole room go silent. Was he blackmailing me? Dani and Grey exchanged a silent look. Noori had her head held down, as if in respect to Reece.

Boy, he really wasn’t joking.

“What-”

“I’m serious. I can’t let you be a danger to yourself. You can get mad at me later.” He continued, his eyes dark. Dani gave me a desperate look. “Flora honestly, we’re doing everything to make you feel safe..”

And so, I nodded.

Noori was quick and efficient, I didn’t even feel the needle go in. We all sat in silence when she pulled it out and placed it back inside. A few seconds passed. A whole minute. Two. And then suddenly, I could feel the pain ebb. It began to recede from my arm and my ankle and my chest until I could feel nothing. I was completely numb.

A big smile lit my face, “I feel nothing!” Whoa! This shit was insane!

Noori let out a shaky laugh and I felt Reece relax next to me. Why would she be nervous?

“I’m going to go now, and see if Grey needs help.” Dani left the room.

“And I’m going to fix you up now.” Her eyes held permission as she reached for her gauze, but it wasn’t directed at me.

“Go ahead, ” Reece answered and then added, “carefully, Noori.”

“Yes Alpha.” She got to work, instructing me politely when she wanted me to move a little or hold something out for her and I did as I was told. I liked her, she was focused, dedicated and thorough. Reece didn’t try to touch me after I’d flinched away from him, but he was watching me like a hawk. I made the mistake of meeting his gaze once and nearly felt my insides melt with the intensity. He stood there like the calm before the storm, barely held back, just about to tip over. Needless to say, I didn’t dare to look at him after that.

She managed to patch up my arm without a hassle, assuring me that it wouldn’t scar and my ankle was firmly fixed in a cast, even though it wasn’t broken.

“If it’s not broken, why have you put a cast?”

“Because I told her to. You’re clumsy.” Reece spoke up and I didn’t question further. Noori patched up a slight cut near my neck when her eyes darted down towards my chest.

And then she simply pulled my t-shirt down, exposing the top of my bikini. “NOORI!” I yelled, trying to pull the fabric back up, completely shocked. “What are you -”

“Look.” she cut me off.

I looked. Reece looked as well, much to my horror.

On the skin just below my neck, there was a bruise the size of a large ball, a small portion of it covered by the costume. It looked hideous.

Reece swore. I ripped the fabric from her clutch and straightened the neckline to cover most of my collar. “It’s fine, really. Completely shallow.” I didn’t even know why I was defending..who was I defending? But the murderous look on Reece’s face made me automatically want to downplay how bad it was.

Truth be told, even I didn’t know. The medication Noori gave me completely wiped out any pain that I felt. It could be nothing, it could be as deep as a bone bruise. “Stop trying to cover it and let me see.” She scolded me. My cheeks burned as I looked between Reece and her. She didn’t think I would pull my t-shirt down, did she?! Not with Reece in the room.

“Flora, do as she says.” What the hell?

I would most certainly not!

“Honestly, there is no need for that! I can tell you it’s fine! It’s paw hit me accidentally -”

“Flora, do as I say, please.” He spoke calmly and yet I knew that there was nothing calm about him. Fuck. How do I get out of this?

“Umm, here? I mean you’re in the room and I-”

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen.”

My jaw dropped. Did he really just say that?! And with Noori in the room listening in to our conversation?!

“Reece! What the hell?” I squeaked, trying to sound outraged but failing. What was this guy on?! I glared at him some more and he only responded with a collected and stern expression. This wasn’t bothering him in the least! But me? Yeah I’d sooner be three feet underground than stay in this room for one more second.

“Alpha?” Noori interrupted our stare-fest and he broke his eyes away from mine to nod at her. Why does she take permission from him!?

Her hands went back to the top of the t-shirt and I raised myself up, out of her reach. She hesitated before looking back at him. “Don’t look at him! Look at me! This is not happening!” I yelled, scandalized.

“Flora-” He waited till I looked at him, “- I think I would like my t-shirt back. Right about now.”

I just sat there with my mouth hanging open.

“Wha-”

“It’s my T-shirt. I lent it to you when you got out of the pool. I want it back.” He spoke each word slowly, as though I was retarded and couldn’t understand him.

“Excuse me! I didn’t have a choice because someone didn’t let me go back to my room!”

“Well here’s your choice. Let Noori have a look at it, or else I’m going back to my room with my T-shirt.”

Gaaaaahh! I could just kill him!

“Fine. Get out.” I snarled back, completely flustered by this point. He gave me a once over before he nodded and stepped out.

------------------------------

Turned out that it wasn’t as serious as Noori thought it might be, but she gave me some medicine for it just the same. A little after fifteen minutes, Reece entered back in. How did he know we were done? I had no idea.

Noori left us alone immediately, with a few instructions for me.

It was so easy to go back to normal after that. I didn’t even remember that he was a formidable shape shifter until my anger melted slightly and I was much more sensible again. The thought of just the two of us together in the room made me anxious. It was weird to keep staring at him while I was lying down on the bed so I tried to sit up again. This time, instead of pushing me down, Reece pulled the pillows up and helped me lean behind him.

I guess I did trust him. They wouldn’t hurt me.

He then wordlessly walked to the other side of the bed, removed his shoes and sat on the bed with me. I took a deep breath and started.

“Tell me.”

“Tomorrow.”

My tongue instantly sparked, “But I -”

“Tomorrow.” He cut me off with a sideways look. I could read so much in his eyes. The hurt, the relief, the anger, all swirling together as he enjoyed this moment of peace that he got.

“Right now, just let me sit here. Next to you.” He spoke so softly that I wasn’t sure I heard him.

Vulnerability. A rare feeling for Reece.

He reached behind for two pillows and placed them between us.

“I promise I won’t cross this line.” The implied message was obvious: he was going to sleep here.

“Reece...” He was a werewolf!

“Just! Please, okay? I almost lost you tonight! I CANNOT leave you alone.” His words held so much pain that for the first time I actually looked at him properly. His hair was a mess, his eyes were red, he was clenching his jaw and he looked so lost. My heart ached for him and I nodded.

“It’s okay, Reece. I’m fine.” I didn’t know that I affected him so much. Why did I affect him so much? Did he...like me? No but he left me! He walked out of my life and he’s a werewolf and -

“Whatever is going on in that pretty little head of yours, please, give it a rest.” He cut my thoughts off. I had to know. But then my head swam. I let out an inaudible gasp as the world spun around. My hands moved to anchor me to the bed, but it didn’t stop the spinning or fight the wave of exhaustion that drowned me.

“Hey! What is happening?!” I managed to stutter just as Reece’s head floated into view. His arm wrapped around my waist and carefully pulled me down, spreading the comforter over me.

“I’m sorry, but you needed to sleep. You need to rest.” He murmured into my ear just as realization hit.

“Asshole.” And then I blacked out.

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