15. You, me and the truth
The beat of his thudding heart soothed me, releasing me from the fear that had clenched a tight fist around my chest until I saw him open his eyes. My head was nestled on his torso, refusing to pull away- too scared that if it did, he was going to be gone again.
“Well, if I was dead, then I was in heaven already.” He chuckled, pushing himself up from the filthy floor that he was lying on.
It had been at least a few hours since we were thrown into the small, dirty room that we were in. I couldn’t help but think that I was having a deja-vu. It was only earlier in the day that I woke up in another room, much like this one, after those two guys kidnapped me. All I could remember was trying to run away before they knocked me out, and then there was nothing- just coming to my senses again in this horrible place, with an unconscious and bleeding Callum next to me.
As he lay there on the ground unconscious, his clothes soaked in blood and his face missing that infuriating usual smirk of his, the idea that there was a chance he was dying made me feel like my whole world was going to shatter if I lost him. Just the mere thought of that was like someone had punched the air out of me.
But I couldn’t lose him. I wasn’t going to allow it. I needed him.
My thoughts made no sense as I barely knew him and yet, deep down, I could sense that losing him would be like losing a piece of my soul.
“Were you worried about me, Flame?” Even if I couldn’t see his face, the cockiness in his tone was enough to imagine his smug grin. And he’s back!
I wanted to smack him for scaring the shit out of me- he didn’t get to play tough guy and act like it was no big deal or that I was overreacting.
“Of course I was. And I still am- you are bleeding. If we don’t get out of here on time….” The words got stuck in my throat like a lump that obstructed my breathing. I couldn’t bring myself even to finish the sentence. The tears in my eyes were trying their best to escape but I fought them back, refusing to let him see me fall apart.
But instead of making another joke about it, he pulled me in and wrapped his strong arms around me. “Hey, it’s going to be fine. I promise! I will never let anything happen to you-- and for that reason alone, I am not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. It will take a lot more for you to get rid of me.”
His words were so genuine that I could feel them in my soul. My whole being shivered as he brushed a strand of hair from my face with his fingers. In the most surreal and inexplicable way, at that moment, I knew that no matter what, Callum was always going to protect me.
“It’s all my fault,” I whispered with a trembling voice.
“It’s not your fault, mmm….” A deep sigh escaped his lips as he held something back. “Flame. I knew you were in danger and I wanted to help you out but this was my choice. The men holding us now work for your boss but I will get us out of here, don’t worry.”
He sounded so confident that I wondered if he knew something that I did not. His voice sounded so reassuring that I found myself believing him for a second.
Until my common sense kicked in again.
I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I had to point out his injuries to him. Maybe he didn’t even realise that he was shot multiple times. Fuck, thinking about this made my eyes prick with tears.
“You are injured, Callum- you need to rest.”
The silence that settled between us was comfortable and yet it had a note of secrecy to it. The way he looked at me, like he was hiding something from me, had me feeling uneasy. I already bore my soul to him the previous day just to find myself regretting it later and I was anxious about what else was still lurking amongst all the unspoken truths between us.
Get it together, Scar- he is just a man and you are no little girl. Call him out on it!
My little inner pep talk did the job. “Listen- if we are going to make it out of here, I need to know what’s going on.”
The hesitation written across his face confirmed my suspicions, even more so when he averted his gaze.
“It’s not that simple, Flame.”
“When is it ever! But whatever it is, you need to tell me, Callum.” His eyes flashed yellow in response to my plea and, once again, I found myself wondering whether there was more to this man than met the eye.
The inner struggle that he was going through was evident- if it was not for his mouth that kept on opening and closing like he wanted to say something, his ever-moving eyebrows and changing facial expressions gave him away.
When he finally spoke, his tone was one of resignation. “Look... I want to tell you everything but it’s more complicated than you can imagine.”
Ha! I shook my head in disagreement. In my mind, I had already gone through countless possible- and impossible- scenarios of what he was hiding, so he had no clue just how vast my imagination was. I was still nervous about the actual truth, but it was pretty difficult for things to get worse given our situation. Unless he turned out to be a serial killer... somehow, I did not see him as one though.
Suddenly, everything about him changed. He became more sombre, glum, humourless even. “I’m serious, Scarlett- I don’t know if you are ready for this.”
Whatever it was that he wanted to tell was clearly significant, but this whole bullshit about not knowing whether I could take it was starting to piss me right off.
“For fuck’s sake, Callum, I am not a damn child and if you keep on going like this, I swear, I will punch you, injuries or not.”
The dejected sigh that I got in response was an indication that he was finally starting to understand that I was just as serious as he was.
“Okay. But you have to keep an open mind. Promise?” He tilted his head to the side and gave me an expectant look from underneath his cocked eyebrows but I really didn’t get why he seemed to doubt me.
“Fine, fine. I will.”
Yet, he was annoyingly insistent about it. “Promise me, Scarlett.”
“I promise,” I rolled my eyes,” I will keep an open mind. Now can you please get on with it?”
His shoulders slumped back as he pushed himself against the wall to rest a bit. I had to admit that he was looking much better than he did earlier but I was nonetheless worried about him not getting proper medical care- I tried to stop the bleeding with my jumper, which I tore in pieces to and wrapped around the injured areas before he woke up, but that was not going to do the trick for a long time.
“Have you ever heard of shifters?”
“Yes, shifters. Humans who can shift into an animal. Well, not just any animal- the animal that they are born with. It could be a wolf, a dragon, a lion, a fox...a bear.” He paused but his eyes remained on me, studying me. “Any animal, really.”
“Like werewolves?” I was this close to laughing in disbelief but I tried my best to keep it in.
“Sort of. Werewolves are more of a legend that made its way into modern culture- you know, the whole cliche of someone turning into a wolf at a full moon and having the beast mindlessly take over? Shifters can shift into their animals whenever they decide, and the human and the animal coexist in the mind. I guess that’s what the werewolf legends were based on.”
He spoke with such calmness about the whole thing as if quoting facts from an encyclopedia and not talking about made-up, non-existent creatures.
“Are you being serious, Callum? Shapeshifters, really?” I couldn’t help it as I cracked up laughing until he scolded me with his eyes, reminding me of my promise. “Okay, okay- sorry.” A deep breath was needed so that I could continue, or I was going to end up bursting into laughter again. “Are you talking about some Scottish legend or something? Maybe you hit your head when you got shot and that messed up your mind, so now you think those myths are...real?”
A low roar came from him.
Jesus, he really is taking this too far. Is he trying to convince me that he is one? Maybe his condition was more critical than I had imagined because he sounded borderline delirious.
“I know this probably sounds insane to you, Scar.” Insane was one way to put it. “But the shifter world does exist. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of shifters in the area.”
“Let me guess; you are one of those shifters?” I snorted. By now I was genuinely starting to hope that this was because of his injuries and not because he was actually nuts. Just my luck to be attracted to a guy who is going bonkers.
“I am.” He nodded. “A bear shifter.”
I wanted to laugh again but there was something so fitting about what he claimed. After all, wasn’t I the one who thought the same in the pub- that he reminded me of a bear? Even his little trick moments ago resembled a bear’s roar.
What’s wrong with me? Shifters didn’t exist and I was as crazy as he was for even entertaining the idea.
“I can see that you don’t believe me, Flame,” he spoke again, never breaking our eye contact. “Let me show you.”
Poor Scar- once again held captive and left to fear for Callum’s life as he lays there unconscious. If only she knew what he was dreaming about in the meantime...🤭🤭🤭
Meanwhile, the cat is out of the bag about the shifters world but it doesn’t sound like Scar is taking it too well. Will Callum be able to convince her or will she have to understand things the hard way?
Let me tell you, Friday is going to be emotional and action-packed, so I hope you are ready for it (yes, I have been saying this for a while but the time has come now 😬).