HEAT

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Push Me and See

Hycinth

The room was dark. Velvety curtains, the color of deep cobalt, hung over blackout blinds and ensured virtually no light penetrated the space.

I liked it that way....dark.

It was how the world should be because color and light just made me feel the pain of everything I had lost. I couldn’t take it. I burrowed deeper beneath the covers, wishing to blend in with the blackness, to fade into an empty void of nothingness where I just stopped feeling.

But it didn’t work...

...it never worked.

I couldn’t shut off my thoughts and emotions. I couldn’t stop grieving the past and fearing the future.

Luca had been right. Within two days of his stunning revelation that I was pregnant, I was able to scent the tiny pup growing in my belly. My little male or female. The idea was shocking. I was a mother. And within a few months, there would be a little life completely dependent upon me. How was I going to care for a child when I could barely get out of bed?

I reached out to my Wolf, “Please...I’m begging you, I know you’re mad at me but please...don’t turn your back on your pup.” I needed my Wolf so much it hurt. But even as I cried out the plea, I knew there would be no response.

Minutes went by...

It was the same as it had been over the last four weeks since we’d left Leander. The familiar ache in my chest flexed—her pain radiating through our bond—the only sign she was even still there, and nothing else. Her silence cut me like a knife, over and over.

Salty tears trailed down my cheeks.

Without warning, Lucky entered my room, not bothering to knock, consternation thick in his tone, “Hycinth, get out from under the covers right now! I’ve had enough.”

“Leave me alone!” I grumbled and pulled the comforter tighter around the ball my body had curled into.

We’d had the same fight every morning for the last three weeks. Luca, trying to force me to act like everything was okay when it really wasn’t, and me, telling him to get the hell out.

But there was an edge to his voice I hadn’t heard before. It made me uneasy.

“Not today...,” Lucky gruffed his impatience. Metal rings scraped against the metal curtain rod as he jerked the fabric open. Even buried beneath a thick down blanket, I could tell light flooded the room. “Today, you’re going to get out of bed, take a shower because you stink, and get your ass to work.”

Work?

He was insane if he thought I had the mental capacity to actually work.

“Go away, Luca!” I sniffled. “I’m not doing this with you again. I’m a grown woman who can make my own decisions. Now get the fuck out!”

"Grown woman...,” he repeated derisively under his breath. “I don’t think so. Grown females don’t spend their days crying in bed. I supported you when you chose to leave him, but you’re obviously not handling your decision well, which gives me no choice.”

Alarm shot through me. What did he mean—no choice?

“Either, you get up and get your shit together...or I’m calling Leander!” Lucky hissed.

It was like a bucket of ice had been dropped straight into my soul. Throwing the covers off my head I stared at him in disbelief. Surely, he couldn’t be serious! But the blazing look in his absinthe eyes told me he wasn’t playing any games.

“No!” I cried. “You can’t do that! It’s just pregnancy hormones...every shewolf goes through them.” I grasped at straws, anything to keep him from making that call.

His big arms were wrapped around his chest as he glared. A muscle in his jaw twitched. He didn’t reply. He wasn’t backing down.

“P-please...” Fat tears rolled down my cheeks. “Y-You promised...”

Lips mashed in a straight line, his eyebrows furrowed at my distress. Exhaling heavily, he sat down on the edge of the bed. His tone softened, “Cinn, you can’t keep going like this. It’s not healthy for you or the pup inside you.”

Guilt crashed through me. Was he right? Was I endangering the health of my child?

I bit my lip. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to fix the mess I was in. I sobbed, “I-I don’t know...how.”

Lucky gathered me in his arms. My tears came in force, a torrent of pain I couldn’t stop.

“Shh...I know, I know...” Chin resting on the top of my head, Lucky rocked our upper bodies gently while I cried against his chest.

After a moment, my tears slowed down. I hiccupped and tried not to get snot on his clean shirt but at this point, it was probably a lost cause. He didn’t seem to care.

Instead, he pulled away slightly and brushed the pads of his thumbs over the crest of my cheeks. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Cinn. Leander could make you happy...I know he could...why won’t you let him?”

My face crumpled. We’d been over this. Lucky said he understood, but obviously, he didn’t. Swallowing the thick lump in my throat, I replied gruffly, “You know why.”

“Because he killed mom and dad?” he asked bluntly, his jaw clenched.

Just the words caused an arrow of pain through my heart. My breath hitched, my tone turned accusing, “How can you be so blasé? They were your parents too. They loved us. They would have died for us. Have you forgotten them so quickly?”

“No, I haven’t forgotten,” he replied roughly. “But we were at war, Cinn. They knew that. They knew what their decisions could cost them...and ultimately, did cost of them. They made a grave mistake in doing what they did to Leander’s mother. I understand why Leander couldn’t let that go.”

“I hate it...,” I whispered. “I hate that our parents caused him so much pain. In truth, I don’t blame him for what he did. But, Lucky, they weren’t cold-blooded killers to me. How am I just supposed to forget fifteen years of love and care they gave me? The songs and the tea parties that daddy and I shared...how many other alpha wolves do you know that would let their six-year-old daughter dress them up, sit on the floor and drink imaginary tea with them?” my voice broke, my bottom lip trembling, ”That’s who I remember.”

Lucky exhaled heavily and pressed his forehead to mine. ”Fuck, Cinn, sometimes, I forget how young you were when we lost them. I forget how quickly you were forced to grow up, and how, even sometimes I believe the façade you want everybody to see, the badass female. But you’re not that at all, are you? You’re still the same little girl you were that day they died. Living on the run, we never really talked about our parents. You shut down every conversation I brought up. Is that because you haven’t allowed yourself to truly grieve their loss?”

I didn’t know the answer to that. How could I know whether or not I’d grieved? How did someone even define grief in order to determine whether they’d achieved it or not? Everything inside me just felt broken.

I pulled away, turning my back, and tried to burrow beneath the comforter again.

“No...” Lucky gripped the edge of the blanket with his long fingers, his voice turning hard. “We’re not doing this again. You either face your demons and talk to me, or I’m calling Leander.”

I maneuvered myself back into a seated position and threw my hands in the air. “How can you even threaten me like that? You’re supposed to be on my side. If you understand I’m struggling, why are you pushing me?!”

He stood up from the bed and raked one hand through his blonde locks. “Because I love you, dammit...that’s how!” Making a sound of frustration, he paced toward the wall and back again, his features set in renewed determination. “I won’t let you waste away like this.” He pulled his phone from his pocket. “If you don’t want to talk, fine! But you will get out of the bed and you will begin to live your life...because if you don’t, I make the call!”

Fury rushed through me. How dare he try to strong-arm me into what he wanted me to be?

Throwing my shoulders back, I hissed, “You’re bluffing.”

His eyebrows went up. “Push me...and see.”

“So, what? You just have Lea—” my voice hitched, the pain in my chest made it impossible to say his name, “—him on speed dial? You don’t even have his number.”

“Of course, I have his number.” Lucky rolled his eyes.

Oh, shit...he wasn’t bluffing.

“Ever gave it to me before we left. Even as angry as that Beta was when we walked out the door, he told me to call if you ever needed anything.”

I stared at Lucky for another long moment...

...and then I got out of the bed.

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