Too Much Damage
I paced a living room I’d never been in before. After I’d seen Brinley’s bruised cheek yesterday, I was shocked she thought she could tell me to leave it alone and I would agree. There was no way I was just going to let that go.
I had one of the answers the instant I sniffed her. She’d tried to erase his scent, but I was so hyper-aware of her unique smell, that the slightest change or addition was noticeable. And I had caught it. Langdon.
What I didn’t understand was why. I didn’t know that wolf, but from my brief interactions with him, I didn’t think he would stoop so low as to cause her physical harm. He seemed more honorable than that. So, I masked my face, not letting her see that I knew. I didn’t want her to give me a partial answer. I wanted the complete truth, which meant I would be following her the next morning.
I waited in the shadows when she left, and kept a safe distance behind, out of eyesight, just following her scent. When I reached the large home, getting in the door had been simple. The older shewolf was very warm and friendly even though she didn’t know me. And the instant she opened the door, I slipped past her.
However, when I finally saw Brinley, I thought I was going to lose my mind. She was writhing and breathing heavily on the floor with Langdon right on top of her!
Fury like I had never felt before, rocked through me, burning, consuming every cell in my body. I was shocked I didn’t shift right that second and attack him. But I remembered Brinley was beneath him, and no matter how angry I was, I wouldn’t do anything to endanger her. So, I held on to my sanity by a thin string.
The more I took in my surroundings, the weights and sparring ring, I understood what must have happened. The damage to her cheek had to have been an accident.
So, I wouldn’t kill him. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t avenge his careless mistake with her. I smiled at the image in my head.
Voices from the kitchen interrupted my train of thought. I listened as Langdon joined his mother. He must have finished washing her scent off of him. His voice was low, on edge, but I still heard him. “I don’t think its a good idea to let her talk with him unsupervised. You saw his Wolf, how close he was to coming unhinged. He isn’t stable. Not right now.”
I rolled my eyes. Jackass. He had no idea what he was talking about.
His mother’s voice was soothing, “I know you’re protective of her, but please trust me. He won’t hurt her. And maybe in this uninterrupted moment alone, he will finally say what he needs to.”
“How can you be so sure?” Langdon growled. “And what do you mean, ‘say what he needs to’?”
She sighed, “Please, just trust me.”
He gave a frustrated growl.
She added, “We are still close. If anything happens, we can still protect her.”
I rolled my eyes again and snorted. I tuned them out, no longer concerned about their conversation. My Wolf was restless. He wanted Brinley to hurry up with her shower and return to him. I agreed. A moment later, our wish was fulfilled.
Brinley walked into the living room and stared at me. Auburn hair still wet and combed back away from her face, curves on display with a pair of dark jeans and a formfitting green t-shirt.
For a moment, I couldn’t say anything, too stunned and overwhelmed by her beauty, and her smell—moonlight and lilacs.
I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted her to know how captive she held my heart. But what good would it do her, if the price tag for it was her life? I couldn’t give her anything. Not yet. My thoughts churned in my head.
We needed to talk, but I couldn’t help myself…
I drifted across the room, as if my feet had a mind of their own, until I was right in front of her, and leaned down into her neck. Her heartbeat raced. Inhaling deeply, I let the scent of her wash through me, calming my Wolf. I breathed in an out slowly, each breath more healing than the last. The world around us faded away. Nothing existed except for her.
Brinley stood rooted to the floor, not saying anything. She was so close, but I wanted her closer. My fingers ached to touch her, and once again, the temptation was too much to resist.
My hands curled around her hips. Brinley gasped and stared up at me with wide eyes. I pulled her tight to my body, her palms planted on my chest and her belly pressed against the solid evidence of my desire.
“Oh!” she gasped, and the sweet scent of her arousal filled the air. She quivered in my arms, pliant to my wishes.
But in the next second, her mossy green eyes turned cold, and she shoved at my chest, hard.
I let her go.
Pushing away from me, she stumbled back a few steps.
No! My wolf snarled, unhappy that she didn’t want to be near him.
Brinley breathed fast, anger evident as she hissed, “How dare you!” She inhaled to catch another breath and continued furiously, “How dare you touch me like that! Go home and fuck your girlfriend!”
I couldn’t hold back from her...not anymore...and growled, “I have no girlfriend!”
She froze and looked at me in confusion. “What…when?”
My voice was gruff and low, “Neither of those questions matter. The only real question that matters is why.”
She hesitated, still struggling to figure out what I was talking and then whispered, “Why?"
The answer was so simple…
"She’s not you,” I replied gruffly.
Brinley inhaled sharply, “What are you saying? You want to be together? You want me?”
“Yes,” I exhaled. Of course, I wanted her. I have always wanted her.
Her brow furrowed. “But you said—”
“I lied!” I cut her off with a growl. I didn’t want to remember what I said.
Her lip quivered, pain in her eyes. She asked brokenly, “But why...why would you do that?”
“I had to...I had no choice! He was going to kill you.” I clenched my hands into fists at the memory of my father, the look of pure hatred in his eyes when he stepped forward, fulling intending to end her life.
“In a matter of seconds, you would have been lost to me forever! From the instant I realized who you were, I’ve known your life is in danger. I couldn’t let him see I had any interest whatsoever. I thought it would be better for me to sacrifice what I wanted if it meant you could live.”
Tears fell from her eyes and washed over her cheeks silently.
I continued gruffly, “I was a fool. I thought I could resist the Moon’s pull toward you but I couldn’t. I tried to keep my relationship with Calla and not think about you...”
I grimaced at her reaction, knowing how much pain I caused and forced myself to finish, “…but I couldn’t forget you, ever. Fuck, I knew I was hurting you, and it killed me. But my father would never have relented.”
Multiple emotions passed through her eyes as she processed my words, as she finally knew the truth I’d kept hidden from her. I waited for her to speak, desperate for her to say something.
And then anger returned to her expression. She pointed a finger at me and hissed, “You say your father would never allow it, but what about you? You know you would never allow it either...because the pack would never accept me, the outcast, as their Luna. You’re a coward! Don’t blame this all on him.”
My heart broke that she thought so little of me, but I guessed I deserved it. I growled fiercely, “I would never let any wolf in my pack dictate who I selected as Luna. Nor would I allow any one of them to treat her with less than the respect she deserved, not if they wanted to live.”
My answer wasn’t enough for her. Brinley ranted on, “You could have at least said something! You could have told him how you felt. You could have fought for me!” Her voice caught and dropped off, pain swirling in her eyes as she whispered, "Why didn’t you fight for me?”
My shoulders slumped forward. She didn’t understand, and I couldn’t blame her for reacting like this.
My own heartache broke through the surface. I fought to keep my voice from shaking. “Don’t you think I’ve racked my brains trying to find a way for us to be together? There isn’t one. Not yet. Hell, I even thought about snatching you up and running away with you, but I couldn’t put even more targets on your back by turning you into a rogue. Words are not effective against him. Hearing my devotion and love for you would have only ended in your death sentence.”
More tears fell down her face. She shook her head and whispered, “You hurt me.”
“Yes,” I replied gruffly. “I’m sorry. Sorrier than you will ever know.” I reached out to her, but she pulled away and turned her back on me. She shook her head, refusing to look at me. Her voice was just a whisper, “No...no, I can’t do this.”
The finality of her response washed over me. I knew this could happen. I knew it was a risk.
I was too late.
I had already done too much damage.
I couldn’t support my weight anymore and slid down onto the couch. I dropped my head into my hands, forcing my emotions back, containing the tears that pricked at my eyes.
My wolf whimpered. His throat ached, desperate to release the howl of pain in his chest, but I choked it back down. Not here. When we were alone with the moon. Then we could cry.