Painted Scars (The Millennium Wolves 03)

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Chapter 5

Claire volunteered to join me in checking on the injured, who were mostly asleep. As we moved from room to room, making sure everyone was alright, Claire said, “Has anyone told you what happened back when you passed out in Shade’s arms?”

I shot her a glance as I closed the door to the sixth patient we’d checked on. “They said Shade was able to finish them off.”

The Necromancer gave me a serious look. “It wasn’t just your healing that did that, however.” We walked to Kaylon’s room. “I don’t know why, but Shade fought like no one has ever seen him fight before. Zack told me that afterwards. He’d been too wounded to fight, but he was able to see what Shade did. He had you draped over his shoulder as he practically carved his way with the Hunters’ blood, tearing them to piece one by one.” She paused and gave me an assessing gaze. “Zack told me he’d never seen Shade looking so murderous before, and it wasn’t just the ruthlessness in him.”

Knowing what she was getting into, and seeing no reason to deny it, I stopped right outside Kaylon’s door. “We’re mates.”

Claire gasped. “I knew it.”

I shrugged. “He doesn’t want a mate, though. He doesn’t want me as a mate in particular.” I gave her a half smile, as though I didn’t really care. “Frankly, he’s never been registered in my radar. I think Fate is having a good time, laughing at our expanse.”

The Necromancer seemed to want to say something, but then clicked her mouth shut. I gave her another shrug and opened the door. Inside, Kaylon was sound asleep, almost completely healed from his twisted arm. His legs, however, needed more time. Once I finished the checkup, I went back to the hallway and leaned against the wall as a new wave of exhaustion befell me. It’d been an extremely long day, after all.

Claire said nothing as I rested for a moment. When I dared looking at her, her eyes were filled with sympathy and understanding. I scowled. “Stop pitying me.”

“I’m not pitying you,” she hurried to reassure me, “I’m just thinking that my situation with Zack was like yours at the beginning.”

My scowl deepened. “Don’t compare Shade and me to you and Zack, please. It’s not the same.”

She gave me another lingering look before she smiled faintly. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Deciding this was a time to change the subject, I asked, “Speaking of which, how are you and Zack? Still figuring things out?” The two had only been mates for about a couple of weeks, and were still finding their feet together. Some mated pair decided to take things slow, and some decided to throw a Mating Ceremony and get hitched as soon as possible. Zack and Claire fell into the former category, according to their special circumstantial mating process.

“Yeah, things are good,” Claire smiled tentatively as we started to the exit of the infirmary and to the residential part of the Pack House. “We’re still working on some issues, but ever since we fixed what was really wrong with both of us, things are going much more smoothly.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” I told her and chuckled. “How did dinner with Zavier and Sophia go last night?” I’d forgotten to ask her that because of recent events, but last night Zack took Claire to dinner with his younger sister and older brother. I’d been curious as to how that went.

Claire grimaced. “I love Zack and all, but his sister sucks. She’s such a bitch,” she scowled now, “and Zavier is so weird. He likes bickering with Zack but he acts to me like I’m some fresh meat he can woo, despite the fact I’m his brother’s mate, and he treats Sophia like she’s a lesser werewolf than him just because she’s female, nineteen, and not dominant enough for his taste.”

“Zavier is D-bag,” I informed her, “don’t expect much from him. He’s the most chauvinistic man on Earth, and believe me, that’s a hard title to earn oneself. As to Sophia...” I felt down just thinking about the girl. “She’s a piece of work, no doubt.” I’d never liked the Greysons much, but my dislike to Sophia was the biggest out of all the Greyson siblings. She was such a snobby little spoiled brat who thought she had guts by warning Eve off before she mated with Raphael or even putting the moves on Gabe, when she was actually being stupid. She was aiming much higher than she could get, and I found myself constantly irritated with her.

That irritation was multiplied right now, probably because I’d heard her just a few days ago saying she was going to be the one who cracked Shade’s cold exterior. Never mind that he was apparently my mate, but how dumb can one be? If he hadn’t been my mate, I wouldn’t even think about trying to get under this specific werewolf’s skin.

Because something dark and bad lurked underneath his shell. Something I didn’t want to expose. Shade didn’t just give off brooding-bad-boy-danger-overwhelming vibes; his aura was that of someone too scarred deep down to his soul, that maybe there was no redemption for him.

And he was my mate. Yay me.

“How come did you realize he’s your mate just now?” Claire suddenly asked as we stopped before the door to my own room. “I mean, you’ve known each other for a few years, whether directly or not, and I’d have guessed your eyes met before. So why now?”

I really didn’t want to reply, but I realized there was no harm in explaining this. “There’s a certain way to meet one’s eyes and realize he’s your mate,” I told her, “both sides need to stared in a specific angle that would have your eyes individually only on your significant other. Most mates find each other randomly because they feel some otherworldly force willing them to look in that specific angel to the other’s eyes. There are rarer cases in which the mates need to do it by themselves, without the help of Fate or something.” It wasn’t a common information, but since I was a healer, it was one of the things I learned. “In my case, Shade didn’t want to find his mate, probably was really against it that Fate left him alone, mostly. I didn’t look out for a mate in particular, either, so Fate didn’t rush me, either. Then, on the battlefield, when we were in a certain compromising position, after I’d saved his life, we were close enough for the angle to be right when our eyes connected, and that shot the realization through both of us.”

Claire frowned at that. “I think I understand. That’s why, back in Houston, when Zack was giving his speech in the Texas Pack beta couple’s Mating Ceremony, he felt somewhat compelled to look over to where I sat, and when our eyes met, he felt the recognition.”

“You didn’t, however, because of your extremely rare case of the dual-revival,” I concluded. “You see, every pair of mates has their own different way of finding each other. I’ve heard from Sienna Mercer, the East Coast Pack alpha’s mate, that her friend, Mia, and her current mate, Harry, had been best friends for years before they recognized each other. That happened because, I think, they’ve been friends for so long, they stifled their mating pull, not imagining it could be each other, until that fateful day their eyes met in just the right angle.”

“That’s so weird,” Claire mumbled, “but it makes sense, in a weird kind of way.”

I chuckled again. “Yeah, well, tell me some time to explain you how my healing powers work, and your mind will be completely blown.”

“Wait until I tell you everything about Necromancy, then talk,” she gave me a wry grin, then eyes her wrist watch. “Well, I should leave you now. It’s three. Tomorrow you’ll probably have a busy day.”

“Yeah,” I said, sighing. “I just can’t wait.”

She hugged me. “Good night, Daisy.”

“Night,” I told her back and she left. Finally alone, I exhaled loudly and entered my room.

Which was not empty.

“What are you doing here, Gabe?” I asked as I froze at the door. He was sitting on the bed, looking up at me with eyes going golden.

He said nothing, simply rose to his feet and stepped closer. Suddenly my stomach lurched, and my heart quickened its pace. I inched backward and away from him, but he was looming before me fast enough and had the door closed behind my back. He caged me between his arms and the door and his body, looking both hungry and furious. My stomach now dropped.

“Gabe,” I said quietly but firmly. “Get out of my room.”

“No,” he said, his voice rough, “I’m going to teach you what it’s like to make fool out of me in front of everybody.”

My jaw ticked. “And how are you going to do that? By raping me?”

His eyes blazed. “You want it. You know you do.”

Was he daft? How delusional could he possibly be? “Last Season I told you I don’t want anything else to happen between us,” taking him as a lover back then had been a mistake, one I still regretted to this very day, because look where it got me. “We were lovers. We’re not anymore.”

He growled. “You don’t get to decide.”

I let my own wolf out to play at that ridiculous disclaimer. “You can’t force me into being in a relationship with you. Besides, you lost your chance.”

He froze, then lowered his head so it was inches away from mine. “Lost my chance?” he asked, warning in his tone. His hand suddenly captured a part of my hair. “I haven’t lost my chance yet, baby. You’re going to be mine again, and this time I will keep you.”

It was official. Gabriel was an asshole. “I found my mate, you know,” I told him, catching his gaze in an unforgiving hold. “You’ve never had a chance. I have a mate now.”

“And who’s that mate? Shade?” the mockery in his voice made me involuntarily wince. “You really think someone like him is suitable for a gentle person like yourself? You really think he’d actually want you, a mere healer? He’ll need someone like Eve or Claire to take care of him. He doesn’t need you.”

Fury rose from both my wolf and me. “The fact remains that he’s my mate,” I said through gritted teeth, and I realized I was shaking hard, my hands curling into fists. “Not Eve, not Claire, no anyone else. It’s me. And I’m not yours.”

A growl was torn out from him and he suddenly pulled away and began punching the wall next to me. “Why does it always have to be Shade?!” he yelled, apparently losing his control. “Why did Raphael choose him and not me? Why did he get you as his mate? Why does he take everything away from me all the time? And why the fuck does everyone think so high and mighty of him when he’s just a piece of trash?!”

My wolf wanted to attack him. It didn’t matte that my human part had just been gobsmacked by the realization Gabe was jealous of Shade for too many absolutely stupid reason; my wolf saw him as a threat both to us and our mate. So I decided to let reason go and let at least a small piece of her out. My nails grew, turning into claws, and in a blur of motions, I had my very sharp claw against Gabe’s neck. “Get out of here,” I snarled, the wolf in my voice, my eyes turning icy blue, “and don’t ever talk about my mate like this again.

Gabe looked incredulous at the fact me, Daisy Luxford, the head healer and one of the most kind-hearted people he knew, had actually turned somewhat feral. But that was one of the side-effects of finding your mate; your true nature became distorted.

Seeing how dead-serious I was, Gabe gave me a spiteful look probably meant for Shade, spat on the floor, and left the room with a thundering shut of the door. I breathed heavily, retracting my claws, and felt an agonizing rush of need.

I wanted Shade to be here now, to comfort me, to calm down like Claire calmed Zack down, like Raphael knew how to deal with Eve’s quick temper. I wanted him to be here for me, yet he didn’t want a mate.

And I didn’t want a mate either, did I?

Shaking my head and swallowing the tears, I forced myself to shower and get some sleep. Ruminating about having Shade would just lead to a heartbreak. I needed to get back on track, to be the practical me again.

I could do this. I could totally do this. I was strong enough.

It was going to be alright.

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