Emma laid in bed on her side and blankly stared at the curtains swaying in the light breeze. She felt so hopeless... she couldn’t even force herself to get out of bed.
What was the point?
She heard her phone buzz from somewhere in the kitchen. Probably work, she hadn’t shown up in two days. She was probably fired, but she couldn’t even make herself care. Her life was just one big miserable mess.
Emma sighed and closed her eyes again. She hoped to drift back into the blissful unconsciousness of sleep so she wouldn’t have to feel anymore. But just as she was drifting off, there was a knock on her door.
Emma opened her eyes and frowned toward the doorway. From her vantage point, she could see the leather wallet laying on the kitchen table. She had no friends at work, so she doubted anyone would have come to check on her.
It had to be Ray, and the thought of seeing him made her sick. But, he satisfied a need. She needed him... as much as she despised him.
With great effort, she pushed herself out of bed and dragged her feet slowly toward the door. She picked up his wallet along the way, fully intending to throw it at him the moment she opened the door. Emma jerked the door open but froze before she was able.
It wasn’t Ray...
Emma stared in shock.
“Hey...” He said with a bit of an uncertain grin.
“What are you... how did you...” Emma was at a complete loss for words. The stirring inside her was almost startling, and not even she could deny that her wolf was elated to see him.
“Are you going to let me in?” He asked. Emma glanced behind her, the scent of Ray had not completely faded from her apartment. She was still holding his wallet. That realization, even as ridiculous as it was, was instantly mortifying.
“I... uhh,” Emma said as she stumbled over her words. She felt the change in his demeanor before she saw him move. He cupped her face and forcefully tilted her head upward to look at him.
Emma tensed, completely startled. She watched his worried expression as he intently studied her eyes. He must have caught Ray’s scent, and he was searching for a bond. She knew he wouldn’t find anything.
He seemed to relax a bit, but the expression on his face was clearly confused. He let her go. Emma stumbled back a few steps. She was uncertain how she should feel about that.
“Sorry...” He said and immediately followed her in. Emma turned away from him and quickly shoved the wallet into a drawer. She took a slow breath and looked back at him.
“What are you doing here?” She asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” He said. Emma felt the tightness in her chest and looked away from him.
“I... didn’t think you’d want to see me again.” She said.
“Well... you did tell me to leave you alone, so... I tried.” He said. Emma couldn’t bring herself to speak.
“I tracked you down just a few weeks after you left Boise.” He said with a guilty tone. Emma glanced over at him. She couldn’t keep the surprise from her face.
“I must have come here a hundred times... but I wasn’t sure how to approach you again without... setting you off.” He said. His tone was weirdly uncertain as he ran a hand back through his slightly mussed hair.
Emma studied his expression for a moment, but she couldn’t bear to keep looking at him. She looked away. A long silence followed.
“Who is he?” He said with a tone of poorly suppressed anger.
“No one. Nothing happened.” Emma said quickly as she picked up some discarded pieces of clothing and hurried back into her bedroom.
Though she doubted he’d fully believe her, it at least would negate any questions about how she managed to block the bond. She quickly picked up other articles of clothing as she went. Emma hadn’t realized how messy everything was, even in her tiny studio apartment.
“You know... don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t look so good.” He said with a slightly strained tone. She could tell the other male’s scent was still bothering him. Emma tossed everything into the hamper and glanced back at him.
“Thanks.” She said sarcastically.
“I didn’t mean it that way. Are you... okay?” He asked.
“Fine...” Emma said quietly. A long awkward silence followed, and Emma fidgeted uneasily.
“Why did you come now?” Emma asked as she looked back to him. He furrowed his brow a bit.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“You said you didn’t know how to approach me... so what made you just come up to my door and knock?” Emma asked. He watched her for a moment, and the expression on his face was a bit uncertain.
“I just... got the weirdest feeling a few days ago that you wanted to see me.” He said.
Emma stared at him with a sudden prickling of horror. She remembered her thoughts clearly on the bridge.
What the hell did she do?
“What’s with the gunk on your face?” He asked. Emma numbly brought a hand up to rub her cheek. She looked at her fingertips, and they were stained with smeared make-up. Her new job required that all the girls wore it. She didn’t even realize she never took it off.
“It’s make-up.” She began, but she was too mortified by the fact that she may have unintentionally summoned him that she couldn’t even feel embarrassed about what she must look like.
“Yes, genius, I figured that... I meant, why are you wearing it?” He said. He had regained a bit of the joking tone she was so used to hearing from him.
“For work,” Emma said.
“I don’t like it. I will never understand why humans wear that shit.” He said firmly. Emma stood there awkwardly for a moment. She was unsure what she was supposed to say.
“You going to wash it off?” He added. Emma felt her cheeks burn a bit. She had been wallowing in misery in bed for the past few days. She knew she could probably use a shower.
“Go on... I’ll make us some dinner. You look like you could eat.” He said. Emma watched him oddly for a moment.
“Why are you so nice to me?” She asked.
“Because I like you.” He responded. She frowned at him.
“You don’t even know me.” She said.
“Well then.. maybe we should fix that? But in the meantime.. let’s just say I’m a sucker for redheads, and I really really want to see you in all your wolfy glory.” He said with another grin. Emma furrowed her brow.
“You shouldn’t be here. I’m... It’s just... not safe to be around me.” She said and glanced away from him in shame. He laughed.
“What are you? Like 5 foot? I feel like I’m the one that might break you. Believe me... you don-” He started.
“5′5 and I’m serious,” Emma said as she looked back to him.
“You don’t understand. It’s hard to explain, but I-” She started.
“I figured it out.. you know. Glasses don’t just break for no reason. I watched you for a long time, longer than you even think... And I’m still here, as you can see. If anything... it just makes you more interesting.” He said with a larger grin.
Emma stared at him oddly for a time. She felt a strange fluttering in her stomach. He knew?
But most of all... he didn’t care?
“You have food in the kitchen? Or am I making a run to the store too?” He asked. Emma glanced to the pathetic excuse for a kitchen in her studio apartment.
“I... uh, I don’t even know.” She said. It had been days since she’d cared about anything, and she realized she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d eaten.
“I’ll figure it out. Just go freshen up.” He said as he headed for the kitchen. Emma turned to slowly move back toward her bathroom. She felt as if she was in a weird state of shock.
“Wait...” She said as she turned back. He paused and looked over at her.
“What’s your name?” She asked. He gave her the largest grin she’d seen on him yet.
“Lucas,” Lucas said and continued on into the kitchen. Emma watched him go... before she turned and headed into the bathroom.