Fever Claim

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Twelve

Judah

Rock music played softly in the background along with a couple of mixed conversations going around me. The lighting in this mini-resort bar was dim and cast a warm glow, but it did nothing in warming my soul. The only thing that kept me from going insane with emotions was drinking myself senseless.

Trying to get drunk wasn’t easy, but these tonics were laced with heavy medication so werewolves would feel the effects. I didn’t drink. I hated drinking but I had been here since last night because I needed something other than the thought of her.

Every time I closed my eyes, I saw her getting ripped to shreds. The way my heart jumped out of my chest. The way I saw red and almost killed my friend. That person wasn’t me. I remember how her blood had soaked through my shirt. It had been on my hands.

Hunter had let it slip that today was her birthday. Immediately, I thought about her mate. She might have already found her mate. Abruptly, a painful grip clutched at my heart. Pissed, I grabbed the square glass cup and downed the tonic inside it with one swig.

I couldn’t go see her. My reaction to her last night made it clear. That it wasn’t just my mind thinking about her. It was my fucking heart too. Somehow, in some cruel way, I fucking cared for that little awkward idiot. That female who walked around without a care. The female who happened to avoid me at all costs. That female who made me forget who I was when I looked into her eyes.

How? Why? When?

I had all these questions, yet I kept shoving them aside. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to think about her. She was the reason I was here in the first place.

The bartender walked by, annoyed. He didn’t want to refill my cup, but he wasn’t going to tell me that. I heard him sigh before the liquid was poured again into my cup. Everything around me kept blurring in and out. Opening my eyes, I looked at the cool gold liquid in my cup.

Last night, I beat Ace up badly and he let me. When I saw her unconscious in my arms, dripping with blood, she looked like a horror show. It was that bad and I had never been that pissed off in my life.

A soft body slipped in beside me and a pair of feminine arms wrapped around my biceps. I turned my head slowly to look. The first thing I saw was perfectly manicured pink nails. My eyes trailed higher and at first, it was blurry, but I swore she looked like Rosemary. She smiled at me and leaned to prop her chin on my shoulder. I smiled back at her.

“Why are you sitting here drunk?” she asked in a sweet voice.

Immediately, I noticed two things. Her scent was off; it was tangier than Rosemary’s. Her voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. I blinked back furiously before I focused on her face again.

Her face changed from Rosemary to Bethany’s.

She looked nothing like Rosemary right now.

“Gamma Judah, I know that you don’t like me the way you like Rosemary. Honestly, I am heartbroken. I have liked you for such a long time now. I always thought that you hated Rosemary but now it looks like you two are getting along so well.” She pouted her pink lips.

I looked at her and then down at her lips. She’s a girl. She’s not Rosemary. She likes me. Rosemary doesn’t like me.

One hand slid from my bicep to my chest. She knew exactly what she was doing. Her eyes lit up with pure joy in feeling me up.

It must be the tonic. It was getting to my head because I couldn’t think straight. She was not Rose but I wished she was. So badly that I didn’t stop her advances.

Her hand snaked up my shoulder to my neck, tugging me closer, and closing the space between us.

“Kiss me, Gamma,” she whispered sensually, “Let me heal whatever she has broken.”

I raised a hand and placed it on her cheek. Her brown eyes widened a fraction before they turned smoldering hot with need. Leaning forward with the intention to kiss her lips, I closed my eyes but the second I closed my eyes, Rosemary’s face popped in my head.

My heart stopped and I stopped what I was doing.

My eyes flew open and I stared at Bethany.

“You’re not Rosemary,” I grumbled, dropping my hands back onto the bar counter.

Her face grew angry upon hearing Rosemary’s name on my lips. I could feel the irritation and anger rolling off her in waves. She pulled back as if I had burned her, her eyes burning with rage. Her jealousy for Rosemary was unnatural and my wolf did not like it. He wanted her gone.

“Rosemary, Rosemary, Rosemary!” she cried in a fit, her hands fisted at her sides.

Everyone stopped speaking and turned to look at us. I turned away from her and picked up my tonic glass, tossing it back. She kicked back the stool and stood up.

“Just so you know, I saw her talking to a guy in the lobby!” She threw at me. “So, your relationship with her is shit. She doesn’t give a shit about you or your feelings.”

She spun on her heel and stomped away. I sighed and rubbed at my temple, Bethany’s words bouncing off the walls in my mind.

“Doesn’t care...” I mumbled.

She met a guy in the lobby. Is that guy her mate? Is he going to love her with all his heart? Will he cherish her? What would I do if he rejected her? Will I accept her as mine? Or worse, what if he accepts her?

“Give me the bottle,” I growled, feeling pain and confusion, feelings that I did not like. I needed to drown them.

“Gamma Judah, please stop this and go to your room-”

I slammed my fist against the thick wood counter. I snarled, “Give me the fucking bottle.”

He huffed and muttered something about drunk ass werewolves never listening before slamming the bottle onto the counter in front of me.

I lifted the bottle and began chugging it down. The liquid burned down my throat but did nothing to ease the pain in my chest. Why am I feeling pain?

Another two hours went by and I had finished my bottle. When I asked the bartender for another one, he told me that they had run out but I refused to move. I felt rooted to the spot, unable to move. I don’t know how to move. I don’t know where to go.

I’d been avoiding Rosemary because I didn’t want to feel what I felt when I held her in my arms. By now, the tonic was slowly wearing off. I could feel it in my bloodstream. Sighing, I stood up from my seat and stumbled out.

I needed some fresh air and it was late.

I stepped out of the bar and made my way to the front entrance of the resort. Once I was outside, I closed my eyes and allowed the night breeze to awaken my senses. It was late and I was avoiding her. I knew she had been discharged. Hunter and Ace had been keeping me updated.

Feeling like my head is a little clearer than before, I took the last few steps before I continued into the open fields, rounding the little ponds in the middle of the fields and disappearing into the woods.

Tonight, the stars had decided to accompany the moon. They lit up the sky. I continued walking, not caring where exactly my destination was.

Tomorrow, we were returning home. All I needed to do was make it through the night. Tomorrow, my life will return back to normal. I wouldn’t have to worry about her anymore.

Suddenly, my senses picked up another scent. It took me a while to catch the scent as the tonic hadn’t completely worn off but now that I was closer, I came to an abrupt halt.

The sound of water splashing reached my ears a second after smelling this alluring scent. My gut churned when I knew what this meant. The possibility that this person might have been my mate. My wolf was excited, howling and wanting to take over but my heart--it was hurting. How could I find my mate, knowing I had fallen for another?

Rose.

I hesitated.

Maybe I should have turned back. I couldn’t do this right now, yet that scent was enticing and alluring. It reminded me of an open flower meadow.

I took a step forward.

Then another.

My heart hit my rib cage like it was fighting to escape, but my mind was in turmoil.

I heard another splash and a soft, barely audible sigh before I heard someone dunk beneath the water. I listened for her to come back up for air but she didn’t.

I began to worry and moved closer. When I reached the edge of the lake, I looked for her. I knew I was hidden behind the bushes and shadows, and that she couldn’t possibly see me. Maybe a glimpse wouldn’t hurt.

A second later, she popped out of the water with a gasp for air. Her wet hair slicked back, exposing her face.

My heart rammed against my ribcage and stopped beating. I inhaled sharply. The mate bond was there. I could feel it so deeply, my blood boiling with lust and desire. It was like an adrenaline rush. I fisted my hands at my sides, digging my fingernails into my palms.

My eyes slowly scanned over what was mine. She was mine.

She must have heard me inhale in surprise because her head whipped in my direction. She covered her nakedness with her arms but I could still see the curves of her breasts that snuck their way out of the water for me to appreciate, as well as her flawless skin, and the lucky droplets of water that touched her bare skin.

She was not freaking out upon discovering my presence, which means either she knew who I was, or she had caught my scent and knew I was her mate.

“Who is there?” she asked.

I didn’t answer her. She turned away from me and I had to fight off the urge to follow her. I watched her swim to the other side of the shore and feel around the grass for her towel.

“Turn away,” she demanded, her voice shaking as she tried to appear confident.

I didn’t, but she assumed I did, because she stepped out of the water and quickly wrapped the towel around herself before pulling on her sweater and sweats. She pulled the hoodie over her head and did a quick scan of her surroundings.

It was then that I realized this idiot went swimming naked. Anyone could have seen what was mine! Leave it to Rose to piss me off and turn me on all at once. Fuck, I was fucked.

“I know you are still here. So, you might as well reveal yourself.”

I didn’t move because I didn’t want to see her reaction when she realized I was her mate but I couldn’t retreat either. I couldn’t stop looking at her.

She sighed and crossed her arms, hunching her shoulders.

“I know, I might not be the mate you expected. I will understand if you decide to reject me.” She tried to hide the fact that she was hurt, but I could hear it and the barely started bond shook unsteadily.

The urge to ease her worries, even if it destroyed me, won.

I decided to face the inevitable and stepped out of the shadow.

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