Hanging my keys on the hook and kicking the door closed, I stomped my way into my home flopping inelegantly on to my couch. The drive to the warehouse had been a complete waste of time.
It had taken me two hours to get there. And when I did arrive? The girl wouldn’t even tell me what she wanted. Said I had taken too long. That it wasn’t important anymore. I tried to tell her that I was at home and I had to drive here. But that only upset her because she wasn’t in her home.
Ugh! Rubbing my hands down my face in frustration, I finally realized that the house was unusually quiet for this time of day. Where were Cameron and Quinn? They should be running amok around the house. At the very least, eating ice cream for dinner like I told them not to. Instead, the house was deathly quiet.
I walked into the kitchen looking for a note—anything—that would explain where my brother and son were, but there was nothing.
An uneasy feeling engulfed me as I made my way through the rest of the small house, looking for any sign as to where my small family had disappeared to.
Back in the living room, my mind was in a whirl. There were no notes, no signs, nothing letting me know what happened. I headed towards the front door—intent on searching the neighborhood—when there was a knock on the door.
I froze, my hand on the doorknob. I was afraid to open it, and I didn’t know why. It could be Cameron forgot his keys, or one of the neighbors. Or it could be a police officer coming to tell me that my last link to sanity was gone.
Shaking my head of the horrible thoughts running through my mind, I slowly—shakily—opened the door. My breath caught in my throat, and I wish with everything in me that I had left the door closed.
The person standing on my measly cement porch was the last person I thought to ever see again. The last time we were in the same vicinity, he made it clear that he never wanted to see me again.
This had to be a dream. A hallucination. I’ve finally gone off the deep end from all the hours I have worked with little-to-no sleep. The stress of raising my son on my own, trying to help the Council, and trying to give off the semblance of a normal life has finally caught up with me. I have to be in some institution, babbling incoherently from the drugs being pumped into my system. Either that, or I was in an accident on my way home and this is some elaborate coma induced nightmare.
Then he spoke, “Hello Kayla.”
Oh God... “Alexander...” No! This could not be happening! My brother and son are missing, and now the man who ripped my heart out—ruined my life—is standing before me.
It was all too much to take in. I could feel my chest tightening, the panic flooding my body. My breathing became erratic, my heart pounded harder and faster in my chest to where I thought it would explode from my ribcage. The edges of my vision faded in and out. My knees knocked together so hard I thought they would shatter with each impact.
Alexander tilted his head to the side as he examined me with his piercing golden eyes. “Kayla, are you okay?” he asked.
No, I was not okay! I wanted to scream. Nothing about the last half-hour was okay! But I couldn’t get the words past the lump in my throat.
Alexander’s image started spin in front of me. Since when did he have three heads? Right before my legs gave—everything dissolving around me—I saw Lex’s face register shock, his hands reaching for me.
My last thought as everything went black was, Sure, now he wants to help me.
I pulled in behind a beat up old hatch-back. The car was so old the make and model didn’t matter anymore. It was a piece of crap.
After a month of silence, Cameron finally got a hold of me to let me know that he may have a lead on where my sister is. When he called, I was tempted to reach through the phone and strangle him, but I refrained.
Now, I’m standing in front of a run down bungalow in some bum-fuck town in California.
Looking around the yard, I noticed some kids toys and a tricycle lying precariously on it’s side. I didn’t know Cameron had a kid. Then a disturbing thought hit me, What if this was Kayla and Cameron’s kid? Shit! Now, I really didn’t want to be here.
The last time I saw Kayla was three years ago. She had been wrapped in Cameron’s arms outside of our school. I probably wouldn’t have minded if it wasn’t for the fact that she was my mate. There was no reason she should have been in his arms. Not when she was mated to me.
Even after all of these years, I’ve never had the mating bond removed. I ignored it as best I could, but I never wanted to sever it completely. I always thought if I did then I would really be alone in this world. Keeping it intact was my only way of knowing that there was someone out there who was supposed to be with me. Even if it didn’t work out that way.
Pushing the disturbing thoughts from my head, I turned back to the front door. Without giving myself time to think, I knocked and waited for someone to answer.
I didn’t have to wait long, but when the door opened I definitely did not expect who answered. In the back of my mind, I should have known. But there was this small part of me that hoped I was wrong.
When she didn’t say anything, I tried to break the silence, “Hello Kayla.” She started at the sound of my voice. Her face drained of all color, her knuckles turning white on the door frame.
“Alexander...” her voice whispered out. If I wasn’t a were, there was no way I would have been able to hear her, it was so soft.
I looked at her closely. Her pupils were dilating and then turning to pin-pricks. Her breathing was labored, and I could hear her heart hammering in her chest. What was wrong with her? Why was she acting like this?
Deciding to get answers, I asked, “Kayla, are you okay?”
She didn’t answer. Instead, she started to slowly collapse in the doorway. Without a second thought, I reached out to grab her before she could hit the ground. Once our skin made contact, the mate bond came back full force.
I could feel the sparks igniting in my system. Every emotion she was feeling, everything that was running through her head in her unguarded state, bombarded my mind until it was ready to rip my head in two.
My wolf was whimpering inside of me. He really was not helping the situation. I lifted Kayla bridal style, and brought her back into the rundown house. I spotted a sagging couch in the middle of the small living area, laying her upon it.
Noticing the kitchen was open to this space, I went in there and searched for a towel to wet down. I was in luck, there was one hanging off the front of an old 70’s style stove.
As a matter of fact, the whole kitchen was out of the 70’s. How did Kayla end up here? I thought. She should have been living with her parents finishing her senior year of high school in Chicago. Not here, in some run down home in the middle of nowhere-California.
Deciding to get answers later, I went to the sink and ran the cloth under the freezing cold water. Ringing the excess out, I went back into the living room and knelt next to Kayla. Gently laying the rag on her head, dabbing it across her face, hoping to wake her from this stupor.
The emotions bombarding me from the bond were threatening to drag me under with her. I couldn’t let that happen. She needed to wake up and get a hold of herself. There was no way I could ignore our bond this close to her after the initial contact without her help.
She barely stirred at the contact of the cold cloth. So I decided to leave it resting on her forehead and looked around her home. I spotted the Tinker Bell lamp next to the couch and my breath caught in my throat.
Tinker Bell used to be my nickname for her when we first met. She was a tiny thing then—and now—with blond hair, but had a fire burning inside of her. She reminded me so much of that feisty little fairy that the name stuck. I can’t believe she actually has a lamp of the fictional character in her home. I figured after our break up she would shun anything to do with the Disney character.
It was just one more thing to think about.
Risking a glance in her direction, I noticed she hadn’t moved. A pebble of fear wormed it’s way into my system. I shoved it as far down into the recesses of my soul as I could, so as not to let it get to me. After everything that happened, she didn’t deserve my worry.
Leaving her lying sprawled on the sagging couch, I decided to take a tour of the small home. It didn’t take me long, as there were only three bedrooms, a bathroom, the living room, and the adjoining kitchen.
But on my tour, I did notice one of the rooms was for a small child. A boy, based on the Ninja Turtles toys and LEGOs strewn around. The room right across the hall was decidedly feminine, with light blue walls and framed photos around the room. It had to be Kayla’s, as there was a picture of her with a smiling toddler in one of the frames near the bed.
Next to her room, was what looked like a guest room. It had the standard quilt-topped double bed, and single nightstand next to it. What was out of character, was the men’s boxers lying on the floor next to the closet, and a pair of beat up tennis shoes peeking out from under the bed.
The site made my blood boil. The sound of something splintering brought me from the red haze that had taken over my vision. Looking down at my hand, I could see part of the guest room door torn off in my palm.
Oh well, looks like I’ll have to buy them a new door. Then again, after everything they’ve put me through, I may not.
A sound from the other room stiffened my spine. Turning slowly, I could see Kayla stirring on the couch. Steeling my resolve, I headed back into the living room.
Once she was coherent, she was going to answer my questions. But one thing was going to be made clear. I was not going to fall for the mate bond again. I was not going to be made a fool of over her a second time.
No matter how much my wolf wanted me to run over and hold her in our arms, I was going to resist and not touch her from this point forward. I was not going to give in to the bond. I was not going to give in to her.
I slowly became aware of my surroundings. What the Hell happened? The last thing I remembered was coming home to an empty house. Oh God! Quinn! Just as quickly as his name came across my mind, I remembered what happened.
Coming home to an empty house, frantically looking for my son and brother, opening the door to a man I never thought I would see again.
Oh God. Alexander was back. What was I going to tell him? He didn’t know about Quinn. Hell, he didn’t know anything about what happened after he left me standing outside of our high school three years ago.
My hands twitched at the thought of him, and I felt the soft fabric of my couch under my hands. How did I get to the couch? I figured he would have left me in the doorway, unconscious for all he cared about me. Guess I was wrong.
Opening my eyes a little at a time, my suspicions were confirmed as I stared at my living room ceiling. My whole body was sore from the recent panic attack. It was hard for me to move into a sitting position. When I did, I noticed Lex walking towards me from the hallway.
That means he’s seen the rooms. He’ll know that I live her with a man and a child. What the Hell was he going to do to me this time? I can’t take another verbal beating like the last one. I barely survived the first time. I don’t know if I could live through him treating me the same way again.
Taking a deep breath, I steeled myself to whatever he had in store. From the grim look on his face, it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Take your best shot Lex. You’ve already destroyed me once, another time isn’t going to matter.
Just as he reached me the front door opened, a bundle of energy running straight for me.
Dammit, Kayla was going to kill me.
I got a call not long after she left, confirming the patient she was going to visit was the same girl her so-called mate was looking for.
I didn’t want to use the landline and bring any unnecessary heat down on her, so I had to take Quinn into another town and use a pay phone to call Alexander.
Luckily he was visiting a pack nearby. I had hoped to make it back to our place before he got there. But with the way they’ve been searching for Emily, I should have known he’d be there as soon as possible.
I pulled in behind an expensive looking sports car, almost groaning out loud. I wanted to swear aloud and slam my fists on the steering wheel, but Quinn was in the backseat. He may have been asleep, but the kid had the ears of a bat. He was also turning into a parrot. Anytime I said something he knew I could get in trouble for, he would repeat it. So, I’ve been trying to keep an eye on what I say around the little bugger.
Holding my breath, I opened the car door and stepped around to the back passenger side, where Quinn was passed out. I didn’t recognize the car parked in our drive, but that didn’t mean anything.
Lifting Quinn from his car seat, he stirred awake and struggled out of my arms.
“Let me go, Cam-on. I want see Mommy,” he complained.
Setting him on his slightly pigeon-toed feet, I watched as he scampered towards the front door.
With a feeling of disaster hanging over me, I followed. I opened the door for Quinn as he was too short to reach the handle. Once it was open, he was off like a shot.
“Mommy!” He yelled. I was frozen in the doorway. Quinn made a beeline towards his mother on the couch. In front of her was Alexander.
Neither of them acknowledged Quinn or myself. Alexander had this wide-eyed confused look on his face, and Kayla looked like she was going to pass out at any moment.
The tension radiating from the two didn’t disperse an ounce with the hyper two year old in the room. If anything, it increased.
Taking a step into the house, I was going to get Quinn out of the way before Alexander lost it. Or Kayla feinted in front of her son. I had this insane idea that if I could get him out of the house, Alexander would forget Quinn existed.
Ever since he dumped Kayla, she made it clear that she never wanted him to know about Quinn. Now he was here, in her lap, in front of his un-known father.
This couldn’t get any worse.
“Mommy? Who’s he?”
I spoke too soon, it just got worse.