I woke up the next morning with Layton over me. I was trying to wriggle out from under him, but he wouldn’t budge. My alarm clock marked it was seven thirty. I wanted to go to school, but it was already too late.
“I don’t want to go to school,” Layton said, shuffling off me.
I didn’t reply anything, only nodded my head in agreement. I briefly wondered if Zev and the guys were there. I wanted to see Zev. After what happened with Hanna, I wanted to make sure he was okay.
“The wound is bleeding,” Layton told me. He sat up, and softly ran his hand over the covered wound. I didn’t want to admit it, but it was hurting.
Once I was in the restroom, I got a clear view of the bite through the mirror.
Layton walked into the restroom and stood behind me, wrapping his arms around me and resting his hands over my stomach.
I hadn’t taken a look at the bite before. It had been covered by the gauze. Now that it was exposed, I felt self-conscious about it.
“It’ll heal,” Layton said. He was looking at me while I stared at the bite. The doctor was right, it didn’t look too bad. But I couldn’t wait for it to be completely gone.
“We should go back to bed. You need to rest,” Layton told me, resting his chin on my shoulder that wasn’t injured.
“What about my parents?”
“They’re gone. They didn’t want to go to work this morning, especially your mom. But your dad and I convinced her that you were fine.”
I nodded my head, relieved that my parents were okay. My mom had been a train wreck the day before. The bags under her eyes showed just how exhausted her body must’ve been.
At first, I got into bed with Layton beside me. I was tossing and turning for about an hour before I finally decided to get up. I didn’t feel tired, but my shoulder was aching. I wanted to take something for it without Layton knowing. Every time I complained about any little thing, Layton wouldn’t stop fuzzing over me.
“I’m hungry,” I said, after moving around on the bed once again. I was staring at the ceiling in my bedroom. Layton had been trying to sleep. I was probably scaring his sleep away with all my squirming around.
“You look like a little girl right now,” Layton said, not even attempting to get up.
“Hey, I’m sixteen. I think it’s fair that I get hungry in the morning.”
Layton turned to look at me, and shook his head before speaking. “Come on, I’ll make you something,” he said, getting up from the bed slowly.
We were in the kitchen, eating scrambled eggs with bacon that I had made. It was strange, but Layton wasn’t really a fan of pancakes or anything sweet for breakfast. When he first told me that, I thought he was messing with me. After I noticed his serious expression, I realized he wasn’t joking.
“We’ll go see my parents after we eat,” Layton informed me.
“Where’s Liam?” I asked. He had not brought Liam up in any of our conversations. Both he and Zev had been doing that and it was starting to annoy me.
“It’s in our pack building— where we have our cells. They’re fixed up so that a Wolf can’t escape, no matter how hard he tries.”
“What are you planning to do with him?”
Layton clenched his fists, and his eyes hardened as he looked at me.
“I want to kill him. The only thing that stopped me was that you asked me not to do it. He deserves to die for what he did to you.”
“No, he doesn’t. There was no damage done. He didn’t hurt me,” I told him, reaching out for his hand. He pulled it away from me and got up from the booth.
“You’re hurt,” Layton told me, staring at the wound on my shoulder.
I looked down at it and then turned up to meet Layton’s eyes.
“Do you mind?” I asked.
“Do you mind that the Wolf bit me? That his mark is in my skin,” I said, hoping I hadn’t built my grave by asking that question.
Layton walked towards me and wrapped his arms around my waist tightly, easily managing to pick me up from the ground.
“I don’t care about the bite, because that’s all it is. It will completely go away. It’s only a mark right now because it hasn’t healed. I care because you got hurt. If we hadn’t gotten there in time, it could’ve been a lot worse.”
I responded by crashing my lips against his. Layton was stunned with my attack, but he didn’t waste time in returning my kiss. He had no idea what his words really meant to me. I had to admit that I was glad the mark on my shoulder wasn’t turning him off. Unlike him, I was too self-aware and bothered by how the bite mark looked on my skin.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Beth, Layton’s mom, said.
“I am, and thank you so much for being there for my parents,” I told her. She had a tight hold on me. Layton was trying to pry her off, but she wouldn’t let go.
I chuckled, feeling good that she cared so much about me.
“We should have another reunion with the pack. A lot of people were left worried after your disappearance, Cassidy,” John said.
“I think if they see me around, they will know I’m okay,” I replied in a strained tone. I didn’t want another party where all the attention would be cast on me.
Layton turned to me and smirked. I scowled at his cheery expression.
‘I swear if you tell your dad to organize another party I am going to strangle you,’ I thought. I was staring at him intently, hoping he would catch my drift and not propose another celebration.
Suddenly, Layton looked at me with wide eyes. I cocked an eyebrow, wondering what had unsettled him.
“What did you just say?” Layton asked, openly staring at me.
“Umm… I didn’t say anything,” I replied, looking at him weirdly.
I wanted to voice out my thoughts on how uncomfortable another party would be, especially so soon after the last one, but I didn’t want to disappoint John and Beth. Layton was looking at me with a strange expression. I pegged it on the long list of crazy things that went on with him.
“I’m not crazy,” Layton said, scowling at me.
John and Beth looked between us two, seeming confused.
“I didn’t say you were,” I told Layton.
“No, but you thought it,” he said, while he stared at me completely stunned.
“What?” I asked, not knowing if I had heard him right. There was no way I had heard him right.
“Yes, you heard me right,” Layton flatly replied, even though I hadn’t voiced out a question.
“Did you just hear what she was thinking?” John asked Layton, a grin already forming on his face.
“Well, I couldn’t exactly miss it. She was shouting it in my head,” Layton told his dad.
My mouth was hanging open as I stared at Layton, not knowing if what he said was true.
“I’m not lying,” he said, turning to face me.
“Hey, stop doing that,” I told him, putting my hands over my ears.
I faintly heard Layton, John, and Beth chuckling. When I turned to look at them, they were all giving me amused expressions.
“You won’t stop me from reading your mind by covering your ears, Cassidy. You have to shut me out,” he explained.
“How can you do it?”
“I thought it wouldn’t happen because you’re not a Werewolf. You already know that Wolves can listen to each other’s thoughts when they’re in the same pack. It could also happen right after a Wolf claims his mate. I claimed you a while ago, I’m not sure why it’s just happening until now,” he said, shrugging his shoulders calmly.
I didn’t understand why he wasn’t worrying, or why he looked so unaffected. Layton didn’t seem to care why it had happened so late, or why it was even happening at all.
“I do care, but I’m not worried about it.”
“Stop that,” I told him, frowning.
John and Beth gave each other knowing looks and it wasn’t long before they left us alone in the living room.
“This is not fair,” I complained to Layton, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Hell yeah it is. I think this balances out things between us.
“No way, I want to be in your mind to. How come only you get to hear what I’m thinking, but I don’t,” I complained. I probably sounded like a brat, but after trying for a long time to get into his mind, I got nothing.
“Cassidy, look at all the things you can already do. I think that not being able to read my mind should be the least of your worries,” Layton explained, trying to embrace me.
I moved away from him and only continued to glare at the distance.
“Nope, it’s not fair. Plus, you’re just answering my questions without me even asking them. I don’t want you in my mind. There’s private stuff in there,” I told him.
He raised an eyebrow, seeming amused by my attitude. Layton hadn’t explained how I could keep him out of my mind. So far, he had been reading everything that I had been thinking.
It was getting very annoying, very quickly.
“I have a question,” I said, changing my tone and getting a serious expression.
“What is it?”
“Is Liam here? Can I see him?”
“He’s in the land, but you won’t see him,” Layton said, with finality in his tone.
“If you don’t let me go and talk to him, I’ll go while you’re away. God knows what can happen if I try to find him on my own,” I said, knowing he would know I would do it.
Layton stared at me hard. Finally, after a minute of silence, he sighed loudly.
“Why do you have to be so complicated?” Layton asked.
I didn’t say anything, only shrugged, content that he had allowed the visit. I hadn’t been joking when I told him I would go behind his back.
Layton must’ve heard my last thought, because he frowned at me in disapproval.
“I’m going with you. We can go right now and get it over with,” he said, getting up and offering his hand to me.
We reached what I assumed was the pack building. It was much larger than I had initially assumed. There were a few guys standing around outside. Some were in their human form, while others were shifted into their Wolves.
As soon as they spotted Layton and me, they all bowed their heads.
There were more people inside the pack building. The place gave off the appearance of offices, and there were even guys sitting around doing actual paperwork. There was a nice fireplace on the side wall, and a few guys were resting around what appeared to be a living room area.
It had a homey, yet professional feel to it— at least the entrance did. When we continued down one hall, we crossed several rooms, which Layton pointed out were for pack meetings.
Everything was so organized and elegant, it was breathtaking.
The last door we crossed led to a staircase that went down. It was hard to miss the eerie feeling the lower level had. I interlaced my arm with Layton’s. Having Layton near me made me feel safe. We were passing even more Wolves from his pack. All of them looked tough, and ready for action.
Layton looked down at me, and cocked an eyebrow when he noticed I was practically clinging to him. I smiled, knowing he had already realized I was nervous. I just wanted to know that Layton was there for me.
“I’m here. I’ll always be here,” he said, leaning down to kiss me. It was just a peck on the lips, but it was enough for butterflies to form in my stomach. The nice electric feeling running through me from his touch helped calm my nerves.
We walked for a while on a long, dimly lit hallway. Everything was clean, but it seemed much too creepy. Every so often, we would cross one of the guards from the pack. They would nod, and one of them even smiled at me. It did nothing to soothe me.
There was a guy sitting behind a desk. I didn’t pay much attention to him, because the cell in front of the guy’s desk had someone lying down in a bunk.
His scent hit me before anything else, and it almost made me cry on the spot. I stared at the body that lay motionless in the bed. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew it was Liam.
“Alphas,” the guy behind the desk said.
“Caleb,” Layton replied, nodding his head once.
“We’re here to see Liam. You can take off for a while. I’ll watch him,” Layton told Caleb. Caleb gave both of us a curt nod, and took off without asking questions.
When Layton spoke up, Liam moved around in the bed. He took a deep breath, and quickly snapped his head in my direction.
I couldn’t help the gasp that escaped my lips when I saw him. His cheeks were reddened and one of his eyes was bruised. There were cuts on his arms, and I could heavily smell the stench of his blood. He was in a horrible condition.
Liam didn’t speak up. He got up from the bunk he was lying on, and started walking towards us. I wondered why the bruises and cuts weren’t healing.
“They’re fresh,” Layton replied.
“Are you okay? I asked but no one wanted to tell me anything,” Liam said to me, wrapping his hands around the metal bars.
I didn’t say anything, only nodded my head. I wanted to reach out to him, but I didn’t think that Layton would appreciate that.
“Can you give us a moment?” I asked Layton.
“No,” he stated. He gave me a serious look, crossing his strong arms over his chest. Layton kept his hard gaze on Liam.
“I won’t hurt her,” Liam told Layton. When Liam spoke up, Layton let out a growl I knew all too well.
“Like you weren’t going to hurt her when you kidnapped her? Or when you almost got her killed?” Layton growled, his voice rising after each word.
Liam looked down after Layton made his accusations. I wanted to reach out and tell him I was alright. As soon as I thought that, Layton grabbed me in his arms and embraced me possessively.
“I’ll be alright. Please, just give me a few moments with him,” I told Layton.
“I’m not leaving you,” Layton said, through gritted teeth.
His dark eyes had not left Liam. It really looked like Layton wanted to kill Liam. In the state Liam was in, I wouldn’t doubt that he would let Layton do it.
“I need to talk to him. Liam is my friend.”
“He is, and we need to clear some things up.”
“What do you need to clear up?” Layton asked, suspiciously.
“Liam is my friend. I think you should give us a moment. He’s not going to do anything, Layton.”
“He will hurt you,” Layton replied, looking torn between leaving me with Liam and staying to watch over us.
“I’ll be fine. Besides, didn’t you say he can’t escape?” Layton didn’t say anything. He just stared between Liam and me.
“You can talk to him with me here. I won’t intervene,” Layton told me.
“Please? I’ll be okay. I promise,” I said to him.
Layton looked indecisive. I’ll be fine, I kept repeated in my mind. He took his time, but finally, he nodded his head at me.
“I’m just walking down the hall,” he firmly said.
I shook my head at him, and he seemed to get mad.
“If you’re down the hall then might as well not leave,” I told him.
“Then I won’t leave,” he stated, calmly going over to sit on the desk.
“C’mon Layton, I need a few moments. You can wait upstairs. I’ll call you if I need you,” I told him.
Layton didn’t give his approval. He stared between Liam and me for a long time. I was surprised when he walked towards me, and wrapped his arms tightly around my waist. He pressed me tight against his chest, and I could feel the growls reverberating from within him.
Layton slowly leaned down to kiss me. I was surprised by that sudden show of affection, especially when I felt him biting my lower lip. I gasped when his fingers dug into my waist, and he wasted no time in slipping his tongue into my mouth.
Our kiss embrace was too sensual to be putting it on display for Liam. When Layton pulled away, I felt warm all over and I was breathless.
“She’s mine,” Layton growled to Liam, staring at him harshly. Without a last look or another word, Layton walked away.
Once I heard he had created enough distance between us, I turned to face Liam. I was surprised that during all that time, Liam had stayed quiet. That was unlike him.
“Are you okay?” I asked, taking a careful step closer to the cell. I was about five feet away from him.
“I’m okay now that you’re here,” he said, smiling at me.
“Why did they hit you?” I asked, pointing at the marks on his face and the ones covering his arms.
“I think that’s what I get for kidnapping the future Luna of Blue Bloods Pack,” Liam said, playfully. I couldn’t even crack a smile at his joke. All I did was continue to stare at him.
“He will let you go if I ask him too. All you need to do is promise that you won’t try anything,” I told Liam, completely closing the distance between us. Only the cell was separating us.
“Then he shouldn’t do that. I want you. If he lets me go, I’m still going to want you,” Liam quietly replied.
His behavior and the soft was he was he was talking— it wasn’t what I was used to from him. I knew that he cared about me. It was what I had assumed since we met. I had never thought it ran any deeper than that.
“You can build your life. Start over,” I told him, wanting Liam to change his mind.
“I want that. I want a new life, better than what I have now. But I want that with you,” Liam said, reaching out to caress my cheek.
“What about Charlotte?”
“She’s waiting for us,” he replied.
“You can leave and be with her.”
“Charlotte is like my sister. It’s not like that between us,” Liam said, scolding me.
“Is she part of Zev’s pack?”
“I can thank the Wolf spirits that she’s not from around here.”
“You know that I can’t leave. I don’t want that. You should have never tried to take me,” I told him, my voice slightly trembling with each word I spoke.
“You don’t know how much I wanted you. How much I still want you,” Liam insisted.
“I’m with Layton and he’s who I want. I never meant for you to think anything else,” I said, softly.
“You don’t have to be. You better than anyone else should know that you have options. Just because he’s your mate doesn’t mean you have to be with him. You’re different, Cassidy. You don’t have to follow our rules,” he said, taking a hold of my hand.
I didn’t get out of his hold. It seemed to encourage him to wrap his arms around my waist. Not only was he significantly taller, but the bars seemed to create a certain discomfort.
“You’re my friend, Liam. I wish you could see that. I love Layton. He’s who I want,” I told Liam. “I don’t want to hurt you. It makes me sad that Layton has hurt you, because that’s not what I wanted.”
I softly ran the tips of my hands over the purplish area that covered his jaw. His body was already healing all the bruises and injuries, but it was much slower than what I felt comfortable with. Looking at Liam in that condition worried me and it broke my heart.
“I want you to be happy. You can find somebody else. It doesn’t have to be here, it can be somewhere else. You just need to promise that you won’t hurt anyone. You need to tell Layton that you won’t try anything against me. I know I can convince Layton to let you go,” I told him.
“I can’t. I want you,” Liam said, lowering his head so that it was only inches away from mine. He moved one of his hands behind my neck and forcefully brought me forward to meet his lips. He had a deadly grip on my waist, but I could’ve pushed him away with my mind.
Instead, I allowed him to kiss me.