I woke up feeling numb.
It took me seconds to realize where I was.
“Hey,” Zev said, coming over to my side.
I didn’t want to talk to him, even though ignoring him was going to be impossible. Zev remained quiet, but I could tell he was waiting for me to speak.
“What day is it?” I asked in a croaky voice.
Zev must’ve realized I was thirsty. I felt dehydrated. I had no idea how long I’d been out. Zev was pouring me a glass of water, and there was a small pill in his hand.
“I’m not taking that,” I told him, slapping his hand away when he offered the pill.
“It’ll help with the headache.”
“I don’t have a headache,” I lied. I took the water gratefully. My head was pounding, and I felt sweaty and sticky.
When I looked down at my body, I realized I was only wearing a long t-shirt.
“You burned through your clothes. I was out doing rounds and I found you in a heap on the floor… naked,” he added, looking away, but a blush quickly took over his face.
“How long was I out?” I asked, ignoring the fact that he had seen me naked.
“It’s past midnight. I haven’t told Layton that you’re here. I was waiting for you to wake up,” he said, sheepishly.
“I don’t want to be here. There’s no point in calling him. Layton already knows I don’t want to talk to him. And I don’t want to talk to you either!” I snapped.
I was angry with Zev. I had been mad before. But having him in front of me was harder to deal with. He had killed Hanna. He had killed her so easily. Just the thought of it made my stomach twist in disgust.
“I couldn’t let her do it,” Zev said in a low voice. The haunted look in his eyes made it so hard to be angry at him, which was what I wanted to be.
“I was letting her. I didn’t need you to intervene,” I said, harshly.
“You were going to kill yourself for him!” Zev growled.
He got up from the bed, and walked away from me. Even while wearing a shirt, I could see the muscles in his back tighten.
“You were going to let Hanna hurt you just because Layton killed Liam. Was Layton right? Did you love Liam?”
Zev’s outburst confused me. “Liam was my friend. He was important. But even if he wasn’t, he didn’t deserve to die.” I repeated what I had been saying ever since Layton had captured Liam.
“He deserved torture. Any other Alpha would have killed Liam even before leaving that place where he had you! Any other Alpha would have skinned Liam the day he came into our territory to attack! But Layton and I didn’t hurt him then. We did it for you, Cassidy…”
His speech ended up with him slumped on the floor, with his head in his hands.
“Liam had it easy with me. I had forgiven him. My father was backing off. Why can’t you see that he deserved this?”
“I forgave him. You should have done the same. I am not against fair punishment, but I am against death.”
We were quiet for a long while.
I could feel Micah and Nate standing outside the door. They didn’t try to come in, and neither Zev nor I called for them.
I thought our conversation was going to be over, and that Zev was going to leave me alone. But he didn’t. He got up from the ground, dusted himself off, and walked back over to the bed.
“I’m sorry, you know,” Zev whispered, letting out a humorless chuckle.
“It’s not my forgiveness you should ask for.”
When he tried to reach for my hand, I didn’t pull away. Everything inside of me was telling me to create a distance between Zev and me, but I couldn’t do it. If I ended up leaving, I wanted things between Zev and me to be okay.
“I’m sorry for letting you down. I didn’t kill Liam, but I supported Layton’s decision. I know you hate what we did to him. And Hanna…” Zev said.
He let his back fall down over the bed.
I stayed in my place for a couple of seconds. Without asking for them, images of the moment Zev ripped Hanna’s throat out came to my mind. It was awful, and I was always going to have to live with them.
I kneeled beside Zev, and placed my hand over his chest. Zev covered my hand with his, while his other arm went over his eyes.
“What about Hanna?” I softly asked.
“I never wanted to hurt her. I kicked her out of the pack, but I gave her a safe place to live. She didn’t want to go away. I wasn’t aware that she was roaming our territories. I never thought she would try to hurt you,” he said.
And that was all he spoke of her.
I tried asking him more questions. It wasn’t that I hated Zev. I loved him. He was my best friend. But I was angry with his decisions. I was angry with his ideals, and how easy it was for him to murder someone. However, I had to admit that Zev had not taken Hanna’s death easily. It had hurt him, and that hurt me too.
After our conversation, Zev had taken off.
Micah and Nate stayed with me while Zev was gone. They apologized. I wasn’t mad at them, and it was even comforting to have them there. Nate kept trying to make me laugh. Even though I barely managed a few smiles, it felt good to have both him and Micah there.
Micah was serious for the most part, however he was the most helpful when I asked questions about the packs. He knew everything that was going on, but I expected that since he was Zev’s Beta.
They left when Zev came back, carrying a tray of food. “My parents, have they been asking for me?”
The food was for him and me. From how fast he was shoveling food down, I assumed he hadn’t eaten in a while.
“Layton told your dad that you were going to be out for the week,” he replied in between bites.
“He was okay with that?” I asked.
I couldn’t hide the surprise in my voice, and it made Zev smile.
“Of course not,” he grinned. “Thank your mom for the save. She was the one who convinced your dad. It didn’t go down so great because you weren’t there to ask for permission yourself.”
“Layton’s looking for me right now?” I asked, changing the subject.
“My dad dropped in,” Zev said, awkwardly.
I noticed the frown on his face appeared right after mentioning Marcus. I reached out to him because he seemed distracted.
“What happened with your dad?”
Zev smiled at me, tugged on my hand, and gently kissed the outside of it. “He made me call your mate.”
“You told him I was here?” I asked.
My heart took next to no time to start beating rapidly in my chest. Layton always managed to do that, except this time, I had mixed feelings about it.
“You don’t want to see him?” Zev asked.
I shook my head, and pushed my plate of food to the side. “I saw him earlier. We talked. It… It didn’t go down too well.”
“You need to talk to him.”
“I don’t have to, and I won’t.”
Surprisingly, it took a lot of convincing on my part to convince Zev to keep Layton out. I had assumed that Zev was going to be more than happy to keep Layton away, but that wasn’t the case. He thought that Layton and I needed to talk things over.
“He didn’t try anything?” I asked Zev once he returned.
It was almost five in the morning. I had been up, watching TV. There was nothing good on, but thankfully, Micah had stayed to keep me company.
“He came with thirty of his men,” Zev replied.
I ran my eyes over his body, but Zev was in good shape, and his clothes were not messed up in any way.
“What did he do?”
“We talked, he growled, and shifted into his Wolf. Jared had to convince him to leave. I told him you needed time. I promised to take care of you. He tried to attack me, but most of my pack was there, and he was in my land.”
“Please tell me you didn’t fight,” I said, feeling my heart drop in my chest.
“We didn’t. We came close, but nothing happened. Layton’s coming in a few days to get you, whether you’re ready or not.”
“I guess this is my cue to go,” Micah said, speaking for the first time since Zev arrived.
I had been tired, even though I’d been out for a couple of hours. I hadn’t slept the night before, and I had flown more than any other time.
Zev grabbed my hand before I entered the room I was staying in. It was his room. I wondered if he was going to tell me something about that, but decided to wait until he brought it up.
“I really am sorry, for hurting you. I never wanted to do that,” he said.
I closed my eyes when I felt his hand caressing my cheek. His words only made me want to break down crying again. It truly felt like a never ending cycle.
“I’m leaving,” I whispered.
I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to see the look he was going to give me. It was something that I would have to face, but I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.
“Right now? Wait until the morning. I’ll call Layton to come and get you,” he said, cupping my cheek, making me turn up to face him.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed that he looked worried, but not as much as I imagined he would have been.
“No, Zev. I mean, I’m leaving, away. I’m going somewhere else, far away from this place, from everyone.”
A single tear rolled down my cheek, and Zev brushed it away.
He was staring at me intently. I briefly wondered if he was going to try to talk me out of it. It seemed like he was thinking really hard about something. For a moment, I was scared that he was thinking about calling Layton right after I fell asleep.
But his real offer completely surprised me.
“I’ll come with you,” Zev said.
I had not at all been expecting him to tell me that. I was stunned for minutes, just staring at Zev, while he looked back at me.
I didn’t know what to tell him.
“I need to speak with my father. He needs to know that I’m taking a few days off,” he continued.
I was still too shocked to speak. Zev guided me into the room, and over to the bed. I numbly followed him, not knowing how to respond, and wondering if I’d imagined his words.
I sat down on the bed, and watched as Zev walked out of the room.
Before he left, I called after him. “Why are you doing this? Why are you here for me? Why are you always here for me? Why did you kill Hanna…?”
I could hear the emotion in my words, which sounded broken. My vision had gotten blurry. I wondered I if I should have just gotten used to seeing through blurry vision, since my tears seemed to always be ready to fall these days. The thought of that made me smile, in a very sick way.
I looked up when I realized Zev was still standing there, staring at me.
“I had been lying to Hanna and to you. Most of all, I had been lying to myself,” Zev replied.
He left the room then, leaving me more confused and guilty than I had been before.