The Forgotten Claim - The Claim: Book 1

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Chapter 7 - Cameron

It took Cameron almost a week but when he finally found her, he couldn’t tear himself away—especially when she was suffering such distress.

She didn’t understand how much her words hurt herself. She was fighting against a bond that was stronger than the pull of gravity. He barely persevered against the urge to claim her and probably would have if they hadn’t gotten interrupted.

Whatever happened between them in the past, the separation was hurting her. Her fight against him and their spiritual connection was another battle waging war within her.

Stop resisting it. I can’t stand to see you suffer.

He understood she was overwhelmed. Understood that she hated him for what he did. He didn’t even know her name yet, but he knew he couldn’t give up on her.

He whimpered when he cupped her cheeks in his palms and she flinched away.

“Tell me what happened, what I did to hurt you, and then I will leave. Okay?”

She shook her head, hesitating, chewing on her swollen bottom lip. “One night. That’s all we had. One minute you were there and the next you were gone.”

Fuck. That was what he feared. She hated him because she thought he used her. Dammit! How could he do that to her? How could he fix this?

“I’m sorry. As I said, I was in an accident and in a coma and woke up with amnesia. I’m sure I had every intention of returning to you.”

She snorted, rubbing her arms and avoiding his gaze. “Sure you did.”

“Hey, it may have taken me five years, but I found you, even with amnesia and no one close to me knowing about you,” he pointed out.

“See?” she countered, her anger flaring up again. “You didn’t even tell anyone about me.”

Her accusation was understandable, though no fault of his own. His pack was under attack. He had a duty to fight and protect those who couldn’t. If he told Andrew, he’d never know as the dead couldn’t speak.

He crossed his arms. “As if I had time. I barely got a few miles out of town before I was nearly killed. Do you want to see my scar as proof?”

He reached up to brush his hair away from his forehead, where he knew a tip of the long, jagged scar peeked out from his hairline.

Curious eyes glanced at it before darting away.

“Do you believe me now? I can get pictures my parents took if you still don’t.”

She shuddered, rubbing her arms again. “No, thanks.”

“Will you give me a chance? To make it up to you?”

Her eyes widened and her mouth opened and closed like a goldfish for a few seconds before she snapped it shut and locked away.

“I-I don’t… No.” She shook her head, determination flashing across her face as she rubbed her arms again. “No, I can’t see you again, Cam.”

He stepped toward her to protest but she ordered him to stop. He did, his eyes pleading with her. Her body deflated, her heart crumbled to pieces at her feet. He wished he could pick them up and put them back together for her.

“I can’t,” she said softly. A brokenness carried in her voice.

“Why not?”

“Because of Chloe.”

The child?

His heart began to thunder within. “Is she mine?” he asked.

She swallowed, nodding her head.

He brushed his fingers through his hair. Failure at protecting them and taking care of them leeched into his bones, breaking them down. He was relieved that the little girl was his but did he stand a chance at being a part of their lives? Did he deserve a chance for abandoning them for five years?

“This might be asking for too much but I need you to reconsider. You need to give me a second chance. I had no control over the accident, the coma, and the amnesia. I need this.”

I need you.

She had to understand, or at least try to understand.

He didn’t know what he would do without her.

Leaning back against the kitchen counter, she hung her head, her face covered by her dark, loose curls that he had tugged free from their pins. Her shoulders rose and fell with the expansion and contraction of her lungs with each deep breath.

He reached out to touch her and withdrew when she uttered, “Cam, I don’t know what to say and I can’t deal with this right now. I’m working and I can’t let my clients down.”

“Will you think about it?” he asked.

“Okay.” She didn’t lift her head to look at him.

“Thank you.” He tried not to let his emotions leak out in his voice. “Do you have a business card or something with your name and number on it?”

If she needed space, he would give it to her.

She handed him her card and he purposely brushed his fingertips over hers, firing off a spark of electricity between them—a little reminder of who he was to her before he forced himself to leave.

Closing the door behind him, his heart clenched within.

It’s not goodbye, he told himself.

He would see her again soon—as soon as possible.

Lifting the card up, he stared at her face and the name attached to it. Olivia Bennett. Beautiful.

Pushing away from the door, he put her card in his back pocket and pulled on his helmet.

He had a lot to think about. His search was over but he still had to tackle the biggest hurdle of all—her.

“That’s good news,” Alpha Noodin said when Cameron finished telling him the news on the phone.

He was at the packhouse in the city—a tiny apartment in the downtown core that anyone in the pack could use if they needed it.

He looked up when the door opened and Sam came in and mouthed a silent greeting when he saw Cameron perched on a bar stool, talking on the phone.

Cameron nodded in greeting back to Sam and continued, “Yeah, I’m not sure how long it will take for me to convince her to move in with me but once I secure the beginning of a relationship with her, I’ll return to my post and see her in my free time.”

Alpha made a sound of acknowledgment. “And when do you plan on revealing the truth to her?”

Cameron hesitated and scratch his chin as Sam went to the fridge to grab himself a drink, listening in on the call with his keen werewolf senses. “Not sure. I’ll have to play it by ear, I think. She’s fighting the matebond. She thinks I abandoned her and I don’t blame her for thinking that or being pissed off about it either.” He sighed. “Just have to figure out a way to make this work.”

Sam leaned against the counter and tipped the can of soda to his lips, waiting his turn to grill Cameron for details.

“Take your time to secure the relationship. Once your mind is more at ease, I expect your return.”

“Thank you, Alpha. How is Luna?”

“Good. She’s entered the excessive morning sickness phase but she’s good. Animkii is looking forward to a little brother or sister.”

The mention of the Alpha’s nine-year-old son made Cameron smile.

He was a father and couldn’t wait to meet Chloe. He anticipated Olivia would keep her from him until she decided to give him a chance and let him into their lives.

“That’s good. Well, I’ll be in touch. Blessed be.”

Blessed be.”

He hung up and Sam immediately bombarded him with questions, as he expected. Excitement bubbled up before fizzling out as Cameron relayed what happened with Olivia. Uncertainty hung in the air in the silence that followed.

“Well,” Sam finally said with a heavy sigh. “That sucks. I mean, it’s awesome that you’ve found her but it’s not going to be easy, huh?”

“Nope,” Cameron said as he pulled out Olivia’s business card from his back pocket. He studied her face in the top left corner. The smile didn’t quite reach her eyes but it was lovely nonetheless. A professional pose that carried confidence and trust.

“Do you think she’ll give you a chance?”

“Hope so.” Cameron didn’t want to even think about the possibility of her shutting him out completely.

Olivia was his soulmate and Chloe was his daughter. A werewolf. She’ll need him someday and he wanted to be a permanent part of her life so that when that day came, she could look to him for guidance and support. He couldn’t imagine going through his first shift without his friends and family at his side. If he wasn’t there, who could she turn to?

He needed Olivia to give him a chance.

He put her contact information into his phone and wondered when she would be done work. How long should he wait before calling her? Was it too soon?

A smirk played on his lips. She’s got you whipped and she hasn’t even agreed to see you again.

He wanted to ask her out to dinner. Was that too much too soon? Coffee in the morning?

He pursed his lips, tempted to call her, but decided against it in case she was busy. What about a text? It was less intrusive and she could respond whenever she felt like it.

His thumbs tapped on the screen. ‘Hey, Olivia. It’s Cam. I really am glad to have found you again. Let’s catch up over coffee. Tomorrow?’

After sending the message, he set the phone down and looked around the apartment for something to do to take his mind off her. The space was bare of decorations or personal touches. It was a big open room with the kitchen along the wall next to the door. A long counter with bar stools on the other side separated the kitchen from the living room. A plush leather couch ran parallel the counter with a forty-inch flat screen TV in the corner. The wall opposite the door was a floor-to-ceiling window with a sliding door to a narrow balcony that ran the length of the unit. Too narrow for chairs, all it was good for was standing and leaning over the metal railing and looking out on the city from the twentieth floor. Next to the living room was the “bedroom.” A long slim dresser separated a king-sized bed from the living room with the bathroom next to it and a closet in the corner next to the door.

The best part about the place was the bed—but the view of the city wasn’t too bad either. If he had designed the place, he would have made the balcony wide enough to put chairs and a little bistro table out so he could drink beer in the evenings and coffee in the mornings.

Going to the fridge, he helped himself to a beer and ambled out to the balcony. Sam followed him with his soda, deep in thought as he too pondered Cameron’s situation.

Leaning against the railing, he thought about Olivia as he tipped the bottle to his lips.

He was damned if he could hold himself back from tearing her clothes off. He had to stick with public places to meet her. All the noises and distractions should be enough for him to keep it together.

Fuck, she’s so gorgeous.

His balls clenched and he had to readjust himself as he pushed her from his mind. He still couldn’t help but wonder what exactly happened between them five years ago. Her hostility was overwhelming and damaging when she resisted the pull of the matebond.

Dammit! How badly did he hurt her?

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