Rob parked his car in a visitor spot, then turned to look at Myra.
“Will my car be okay here overnight?” he asked.
“Yes. We don’t have a strict visitor policy.” Rob watched Myra climb out of the car, he sensed what she had to tell him was about her scars and didn’t quite know how to tell him. Her back and shoulders were stiff as he followed her to her apartment, watching for anything out of the ordinary.
“Do you want a drink?” Myra asked as they went into her apartment.
“No. Take your time telling me why you think Viper is after Ricky and you.” He sat on her couch and watched her pace back and forth.
“So I told you my family finally stopped moving around the time I turned thirteen. Well, they gave my father a job researching shifters. The government wanted to know why we heal faster, have less chance of getting sick, what makes us shift. They hired viper and his goons as security.” Rob heard her voice catch and knew what she had to say next was hard.
“I started losing days of my life. At first, it happened over long weekends and summer break. Then around my sixteenth birthday, I went to bed and woke up four days later with scars on my hips. I thought it weird and missed out on several days of camp I was supposed to be at. I think it was around that time when Viper spent a lot of time around and in our home.” Rob’s heart clenched and his stomach churned.
“I was seventeen when I got my answers. I had a huge chemistry exam to study for. I stayed up late into the night studying.” Myra wrapped her arms around her waist and closed her eyes.
“Myra,” he coaxed, standing to take her into his arms. He needed to comfort her, give her his strength.
“Viper burst into my room, handcuffed me, and carted me to the lab. There they strapped me to a table and injected me with something to knock me out. That time I lost two weeks and awoke sore. They drugged my lynx and my body covered in cuts and stitches, still in various stages of healing. I demanded to know what happened to me. My dad tried to tell me I was helping science. He was working on something to make people heal faster. I told him I wanted no part of this. He deliberately cut me open to watch me heal.” Tears streamed down her face. Rob did his best to calm his anger. How could a father do that to his own child? If the man were still alive, Rob would have killed him.
“How did you get away?” he asked, needing to know the experiments were over.
“I refused to come home after I went to college. Viper tracked me down, telling me I had to come home if I wanted to continue in college. I worked hard and applied for as many scholarships as I could. I took out loans and worked the night shift at the local box store. I paid for my education,” she shared. Her determination impressed him.
“And they stopped bothering you just like that?” he wanted to know, moving them back to her couch.
“No. Viper came around two more times demanding my return. The second time campus security saw him bothering me and chased him off-campus. The last time he tried to bother me at a bar. What he didn’t know was the security guard was a good friend. He threw viper out, after that I never heard from him again. I saw him at my parents’ funeral, but he didn’t approach Ricky or me. Now Viper is coming for me because Ricky took something.”
“I want you to be open to my next suggestion,” he began rubbing her back.
“Ricky wanted someone to protect you. Please let one of Marcus’ men keep you safe?”
“Does that mean he will be around me all the time?”
“Only when I’m not with you. Peter would stay outside your apartment and hang out in the library. If you need to go shopping, either bring him or me with you. Ricky has until Next Friday to tell you everything,” he explained, hugging her close to his body.
“I’d rather have you than someone I’ve never met,” she mumbled into his chest.
“I can’t spend all day with you when I need to go house hunting for us. Plus, I have Adam,” he explained. It hurt him to say it, but he couldn’t neglect his child.
“I know I’m being selfish. I’ve successfully avoided Viper. I can do it now. I wish Ricky would have included me from the start.” Myra left his arms to pace around again.
“Can I ask how much of your skin is scarred?” he asked when they’d shifted, he only glimpsed the ones on her hips.
“Thighs up to my shoulders, back, and front.”
“Fuck. Is that why you have the tattoos?” he asked, she nodded.
“Want to see?” she asked with a smirk playing on her lips.
“Yes, you’ve seen mine,” he answered, watching Myra reach for the hem of her dress. As she pulled the dress over her head Rob stared in awe. Her body had a multitude of tattoos. There were intricate characters and quotes along her skin.
“May I?” he asked, reaching out to touch.
“Sure.” Her voice wavered, he glided his hands down her arm admiring the beautiful princess on her bicep. He saw the classic snowy owl on her hip. The half-finished Mad Hatter intrigued him.
“You are beautiful. Your tattoo artist has done an amazing job. I can’t tell you have scars in any of them.” His hand grazed a scar on her stomach that worried him.
“I won’t be able to cover them all. Some are too deep,” she explained, looking at the scar he had just touched.
“Do you know everything they did to you?”
“I did my research and figured some of it out. It is too horrifying to repeat,” she answered, tears coming to her eyes. No wonder she didn’t think she was loveable.
“Your mom was a shifter, why didn’t she stop it?” If he knew someone was experimenting with Adam, he would have killed the person who did it.
“She was a mountain lion and not very maternal to either Ricky or me.”
“A mountain lion? Then how are you a lynx?” Her story kept getting stranger.
“Another excellent question. One I asked and was given a vague answer too. I thought I’d be a mountain lion when I shifted, it was a shock when I realized I was a lynx.”
“They did not adopt you, did they? That would explain a lot.” He ran his hands around her waist, looking into her bewitching green eyes.
“It is a theory I hold close to my heart. I think if they adopted me, relief might flood my body. It would mean neither of their blood pumps through my body. It would explain why Ricky and I are different, and why I am not a mountain lion.” Rob saw the hope in her eyes. Few people he knew prayed they were adopted.
“Then we can look into that angle,” he offered. She smiled and shrugged.
“Let’s wait and see what Ricky found out. My parents are dead and I want to move on from the horror of my childhood.” She leaned up and captured his lips. They needed no more words between the two. Her hands found his tie and loosened it. He knew what she wanted, what she needed, and he was happy to oblige.
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