There was a tingling in my spine. I hated that feeling. I knew that feeling.
The same tingling as the day my last foster parents picked me from the orphanage.
The same as the day the sheriff came to pick up Dustin.
Something bad was about to happen.
I groaned and got out of bed. “Silly superstitions,” I mumbled to myself, willing it to be true. I stopped at the mirror, feeling uncomfortable as I looked at my ribs that were beginning to show. My healthy pudge that I loved so much was weathering away.
I was weathering away.
It was because of my feelings for him.
The thought hit me hard like it always did. I griped the kitchen table, knuckles turning white, as my entire body shook. My stomach lurched threatening to release all its contents. My body went cold all over and a shiver run through me, even as I felt sweat slide down my face and back.
I was the talking living breathing personification of “love-sick”: Shifter Edition.
Dustin was my fated mate. At least I thought he was, but he had no idea which confused the hell out of me because how could something so huge be one-sided?
At ten years old, he had found me freezing, abandoned in the woods. He was fifteen at the time and a tenacious little thing. He had taken me home to his mother, told her whatever part of my story I had been able to get out, and then he had told her, in no uncertain terms, that they were keeping me.
I had known then that he was special to me. Flash forward to the day my body had gotten its first hard-on. It had been for Dustin-- and only Dustin since then-- which of course only served to confirm my suspicions.
Dustin was my fated mate and once you found that, you were done. No more hard-ons for anyone else.
Your stomach flips only when that one person walks in the room.
Your breath hitches only when they touch your hand.
Every single beat of your heart is for them and only them.
But that wasn’t even the biggest slap in the face. When I was eleven and pining over Dustin, he had brought home a girlfriend, Diana.
Years later I had steeled myself and asked him something along the lines of what if you were bi. He’d frowned and thought it over. Finally he’d said, “Nope. I’m pretty sure I’m straight.”
“Crushed” couldn’t even begin to cover it. I was devasted!
Cue the persistent fevers and headaches.
They were becoming worse each day, and my weight loss attested to it.
“Riley!” It was Dustin. I found it odd because he was whispering. He was right outside the door of the apartment obviously counting on my shifter hearing.
No knock. He was not using his key. Strange to say the least.
“Shouldn’t you be meeting Cole?” I asked as I pulled the door open. My hand fell from the door knob and hang limply at my side. “Dustin, ho is this?” I asked quietly, even though I was afraid to hear the answer.
I met his eyes and just like that my concerns did not matter to me anymore.
I had always been able to read Dustin like a book. A book that was written just and only for me.
I saw the worry and the uncertainty in his seemingly cold eyes. All my protective instincts kicked in and I opened the door wide enough for him to brush passed me while still holding the girl in his arms.
I closed the door and quietly followed him to his room. I helped pull back the covers of the bed and Dustin lay her down. He sat next to her.
I don’t even think he realized I was standing right there, staring at him as he reached into my chest and twisted at my heart.
He gazed down at her tenderly, like one would watch a lover, and gently pushed her hair away from her face with his finger-tips.
And in that moment I knew what death felt like. It wasn’t fun.
My mate had found his mate
Captured again, of course.
My head was pounding.
Throbbing, more like!
When was the last time I had gotten a headache? I thought back to when I had been eleven and gotten shifter-pox. I groaned pitifully. It most definitely had not been long enough ago to deserve the hole that was being drilled into my head.
I sat up in the white fluffy bed, maintaining my hand on the side of my head, too afraid it would roll off.
This was captured? No. I was not back in that dark cold dungeon. I looked around at the large room, with its white painted walls and modern furnishings.
It was beautiful and luxurious. Something I was not accustomed to and would have loved to enjoy. But I had to leave. It was not safe for me to stay in one place for too long and I had to find a way to contact my family. Find out if they were okay.
I flung the heavy comforter off and tried to move my legs off the bed, but my body protested. I dry heaved over the side of the bed, suddenly glad that I had not eaten anything in days.
“Hey!” I heard a soft voice enter the room. Strong arms enveloped me and eased me back onto the bed. “Are you okay?” he asked.
I refused to open my eyes. They were teary and I refused to cry in front of a stranger. Especially a stranger who smelled like this one. Like cinnamon. I loved the smell of cinnamon. He struggled with my hair to get it away from my face and neck. At thigh length, it constantly wrapped around my neck however it pleased almost to the point of strangling me.
“Your hair is really dirty,” he murmured to himself. That got my attention.
I snapped my eyes open and glared at him. That was all I could manage though. The words died on my lips.
I was back to lazy winter nights back home. My father would sit us around his sketchbook and draw all sorts of mystical creatures. One of them was a people of snow colored hair and blue eyes. Just like this man. Exactly like him.
He wore a grimace on his face.
“You’re way too pretty to be sad,” I said.
He jerked away, blinking rapidly at me. “What?” He frowned as he jumped away from the bed.
“Are you flirting with me?” he questioned disbelievingly.