My head was pounding. I was familiar with the hurt when it happened this time.
It was whatever drug the New York Alpha favoured.
My wolf was telling me something, but I could not get my mind to concentrate long enough to decipher her whimpers and growls.
My eyes snapped open. It was glaringly bright in the room, but my eyes quickly adjusted.
Standing over me with a...pillow?
I shot forward, headache forgotten. I easily swatted the fluffy pillow out of the stunned girl’s hands. Placing one leg here, and another one there, making sure to keep my arms steady and my grip firm, I tackled her to the tiled floor and pinned her arms behind her back. A startled cry escaped her.
“Who are you?” I demanded.
But she was screaming for help at the top of her lungs. I don’t think she heard me.
The doors burst open behind me and I turned to see Riley and Dustin rush in.
“What on earth?” Dustin. His voice was a welcome distraction.
Riley rushed forward and pulled me off the crazy woman and into his arms.
He swore, hugging me fiercely. “You’ve been out of it for two whole days, Freya.”
“Really?” I asked, hugging him back. “Maybe that’s why I’m starving.”
“I’ll go get you something to eat,” Dustin said.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Webb Manor,” Riley answered. “Dustin’s family home.”
“You grew up here too, Riley,” Dustin snapped. What was he so irritated about?
The pillow girl was hiding behind him and warily watching me.
“Dustin, Riley, won’t you introduce me to your....friend,” said a new voice from the doorway. A female voice. That pause before “friend” said that she knew I was more than a friend, and that Dustin and Riley had lied to her about me.
She sashayed into the room, dressed in a business suit and took her place between Riley and Dustin.
“Mom,” said Dustin, and I suddenly felt self-conscious, “this is Freya. We met her in New York. She’s umm...like you said, a friend.”
The lady held out her hand and I took it.
“Hello, ma’am. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Meeting you mother-in-law 101. My father had trained me well.
“Please, call me Agnes. It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Freya.” She smiled graciously and turned to the cowering girl. “Now, Minnie, what was all that screaming about?”
I kept quiet, waiting to see what she would say. I did not know her. Some part of me believed that maybe the whole pillow thing had been a misunderstanding.
“It’s just that she woke up so suddenly,” Minnie said, sweetly, “she frightened me.”
Frightened you as you held a pillow over my face?
She said nothing about me attacking her, obviously not wanting me to mention that she had tried to suffocate me in my drug-induced sleep. Either way I held zero interest in her, especially with Riley’s warm hand in mine.
Dustin watched our intertwined hands with an emotion I could not place. Longing? Jealousy? Both?
Probably, wishful thinking on my part.
Dustin obviously enjoyed ignoring his mates. Pretending they do not exist. He did so with Riley. He was doing it to me. The question was: why?
Millie grabbed Dustin’s hand and dragged him out of the room saying something about helping him with the food. Agnes smiled once more at me then left.
She had barely closed the door when Riley grabbed me and pulled me back into a bone crashing hug. He peppered kisses, unrestrained all over my face. I closed my eyes and pressed into him and that is when I felt the pain in my ribs. I whimpered and he pulled back.
“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” he asked.
“No, you didn’t,” I said gripping my side and waving away his hands when he reached out for me. “I think I might have bruised a couple of ribs.”
He chuckled, a warm soft sound, and held the limb I was waving at him. “Let me help you, Freya.” He held my shoulders and helped me ease back into the bed. I sat down gratefully.
A blond loc fell over and covered one of his blue eyes. This beautiful boy was my mate.
“Thanks,” I said, “It’s the drugs.” I sighed and lay down. “They weaken my abilities.”
He grinned real silly-like. “Not too weak to pummel Millicent.”
I laughed. “I did not pummel her. Wait, Millicent?”
“It’s a nickname. Don’t let Dustin or Agnes hear you using it.”
I held my hand over my mouth. “You’re awful,” I whispered.
He nodded. “I know. But she isn’t very nice either.” He looked at me seriously. “What happened? What did she do to you?”
Part of the reason I had not spoken against Millie before was because I worried that no one would believe me. I quite did not believe it myself, to be honest. I had been drugged and woken up hazy. But it warmed my heart that Riley automatically sided with me, even if it was clear he disliked her.
“I woke up and there she stood with a pillow over my face.”
Riley’s eyes widened in shock, then they turned angry. He stood up abruptly. “I’ll kill her!”
“No, you won’t.” I grabbed his arm and forced him back to sit next to me. “It’s fine. I don’t care. She’s human. She can’t hurt me. Does she know I’m a shifter?” I whispered the last part.
Riley shook his head. “No. She’s a family friend of Agnes and Dustin.”
“Agnes is human,” I noted absently. She was most definitely not Dustin’s mother. But she smelt like a blood relative.
He nodded. “Yep. She’s really Dustin’s aunt. I tell you this only because.....”
There was a chance Dustin was my mate. He could not bring himself to say it; it hurt him that Dustin might be more inclined to accept me than him. I understood. “I know.”
He cleared his throat. “Anyway, no. She knows nothing about shifters. But Agnes does--having raised us and all.”
This time it was me who was shocked. “You two were raised by a human?”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding. “They took me in when I was ten.”
He told me his story. It was grim, to say the least. It also made me see Dustin in a new light.
A young boy that brave. I was glad he had found Riley before anything horrible had happened.
“Do you think he knew when he found you?”
“That we’re mates?” He shook his head slowly. “No. I doubt it. He knew nothing about shifters. Just that he could turn into a wolf. He couldn’t have known.“′
“I think he did,” I insisted. “At least subconsciously. People don’t just pick other people from forests and insist on keeping them.” I looked at the hope in Riley’s light-blue eyes and my heart twisted. I felt so much for him “He knew,” I said firmly with conviction.
Dustin must have sensed something in Riley to react the way he did. I just knew it.