Heartglow

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CHAPTER 19

Valeria woke to loud knocking and she glanced at her clock. Ten in the morning…great…

She got up and pulled on her housecoat as she made her way to the door. Her head was still fuzzy from the night before.

When she opened the door, a small shriek was emitted from the baby riding her sister’s hip.

“Oh thank God you’re up Vee, Tye has been up since five and has been busy hearing himself yell and scream,” Cassidy bustled in, “I thought maybe we could go for a walk and it would settle him enough for a nap.”

She turned, “Oh, you look like death warmed over, I can come back…”

Valaria held up her hand, “No, that’s okay, just give me a couple of minutes and we will take him out.”

Vee went into her bedroom and wished she hadn’t had that bottle last night…why did people drink anyway when it made them feel like shit the next day?

She quickly pulled on matching socks, panties, and bra along with pants and a sweater, promising herself a shower later. As she looked into the mirror, she quickly ran her fingers through her mop until it was at least less tousled and joined her sister in the livingroom.

When the baby saw her he squealed loudly again and Vee couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’ve got his stroller outside,” Cassidy said as she watched her sister pull on a pair of sneakers, “It feels really nice out today so you won’t need a coat.”

Vee stood, “Okay, great, let’s go.”

They both went out and Valaria watched her sister carefully strapping her son into the deluxe baby buggy.

“Wow, that’s quite a fancy ride, little man,” Vee spoke to the miniature shifter. The baby squealed again as he waved his hands with obvious delight.

Cassidy laughed, “I think he loves you already Vee.”

Valaria’s smiled waned just a little before she grabbed the stroller, “Here, let me walk him and give you a rest.”

Cassidy held up her hands, “He’s all yours and if you want him for the night, arrangements can be made.”

Vee laughed and began to push him as her sister strolled along beside her. Valaria did a quick check for her guard but there was no one to be seen.

“You get used to it,” Cassidy saw her looking around.

Valaria shook her head, “I don’t think I could ever get used to being followed.”

“Yeah, well just wait until you find Mr. Right, these men take the security of their mates very seriously,” Cassie answered.

Vee looked into the distance, “Well then it’s a good thing that I won’t have to worry about that.”

Her sister remained silent as they strode down the main street. People called out to them and waved and Cassidy returned every wave with a smile.

Valaria wanted to bridge the distance between them, “You really like it here, don’t you?”

As her sister continued to smile and wave she spoke, “What’s not to like? I have a husband who loves me to distraction, a beautiful son, and a whole town who loves us and would lay down their lives if they had to.”

Then she turned, “I know this is all foreign to you Vee and I guess I had high hopes that you would come here and fall in love with the place and maybe with one of the men here just like I did.”

Valaria stared ahead, knowing now that she wouldn’t even think of forcing Slayde to reveal what was going on to his wife. She didn’t want to burst the bubble of comfort that her sister lived in.

“And I’m not blind, I know you and Kaden shared some pretty insense time together,” Cassidy continued to talk, “And I had already resigned myself to the fact that you might end up living in Ireland, but that would be okay too. At least I know you would be cared for.”

Vee looked over, “But I don’t need that, Cass. I’m okay on my own. I am very good at protecting myself.”

Now that Cassidy had her sister’s attention she asked, “So you don’t feel anything for Kaden?”

Vee looked away, “I think Kaden has all the women he can handle right now,” referring to his blond sex kitten.

Cassidy tossed her hand, “Bullpucky, Kaden has no interest in her.”

“He slept with her,” Vee interjected.

“Which is all in the past,” Cassidy rejoined.

“And sometimes your past can come back to haunt you,” Valaria shot back.

Cassidy hesitated, “Are you mad at him for something, Vee?”

Valaria stopped and turned to her sister, “He told me he didn’t care that I slept with Riordan. It was okay and he still wanted me.”

“You slept with Riordan?” Cassidy looked surprised.

Vee hung her head, “No, I didn’t sleep with Riordan, but it was like…” she raised her head again, “It was like he was giving me permission to sleep around because it didn’t mean anything and if that’s the way he feels, then maybe sleeping with that blond bimbo was not worth mentioning either.”

“Wait a sec, did he say he slept with Sonya while she’s been here? The fucker…” Cassidy swore.

Valaria held up her hand, “He told me didn’t, that she offered and he turned her down.”

“Oh, so what is the problem?” Cassie asked as she started walking again.

Vee stepped in beside her, “How do I know he isn’t lying since he doesn’t take sex seriously? Which also means that what we’ve shared didn’t mean anything either.”

Cassidy looked down as her sister spoke, ingesting all her words, “Listen, Valaria, I can’t speak for Kaden or any other shifter, I only know what I experienced. When Slayde and I had sex, it was…soul-shattering. It didn’t feel casual or something that would burn out in a weeks time. In fact, we had already discussed that even if he didn’t trigger my glowing, that we would stay together anyway.”

Cassie turned their path to head back to their house, her son finally sleeping.

“But wouldn’t that mean that you couldn’t have a family?” Vee knew enough about mate bonds to recognize that her sister would remain childless, “And what would happen if another man came along and your animals formed a bond with them?”

“We recognized that could happen and we would deal with it if it did, but thankfully everything worked out perfectly,” Cassidy replied.

Valaria saw them coming closer to her sister’s house and watched a delivery truck stop in front. Vee spoke, “Oh, that’s for me, here take the carriage,” and she ran to catch the man as he knocked again on the door.

“Hey, is that a package for me?”

The man looked down, “Valaria Smith?”

Vee smiled, “The one and only and she grasped the small parcel.”

The man pulled out a small machine and held it out, “Signature please and I’ll be on my way.”

Valaria signed and handed it back over while she kept the package tight under her arm, “Thank you very much.”

As he climbed back into his truck, her sister arrived, “You had a parcel delivered to my house?”

“Yeah, well I figured you are here most of the time with Tye and I didn’t want it to get mistakenly sent back,” Valaria explained, “Why don’t we get the little munchkin in the house, and then maybe we could get a cup of coffee?”

“Sure, that sounds great, I also have some fresh biscuits from this morning too,” Cassidy offered as they both entered the Alpha’s office and went through to the livingroom.

As her sister was taking her son in to lay him down, a knock came on the door. Vee went to answer it before the noise woke the baby they just got to sleep.

Riordan was standing on the front step as she opened the door.

“Slayde isn’t here,” Valaria spoke before she noticed, “What did you do to your hair?”

Vee stepped out onto the step and reached up to grasp the now black strands, “Why would you do this?”

Riordan looked away as he blushed.

“Did you do this because of me?” Valaria couldn’t believe the man had changed his hair color and especially when his eyebrows were still the slightly darker shade of blond.

Vee pushed her fingers through his stained hair, “Oh, Rory, you didn’t have to do this. You don’t have to change a thing about yourself. You were gorgeous just the way you were,” she spoke as she pulled at the dark locks.

Riordan looked down, “It’s not permanent, I just wanted to see what I would look like with you know, black hair.”

Vee caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and saw Kaden standing on the opposite side of the street with bimbo girl busy talking to him.

“I just saw the delivery guy pull up, did you get that package?” Riordan interrupted her gaze.

Vee came back, “Yeah, I did,” she gazed up at him again, “well, if that’s not permanent, I want you to go home and wash it out and don’t ever do that again,” she cupped his face, “People don’t fall in love with hair color, Riordan,” her hand slid down until it covered his chest, “they fall in love with who you are inside.”

Vee felt bad for the man standing on the step. He had done this for her, probably thinking she would look at him with more passion if he looked more like the cat king…wow, she was causing more trouble than she was worth…

And now that she had the blood sample to give them…they didn’t need her anymore…

Valaria smiled up at him, “Here,” she handed over the package, “Give this to Slayde and tell him I hope it helps with his plan.”

Riordan took the vital sample and leaned forward to buss his lips across her cheek, “You don’t know what this is going to mean to us, Vee.”

Valaria knew it was going to open doors that had been previously closed and she also knew it signaled the end of her usefulness to these people.

“Vee, who’s there?” her sister peeked out around the door, “Oh God Riordan, what did you do to your hair?”

Valaria watched as the large man blushed again as he raked his fingers through the dark locks.

“Just trying something different,” he muttered sheepishly.

“Well go home and dye it back, black just doesn’t suit your skin tone,” Cassidy retorted.

Rory responded, “Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. Valaria already told me to do the same thing.”

“Good, and do you know where my husband is? I didn’t know if he was going to make it home for lunch today and I tried his phone but it must be switched off or something,” Cassie continued to talk.

“Listen, I’m on my way to see him now, I’ll get him to call,” he backed off the step, “and thanks for the honesty,” he pointed to his hair.

Cassidy waved, “No problem, anytime,” she turned back into the room and spoke to Valaria, “The coffee is ready, Vee.”

Valaria watched Riordan turn and start walking up the street.

It would be the last time she would see him if things went her way.

She went into the house to enjoy some last time with her sister.

~*~

Riordan arrived at the basement of the hospital with Valaria’s blood safely stored inside the small package.

He tossed the brown paper square to Slayde as he walked in, “Valaria’s blood.”

Slayde stopped talking to Kaden as he caught the small box. He opened the wrapper as he spoke, “I can’t believe you got this from her. I expected it to be a lot harder than that.”

Riordan wouldn’t mention Vee’s original plan to blackmail the Alpha, “Well what can I say? I have a way with women,” he boasted.

Kaden spoke up, “Is that why you dyed your hair? Did you figure women are more attracted to black instead of blond?” He didn’t smile.

Riordan ran his hand through his locks, “Well I thought I might want to try it, Cat, but I was informed that women don’t fall in love with hair color, they fall in love with what’s inside.”

Kaden couldn’t stop the growl as he remembered how Valaria had raked her fingers through the beta’s locks as she spoke to him. Of course, he couldn’t hear and he could only hope that she was telling him how stupid he looked…but now he knew…

Slayde broke in, “Riordan, take this to the lab and tell Duncan we need it analyzed yesterday.” He threw the box back at his beta.

When he left, Slayde turned to Kaden, “If you are finding it hard to be here, maybe you should go home. And I think your clan mate would like you to return with her.”

Kaden turned away, trying to calm himself down, “I told you I would help you until the danger to Cassidy and Valaria has passed. I can’t leave until we find out why the shifters are being killed.”

Slayde turned and opened a small door in the wall of the cold storage. He slid out the black body bag within, “This is the second female shifter that was found.”

Kaden turned and joined the Alpha. He watched as Slayde peeled away the covering to reveal another girl with short dark hair.

“So far, I haven’t had anyone who knows who she is,” Slayde answered the unspoken question, “I’m hoping now that we have Valaria’s blood sample, we can see if this girl is pure wolf or another double shifter.”

Kaden stared at the young girl and felt regret that somewhere, someone was missing a daughter and may never know what happened to her.

Slayde lifted the girl’s head, “Another clean cut just like the other one, so I assume we are looking for the same person.”

“But wouldn’t their animals warn them that they were going to be harmed?” Kaden questioned.

Slayde shrugged his shoulders, “Maybe they knew the person who did this.”

“A friend? I find that hard to believe,” Kaden said as he zipped the cover shut, “I mean, even if someone is a friend, there must have been some sign of deception,” he reasoned.

Slayde pushed the girl back inside as the door opened to let Riordan return to the room, “They said they won’t stop until they can give you some answers.”

Slayde nodded, “Good, let’s hope it’s fast.”

“Oh, and your wife wants to know if you’re going to be home for lunch, she said she tried to call but your phone must be turned off,” Riordan told him.

Slayde took his phone from his pocket and hit the power button. It powered up quickly and began to ding as it registered multiple messages that had come in.

“Damn, I must have turned it off by accident,” Slayde muttered as he watched the multitude of texts flashing on the screen.

Of course, several were from his wife and a couple were from other wolf-shifter clans…maybe they knew the second girl…

“Damn!” Slayde swore as he opened a text stating another kill.

He read the note and began to type.

“What’s going on?” Kaden asked, not liking when the Alpha started swearing, it couldn’t be good news.

Slayde sent his reply and looked up, “Another dead shifter, same description, same M.O.” He raked his fingers through his hair, “I told them to send her here, although we won’t know any more until the lab breaks down Valaria’s sample. Sometimes I just wish we could grab a break.”

Slayde looked over at his beta, “You are on Vee duty today. Keep close watch on her and don’t fuck this up!”

Riordan nodded, “On it,” and left the room after sliding Kaden a self-assured smirk.

Kaden wanted to run after the wolf and hit him a few times, just for fun…

Slayde turned to him, “I would really appreciate it if you could stay to help out, but I want that woman gone. It’s your job to make sure she gets on the road to the airport and send her back home, do I make myself clear?”

Kaden opened his mouth, wishing Sonya had never come here and wanting to be the one to oversee Valaria’s captivity today. He needed to find out why she had been so angry with him…

“And Kaden,” Slayde added, “I don’t care what your relationship is with her, but I won’t have you playing with one female and trying to keep Valaria on the same string.”

Kaden felt like he needed to defend himself, “Listen, whatever was between Sonya…”

“I said I don’t care,” Slayde broke in, “Just get her out of here today.”

Kaden was frustrated as he nodded his head and left the room. Riordan got to spend the day with Valaria while he had to go home to force the she-devil to vacate the town without him. He hoped she wouldn’t try another stupid stunt to get him into bed with her. He might have to threaten to remove her from the clan if she wouldn’t obey him today.

A woman scorned…Slayde’s words echoed in his head as he strode purposefully down the street…

That seemed to be his M.O. lately…

~*~

Valaria sat in her sister’s kitchen, enjoying coffee and a couple of fresh biscuits. Her stomach rumbled contentedly as it was being filled with something other than liquor. Cassidy had been chatting happily about redecorating her home and Valaria looked around, not understanding what needed to be changed.

“And I told Slayde if we end up having another baby, we are going to need a bigger house. So, he is starting to look for a piece of land a little out of town where we can maybe build a house, something with like thirteen bedrooms and a rec room and…” Cassidy talked excitedly with her hands.

Valaria broke into her happy chatter, “Thirteen bedrooms? Are you planning on being pregnant every year for the next rest of your life?”

Cassidy laughed, a sound that Valaria would never forget should she never see her again, “No, but I want to make sure we don’t have to move again and I want an extra bedroom or two in case you want to come visit. And maybe you will meet someone and have a bundle or two of joy to bring along.”

Valaria smiled at her sister’s fantasy. She didn’t have the heart to be a Debbie downer so she let her dream, “And how many bathrooms are you going to have in this new house? I mean you’ll have to have one for at least half of them and don’t forget the jacuzzi.”

Cassie rushed in, “Oh, I didn’t forget that, it will be in with the indoor pool.”

Vee raised her eyebrow, “Indoor pool, huh?”

Cassidy took the last drink of her coffee, “Of course, all my children will learn to swim.” She got up and moved to the sink to rinse out her mug, “Do you want another coffee, Vee?”

Vee rose as she drank, “No, I’m all good, but I wanted to ask you something. I hope you don’t take it the wrong way, but do you have a few dollars I could borrow? I don’t exactly have access to my money while I’m here…”

Cassidy grabbed her purse, “O-M-G, I’m so sorry, I never even thought that maybe you need a few dollars to get stuff that you need while you’re here.” She opened her wallet and pulled out three twenty-dollar bills and handed them to her, “Here, take this, is it enough? I can go to the bank machine…”

Vee pocketed the money, “No, that’s great, it’s just nice to have a few dollars on me instead of relying on everyone else to get me what I need.”

Cassie threw down her purse and hugged her sister, “I tried to get everything you needed, but I never thought to leave some money over there for you in case,” she pulled back, “you know, you want pizza for two or something.”

Valaria chuckled and pulled away, “Hey, it’s all good,” her thoughts were interrupted as her sister’s phone started singing.

Cassidy said, “And that would be my husband telling me he accidentally shut off his phone.” She picked up her phone, “Hi, Sweetheart…uh huh, you shut your phone off by accident,” She made a face at Valaria, “Ok, I forgive you as long as you are coming home for lunch…wait a sec.” Cassie held her phone to her chest, “Do you want to stay for lunch, Vee?”

Vee shook her head, “No, I’m kinda full and I think I’m going to turn in early tonight so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Cassie smiled, “Ok, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, get lots of rest,” then she returned to her phone as Vee let herself outside, “and you’ll never guess what your son did this morning…”

Vee closed the door behind her and walked around to the front of her house. She casually looked over and saw raven-haired Riordan sitting lazily on the bench. He sat up straighter as she made an appearance. Valaria waved her hand as she let herself in the door.

She glanced at the clock and decided that today would be a good day to leave. She didn’t care that she would break her promise to Kaden after all. He didn’t seem concerned with honesty. Or maybe he was too honest…whatever, it didn’t really matter now anyway…And now that the decision was made, she had to have a plan.

Vee grabbed a pen and paper she had seen in the kitchen and sat down on the couch and began to make her getaway plan. It wasn’t much different from when she used to plan her break-ins, except the only thing she would gain was her old life back, which should have made her extremely happy…

Her animals began to get restless as she spoke out loud, “Ok, overview, get rid of Riordan, get a pack for carrying clothes if I need to shift, hitch a ride to anywhere.” Then she began to make notes beside each point until she was sure the plan she made would work because if she got caught, they would never let her go.

Vee got up and went into the bedroom to look for a suitable bag she could pack a change of clothes into. Of course, her sister thought of everything and there were two piled next to the shoes at the bottom of the closet. Vee grabbed the black one and threw it on the bed. Then she went through the clothes until she made a lightweight outfit out of an array of black garments. Next, she knew she had to get to the drugstore to get what she needed there, a peroxide bleach hair lightener to use on Riordan to get him into the house and the heaviest sleeping pills she could get her hands on off the shelf.

Then she would stop at the liquor store for a strong red and hope she could convince Riordan to break his rule of not drinking on the job.

She would do what she had to do…

Vee left the house and walked down the street towards her first stop, the drugstore. She could feel Riordan following her and she pretended she didn’t care if he was there or not.

Inside the store, Vee grabbed the hair bleach and found a liquid sleep aide that seemed like it was heavy duty. She made her way back down the hair color aisle, contemplating coloring her own hair or if it would make a difference.

“Valaria…” the sweet and sour voice drifted from behind her.

She didn’t even turn, “Sonya…”

“Contemplating going blond?”

The voice grated on her nerves but Vee ignored it, she had a plan and she needed no distractions.

“I think blond would suit you,” Sonya offered again.

Vee turned around, wanting to hit the offending bitch behind her, and struggled to keep her arms close to her chest while keeping her purchases to herself, “Actually, I was considering a flame red. Were you also looking to change your hair color? Maybe black?”

Vee was rewarded with thinned lips and narrowed eyes before Sonya turned and grabbed a bottle of something off the shelf behind her, “No, I was actually looking for this.”

Massage oil…

“Can’t have too much. We use it all the time,” she dug, trying to get under Valaria’s skin.

Vee held her gaze, not giving an inch before replying, “Must be why you’re so greasy and slimy,” before she turned and went to the front of the store.

If she was having doubts about leaving, her run-in with Sonya solidified her decision. She paid for her purchases and placed the color in the bag and the sleep liquid in her pants pocket.

As she left the store, she saw Riordan across the street and decided to wave and give him a big smile. Then she made her way to the liquor store and found a dark red that hopefully would mask the odor and taste of the sleeping liquid.

Vee found when she left the store with her wine in a bag that she had begun to disconnect herself from what she had to do. She was now putting her plan into action and nothing was going to deter her.

Vee found Riordan outside as she came out. She smiled as she walked right up to him, “Okay, I can’t look at that black hair any longer,” she held up the bag from the drug store, “You and I have a date with a bottle of peroxide.” She shook the bag for emphasis.

Riordan smiled back at her, glad she seemed in great spirits but he didn’t want to misread the situation between them, “You don’t have to do that, Vee, I’ll just let it wash out naturally.”

Valaria shook her head as she began to walk, “No, I’m going to hurry it along a little,” she stopped and faced the handsome ignorant man, “I don’t want to see another single black-haired shifter again in my life.” She let the meaning sink in.

Riordan smiled sheepishly as he agreed, “Ok, if it makes you happy then I’m happy.”

Vee’s smiled widened, “It does make me happy,” she started walking again, “And you know what they say, blonds have more fun!” and she winked at him for good measure.

Though what fun he was going to be having tomorrow when he woke up alone in her house, well that was anyone’s guess. She just hoped Slayde would go easy on him, he really was a nice guy.

Valaria walked beside Riordan all the way back to her house and when they both walked in, Valaria pulled the wine from her bag, “Now, I know you said you don’t drink on the job, but you aren’t going to make me drink this all by myself, are you?”

Riordan opened his mouth to protest…weakly…, “Listen, why don’t we both take a break from the wine tonight? You must be tired…”

Vee wore her best hurt look as she pouted, “Rory, just share one drink with me. I promise I won’t let it get to my head. I mean any more than that and I might want to rip your clothes off or something.”

She saw the flame of desire lick deep in his eyes…she almost felt bad…

Almost…

“Okay, why don’t you take your shirt off and find a towel in the bathroom and put it around your neck. I’ll pour us a glass and meet you in there and we’ll get this party started!” she winked again and watched him tread down the hall, pulling his shirt off as he went. She took an extra moment to admire the thick muscles down his back.

God, she was really going to miss the sight of all that maleness…

Vee quickly went into the kitchen and found two glasses. She poured the red and then pulled the small bottle from her pocket. She read the directions but wondered since it was made for humans, should she add a little more. She didn’t bother measuring it, since a little more could only be a good thing…I mean, you can’t overdose with something off the shelf, right?

Vee added a little more wine to her glass until both were even. She hoped it would knock him out, not make him sick or something. She was only going to get one shot at freedom.

She arrived in the bathroom with the wine and the hair color in the bag hanging around her wrist. She smiled and handed him his glass.

Vee held up her own, “To blonds having more fun,” and she took a great gulp. She was ecstatic to see Rory joining in the toast with her.

Now how long would it take until he passed out? Well, might as well get his hair done…

“Okay, now I’m going to mix this stuff up and we’ll coat your hair,” she looked down at the directions she pulled from the box, “It says to leave it on for a half-hour and then wash it out. So, that’s what we’ll do. I guess we’ll just have to have another glass of wine while we wait.”

Riordan watched her mix up the chemicals and begin to slather it on his head, coating every dark strand. Truth was, he missed his almost white locks, black just didn’t suit him.

And maybe blonds did have more fun…now…

It took only a few minutes for the concoction to coat Riordan’s head and Valaria looked in a drawer under the sink and found a shower cap. She snapped it onto his head and stood back, pretending to look at his covered hair, but really wanting to see if his eyes showed any promise of drooping.

Not yet…

Vee sighed, “Ok, Rory, let’s go sit on the couch and wait until we can wash that crap out. Now, drink up and I’ll get us another glass while we have a chat.” Vee upended her glass and emptied it, feeling the delicious heat sliding through her veins. She had to be careful, she didn’t want to be the one passed out and lose her chance.

Riordan finished his glass and handed it back to her, “Sure, that would be awesome.”

Valaria smiled warmly at him and then headed to the kitchen for a refill. She checked the bottle of sleep aide to see if she might have screwed up the dosage…then she noticed the small warning at the bottom informing her not to mix it with alcohol as it may enhance the effects.

Oh well, too late for that now…

She measured another small portion into Rory’s glass and headed back to the livingroom. She handed him his drink and sat down to chat, hoping he would start yawning or something. She was very aware of the clock ticking loudly in the room.

Rory took another drink, “This is the last for me, Vee. I’m not usually a wine drinker and it goes straight to my head. The last thing I want is to pass out and leave you without company for the evening.”

So he was believing the vibes she was sending out…good…

She smiled, “Two glasses are fine, maybe I should stop now, I want to be good company for you this evening… and maybe all night,” her voice dripped with saccharine.

Rory’s eyes narrowed minutely, “So why the change, Valaria?”

Vee gritted her teeth silently before she scooted sideways until her face was inches from his, “Well, since Kaden said he didn’t give a crap if I slept with you or not, then why should I? Besides, as far as I’m concerned, he can go fuck his blond bimbo cause he’s getting nothing from me.” Then she leaned forward and slowly ran her tongue over Riordan’s lips before catching them in a swift kiss.

When Riordan reached up to grab her, she scooted back, “Uh uh, not until we get that black out of your hair.”

Riordan chuckled as both he and his wolf felt desire rise up inside, “We can wait.”

Vee bit her lip as she turned away…shouldn’t that shit be working by now? She glanced at the clock…at least twenty minutes had gone by since the first glass…

She grabbed her own glass and raised it again, “To being worth the wait.”

Riordan raised his own and winked at her before downing the rest. Vee barely took a sip before she put it back on the table in front of the couch.

She looked at the clock, “Only a few more minutes till we get the old Riordan back,” She turned back to him, “So how come you didn’t track me down, Rory?”

Riordan looked down, “That was a decision above my head,” He looked up at her again, “I wish it had been me.”

Vee reached out and grabbed his hand, “Well we can make up for lost time, right?” She hoped to God that the sleep aid would hurry up and kick in. Although she was sure sleeping with him would be another hot experience, it wasn’t in her plan.

Then Riordan let her hand go as he lifted it lazily to wipe his eye.

Thank God! Valaria felt relief that something was happening.

She stood up, wanting to get his hair rinsed out before he decided to take a nap on the floor. It wouldn’t be good to leave the color on till they found him the next morning…it might leave him bald with a very red scalp…

She held out her hand, “Ok, Sunshine, let’s get that goop off your head before you start losing your hair.”

Riordan rose and swayed slightly, “Yeah, I need to get moving a little, that wine is beginning to hit me.”

“Well with your size, it will get out of your system in a jiffy,” she explained as they went back into the bathroom.

She waved to the bathtub, “Get on your knees, I’m going to rinse your head clean under the bath spout.”

She watched him drop and lean over the side of the tub. She encouraged him as she turned on the faucet, “Okay, lean in.” Then Valaria removed the shower cap and set it on the side of the tub as she began to scrub the blackness from his locks. She was pleased to see his original color returning.

“How does it look?” he asked as he watched the black drain.

“Great, you’re going to be just as handsome as before,” she replied.

After several minutes, the water ran clear and Riordan’s hair was back to normal. Then Vee grabbed a towel and began to dry his head, “Ok, sit up for me.”

Riordan did as he was told and fell on his ass, leaning up against the tub as she towel-dried his hair, “Vee? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, why?” she answered as she squeezed his hair inside the towel.

“The wine…” he hesitated, “It’s really…”

Vee took the towel away from his head and sank to her knees to see his eyes had finally started to droop.

She reached out and caressed his cheek, “You know Riordan? In a different lifetime, I would have been honored to be your mate.”

She watched his eyes grow confused as he opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. She hoped she didn’t give him too much. He was an innocent bystander in all this.

Then his eyes drifted shut as he leaned sideways and slipped to the floor. Vee worried if she could accidentally kill him. Her conscience would not allow that, she would have to get help and try to explain what had happened. Yeah, they would lock her up for sure…

Riordan began to snore loudly from his lopsided body and Vee let her breath out…yeah, he would be okay now.

She didn’t waste any time finding her phone and locating her sister’s cell phone number pasted to the fridge. She wanted to let her know why Riordan wasn’t out front. She quickly texted her to let her know that she and Riordan were spending the night together getting to know each other better. As she started to look around for things she needed to take, Cassie responded with a smiley face, a big thumbs up, and a picture of an eggplant.

Vee shook her head as she smiled. She was going to really miss her. They lost all that time together growing up and now the rest of their lives were going to be spent apart, but there was no other way. She was torn between their world and hers.

Valaria threw on a pair of sunglasses and grabbed her bag along with the few dollars she had left. Then she removed the SIM card from her phone, snapped it in half, and put it on the table. She couldn’t take any chances and hopefully, she could pick one up cheap in the first city she landed in.

Vee checked once more on sleeping beauty, satisfied that he would live, and then stood in her kitchen surveying everything. She didn’t care if they saw what she drugged Riordan with, it didn’t matter if they hated her after all this. Maybe they would leave her alone this time.

Valaria felt tears prick her eyes as she put on the sunglasses and went out the back door. She stood in the late afternoon sun and heard the old saying, when one door closes…

She left without looking back…

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