I’ve had a monumental breakthrough and am going full steam ahead towards the end of A Wolf’s Obsession! This is a very happy day for me. I was sure that I’d miss my summer deadline but it’s looking like that I will make it! I know, I know it’s a great achievement. Wish me luck, here’s hoping that I don’t run out of steam. Another plus is that you’re getting an extra long chapter!
P.s I’m sorry for posting the wrong chapter earlier but this is the correct one. I swear.
Wyatt hated hospitals and sitting beside a still sleeping Kass he quickly remembered why. The too clean smell of antiseptic made his nose itch, the brutally bare walls made him want to gouge his eyes out and the steady beeping of machines that monitored God only knew what made him feel painfully helpless. If Kass hadn’t been lying unconscious in bed he would never have put himself through such agony but he wasn’t about to leave his mate to wake up in a strange place without him. He squeezed her hand gently, more for his benefit than hers and risked a glance at Dylan as she checked Kass’ vitals again. It never ceased to amaze him that she’d made it through the years of training to become a doctor but he was thankful she’d stuck it out when he’d dropped out.
“Is she going to be okay?”
Turning her back on her brother, Dylan rolled her eyes and barely resisted the urge to hit her head against the wall. He’d asked her the same question a hundred times before, her answer never changed but he still wasn’t satisfied. “Like I told you before, she’s fine. The bullet went straight through, no veins or arteries were damaged. She didn’t lose that much blood and she doesn’t have any head wounds. All things considered, she’s a lucky girl. She’s going to have a stiff shoulder so no heavy lifting but other than that she’s fine.”
“Then why isn’t she awake yet? It’s been hours since we got home and nothing.”
“Because humans can’t shake off bullets that easily and…” She hesitated, the words catching in her throat. It was always hard to be the bearer of bad news especially in her brother’s case. Wyatt was walking a very thin line between sanity and madness; she didn’t want to be the one to push him over the edge.
The catch in Dylan’s voice instantly made his hackles rise and his fangs sharpen. There was something his sister was keeping from him and that could only mean one thing. It was something he wasn’t going to like and it was about his mate. He couldn’t think of a worse combination. His muscles tense, he gave Kass’ hand a final lingering caress before he got to his feet and took a menacing step towards Dylan. “And what?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this Wy but I did some more tests and found a problem.”
Tension filled the air as Wyatt’s entire demeanour became dangerous, his body thrumming with the threat of violence. “What do you mean you found a problem? What kind of problem?”
“She has a heart condition. It’s a rare one; I only noticed it because you insisted she have every possible test done. Kass has long QT syndrome.”
“And for those of us that didn’t spend years studying medicine?”
“That’s your fault, you could have stuck it out with me and then you’d know exactly what’s wrong with your mate.”
“Some of us aren’t cut out to fix other people. Now tell me what’s wrong with Kass.”
“She has a weak heart. Simply put she can’t handle it if her heartbeat gets messed up. Best case scenario she gets a little dizzy and passes out. Worse case…she dies.”
The world turned on its head in that instant for Wyatt and he thought it might be him that fainted. He’d never done it before but he’d never gotten such bad news straight after good news. “She can’t die. If she needs a new heart then she can have mine. I’ll cut it out myself if that’s what it takes to save her.”
Unsurprised by Wyatt’s simplistic solution to a complex problem Dylan shook her head sadly. “That’s not going to work. You’re a wolf and she’s not. Your heart isn’t going to be compatible with her body.”
“Give me an hour then, I’ll find someone else that’s compatible. You have to fix her Dylan. She can’t die, not now, not ever.”
Listening quietly to their discussion Kass couldn’t help but be surprised by Wyatt’s words. No one had ever tried so hard to defend her, it was surprisingly attractive. So intense, she purred, opening her eyes to match his words to his face. It was endearing that he would go to such lengths to keep her safe but it was pointless and there was no point in getting anyone else mixed up in her complicated life. “Wyatt, a new heart won’t work.” Safe. Alive. Going to have my questions answered. Ticking each of the three off her mental checklist she braced herself for what was to come.
Butterflies filled her stomach at the sheer, unadulterated joy he put into her name and goose bumps covered her arms as she watched him close the distance between them. She could just imagine him calling her name in a completely different situation; one that involved heated kisses and desperate touches. What she wouldn’t give to run her hands over his body and claim it for her own. Mind out of gutter! What was it about this man that sent her common sense running for the hills and her sex drive into meltdown? She shouldn’t be so effected by a man she barely knew especially one that wasn’t completely human. She should be trying to think of a way out but all she wanted to do was feel his arms wrapped around her. It should have been maddeningly frustrating but the closer he got, the less concerned with reason she became. Her life had never been normal so why should she expect that to change now?
Crowding her, Wyatt leaned in close, his arm resting on her pillow and their faces inches apart. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine,” she squeaked. “My shoulder’s a little sore but I’ve lived through worse.”
It would have been a lot worse if he hadn’t helped in the healing process but he didn’t think it was wise to tell her that his lips and tongue had caressed her delicious flesh just yet. The sweet smell of truth filled his nose and Wyatt sighed in relief before remembering that they had a problem, a serious one. “Kass, your heart…”
“Isn’t perfect but it’s the only one that’ll work.”
Stroking her cheek softly, he let his fingers tangle in the luscious red strands of her hair. “I can get you another one. There are plenty of people out there that don’t deserve to live. They can make their lives meaningful by helping you with this. I’ll be quick and Dylan can get you ready while I’m gone.”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what he was suggesting and while under any other circumstances Kass was sure she’d be disgusted by the suggestion, coming from Wyatt’s lips the crazy idea sounded sweet. It was comforting to be in the presence of someone so intent on keeping you alive. Whenever she’d woken up in a strange place before it had been to find Ethan’s men looming over her intent on ending her life. She could definitely get used to this feeling. “Wyatt, it won’t work. My heart is special…it’s what will make me immortal and there’s no one out there who would be a successful organ donor for me except another phoenix. It’s why I didn’t want you to take me to a hospital. I might look like other people but there are things about me that are different and those differences are easy for a doctor to spot.”
“You mean like that strange blood flowing in your veins?” Dylan piped in. At the warning glare from Wyatt she held her hands up in self-defence and backed out of the room. “She knows I’m right. If she’d gone to a hospital they’d have a field day over what’s in her veins.” Her point made, Dylan vanished from the room.
“What was she talking about?”
His eyes were intense, boring holes into her and demanding the truth and Kass squirmed under the scrutiny. No one had ever looked at her as though her every word was gospel and the feeling was unnerving. “My blood isn’t human. It doesn’t fit into one of the types that doctors know. The last time I went to a hospital and they found out they didn’t want to let me leave. They wanted to keep me there like an animal and run tests.” She scoffed at the memory. “They should have just been honest and said they wanted to experiment on me. No hospitals for me and no new heart. I don’t need one.”
“Dylan said you could die,” he growled, his eyes glowing at the reminder. Was there nothing he could do to keep her by his side without something trying to use death to separate them?
“She was right but I’ve made it this far and as long as I can stay calm then I’ll be fine. In a few weeks none of this will matter. I’ll be immortal and my heart problems will be a thing of the past.”
“So when you turn twenty-seven you won’t have this heart condition anymore?”
She sat up, careful to avoid using her left shoulder. “Exactly.”
“When’s your birthday?” he demanded.
“In a few weeks.”
“I want the date Kass. I need to know so that I can make sure you’re taken care of until then.”
The padded room that popped into her head definitely wasn’t her idea but Kass didn’t have to look far to know where it had come from and the questions continued rising. “I’m not going into a padded cell Wyatt.” The words were simple but the determination behind them clear and Wyatt shook his head in dismay.
“It’ll be the perfect place for you, just until you’re safe.”
“I’ve spent years avoiding being put into a cage, I’m not going to let myself be locked up now. The only way you’re getting me into a room like that is by force. Are you going to force me into that room Wyatt?”
Gulping, he glanced down at her throat. The bruises were slowly turning from red to purple and the mottled colours made the injury look so much worse. He’d never realised how large his hands were until he saw his fingertips spanning nearly her entire neck. There was no way he was going to do anything to force her anywhere. “Damn,” he swore. “Fine, no padded room but I’m not letting you out of my sight until your birthday so when is it?”
“The sixth of July. Now that I’ve told you can we get out of here? I hate hospitals.” She sneezed. “They smell funny.”
Laughing, Wyatt helped Kass to her feet. “I thought it was just me.”
Resting her head against the solid strength of his arms she let his scent relax her. “Nope, there are more of us out there than you’d think.”
Despite the fact he hated hospitals, moving wasn’t high on Wyatt’s list of priorities. Having Kass snuggled so closely against him was heaven and he wasn’t going to sacrifice it so quickly. My mate in my arms…heaven.
Kass tensed as soon as the words brushed along the corridors of her mind and pulled away from Wyatt. “I don’t know how I could have ever forgotten but we can’t go anywhere until you tell me what it is you’re doing traipsing around in my head. This isn’t normal.”
Trying to resist the urge to laugh, Wyatt bit his lip hard. It was clear his Kass was trying to be commanding but she looked more cute than threatening. Her eyes were sparkling, her cheeks flushed and her lips twisted into an appealing pout. He might not know much about her but he knew enough to keep silent about her failed attempt to look fierce. “It might not be normal but it certainly isn’t my fault.”
“But you said we were mates…”
“We are.” His hands reached for her but he pulled them back quickly realising if he grabbed her as he’d wanted to he could leave more marks on her fragile skin. His hands balled into impotent fists at his sides and he fought to keep them there. “We are mates, never doubt that. But most mates don’t talk like this, they aren’t that lucky. The only people I know who can hear each other’s thoughts are my uncle Tobias and aunt Alexandria.” This, this is your doing.
Me! she shrieked, appalled by the very idea.
“Maybe it’s because you’re not human but you’re not a wolf either. Aunt Alex is a witch and you’re a phoenix…that’s the only explanation.”
“And what if I don’t want you wandering around in my head?”
“As far as I’m aware there’s nothing that can stop this. But…” He stepped forward and cupped her cheek. Why would you want to stop this? He pushed an image of their kiss into her head and watched as her cheeks coloured, her breath becoming short as she remembered what it had felt like to have his lips pressed against hers. Pulling back before her heart raced out of control, Wyatt smiled at how pliant her body had become. She didn’t even put up a fight as he guided her out of the infirmary and into the main hall. Kass might not see how amazing it was to have such a strong connection but he’d work hard to convince her otherwise.
Stumbling out of her memory Kass found herself in what was clearly not an infirmary. People rushed about, talking loudly, smiling and laughing as they wandered along the oversized corridor. Her eyes widened as she took in the vaulted ceilings, the thick slabs of stone that made up the walls and the plush carpet underfoot. Wherever she was screamed wealth from the top of its lungs and she immediately felt out of place. “You live here?” Disbelief dripped from her every word.
“I used to, I don’t anymore. I’m taking you home now.”
Stunned, Kass couldn’t help but try to take in even more of her surroundings and the more she saw, the less she understood. If she’d lived here someone would have to pry her away with a crowbar and chain her down in her new home. She’d never leave it willingly. “You left? Why?”
A quick glance reminded him exactly why he’d chosen to leave here as soon as he could. Some things never changed and the happiness on the faces of everyone around him would have been just as painful now as it was all those years ago except he had his mate with him now. Things were different, he was different. “There are too many mated couples here. I couldn’t take it and so I left to be alone.”
Her heart sunk in disappointment. “So mating isn’t a good thing then?”
“Mating is amazing,” Wyatt immediately contradicted, stopping in his tracks and forcing her to look at him. “It’s the most wonderful thing in the world. Nothing could be more natural, more soul changing than being with your mate.”
“If it’s so wonderful then why did you leave?”
“Because I didn’t have my mate. Emily was lost to me and being here was driving me crazy. I thought if I left I’d be able to stay sane. I should have known better. All I did was slow down the process.”
Wrapped up in Wyatt’s words, Kass didn’t realise where he was leading her until the sun’s rays practically blinded her. Eyes watering, she blinked quickly trying to adjust and only letting light in through small gaps in her fingertips. Long moments passed but she slowly moved her hands away from her face, gasping in shock when she looked at the forest that surrounded them. Awestruck, she stumbled away from Wyatt as though in a trance, stopping only when her palm rested against the hard bark of a tree.
“Amazing,” she mumbled to herself.
“You like the woods?”
Her hand still against the tree trunk, Kass turned back to look at Wyatt. “I guess so. I’ve never been in a forest before but I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve never even climbed a tree before or gone for a run through the woods.”
The idea of never running free in the forest was appalling to Wyatt and he could feel his wolf rising not pleased that the experience had been denied to his mate. “Why not?”
“Cities are safer.” Her voice was barely above a whisper as she let her fingertips run over the uneven surface of the tree, marvelling at its size. “Forests and woods are generally near small towns and small towns want to know everything about you. Cities are a great place to get lost in and with Ethan constantly looking for me I needed to keep my head down. It was best that I was invisible. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fade into the background, trying to make it so no one noticed me.” Harsh laughter fell from her lips and her nails dug into the tree trunk with such force that her nails threatened to shatter under the strain. “I’ve been hiding and running my whole life…it’s not much of a life when you think about it but with Ethan constantly looking for me I didn’t have much of a choice.”
Boxing her in with his body, Wyatt joined their hands and kissed her hair softly. “He’s not a problem for you anymore. You don’t have to live your life according to what he will or won’t notice. You want to climb a tree? I’ll teach you. You want to go running in the woods then let’s go now. Whatever it is, we can do it Kass…together.”
“And why should I trust you anymore than Ethan?”
“Because I’m your mate.”
“You still haven’t explained to me what that is.”
Pulling back Wyatt sighed and ran a hand through the long strands of his hair. Risking a glance at Kass he began pacing. Words had never been his strong suit and they were failing him now. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. It was meant to be easy. Find your mate, claim them, live happily ever after. Why was fate so intent on making him suffer? “A mate is everything. Werewolves only get one and without them our lives are pretty meaningless. You’re the better half of my soul and it’s only with you that I can be complete. You never have to worry about me hurting you; I’d tear out my own heart before I let you get hurt. If anyone wants to hurt you then they’ll have to kill me first because I know what it’s like to go through life without a mate, it’s not worth living. I’m never going back to that.”
“No offence Wyatt but how can you expect me to believe that when you’ve already done so much.” She ran her fingers over the ugly bruises at her throat, silently reminding him of just what he’d done to her.
His pacing got worse at the reminder. “I wasn’t thinking straight. I couldn’t recognise you for what you are.”
“We’d never met before that night in the diner of course you wouldn’t recognise me.”
“Wolves recognise their mate’s by their scent. You smelt like my mate but you didn’t look like Emily. I was confused. It’s what happens when a wolf is separated from their mate for too long. I wasn’t in the right state of mind. I’m probably still broken but like I said before, I’ll get better. Now that I know who you are…now that we’re together things can only get better.”
“This all sounds a bit far fetched Wyatt.”
“Any more than you being a phoenix with a psychopath trying to cut your heart out?”
“You make a good point but you’ve seen Ethan. You know exactly what he’s like. How can I believe any of what you’re saying? I’m much more open minded than your ordinary person about what may or may not be out there but I’ve never seen a werewolf Wyatt and you’ve admitted yourself that you’re not quite right in the head…”
His pacing stopped abruptly and he quickly closed the distance between them. “I can show you. If I do, you promise to stay with me.”
“I don’t know you Wyatt.”
Undeterred by her words Wyatt smiled. “Not yet but pretty soon you will and you’re going to love me.”
“Is that so?”
Utterly confident, Wyatt’s smile widened. “Yes.”
“I’m not promising to stay forever.”
“Until your birthday at the very least. I need to make sure that you survive until you’re twenty seven. Wolves are immortal and as long as you keep coming back to me I can give you time…well I can give you a little time anyway.”
“Fine, you prove that you’re being honest and I’ll stay here until my birthday. If you want me to stay after that then you’re going to have to do something pretty damned special.”
“I’m up to the challenge.”
She stuck out her hand in the age old gesture of agreement but was shocked when his lips crashed down against hers, stealing her wits and all thoughts of leaving his side. He pulled back quickly, aware of her heart picking up speed. He didn’t think his heart could take it if she passed out again. ”I’ve been without my mate too long to shake hands. If I were you, I’d get used to being kissed because I’m going to kiss you every chance I get.”
Clutching her chest, Kass struggled to keep her limbs from trembling. The kiss had only lasted a few seconds but it felt like her entire centre of gravity had shifted. Touching her still tingling lips, she had to fight the temptation to lean back in and kiss him herself. “My heart…”
“I’ll take care of it. There’s no one alive more aware of your health than me. I can feel when it’s getting too much for you and I think I’ve proved that if push comes to shove I can keep your heart in check.” He kissed her again and took a quick step back. “This’ll be done before you know it. Take a deep breath and remember that no matter what I look like I’m not going to hurt you.”
Rolling her eyes, Kass stood back and waited. Shock couldn’t even begin to describe how she felt as she watched Wyatt’s bones twist out of shape, fur erupt from his smooth skin and his body contort as he fell to his knees. His kissable lips vanished as his jaw lengthened, deadly fangs erupting in his mouth. His spine bowed as his body changed from walking on two legs to stalking on four and when thick black fur covered his body the transformation was complete.
This isn’t possible. Wolves aren’t as big as horses and men don’t change into wolves. I’m seeing things. His crazy must be contagious because none of this is possible.
She watched as he took a step closer and she instinctively took a step back. When the pain of bumping her injured shoulder into a tree hit her, she knew that what she’d witnessed was no dream. Convinced it must have taken an eternity for a man to become a wolf, Kass felt another wave of surprise hit her when Wyatt’s arms wrapped around her body.
His voice was deeper now, rougher as though he wasn’t used to using it and it was clear to her that whatever he’d changed into was lingering, just waiting for a chance to come to the fore.
“Kass, you need to breathe.”
She could see his mouth moving but she couldn’t hear the words over the roaring in her ears. Nothing was getting through until he gripped her arms hard and forced her to focus.
“Damn it Kass, you’re going to breathe and you’re going to do it now otherwise you’re going to pass out. Do you understand me? Now breathe.”
She sucked in a staggering breath and her legs almost gave out beneath her but Wyatt’s strong grip kept her standing.
“You…you’re…you’re a wolf.”
Swinging her up into his arms, Wyatt pressed her close, needing the reassurance of touch after another close call. “I did warn you.”
“Maybe you should have given me a stronger warning.”
“So that you could have a heart attack? No thank you. It doesn’t matter now. I did what you wanted; I showed you my other half. Now you have to keep your end of the deal.”
“Don’t try and act like you don’t remember. You’re staying with me until your birthday. That’s what we agreed.”
“But that was before.”
Her disagreement was pulling the wolf forward and Wyatt could feel his control slipping. His claws were itching to get out, his fangs desperate to sink into flesh. His whole body shuddered with effort as he tried to keep his human form. He might not want to hurt Kass, his wolf would never set out to do it, but his track record wasn’t good and he wasn’t taking any chances with her safety. The sooner she accepted their bargain, the safer they both would be. “Before what?”
“Before you showed me that you can turn into something that could eat me for breakfast.”
His amber eyes darkened. “Trust me, I have every intention of eating you for breakfast. And lunch and dinner.” He licked his lips as his eyes wandered over her body, silently imagining what every inch of her skin tasted like. “But I doubt it’s in the way you’re thinking of.”
Her skin flushed darker with every word. It was easy to tell what he was talking about from the heated look in his eyes. Her treacherous nipples tightened in anticipation and her sex clenched in eagerness. It should be illegal to have a voice that sexy. It’s not fair to the entire female population.
A feral smile came to Wyatt’s lips. It’s not the entire female population I’m concerned with. There’s only one woman who’s worthy of my attention and I have her right here in my arms. Where she’s supposed to be.
“Stay out of my head Wyatt.”
“Why? I know you want me there. I can feel it in my bones. You want this, you want me.” She had to; he couldn’t have it any other way.
Pursing her lips, Kass refused to give him a response and fought to keep her mind blank. He didn’t need to know how right he was.
“Hold on tight Kass.”
“You said you wanted to go for a run in the woods. It’s my pleasure to do whatever it is you need.” Tensing the muscles in his legs he took of at a dead sprint.
Amazement wound through Kass as the world exploded into a kaleidoscope of vibrant swirling colours. The speed that Wyatt was running at was incredible but her mind could barely process it as she tried hard to look at the scenery rushing past. It was amazing and she could feel her heart begin to pound and for the first time in a long time it didn’t leave her breathless and on the verge of collapse. Content, she dug her fingers into the corded strength of Wyatt’s arms and let the growl that followed sooth her. This was heaven and she didn’t want to leave. As soon as she called Charlie and told him she was safe, she fully intended to explore this thing with Wyatt. He thought she was his mate and with the way her body and mind responded to him so easily she had a sneaking feeling he might be right. When they stopped, disappointment welled inside her. She never wanted their run to end.
Chuckling as he slid Kass down his body, Wyatt slid his hands through her hair, groaning as the soft strands tickled his senses. “Don’t worry, I’ll take you again.”
Eyes sparkling with hope, Kass turned to him. “Really?”
“Of course. Anything that makes you happy makes me happy.”
The pure emotion in those few words was unnerving. The things Wyatt felt for her weren’t normal and while she’d love to think he truly cared for her, Kass knew better. He was in love with Emily, not her. Forcing herself to smile she accepted the sad truth of their situation. She’d stay with him until her birthday, he’d more than proven he could protect her from Ethan, but then she’d have to leave. Emily and her might have shared the same soul but they weren’t the same people and she wanted someone who loved her for her. There might never be another man who loved with the same intensity as Wyatt but she couldn’t live her life, her immortal life, as second best.
“So you live here?” she asked, changing the subject to one that she could better cope with.
His smile widened as he nodded. His eyes roamed over the wooden cabin that had been his home since he was a child and for the first time in a long time he felt comforted by being at home. The wooden structure was nowhere near as lavish as the castle they’d just left but it was home. “Yeah, come on, I’ll show you around.”
Taking her hand firmly within his, Wyatt led her inside, eager to show her his home but as soon as he opened the door he realised he’d made a mistake. The whole place was a shrine to Emily. The walls were covered in photographs of her that had once made his heart clench in pain. He’d hoarded the few things that she’d left behind, cherishing each one and holding them close to his chest as he’d fought to find peace. He turned to look at Kass slowly; her reaction wasn’t going to be a good one.
Staring into familiar eyes, Kass felt her heart plummet. Even though she’d accepted Wyatt’s love was for Emily she hadn’t expected to be confronted with the harsh reality so soon. She’d hope to bask in his warmth for a little while longer. “So that’s Emily.”
“Yeah.” A sad smile came to his face but he didn’t feel the urge to stroke Emily’s likeness as he normally did, there was no point. Emily was gone but he had Kass now.
“You must have really loved her.” With the torrent of emotions of rolling through her Kass was surprised her voice came out so steady. She felt like crying. She had no claim to Wyatt, she barely knew the man but her heart broke all the same at the thought of him loving someone else. Steeling herself for his response she waited for the final nail to be placed in the coffin of her heart.
“I loved the idea of her. This Emily,” he waved to the photographs on the walls. “This Emily, I never met.”
Brows creasing in disbelief, Kass spun round to look at Wyatt her voice ready to extract the truth. No one felt so strongly about a woman they’d never met. Men didn’t lose their sanity over just pictures of a woman. “What do you mean you never met her? You said you loved her.” The purity in her voice demanded the truth, would be satisfied with nothing less and she waited expectantly for the words he’d just said to vanish under her influence.
“I met Emily when I was a kid. She was five I was fifteen.”
Shock mingled with disgust as soon as the words hit her ears and Kass tried to pull back, tried to separate herself from Wyatt’s warm touch. There was a lot she was willing to tolerate but this wasn’t one of them. Her struggles didn’t even seem to register as his grip on her hand remained steadfast and unmovable but for the first time his unbelievable strength was tempered. Despite her struggles he didn’t hurt her.
“It’s not what you think. Wolves age differently to humans. She was five and so was I. I may have been more savvy than your average five year old but I thought, felt and looked like I was her age.” Pulling her over to the sofa, he sat down and guided her down with him. Shuddering in pleasure as her soft curves pressed so closely against him, Wyatt fought to remember how to speak. Grabbing a handful of her hair, he ran his fingers through the strands, needing to touch her desperately. “My aunt Alex is human and she thought that we’d isolated ourselves too long and that if we wanted to find more mates we should look for them outside of the clans. There were no wars anymore, no hunters trying to exterminate us. We were at peace and with how long we live and how many children we have that meant there were a lot of males without mates. It wasn’t hard for her to get people to agree with her. She’s queen and Tobias, the king, is known for doing serious damage to people who hurt her. She decided that children should go to school with humans so that they could really function in the world outside and that’s when I met Emily.
“I saw her on my first day at school and it was like getting struck by lightning. What I felt for her in that second…” He groaned, recalling how his heart had raced, his chest constricted and his life forever altered. “I didn’t understand it, my mind couldn’t understand it but my wolf knew we’d found our mate. I was like her second shadow throughout elementary school. Anywhere she went I had to go too.”
A shadow came over his face and Kass could feel the depths of his sadness even without him speaking. She quickly decided she didn’t like what he was feeling. She could cope with her own sadness, she was used to it by now, but his was intolerable. It felt like a weight had been dumped onto her chest and it was sucking all the life out of her. “What happened?”
“She grew up and I didn’t. I couldn’t stay with her anymore. When we’re kids, we don’t age like normal children. I was twenty but I had the body of a seven year old. If I’d tried to stay I would have exposed us. Going to human school only made me more aware how little humans tolerate difference, especially if that difference is better in some way. From then on I only got to see her once, maybe twice, a year and I wasn’t allowed to speak to her or touch her.” His grip on her tightened and he breathed in Kass’ lush fragrance almost overwhelmed by the simple pleasure of being able to do just the opposite now. I could only take pictures and wait to track her down in a few months. It was never easy finding her but I could always manage it. There was always a trace of her left behind and her scent was permanently engraved in my mind. Even if she left the country I’d be able to find her eventually. One year I couldn’t find her at all. No scent, no trace left behind, nothing.”
There was raw emotion in his words and Kass’ heart broke for him. It must be hard to be so close to someone when they don’t even know you exist and then to lose them…
It wasn’t hard. It was maddening. “After shadowing her for so long I was an expert in tracking her down but no matter how hard or how long I looked, I couldn’t find her. There was only one reason to explain why I couldn’t find her. She wasn’t alive for me to find.” The hands around her tightened even further threatening to cut off Kass’ supply of oxygen. He might have lost Emily but he’d been given a second chance with Kass and he wasn’t going to lose her. “The day I realised I wasn’t going to find her my life ended. I knew there was no point in trying to go on. I tried to join her.”
Stunned, Kass sucked in a ragged breath. It would be a travesty for the world to lose a man like Wyatt. Resentment building in her chest, Kass forced herself to try and breathe normally even as her hands balled into fists. Violence was never the answer but she’d never wanted to hurt Ethan more than in that moment. She knew exactly what had happened to Emily and Ethan was responsible. Hurting her was one thing; ruining Wyatt’s life was another. “I’m glad you didn’t manage it.” The tight-lipped words were all she could manage and considering the fact she was seeing red she thought her voice remained surprisingly calm.
“Not through a lack of trying,” he scoffed. “My family stopped me. They tried to convince me that Emily wasn’t my mate. They kept telling me that I was too young to have known what it felt like to have a mate, that my wolf had made a mistake but I knew better. It was hopeless but they didn’t want me to join her. There were so many people trying to convince me that I’d find my real mate, trying to convince me that life was still worth living.”
Kass saw red. Her life flashed before her eyes and she saw every near miss, every near death experience. Her whole life was a fight for survival, that people could have such little value for their lives was maddening. “Of course they didn’t want you to die!” She yelled, her blue eyes flashing with anger. “People fall in and out of love everyday. One person isn’t worth dying for especially when she didn’t even know you existed.”
Her words made his hackles rise. It was like talking to Dylan all over again. “You don’t understand. No one who hasn’t lost their mate can ever understand! Everyday that I spent without her pushed me that little further into madness. I was constantly at war with myself. My wolf howled until my ears bled, he snarled until I lashed out at everyone and he drove me mad with wanting her. Look at me. Do you think someone who was sane would have done what I’ve done to you?” He groaned, running his hands through his hair as his agitation increased. “This is the longest time I’ve spent as a human for years. After I left the castle, I spent years in the woods as a wolf because that was the only way I could cope. If I hadn’t met you I’d still be there. A life without a mate wasn’t a life at all. Dylan and Erica were both mad to think otherwise.” The hardness in his face slipped away as he began to smile. “I might not have liked what they did and it did make me crazy but I’m grateful to them now.”
“Because I found you. My mind isn’t right otherwise I would have recognised you straight away but with time I can get better. I promise.”
Though she was sorely tempted to just relax into his embrace at the sweetness of his words, Kass forced her body to remain tense. Life was important, something to be protected above all and if he couldn’t see that then they were going to have a problem. “And what if something happened to me? What if I died?”
His whole demeanour changed in a flash. He bared his teeth; the sharp canines ready to tear flesh. The amber that had dulled returned in force, his eyes once again wild with a feral intensity. His voice when he spoke was barely human and Kass instinctively put her hand against her throat trying to protect herself from the inevitable fallout. “Nothing is going to happen to you,” he roared. “I’m going to protect you. I’ll keep you safe. Nothing will come between us and survive. I’ll kill anyone that even thinks about hurting you.”
“Wyatt, you’re scaring me.”
He ran the back of his hand against her cheek carefully, all too conscious of the razor sharp nails that could so easily slice through her tender skin. “You have nothing to be scared of mate. I’d tear my own arm off before I raised a hand against you.”
“You don’t need to go that far. Just promise me that if something happens to me you’ll forget about me and go on with your life. Even if I die now I’ll come back, just like Emily.”
“No!” he snarled. “I can’t lose you.”
Words continued to flow from her lips spurred on by the treacherous voice at the back of her mind that reminded her Wyatt was only interested in her because of Emily. “If I die you might get someone who’s more like Emily the next time I’m reincarnated. That’s what you want isn’t it? You want someone like her.” She pointed to the photo of the Amazonian like woman hanging on the wall. “You don’t want someone like me. It’ll be better that way.”
Snarling as his blood boiled and his wolf surged to the surface, Wyatt leapt to his feet leaving a stunned Kass to bounce on the sofa alone as he strode over to where an enormous photograph was. Glancing at his nails, he forced them to grow into deadly weapons and shredded the image until nothing but tatters remained. Chest heaving he turned to look at Kass stunned anew at just how perfect his mate was. Emily had been beautiful but Kass…Kass was perfection. “No it won’t. I thought I loved Emily. Now I know that I didn’t. My heart didn’t beat for her the way it does for you. Now that I’ve touched you, kissed you, held you in my arms I know that no one else will do. You’re my mate. Even if you came back again and again, it wouldn’t be you.” Emotion overwhelming him, he staggered back to her and fell to his knees. “What I felt for Emily is nothing compared to what I feel for you. I let people persuade me to keep living without Emily but I know that I wouldn’t even manage a day if you weren’t in the world anymore. I’d follow you in a heartbeat. You Kass, you’re my obsession and I’m not giving you up.”
Words of protest began to form on her lips but Wyatt silenced her with a kiss before they could be spoken. Intense didn’t even begin to describe how hard he devoured her mouth. It was like he was trying to climb into her body through her parted lips. His lips clashed against hers with bruising force, his hands ran through her hair keeping her close as his tongue duelled with hers trying to force her submission. The fight was over before it begun. Relaxing into his kiss, Kass let the intensity of his emotions roll through her body and felt her heart lurch. He meant every word he’d spoken and the reality of that made her body limp. As the need for air waged war with her need to keep kissing him, Kass was almost overwhelmed with the reality of her situation. Wyatt really would do anything to protect her even if that meant giving up his own life. Her life was now inextricably bound to another’s and for the first time in a long time she felt hopeful about her chances for survival. She’d fought hard to live before but now she’d be relentless. Wyatt deserved to live.
And you deserve to be loved.
His voice crept along the halls of her mind all the more intimate for how completely it merged with her thoughts. She shivered, throwing her hands around his neck and rubbing her tongue sensuously against his as she savoured his minty taste.
Don’t worry Kass; I’ll take care of everything. I’ll love you harder than any man ever could.
She had no doubt of that and though her heart would probably not thank her for it she was going to let this man, this wolf, into her life. It was the very least she could do as she suspected he was already worming his way steadily into her heart.