Let's see some more of Yuri learning how to navigate the maze out of his injured mind, why don't we? This week's update was inspired by the prompt: I'm all business. Enjoy!!
Lost Inside Chapter 40
“Why aren’t you helping the others?” Yuri snuggled against his mate. They’d spent two days holed up in their apartment. He’d spent a lot of time on his phone, though.
“They don’t need me right now. You do.” Benny ran his fingers through Yuri’s hair. It felt good when he tugged lightly on the ends.
“That’s not being a good Alpha.” Sheshtun had run their Clan like his personal fiefdom, but Yuri had seen how it should be done. Velaku was nice, and all the Falcon Clan loved him. He was clearly in charge, though, and ‘all about business’ he said.
“Hey, I’m all business.” Benny tapped Yuri’s nose. “And you’re my top priority. They’re fine. I promise I’m not ignoring the Clan, but we haven’t had enough time for us.”
“You’re sneaking out while I’m sleeping, aren’t you?” Yuri sat up and crossed his arms over his chest. “No wonder you look so tired.”
Benny grimaced. “I don’t know what else to do.”
“I know you think I need it, but you can’t protect me forever.”
Benny ran a hand over his hair. “Seeing one friend sent you to the hospital.”
“My memories coming back sent me to the hospital.” Yuri pinched his sweats between his fingers, rubbing the soft fabric. “I’ve been talking with Ellis, you know. He thinks it was inevitable—the doctor’s tests show the stuff they did to me worked. It’s like my brain was fuzzy and half-asleep, and now I’m waking up.”
“You should do that slowly. I don’t want you to get—”
Yuri bolted off the couch, growling in frustration. He paced across the room. “You cannot keep treating me like a cub! Cleara says life happens. So, get over it. I want you to be my mate, not my keeper. I’m not a youngling, I’m not stupid. Yes. I have a lot to work through. I can’t do that if you wrap me up and keep me away from anything that could hurt me.”
He tried to straighten his ears, but they were flat to his head. He was breathing hard after his rant, the sound of his raspy breath the only thing he could hear in the room. He glanced at Benny. “Well?”
His mate stayed silent, his lips stubbornly pressed together.
“I want to see Peten.” Yuri knew that would set Benny off… and he was right.
“Damn it, Yuri! What are you trying to do to me?” Benny was off the couch in a heartbeat. His claws flicked in and out until he clenched his hands into fists. “I’m trying my best here. I am just trying to keep you from—”
“From what? Not needing you? I’ve been lost inside my own mind for a long time, Benny, I know it. I also know I’m not better yet. But you can’t keep doing this.” Yuri stepped closer to him. He spoke softly. “You have to let me help myself—and you. I can be the kind of mate an Alpha needs.”
“You’re right.” Benny slumped, his shoulders sagging. “You’re right, and I know it.”
“So walk down the hall and get Peten. I know he’s here.”
Benny frowned. “You are too good.”
Yuri shrugged with one shoulder. “I am not always asleep.”
He sat on the couch while his mate went to get his old friend. He’d been practicing, while pretend sleeping, pulling up memories and shutting them down before they got to be too much. His head often ached, and some of his memories were vague, more impressions and sensations, echoes of emotions, than anything else.
Benny opened the door, and Yuri took a deep breath, holding it before he let it out slowly. “Are you sure about this?”
Yuri nodded. “Yes.”
He stepped inside. Peten entered behind him. Yuri searched his face, not liking the way Peten had changed since the last time they saw each other. Some of his lingering anger—over his friend’s betrayal when he didn’t help him when Sheshtun tried to kill Yuri and his mate—drained away. Whatever his reasons, Peten had suffered at the hands of the monster his father had become, too.
A large Tiger ducked under the doorframe and stopped behind Peten, hunched over like he was trying to make himself smaller. Yuri didn’t stand up.
“Why don’t you sit down?” He nodded at the chairs at an angle to the TV.
“Thank you.” Peten led the other Tiger by the hand. They waited for Benny to sit, then the big one sat down and then pulled Peten onto his lap, hiding his face completely. “You wanted to see us, Alpha-mate?”
“You know my name, Peten.”
Yuri frowned when his friend flicked his eyes toward Benny. He licked his lips. “I don’t want….” His mate tightened his arms around Peten’s waist.
Benny sighed. “I told you; I’m nothing like Sheshtun. I do not believe the use of our names is disrespectful—as long as you aren’t being disrespectful.” The last was said with a note of warning.
“Sorry.” Peten’s mate had a deep, rumbling voice to match his size.
Yuri decided to drop it. “I can’t believe you found your mate, Peten. How did that happen?” He wanted to put the pair at ease, but his question had the opposite effect.
Peten grunted when his mate’s arms locked around him like a vise. “Carlit, stop,” he wheezed. He stroked his mate’s arms until he could take a deep breath, then leaned sideways. “Yuri, this is my mate, Carlit. We met when he was loaned to our Clan by his.”
Peten spat out the word with bitter fury.
Yuri reached for Benny. He had a feeling he wouldn’t like what he was about to hear. “What do you mean?”
“Sheshtun wasn’t the only Alpha who wanted to reverse the dwindling births among the Tiger Clans. His breeding program was the first of its kind—but several Clans contributed. Money, guards, breeders….”
Carlit whimpered. “Please, don’t. Don’t call me that.”TBC
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