Maybe no one else had ever noticed, but Kraig should’ve remembered. Whenever I ate at his parents’ house I dished up my plate first, and I’d take things I knew he liked—because Park knew his favorites too and would as much of them as possible. Once we sat down to eat, usually out of sight of the adult werekin, I’d take food off his plate and claim it for my own... usually after switching for the coveted rolls or extra burger patty.
Just because he didn’t think I should blood him didn’t mean I was above staking a subtle claim back then, and I was proud to show the world that Kraig was my partner now. Every instinct I possessed screamed at me to protect him with everything I had.
I tried to run my hand through my hair, the lack of ruff startling me for a moment when the hair I expected to be there wasn’t. Taking care of Kraig was a part of me, much like my animal soul bonded with my human spirit—two halves of one whole.
Kraig was wilting visibly and he hadn’t finished half of what was on his plate while most of us were done.
“You should eat some more,” Lydia urged him. “You love eggs.”
“I’m full, Mom.” Kraig dropped his chin and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
“That’s not enough. You didn’t—”
“Maybe tomorrow he’ll be able to eat more,” I said. “He’s been through a long ordeal. Right now, Kraig knows what his body needs.”
Lydia was his mother, but Kraig was the blooded mate of an alpha, and he was an adult. We all wanted to take care of him, but she couldn’t smother him in the process. He was already pulling away from everyone. I met her eyes, urging her silently to understand what she risked if she tried too hard.
The Kraig I knew before barely tolerated it. I didn’t the Kraig sitting next to me would either, but the yelling and rushing off to pout that marked his teenage years wouldn’t be his response now. Pushing him before he’d had a chance to heal mentally could break him completely.
She pressed her lips together and echoed her son’s sigh then dipped her head in the slightest of nods.
“You want to go lay down, Kraig?”
He nodded. He pushed his chair back and tried to stand up, but his knees buckled. I’d half-expected it and was ready. I hated how light his body was when I tugged Kraig into my arms. Steel ran through my voice when I said, “We’ll see you later.” I didn’t even look back.
He smelled amazing, but his skin was cool, too cool for a bonded werekin. I nuzzled his head, rubbing both sides of my face in his hair. My bed had plenty of blankets, but I planned to warm him up other ways.
“What are you doing?” Kraig asked when I set him down on the edge of the bed and tugged his shirt up, urging him to lift his arms.
“You’re cold.” I nudged him back and grabbed the shorts barely hanging on to his hips even with the drawstring pulled tight.
“And taking off my clothes is a good idea because?” He raised an eyebrow.
I yanked my shirt off and tossed it toward the hamper. “Because I’m going to warm you up.”
Kraig’s breath caught in his throat when I dropped my pants and kicked them away. “Naked,” he said in a strangled voice. He pushed himself toward the head of the bed on his elbows, collapsing on the pillows.
“Not the first time you’ve seen me this way. We showered and slept together last night.” I slid the blankets from under him and slipped into bed beside him, covering us both up. I stayed on my side but Kraig rolled to face me. Our faces were inches away, but I slid my hand across his side and down to his lower back, urging him closer until our legs tangled together.
My cock plumped but I didn’t feel an answering response. I stifled a stab of disappointment and fear. “We haven’t really had much time to talk,” I said softly.
“I know.” Kraig’s eyes shifted as he studied my face. I stroked one of the stripes on his shoulder that terminated in a small row of rosettes. “You need information from me.”
“Telling me how you feel isn’t so hard that you have to state it so... coldly, is it?” Kraig needed me, but I hadn’t asked him before I blooded him. He’d said no, but I’d ignored him. Shame pervaded me, but my need to save him had been greater and still was. No matter what I had to do prove how sorry I was, the one thing I would never do was let him go.
“How I... feel?” Kraig repeated haltingly. He frowned.
“I thought we’d maybe talk in the tub last night but you passed out on me, and then Park rushed in here this morning. I certainly wasn’t going to ask you in front of your parents.”
“They don’t need to know what happened,” he said quickly.
His words struck a blow to my heart. “I already sort of told your mom what I did.”
“What you did?” Kraig shook his head. “I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing. This isn’t about the doctor?”
“No. This is about us.” I pressed closer. The scent of Kraig’s warming skin, the barely audible pulse of his blood in the thin skin where I’d marked... I wanted to touch him, lick him, and learn every spot on his body that made him writhe.
But he wasn’t aroused by me.
I’d blooded a man who didn’t desire me in return, so how could I expect him to stay with me once he was well? He’d never lose his status, but I wanted him and no one else.TBC
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