“I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I’ll call Uncle Radford this weekend. I don’t want to talk to him after he’s had to teach a freshman class.”
“Trust me, I get it. You wouldn’t believe the lectures he gave me about proper behavior and appreciating that this streak allowed human werekin to pursue higher education.” Kraig covered the bandage around the bad wound on his wrist. “Not that I ever got to attend a class.”
“You don’t have to talk about that right now. Do you feel up to going for a walk in the garden? Or we can just sit on the back deck swing. It should be shaded right now.”
“Try the swing and then see how it goes? I haven’t walked very far.”
“We’ll go a little farther each day, and you’ll get stronger in no time.” I got up and grabbed a bag out of the sitting room. “Your mom brought you some more of your clothes.”
“Great.” Kraig dumped the bag out on the bed and grabbed a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He managed to get them on by himself, which gave me some hope he was already feeling better until he stood up and the shorts fell around his ankles and the shirt hung off his shoulders. Kraig had never been one to wear baggy clothes, but they were at least three sizes too big now.
“It’s fine,” I said. I knelt in front of him and pulled the shorts up. “You can tie them.”
“I should’ve done that before I stood up.” Park smirked. “Or maybe I just wanted the alpha on his knees in front of me.”
A growl rose up from my throat. “Do you want me to show you what I can do from down here?” I leaned forward and nuzzled his groin then flashed a fang at him.
His eyes widened. “Um. No teeth.”
“You’d love it.” I stood up. “But we can’t stay in bed all day.”
“We got up for breakfast,” Kraig pointed out. “Even visited with my family.”
“Swing. Garden. Fresh Air.”
Naked longing passed across Kraig’s face. “Yeah,” he said softly.
Determination was the only thing that got Kraig down the stairs on his feet. I went down two stairs in front of him so he could brace himself on my shoulders, and we took it one step at a time. By the time we got to the back door he was shaking. He heaved a huge sigh of relief as soon as I helped him ease down onto the cushioned swing.
“It’s bright.” He squinted but took a deep breath. “I forgot how good your mom’s roses smelled. They’re bigger than ever.”
“Your mom and Anita come over all the time. You know me—I have a black thumb.” Kraig was going to get a headache if he kept squinting. “Hold on, I’ll be right back. Door’s open and I’m just going to the front hall.”
I grabbed my sunglasses and a throw off the living room couch. Kraig smiled when I handed him the glasses to put on while I tucked the blanket around us both. I wasn’t cold, but I wanted to make sure he stayed warm.
Small mammals didn’t come around—wild animals tended to recognize our nature—but there were butterflies flitting around the vibrant flowers bobbing in the light breeze.
“You’re quiet.” I said after a while.
“There’s so much going on in my head right now,” Kraig stared straight out in the yard. “The biggest one is why the doctor brought me back here.”
“You don’t have to—”
“Stop saying that!” Kraig snapped. “You keep saying I don’t have to say stuff but it’s here in my head. I have to get it out.”
He was right. “I’m sorry. You are the one who lived in that hell for two years, but every time you tell me something, I have fight back my rage. I want to hunt down everyone who hurt you. You’re in pain, and that makes it hard in here.” He pressed a hand against his chest.
Kraig took a deep breath. “I know, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to snap. I know you have a lot on your plate as the alpha of the streak, and now there’s this whole... thing.” He waved his hand. “This was more than one doctor. There were others—other victims, other people working with the doctor, and probably more behind the scenes I don’t know about. I need to talk about what I know so maybe we can figure out what was really going on.”
“Okay. We’ll start at the beginning.” I took a deep breath and traced a line down Kraig’s finger to the sharp claws that tipped his fingers. “Tell me what you remember from when they first took you.”
“I was driving to college, and I stopped in some little town for gas. When I got back in my car, there was a guy in the backseat. He made me drive, holding a gun on me. I thought it was a carjacking, so I was scared but didn’t... I didn’t expect it when he had me pull over and he shot me with a tranquilizer. I don’t really remember anything after that for a few days, just hazy memories.”
I squeezed Kraig’s hand. “What is the first thing you do remember?”
Kraig went very still. “The cages.”
Just the thought of Kraig in a cage made me growl. He turned his hand over and gripped mine.
“There was a tiger in one, but the rest were empty. I could curl up on my side, sit with my head bent forward, or crouch on my hands and knees, but that was it.”
“They took him out of his cage all the time, and not for exercise. His screams echoed off the walls. I knew, the first time they came for me, it was going to be bad.”
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