“Let me find out what he knows,” Park said. “He’ll talk to me.”
“Is he a danger?” That was the biggest worry I had. I didn’t like this stranger showing up right after I found Kraig again. “I won’t tolerate any risk to the streak.”
“I don’t think so, but I’ll watch him closely.”
“Come over when you know more. I’m sure Kraig would like to spend more time with you. Tomorrow, though.” I was reining in my instincts as much as possible, but I chafed at the responsibilities taking me away from Kraig’s side. We deserved time together, but I was torn by my duties to our streak.
And I really had to read more of that sadistic prick of a doctor’s files. After I hung up with Park, I grabbed my laptop. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. If Kraig needed me to keep the nightmares he faced in the darkness away, I was going to do that.
The bed hardly dipped as I gingerly sat on the bed, but Kraig still rolled toward me. He nestled his head against my side, sighed, and then settled back down. I waited for a few minutes for the log in screen to come up, and then I had to go through several other layers of encryption to get at the late doctor’s files, some he’d had in place and some I added to keep everyone else out.
Medical jargon took me forever to understand since I had to look things up online every few sentence. I’d examined the newest records before I wreaked punishment on the doctor, and I skipped those. Knowing they were about the abuse he heaped on Kraig... I’d lose it. I couldn’t afford to do that while he was sleeping.
“Antiparallel, baceteriophage, souls...” I ran a hand over the stubble that was all that remained of my ruff. I missed running my hands through it and tugging on the coarse strands. Sighing, I leaned my head back and banged it on the wall.
“What are you doing?” Kraig asked. He yawned and then sat up so he was pressed against me shoulder to shoulder. He stiffened. “I know what that is.”
“The... doctor.” Kraig curled his lip and growled. “The bastard liked to talk. Brag to the other people who came to the lab. “
My tiger didn’t like the fear I could smell from Kraig, even though he tried to disguise it with his snarl. “I don’t want to upset you, make you remember.”
“But I can’t make them go away by pretending they don’t exist either. You’re helping me, and I can help you.”
Maybe it would help him. What was I going to do? Tell him no and watch the tatters of his self-worth stripped away completely? This had been done to him, and he deserved to know how and why, if we could figure it out.
“Okay. The dates on this are from before you left. I don’t think he’s talking about you.” I pointed at the file meta data.
“There were others before me and while I was there.” Kraig reached over my lap and scrolled down. “See, there. He took away our names and gave us each a designation.”
That chilled me. “He couldn’t take away your name. It’s yours,” I said vehemently. Kraig gave me a look. “What?”
“You go enough days without food or water you’ll learn what you’re called isn’t as important as the fact your mouth and throat are so dry you can’t even swallow.” Kraig’s voice broke, like he was back there again, starving and dying of thirst. “Then you’re given just enough water to keep you alive, but never enough to take away the all-consuming thirst, and the only way to get it is to sacrifice what you have to in order to survive.”
I shoved the computer off my lap, and reached for him. He squeaked as I lifted him and turned Kraig so he straddled my lap.
“What are you doing?”
Speaking was beyond me. I stared at him.
“Don’t,” Kraig whispered. “Don’t look at me like that.” He slid his hands behind my neck and pulled me forward. I pressed my forehead against his chest.
“I can’t help it. I hate what he did to you.”
“Thank you. But as your mate I never have to live like that again.”
“You don’t.” I rubbed my cheeks against him, marking his skin with my scent. “You’ll never be alone again.”
My back was aching, and Kraig’s legs were starting to shake. I helped him back on the bed, and he picked up the laptop. “Show me what you saw that made you invade the doctor’s house.”
“Go up. Not quite the top, right... there.” I pointed at a file. “That one. This is the report on my profile. He was running it alongside another tiger’s blood work—yours, actually. It’s weaker than mine, but I think he was trying to splice it together. I thought he wanted to make another tiger stronger than me so they could take over my territory because he was exchanging emails with members of at least two other streaks.”
“You still have those?”
“Yeah. I cloned everything I could access remotely.”
“I wonder why he was mixing our blood. I didn’t see any tiger werekin after we moved this last time. I haven’t been a human werekin since the first few months... so what else was he trying to do to me?”
“The answer has to be here somewhere. I just don’t understand it.”
“You’re going to have to call in someone who can.” Kraig frowned. “Is...?”
“Uncle Radford is still teaching at the junior college, if that’s who you’re thinking about.” I knew my face mirrored his. “And he would be the best person to bring in on this considering his field of expertise is science.”
“Is he still a total asshole now that you’re alpha?”
I blew out a breath. “Worse.”TBC
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