“What’s in that?” Ritch put the leftover pizza in the fridge. “I didn’t see you pack that bag. It looks heavy.”
I hesitated. “Weapons. And cuffs strong enough to hold bonded werekins. I don’t want to pack a lot of this stuff openly at this point. I don’t think we’ll need anything in this bag for a few days, at least, but it’s better to be prepared. And I really don’t want to leave anything in the car in this neighborhood.”
Ritch made a face. “Right.”
“You’re not afraid of having the guns in here, are you?” I asked. Maybe I could ask Christian to take the bag to his room, but I didn’t really want a lot of weapons accessible to the others.
“Why would it?” Ritch shrugged one shoulder. “I’ve seen plenty of guns. Besides, you don’t need those to hurt me. You’re faster and stronger with sharp claws and teeth. Human werekin aren’t any stronger than humans.”
He shut the bathroom door behind him. I stashed the bag between the beds and then pulled the nasty hotel comforter off the one closest to the door. The water shut off and Ritch was moving around in the bathroom, so I grabbed some clothes out of my bag.
Ritch came out in a pair of pajama pants and one his new shirts. “All yours,” he said. He yawned. “I have no idea why I’m so tired. All I did was sit in the passenger seat while your drove.”
“Traveling always makes me tired. Feel free to find something to watch if you want. Remote’s on the table between our beds.”
I put my clothes on the miniscule bathroom counter and stared in the chipped mirror. I had no idea how to make this work. Maybe it would be fine. Ritch smelled nervous, but he didn’t look scared. Maybe locking his door was more about the ability to do it than needing the lock to feel safe.
The shower was tiny, and the water pressure sucked. Trying to get the shampoo out of my ruff took forever before the heavy strands were finally clean. I hated the man bun look, but I didn’t want to get my shirt wet if I was being forced to wear one to sleep in. I stalled after brushing my teeth.
How did Deke do it? I could see how many issues Kraig had, and Deke never faltered. Hell, he purred like a pussy on catnip whenever Kraig let him pamper him. I rubbed my hand over my chest. I could understand why he felt that way.
I loved that I’d provided what Ritch needed. If he wasn’t going to wear my clothes, I liked that he had been able to get things he liked because I was able to provide for him. He had to go in and pay for the food, but when I pulled off a slice of the double pepperoni and handed it to him before anyone else got some, he’d flushed red but smiled.
If it wouldn’t have been embarrassingly obvious, I would’ve purred when he took his first bite and groaned at the thick crust, gooey cheese, and spicy pepperoni. It was actually pretty good pizza.
No more stalling.
I expected the TV to be on, but the room was silent and dark expect for the lamp on the nightstand. I wasn’t really tired, but Ritch was curled up in his bed and his eyes were closed. I turned off the like and took a deep sniff when I lifted the sheet. At least this bedding was clean, but the bed squeaked and there was a loose spring in the middle. I scooted closer to the door to avoid it digging into my side and lay there thinking.
The sounds of the city around us didn’t muffle the restless sounds of Ritch moving, even if he was pretending to sleep. Every minute or so he popped his eyes open and looked at my bed. I doubted he could see me even with the light seeping in around the curtains behind me.
I leaned up on my elbow. “Are you okay?”
Ritch gasped and jerked. “I thought you were asleep.”
“Not yet. I thought you were tired.”
He rubbed his forehead. “I am.”
“Can I help?”
“How?” Ritch scoffed. “You know some way to fix the broken shit in my brain?”
I turned on the light. “You’re not broken.” He made a rude sound, and I sat up. “Being scared because bad things happened to you is smart. If you were broken, you wouldn’t be here. You had the bravery to come. It will get better.”
“You sound so sure.”
“That’s because I am. Now, what can I do to make you more comfortable. Is it the dark? We can leave the light on.”
Ritch hesitated. “It’s not that.”
“What about…” I stopped when I looked down and saw my bag. “What if we cuff me to the bed frame?”
“That can’t hold you.”
“No, but I can’t break the cuffs, and if I do break the bed, you’ll hear it.”
Ritch frowned. “You’d do that for me? Let me restrain you?”
In a freaking heartbeat. “If it’ll help, yes.” The Velcro on the pocket was loud when I grabbed a set out of the side pocket. “Don’t worry, I got this.” I pulled the covers up and bunched my pillows so I’d be comfortable, and then I threaded the cuffs through the wood bars on the ancient headboard and tightened them on my wrists. “You’ll have to turn out the light.”
Ritch’s eyes were wide. “I can’t believe you just did that.”
“It’s fine,” I assured him. “But you’ll have to turn off the light if you don’t want to leave it on.”
I waited for Ritch’s breathing to steady before I closed my eyes. It was still dark when the window behind me shattered, spreading glass across the room and startling me out of a deep sleep.
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