Mine! Part Two Chapter Eighteen
I jumped into the room, every muscle coiled and ready to attack. My claws were flexed open as wide as they could go, and I was prepared to rip off his hands and bust his teeth in if he made a move. “What are you doing?” I hissed.
“Cleaning up this boy.” My mom dipped her cloth in the bowl of water on the nightstand, then leaned down and started wiping again. “He’s covered in dried blood.”
“He’s not a boy. He’s a traitor.”
She looked up sharply. “You don’t know that.”
“He attacked me.” I pointed to the bandages on my arms. “Or did you forget cleaning me up earlier?”
“Don’t you take that tone with me,” she said. “I know you’re hurt, but he’s hurt too. Are you trying to tell me you have clear proof that he did more?” By more, I knew exactly what she meant.
“I don’t. But… Shit.”
“Language.” She primly folded the washcloth.
My eyes were going to bulge out of my head. “You need to leave. I haven’t questioned him or the other one because that’s Deke’s prerogative as alpha, and he’s waiting for the rest of the council. I don’t believe for a second he’s innocent, and you can’t know that either. You need to stay away from him.”
Mom’s hands clenched on the washcloth she’d folded so carefully. Her hands shook as her jaw worked.
“Or is this some sort of… mate thing?” God forbid, I fucking hoped not. The guy was a lot younger than my dad had been, though still older than me. Sick.
“It’s a common decency thing.” She stood up and took the first-aid kit with her. “Or should we treat him like your brother was treated?”
I know she wanted me to say no, to say that no one should be chained and muzzled so cruelly as Deke had described the way he found Kraig, but in my heart, I shouted yes. This man was wrong, and his very presence hurt my family. I wanted him secured—no matter how barbaric—and locked away so he couldn’t reach them.
She walked in a circle around me, stopping in the doorway to clasp Ritch’s hand and murmur a reply to something he said I couldn’t hear with the blood rushing through my body, thundering in my ears.
I sneered at the werekin on the bed who’d done nothing but stare warily at me. “The alphas will be here soon.” I glared, looking deep into his eyes, not sure what I wanted to see. Fear… anger… but they were blank.
Ritch had wisely stayed out in the hallway. He stepped sideways when I came out but stayed close. I relished the warmth of him along my side and his scent chasing away the worst of the other one. “No one else comes in here unless they have express permission from the alpha, and he verifies it. I don’t care what time it is,” I ordered.
Anger tinged my voice when I raised it so they’d all hear me, and each guard nodded, repeating, “Yes, beta” in unison.
I was exhausted, hurt, angry… and all I wanted was to curl up with Ritch and breathe in his scent. The sun was too bright; I was hungry and tired, and this shit just needed to end. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was.
But nothing would ever be the same.
Park was the alpha. Our dads were dead, my brother had been tortured, and our mother was on the edge with her mate’s soul in another man’s body. She was holding it together, but I could see the cracks.
It should’ve made me worry about mating with Ritch, but it didn’t. I knew he’d never betray me. He’d lived a life that could’ve broken another man, but he’d stepped forward and put his neck on the line to approach an alpha he didn’t know in hopes of helping stop something catastrophic from harming the community that had only heaped abuse on him.
“Let’s go home.” Ritch rubbed the middle of my back.
That. That was exactly what I needed. “Yeah, okay.” I kept my steps firm and my shoulders squared until we were in the car, but then I collapsed against the seat. “Thank you, Ritch. I needed that.”
He reached over and grabbed my hand.
My head was against the headrest, and I didn’t even pick it up, just turned my face toward him. “You always seem to know what I need.”
Ritch shrugged. “I pay attention.”
“Yeah, but other people don’t see it.”
“You don’t let them. You’re the beta, someone in charge.” Ritch glanced at me when he stopped before making a left turn. “You let me see it.”
“Sleep is what you need. I got some in the car last night, and the nap earlier was good enough for me.” We pulled in under the big tree in the front yard that shaded the house and driveway. Ritch shut off the car.
I pulled out my metaphorical puppy dog eyes and asked, “Can we go inside and get in bed? The same bed?”
Ritch swallowed. “For…?”
“Just to rest. I’m exhausted, and you make things all right. You could watch TV. I’ll stay under the covers, keep my clothes on. I just want to be close to you.”
It took several minutes to get inside and situated, but by the time I was in bed, my head near Ritch’s hip as he sat against the headboard, the remote in his hand, I was strung so tight with need I wanted to burst.
Then Ritch put his hand in my hair and scratched my scalp, and it all just drained away. I sighed and went limp.
He could tell me what to do anytime.
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