That's right... here's another update! This week I chose the prompt to use stitches somehow. And *cough*come back in a few hours *cough* You'll be glad you did.
Lost Inside Chapter Six
“It would never work. Your father’s plan to modernize the Tigers, I mean.”
Velaku cocked his head to one side. “Why not?”
“Birth defects and rising infant mortality rates aren’t enough to convince them, even when they had concrete research results from Tiger scientists and doctors. They cannot see past the way things were done to anything else, much less anything better.
“Sully the bloodlines or deign to ask for help without precedent? Tigers do not accept anything new or different. Hell”—Benny pointed at the Falcon’s house—“you have a perfect example of their reaction right there. What about Calix’s mother? She dared to mate outside the clans and was shunned for it; her family lived in fear of the clans just because she loved to dare someone not acceptable.” Benny’s mouth twisted on the bitter words.
“You’re not like that. Neither is your brother,” Velaku said. “If we start with the younger generations who’ve had a more modern upbringing—”
“Wouldn’t matter. The elders maintain rigid control of the power structure.”
Velaku smiled. “The young will age. My father had the patience to understand not everything happens right away. I’d like to think I’m enough like him to realize that too. We may only sow the seeds now, but a mind we change now could be instrumental to change the Tiger clan in the future. Or other clans still clinging to the old ways.”
Benny blinked. He hadn’t thought of it that way. It was a bitter pill to swallow, knowing they couldn’t go back. Their clan would shun them on sight even if Yuri wasn’t deathly afraid of Tigers. Though, since Dav invited him to stay as a bouncer at the club, Benny felt more of a clan bond with him than he had with anyone outside his close family.
“It might work,” Benny admitted reluctantly. “Or it might not.”
“We’ll never know if we don’t try.” Velaku shrugged. “Come on. Let’s check those markings and see what you can figure out.”
The tree Velaku led him to wasn’t much farther. Velaku stood back and let him do his thing. Wide slashes scored the thin white bark of the tree. Benny fit a hand over the marks without touching them, flexing his claws out.
“Definitely a male.”
“Which is why we thought it was you.”
No way he’d risk leaving any marks behind. Benny bent close to the bark and inhaled. The scent was faint, and he didn’t recognize it though it was from a cat.
A tension he’d refused to acknowledge eased. It wasn’t the Alpha, rabid to finish the job of destroying his son—and Benny along with him.
But then who was it? Why was he watching Yuri? Benny moved around the tree until he had the right angle. Sure enough, a narrow sight lane went all the way to the house. Worse, a new scent farther down the tree lingered. Benny squatted down and then his ears went flat to his head. He snarled.
“What is it?”
“The fucker jacked off. I can still smell his spunk.” Benny’s voice was distorted with rage. His claws dug into his palms. The urge to obliterate the intruder’s markings with his own scent was overwhelming.
Yuri was his!
“Shit.” Velaku rubbed his forehead. “I’m not getting you away from here today, am I?”
Leave? Benny bared his fangs. No. Not even close. “I’m not going anywhere.” His unspoken ‘until I find this threat and remove it’ hung between them. He wouldn’t apologize for that. No mate would.
Clearly the intruder was wary, staying much farther back than Benny did when he watched Yuri.
The distance from Yuri was too much for him. The cat could be anywhere, maybe watching from another angle. Benny stood, careful not to touch the tree. If the cat came back a lingering scent would warn him off. They would have better luck trapping the bastard if he thought his little hidey-hole was undiscovered.
“What have you learned?” Benny insisted Ellis come up to his spot on the hill after he finished talking with Yuri. He wanted to ask if Yuri had mentioned his name or spoke of a mate at all, but the possibility of his mate’s damaged brain wiping all memory of him away as if they’d never met, never fell in love and mated… Well, Benny might lose whatever tenuous hold on sanity he could claim to still have.
“You sure you want to talk about this here?” Ellis glanced up. He must have known about the guards.
“C’mon. I’ll drive you home. Benny stalked toward his truck parked on the far side of the hill.
“Talk,” Benny demanded.
“I was surprised when I first talked to Yuri.” Ellis put on his seat belt. “You said he was like a child, but he’s not really.”
Benny paused with the key in the ignition. “What do you mean?”
“Yuri isn’t childlike, exactly. The head injury affected his… well, think of it as his sense of self. He can complete complex puzzles and tests, but his ability to retain memories or process information is damaged. He has impulse control issues because he doesn’t grasp the complex social cues most adults learn over the course of their lives. It’s like… autism, I guess. He’s smart, but the way he looks at the world is very different than other adults because he doesn’t remember learning them.”
That sounded a lot like a child to Benny. “You said his memory was affected?”
“I believe so, yes, but remember, I’m just a nurse.”
He shouldn’t ask, but he had to know. “Does he… does Yuri remember me?”
Pain lanced Benny’s soul. He roared and lashed out.
“Fuck!” Ellis grabbed Benny’s arm before he could punch the dashboard again. “Damn it, Benny, you’re going to need stitches!”
A hard plastic shard from the ruined dash was jammed between two of his knuckles. Benny ignored the blood running down his fingers. It was nothing compared to the knowledge his mate had forgotten him.
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