“He’s really dead?” Kraig sat stiffly against the headboard. He had a death grip on the blanket over his lap.
My phone pinged and a picture popped up on the screen.
“Yes,” I was able to say with certainty. Henry’s eyes were open, and he’d died with a snarl on his face. Someone had made him very angry. The doctor was a human who knew about our kind. Henry had been working with him. Now he’d been on the run from his streak in the presence of two humans, and he was dead.
Someone was cleaning up loose ends. What were humans doing transforming human werekin into bonded werekin?
Humans turning human werekin into bonded werekin. “Holy shit,” I said under my breath. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it.”
Kraig frowned. “What? See what?”
“A human doctor took you. You’re werekin, but you’re human for all intents and purposes. He made you into a bonded werekin. He changed your spirit so that it could bond with an animal soul—”
“Two animal souls.”
I stood up and started to pace, stalking back and forth the realization blooming in my mind even as I spoke. “Maybe that’s what it took. Maybe one just wasn’t strong enough. I don’t know. But I do know that a human doctor hurt you. Humans were with Henry, and he’s dead. It must be because he knew too much, and they were afraid we would find out. This is a human plot.”
“That I don’t know.” I ran my hands over my head, wishing I could tug on my hair. I missed my thick mane. “Ripping the souls out of bonded werekin would kill them; we can’t survive without our animal souls. Do they want to eradicate us? We can die from damage just like any other person. Remove our mate, and we’re weakened considerably. Maybe that’s why they blended the souls in you? Why not put one soul from each mate into a different body?”
“Wait.” Kraig jolted out of bed. “My mother!”
“Oh, fuck!” I grabbed my pants off the floor and tossed his toward Kraig. I wanted nothing more than to run to her house, but Kraig wasn’t capable of going that far. He wasn’t strong enough to handle the cool night air either. I pulled out a light, long-sleeved shirt out of my drawer and handed it to Kraig. I wanted him swathed in my scent if he was leaving the house. It would keep him calmer as well.
“Shoes, keys.” We hurried into both. “Shit, my phone.” I ran back upstairs and grabbed it, texting Park to get back to his mom’s house immediately, 911. I needed to call Park and give him the bad news. I was sick of giving bad news. I prayed that we were not going to his parents’ house to find his mother dead.
She’d been alone for hours only. When had Henry died? I wish Cameron had mentioned that, even a guess. I climbed into the car. My tires spun on the ravel as I turned around in a sharp circle. I reached over and put my hand over Kraig’s tightly clenched fingers. “She might be okay.”
“After my father emotionally abandoned her? How much of her will be left if the only reason she lives is because her bond with him was broken before he died? Because he’s a bastard who helped torture his own son?” Kraig’s voice broke.
I squeezed him. “No matter what, I’m with you. You’ll never be alone again.” I knew, just like I’d always known, that I would not live if I lost Kraig again. The world wasn’t a place I wanted to be if he wasn’t with me. His spirit and mine were interwoven irrevocably. Where he went, wherever that was, I would go too.
Park’s ran out down the driveway right as we pulled up. He was alone, panting as he stopped by the porch. Kraig threw his door open. “Mom!” he shouted.
He jumped the stairs in a leap I didn’t expect him to make. He slammed against the door, but it was locked. “Deke, help me! Mom!”
“What is going on?”
“Your dad is dead,” I shouted as I ran toward the door. I turned and hit it with my shoulder, popping it out of the frame as the hinges broke under the assault. “Lydia!” The lights were all off downstairs.
Park was a streak as he ran by me and up the stairs. Kraig was on his heels, and I followed him closely. If they found her, or this sudden burst of energy he had abruptly left him, I didn’t want him to fall. Our feet pounding on the stairs reminded me of all the times Lydia had yelled at us to slow down growing up… and my heart stuttered. I’d lost my parents, Henry… she was the closest thing I had left.
If we lost her, it would be like we were cast adrift. We were too young to face a future without her wisdom.
“Mom!” Kraig screamed.
The light came on in her bedroom just after Park rushed inside. My knees wobbled when Lydia sat up and turned. She blinked in the light from the lamp coming from her bedside table. “What is going on? Why are you screaming at me?” Her eyes were red-rimmed, and her voice hoarse. She was wearing a long-sleeved robe over a nightgown and had several blankets piled up on the bed. “Why are you out at night without coats on? Don’t you know how cold it is tonight?” She shivered.
Park collapsed on his knees next to her, resting his head against the bed. His shoulders shook hard, but he remained silent. Kraig, tears streaming down his face, climbed on the bed. He reached for her hand, letting out a jagged breath when they touched. “You’re okay,” he whispered.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” She rubbed her chest. “What’s going on?” she asked again.
Whew! Like I said, emotional. Need more to read? Like free? Go catch up on the other stories being posted by some of my fellow Briefers.