No prompt this week, just story!
“Sit down. You’re staying here.”
“I’m fine, Ritch.”
“Your leg is all busted up. Werekin take more than two days to heal. I can go get food for both of us.” Ritch scowled. “Or don’t you trust me to be able to go to the store?”
It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, but I wasn’t sure how to say what it was without making it sound like that was exactly what the problem was.
“Besides, it’s not like you’d be able to go into the store anyway. Or help me if something went wrong.”
“But I could wait in the car. We haven’t heard anything more about all this being over for sure. The buddy system is how the guards work. This way, if you don’t come out or there’s trouble outside of our borders, there’s someone to call for help for you.”
He crossed his arms. “Then I can take a guard.”
I snarled at the thought of a guard in the car with Ritch, being that close to him. I desperately needed to claim him, to make him my mate, and my tiger soul was feeling dangerously possessive. My whole body was tense, and we stared at each other. I worked my jaw, then sighed and dropped my shoulders.
“Please.” I looked down, glaring at the leg that was ruining everything. “Don’t go into town without me.”
Ritch let out a long, loud sigh. “Fine. But the pathetic front isn’t going to work all the time.”
“Pathetic?” I made a face.
“Oh stop it. You got your way. Let’s go.” Ritch came up to him. “But you’re sitting in the backseat and putting your leg up. No arguing.”
“Okay.” I leaned on him, not so much because I needed to—I was healing rapidly—but because I’d take any opportunity to touch him and share our scents. We got into the car and headed toward the exit from the property, stopping long enough to give the guard information about where we were going and why, before heading into town.
I pulled the baseball hat lower and tucked my head into the blanket Ritch had insisted on tucking around me when I shivered in the unseasonably damp and cool air. It helped mask the squared off thrust of my muzzle that jutted out farther than the jaws humans had. The smooth hum of the tires on the road lulled me into a doze.
Ritch had not been sleeping well. His nightmares returned time after time, and I couldn’t even touch him to help calm him until he woke up, leaving us both short on sleep.
I woke up fully when we pulled into the parking lot. Ritch parked in the last row but angled the car so I could see into the grocery store through the big windows lining the front. “Get a lot of steak. Maybe a few roasts.”
Healing tiger werekin needed red meat, lots of red meat. I’d torn through the supplies we had in the freezer, but I craved fresh. “Lots of meat.”
“Yes, Park, I know you want lots of meat.” Ritch grinned as he glanced over his shoulder. “You always want lots of meat.”
Was he flirting with me? Seriously? My control was barely hanging by a thread, and he thought innuendo was a good idea? I narrowed my eyes. “You would too, if you had the right meat.” Two could play that game.
“You think so?” He pulled the keys out of the ignition and released his seatbelt.
“I know so.” My heart sped up and anticipation curled in my guts. “When we get home, how about I prove it to you?”
“Maybe.” He got out of the car after that.
I wasn’t sleepy anymore. Watching him walk away irritated me. What started out as a mild anxiety and itch to follow him rapidly grew worse. When he went around a corner and I couldn’t see him anymore, it took every ounce of self-control along with my knowledge that I’d expose our kind to stay.
As beta, my control was what I was known for. I protected the streak. But everything in me insisted Ritch was more important. He was my mate, but we weren’t mated. I leaned forward and stared into the store.
There were some humans dressed in some sort of uniform, and they hadn’t walked in the front door.
And worse, they were walking toward where Ritch had disappeared.
I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and called him. It rang, and my heart began to pound and my stomach churned the longer it took.
“Ritch,” I said. I let out a quick breath of relief. “There are two guys in there with you. I think they’re following you.” I shoved the blanket off.
“They’re dressed in green shirts and pants. I think they’re following you. Get out. Get out now!” I grunted in pain and I shoved the top half of my body through the gap between the seats to get to the front. “I’ll be right there.”
“I’ll stay in the car. Just make it out to me.” Fuck. Where were the keys? I frantically searched, finally seeing them half under a shirt in the front seat.
“Park! They’re not following me. They’re getting meat at the counter. They’re not even looking at me. You need to calm down.”
“Don’t be naïve. There’s no military base near here. Why would they be here, if not for us?”
“Family? Friends? Driving through?” Ritch came around one of the aisles and stared out the window toward the car. “I’m going to check out. Just stay calm, and don’t freak out any more than you already are.” He hung up.
Frustration surged through me. I slammed my hands on the steering wheel, snarling. How could he disregard my warning? “Damn it!” I couldn’t go in there. I had to go in there.
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