Authors: Rayne Rachels
Skylar snapped at his bear.
You hurt her. You must make her forget
the hurt you caused.
“Abby, you need to sit down. David, call Harrison and tell him to get over here
now.” He stood up to go to her.
“Stay away from me.” She took a step back.
David looked from Abby to Skylar. “Do you two know each other?”
David shook his head. “Which is it?”
“We met in college. Abby McKinney is my m—other half.” Skylar stopped himself from saying mate in front of Theo Willis. He hoped David understood that he meant Abby was his mate. “Abby, you need to sit down. Harrison is our cousin. He’s an emergency medical technician.”
“I’m Abby Wolfe, and we met very briefly
in college. I do not need to see a doctor or nurse, or whatever. And I don’t want anything from you. I just need you to stay away from me.” She turned her attention back to Theo Willis. “I will draw up the plans as to what needs to be done to reinforce the building supports and have a preliminary list and estimate for you tomorrow.”
“I’m not worried about the cost. You have authorization to do whatever it takes to make the buildings safe. I received the initial drawings for the metalwork and
they’re perfect. I do want to talk to you about your design ideas so that the pieces I want are commissioned.” Theo Willis looked over his glasses at Abby. “But right now, I’m more concerned about you.”
“I’m fine. I’ve taken harder knocks than this.” She gave him a quick smile. “Sometimes the buildings like to resist change.”
Skylar was stunned to hear Abby say her last name was Wolfe. Had she taken another for her mate? The thought of another man touching her made him angry. She belonged to him.
You stupidly threw her away.
His bear reminded him.
Now she is hurt and needs us.
You stay where you are. I have to fix this.
“Abby, let me take you to the hospital. You may have a concussion.” Skylar took a couple of steps towards her.
Abby shook her head. Pain and dizziness shot through her, and she moaned before she could stop herself.
“Damn it woman! You need to be in the hospital.” Skylar saw her sway, but the moan ripped at his heart. Ben had warned him. Ben told him Abby was in danger,
and he had ignored the warning, because he was too wrapped up in his own self-loathing.
Abby was here.
Skylar wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tight against his chest. He felt her stiffen, then she relaxed and leaned into him. “Everything will be okay. I promise.” He kissed the top of her head. Her honey and vanilla scent wrapped around him. He inhaled. There was another scent there. His bear pushed forward as he inhaled again.
. His bear growled.
Abby felt warm and safe, but as the pain slowly faded, she realized he had his arms around her. She felt the rumble of a deep growl. Abby stiffened and pushed out of Skylar’s arms. “Let me go. You
don’t want me. You never wanted me.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.
Skylar felt like someone had hit him in his stomach. He looked down at Abby. Gently he put his hand under her chin and lifted her face so she could see his face. The hurt he saw in her eyes shredded what was left of his heart. He had done this. He was the one who put the hurt in her eyes. “I want you, Abby. I want you.”
She shook her head as she pushed out of his arms. “Maybe until something better comes along, and when will that be? Tonight? Tomorrow? Next week?”
“Abby, if you would just let me explain.”
She shook her head. “There’s nothing to explain. I saw what you really wanted with my own eyes.” Abby turned and ran out the door.
Skylar felt like his world had just twisted inside out.
Go after our mate, or I will go after her.
I told you a Kodiak bear loping down Main Street would cause problems.
Want my mate. Want to make mate better.
She doesn’t want us.
Skylar took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He had to get out of the office. His skin itched. His bear was pushing its way to the surface.
“What is going on here?” Theo Willis took off his glasses and wiped them on a white cloth he pulled out of his pocket.
“Nothing.” Skylar stared at the door.
“That didn’t look like nothing.” Theo raised an eyebrow.
“I have to agree with Mr. Willis.” David stared at his cousin.
Skylar turned to face them. “It’s nothing that concerns either of you. It is between Abby and me.”
David raised an eyebrow at him.
“It is not up for discussion.” Skylar crossed his arms over his chest.
“Fine, then let’s go over the budget.” Theo put his glasses back on.
The muscles in Skylar’s jaws twitched. He felt his bear pushing against his skin. The last thing he wanted or needed was to sit through a meeting. He needed to go after Abby.
This time, he wouldn’t let her get away.
It took Abby three
different tries before she could get the key into the truck’s ignition. Her hands would not stop shaking. As soon as the engine roared to life, she let her headrest on the edge of the steering wheel. She took several deep breaths, letting each one out slowly. She glanced toward the building she had run out of as if the devil was chasing her. Skylar didn’t follow her. Part of her was glad he didn’t, but the other half desperately wanted him to follow her. Abby put on her seatbelt and pulled out of the parking place.
The dull ache in her temple slowly grew as memories she thought she had buried rushed to the surface.
Abby finally found the book she was looking for and pulled it off the shelf. She opened it and skimmed through the table of contents as she walked back to the table where the rest of her books and notepads were scattered. She sat down and picked up a pen and one of the notepads as she skimmed through the book.
“That must be a really good book.”
Startled, Abby looked up and found
herself staring into the greenest eyes she had ever seen. She blinked. “What did you say?”
“That must be a
really good book.” The guy grinned at her.
has the information I need for my paper.” She bit the inside of her lip, wondering what the guy really wanted. He was too good looking to actually want to talk to her, unless someone had bet him. Abby frowned.
“Why are you talking to me?” Abby blurted out the question.
guy grinned. “You’re pretty and I like the way you smell.”
“The way I smell?” Abby’s frown deepened. “Are you telling me I stink?”
“No.” The guy shook his head. “You smell really good.”
“I smell really good.” Abby slowly shook her head. She turned her attention back to the book. It was obvious the
guy was just messing with her.
“Honestly, you smell really good to me.” He sniffed the air. “You smell like honey and vanilla. It smells wonderful.”
Abby’s mouth dropped open as she stared at the guy. She closed her mouth.
“I’m Skylar. Skylar Anderson.” He held out his hand.
She wasn’t sure if she should shake it or not. Good-looking guys didn’t give her the time of day, so why was this guy talking to her?
“I won’t bite.” Skylar’s grin grew bigger. “I promise.”
“Sure.” Abby put down the book. “How much was the bet?”
Skylar frowned. “What bet?”
“How much did the other guys bet you to go and talk to the fat girl in the library?” Abby crossed her arm as she leaned back in the chair.
“You are not fat. You’re gorgeous, and I’ll punch anyone who says otherwise.” He sniffed again. “You smell wonderful.”
Abby raised an eyebrow. “I’m don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not wearing any kind of perfume or scented lotion.” Her eyes widened. He wasn’t a member of her stepdad’s pack, but he had to be a shifter. It was the only explanation as to why he was fixated on her scent.
“What’s wrong?” Skylar leaned toward her. He sounded genuinely concerned.
“It’s nothing. Just me wishing I was something I’m not and can’t ever be.”
“I think we all do that from time to time. Nothing wrong with wishing, but I wouldn’t change a thing about you because you’re beautiful.” Skylar grinned at her.
“Now I know someone put you up to this. I am not beautiful. I know exactly what I look like. I see myself in the mirror every day.” Being a size twenty with an hourglass figure in a world that said you should be a size two or you were worthless was difficult. Abby shook her head. It wasn’t difficult. It was the most horrendous thing to endure. She knew a lot of the guys in the pack thought she was pretty, but when she saw the sleek, muscular shapes of some of the girls in the pack, she felt like a beached whale. Why would anybody want her body when he could have the perfect, thin girl?
“I don’t know what others have told you, but you are beautiful. I love the way you look and the way you smell. I
haven’t made any bets with anyone. I’m really interested in you. Would you like to go get a coffee and talk? I really want to get to know you.”
Abby nodded. She wondered if she was doing the right
thing by taking a chance on him, but she couldn’t stop herself. Something about him called to her, making her think of things she should not be thinking about.
Later that evening, when Skylar kissed her for the first time, she was sure she had done the right thing. She
didn’t care if he was a shifter or not, she was in love with him. She knew he was the only one for her. He was her mate, even though she was human.
All the signs were there. The same signs she had seen when the wolves in her stepdad’s pack found their mates. The same signs she saw when she
watched the interactions between her mom and stepdad.
For weeks, Skylar and Abby were inseparable. They studied together, ate their meals together, but one day Skylar
didn’t show up for their afternoon coffee date.
Abby knew something was wrong.
She went to his dorm room. Just as she started to knock, she heard laughter and something else coming from the other side of the door. Her hand shook as she reached for the doorknob and turned it.
The door opened with ease.
Abby stared. The color drained from her face.
Skylar, her Skylar, was fucking one of the skinny, blonde cheerleaders.
Skylar looked up at her. His eyes were coal black. He looked at the blonde-haired woman under him and jumped back. He looked from Abby to the blonde-haired woman and then back at Abby. “Abby, I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s not what you think. I would not do anything to hurt you. You’re my mate.”
His eyes were green when he looked at her the second time.
Abby turned and ran away.
Tears ran down Abby’s face. She grasped the steering wheel. Even after all these years, the pain was still there. She hated him and she loved him.
She looked around.
She was in the hotel parking lot.
wasn’t sure, if it was the cold air from the truck’s air conditioner or something else that caused her to shiver.
The monotonous beep of her cell phone filled the cab.
Abby wiped her eyes and grabbed the phone. “Abby here.” She didn’t want to deal with anyone right now. She just wanted to go somewhere and find a dark spot to hide in while she dealt with her emotions.
There was a pause. “Are you okay? You sound funny.”
“I’m fine Billy. What did you need?”
“I haven’t finished going through all the video. I was focusing on the stuff we shot just before the wall crashed down on us. I’ve found something you really need to see.”
“Can you give me about thirty minutes to shower and change?”
There was another long pause. “I’ll meet you in an hour at the diner where we had breakfast. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Abby heard the concern in her cousin’s voice. “I’m fine. I just need a really hot shower.”
And my head examined.
“I see you in an hour.” She ended the call and got out of the truck.
Forty minutes later, she was out of the shower and dressed in clean jeans and t-shirt. Abby looked at her hands. They
weren’t shaking anymore. The shower had calmed her nerves. Too bad, it hadn’t done something about the bruises forming on her face. She looked in the mirror and sighed. There wasn’t much she could do about the bruises. “Great! Wait until dad sees these. He’s going to go ballistic.” Abby grimaced at her reflection before she turned her back to it.
She grabbed her keys and lef
t the hotel room, locking the door behind her. She turned and looked at her surroundings. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. A chill caressed her skin.
Someone was watching her.
Abby quickly walked to her truck and drove away.
The smells of French fries, apple pie, and coffee surrounded Abby as soon as she stepped into The Blue Plate Diner. Soft music played in the background. Abby gave her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darker interior of the room. Two seconds later, she spotted Billy sitting in a corner both.
Abby bit her lip to keep from laughing. Billy, like the other wolves she knew, always sat in the corner of rooms when they were out in public. Billy once told her that it gave them an advantage. They could see who was coming
and going, and if a fight broke out, their backs were already to the wall, no worry about anyone sneaking up behind them.
Abby glanced at the room as she walked over to Billy’s table. For the most part, the dinner was empty, but it was a couple of hours before most people got off from their jobs. She
wouldn’t have to worry about intruders while she and Billy discussed their plans or the building.
“Hey, Abby girl!”
Billy grinned at her as he glanced at his watch. “And you have a few seconds to spare.”
“Whatever!” Abby wanted to slug his shoulder, but she knew he would hit her back, and even though it was be just in play, she knew he hit hard, and it would cause her body to ache even more than it already was. “What did you find?” She sat down on the bench across from him.
“I think we have a problem.” Billy pushed a tablet toward her.
Abby picked it up and tapped the arrow on the picture in the center of it. “What am I supposed to be looking at?”
“Just keep looking and tell me what you see.” Billy leaned closer to her.
Abby played the video from where Billy had it paused all the way to the collapse of the wall. She frowned. She played the video a second time
, but slower. Her eyes widened and her skin paled. She looked at Billy. “Is that what I think it is?”
He looked at her. “It looks like we have a skeleton in the basement.”
Abby sat back. “This is not helping my day.” She rubbed her forehead. “I’ll have to call the police and Mr. Willis. The worst part is I can’t let the police into the building until we have the bracing in place and I can guarantee it is stable.”
“I’m Joy, and I’m your waitress. What can I get you to drink?”
Abby looked up at the waitress. “A sweet iced tea for me.”
“Same here, and can we get an order of fried pickles?” Billy winked at the
“Two sweet teas
and an order of fried pickles, I’ll be right back with your drinks.” The young woman smiled. She sniffed. “Weren’t you in here this morning?”
Billy leaned back and grinned. “I knew you would remember me.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Joy is such a pretty name.”
Abby groaned. “Don’t you dare use any of your lines, because you will get us thrown out of here.”
Joy stared at Abby. “Honey, it looks like he used more than a line on you. If your boyfriend is that abusive, you need to get away from him.”
Abby laughed. “He’s not my boyfriend, and he didn’t do this. This was the result of an accident.”
Joy raised her eyebrow. “Are you okay?”
“I’ll be okay, as long as my cousin here doesn’t use any of his lines and gets us thrown out of here.”
“He’s your cousin?” She sniffed the air again. Joy snorted and walked away.
Billy sniffed the air. “Damn. She’s cute for a bear.”
As in a bear shifter?” Abby kept her voice low. She knew Billy heard her though with his wolf hearing.
She’s worried that I’m abusing you, especially with you being human. Most shifters are good people, but there are some nasty ones out there who hate humans.” Billy tilted his head as he watched Joy walk away. “I like a woman with soft curves.”
Abby rubbed her forehead, careful not to hit the cut.
“Your forehead is bothering you, isn’t it?” Billy pulled his eyes away from the waitress and looked at Abby.
“I’m fine.” She put the tablet into sleep mode. “I’ll contact the sheriff and dad when I get back to the hotel, and I have to let Mr. Willis know too.” Abby leaned back in the seat. “This will put the project on hold—indefinitely.”
Billy crossed his arms. “You need to eat and rest.”
Joy stopped by the table and put down two large glasses of sweet tea. “
Are you sure you don’t need to go to the hospital? Honestly, you don’t look so good.”
“Really, I’m fine.” Abby tried to assure the woman. She had to be strong, especially being a human surrounded by shifters. She used to wonder how her mom did it, but then she realized her mom got strength from her mate, but Abby
didn’t have that connection. She had to dig deep within herself to find the strength to keep going.
Joy shook her head. “Keep telling yourself you don’t need to go to the hospital.” She pulled out a notepad and pen from her back pocket. “What can I get you to eat?”
The bell over the front door of the diner jingled. A deep growl quickly followed the bell, causing the few people in the diner to turn in the direction of the growl.