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Authors: Scarlet Hyacinth

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BOOK: Star-Crossed Mates
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Ross whimpered and nodded. That wasn’t too hard to say.

“When you recover, you’ll say you don’t remember who you are or anything else for that matter. Earn their trust, live by their side.

When the time comes, I’ll tell you what to do.”

Joseph disappeared, leaving Ross alone and in pain in the alley. A little while later, two men arrived. Ross didn’t recall what he said and did, but it must’ve been right because, just like Joseph wanted, they
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Scarlet Hyacinth

took him into their home. At one point, he completely lost consciousness, surrendering to the fever and the horror taking over his body.

When he awoke, he found himself surrounded by strangers, fussing over him, soothing his hurts. But no matter what they did, they could not cast away the haunting voice in his mind. And then, there was one man, one man who Ross desired with all his heart, but whom he could not have.

Star-Crossed Mates

21

Chapter Two
A few weeks later

Dead gray eyes stared at Klaus accusingly. “You abandoned me,
Klaus,” Clay’s corpse moaned. “You left me to die.”

His body felt so familiar in Klaus’s arms, but so very cold.

Klaus’s vision blurred as he struggled with his tears. “No, Clay. I
only ever wanted the best for you.”

Clay’s bloodless lips twisted into a smile that held no humor.

“You keep telling yourself that. Maybe one day, you might come to
believe it.”

The dim light in Clay started to fade and there was nothing but
silence left. Darkness surrounded Klaus, and slowly, Clay’s body
dissipated into the gloom. Klaus tried to keep hold of his mate, but it
was futile. His desperate attempts were met with failure, and he was
left screaming into the lonely, dark void.

Klaus shouted as he shot from the bed. For a few moments, he couldn’t even figure out where he was, but after a while, the haze began to dim and he returned to reality. Another nightmare. Fuck.

Klaus buried his face in his palms, weary after so many nights of torturing dreams. Since Clay’s disappearance, he’d barely been able to sleep, and when he did succumb to exhaustion, nightmares came to him, stronger and more frightening than ever.

Clay had run away from the Hart compound after releasing Ross, the prisoner guilty of destroying the clinic there and attacking Paul Blunt. Apparently, Ross had some sort of mind control abilities and
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Scarlet Hyacinth

convinced Clay the two of them were mates. Somehow, Clay had managed to pick the lock of Ross’s cell and flee before anyone could figure out they were missing. Beyond that, Klaus didn’t know much else.

He’d made many mistakes in his life, but none quite like the one he’d committed against Clay. Twice his mate had come to him, and twice Klaus rebuffed him with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But Klaus simply could not find another way at the time. He was caught between a rock and a hard place, torn between two loves and two duties.

Ever since he’d been just a kid, Klaus had known he belonged by the Magistrate’s side. Sometimes, he would hear the voice of the Spirit Mother whisper in his dreams, telling him what to do. As of late, she’d been silent, but the nightmares became more and more intense. Ironically, it all began ten years back, upon meeting Clay.

Now, almost every night, Klaus saw Wolfram dead or himself holding Clay’s lifeless body. Often, he sensed another presence there, lingering at the edge of his consciousness, fueling his terror. Each and every time, he woke up drenched in sweat, sobbing and just as helpless as when he’d gone to sleep.

All the scouts they’d sent so far to look for Clay had come up with nothing. Who was this Ross? How did he manage to get such a strong hold on the young spirit wolf? Guilt swelled hot inside Klaus’s chest.

He knew how. Klaus himself pushed Clay away, and Ross took advantage of Klaus’s stupidity and insinuated himself in Clay’s fragile, broken heart.

But regrets were useless now. He needed a plan, something to help him find his mate. He knew Joseph must be behind Ross’s sudden appearance. Now, more than ever, destroying the feral turned into a priority.

Joseph Garou—formerly known as Dupont—proved to be just as elusive as Clay. His attacks came and went with a speed and organization that belied his out-of-control nature. They’d tried to find
Star-Crossed Mates

23

him ever since he’d attempted to attack the Magistrate and his mates, but to no avail. Klaus felt horrified at the notion that they might have the same ill luck with Clay.

The shrill sound of a phone ringing snapped him out of his musings. Klaus got up and picked up his cell. It felt odd and foreign in his hand, and Klaus’s stomach turned when he recalled all the times Clay had called in the weeks prior to his disappearance. Klaus ignored him, believing they needed the time apart to get things into perspective. He’d been such a fool, such a selfish fool.

As he took the call, Klaus knew it must be another soldier with a report. Still, he couldn’t help but be just a bit excited. Perhaps one of these days, Clay might contact him. “Hello. Klaus Fleischer here.”

The voice at the other side of the connection sounded hesitant.

“Hi, Klaus,” Clay said. “It’s me. Are you alone?”

Klaus couldn’t believe his ears. It was, indeed, his mate. For a moment, Clay’s question didn’t even register. “I’m alone,” he finally managed to reply. Klaus took a deep breath and focused on calming his racing heart. “Where are you, Clay? What’s going on?”

“I’m fine,” Clay answered. “We’re fine. I just…” There was a brief pause at the other side of the connection as if Clay were considering his words.

“What?” Klaus prodded. “What is it?”

“Okay, so we’re not exactly fine. We need your help, Klaus.”

Klaus didn’t like the sound of that. “By
we
I assume you mean yourself and this Ross person.”

He knew he’d said the wrong thing the moment a deep sigh sounded from Clay. “Please, Klaus. Just don’t. Ross is sick, and you’re the only one who can save him.”

Of course. Ross was feral. “How have you been controlling him all this time?”

“My bite helps him, keeps it in check for a couple of hours, but it’s getting worse.” Clay’s voice trembled. “I beg of you, Klaus.

There’s no one else we can turn to.”

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Scarlet Hyacinth

What could Klaus do? He agreed.

* * * *

The Irish pub bustled with activity, filled to the brim with intoxicated humans. The laughter of the customers seemed to mock Clay’s glum mood. He stole a look at his pale mate, taking in Ross’s sweaty forehead. Soon, Ross would fall into one of his fits again.

Clay’s bite would no longer be enough to keep the virus at bay.

Clay had known this would happen. He’d heard the stories and learned a lot about the disease simply from living in the same house with Andrew Blunt. It was amazing what one could find out when so few people paid him any heed.

Oh, his parents loved him, and so did his siblings. But other than Amy, no one really knew him, or bothered to. They didn’t even try to understand the reasons behind his quiet nature. The only time his parents showed some involvement in his life was a few weeks back, when Clay returned with his tail between his legs from the Magistrate’s Den and found Ross there. At the time, they didn’t believe him when he’d claimed both Klaus and Ross were his mates.

They’d become convinced he merely wanted the same thing his two brothers managed to achieve. Of course he did. Trent and Ash were always the ones in the spotlight, the brave hunters, while Clay remained the little, harmless kid. But his desire for Klaus and Ross didn’t have anything to with that.

He could still remember his father’s words, his kindness which unwillingly hurt Clay so much.
“You’re young still,”
Grant had said.

“You don’t need to make any hasty decisions.”

In the end, only Amy trusted his instinct. She’d also been the one to help bust Ross out. She didn’t want to, but she’d helped him in the end. It hadn’t been easy, with the key to Ross’s cell taken by Ash. But Clay was very talented at picking locks, a hobby he’d taken up out of
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25

boredom, and perhaps spite, and Amy could distract guards better than any siren.

Clay now doubted he’d done the right thing. At least at the Hart compound, Ross would have received adequate medical attention. In spite of Clay’s private hatred of the Magistrate, he admitted Wolfram also offered humane treatment to his prisoners. But something in Ross scared him, and the memory of the feral who’d killed himself niggled at his brain. Ross had just heard about it, whispered murmurs of the horrifying event, but he didn’t want to see it recreated in his mate.

If only Klaus would help them. Should Klaus agree to bite Ross, everything would be all right. Clay hated to ask after what happened between them last time, and he might have refrained had Ross’s condition not grown progressively worse.

As if in echo of Clay’s thoughts, Ross said, “I’m hot. Can we go outside?”

His voice sounded weak, yet growly. Clay swallowed around the knot in his throat and stole a look at his watch. Klaus should have been here by now. What could have kept him? Easy. He must have decided not to bother with Clay’s requests. After all, he’d dodged each and every call from Clay a few weeks before.

“Sure,” he replied. “We need some fresh air.”

He waved the waitress to their table and paid the bill. The woman thanked him in a thick, Irish brogue, and Clay offered her a smile in turn. He took Ross’s sweaty hand and led him out.

The soft, gentle breeze caressed his face as they left the stuffy pub. It didn’t seem to help Ross. “It’s just as hot here,” the young man said. “Damn it. I hate this awful place.”

Kiltimagh was hardly an awful place. In fact, the tiny Irish town boasted a lot of beautiful historical attractions. Unfortunately, its small size meant they couldn’t stay here too long, or the hunters would track Ross’s scent.

“Let’s go to our room,” Clay offered. He’d try to bite Ross again and hope for the best.

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Scarlet Hyacinth

Ross nodded but didn’t move. His eyes burned with the incipient touch of the feral madness, but for a second, they were as beautiful and clear as ever. “Hey, I never thanked you for taking me out of there. I think I’d have been dead by now if you hadn’t.”

The words startled Clay. Ross spoke little, and when he did, he only referred to practical considerations, like “let’s take cover,”

“when do we eat,” and so on and so forth. “Don’t say such things,” he told Ross. “You don’t ever need to thank me.”

Ross laughed a little. “I don’t understand you. After everything I said and did, you still want to help me. Why?”

It was a good question that didn’t have a simple answer. Everyone in the spirit wolf world always replied “you’re my mate.” But to Clay, it had never been so easy. Mate or no mate, Klaus abandoned him in favor of another man. So Clay surmised there must be more to it than that.

Clay saw something inside Ross, a hidden sorrow his mate refused to share. Ross always claimed he couldn’t remember a thing from his past, but Clay had known it was a lie even before the fire at the compound. At the same time, he sensed gentleness beyond Ross’s mask of deception, sweetness and a genuine desire for affection. Clay didn’t know if he could give his mate all that, but he wanted to try.

“Because I always follow my heart,” he replied, almost wincing at the corniness.

Ross didn’t laugh but gave him a sad look. “You shouldn’t. It will get you hurt.”

Clay wondered if he should tell Ross about his time at Klaus’s side. He’d refrained from doing so in the hope that, one day, Ross might meet Klaus and they could have the perfect bond Trent and Ash built with their own mates. A dream, and nothing more. One couldn’t force a person to love you. And besides, Ross himself didn’t seem to show any particular attraction to Clay. Beyond the gratitude and the occasional smile, Clay could have very well been traveling at a
Star-Crossed Mates

27

stranger’s side. He contented himself with the few kisses they’d shared at the compound and didn’t ask for more.

Still, it was not the moment to burden Ross with his own frustrations. “Maybe,” he replied. “Come on. It’s late, and we should get some sleep.”

“I guess your contact isn’t coming, huh?” Ross said with a sigh.

“Oh, well. I suppose I should have—”

A heavy groan interrupted Ross’s words. Clay would have panicked if at the same time he didn’t feel the overwhelming heat that marked the presence of his mate. So Klaus
had
come. Thank the Spirit Mother.

Klaus’s large form emerged from the shadows, rushing toward them. “Hurry inside,” Klaus whispered as soon as he reached their side. “I might’ve been followed. I think I dodged my pursuers, but I can’t be sure.”

For a few moments, Clay stared at the familiar features of Klaus’s face in disbelief. He realized he’d never actually expected Klaus would show up. Ross seemed just as gobsmacked, but then he let out a moan and swooned. Clay caught him just before he hit the ground and cursed as his mate started seizing. “Fucking hell. Help me.”

They rushed to carry Ross to the small room Clay rented for them to stay in. As soon as they deposited Ross on the bed, Klaus retrieved a small bag disguised under his coat and took a syringe and some vials out of it.

Clay frowned at his mate, insofar as he could while still holding Ross down. “What’s that?”

“Some of Blunt’s serum,” Klaus replied as he filled a syringe with the liquid. “The doctors made another batch deposited at the Magistrate’s Den. I managed to steal a couple.”

Clay was torn between relief and disappointment. Sure, he should have realized Klaus wouldn’t offer to claim Ross just like that. Clay himself didn’t mention it on the phone, for crying out loud. And after all, why wouldn’t Klaus’s persistent refusal to claim Clay extend over
28

BOOK: Star-Crossed Mates
13.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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