Alex felt stupid… okay he didn’t feel stupid but she always managed to make him look stupid. And the fact that Riley had just ordered him up here to appease and/or suck up to her reminded him that it was a stupid idea.
“So… you’ve come here to make an official apology.” It wasn’t a question and not even a statement. She was mocking him.
“Because your boss told you to?”
He restrained himself from rolling his eyes. “Yes.”
“Good, then you can go.” She wasn’t even looking at him but rifling through some files on her desk.
“So you’re not… pressing charges?”
“No. Now get out.”
Alex stared at the impossible woman in front of him for a moment in disbelief. She was acting like they did not know each other.
“Keona…” he pleaded.
“I said you can go, Alex. Or has your hearing deteriorated along with your mind?”
Alex narrowed his eyes at her. She was such a bitch.
“I can hear you Alex.” There was not an ounce of emotion in the delivery of that sentence.
I stand corrected then. You’re a cold hearted bitch.
This time she lifted her eyes to meet him and smiled –an icy smile that bore no actual joy in it.
“This is who I am,” she said before getting up. “You can see yourself out. I have to do some routine checks.”
Alex didn’t stop her. Truth was, he did screw up and not just with the whole misunderstanding thing five years ago but also with what happened yesterday. He had thought that she was trying to murder the wolf on her operating table when she was trying to save its life.
The fact that he didn’t even know she was a certified canine specialist reminded him of his negligence to update himself on everyone back home. It was like they didn’t exist… and yet here she was –five years later and still angry at him.
Clenching his fist tightly, Alex decided, “What the hell. She’s mine and I’m not letting her have her way this time.”
He pushed the door of the shelter open and tried to follow her scent –except that there wasn’t any. It just occurred to him then that ever since he stepped into that shelter today, he hadn’t noticed her scent at all.
“Maybe it’s a new ability she perfected over the years,” he told himself with a shrug. Guess he’ll just have to find her the non-wolf way. It wasn’t hard. She was not too far away from the shelter, administering some sort of medicine to some of the wolves lying on the ground in an enclosed compound.
Alex heard his wolf howl in despair at seeing his kind caged up like that but the human part of Alex understood the reason behind it.
“I’m sorry buddy but our friends there are sick and this is to prevent them from running away before they fully recover,” he tried to soothe the animal as he walked into the enclosure. Even though those wolves were not Weres, he still held some sort of affinity to them and he felt their pain.
“Key…” he called softly, leaning against the gates, waiting for her to respond.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she replied curtly. “You’ve done what you need to do so go.”
Alex kept quiet; his eyes watching the way she soothed the wolf under her with so much care and tenderness. He actually felt a second of jealousy. How stupid was that? Getting jealous over a normal wolf? However, his own inner wolf seemed to think that wasn’t stupid.
“I’ve stayed away for five years Keona… and it hasn’t been easy.”
Keona remained silent; stroking the wolf beneath her gently as she administered an injection. The animal howled sadly and Alex could feel it’s’ pain.
Then he felt hers.
She was hurting inside and it was partly due to all the injured canines but part of it was also because he was standing there behind her; watching her and knowing that she was hurting. Keona always had a need to hide her emotions and Alex knew that she had exposed too much of her weakness to him once and he had crippled her.
Moving closer, he knelt down and wrapped his arms tightly around her. He didn’t see the tears, didn’t feel her body trembling but he could hear her cries inside his head, sense her shields dropping away…
“Shh… it’ll be fine honey, it’ll be fine,” he whispered, trying to soothe her.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the wolves perking their heads up as though sensing her distress. Busybodies.
“She’s mine. Keep your noses to yourself,” he warned, knowing how stupid he sounded seeing that they weren’t even Weres to begin with.
“Someone was doing tests on them Alex,” she whispered. “The wolves were stronger so they survived but the wolf dogs and the dogs suffered. I couldn’t save them all Alex. And the ones that I could save? They’re so scared of me… of anyone that they don’t even let me touch them unless I use my abilities to soothe them. And it’s exhausting…”
Alex held her closer, rocking on his heels slightly to calm her down. “I’m sorry…”
Keona let Alex hold her for a second longer before going rigid in his embrace.
“Leave me alone Alex,” she forced the words out. “I shouldn’t have even let you touch me.”
“I was just doing what another pack member would have done.”
She didn’t reply him and tried to move over to the next canine. But the atmosphere between them had chilled.
“Any other pack member would understand when I say leave me alone,” she warned, shrugging his hands off her.
For a moment Alex went completely still. He understood what she was implying –that she was the dominant between them, as she probably is amongst the pack. But Alex hadn’t been back in a long time to actually have a rank in the pack so her authority here –if she even had any –meant squat.
“I’m not leaving you alone. You’re my mate and you can’t run from that forever. So look at me,” he demanded. “Look at me!”
She turned reluctantly; her green eyes flashing angrily at him. “Don’t you dare use that word. You have no right. No right!” she lashed out.
“Do you want me to fight you down for those rights again? Huh? Coz I damn well can get you on your ass in five seconds flat, no doubt about that,” he challenged, knowing full well she would take the bait.
And she almost…
“Grow up Alex… we’re not kids anymore,” she sighed in resignation.
“I’m not the one still sulking here. I’ve grown up. I’ve gotten over whatever it was that you seemed to have misunderstood. And no, we’re not kids anymore… but you are. You are acting like one! You’re the one who needs to grow up!”
She tilted her face slowly; her eyes full of challenge and anger. “Run Alex,” she whispered, slowly getting up.
“What?” he asked obviously confused.
“Run me out or you can have no right to shout at me.”
Before she could even move, he was already out the gate; taking his tie and shirt off while in motion. Keona had no idea how he was undressing while running but she was interested enough to see that she slowed down just a little.
What a mistake.
He didn’t take off his boxers.