Home > Fated (Relentless #6)(17)

Fated (Relentless #6)(17)
Author: Karen Lynch

I ran for my bike, only to come up short when I saw it wasn’t where I’d left it. When I’d arrived, I’d been in such a rush to make sure Beth was okay that I must have left my keys in the ignition.

“She took my bike,” I said in disbelief.

Nikolas came up behind me. “What happened? She looked upset.”

Instead of answering him, I said, “I need your bike.”

He pulled out his keys and handed them to me without question. I muttered “Thanks” and ran to his Ducati. Pulling on his helmet, I started the bike and took off after Beth.

In a city this big, she could be anywhere, and the thought of her out there alone made a knot form in my gut. I had weapons on my bike so she wasn’t unarmed, but in her current state of mind, she might be too distracted to handle a threat. I sent up a silent prayer that she’d gone back to the command center, and I headed in that direction.

Her single word of denial replayed in my head, along with the image of her distraught face. Not that I could fault her for reacting like that with the way things were between us. Since the night we’d spoken, I’d been trying to think of how to earn back her friendship and her trust, but she’d blocked any attempt to talk about that again.

And now this.

I had nearly destroyed the grips on Nikolas’s bike by the time I reached the command center. When I rounded the back of the house and saw my Ducati sitting outside the garage, I let out the breath I’d been holding since I hit the driveway.

I parked and walked toward the guesthouse where a light shone from one of the windows. My Mori fluttered wildly when I got within a few feet of the front door, stopping me in my tracks for a long moment. Being able to sense her drove home the fact that we were bonded. I had to take a few steadying breaths before I stepped up and knocked on the door.

When no one answered, I enhanced my hearing and picked up muted voices at the back of the house. Beth shared the house with Mason, so it had to be him she was talking to. It made sense for her to confide in her best friend, but the thought of her in there with another male did not sit well with my Mori.


I raised my hand to knock again when I heard footsteps approaching the door. It swung open to reveal Mason’s scowling face.

He spoke in a low voice, not bothering to hide his displeasure at my presence. “She doesn’t want to see you.”

I wasn’t surprised she didn’t want to talk to me yet, but I hadn’t expected the stab of pain in my chest at her rejection.

“Is she okay?”

“I don’t know. She came home crying and won’t tell me anything.”

My gut clenched. “She’s crying?”

“Yeah. What did you do to her?” he asked harshly. “Haven’t you made her cry enough?”

“Fuck.” I raked a hand through my hair.

Mason’s scowl deepened. “You going to tell me what happened?”

It wasn’t like he wouldn’t know in a few hours, so I just came out with it. “Beth and I bonded.”

He blinked several times, and I watched his expression change from anger to shock to understanding. “Shit.” He glanced over his shoulder and looked at me again. “I don’t know what to say. You and Beth…”

I nodded. “Can you tell her I’m here when she’s ready to talk?”

He looked like he was about to say something and changed his mind. “I’ll let her know. I better go to her.”

The thought of him offering Beth comfort made me bristle with jealousy. We hadn’t been bonded an hour, and already I couldn’t stand the idea of another male with her, even her best friend.

I took a step back so he could shut the door. Instead of going to the main house, I walked over to the pool and sank down on one of the cushioned chairs. I held my head in my hands as I tried to process the enormity of what had happened.

For most of my adult life, I’d avoided intimacy with Mohiri women to lessen the odds of me bonding with one of them. It wasn’t that I was against mating. My parents were devoted to each other. I just hadn’t seen it as something for me. I’d figured if I ever met a potential mate, we would both go our separate ways and be done with it.

What I hadn’t counted on was Beth. Of all the Mohiri females in the world, I’d bonded with the only one I couldn’t walk away from.

My mind went back to that day at Longstone four years ago. I’d just come home after being away for the better part of a year. My parents had already moved to Germany, but I’d wanted to bring Beth the necklace I’d gotten her for her birthday. I’d promised her I’d be there for her sixteenth birthday, and I always kept my promises to her.

The knock came as I was toweling my hair dry from my shower. Entering the bedroom, I grabbed a T-shirt and pulled it on as I walked out to get the door.

I swung the door open and stared in confusion at the young blonde woman standing there with a smile lighting up her beautiful face. My eyes met her gray ones, and my breath caught as recognition hit me.

Recovering from my surprise, I pulled her into a hug, only to discover what else had changed about her. Gone was the lanky girl, and in her place was a young woman with lush curves and a delicate floral scent that made me want to bury my face in her silky hair. Never had holding a woman felt so right – and so wrong.

Shame slammed into me, and I ended the hug abruptly. Christ, what was wrong with me? This was Beth, not some woman I’d met in a bar.

“Look at you,” I said as I fought to compose myself. “You grew up on me. When did this happen?”

Her smile was radiant. “While you were running around the Amazon.”

I waved her in and escaped to the bedroom, where I spent the next few minutes mentally castigating myself for having a single impure thought about her. Sixteen was almost an adult, but this was Beth. My Beth. She was young and innocent, and no male should be thinking of her as anything else, least of all me.

Schooling my expression, I picked up the small tissue-wrapped box that contained the birthday present I’d bought Beth in Venezuela.

Beth was sitting on the couch when I went back to her. I smiled and held the box out to her.

“Happy birthday, Dove.”

I took the farthest seat from her as she opened her present. In the past, I’d think nothing of sitting beside her, but things had changed between us. No matter how much I willed it otherwise, I no longer saw Beth as a little girl, and it felt inappropriate to sit close to her now.

“I’m sorry I missed your birthday. But I hope this makes up for it. As soon as I saw it, I thought of you.”

I’d been walking through an outdoor market when I’d come upon a vendor selling handmade silver jewelry. I’d always picked up toys and souvenirs for Beth, but the moment I spotted a dove pendant on a thin silver chain, I knew I had to buy it for her.

Beth’s face flushed with pleasure as she lifted the chain from the box. “It’s perfect! I love it.”

“I thought you might. Put it on, and let’s see it.”

She stood and smiled sweetly, holding the necklace out to me. “Will you help me?”

I froze for several seconds at her request. I didn’t want to get that close to her, but to refuse her would only make her realize something was off. I went to her and clasped the chain around her throat, trying to minimize contact with her skin. I hated that the little touches that had been so innocent the last time I saw her now felt wrong.

Beth faced me, and I became all too aware of her proximity.

“How does it look?” she asked, glowing with happiness.

I backed up a step as if to get a better look. “Beautiful, just like the girl wearing it.”

I wasn’t expecting her reaction, and I could only stand there as she hugged me tightly around the neck.

“I love you, Chris,” she said breathlessly.

I closed my eyes against the sudden tightness in my chest. “Love you too, Dove.”

She gazed up at me, her eyes wide and guileless. “No, I mean I really love you.”

It took several seconds for the meaning of her words to sink in. I broke the hug as gently as I could and backed up a step, trying to figure out how to respond to her declaration.

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