Ipaced back and forth on the shore, keeping my eye on the horizon where the boat would be coming from, ignoring the pain still stabbing me in my leg.
A small price to pay for being alive and getting another day with…her.
“You’re driving me mad,” River complained, but I ignored him. I hadn’t missed all his anxious tells that told me how desperate he was to see Syn either. He just had to be the ever stubborn bastard. Even after almost dying.
Finally, I heard it. A boat approaching from the distance. Soldiers all stood at attention, ready for danger. But I wasn’t worried. I knew it was her. It was like there was a golden string tethering us together and I could feel her getting closer.
Adrenaline was pulsing through me as the boat became clear, and I could see that it was, in fact, one of ours.
My wolf was dancing around inside me like a pup.
It was ridiculous how…happy I felt just thinking about seeing her again.
I’d known that I was falling for her. But having her ripped away from us like that…it had made me realize I was far past the point of falling for her. I was desperate for her. Obsessed with her. I needed her to be whole.
I glanced over to see that River was watching the shore just as avidly as I was, his body practically trembling in anticipation and tension. Like a livewire about to explode.
When the boat was just a half-mile out, I sprinted towards the dock, wincing at the limp to my steps that was more pronounced than ever. There was now a large indent in my leg, thanks to the blast, which had magical properties in it preventing complete healing. I’d been trying not to worry about if she’d think I was still attractive or not.
But I guess she had wanted me even with one leg, so what was another deformity?
She came out on the deck, and all worries and thoughts in general disappeared. I hungrily eyed her, taking in every feature. Her hair was longer, and she was thinner than she’d been that night before she’d been taken. There were more shadows in her gaze.
She was the most gorgeous creature I’d ever seen.
I was limping forward without thought, and she hopped off the boat the second it was close enough to the dock, much to Hendrix’s displeasure.
We crashed against each other, my arms snapping around her, I’m sure squeezing much too tight. But I couldn’t help it. Something inside of me snapped into place. The ache was gone. She was here.
My lips slammed against hers as I pressed her even closer to me, loving the soft moan as it passed from her lips to mine. Had she tasted this good before?
My teeth ached with the urge to bite her and claim her for mine forever. My heart was threatening to beat out of my chest, like a locomotive charging down a hill, out of control.
I realized it then. I was in love with her. That’s what this was. This desperate, aching, mourning for something outside of you to be yours. It was love.
She moved away from my lips and I chased her, eliciting a delicious giggle that I wanted to grab onto and put in my pocket.
I didn’t recognize myself. I’d been transformed from the teetotaling playboy that got blowjobs by the pool, to an obsessed being who found it hard to breathe when their mate wasn’t right next to them.
Mate. I rolled the word around on my tongue, loving how it felt. Would she freak out if I all of a sudden spat out that I loved her and then begged her on bended knee to let me bite her so I could be with her forever?
Not that I would ever be able to let her go again. She’d just have to get used to the forever part. Sneaking a glance at River and Hendrix, they were staring at her with the same rapt fascination and desperation that I was sure was written across my face.
They wouldn’t be letting her go anywhere either. The thought comforted me, because if anything, the events of the past few months had shown me that it might take all three of us to keep her with us.
As painful as that was to admit.
A pitiful sound came out of River’s mouth, half growl, half whimper. I smirked at him, squeezing her tighter against me…and he snapped.
In half a second, he was behind her, pulling her gently out of my arms and whirling her around to face him. He just stared at her for a long moment…and then he buried his face in her neck.
Syn’s eyes were wide, her mouth open in a cute little ‘o’ at his actions. I didn’t blame her; River had been so hot and cold with her that his behavior would have been completely shocking. She hadn’t seen him fall apart after we’d woken up in the rubble and realized she was gone.
“Um…hi,” she murmured, a small giggle escaping her even as a tear trailed down her beautiful face.
And then we were all giggling…or laughing, I should say. I definitely didn’t giggle…and just imagining Hendrix and River giggling had me laughing even harder.
The laughter, of course, was tinged with hysteria, but that was to be expected considering everything we’d been through.
I’d always considered myself a hopeful, positive person. It was the only way I’d survived when I lost my leg...or when my father had drowned me. But the last few months had brought on a darkness that I’d never experienced before. Losing Syn, thinking I might never walk again…I couldn’t see the end of the tunnel at points.
She was here, though. I could walk. I was fine.I muttered the reassurances to myself, hoping I would eventually feel better.
“She needs to eat,” Hendrix barked after the ridiculous laughter had subsided and River still hadn’t let her go.
A territorial growl ripped from River’s throat, stunning us all. Syn peered up at him, studying his features with a cocked head, before she stood on her tippy toes and brushed the softest, most tender kiss I’d ever seen on River’s lips.
I heard his hitched breath as her lips moved away, and he closed his eyes as if he were savoring the sensations he was experiencing.
I’d never been a particularly jealous person, at least not with my brothers, but I’d experienced flashes of it since Syn had come into our lives.
Right now though, I just felt fucking happy for my brother. That after being such a boarded-up mess for so long, he could experience this kind of happiness. That Syn could make him feel that way.
Hendrix, however, didn’t seem to be feeling quite so bright and shiny. He finally stormed over, grabbed Syn from River’s hold, and cradled her in his arms as he headed to the estate.
River glared after them, but Hendrix didn’t bother looking back at us.
“You’ll get plenty of time with her,” I murmured to River reassuringly, trying to hold back the strange, blind panic I was experiencing as she got further away from me. Like she was going to disappear again forever if I let her out of my sight.
As I hobbled after them, I wondered just how long I was going to feel like this.
* * *