I bolt upright, jolting awake with knowledge that something is wrong. Very.
I know it and even more than me, my wolf knows it. His energy sparks and crackles in my blood along with the fierce urge to get home. Immediately.
I just don’t yet know why.
The sleeping redhead beside me stirs and I’m hit with a sense of revulsion.
It’s a strange thought. She’s gorgeous. She’s why I stayed in town tonight. The banter. The laughs. The booze. Slow dancing with her pressed against me, looking up at me with doe eyes while stroking my chest. She followed me back here to my motel and we fucked for hours. And it was good. Good enough I let her talk me into making plans for tomorrow.
But now? The scent of me on her strikes me as wrong, though not quite as wrong as the scent of her on me.
The digital clock on the night table tells me I’ve only slept a couple hours, but this won’t wait. I know, bone deep, that I need to find out what the fuck is going on at home. My council co-alphas and I have a connection. We feel one another’s distress and adrenaline spikes. When we’re close, we feel it vividly. The fact that I’m hours away and feel it means that whatever is happening, it’s big.
Her eyes open. A smile spreads halfway across her face at seeing my eyes on her before it halts, and her brows lift in question.
I need out of here. Need to know what’s up. But first, I need her scent off me. Inexplicably. Urgently.
“Mason?” she asks.
I stride to the bathroom without answering.
Scalding water, soap, scrubbing, more scrubbing. The shower curtain moves. She’s about to get in with me, so I turn the water off before she drops the sheet she’s wrapped in.
“Hey, sweetheart, you okay?” she inquires, reaching out as if she’s about to touch me.
“Gotta go.” I wrap a towel around my waist, then move past her.
I dry quickly, haul my jeans up, get my shoes on, then throw on a t-shirt and begin to shove the tangle of clothing on the chair into my gym bag before I grab my electronics and head back to the bathroom for my shaving bag.
“Why?” She stands by the bathroom, still wrapped in the bedsheet, on the verge of losing her temper.
This isn’t going to go well.
“I need to go,” I repeat.
“What’s the matter?”
I feel disconcerted. I shake my head while I shrug my coat on. “Intuition. Don’t know what; just gotta get home.”
It’s a good thing the situation that brought me to this town is resolved. I can go with a clean conscience.
“We had plans tomorrow,” she says, sounding hurt.
Except for that. We were going on a hike and a run together.
“I need to go,” I say again, feeling irritated at having to repeat myself.
“What is it?” She grabs my biceps. This makes the sheet fall. And seeing her nude, I feel nothing.
Her face changes. She senses something has shifted between us. And it has. I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know I’m gonna get my ass home so I can find out.
“Can’t explain. Just a feeling. I have the room until eleven. Stay. Whatever.”
She steps back. “Oh. It’s like that,” she spits, ticked. “Should’ve known better.”
She lifts her hand. “Shoulda known. Broke my own rule. Like you just said, Mason … whatever.”
She stares expectantly and when I don’t reply, because I have no clue what to say, she spins and storms to the bathroom, the slamming of the door making the cheap art hanging on the walls in here rattle.
She told me she didn’t date alphas who had never mated. She lost her alpha mate a few years ago and said she wouldn’t typically spend time with someone like me, someone unmated because she didn’t want to get attached only to have her heart broken because I’d find my mate after she developed feelings. It’s not the first time I’ve heard it, either.
We’ve all either experienced or seen it – a couple splitting suddenly because one of them found their true mate. We’ve had women shy away from unmated alphas, because though alphas can develop feelings, have relationships with anyone, when they find that one person, that one trumps all others.
I told her I had no plans to leave my pack, made it known I was only here a few days and was down to have a good time. Nothing more. She knows I’m a council alpha in the Arcana Falls pack. In no way did I lead Renee down the garden path.
If she wanted more than just a night of fun, why the fuck would she hook up with an unmated alpha from another pack? The pack I’m part of, our reputation, not to mention our conversation before we left that bar – she knew this was all it was gonna be.