“What do you mean he’s gone?” Evan Ainsley’s heart dropped into his stomach. He could feel the blood drain out of his head, leaving him lightheaded. Evan reached out, pressing his hand onto the wall, just barely keeping himself upright as the doctor’s words sank in.
This couldn’t be happening. It just couldn’t. Why did this keep happening to him? Since the young age of seven, Evan had been told way too often he wasn’t wanted, but even he hadn’t thought it would come from his own mate.
It had been humiliating enough to have his mate refuse to see him, but having him walk away as if Evan didn’t matter…He put his hand to his chest, sure he’d feel a gaping hole where his heart was supposed to be.
Yet there was no hole, no indication of any kind that anything was wrong or out of place. All around, people went about their day as if everything were completely normal. The strong antiseptic the hospital used still burned his nostrils as it had since the first day they’d arrived. The gleaming white walls were just as bright as always, causing his eyes to water. And then someone was talking on the speaker overhead just loud enough to be annoying yet not so loud as to be called blaring.
It was as if this were any other day. Yet as Evan stood there, staring dumbly at the doctor and nurse who told him the news, his whole world was falling apart.
He wished this were some sort of bizarre nightmare, but Evan had learned one thing in his life—his luck just wasn’t that good.
Just as quickly as the blood had left his head, Evan felt it rush through his veins, heating his cheeks in equal parts embarrassment and anger. The pain of being left once more, especially with the cowardly way Slash had done it, enraged him.
But knowing that he was showing how affected he was by Slash’s actions had him embarrassed. He’d promised himself that no one, not even his friends, would ever know the pain he endured at being abandoned. It helped that he hadn’t told anyone what had happened.
His stomach rolled at the implications of the one person that fate had made just for him not wanting him either. Forcing the nausea down, Evan had to face the harsh reality of the situation.
Slash had left him.
What was wrong with him that no one seemed to ever want him?
The doctor cleared his throat as if uneasy with Evan’s question. “We don’t know. His physical therapist, Trevor, was working with him using the prosthesis. After the session, Trevor said Slash just got up and walked out of the hospital.”
A tablet with the video of Slash walking out the front door of the hospital and getting into a taxi was thrust into his hands.
“We’ve contacted the Alpha since Slash wasn’t cleared to leave, but Alpha Raak hasn’t heard from him.”
The doctor sounded almost robotic as if he were just giving Evan general information instead of telling him his mate abandoned him. Evan nodded absently, not lifting his gaze from the loop of Slash walking away from him and getting into a taxi. When the screen went blank and the doctor tucked it back in his coat pocket, Evan came out of his stupor.
Already feeling humiliated by refusing to leave even when Slash had demanded Evan not be allowed in his room, Evan somehow managed to find some bit of his pride. It might hurt, but it was time to get some shred of his dignity back.
He shook the doctor’s hand. “Thank you for taking such good care of my mate.” Head held high, Evan left the hospital.
From the beginning, his mate had rejected him. He barked out a laugh at the absurd series of events that led him to this point. If others gave him odd looks, he ignored them as he passed through the doors of the hospital. Blinking against the strong rays of the sun that hadn’t seemed to get the memo that his world was crumbling beneath his feet and that it shouldn’t be shining so brightly, Evan headed to the parking lot, dejected.
Slash hadn’t even met him and the man still found something so unlovable about Evan that he stayed away. Sure, Slash had been on an assignment for the Outback Territory at the time, but Evan was his mate. Shouldn’t that have meant…something to the man, at least enough to say hello?
It was weird, but when Slash had heard he’d need to have his leg amputated, he’d thought his life was over. Yet, as he stood there with his mate leaning back against Slash’s chest listening to basically the same prognosis with Evan’s arm, all he could think of was how thankful he was that his mate was alive. Evan may not actually lose his arm, but losing the ability to hold a gun or throw his knives would feel just as crippling to him.
It helped to put Slash’s injury into perspective. It also helped to drive home what an ass he’d been. Instead of being thankful he was alive and had found his mate, Slash had only looked at the negative.
He knew Evan was doing the same and somehow Slash had to find a way to pull his mate out of the funk he was falling into. Unfortunately, Evan wasn’t making it easy for him, not that he’d expected any different from his wildcat.
Slash thanked the gods that Evan’s friends were willing to help him get through to his mate, or he might never have known Evan’s plan to head to Stone Haven without him. If Evan thought that leaving Slash behind would stop him from hunting his mate down, Slash was only too happy to teach his wildcat just how determined Slash could be.
But with Evan’s friends helping him, Slash was already on the aircraft before Evan boarded. Annoyance flashed in Evan’s blue eyes when he saw that Slash was already seated when he boarded, but Slash hadn’t missed the relief Evan hadn’t been able to hide right away.
His feisty mate needed him. Happy to be making some headway, even if he only saw it on the camera he had hidden in Evan’s room, Slash didn’t complain when Evan took a seat as far from Slash as possible.
But the moment they were in the air, Slash moved, plopping down right next to the man who was easily stealing Slash’s heart. “I get you still can’t forgive me, but please let me help you through this.”
His mate stiffened. “Why? So you can leave me again?”
Ouch. His mate sure knew how to hit him where it hurt. Maybe he deserved it. Yeah, okay, he definitely deserved it, but that didn’t mean Slash wasn’t going keep being Evan’s punching bag.
He cupped Evan’s cheek and forced his little spitfire to look at him. “Understand this. I am your mate, and I’m not going anywhere. So get used to it.”
Evan gave a snort of derision. “Until you decide something else is more important than me. Then you’ll just take off again.”
If Slash thought he could do it, he would kick his own ass for hurting Evan so deeply. All he could do was prove over time he wasn’t going to leave Evan. “Never going to happen.”
He should have just left it at that, but Slash had never been one to back down from what he wanted, and at that moment, all he wanted was to kiss his little spitfire. Leaning forward he took Evan’s mouth, demanding to be let in. But instead of feeling his mate’s soft lips parting under his onslaught, Slash felt the sharp point of one of Evan’s daggers pressing into his cock. Anger and, if Slash wasn’t mistaken, desire poured from Evan’s blue eyes.
“Give me a reason to make sure you and I never mate.”
Damn, but his mate was seriously turning him on. Having his dick get even harder when the tip of a knife was already painfully pushing against it helped to rein in his lust. “Not true, my mate. You could always fuck me.” He had no doubt that Evan would never hurt him, which is probably the reason Slash felt it okay to keep taunting his mate.
Lust flared in Evan’s eyes. The scent of his mate’s arousal was heady. Slash’s lion roared in his head to claim their mate once and for all, but Slash knew that wasn’t going to happen—yet. So he settled for inflaming his mate’s desire even more. “I look forward to the day that you slide your thick cock deep in my ass and make me yours.”
Saying that was odd because Slash had never imagined wanting to bottom for anyone, but for his mate, he’d do anything. Hell, his prick was rock hard just thinking about it.
The entire aircraft filled with the sweet scent of his mate’s lust. Evan’s pupils were dilating. As if he had no control, Evan leaned forward as if to kiss Slash.
“We are five minutes from Stone Haven. Please take your seats,” the pilot said over the intercom.
Evan blinked, and the lust that had been evident in the man’s eyes was gone. Slash wanted to roar his displeasure at having the moment ruined. Dismayed, he watched Evan pull away from him.
“We both know that’s never going to happen. Now leave me the fuck alone.”