Jasper isn’t human anymore. No one can tell exactly what was done to him by the scientists who captured him, but he’s stronger, faster, and a freaking mess.
Frazer is the best person to help Jasper deal with his new reality. He was in Jasper’s place once, and now he’s a council assassin. They’re both human, yet not, and Frazer understands what that’s like. The fact that he’s attracted to Jasper and wants to climb him like a tree doesn’t have anything to do with it.
Really, it doesn’t.
Jasper has to face the reality of what having shifter DNA means, especially when he realizes there’s a good reason he’s so drawn to Frazer. Wrapping his mind around the fact that they’re mates is the easy part. The hard one is dealing with his new abilities.
And with the man calling himself a mutant who’s outing the labs to the country and trying to pull Jasper into a fight he doesn’t want anything to do with.
Jasper didn’t bolt out of the door, because it would have been overly dramatic, but he was sitting on the edge of the mattress of what had been his bed since he’d arrived at the warehouse, listening to Rocco tell him it would take some time for him to get used to his new body.
“And remember that you can come down here anytime you want or need,” Rocco said.
Jasper exchanged an amused glance with Preston, his best friend. Rocco had told him he could come back to the infirmary anytime he wanted at least a dozen times over the past few days. Jasper wondered if Rocco felt like he’d be an empty nester soon, as if his only kid was leaving for college. That would explain why he was behaving this way, but then he’d been protective of Jasper ever since he’d arrived at the warehouse.
It was understandable. Jasper had been human only a few months ago, until he’d been taken and experimented on. The world thought the labs had been closed, and that shifters and humans alike were free to live the life they wanted, but Jasper knew the truth, and he’d felt it on his own skin.
There would always be bad guys, and they weren’t very creative.
Jasper wasn’t entirely human anymore. He wasn’t sure what he was, but he was relieved he’d been freed and that he wouldn’t be forced to do things he didn’t want to do. He might have thick skin, heightened speed and hearing, and all that stuff, but that didn’t make him a fighter. He wanted nothing more than to curl up in his bed and go to sleep, and he knew he was lucky he’d been freed when he was. The council would never ask him to do something he didn’t want, which was a relief, because the people who’d captured him definitely had.
“Is there anything else you need to know?” Rocco asked.
Jasper licked his lips. “I don’t think so. I’ve already been shown the entire warehouse, so I know where everything is.”
“And you’ve been to your room?”
“I have. I promise I’ll be fine. And besides, I know where to find you if I need you, don’t I?”
Rocco didn’t look convinced. “Still. Maybe it would be better for you to stay in the infirmary a bit longer.”
Jasper was thankful when Jolyn intervened. “He doesn’t need to stay here. There’s nothing more you can do for him, and everyone in the warehouse will look out for him.”
That much was true. Jasper barely knew most of the council assassins, but he’d been staying with them for several weeks, and they’d become friendly faces. He had no doubt that soon they’d become family, the way Preston had when they were younger.
Because Jasper had lost his family.
He supposed he could visit them, and he’d called them after he’d been released, but how was he supposed to explain to his parents and his friends that he wasn’t human anymore? How could he make it so they wouldn’t worry about him when he was worried about himself?
Instead, he’d told his parents he’d been offered a job in another state and that he’d taken it. He’d have to visit eventually and possibly give them a better explanation, but for now, he was focused on healing and dealing with what had been done to him. There was enough horror and change in his life without adding his parents to that.
As for his friends, he still had Preston. Hell, he wouldn’t be here if Preston hadn’t been in his life. Preston was the one who’d found the lab where he was being held, then along with his mate and the other assassins, had freed him. Jasper would still be in a cage if it weren’t for them, and he’d always be grateful.
“Getting used to what happened to you isn’t easy,” Rocco insisted.
And he would know, since he’d been a council assassin, and almost all of them had been through what Jasper had. The only one who hadn’t was Julian, but from what Jasper had seen, that didn’t make him any less family to the others.
He leaned closer, ready to sprint for the door if Rocco didn’t let him go. “I realize it won’t be easy,” he said, looking Rocco in the eyes. “It hasn’t been until now, and it won’t be in the future. There’s no need for me to stay in the infirmary, though. You said there’s nothing more you can do for my body. Everything else is in my mind, and I can take care of that myself.”
“Maybe so, but this is a whole new life for you. You have a new home, a new family, people you’ve never been with before, and a new body you don’t know how to work with.”
Jasper looked down at his hands. Though his skin looked normal, it was anything but. He had no idea how the scientists had managed, but they’d changed him, and now his skin was tough, like a crocodile’s. Rocco had forbidden anyone to experiment on Jasper’s skin, something for which Jasper was grateful, but he was also curious to know how much damage his skin could take before it broke. It was probably something he needed to know, too, but for now, he just wanted out of the infirmary.
Rocco had been what Jasper needed when he’d first arrived. He’d given Jasper a safe place, and at the same time, he’d taken care of him. It had given Jasper the time and space he needed to wrap his mind around what had been done to him, and while he wasn’t sure he ever would entirely, it was time for him to take the next step.
If only he knew what the next step would be.