Chloe struggles to rationalize why she strolled past two friendly police officers and calmly walked away with her kidnapper. The intense attraction she feels for Raff is confusing enough, but the sense of belonging she feels around all the guys has her second-guessing reality. Can getting abducted, being injected with experimental drugs, and told you are no longer human be the best thing to ever happen to a girl?
“Spare me the flowery words. Something happened. I can tell I’m different. I’m not saying I’m buying into your crazy stories, but I feel the need to stick around until I figure it out. That’s all.” I was emphatic.
“It’s the beginning of the pack bond.” He rubbed my leg again.
How could his touch be both incredibly annoying and wonderfully soothing at the same time? I felt weak for giving in and allowing my captivity to become self-enforced, yet I experienced such a sense of completeness when I was with the guys. “Stop trying to brainwash me.”
He removed his hand from my leg and placed it back on the steering wheel. I immediately felt the loss. A tortured sigh escaped his lips. “Even seeing isn’t believing with you.”
“I believe I woke up covered in blood and naked. That doesn’t prove I turned into an animal. The simplest solution is I hallucinated because you drugged me.”
“Does it feel different with me then it has with other men?” he prodded.
“What?” I snorted. “You need an ego boost?”
“Our connection is more than physical. Admit it.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, hugging tightly. My gaze strayed outside the window. I was finding it increasingly difficult to make eye contact.
“You’re embarrassed,” he accused.
I shook my head, more to chastise myself then to deny his words. I refused to rise to the bait and hand away any more of my soul than I had in the diner. Raff jerked the car to the side of the road and threw it in “park.” It appeared he wasn’t going to leave me with any dignity.
“Do you feel how deep our connection is?” He faced me and leaned in. His presence in the car grew, and I was like a caged animal.
“What do you want from me?” I screamed in his face.
“For once? How about the fucking truth, Chloe?” He reached for my hand and placed it over his heart. I could feel it beating wildly. My own traitorous heart raced to match the flutter. “This heart beats for you. I’m not a true alpha without you. This is not a pack without you. You are my mate. I will never feel complete without you. Please stop pretending this thing between us isn’t real. You’re just hurting us both. Admit you feel the same things.”
“You don’t get it!” I yanked my hand back. “I do feel it. I’m not just embarrassed. The better word would be ashamed. I just walked away from my freedom! You took my life away from me. You changed me without my permission. God help me, but I do feel complete with you, and it is pissing me off! How dare you be everything I want! Any woman with an ounce of pride would have run. I stayed because the thought of leaving you and the guys was unbearable.” A dam of tears burst. “I’m ashamed of myself. I should be stronger. I should be fighting harder. I shouldn’t be a willing captive.”
My sobs turned ugly. I struggled to breathe as I buried my face in my hands. The sound of my seat belt unclicking was followed by strong arms engulfing me. Raff drew me across the bench seat till my head rested on his chest. I continued to gulp in air during my soul-shattering keening. Raff made soothing noises and stroked my hair. The deep sense of mourning vanished as his body warmth seeped into me.
“I’m sorry,” his voice shook with emotion. “It was a shit thing to do to you. I couldn’t see past the survival of our kind. It’s not fair to expect you to embrace it all. I don’t want you broken, darlin’. I love your fire. I wish I could give you the choice, but what I did can’t be undone. We are part of each other now. It’s only gonna’ get stronger.”
The confession of my shame was at least cathartic. I was able to pull myself together and lean back. “Where does that leave us then? A part of me still wants to hate you.”
Raff flinched but nodded his understanding. “Your resentment is warranted. I’m hopeful it will lessen in time. Hate and love are the most powerful emotions, yet in our case the line between them is blurry. Our mate bond and the pack bonds are going to make you want to love.”
“You see how messed up this is, don’t you?”
I slid back over and refastened my seat belt. “Then you’ll understand why I will need to make you work for it.”
A strangled sound between a laugh and groan echoed in the truck cab. “I’d expect nothing less.”