Tony is hiding. He might have managed to escape from the people who were torturing him, but while his body has healed, his mind hasn’t. The memories haunt him, and he can’t trust anyone, not even his dearest friends.
How can he trust his mate?
Sam didn’t expect to find his mate in the council assassins. He’s always been wary of the profession, even though both his parents and his siblings have made it a family business. He can’t entirely avoid them, though, just like he can’t avoid his mate when he meets him.
Tony has no idea how to deal with having Sam in his life when he can’t even allow his mate to come close to him, but thankfully, Sam isn’t easily pushed away. No matter how slow their progress is, he’s not going anywhere.
Will Tony be able to heal from the trauma when the people who hurt him are still out there and a threat to him and the people he considers his family? Or will he have to do something radical to make sure he and Sam have a future together?
Tony wanted to go back to the warehouse. That was impossible since it had been compromised, but he needed his own space. He loved Miles and his family and the fact that they’d welcomed him when he needed a place to stay, but this wasn’t his home.
Tony was a burden, but he supposed he always would be from now on. He didn’t think he could be a council assassin anymore, not after what had happened to him. He’d been captured and tortured, and this was the result. Tony was terrified of everything and anything, and he doubted that would change anytime soon.
A knock on what was now his bedroom door made him jump. “Tony?” Miles called out.
Tony forced himself to relax. Miles was his best friend. He wouldn’t hurt him, and Tony knew that. His mind and body didn’t share that opinion, though. Since he’d come back, he was even afraid of Miles. He loathed feeling like this, but no matter how many times he told himself he shouldn’t, it didn’t make a difference. “Yes?” he answered.
“Are you ready?”
Tony swallowed. As much as he disliked being a burden for Miles and his family, he also didn’t want to leave this house. It had been a safe place for him since the warehouse had been attacked. He and the others couldn’t go back to it, but they’d found a new place to turn into a home, and today, they’d started moving in.
Tony felt he shouldn’t be. He’d been a council assassin for years, but he couldn’t be one anymore. He couldn’t go on missions, not when he was afraid of his own shadow. Did he really deserve a room in the warehouse? The assassins had been his family for a long time, and they still were. That didn’t change the fact that Tony couldn’t continue working with them. He wasn’t sure where that left him. He didn’t have a life outside the assassins, and he didn’t want one. He wanted to be alone as much as he wanted to be with his friends, but that wasn’t possible, either.
“Tony?” Miles asked again.
Whatever decision Tony made, he couldn’t ignore Miles. It wouldn’t be fair, not when Miles was more like his brother than his friend, not when he’d been the one helping and supporting Tony since he’d come back.
Tony cleared his throat. “I’ll be right there,” he promised.
There was a pause before Miles answered. “You don’t have to come today if you don’t want to. We’re just starting to move things, but we’re not actually moving in apart from a few of us.”
Tony bristled. “I said I’d be right there,” he snapped. He pressed his lips together. He’d been snapping too often, pushing away the only people who cared about him. That needed to stop, but he wasn’t sure how to make it stop. “I’m sorry. I’m coming, though.”
“All right. I’ll be waiting for you downstairs. Take your time.”
Tony hated all of this. He wanted to go back to his old life, to a time when he wasn’t afraid of his own shadow. Miles was the only one who knew how bad things had become, and Tony didn’t want to be exposed that way to the others. They were his family, and they wouldn’t care, but this wasn’t their job.
It was more than that, though. Tony didn’t want the others to see him this way and realize he couldn’t be part of their family anymore, but he also didn’t want to be vulnerable. Being in a new warehouse, leaving the bedroom he’d been in since he’d arrived at Miles’s parents’ house, meant exposing himself to danger. It meant someone could kidnap him the way they had on his last mission.
He still had nightmares about it.
But he couldn’t stay where he was. This wasn’t his home, and Miles’s parents had already done more than enough for him. They deserved to have their home back to themselves.
Even though it cost him a lot, Tony got to his feet. He looked around, but there was nothing else he needed to do in this bedroom. He only had a few things from the warehouse he and the other assassins had lived in. He’d been wounded and in pain when he’d left, and he didn’t have the energy to go back. Miles had grabbed him a few more things, but everything fit into one backpack, and Tony had already packed it. He snatched it from the end of the mattress and hauled it onto his shoulder, then turned to the closed bedroom door.
He stood in front of it, breathing deeply. He could already feel a hint of panic growing in his chest, but he couldn’t give in. He needed to do this, and he needed to appear calm and in control as he did it. He sucked in a breath, then, with a trembling hand, he reached for the door handle.
Miles had said he was going downstairs, but instead, he was in the hallway, waiting for Tony. He was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, and he smiled when he saw Tony. His smile faded a few seconds later, though, and Tony knew he hadn’t done a good job hiding his feelings.
“What’s going on?” Miles asked.
Tony hesitated. He didn’t want to tell Miles what he’d been thinking, but Miles would push. That was just the kind of person he was. “I’m nervous,” he finally admitted, even though that was far from being the entire truth.
Miles slowly nodded. “I see. What are you nervous about?”
“What aren’t I nervous about? I’m nervous about everything, Miles.”
“You’ll be safe. I called Win, and the security system is already in place. We have several generators this time, so no one else will be able to sneak in or attack. It’s a fortress.”
“Julian isn’t who I’m worried about,” Tony pointed out.