For Jeremy, being awake and aware again is a miracle. He’s been in a walking coma for years, and knows his recovery could be temporary. No one knows why the medicine worked, or how long he’ll have before a possible relapse. Jeremy plans his days only hours ahead and can’t make commitments further out than that just in case.
Which is why he absolutely cannot have a mate. He won’t force someone else to live with him while he’s being a zombie again. It wouldn’t be fair.
Ansel knows he’s Jeremy’s mate. He’s known it for years, and he helped take care of him when he was in Florida. Now he’s traveled to Washington to be with him and no matter what happens to Jeremy, Ansel is prepared to stay by his side. Ansel loves him, he only wishes that Jeremy would take him seriously for once and stop pushing him away.
Jeremy really hated to give himself shots. He knew he had to take the injections daily. They really weren’t such a big deal, and he shouldn’t stress over them. He even understood why he needed to, and how they kept him from potentially relapsing and becoming what amounted to a living zombie, trapped inside of himself because of damage to his brain after his father’s abuse. His doctor, Heidi, said it was simple to do. But when he was lying there on the couch with his head and feet propped up and his stomach exposed, it really didn’t feel all that simple. It fucking scared him. Jeremy hated needles. He hated that he’d be doing this for the rest of his life.
“Do you want me to give it to you today?” asked Morris, his little brother, from the couch across from where Jeremy lay. Morris was stretched over his mate’s lap, and Harrison looked to be heavily involved in whatever movie they were all watching. Jeremy knew that was a lie. Harrison was always focused on Morris, and when Morris was focused on Jeremy, so was Harrison. It was sweet, in a way, if a bit overprotective.
Jeremy shook his head and took a deep breath. It was just one little shot. He’d been having to do this for a week so far. But this wasn’t getting any easier as the days wore on. He was just anticipating it more, and he hated the little bruises he got over his belly from each burning, painful shot.
“Oh, just let me!” Morris said, starting to get up.
“No.” Jeremy pinched a bit of stomach fat and forced himself to push the needle in. It sucked and hurt, but it was better than his little brother having to do it for him. As he pressed the plunger, he looked over at Morris. “I take care of you, not the other way around.”
Morris scowled. “You’ve been all but brain dead for years! Let me help you now that I actually can!” When Morris moved again to get off the couch, Harrison interfered. He didn’t say anything as he wrapped his arm around Morris’s midsection, but his point was clear enough, and it only took Morris a few seconds to settle back on his lap. “I could help,” Morris said with a pout.
Jeremy pulled his shirt back down and got up to go drop the needle into the sharps container with the rest of them. “I know you could, but I’m not going to be living here forever. Eventually I’ll need to do the shots on my own.” Jeremy strolled into the kitchen to get himself a drink of iced tea, while he was up.
“What do you mean you won’t be living here forever?” Morris sounded almost frantic. “Where are you moving? And when? And why?”
Jeremy came back to the living room, stared at Morris for a few seconds, then looked to Harrison. “He’s not serious, right?” Jeremy asked, pointedly ignoring Morris.
Harrison chuckled and rubbed Morris’s back. His little brother looked tense, ready to spring across the living room in a second if given enough reason. “Morris, hon, at some point, Jeremy is going to move out and get his own place.” Harrison’s tone was placating and did nothing to soothe Morris, who glared at them both.
“What if you relapse?” Morris demanded.
They all knew it was a very real possibility. His shots were not an instant cure. Heidi had told them to be careful and not expect miracles. Jeremy wasn’t allowed to drive, travel, or do anything where it would be bad if he suddenly lost consciousness. That left him walking around their house, always with Morris or Harrison present, or being laid up on the couch most of the time. “You can’t worry about me forever,” Jeremy quietly told his brother.
But Morris was stubborn. He got it from their father. It was one of the better things Morris could have taken from the man. “Yes, I can.”
Jeremy just smiled and shook his head. There’d be no convincing Morris on his own. He’d need Harrison’s help to make sure Morris figured out that at some point they were going to want some privacy in their mated life.
He’d be moving on soon, whether his brother understood or not. Morris was newly mated, and he deserved to have his privacy with Harrison. Jeremy was tired of feeling like he was getting in the way of their relationship all the time.
The sound of a vehicle pulling up in front of the house drew his attention to the large bay window and the yard beyond. The car was a rental with a small company logo in the corner of the window. It was sleek and impractical. Jeremy watched the man get out of the car with suspicion. There was something familiar about him, though how he’d know anyone who looked like they were barely twenty was a mystery. The young man shuffled when he walked and seemed uncertain about something.
“Are either of you expecting company?” Jeremy asked, continuing to study the man.
Apparently stuck halfway between the house and his car, the man was looking at his phone, as if checking something. His handsome face was drawn in concentration, and he looked more than a little confused.
Morris came to lean over Jeremy. “I have no idea who that is.”
Harrison didn’t get off the couch.
Jeremy didn’t blame him. He was comfortable where he was, too.
“I’ll go talk to him and see what he wants,” Morris offered. “Maybe he’s lost.”
“Don’t get kidnapped,” Jeremy teased, making Morris laugh.
“Might be interesting to see someone try to kidnap him if Morris was actually an elephant at the time.” Harrison grinned from the other couch. “Of course I don’t want my mate kidnapped, but someone trying to kidnap him and then getting a face full of angry African Elephant might be kind of hilarious.”