Elliott has been through hell—not only was he sold to the Glass Research Company, but the company then sold him to a man who wanted a sex slave. Elliott was freed, but now, more than a year later, he’s still fighting with the memories. He spends most of his time hiding in his parents’ house and texting the few friends he has, until he decides his life needs to change. The first step? Moving in with Mal, one of his best friends.
Craig freed Mihaja from the lab. Mihaja went back home to Madagascar, but being there isn’t for him anymore. What he went through changed him, and he goes back to the only home away from home he knows—Gillham. There he meets his mate, Elliott, who tells Mihaja what happened to him even before they realize what they are to each other.
Mihaja knows Elliott will need time and care to heal, and he doesn’t mind being the one giving it to him. He, Elliott, and Mal move in the house Mihaja was supposed to move into alone, and Elliott starts to heal, but he is his own enemy. Elliott wants too much too fast. What will happen when he pushes too hard?
Elliott ignored the way his mother was hovering by his room door and kept his eyes on his book. Maybe she’d think he really was reading rather than trying to make her think so.
She knew him too well, though. “Elliott...”
Elliott sighed and put his book on his lap. “Yes, Mom?”
She looked at the open window, then back at him. “Why don’t you go outside for a bit? It would do you good, instead of always being in your room.”
Gosh, how Elliott wished he had his own house in moments like these. He knew his mom meant well, and she’d probably had enough of him moping for the rest of her life, but it didn’t change what he felt. “I’m fine here.”
She took Elliott’s answer as a come in. How, he didn’t know, but she walked to his bed and sat on it, careful not to touch him. Elliott was grateful for that, because he never knew how he’d react when someone touched him. He usually was fine with family and close friends, but he couldn’t be sure. “I know you think you’re fine, but are you really?” she asked.
“Of course I’m not, and you know it.”
“It’s been more than a year, Elliott.”
Elliott gritted his teeth. “Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I remember exactly when it happened?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Of course that’s not what you meant. You never mean anything, yet you always manage to make me feel like crap.”
Elliott’s mother pressed her lips together. He knew she’d have cried if he’d talked to her like that a year ago, but now she was used to it. He hated it, because he really didn’t mean to hurt her, just like she didn’t mean to hurt him. They always ended up doing just that, though.
“Talk to me, honey. Please.”
Elliott shook his head. He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to think about it ever again, yet he was forced to. Gentry wanted him to talk, to remember, and Elliott hated it, but he knew it was necessary. Gentry was helping him, and he was a friend. There was no way Elliott could talk about what had happened to him to his mother, though.
Elliott’s mom sighed. “You know what Gentry said.”
“Yes, he said that it would do me good to talk about it, and I do. Just not with you.”
“You need more friends than just Gentry.”
“I have more.”
Elliott’s mother arched a brow. “You do? And who are they?”
Elliott quickly raked his brain for names. “Mal. Uh, Simon. Merle.”
“You haven’t seen Simon and Merle in months, Elliott. You can’t say they’re friends, and you barely know Mal.”
“Just because he’s new doesn’t mean I don’t know him. Besides, he’s been here for months.”
“And you’ve seen him what? Two times?”
It had actually been only one time. Elliott was the first to admit he didn’t get out much—or at all, really. He went to the alpha’s house to see Gentry, but that was all. He sometimes saw Merle, Mal, and Simon there, because they talked to Gentry, too, but that was all. He had taken Mal’s phone number when Mal had offered it to him, though, and they talked about everything. Well, they texted, but it was the same, and more important, it was safe. Elliott loved their texts, and he didn’t know what he’d do without them. They’d gotten to the point where they texted every day, most of the day, and it made Elliott feel less alone.
“So? I can have friends even if I don’t actually talk to them. That’s what phones and internet are for.”
“You know those aren’t real relationships, honey.”
Elliott slammed his book on his nightstand. “They are!”
His mother raised her hands, and Elliott felt guilty when he saw the hint of fear in her eyes. “I didn’t mean any harm, Elliott.”
Elliott breathed heavily and swallowed. “I know.”