As Corey and Flip just find their way back together a grave danger threatens to tear them apart.
Nearly a year ago, Flip and Corey shared a passionate encounter. Or at least, Corey thought it was passionate. Since, Flip walked away, without even so much a glance back, he never could be for sure. All Corey did know for certain was he has a strong attachment to the Beta which can't be denied.
Flip yearned for Corey ever since they'd been together. But, Flip dare not act on his feelings. Flip has a secret. One so, dark, explosive and terrifying it threatens not only Flip but every Dire Wolf in the world.
Flip stood at the window in his living room and looked out into the night. All the while he wished he could curl up into a tight, little, ball then croak.
Okay, maybe he was being a tad melodramatic. He didn't want to keel over at that moment. He had way too much to do first. Too many debts that needed to be repaid. Too many sins for which to atone. Yet he wasn't exactly looking forward to starting the day either.
But that had been the same cycle he'd found himself stuck in ever since he'd been exiled and had left his home state of Ohio. It hadn't even stopped when he'd found a new place in Bishop's Dire Wolf pack.
Flip realized he should go see a psychiatrist. If anybody had emotional baggage that needed to be dumped, it was him, but doing so could come back to bite him in the ass. If the doctor were to every tell the Alpha what haunted Flip then it would be game over. Sure, psychiatrists weren't supposed to speak about what went on during their sessions, but Flip knew that rule would be tossed out when it came to him. Even his mere breathing put the entire community at risk.
Flip sighed, his breath leaving behind a foggy patch on the glass. If he possessed any decency at all, he would leave on his own. There were innocents who lived in their tiny town, many of whom happened to be children. Flip knew it was an asshole move on his part to put his own needs first. , yet, as always, fear overtook him and he knew he would never be able to hit the road.
In the short time he'd been in Holly, Michigan, Flip actually found some happiness and safety. More importantly, he found a place where he felt he belonged. He wasn't the weirdo gay guy or the freak who dressed differently. More so, he was seen as an asset and not a liability or as his grandfather had been so fond of saying, a leech on the rest of us.
Flip continued to stare outside even though there wasn't anything of worth to see. It was just the parking lot of his apartment building. All that was out there was several parked cars and the blacktop. There weren't even any lights. The only reason Flip could see as well as he did was because of his heightened shifter abilities.
Although it was technically the morning, it was so early, the sun hadn't come up yet. Flip had training that morning, and they always started before the damn roosters even opened their eyes. That was the only thing Flip hated about his new pack. The hours sucked. Then again, most soldiers probably worked that schedule. He'd just never had the honor of knowing that before.
He decided he may as well get dressed and head to the mess hall. He could have made his own breakfast to save on time, but he burned even toast, so all he had in his kitchen was some stale chips and half a jar of pickles, neither of which appealed to him at the moment.
He got dressed in his uniform then grabbed his gun. He only ran a passing hand through his floppy, dark hair. He would have taken time to really style it, but that would mean looking in the mirror, which was something he avoided at all costs. It would mean having to face himself, and he didn't think he'd ever be able to do that again. If it meant he had to go around sporting some cowlicks then so be it.
Even though it was the crack of dawn, the dining hall was filled when he arrived. He still couldn't believe it. He wondered to himself if the group of Dires ever frigging slept. As it was, he had to grab two cups of coffee, and he'd gone to bed early. Well...early for him. He did have to watch Lockdown the night before. He'd never missed an episode, and he damn sure wasn't going to now just because his new pack kept the same schedule as a nursing home.
Flip scanned the dining room, his fingers curling tightly around the tray. He hadn't gone out of his way to make any friends, so he had no idea where he'd be welcome to sit. While nobody ever was mean to him, he still felt wary when it came to being social. He'd stuck his neck out too many times and been smacked across the muzzle with a paper for it. He wasn't going to ever let that happen again.
Besides, he reminded himself, he wouldn't be around for much longer. There was no sense in making connections which would only have to be severed later on. He'd learned the hard way, saying goodbye hurt too damn much.
He finally found an empty table and took a seat. He'd just taken his first bite when somebody joined him. When Flip saw who it was, he almost choked on his pancakes.
Why did it have to be Corey?
Of all the Dires there, Corey was the only one with whom Flip had made any real bond, although Corey had no idea. After all, they'd only had one, quick fuck. They hadn't even really spoken since that night, so many months ago, yet to Flip it had meant so much.
Flip could never let the handsome Beta know that, though, not when Corey acted as if their encounter had meant nothing. That fact hurt a lot more than Flip wanted to admit, too., which was so stupid. It'd just been sex, nothing more. Flip never should have read anything into it.
"Imagine meeting you here," Corey drawled in that sexy way of his.
Corey was one of the two leading Betas. His brown hair was short, but it looked darker because it was wet. Even his long lashes looked a bit spiked from moisture, almost as if he'd just stepped out of the shower and had run to breakfast.
He was shorter than the Alpha and other lead Beta, but Corey still had several inches on Flip. The male also had several more pounds of muscles. They all looked good on Corey too. He appeared to be a well-trained killing machine, which wasn't far from the truth. That was exactly what Corey was. Flip knew since he'd seen the guy in battle. There wasn't much Flip didn't think Corey couldn't take down.
"Where else would I be?" Flip asked, trying his best to sound casual. "It is breakfast time."
Corey flashed a crooked smile. "Yeah, but you usually skip it."
Flip paused. "You noticed that?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't I?"
"Because I'm not one of your trainees. I work under Darien, so if anybody should know my schedule, it's him."
"Yeah, but Darien's been preoccupied lately, so it's only normal for me to pick up some of the slack for him." Corey pointed over Flip's left shoulder.
Flip turned around and saw his Beta. Darien was sitting with Blaze. He and the Omega had recently become mates, not in the Australian way either. They were officially seen as a couple by the pack. They looked so damn happy too. The way Darien stared at Blaze gave Flip a feeling of envy. How he would love to have somebody gaze at him that way.
But that was never going to happen, so he may as well stop whishing. It only made things worse for him. He needed to focus on the basics, like breathing and eating. So long as he had that going for him, then he was far better off than he had been just over a year ago.
Just thinking about that time made his insides curdle. He turned around and directed his attention back to his food, even though he no longer had an appetite, not that he planned on eating much to begin with. Corey had been right when he'd said Flip never ate breakfast. Usually he preferred to sleep or hide out in his apartment. Flip still didn't know why he'd even bothered to come to the mess hall this morning. Maybe it had been out of boredom or something. He was beginning to think he'd have been better off staying in and watching cartoons until it was time for him to show up at the training facility.
"I've never liked to eat so early," Flip replied, setting his fork down. "I usually just wait until lunch. I still don't get your pack's crazy schedule."
"It's your pack now too. Plus, all soldiers get up this early. We need to get some training in before we start patrolling. Who knows what kind of threat will be heading our way next," Corey pointed out.
Ugh, as if Flip needed to be reminded about danger. He'd almost died during the last attack. He still carried that shame with him. Blaze had almost been taken out by a demon, and it would have been on Flip's watch. If he couldn't protect an Omega, what good was he?
The simple answer was he wasn't any good. His last pack had made sure to beat that fact into his head. As soon as his new Alpha and Betas realized that, too, then they would kick Flip to the curb just like before.
"You shouldn't skip breakfast at all," Corey nagged. "With the training you're going through, you need as many calories as you can get. As it is, you guys can't keep up with my group."
"Thanks, just what I need, to be reminded that I'm slacking off," Flip groused.
As soon as he let that slip past his fat lips, he wanted the words back. He didn't need to remind Corey how shitty of a soldier he was. Then again, none of the trainees in Flip's group could hold a candle to Corey's Betas. Corey worked them hard, and it showed. They were much better at fighting, running, and marching. Meanwhile, Darien's Betas were lucky if they could make it through the beginning of the day without some sort of disaster.
Just a few days before, Miller, one of Darien's trainees, had managed to shoot himself in the ass. Of course it had been because the idiot had thought it would be a good idea to shove his gun down the back of his waistband. It was still a rooky move and not a thing a Beta who had several months of training behind him should do. Besides, it wasn't like Miller wouldn't recover. Not only did Dires heal fast, but their head Omega, Angel, was able to tend to any sickness or wound. All he had to do was touch somebody, and they got better quickly.
"It's not Darien's fault he got stuck with the losers in the pack," Flip said, feeling as if he should come to his Beta's defense.
Corey cocked a brow. It was something he did whenever somebody did something that displeased him. Damned if it didn't make Flip squirm a bit too. It was even worse given the fact Flip knew he was obviously already lacking in Corey's department when it came to sex. It was as if Flip failed on multiple levels.
"Darien is too easy on you guys. He's great when it comes to emotional, touchy-feely shit but not the best when it comes to beating you into shape," Corey said.
Flip hated to admit it, but Corey did have a point, not that he didn't respect Darien. Flip thought the world of the Dire. He'd always made a point of letting them all know he'd be there for them, no matter what, but they didn't fear him the same way Corey's trainees did.
"He's good to us," Flip argued.
He idly began to play with his food. He stabbed his pancakes so much they started to look more like mush. He didn't look up from his food, refusing to meet Corey's gaze.
"If you think you can do so much better that him, why don't you take on all of us?" Flip challenged.
"Actually, it's funny you should say that," Corey replied. "Bishop just gave the orders this morning. I'm taking over all the physical training of you guys."
That announcement came as a surprise. Flip even looked up as his lips parted in shock. At the same moment, his heart began to beat harder, and his breath hitched in his chest. That would mean there would be so many more opportunities for Flip to fuck up, not to mention all the awkwardness Flip already felt around the sexy guy.
"You're kidding," he said.
"Nope, Darien will still be going over battle tactics and stuff. He's also going to work with you guys on the shooting range, but other than that, you're now stuck with me." Corey took a long drink of his coffee. "Plus, he wants to start a new program for the Omegas. He thinks they need more organization and stuff."
Flip didn't know how he felt about the new situation. Part of him was secretly thrilled to know he'd be getting to spend some real time with Corey, yet Flip's stomach did a couple of somersaults at the thought of being so close to his crush. Flip just knew he'd say or do something stupid, then Corey would find out the truth, that Flip was nothing but a failure and a disappointment. That was, if he wasn't killed for putting the pack in danger first.
Corey nudged Flip's tray. "So you better eat. I plan on working you guys hard today. You're going to need to fuel up if you want to make it without passing out."
"Great," Flip muttered.
He did take some bites. The sweetness of the syrup almost made him sick, but he forced it down. He didn't want to start the day off by disobeying Corey.
Corey quickly finished his food then got up. He didn't bother to say goodbye. He simply nodded then left. Once again, Flip found himself sitting alone. Strange thing was Flip felt a twinge of disappointment, which didn't make any sense since he hadn't wanted any company to begin with. Then he realized it was because he actually hadn't wanted anybody but Corey.
Like it or not, Flip had begun to develop real feelings for the Beta. If Flip wanted to be really honest with himself, he'd had them for a long time, even before they'd hooked up that one time.
"Don't be stupid. The last thing you need is to end up getting hurt, which is exactly what will happen if you don't get your shit together," Flip whispered to himself.
He shook his head. Now he was talking to himself. Perfect. If he kept going down that route, he'd soon find himself in a padded room. Worse, he'd be under lock and key.
Then he wouldn't be able to run away from his past, which scared him more than anything. A shiver went through him, and he curled his hands into fists. He needed to think with his brain and not his dick. His life depended on him keeping his wits about him.
The problem was when he was around Corey, Flip tended to forget that fact, which was dangerous not only for him, but for the entire pack. Flip couldn't slip up, even if he did want Corey so badly that it almost hurt.