Mal isn’t the only human in the Gillham Pack, but he is the only unmated one. He knows most members view him as an outsider for that, but he has his friends, and it’s enough for him. That’s what he tries to convince himself of anyway.
Will still isn’t over Heath, even though his ex-boyfriend mated with Jayden nine months ago. It’s not only the fact that Heath mated that hurts him. Heath lost his memory, and he doesn’t remember Will and the years they had together. Will knows it’s not Heath’s fault, but he still keeps his distance, even if that means staying away from the only family he has.
Will and Mal crash into each other and Will immediately realizes what Mal is to him. The distance between their homes put a strain on their budding relationship, as does the reappearance of Mal’s abusive ex-boyfriend, and the ever-present danger of the new council trying to get rid of the pack. Will they be able to find solutions to their problems or will one of them finally tear them apart?
Mal opened the kitchen door and entered, hurrying to close it behind himself. It was raining, and he wondered once again why he’d thought coming to live in Wyoming was a good idea. It was only September, and it’d been raining for three days. Elliott had told him it was exceptional, but Mal wasn’t sure he believed him. Not that Colorado had been better, of course, but he could have moved to California, except for the fact that his best friend, Arlen, now lived in Gillham.
“Anyone home?” he yelled after taking his jacket and shoes off and leaving them to dry on the porch just outside the kitchen door.
There was a crash, then someone stumbled in the hallway. Elliott appeared at the door, his hair mussed, his lips reddened, and Mal rolled his eyes. “Sorry I interrupted.”
Elliott blushed. “You didn’t.”
Mal arched a brow and pointedly looked at Elliott’s T-shirt. He was wearing it backward—and inside out. Elliott looked down at himself and pressed his lips together. “Sorry.”
Mal shrugged. “‘S fine. I’d say I could leave, but it’s raining.”
“I’ll go to my room. Try not to make too much noise, and if any bodily fluids end up on the couch, I’ll kill you both in your sleep.”
Elliott became an even deeper shade of red. “We’re not—it’s not—”
Mal laughed and shook his head. “Whatever. Just don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
He skipped out of the room and ignored the living room as he passed by it. He bounced up the stairs and into his room—only then did he allow his real mood to seep out. The smile on his face faded and his head drooped. He shook it and pushed his damp jeans down his legs, abandoning them on the floor and collapsing on the bed.
He stayed like that only a few minutes. Laughter came from downstairs, then a low, husky moan, and Mal scrambled for his cell phone. He extracted it from his jeans and plugged his headphones in, cranking the music up until he couldn’t hear whatever Elliott and Mihaja were doing.
Mal pushed his legs under his blankets and buried himself deeper in his bed. He was happy for Elliott. Really. Elliott deserved to have a mate, and to heal from what had been done to him finally. It didn’t mean Mal wasn’t jealous, though, and being jealous made him feel even worse about the entire situation.
It was fucked up. He hadn’t really thought when he’d decided to move to Gillham, not further than the fact that the move would take him away from Paul. He was still happy he’d moved, because he wasn’t scared anymore. He wasn’t always waiting for the next blow to come, for the yells and threats.
By any means, Mal knew he should have been happy. And he was. Just, not completely. He hadn’t thought about it in the beginning, but as the time passed, it had become more obvious.
He was one of the few humans in the pack. He knew that was only because of the alpha who’d ruled the pack before Kameron, and that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that all the other humans there were mated. They really were pack members, but Mal wasn’t, no matter what Kameron said.
He knew his friends didn’t care that he wasn’t mated, but he also saw the way everyone else looked at him, wondering what he was doing there. Some days, he himself wasn’t sure. Sometimes he wondered if he shouldn’t leave Gillham and find himself a place out there, in the human world. He’d been on his own since Arlen had disappeared, at least until Paul happened, so he knew he could make it. His decisions hadn’t been the best back then, of course, but he’d learned from his mistakes.
But he couldn’t leave. His entire life was in Gillham now—his job, his home, his friends. He didn’t want to start again.
Mal rolled on his back and looked at the plastic stars he’d stuck on his ceiling. Did he have a mate out there? He snorted to himself. Even if he did have one, there was no way he could find the guy. He wasn’t a shifter, and even if Xavier had told him that he’d felt something for Andy when he’d met him, Mal wasn’t convinced. That wasn’t for him. What could he give a mate anyway? His crazy ex was still hounding him, he had a job in a coffee shop and nothing to his name. Who’d want to deal with all that?
His phone beeped and the music stopped. It was an incoming call, and Mal didn’t know the number, so he didn’t answer. He never did. If whoever it was really wanted to talk to him, they’d call back, and Mal would ask Mihaja to check who the number belonged to before answering.
The call lasted long minutes, then ended. Mal settled deeper in his bed, but the phone rang again. Same number.
Mal scowled at it and threw the phone on the bed. He took off his headphones and got up, shivering a bit, his bare legs covered in goose bumps. He went to the bathroom. Once he was done, he looked at himself in the mirror. He’d been thinking of coloring his hair, something Paul hadn’t allowed. He liked the idea of blue, but not for the entire hair. He liked the blond, so maybe a few strands? He’d have to check in town to see if he could find the dye.