Nuallan has been hiding in his cell ever since he got out of the infirmary after trying to kill himself. He hasn’t told anyone why he’d rather be there than free to move around pack territory, and Alex, his best friend, still hasn’t stopped trying to save him from himself.
Ethan is in the town hall when Kameron Rhett explains to the Gillham people what he and his friends are—shifters. Ethan doesn’t stay to hear the end of Kameron’s speech. He’s distracted by a pretty man, and when the man leaves after his best friend threatens Ethan, Ethan follows.
Ethan didn't know about shifters until Kameron’s speech, but he’s thrust into their world when he finds out his pretty man, Nuallan, is a Nix, and Ethan is his mate. Will it be too much to accept? Will Nuallan finally reveal why he tried to kill Kameron? Or will the secrets push Ethan and Nuallan apart?
“I just don’t get why you don’t want to leave this place. You know you don’t have to stay here,” Alex said, but Nuallan kept his gaze on the wall by his bed.
He’d already answered that question, or at least he’d answered it as well as he could without giving everything away.
Nuallan sighed and flopped on his back so he could see Alex. “I told you not to call me that.”
Alex grinned, obviously happy to have gotten a reaction out of Nuallan. “It’s shorter than Nuallan.”
“It’s not like Nuallan is that long, you know.”
“Fine. I’ll try.”
“You better do more than try if you don’t want me to kick your ass.”
Alex put his hand over his heart. “I’m wounded that you can even think about hurting me.”
Nuallan snorted. “As if I could actually manage to hurt you. I’d probably break my hand if I tried to punch you. You’re like, twice as big as me.”
And wasn’t that the truth. Alex was so much taller and bigger than Nuallan it was almost funny. Almost. It would have been funny if Nuallan hadn’t been sent to kill someone Alex’s size.
Alex flopped onto the bed, and Nuallan had to move his legs away to avoid getting them crushed. “I still don’t see why you insist on being locked up in here. Kameron told you you didn’t have to stay in this cell.”
Nuallan poked at Alex’s thigh with his toes. “I know that. I was there.”
Nuallan knew Alex was frustrated. Hell, anyone who had to deal with Nuallan was. Alex was the one who spent the most time with Nuallan, though, and the only one who really knew him. He was the only one Nuallan let himself relax with, and sometimes he wondered if he hadn’t made a mistake.
He liked Alex, had liked him since they’d met. Alex had been the only one who’d talked to Nuallan even before Nuallan had tried to take his own life. He’d treated Nuallan as if he was a normal guy, not like the killer he was, or the killer he should have been. It hadn’t worked as well as Titus had thought it would, but Nuallan couldn’t bring himself to regret it. He just hoped Neriah would be fine.
“I just need to stay here,” Nuallan said.
Alex shook his head and grabbed Nuallan’s foot, pushing his thumbs into the sole. Nuallan closed his eyes and relaxed against his pillow, enjoying the massage.
“I don’t get you, Nu. You know we just want to help. Even if you don’t want to tell anyone, you should at least tell me.”
Nuallan let the use of the short version of his name slide. “I can’t.”
“Why not? I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
Nuallan opened his eyes and looked at Alex. “Not even Kameron?”
“Not even him.”
“He’s your boss. Your alpha.”
“He could kick you out of the pack, or hurt you. Hurt your family.” Nuallan swallowed. Saying those words was pulling up memories he’d rather forget.
Alex’s hands on his foot became softer. “Is that what happened to you? Were you kicked out of your tribe?”
Nuallan shook his head. Things would have been so much better if that was what had happened. But no, Titus would never have let Nuallan go, not when he needed Nuallan to do something for him. Why he’d chosen Nuallan, of all people, was anyone’s guess.
Nuallan was small and scrawny. He couldn’t fight to save his life, as his current situation showed. He’d been sent to kill Kameron and had ended up in a cell instead. At least Kameron didn’t seem as nasty an alpha as Titus had turned out to be after taking his father’s place. Nuallan still had a hard time believing Kameron actually wanted to let him out of the cell. He’d even had Nuallan spend Christmas with him.
“What is it, then?” Alex asked, his voice soft.
Nuallan wanted to tell him, he really did, but he couldn’t afford it. What would happen if the news that he was alive and well got out? Alex wouldn’t tell anyone if Nuallan asked him to, but he was bound to try to do something to get to Neriah. As much as Nuallan wanted his brother back, he couldn’t lose Alex in the process, and he couldn’t let Neriah be hurt, either.
The last thing he’d expected when he’d been caught in the act of trying to kill Kameron and been locked up had been to find a best friend. No one had hurt him or even been rude to him, but Alex had been the only one to give him a chance when even he didn’t think he deserved one.
Nuallan knew most people didn’t understand their relationship, and he didn’t care. Everyone saw him either as a killer or as a meek and scared man. He didn’t mind the latter one, but he hated that people thought he could kill someone. He hadn’t had a choice, and he still didn’t.
At least Alex knew he would never hurt anyone, not if he could help it. Really, Nuallan wasn’t sure what Titus had been thinking when he’d sent him to kill the Gillham pack alpha. It had been obvious to everyone that Nuallan wouldn’t be able to do the job, but Titus had insisted, saying he didn’t have a choice.
Nuallan shook his head. He understood it, up to a point. A lot of tribe members had been forced to serve the other council, the one led by Tom. The tribe members who’d remained were mostly women and children. Only a few men had stayed, including Nuallan.
“Nu? I just want to help you.”