Tyler was comfortably warm in a hotel room, watching the rain that had recently erupted from the clouds in a hellish tempest. It lashed his window, matching his mood with its violence and strength. He didn’t know if the weather was directly affected by how he was feeling, but he felt darkly entwined with the storm’s fury.
The memories he’d brought with him from home were vanishing from his mind and he clung to them desperately. With Reyna rejecting him, the memories of the lives he’d loved her through at a distance were truly all he had left of her.
Tyler had never cried through the centuries alive alone on his home world, yet now he could not stop the tears. Always he’d had hope. Now he felt he’d expended what he’d always known was a limited supply.
She didn’t want him. Tyler hadn’t had the capacity to fathom the idea that Reyna wouldn’t want him.
He’d gotten whiskey to drink, thinking the human habit of numbing the pain would be an effective route to pursue. He’d reconsidered after the first sip and the rest of the bottle remained untouched. He didn’t want to mask or forget. He just wanted his mate.
Dropping his head down into his open hands, Tyler fought the tears and simply ended up with more. Human life was miserable.
Tyler began to feel a pain apart from his own emotional anguish. It was an ache he immediately associated with Reyna. His head snapped up as the ache became a harsh, flaming agony that screamed over his skin. Reyna wasn’t just sharing his emotional trouble, he knew. She was actually in danger.
On his feet in an instant, Tyler grabbed the small, unpacked duffel bag he’d filled with clothes and necessities and rushed out of his rented room. He’d paid up until the next day, but he didn’t care about the wasted money. He had enough and knew he could make more.
“Excuse me,” he said respectfully as he approached a fair-haired woman just getting out of her car. Her wide blue eyes looked him over with what he felt was an exceptionally accurate scrutiny.
“Can I help you?” she asked slowly.
“A friend of mine needs help,” Tyler answered. “If you drive me to her, I will give you one thousand dollars.”
The woman squinted at him, wondering if he was crazy or joking.
“She is very dear to me,” Tyler insisted. “If one thousand is not enough, one stop at an ATM and I can get you more.”
The woman hesitated but very briefly. She reopened her door and gestured for Tyler to take the passenger seat.
“What’s your name?” she asked before she restarted her car.
“Tyler,” he answered and directed her to turn right out of the parking lot.
“Well, Tyler, I’m Mallory,” the woman told him. “Why don’t you tell me about your friend?”
“Her name is Reyna,” Tyler began after giving Mallory brief driving directions. “She is a hard worker. She loves to run. She lives alone in a house near the woods. She is a wonderful cook and is fantastically beautiful.” He hesitated before he finished. “She was a devoted and loving mother.”
“Was?” Mallory asked as she focused on driving through the heavy storm.
Tyler’s tone was heavy with sorrow when he said, “She lost her infant daughter two years back.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Mallory responded. Not wanting to pry, she tried to temper her curiosity. Somehow, the question managed to work its way out, anyway. “Was she yours?”
Tyler seemed to flinch at the inquiry, but he answered, “Not technically. But I loved her like she was.”
Mallory felt incredibly sympathetic to Tyler. He obviously still felt a great amount of pain from the girl’s loss.
“Here we are,” Mallory announced as they pulled into Reyna’s driveway.
Tyler knew something was wrong and tumbled out of the car almost before Mallory had put it into park. He raced to Reyna’s front door, intending to pound on it until she let him in, personal feelings and distaste be damned.
As soon as his fist touched the door, it swung open. Tyler saw it had already been broken down by someone else. There was blood on the floor directly inside.
Mallory left her vehicle running and approached Tyler. It was happening as it frequently did—she showed up in a random location and boom, someone needed her help. As per usual, the individual was unique, as she was unique. The closer she got to the house, the more she could glimpse about what had transpired. Excluding the compulsions to drive to random hotels, motels, restaurants, and morgues, Mallory needed proximity for her powers to activate.
She knew they needed to act immediately if she was going to be able to follow Reyna’s psychic trail. She was unconscious, Mallory knew, but her energy signature was strong.
Mallory said the only thing she thought might inspire the trembling man kneeling in his mate’s blood to react quickly. “Tyris.”
She thought he’d been shaking in mental anguish and worry for the woman. When he turned quick as an alley cat and took her by the throat, she realized her psychic talent had betrayed her. He was quaking in fury.
“Tell me what you know of us or I’ll snap your neck here and now.”