Shad is sick, and he knows he has very little possibility of getting better. He would have to get his hands on the pills Glass used to give him for the information Shad had on the pride, but Glass isn’t there anymore. There is someone else, though, and Shad has to decide whether to betray his brother, his mate, and his pride again, or let his illness slowly kill him.
Gabriel has been isolating himself ever since he got to Whitedell. He hates the tiger parts he sports since his time in the company’s lab, but he’s decided he’s had enough. He wants to feel like himself again, and that means coming out of the attic.
Shad and Gabriel have known they’re mates for months, but circumstances had made them decide to keep their distance. What will happen when Gabriel decides he doesn’t want that anymore? And will Shad make the right choice when his life is at risk?
Shad clutched at his stomach and tried to ignore the searing pain that made him feel like he was dying. He wasn’t, not yet anyway, but he’d been living with the pain for weeks now, and it never got easier.
“You okay?” Darin asked from Shad’s side, a worried frown on his face.
Shad tried to give his twin brother a convincing smile, but he knew he wasn’t successful. Darin didn’t call him on it, though.
Shad straightened in his chair and put both hands on the table. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to eat anymore, even if he knew it might make Darin and the docs wonder. He really should’ve stayed in his room, but Darin had nearly begged him to come and have dinner downstairs with everyone, and Shad hadn’t been able to say no. Damn his brother’s big brown puppy eyes.
“I’m fine. I think I’m coming down with the flu or something, that’s all.”
Darin didn’t point out that shifters couldn’t actually get the flu, and Shad was grateful for that. “Do you want Jared to check you?”
“Nope. It’s nothing that won’t get better on its own.”
Darin wanted to insist, Shad knew it, but he also knew his brother wouldn’t. They’d been through this same conversation a million times over the year since they’d arrived at the mansion. There’d been a reprieve for a bit, but now that Shad was sick again, Darin wasn’t going to let Shad have it his way for much longer. Darin wasn’t stupid, and Shad knew he didn’t look good.
He smiled at his brother and grabbed his fork. He speared a broccoli and stuffed it in his mouth, then pushed a piece of meat around as he chewed. He sneaked a peek at Darin, and was relieved to see his brother was now talking with Jayden.
Shad had purposely taken a seat at the end of the table and in front of Denver so he wouldn’t have anyone but Darin to talk with, but he hadn’t taken the fact that Denver might swap seats with someone into consideration. At least Bradley seemed to be as eager as Shad was to talk, even if Keenan was doing his best to make him.
“Come on, tell me about your family. You’ve been here for a month and I still don’t know anything about you.”
Bradley kept his eyes on his plate as he answered, “There’s nothing interesting to know.”
“Do you have siblings? A boyfriend? A girlfriend? A dog?” Keenan insisted.
“No, no, no, and no.”
Keenan huffed. “You’re no fun. I just want to get to know you.”
“Why?” Bradley’s voice was flat, and it made Shad want to avoid looking at him. The only alternatives were to look at his half-eaten meal or at his brother, though, so Shad kept his attention on Bradley.
“Because you’re part of the pride,” Keenan answered with a duh in his voice.
“Isaiah’s back,” Bradley pointed out.
“So? Did you miss the conversation where Dominic told you he wanted you to stay anyway?”
“I don’t see what the problem is then.”
Jonah, who was sitting on Keenan’s other side, leaned toward his mate, and put a soothing hand on Keenan’s arm. “Not everyone likes to share like you do.”
Keenan pouted. “I just want to know more about him.”
“I’m sure Brad will tell you when he’s ready.”
Jonah smiled at Bradley over Keenan’s head and got a nod in return. Keenan looked away from Jonah and Shad hurriedly looked down at his plate, anxious to avoid any kind of conversation about himself, or God forbid, Gabriel.
That was all Keenan seemed to be able to talk about nowadays, at least to Shad. The human was still trying to convince both Gabriel and Shad that being mates was a blessing, that everything would be better if only they at least talked to each other. However, neither of them seemed to want to give Keenan the time of the day by doing anything about it.
Shad didn’t know why Gabriel was against mating with him, but he could easily imagine it had something to do with Gabriel’s condition. As for why Shad didn’t want to... well, he had his reasons, and they were good ones, even if he couldn’t use them to keep Keenan at bay. No one could know about it. No one.
Another pang of pain passed through Shad’s stomach and stopped there. He knew he wouldn’t be able to eat now, so he put his fork down, harder than he’d wanted to. The noise of metal against ceramic made a few heads turn his way, but the only ones that counted were Darin’s and Jared’s. So of course they were two of those who noticed Shad.
He saw Jared frown at him, but the doc was too far away to talk to him. Darin wasn’t, though, and he reached for Shad. Shad avoided his brother’s hand and rose quickly from his chair. He took his plate and his glass, not caring that both were still half full, and headed to the kitchen.