Rolly opened his eyes and knew immediately that Edie wasn’t there. He felt the loss of her presence, as if he’d woken up to find himself missing a limb. Rolly blinked rapidly and realized he’d come out of a nightmare. His heart was pounding erratically and he was soaked in sweat.
Though he couldn’t remember the exact dream, there were shadow memories and he didn’t want to face them. He ached all over, but not like he had been. It was bearable, and for the first time since he’d been injured, he didn’t feel more pain than not.
“Not true,” he murmured to himself. It wasn’t the first time. He’d felt overwhelmed with pleasure when he’d came under Edie’s tender ministrations.
Rolly gave a blissful sigh as he let those images and sensations wash over him.
After a few minutes of that, the lingering nightmarish chill was gone. Rolly thought about calling out for Edie, then he remembered—she’d mentioned going to see her family.
Rolly pushed himself upright quickly, ignoring his discomfort. Concern for Edie was foremost in his thoughts, but as he opened himself to their link, he found that she felt content, and happy.
“Thank gods.” He slumped a little and scrubbed at his face. The pack members were generally good people, but some of them could be assholes. Rolly wasn’t in any shape to defend his mate if someone gave her shit, but he’d have tried his very best.
His bladder panged and Rolly eyed the closest bathroom’s door. Twelve feet, max, he thought. He could do that.
Rolly ignored the fact that he hadn’t stood on his own for days. This is gonna be a challenge.
Before he could get his feet on the floor, his cell phone rang. Rolly didn’t know whether to be glad for the delay or frustrated. When he saw his father’s name on the screen, he went with the former.
“Dad,” he rasped as he answered.
“Rolly,” Remus said, voice stern. “What are you doing?”
Rolly didn’t even decide to ask. His dad knew everything it seemed, so that he knew Rolly was possibly over-taxing himself wasn’t surprising. “I need to go to the bathroom. Edie’s with Solomon and the rest of her sibs. I don’t want to interrupt that visit.”
“She’s doing so good, Dad,” Rolly continued, pride obvious in his voice. “I can’t—you just should see her. She shines, you know?”
“Oh, son,” Remus said softly, “you’ve finally got the person you’ve loved for years. I’m happy for you, but wish the cost hadn’t been so high.”
Rolly frowned. “What do you mean?” Fear chilled his gut. “Dad? Is Cole—“
“Cole is fine, as are his mates,” Remus interrupted. “And you know Richu is well. Or should know.”
“Then what’d you mean?”
“Simply that it seems the Fates wouldn’t have drawn you and Edie together in an easier manner,” Remus explained. “I don’t think Edie would have come around yet had you not been hurt.”
“Does it matter?” Rolly asked. “She’s here—well, not right here, right now, but you know what I mean. If I had to bleed and hurt, then fine. I’d sacrifice anything for her.”
“I know you would, but you’re my son, and I hate seeing you suffer,” Remus explained. “I understand that it’s worth it to you, but no decent parent wants to see their child injured, physically, emotionally, mentally. That’s all I meant.”
Rolly nodded even though his dad couldn’t see him. Well, he probably knows I did it anyway. “Do you ever wonder why Fate works the way it does?”
Remus snorted. “I don’t ask anymore, because there’s no rhyme or reason that we can understand for it. Life is what it is, what we make it. Ultimately, we are responsible for our choices.”
Rolly agreed whole-heartedly. “Yes, we are. You raised us all up to believe that.”
“Good boys, all of you,” Remus said. From there, he proceeded to chat with Rolly, filling him in on the war being waged in Siberia. Bobby was, not surprisingly to Rolly, a vicious and skilled leader for the troops. “I doubt it will last much longer,” Remus concluded.
“Let’s hope not. It’s odd to think of our pack being at war. We’ve always had peaceful relations with everyone else.”
“Not always,” Remus corrected. “Before either of our time, back over hundreds of years ago, our pack was governed more by the beasts than the human side. It was a dark time in our history.”
“Right.” Rolly had forgotten. It seemed almost unrealistic to think of that period in the past.
AS his father talked, Rolly heard the front door open, followed by the clack-clack of Edie’s shoes on the floor as she walked to the bedroom.
“Dad, I need to go,” Rolly managed to say as his mouth went dry. Edie affected him on every level of his being. “Edie’s home.” Nothing ever sounded so right as that.
“Send her my love,” Remus said. “It’s about time I have a daughter in law. And you, you take care. I love you, son.”
“Love you too, Dad, and I will. Please be safe.” Rolly hung up a second later and turned his head just in time to see Edie step into the doorway.
“What are you trying to do?” she asked, rushing over to him, her eyes wide but a scowl pulling at her lush mouth. “You aren’t supposed to—“
“Edie,” Rolly said, catching her hands as she fluttered them around his head and shoulders. Edie stilled and looked into his eyes. “Kiss me.”
Edie stared at him for a moment, then she leaned in and gently brushed her lips over his. Rolly sighed happily as he let his lids fall shut. Edie curled her hands in his, holding onto him. Rolly could have floated away on a cloud of happiness then.
“What were you doing?” Edie asked again as she moved back an inch. “You can’t get up on your own.”
“I was going to try,” Rolly said wryly, “But Dad called, and he talked to me until you got home. I’d think he was stalling me, but honey—“
He really liked the way Edie colored when he called her that. Her eyes even glowed like he’d read about in books.
“I need to get up and get to the bathroom.”
“You should have called me,” Edie scolded. “Come on, up you go. Unless you’d rather use the ju—“
“Gods no,” Rolly growled. “Throw that thing out. I’m going to get up and walk to the bathroom.”
Edie gave a cute little sniff, then she hooked an arm around him. “Okay, up. I’ll help you, but from now on, no doing it on your own. Not until we’re bother sure you won’t fall over.”
“Way to hit me in the ego,” he teased.
Edie rolled her eyes. “I’d have to thump you in your ego if you hurt yourself.”
Rolly cocked his head. “What kind of sense does that make? You’d hurt me for hurting myself?”
“Gives you twice the incentive not to be pig-headed, doesn’t it?” she asked.
Rolly couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, okay. Maybe.” They got him to his feet and he clung to Edie for a minute. “You know, I won’t say no to leaning on you. You feel so good against me.”
Edie blushed but she clucked her tongue at him. “None of that. What happened to you needing to get to the bathroom?”
Rolly’s bladder reminded him of that very thing. “Well, yeah.” Rolly sniffed and wrinkled his nose. “Do you think I can take a bath? I’d love a shower, but don’t know about standing up. Not when my legs feel like they’re about to give.”
“Crud. Let’s move.” Edie began helping him to shuffle toward the bathroom. She was a little breathless, and he was a lot breathless, by the time they stopped at the toilet.
“A bath?” he asked, eying the tub. “Please?” He’d been sponged off enough times to last him for eternity. He did love Edie’s hands on him, though.
“I don’t see what it’d hurt.” Edie waited for him to take care of his issue. “And I’d get to wash you.”
Rolly was very glad she’d waited to say that until after he’d peed. “Yes, yes you can.”
Edie’s angelic smile was a direct contrast to the need rolling off of her.
Rolly figured together, they’d make the bath water boil.