I’m pacing back and forth in my bedroom. Repeating a track from the shadowy corner, to nearly up to Carter.
My mate bond is screeching at me to go to Carter for security and comfort. But experience is telling me to hide because he is the one that is going to hurt me.
Every time I get near Carter I whimper as fear overtakes me. I spin away, but as I reach the shadowy corner, I want him. I’m going to be stuck in this loop for ever.
Carter is standing calmly in the middle of the room. He is just watching me with a sad look in his eyes. He isn’t trying to grab me and I don’t know if that is awful or wonderful.
Brodie softly opens the door and steps inside. He watches me for a few moments. Then he speaks.
“What’s wrong, Doolin?”
“I’ve been bad and now Carter is going to punish me!” I wail.
Carter swears. Vehemently. He knows some really naughty words.
“That’s not…” he says. “I’m not going to punish you, Baby.”
I don’t believe him. He just wants me to stay still so he can get on with it. Maybe he has a point. It might be better just to get it over with. I stop halfway between the corner and my mate.
“Are you going to use the taser?” I ask.
Carter’s eyes grow huge and he swears again. All new words. He has quite a vocabulary.
“I’d never hurt you. Ever. No matter what you did,” he says. “I might get mad and yell at you, but that is the worst I’ll ever do.”
I stare at him suspiciously. Then I turn to Brodie. The healer nods.
“Not all humans are like Daddy and his friends,” he says softly.
I huff. “You’re not,” I say to Brodie. It doesn’t mean other humans aren’t.
Carter winces as if he has been punched. It makes me feel bad. Is he genuinely upset that I believe he is going to hurt me? Does that mean he really isn't going to? He is not lying?
“I can sedate him?” offers Brodie to Carter.
I back up several steps and scrunch my face up in horror. Adrenaline is making me shake, so I wrap my arms around myself in an effort to stop rattling.
“No!” snaps Carter.
My heart flutters and I feel like weeping in gratitude. Why is Carter being so nice to me? It makes no sense at all.
“Well, there is nothing else I can do, so I will leave you to it. Let me know if you change your mind,” says Brodie.
I think what he really means is that I’m Carter’s mate, so I’m Carter’s problem to deal with. And he has a point. I’m not sick, I’m scared of being disciplined. All Brodie can do is patch me up afterwards. It’s not his job to teach me a lesson.
Brodie places a hand on Carter’s shoulder and he squeezes it. Then he is gone. I’m alone with Carter again.
I stare at my mate in trepidation. A tense silence fills the room.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he says. His eyes are imploring. He looks like he means it. He looks as if the very thought of hurting me is horrendous. I want to believe him so much.
He places his right hand over his heart and stands up straight.
“I, Carter Henderson, do solemnly swear before the gods that I will never physically hurt my mate.”
I stare at him in surprise. I was not expecting so solemn an oath, so freely given. Oaths are important. They are binding. They can’t be taken back or terrible things happen to the oath breaker. I know this to be true.
Carter is telling the truth. He means it. He really will not hurt me.
My tummy does a strange swooping thing and then I’m flinging myself at him. His strong arms wrap around me and I sob in relief.
“I’ve got you, Baby. Everything is alright. I’ve got you.”
He kisses the top of my head, and I burst into tears. Great wracking sobs. As if I haven’t cried for a thousand years and suddenly the dam has broken. Letting all my pent up misery free.