Skye began to grow worried as she scoured the entire compound, her heart pounding in her chest. She had asked everyone she encountered if they'd seen Galen, but all to no avail.
Where the hell was he? It wasn't like there were secret hideouts on the base. And she needed to talk to him.
Skye stopped in the middle of the square, knowing their Thanksgiving party was tomorrow.
Turning, Skye sped-walked over to the garages. Well, there was one quasi-hiding place he might have gone to.
But coming out of nowhere, Bram ran into her, knocking Skye onto her ass. "What the hell, man?"
He quickly pulled her up, his expression slightly panicked, "Sorry, I've been looking for Galen. Have you seen him?"
She shook her head, "I've been trying to find him for like an hour now." Skye fanned herself. "It's making me sweat."
Bram suddenly touched her forehead. "How long have you been this warm?"
"I don't know..." Her stomach dropped, not liking what he was implying, "Since this morning, I guess."
"Shit!" he hissed, "I heard about what happened with your friend, and you feel like that."
Skye made a face.
"Do you feel intense pain and/or uncontrollable rage and lust?"
"No, I'm just sweltering." Skye continued fanning herself, despite the fact that frost coated everything and she only wore her workout clothing. "More than usual."
Bram stroked his chin. "Well, we have to tell Dae'lon about the both of you."
"So you think—"
"I know." Grabbing her wrist, Bram led her to Dae'lon's office building slash living quarters.
Skye wasn't eager to tell the leader of the base about her impending Mating Fever. He barely tolerated her as it was. And she didn't care for his apathy and abrasiveness.
When they reached the door, Skye tugged at her wrist, "Will you let me go?"
Bram blinked, then released his firm but pain-free hold. "Don't be rude."
She snorted as he opened the door, following him inside. It took two to tango on that one.
Frowning at them, Dae'lon rose from his seat, "Can I help you?"
Bram stood straight. "We need a ship, sir."
Skye went to answer, but all her nerves lit up, and she collapsed onto the floor, unable to speak or scream. She figured this better-explained everything, anyway.
"Galen is missing, and both of them are entering Mating Fever."
Dae'lon mumbled something under his breath. Because this was so inconvenient for him.
The pain receding, Skye managed to catch her breath. "How did Nash deal with this for several days?" She had a newfound respect for her Wanderer friend.
Helping her up, Bram held her close, his cool skin feeling nice. "We need a ship. Now."
"Then why are you still here? Go."
Bram then picked her up and carried her to the hanger, another wave of pain gripping her. She did her best not to squirm in his hold, groaning loudly.
Skye barely paid attention as he strapped her into the co-pilot's seat of an unowned ship, starting the engine. For once, she didn't care that she was about to be in the air.
"You'll be okay soon."
Skye turned her head. "Oh, I'm not just gonna throw myself at him." She was still too pissed and didn't want to reward bad behavior.
Bram chuckled, "At least you're still you."
She crossed her arms. "He hurt my feelings." Which was as shocking as anything else.
Skye didn't usually give a shit as to what people did to her. She'd learned early on that being thin-skinned would break her, and she refused to be broken by someone.
But that damn Wanderer had a hand around her heart and was squeezing it hard at the moment.
Her eyes widened. When had this happened? Skye had never planned on falling for anyone, much less for a pale blue alien with platinum blond hair and lavender eyes.
"Oh, I know what happened."
Skye looked at Bram. "What?"
"Galen came to my quarters last night and told me what happened." Bram winced. "And he was an emotional mess."
The engineer appeared conflicted, "You'll have to ask him."
"But I'm asking you." Skye grimaced as another wave racked her body. "So tell me!"
He sighed, "It's not my place to tell you."
She growled, crossing her arms. "Stupid bro code."
"I have no idea what that is."
Skye rolled her eyes, not feeling like explaining it to him. So she said nothing, bracing herself for the next wave of pain.
Why did this have to be happening now?
Gripping one of the trees, Galen's body felt like it was on fire.
He'd woken in the middle of the night to spikes of pain, along with uncontrollable rage and lust. Even looking at a sleeping Bram, it'd taken every ounce of willpower not to attack him.
So he decided to get as far away from the base as possible.
But none of this had been part of the plan.
Galen leaned against another tree and slid to the ground, the pain temporarily ceasing. He'd heard Mating Fever was much worse with the second mate, and it grew stronger as the male got older.
It amazed Galen that he hadn't lost his mental grip yet, remembering his first Mating Fever.
Soshi had been away working on a research project when it happened. He'd locked himself in their equivalent of a basement for several days until she'd found him.
She had been horrified by the notion of them being mates, but she'd relieved his pain. However, she retaliated cruelly later when he discovered her and another male doing it.
Galen, despite his feelings for her, had then begged her to break the Mate Bond, but Soshi had refused, leading to many years of mental and emotional hell for him until the virus claimed her.
And here he was again, having found another mate. Only he'd clearly hurt her last night by running off, which cut him deeply.
At least Skye wouldn't sleep with someone else to get back at him. She wasn't that petty. She'd probably swear and yell and maybe throw a slap into the mix.
But then she'd calm, and he would explain everything. And hopefully, Skye would understand.
As another wave hit him, Galen heard one of their ships flying ahead. Dammit, they found him.
He growled, forcing himself to stand and move. However, the ship landed in front of him.
"Get out of here!" He yelled, waving them away. "I'm not safe to be around!"
"We're not going anywhere, jackass!"
Despite his physical agony, Galen smiled. He couldn't help it. His mate had tracked his ass down. Of course, she did. Skye wouldn't let him get away with anything. And he had no problem with that.
The ship door opened, and Skye stormed to him, a wildfire in her hazel eyes, "How dare you leave like that!" She shoved him.
Galen stumbled back. "Are you referring to last night?"
He winced, "Look, I will explain, but right now," He grabbed her, "I need you."
She glared, her arousal perfuming the air. "Yeah, same here." She yanked herself away from here. "Asshole."
That was when Galen noticed how unwell she looked. Like how he felt. Wait... "You are in Mating Fever too?"
"Yeah, as is Ava." Skye crossed her arms, "Damn nanites."
He blinked. So who was flying the ship?
"But I'm pissed at you." She paced around, twigs snapping beneath her footsteps. "And I'm confused."
"I'm sorry I took off. It was a dick move, but I was having...I suppose a panic attack."
Skye raised a brow, "Because I wanted to ride you? Make you feel good?"
Galen balled his hands, inhaling deeply.
Her eyes widened, "Oh my God, were you assaulted?"
"Is that the word?"
She went pale.
He sighed, turning away, "When I was in school, one of my female instructors had a liking for me. I didn't think much of it until one day when I was helping her put supplies away in one of the storage rooms.
"Apparently, she was in Rut, and she wanted me. And before I could even move to leave, she had me on the floor, and my pants pulled down.
"I couldn't move, couldn't call for help as she violated me. However, Bram must have realized something was wrong because he burst in and yanked her off me, although the damage had already been done."
Suddenly, two arms wrapped around his waist. "I am so sorry that happened to you."
Galen draped his arms over hers, enjoying how she held him. "One good thing did come out of it."
"I hadn't met Bram before that day, and it's unlikely I would've otherwise." He smirked. "And he's the closest thing I have to a brother."
"He is a good one."
"Thank you, guys," Bram spoke over the intercom. "Sorry for interrupting. Carry on."
Skye giggled, "Yeah, he helped me find you."
Galen wasn't surprised. "But that was why I ran off the first time."
"I wish you had told me earlier."
"I didn't know how."
She squeezed him tighter, everything reacting to her touch now. "Either way, though, I'm not doing it in the damn woods."
He smirked, turning so they faced each other, "Why not? You're always looking for new experiences."
"Because we're not alone and cold out here."
"No, it isn't." Galen planted a quick kiss on her lips, the Mating Fever blazing between them. "But you're right about not being alone." Not that he cared.
"I can leave," Bram spoke.
"No, I wanna go home." Skye pulled away, marching her lovely ass back to the ship.
He followed, ensuring he wouldn't try attacking Bram as he flew them back. As long as he didn't touch her, Galen would be okay.
But he sat Skye in his lap as Bram flew the ship back to the base, or home, as she called it. He couldn't disagree with her statement. The base had become his new home as well.