“Dusty!” Mom's voice rang out across the lot. We were back at the campus parking lot. Tyler stood moodily by the van as Randall helped unload mom’s wheelchair. As soon as he sat her down in it, she hit the lever propelling herself across the sidewalk to me. “Baby I missed you!” I leaned down, enveloping her in a hug. She always smelled so sweet, like lilac and hand sanitizer.
“Hey sis,” Tyler came up behind her and yanked me into a fierce one-armed hug. I smacked his arm when he let me go.
“Mom says you’ve been skipping school.” I scowled at his sheepish expression, “Do I need to meet this new girlfriend I’ve been hearing about?” my threat made him frown.
“Who Amber?” he said cautiously, his too-long platinum hair fell moodily over his eyes as he ducked his head, “I don’t think so, I’ve got this.” he turned a scowl on mom as he continued, “Honestly, I’m not sure we’ll be together too much longer she’s kind of a slut.”
My hackles raised, what did that bitch do to my little brother? But before I could say anything an arm hooked around my waist, I glanced up into Darren’s warm gaze, he smiled at me. Mom’s jaw fell slack as she looked up at him in alarm. He glanced across to Randall who was standing quietly behind her, He doesn’t have your blood trace Dusty. I heard his voice whisper across my mind before he ducked down to kiss my mother’s fingers.
“It’s wonderful to meet you Mrs. Rivers, my name is Darren Cross.” the alarm disappeared and her face heated instantly, “I understand why she’s so beautiful now.” she clapped her hand over her chest at his warm praise.
“It’s nice to meet you too Mr. Cross.” she fluttered, a worried frown creased her brow, “Or should I call you Darren?”
“My first name is fine,” he said instantly and released her hand, “Dusty said you wanted to meet me?”
“Of course!” Tyler interrupted gripping Darren’s fingers tightly, “I just had to see this mystery man that mom said Dusty was dating.” The tension between them was instant.
“Okay!” I ducked between them separating their hands, don’t break his fingers! Darren smiled at my scolding, “Let’s go do something, I haven’t seen you guys in forever!” I cut a glance to Randall; he still hadn’t spoken a word. His gaze was fixed on Darren looking terrified. What’s that all about I wonder?
“I’ll wait here by the van, I’m still a little sick from that bug Tyler brought home.” Randall piped up suddenly, “I’ll meet you all at the graduation ceremony later, okay?” mom shot him a puzzled look and he smiled at her reassuringly, “I’ll be okay April, go ahead.” reluctantly she hit the lever on her chair and rolled up the sidewalk.
Darren was gazing back at Randall suspiciously, Micah! His authoritative voice echoed through my mind. Micah came back almost instantly, What’s up bro? I could vaguely see Melissa through Micah’s eyes. I need you to come check up on something alright? There is a blue van in the parking lot, you’ll know it by Dusty’s smell. It’s her family coming to visit, but the man that’s in it seems a little strange. His name is Randall, no killing or fighting unless it’s absolutely necessary. Keep me updated got it? I heard an internal grumble as Micah reluctantly obeyed, damn it why did Liam have to run off? Recon was his job! I’m on it bro, I’ll keep you posted. The link snapped and Darren hooked his arm through mine warmly tugging me after my mom and brother.
How is he suspicious? Darren glanced at me when he heard my errant thought, we caught up with mom, “Are you hungry mom?” I turned to her. Something is off about that man Dusty. His voice came back cautiously as he fell back silently, letting me walk beside her.
“No thanks sweety we ate at a breakfast diner on the way here,” mom chirped happily, turning her attention to Darren, “So how did you meet Dusty?” I dropped the subject as he turned to her brightly.
“Actually, we met through a job offer.” he said, carefully avoiding any touchy subject, “My mother is considering hiring her for a modeling job.” Mom's jaw dropped.
“Modeling?” she sounded incredulous, Tyler burst into a snort of laughter, “Who is your mother?”
“Her name is Angelique Cross, she owns Beau,” he answered without hesitation, smiling smugly when Tyler abruptly stopped laughing.
“Oh my!” she stopped dead clapping her hands over her mouth, “I had no idea you were a part of that family!” a flicker of awe crossed her face, as she turned to me, “Sweety that’s amazing!” We came to a stop under the wide oaks towering over the sidewalk and Tyler perched on a bench watching us.
“So, you’ve already seen my sister naked huh?” Tyler’s abrupt question made my face flame and I punched him in the arm, “Ouch! What was that for!”
“He hasn’t!” I snapped crossing my arms over my chest, he glared at me rubbing his arm, “What is wrong with you?”
“I haven’t,” Darren came between us with a smile, “she does look incredible in my mother’s designs though, we’re hoping she’ll take the job.” I ducked my head, scuffing my shoe against the sidewalk.
“What do you do for a living?” Mom ignored our sibling spat, focusing back on Darren’s glacial gaze with a smile, “Dusty never has brought a boy for me to meet so I apologize for asking so many questions.”
“It’s no problem at all,” he answered warmly, “I am a model for my mother’s main line Bad Medicine and I own a wilderness chain near the reserve, I oversee a few charities and orphanages too.” my expression mirrored my moms at that moment, wow he runs charities? I never knew, tucking my arm through his I hugged him. You’re such a good person, He scoffed and squeezed me back.
“Wait a minute, Bad Medicine?” Her voice grew small, reaching into a pouch hanging off the arm of her chair she pulled out a small book, “You’re the blonde, you must be Erreur Fatale.” her face lit up and I heard him sigh, “I know you probably hear this a lot and I apologize in advance but I have to ask for your autograph.” she held out her booklet, it was a small autograph book with a laminate image of him in his masquerade mask and jeans, nothing else.
“Mom!” I was floored, What the shit! No! My skin was so hot I thought I was going to melt right through the leftover snow.
“Oh, honey calm down,” she smiled happily, “You know I collect autographs from all of my favorite celebrities. At least the ones I get to meet,” he signed it with a flourish and handed it back to her, “Besides, he’s much too young for me. I’m no cougar.” Tyler burst out laughing again nearly falling off the bench, I scowled darkly at him.
An explosion rocked the ground suddenly from the parking lot. Get down! I heard Micah’s panicked voice in my head a second before I saw the debris. A huge scrap of metal was flying right toward us. Before I could even move Darren moved into the path of the projectile and deflected it. Red blossomed across his shoulder and arm as blood poured down his side. My vision blurred as I watched the cloud of black smoke mushroom up into the sky.
“Darren, are you okay?” I forced my locked muscles into action, he was grasping his arm looking back at my family frowning.
“Take them somewhere safe,” he shrugged off my hand and nodded his head at my family. I quickly turned to mom. Tyler had his arm around her shoulders saying something in her ear.
Reaching up I caressed his bloody cheek, his eyes widened as he looked down at me “Please come back safe.” I said quietly. He met my gaze and nodded once, turning as he sprinted away from us.
“Dusty, what’s going on?” I heard Tyler’s voice call out, by now the grounds were in chaos. People were running across the campus like we were under attack.
“I don’t know!” grabbing onto mom’s chair I canceled out the motor and pushed it down the sidewalk, “We have to get somewhere out of all of this.” I nearly ran down the sidewalk. Where can we go?
A hand suddenly appeared from nowhere grasping my elbow. I looked up into Liam’s face shocked. He smiled gently and took mom’s wheelchair handles from me. Tyler looked at him in confusion as he pulled us all across the campus and into the library.
“Liam?” I felt my chest tighten; this isn’t fair! You can’t be nice like this! He refused to meet my gaze. Turning instead to check on Tyler and my mom.
“Are you alright?” he checked them briefly for injuries and paused, taking a deep breath he turned to me, “Are you okay Dusty?” his voice balmed my nerves.
“I’m...fine.” I couldn’t force myself to say anything else, glancing around at the three of us he gave me a brief one-armed hug and bolted out of the library. I heard something heavy hit the door.
“Do you know who that nice young man was?” my mom looked at me curiously, “Are you crying Dusty?” she immediately pushed her chair over beside me and patted my hip.
Dashing away the damning tears I turned a steady gaze to her, “Liam, he was my substitute Wildlife Sciences professor.” I said meekly.
“Jesus sis, what did you do to the guy?” Tyler was glaring at me, I looked at him startled, “That guy has got some serious love for you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I stared hard at the floor avoiding his hard glare, let them think what they want, it’s not like I can change anything right now.
“Are you blind?” he raised a brow, frowning, “I could see it, I’m not stupid sis. I’m a guy, I know what it looks like.”
Ignoring him I turned to look out the window, Darren! Micah! What’s going on out there? Silence, I hurried around to another window. All I could see was the smoke and the mobbing students. Panic surged through me, Oh no! What if something happened?
“Where’s Randall?” my mom’s weak voice finally piped up again, we turned to her, “He’s still out there, is he okay?”
“I don’t know,” I didn’t want to tell her the explosion came from the parking lot, “Darren said he was looking into it I’m sure he’ll let us know.”
Her face paled suddenly and she clutched her chest, “Mom?” Tyler rushed to her side and grasped her shoulder, “Are you okay?”
“Dusty.” she said quietly, her face twisted in pain, “Tyler I need to talk to Dusty.” he shook his head quickly.
“What’s going on?” he demanded, she pushed his hand away weakly, “Come on mom you look like you’re about to pass out.”
“Just give us a second!” she snapped, trying to look stern, “I can’t tell you right now son, I need to talk to Dusty first.” he scowled and backed away.
Walking over to the windows he stuffed his hands in his pockets and glared outside, I slowly came to stand beside her, “What’s wrong mom?” I didn’t like how sick she looked; her skin was paper white.
“I’m going to tell you something but I want you to promise me something first.” her voice was weak, I nodded, leaning over to hear her out, “Promise me you will find your dad,” she cut me off when I tried to speak, “Not Randall, his name is Tobias.” I blinked wildly at her; I didn’t even have to ask! Why is she doing this? “Dusty, I know what your boyfriend is, I saw the mark on your shoulder when you hugged me.” I guiltily clung my sweater tighter against my body as she continued, “Your dad, he was the same. I wasn’t supposed to be with him, he sent me away. He doesn’t know about you; he needs to know about you and Tyler.”
“Mom, what's happening?” I couldn’t help but stress, she looked like she was fading right in front of me, “Tyler get over here!” I frantically felt across her frail body trying to see if she was hurt.
“Don’t bother, it’s nothing physical sweety,” her warm hazel eyes smiled up at me, “I tried to forget and move on, it’s impossible, please remember that” Tyler was beside us now looking down in horror as she moved her hair to the side. A small black crescent moon was emblazoned on her neck, small tendrils wrapped up near her ear before fading into her hair, she’s been bonded! “It’s been eighteen years since I last saw him and I still can’t forget about him.”
I quickly pulled out my phone and dialed the emergency number, “Hello? Yes, I’m at Fielding’s University, I need an ambulance!” I couldn’t continue, she reached up and grabbed my phone hitting the end button, “What are you doing?”
“I’m not going to die,” she rubbed at her chest stiffly, “When Darren touched my hand earlier, I felt it. He’s the alpha, correct?” Tyler looked at her like she was crazy.
“Alpha? What the hell are you two talking about?” he put his fingers against her head, “Jesus you’re freezing!” he quickly took his jacket off and laid it across her.
“Tyler go over there for a second,” I dismissed him looking at her calmly. What does she know? Was she bonded to an alpha? Was my dad an alpha?
He threw his hands up and stormed away again, “That boy, he’s the spitting image of Lukas.” I frowned at her, “I almost thought that it was him when I saw him.” she was rambling now.
“Who is Lukas?” my mind was a whirl, she’s talking crazy, what is wrong with her? “Mom, are you sure you’ll be okay?”
“All I need is a little sleep and I’ll be fine,” she murmured weakly as I tried to reach out to Darren and Micah again. What the hell is going on out there? I need your help in here! “Lukas was your dad’s best friend. Your alpha must be his son.”
“Mom, how do you know all of this?” I said weakly, I’m coming Dusty! Darren’s voice finally came back to me, Randall was a hunter, he’s dead. Where are you?
“I was bonded to an alpha of course.” she smiled weakly, her head rolling back against her chair, Liam locked us in the campus library!
“Mom?” she mumbled incoherently at my voice. She looked like she had passed out. I quickly checked her pulse. Okay, she’s still breathing, Darren I don’t know what to do!
Something slammed into the doors hard and they burst open. Tyler stared wide-eyed at Darren as he strode quickly over the threshold. He looked around swiftly, his gaze settling on us.
“What happened?” he questioned me as he checked her pulse and listened to her breathing. I clapped my hand over Tyler's mouth as he started to protest.
“She got really pale and her chest started hurting and then she started rambling about bonding with Lukas and Tobias, saying how much you look like Lukas and saying Tobias was my dad, and then she passed out,” I said briefly, his face turned pale.
“Tobias?” he choked out the name quietly, “Come on, I know how to help her.” setting his lips in a determined line he unlocked the wheels on her chair and rolled her swiftly out the door.
There goes graduation. I grabbed Tyler’s arm and swiftly pulled him after Darren. Micah appeared tugging Melissa along. Where is Liam? I couldn’t stop the pang of worry.
“He’s fine,” Micah said quickly, “he’s helping get students off-campus, there’s a riot squad coming in. That damn hunter was throwing grenades in the parking lot.”
“Hunter?” Tyler piped up looking confused, “Look we have to find my dad, I’m not leaving here without him.”
I ground out a curse as he dug his heels in, coming to a sudden stop, “He’s dead Tyler!” my outburst made his jaw drop.
“What do you mean he’s dead?” his face paled, “How do you know that?” I bit my lip; how do I tell him?
“Well for starters he wasn’t your dad.” Mom was awake blabbering again, Tyler’s jaw dropped and she rolled her head to the side giving him a bleary half-lidded look, “Tobias was your daddy too.” my blood turned to ice. What! How is Tobias his dad too? Did she cheat on Randall? I knew Tyler was born almost two years after she married Randall.
This isn’t good, how old is he? Micah’s voice whispered across my mind as I stared at Tyler blindly. Seventeen, why what's going on? Darren shot us a look over his shoulder.
“Micah take Dusty and Tyler, go back to the flat immediately,” he cut off my sharp protest with a frown, scooping mom out of her wheelchair he placed her in the front seat of his car and buckled her in snugly, “I have to go somewhere, take care of them, Micah. I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
“Wait, where are you taking my mom?” I grabbed his arm as he went to open the driver’s door, he turned on me and hugged me gently, kissing my forehead.
“You want her to live, right?” I nodded and he smiled, “I’m taking her to Tobias, we’ll be back very soon I promise. Honestly, it’s a miracle she’s survived this long away from him. Your mother must be an incredibly strong woman.” I watched stunned as he quickly slid into the driver's seat and the car growled to life. Without a backward glance, he pulled away from the curb winding through the debris, and quickly disappeared from the lot.
“Okay let's go.” Micah hit the button on his key fob and the cobra lit up, unlocking. Tyler’s jaw dropped as I opened the door and climbed into the back with Melissa.
“Nice car,” he choked as he sank into the front seat, he ran his hand over the sleek black dashboard with reverence.
“Yeah,” Micah grinned as he sank into the car, it roared to life when he turned the key and Tyler immediately went car nerd.
“That’s a five-point two-liter v-eight,” his eyes misted in pleasure as he leaned his cheek against the window listening to the motor, “Oh my god, Dynomax Sound Bullets on the exhaust.”
Micah shot me a curious look in the rearview mirror, “You like cars huh?” he seemed to have forgotten about what mom said, he was so entranced by Micah’s car.
He turned to Micah happily, “Please let me look under the hood, I’ve got to see this.” Micah shot him a sideways glance.
“See what?” he was honestly puzzled, Tyler nearly eclipsed himself trying to explain. I sat back quietly, here we go again, Darren would really get along with him. Micah snorted, you’re not kidding, I could see him smile as he shot the thought back.
Tyler rambled about the engine all the way back to the flat, he saw Liam’s car and had another fit. Why is he here? I looked cautiously at Micah. He shrugged and Melissa followed him as he jogged ahead into the house to check.
“No way! An Aventador?” he turned to me excitedly, “Jesus Dusty, please tell me you’re going to marry one of these guys!” I reddened and smacked his arm, “Please at least talk whoever owns this Aventador into letting me drive it, just once.” he begged.
“I doubt it, Liam probably won’t let you.” I frowned looking towards the house. He came to talk to you Dusty, Micah sent the thought out to me.
“Liam? The professor with the hots for you?” his eyes widened, “Wait a minute, why is he here?” he started as Micah and Liam strode out the front door side by side, “Holy hell they’ve got to be brothers!” he shot me an accusatory look.
“Come on dude, these two need to talk.” Micah grabbed Tyler’s shirt sleeve and pulled him over to the Cobra. Reaching inside he popped the hood and Tyler immediately buried up to his elbows messing with it.
I turned to Liam cautiously, “what’s wrong? I thought you were staying away from me?” he bit his lip, his amber eyes dimming dangerously.
“Look, I know he’s already marked you; I get you two are bonded. I’m not mad, I just want to come back.” he said quietly, I blinked at him in surprise, “I don’t care if all I am is a friend to you, I want to be around you.” my heart thudded against my chest, “I’m not going to just come back without asking though, Darren and Micah are okay with it. I just wanted to make sure you’re fine with it.” his voice dipped, “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“No, you can come back.” I said immediately, “Of course, you can come back, this is your home.” his expression softened and he smiled.
“There is one condition, I’m keeping myself separated from the pack link,” he scrubbed at his neck uncomfortably, “I’m going to stay out of your business as much as possible.” his warm gaze settled back on mine and butterflies leaped in my stomach.
Without thinking I flew into his arms, hugging him tightly, “I’m so glad you’re back.” He firmly wrapped his arms around me holding me against him.
“I’m not going anywhere, you’re practically dragging me around on a leash,” he whispered into my hair, throwing my words back at me. I promise I’ll only be in your head when I have to be, his warm voice wrapped around my mind.
I heard the rumble of Darren’s corvette and pulled away from Liam. Pulling into the drive behind him was an unfamiliar black car, they both pulled up and parked side by side behind Micah’s car. Darren stepped out and immediately came across to me, but my gaze was focused behind him. My mom got out of the car, oh my god she’s walking! She looked years younger, her face lit up with a youthful glow. The man stepping out of the driver’s door froze me in my tracks, I looked into the familiar green eyes. The eyes that stared back at me every time I looked into the mirror. That must be Tobias, I didn’t have time to react.
About the author
I am a single mom of four who is also a published author! I use writing as a second income to help me raise my kids so every little bit helps! I write Erotic Fantasy novels and poems. if you love my work thank you! I appreciate your time!