XVII | Strings

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Kaleb felt weak. It was more than just the blood loss and wolfsbane; he was well on his way to recovery, and Kaleb had unusually high pain tolerance. It was the emotional whiplash of going from so worried his heart might have exploded to so relieved it might have stopped that was sapping his strength now. 

A sharp blade of guilt was lodged in his chest, worse than the wound he'd gotten from Kaia's father. He'd been forced to kill a member of his Pack. It felt filthy. Still, he'd known there had been no choice. Grayson had never been loyal, not since Kaleb had taken up the title of Alpha after Alexander's rule ended. Grayson had always expected it would be him, that it was foolish to allow a boy to become Alpha. Maybe he'd been right, Kaleb didn't know. 

But Kaleb had faith that he could change things, that he was what the Pack needed, not Grayson. He regretted what he'd done, but he had to stand by it now. It was the lightness of Kaleb's soul that made his guilt worsen. Perhaps, Kaleb thought, the unrest in his Pack would disappear with Grayson. The bizarre concoction of relief and guilt in Kaleb's heart made his eyes sting. 

He reasoned that Grayson would most likely have been put to death or forced into becoming a Rogue should Kaleb have shown some self-restraint, not only for his open rebellion but his attack on the Pack's Luna-to-be. Perhaps a quick death was better than that future. 

His Luna-to-be. He was afraid for her. He cradled his moon in his arms. She was acting strangely. She'd said that she didn't feel any burning, which is what wolfsbane felt like to lycanthrope. It was like the moment the bullet had entered Kaleb's body, his blood had turned to lava, and it had blackened him from the inside out. But Kaia felt...clouds, whatever that meant. 

"What is happening to you? Your pupils are dilated," Kaleb said, readjusting his arm so that her head wouldn't fall. Kaleb had thought that, somehow, she was a lycanthrope. But Kaia would be dead if she were, no question. So what was she that wolfsbane had affected her like this? It didn't make sense. Wolfsbane was poisonous to humans if Kaleb remembered correctly. Maybe this had to do with her being able to read minds?

Kaia rolled her head on her shoulders. She was like a child, switching her train of thought the instant something more captivating crossed her path. She was acting as though she'd tried drugs for the first time in her life and didn't know how to handle it. 

Kaleb reached up with the hand he wasn't using to keep Kaia from tumbling away from him and tilted her head towards him. Her skin was hot to the touch, which was quite something considering Kaleb's own body was warmer than usual due to its recent efforts to stave off the wolfsbane. 

Kaia had pressed her body so close to Kaleb's that he was starting to get that feeling at the base of his throat. He wasn't quite sure what it was. It felt like a growl, like something low and powerful burgeoning in him the longer she kept her body close to his. It was the same one he'd felt when he'd first seen her. 

Kaleb looked down at Kaia, repeating her name again and again because it felt so right to say it, like sweet honey on his lips. He wasn't sure if she could hear him or if she'd even remember this, but he drew her against him anyway. 

He leaned down, ignoring the twinge of pain in his side, and swept a lock of Kaia's soft hair from her face. He brushed a soft kiss on her warm forehead. 

Domination. A need for Kaia to be his. That's what the feeling was, Kaleb realized. 

It was intimidating how all-consuming it was. It left none of Kaleb untouched. He had always thought of himself as a shadow. His life was dark and so was he, with his endlessly black fur. But this need for Kaia...it was like a shimmer passed over him, like car headlights moving across a room in the beat of a heart, illuminating a dark place. It was like the day he'd met her, his black fur turning light in the snow. 

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