Page 22 of Wolf's Mate

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With those words, I turn to go, but his voice stops me.

“Wait….” he whispers, but I hear him. The word is followed by a heavy sigh, one I myself have released on more than one occasion.

I turn to him, more hopeful than I dare to be.

“There is no other way but to take this kind of a job personally.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, confused, but strangely exuberant that we’re actually talking, and not avoiding each other.

“Didn’t Anderson tell you already?”

“Tell me what?”

“He usually has a big mouth,” Fynn manages a smile, and his entire face lights up, making him look at least ten years younger. “I’m surprised he didn’t explain my behavior.”

“Well, he actually did mention something, that you have a reason to feel this way, but he didn’t elaborate.”

“Yeah, he just picks at the wound then leaves it open for someone else to close,” he rolls his eyes, but I sense he means nothing bad by it. “I guess I might as well tell you what happened. Then, you’ll see this isn’t anything personal.”

I sit down at the kitchen table, and he does the same. He rests his elbows on the table, his sleeves rolled up. I notice a few scars on his lower arms, deep and healed, but they would probably never disappear. I wonder who or what made them, but he starts his story and I focus on his words instead.

“A while back, Anderson and I were sent on a similar job, just like this one. The girl… Reba… we knew her from before. She was a childhood friend, and I guess you could say even more than that, a childhood sweetheart. We lost touch as adults, but this job and her needing protection brought us back together. It was like everything lit up again, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Anderson went out one night, to get supplies, as we needed to stay hidden longer than we initially thought, so Reba and I remained alone at the safe house. I don’t know how, but one thing led to another, and we ended up… well, doing what no one should be doing under those circumstances. We had no idea we were being watched, and after it, I guess I fell asleep. I just remember her arms around me, and me drifting off to sleep. What I woke up to was her dead body lying next to me, with a note crumpled up in her left hand.”

“What did it say?” I whisper, not sure if I should say anything, but I couldn’t keep quiet.

“Stay awake next time.”

“Was it - “

“Sven, yes.” He sighed sadly, deeply. “So, you see he was mocking me. But, that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was right. Reba’s blood was on my hands. I should have kept her safe, and I failed to do that. I’m just wondering why they hadn’t killed me as well. They could have easily.”

I knew why they didn’t, but I doubted he wanted to hear that, especially now.

“That’s why I can’t relax,” he finally explains. “I can’t be like Anderson. I can’t chat about unimportant things, because I’m afraid that I’ll relax too much, and I won’t be on guard anymore. I can’t lose anyone else.”

“I trust you,” I tell him softly, surprised by my own words.

The realization of what he just told me touched my heart. He was responsible for someone dying. I couldn’t even imagine how that must feel, how it must keep him up at night. The sight of someone’s lifeless body next to you, someone whose life you were supposed to save. I shudder at the thought of knowing what that feels like.

“You should only trust yourself,” he corrects me. “Because, one way or another, we are all alone. We are born alone, we die alone, and occasionally, someone comes along, who might make that loneliness a little less tangible. But, life is one big solitude.”

“That’s a sad way of looking at things.”

“Sad or not, that way of thinking keeps you alive.”

“But, just because we talk about something in a nice way, doesn’t mean that we’re not being careful.”

“We’re being reckless. Our guard is down. We’re focusing on something else, something that isn’t a priority. We’re getting closer to each other, and that’s never a good thing under these circumstances.”

It saddens me to think this way, but I understand where he is coming from. He doesn’t want to get close to me, to anyone really, and I can’t blame him. But, at least, it’s good to know that it’s nothing personal. I haven’t done anything to cross him.

“I understand,” I smile. “I’ll let you do your job from now on, and I won’t be a nuisance.”

“I never said you were a nuisance,” his voice made me blush. “Just stop thinking I hate you. Please.”

“Deal,” I grin.

“Well, alright then, if everything is OK now, I guess I’ll go out on the porch, and just watch. Anderson should be coming later in the afternoon, maybe even in the evening. Do you need him to get you something while he’s in the city?”

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