Page 17 of Rejected & Claimed

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When the meeting was over and the Dark Riders were talking amongst themselves, Patrick gave me a hug that made me feel so much better. Patrick always had a way of calming me down.

“There are a few that are still alive, Eliza. Why don’t you heal them?”

I’d been sitting here feeling bad for myself, and the whole time I could have been making things better. Thankfully, I was able to save seven. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to forgive myself for what happened, especially knowing that more was still to come, but at least a few have been saved.

Afterwards, we walked back to my room at the bunkhouse.

“I’m glad you’re here, Patrick. I don’t know what would have happened if you wouldn’t have come. Look at you, what have you gotten for your troubles? Shot and attacked. And you’re still so calm. How do you stay so calm?” I wondered.

“I’m calm because you’re safe. That’s all that’s really matters to me.”

He had said things like that before, like I was the only one that mattered, that he wanted me to be safe. He had tried to keep me safe for years, but it felt like I was never going to be safe from Amos. He could find me wherever I was just because we were bonded. I was never going to be safe until the bond was broken.

“You have always been good to me, Patrick. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Especially now.”

Patrick had a smile on his face, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“I know I’m going to lose you.”

“What do you mean, Patrick?”

He sighed and then looked away. “You look happy. You look like you have found family and a place to belong. I wish I could have given that to you. It’s what you deserve.”

“You tried, Patrick, I know you did. It was just a bad situation all the way around. I know that you always had an excuse for my parents, but they could have made thing better. It wasn’t your job to make my life better and protect me, it was their job.” He had tried to make things better for me, but it wasn’t possible, not there with the Bransom Country pack. I was glad that I had been kicked out of the pack.

“Everyone could see that your parents were different with you. I still think your mother acted the way she did out of jealousy. She knew you were special, and I don’t think she liked it. Your father followed suit soon after.”

I had never heard that before, and I didn’t know how I felt about his comment. They weren’t like normal parents, but a lot of it I blamed on myself. I was just too different, and I tried so hard to fit in and do what the others did, but it was impossible. No matter how hard I tried, from a young age, I was painfully different. I wondered why I wasn’t like the others.

Sadness ran through me, and Patrick pulled me into his arms. I’d been there before, the safety of his hard arms and the calming power that he had. The energy between us was different, though, and I couldn’t help but feel it when I pulled back and looked into his eyes.

“I feel like you are looking at me a little different, Patrick.”

“You don’t see how people look at you, Eliza, do you?”

“What do you mean?”

Instead of answering, he leaned down and softly kissed me. I did not see that coming. I’d known Patrick my whole life and he’d never even done anything to make me think he was interested. I don’t know what had changed, but now I understood it was the same way Calvin and Eddie felt around me.

The kiss deepened and a soft moan escaped from the back of my throat. He was a damn good kisser, slow and purposeful. From what I was used to with the guys, it was a nice change of pace. Patrick kissed me like he was afraid I would break. I wouldn’t, of course, and wanted to tell him as much, but he was pulling back, and the moment was broken. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to look at him the same way again. I was stumped by how we could suddenly be so different.

“What was that?” I was trying to figure out what in the world was happening between us. When had this happened, this change? I felt it too, and I needed to hear his response.

“I’m sorry, Eliza, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Don’t be sorry, just tell me what this is, Patrick. I am so confused right now.” I had no idea that he had these feelings. I’d thought that there was a connection between us when he got back, but I was healing him. It wasn’t like it was now, this heavy tension between us.

“I feel something for you, Eliza. In the last year or so, something changed. I admire you and how strong you’ve become. I love you, Eliza. It’s just that simple. I want you to know that I won’t let anything happen to you ever again. I will not leave your side again, Eliza. I will help you any way I can.”

“What was are you willing to do to keep me safe?”

“Is that a trick question?”

What I needed now, more than anything else, was to break the bond with Amos. If Patrick loved me, really loved me, maybe he would be willing to help me with that. I wanted to be free so badly, and I knew that Patrick could help me. It was a lot to ask, but considering what he’d said and how he felt when we kissed, I hoped it was the right thing.

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