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Joth tapped his fingers on the table, drawing my wary attention back to him. “The warden let me see them eventually, but you didn’t directly face the camera.” If our father had taken pictures of me, he’d done it without my knowledge, but that didn’t surprise me. We’d shared the same address, but while Dad had haunted the house, I’d built a den in an outlying shed. The information hadn’t been offered and I hadn’t asked.
I could not meet the stare of an alpha, even one as disgraced and stripped of power as my brother. Only my tight clasp on the telephone receiver anchored me in place. “No one told me you’d considered rape.” “Of course they didn’t tell you.” Joth pressed his lips into a thin line. You were a kid.” He’d been one too, my brother a year younger than me. My escort passed a flash drive to the driver through the window while I opened the rear passenger door to climb inside.Pulse racing, I looked from his chest to his thick forearms, ropy with muscle under a dense coat of dark wiry hair. It contrasted the pallor of his skin, the hand gripping his telephone receiver unnaturally pale. I don’t hide from what I did.” He shook his head, ruefully. I think I would’ve regretted .” Humans escorted Joth from his side of the visiting room later. He spoke of pancake Sundays, our frequent camping trips, and past holiday mornings too. Thinking about Mom, Dad, and my brothers had hurt me deeper and more grievously than the coma Joth’s blow to my skull had induced.I squirmed in my plastic chair, a jolt of anxious dread shooting through me at this reminder my brother rarely saw the sun. My stomach churned, acid burning the track of my throat while they shackled him for the walk back to his cell. Our father, for instance, had stepped up as coach when we’d enrolled in little league.The rest of me knew better, and I kept my attention the fuck down, my numb fingers grasping the telephone humans had provided as our means of communication. “So did I.” When my heartbeat fluttered, I hoped the telephone wasn’t sensitive enough for him to hear it. I sensed the humans and my alpha urging me to raise my stare from the table, to do as my brother bade me. From the identical metal table on the other side of the visiting room window. My brother could be charming when he wanted, and he’d made a concerted effort to draw me out after revealing the bombshell detail of my endangered virginity the day of the murders. —delivered, he’d invested the rest of our hour together mining my memories of happier times.A thick pane of reinforced glass separated us, one I’d been assured could not be pierced by the claws of a shifted wolf and, in separate rooms, he couldn’t smell me through the overbearing prison aroma of cleaners and sweat. I glanced at the video camera filming my side of the visiting room, hardly comforted by the flashing green light that told me the humans were recording and monitoring us closely. When our father died, Joth had suspended the test regime and counselling that human authorities had instituted to study him. Their laws prevented the gathering of evidence and otherwise assessing a murderous shifter without the shifter’s permission. No taped transcripts with human psychiatrists, no MRIs. To the faded blue chambray shirt our father had provided so Joth wouldn’t have to wear prison orange. “Both.” “I didn’t lie about killing the little girl. Knowing humans would lock me up for the rest of my life, I confessed. With an ease that astounded me, a laughing Joth reminded me about the persistent stench of Kinessa’s farts lingering in the bedroom we three boys had shared.New medical treatments offer a slim possibility Nox could bear children, but if the past years taught shifters anything, it is an omega’s value is greater than his fertility. “You grew up.” My brother’s voice had deepened during his years of incarceration. Only the barriers humans had erected prevented him from looming over me.
Gaze lowered to the metal table, I shivered at the mix of strangeness and familiarity. I hadn’t seen or spoken to Joth since we were boys, but despite what he’d done, the wolf inside me stirred with excitement at a reunion with my kin, kin. “You grew, though.” He flashed a smile full of teeth. Fingers tightening on the telephone, I stiffened my spine and forced my stare up.
Gone were the gray sweatpants and flannel shirt my old alpha had brought for me when I’d outgrown the clothing I’d worn as a fourteen-year-old. A white cotton T-shirt and hoodie had replaced the flannel.
New sneakers had been swapped in place of my sturdy work boots.
I was no lazybones, nor slacker leeching off the charity of the others. The warm steady cadence of Joth’s voice reached my sensitive ears despite the low volume.
I worked hard and, after six years of practice, with skill too. Panic streaked through me, making me tremble until I spotted the flash drive sticking out of a USB port on the machine.
Humans studied Joth in prison until his father’s death ended the weekly visits. Pay Hip is a way to save YOU money by purchasing my books directly from me (credit/debit card transactions handled through Swipe) and side-loading or emailing your books directly to your device.