I didn’t have to go far to find my Mate after stepping out of Flo’s RV. Drago stood at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me. The problem was he didn’t smile when I stepped in front of him. He smiled at me every time I came into a room or joined him by the fire without fail since arriving a few days ago.
I crossed my arms over my chest as I studied him. He was still the stupidly handsome male that he was before I followed Flo into her RV ten minutes ago, but something was off. His aura was tinged with guilt and apprehension.
“What is going on?”
The fact he wouldn’t meet my eyes when he shrugged a shoulder set off all kinds of alarm bells. Bells that I’d ignored because I wanted my bit of happiness.
It took everything I had to talk around the lump in my throat threatening to choke me. “Why did you track me down?”
For the first time since meeting him in person Drago frowned at me. “Do not ask me this.”
Images of the last few days raced through my brain. Flo warned us no good would come from letting a gang of gargoyles join our camp even if one of them was someone I had been talking to for a couple of years online. Rin fought Vig every step of the way through their claiming. She knew he was keeping something from her but couldn’t figure out what it was. Even Kelli was keeping her distance from them to the point she refused to let them touch her tools. An hour before I let Drago claim me she begged me to reconsider and give it more time.
Shit. What if they were right? What were the chances a hottie like Drago would search for a random chick he talked to but never met before The After?
I replayed our last message exchange for the hundredth time in my mind. I texted him to let him know I’d be off the grid for a couple of months. He congratulated me when I told him I would be filming an archeology dig that would get me on National Geographic’s radar. He asked if there would be a chance for a dig site hook up. I laughed and told him there wasn’t much of a chance unless Flo or Rin suddenly became irresistible.
That was it. I never told him where I was going. I couldn’t if I wanted to. Location secrecy was in the nondisclosure agreement to protect the dig from scavengers and amateurs.
I wrapped my arms tighter around myself in a futile attempt to hold myself together. “How did you know where to find me?”
The look on his face told me everything I needed to know. “You were tracking Flo for this Rusher weren’t you?”
His tail whipped back and forth but he didn’t say a word.
A tear slid down my cheek as everything fell into place. We met two years ago when he started commenting on my Instagram posts. Random comments turned into conversations. But those conversations only happened roughly once a month. The first week of the month to be precise. I bought his lies about working offshore and only having Internet access one week a month when he came to shore.
He didn’t always ask about Flo right away, but sometime during the week he’d ask how my friends were doing. If they landed any new dig sites.
The bastard used me to keep tabs on my friend. I thought he was truly interested in me. Over the last year or so he realized that I was an interesting woman. That I didn’t imagine it when his texts slowly got more flirty than friendly. I told myself he would show up one day every time I turned down a guy who asked me on a date.
Hell, I was halfway in love with him before he showed up in a cloud of dust last week. It must have been so easy for him and his friends. I was so happy not only that he was alive but that we were finally meeting in person that I convinced the girls they could be trusted. That they weren’t going to murder us in our beds and steal our shit.
I flinched away when he reached to wipe the tears from my cheeks. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do what I needed to if he were touching me.
“I made it so damn easy for you didn’t I? I was so happy you were able to track me down. That you even cared to track me down. I told the girls we could trust you. I told my sister she was being a bitch when she refused to spend five minutes to get to know you.” The next words nearly killed me, but I forced them out. “Is this just a job or a favor to a friend?”
It took him so long to answer I honestly thought he wouldn’t.
“It was a job. But …”
That was all I needed to hear. With four little words he ripped my heart out and stomped on it. Everything had been a lie. The years of friendship. Realizing he had feelings for me. Claiming me. It was all so he could keep track of Flo for some bastard she was afraid of.
I snatched the gun from where he leaned it against a camp chair. “I am going inside for a bullet. If you are still standing there when I come out I will shoot you.”