Authors: Stormy Glenn
Tags: #Glenn, #Stormy
Elliot’s frown deepened. “She had brown hair, like a deep chestnut color, and it was really long. She always wore it in a braid down her back.”
“Good, Elliot,” Daniel said. “What else do you remember about her?”
Elliot couldn’t understand why Daniel was so interested in his mother unless it was because she might be his shifter parent. Tommy said it had to be one of them, and he didn’t think it was Elliot’s father.
“Please, Elliot, this is really important.”
Elliot sighed and leaned farther into Tommy’s arms as he glanced over to the window. He wanted to remember his mother, really he did. But his memories were just too fuzzy. It had been so long, he didn’t know what was real and what was a fantasy he built in his head.
“She smelled like summer rain,” Elliot whispered. “You know, the first one of the season when everything has time to settle and the ground soaks up the water. There’s a certain fragrance that it gives off. I can’t quite describe it but—”
“No, it’s okay, Elliot. We know what you’re talking about,” Daniel said. “What else?”
“She called me Bumba because I was always bumping into things.” Elliot’s forehead wrinkled as he frowned, turning to look at Daniel. “I think I was just trying to walk when she died.”
“Okay, what do you remember about when she died? Did she get sick or what?”
Elliot couldn’t remember. His memories were so distorted. “I remember white walls, a lot of white walls. I don’t know if she was sick, but I do remember she cried a lot.” Elliot sniffled a little. “And then one day she didn’t cry anymore.”
“What happened then, Elliot?”
“My father came fro–from—” Elliot frowned and sat up a little. “I don’t remember where my father was, but suddenly he was there. He smelled bad. I remember that he smelled bad, like old, musty, moldy books.” Elliot glanced back at Tommy when the man suddenly stiffened. “What?”
“Exactly how did he smell, Elliot? Describe the scent as much as you can.”
Elliot shrugged. “He smelled moldy.”
Elliot nodded. “Have you ever been in one of those old secondhand antique stores? Sometimes they have old books, but there’s this musty smell about them, like the pages are rotting. That’s what he smelled like. Why?”
“We’ll answer that in a moment, Elliot,” Daniel said, “but first we need to know a little more about your father.”
“Okay, what do you want to know?” Elliot was so confused.
“You said you were sick growing up, that you saw a lot of doctors and had a lot of tests. What do you remember about that time? Did you ever overhear any of the doctors talking or your father talking with the doctors?”
Elliot shook his head. “No, they always gave me something to put me to sleep before any of the tests. I thought it was because whatever tests they were running were painful.”
“Then how did you know they did tests on you?”
“I had bandaged spots where they took blood and stuff.”
“Do you know what kind of tests they were running?”
“No, but I know they drew blood and stuff. And one time they did some sort of surgery on my hip. It hurt a lot afterwards.”
“Did you hurt yourself?” Tommy asked quickly.
“No, they just said it was some sort of biopsy of something.” Elliot shrugged, not understanding why everyone was staring at him with horror on their faces. “I figured everything was okay with the tests when no one said anything to me.”
“You mentioned that you still have to go in for blood tests once a month,” Tommy said. “Why?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Tommy snapped.
“I never asked.”
“Why the hell not?”
Elliot blinked. Tommy sounded pissed. “I’ve always had tests.”
“Okay, we’re getting off point here,” Daniel said.
“I think we’re very on point, Dad,” Tommy snapped. “Someone has been doing tests on Elliot, and he has no idea why. I want to know why not.”
“And yelling at him is going to get what you want?”
Elliot pressed his lips to keep from laughing when Tommy started to look like a little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar. But, as much as he found it amusing, he couldn’t allow his mate to feel uncomfortable. Elliot reached back and stroked his hand down Tommy’s cheek.
“Thank you for being concerned, Tommy.”
“I just don’t like the idea of people doing things to you that you don’t know about. It’s wrong, Elliot.”
“You’re probably right.” Elliot shrugged. “I guess I just got so used to it that I never questioned it. It’s been going on my entire life.”
“And it kept your father off your back.”
“There was that.” Elliot giggled. “I remember once while I was in college. I went on holiday with some of my friends and missed my monthly appointment. You would have thought I missed the coronation or something. My father had a fit. He actually hired a helicopter to fly me to the house for my monthly exam. I wasn’t even allowed to go back to my friends. I had to stay home for the next week.”
“Elliot, if these doctor appointments are so important then why haven’t the doctors ever discussed your medical issues with you?” Daniel asked, gaining Elliot’s attention. “You’re a legal adult. I would think your medical history is your business, not your father’s.”
“The doctors work for my father.”
The hairs on Elliot’s arm began to stand up as silence filled the room. He looked around at all the faces in the room, not liking what he was seeing. Their faces had expressions ranging from horror to anger. And Elliot didn’t understand why.
“Why are you all looking at me like that?”
Elliot shrank back when Donovan suddenly sat forward. A small growl fell from his lips until Donovan held up his hand. “Please, I don’t want to fight. I just have a couple of questions for you.”
Elliot didn’t trust the man but he nodded.
“How well do you know your father?”
“Uh.” Elliot glanced between Daniel and Tommy. He really wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Neither man seemed to have an answer for him. “Not very well, I guess. He wasn’t around a lot when I was growing up.”
“Did you live in the same house?” Donovan asked.
“He was gone on business most of the time, but until I was fifteen we lived in the same house, then I was sent away to boarding school.”
“Elliot got very sick when he was fifteen,” Tommy said, his arms tightening around Elliot. “He almost died. It was after he recovered that he was sent to boarding school.”
“Fifteen?” Donovan asked, one eyebrow raised in query.
The sudden silence in the room made Elliot wish he could crawl under the couch. It was frightening. “Something is going on here and I really wish that someone would tell me what in the hell it is.”
“Elliot, shifters hit puberty around that age,” Daniel said softly. “We don’t shift until we hit puberty. I suspect that is what made you so sick.”
“I don’t…” Elliot glanced at each man in confusion, finding the same angry expression on their faces. He didn’t understand what they were all so angry about. “I don’t understand.”
“You didn’t shift, Elliot. It’s natural for us to shift when we hit puberty. When you didn’t shift, you got sick. And I suspect that your father knew all about it.”
Elliot inhaled sharply. “Do you think he was trying to stop me from shifting?”
“No, Elliot, I think your father was waiting for you to shift and when you didn’t, he sent you away.”
“It’s the only explanation,” Donovan added.
“We’re going to have to call Devlin,” Chase said as he looked at Donovan. Something was going on between the two brothers but Elliot couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. “I think he needs to be here.”
“Who’s Devlin?” Elliot asked, glancing between the two men.
“My twin brother,” Donovan said.
“You remember that friend of mine who I said was mated to a vampire prince?” Tommy asked.
“That would be Devlin.”
Tommy chuckled. “Maybe you’ll get to meet your first vampire.”
“Donovan, I also think we need to go get Flynn.” Chase grimaced as if he didn’t like the thought. “He has as much right to be here as the rest of us.”
“You know mother will be pissed,” Donovan said, shaking his head. “She doesn’t like him leaving home.”
Elliot only heard one word and confusion filled him. Mother? How in the hell were they talking about their mother getting pissed if she was already dead? Elliot pushed his confusion away as anger took its place. He suddenly felt like he was being played with and he was not happy about it.
“Wait just a damn minute. First your mother was dead, then I smelled like her, and now you’re talking about her getting pissed off?” Elliot jumped to his feet, glaring at the brothers. He clenched his fists and stomped his foot in frustration. “Does anyone besides me see the problem here?”
“Oh geez, Elliot!” Donovan pushed his hand through his collar-length brown hair. “Man, I’m sorry. I didn’t even think how this would sound to you. Our birth mother is dead. The woman we’re talking about is our stepmother. She’s the one that’s going to get pissed when we go get Flynn.”
“Who is Flynn?” Elliot’s confusion came back in a rush when Donovan shot Chase a slow look.
“Flynn is our younger brother,” Chase said. “He had a real bad experience several years ago, so our stepmother is very protective of him. She doesn’t like him leaving the house.”
“You mean she thinks Flynn is her last chance at grandchildren,” Donovan snorted.
“Chase, Devlin, and I are all gay, and all mated to men. It drives our stepmother up a wall. She can’t stand the idea that we’re with men or that we mated men against her explicit direction not to. She wants grandchildren to carry on the family bloodline, and she doesn’t care how she gets them.”
“Or who she hurts to get them,” Chase added.
Donovan nodded in agreement.
“This woman sounds like a real piece of work,” Elliot said. “Why doesn’t your father do something about her?”
Donovan shrugged. “I don’t think our father ever got over our mother’s death. He’s pretty much lived out of a bottle since she died. Our stepmother runs things in the family. It’s one of the reasons the three of us went with Quilliam
when he became alpha of his own pack, so we could get away from her.”
“Another reason our stepmother hates us,” Chase added.
“So, you just left your brother there with her?” Elliot asked, shocked.
“We’ve been planning on going back for Flynn, but there hasn’t been time. When we arrived here in Wolf Creek Valley, we all kind of found our mates. Between that, and getting things set up for Flynn, it’s been kind of hard to get him.
“You have to understand, Elliot,” Chase added, “several years ago,
someone kidnapped Flynn,” Chase replied. “They wanted to study him and learn how shifting worked. By the time we found him again, he had been so abused and tortured that he was never the same again. He doesn’t leave home, ever.”
“I think that’s when our father really went downhill. He married our stepmother right after that. Maybe he was trying to find us another mother or something, someone that could care for us because he couldn’t.” Donovan shrugged. “Maybe he just didn’t want the responsibility anymore. I don’t know. But that’s when things changed.”
Elliot thought he detected a hint of tears in Chase’s eyes when the man looked at him, but he couldn’t be sure. He didn’t know Chase, or Donovan, that well.
“Our mother was pregnant when she got kidnapped. I think that’s what really did it for our father. He lost not only our mother but his child as well. When Flynn was kidnapped, it just kind of sent him over the edge.”
“Elliot, I’d like you to do something for me.”
Elliot looked at Chase, his words coming right out of the blue.
Apprehension filled him when the large man stood up and walked toward him. He started to push back against Tommy, but shock froze him in place when Chase knelt down on the floor in front of him.
“I’m not making a pass at you or anything,” Chase said as he tilted his head to one side, baring his neck, “but I need you to sniff my neck.”
This couldn’t be happening, Elliot thought as he looked back at Tommy in confusion. He could see that Tommy didn’t like what Chase wanted him to do. The man’s lips were pressed tightly together, his eyebrows drawn together in a deep frown.
“Go ahead, pretty baby, just don’t sniff him very long. My wolf might take it wrong and attack Chase for making a pass at my mate.”
“I don’t have to—”
“No, you do. This is important, Elliot. You need to smell Chase’s neck.”
Elliot was more confused than he could ever remember being but he did as his mate said, leaning forward to sniff at Chase’s neck. Instantly, an alluring scent filled his nose. It was a combination of an outdoor woodsy scent and summer rain.