Forty–five minutes later, I back out of the bedroom, snicking the door shut behind me. Then, I stand up,
closing my eyes and exhaling a long breath.
“Is she all right?” a voice hisses, right behind me.
I leap about a foot in the air, managing to muffle my shriek as I spin to see my mate standing about six
inches from me, looking down with a worried expression. I smack him, hard, against the chest – more
to get my adrenaline out than to actually hurt him – and glare up at him, mad at him for scaring me like
that. Sinclair just blinks at me, waiting, my smack having had no effect on him at all.
“Back up,” I whisper, putting my hands on his wide, muscled chest and pushing backwards. “She’s
asleep, finally – where is the baby?”
“He’s here,” Roger says, standing at the end of the hall with his godson in his arms. I smile, a little, at
the sight as I move forward with my arms open. Roger quietly passes my baby to me and I smile down
at my son, something in my body that has been anxious without him in the same room as me finally
coming to rest.
“Seriously, Ella,” Sinclair says, looking back towards the closed door of our guest room. “Is Cora okay?”
“I don’t know,” I say, looking towards the door anxiously. “Leon came back about ten minutes later,
offering a sedative so she could sleep. I told him to give it as long as it wouldn’t give her bad dreams.
Or any dreams.”
“Did she…say anything?” Sinclair asks, still facing the door.
I frown up at him, a little annoyed by his singular focus on information. “You know she’s your sister too
now, Dominic,” I snap, my own emotions a bit on edge. “You could show a little more concern for her
welfare, and not just see her as a source of information.”
Sinclair swiftly turns his attention to me, anger and frustration immediately on his face, but then he
softens “I’m sorry, Ella,” he says, sincere. “I didn’t mean it like that. You know her health and safety are
my first priority. I was just curious if you learned anything new.”
I sigh, stepping forward closer to my mate, leaning my body against him. “I’m sorry,” I murmur. “I
“You’re tired, and stressed,” he murmurs against my hair. “You haven’t had any sleep in about forty -
“I’m going in with her,” Roger says suddenly, striding towards the guest room door.
“Wha “I start, but he turns to me with his hand on the knob, giving me a look so fierce it steals the
words from my mouth.
“I’m not going to do anything, Ella,” Roger bites out, his voice stern but with an undercurrent of strong
emotion. “I’m just going to…be there, all right? In case she needs anything. You two go get some
sleep,” he says, his face softening. “The house is guarded – Cora will be all right with me.
Just…you need sleep. She needs someone to sit with her. It makes sense. Okay?”
I feel my eyes fill with tears at the sweet sincerity of my brother–in–law and, seeing them, Sinclair
wraps an arm around my shoulder. “Come on, trouble,” he murmurs to me, nodding to Roger – who
disappears into the bedroom – and guiding me towards our own room. “You’re overwrought – let’s get
you down for a nap.”
“How can I sleep,” I gasp, my voice shaky, wiping a tear from my face. “How can I sleep when
someone is coming for my baby – when my sister –”
“You have to sleep,” Sinclair murmurs, ushering Rafe and I into the room and closing the door behind
us. Then he takes me by the shoulders and moves me towards the bed, taking the sleeping baby from
my arms and placing him in his basinet close to my side of the bed.
I cry out a little when my baby leaves my arms. “Just for a moment,” Sinclair murmurs, turning back to
me and – to my surprise – beginning to undress me, tugging my shirt up over my head and arms and
then sitting me down on the mattress, tugging off my leggings. When I’m in my underwear he leaves
me for a moment, disappearing into the closet and returning with a soft nightgown, which he slides
gently over my head. That done, he quickly dips down, lifting Rafe and returning him to my arms.
“There now,” he says, kneeling down in front of me, which absurdly brings his head basically eye- level
with mine. “You trust me, right?” he asks, and, sniffing, I nod vigorously.
“And you know I’d never let anyone hurt or take Rafe, yes?
Again, I nod.
“Then, sleep, darling,” he says, lifting a hand to my face and gently cupping my cheek. “Because in
sleep so you can be strong for them.”
My lip trembles a little in overwrought exhaustion then. A little part of me knows that Sinclair is talking
to me like a child, and resents it, but a larger part of me…god, it needs it. It needs the simple
reassurance, the warm reminder that – at my most basic level – I am cared for, and safe.
Nodding to Sinclair and sending a burst of gratitude down our bond, I turn away from my mate and tuck
my feet in underneath the blankets, taking the baby with me. “Tonight he sleeps in the bed with us,
okay?” I murmur, laying the swaddled baby down flat on the mattress between where Sinclair and I
sleep. I move all of the pillows and blankets away from him so he’ll be safe. “I want him close.”
“Excellent idea,” Sinclair murmurs, stripping down to his underwear and climbing into the bed with us.
Then, he leans forward, kissing Rafe softly on the head before laying his own head back on the pillow.
I almost fall asleep when, scared, I open my eyes again, looking around. But all I see is Sinclair’s eyes,
open, meeting mine calmly. “You’re safe, Ella,” he whispers. “We all are. Go to sleep.” And so,
comforted, I obey.
My body flinches, awake in an instant, and I sit stark straight in the bed in the strange room looking
around – frantic –
I hear noise at my side and flinch away from it – spinning to see
But to my surprise, it’s just…Roger, starting awake in an armchair by the side of my bed
“Cora,” he gasps, his voice still thick with sleep. “You scared me. Are you
But I’m panting, a hand pressed to my heart as I stare at him as I remember the events of last night –
the strange, half–waking dream where I remembered…
And then I’m scurrying backwards in the bed, eager to press my back against something, looking
around the room for him – for the priest in the black robes –
My breath comes fast and I’m panting, my heartrate instantly soaring despite being asleep moments
“Cora!” Roger exclaims, instantly at my side, taking my hand. I cling to his fingers, my hand still
pressed against my chest as I panic. “It’s all right,” he says, his voice soothing as he hesitates and
then moves closer to me. Suddenly, he’s at my side, the right side of his body pressed to my left.
He lets go of my hand for a moment to slide that arm around my shoulders, pulling me tight
“You’re all right, Cora,” Roger murmurs reassuringly, holding me tight against him. “You’re all right. I’ve
And then, slowly, I start to believe him. I close my eyes, trusting him, allowing my heartrate to come
back down to a normal pace. I take a deep breath and make myself remember that I am in my sister’s
house, which is heavily guarded. That no one can get in. That….that Roger’s here. That
“Roger,” I say softly a minute later, when I feel able. “Roger, I remember everything…”
“Tell me, Cora,” he murmurs, his lips soft against my hair. “Tell me everything.“1
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