He glanced into the ashtray. The phone was dancing, threatening to fall onto the floor of the passenger side of his truck. That number almost made him want to let it fall. He didn't want to address that situation. It was too soon for him to be calling with an answer. Nearly seventy two hours in.
Byron was calling to compromise.
He'd made an impossible request. There was a purpose behind it. He wasn't going to budge. Nothing was going to change his mind. If it kept them out of his life, then so be it.
Less involvement, less pain.
With a deep sigh he snatched it just before it fell. A moment of hesitation before he put it to his ear.
“There's no point in calling if you don't have an answer, Byron.”
A stuttered breath. He rolled his eyes. The silence almost made him hang up.
“So…I'll pay for the internet, if you want. Kinda a gamer, ya know.”
His grip tightened on the wheel.
“I've got an awesome VR set up. I'll let you use it. It's damn amazing. Graphics are pretty sweet.”
He cleared his throat.
“Sounds…interesting.” He barely got out.
A weak laugh,“Understatement of the century.”
“Dad's still got the keys to your old place. I'll clean it up best I can while you're on your way over…”
“Look, Danny, I…”
“It's no biggie, I got it. I can clean. Can't promise I know how to use foaming bleach spray though…”
“You don't have to do...”
“Wait, please don't tell me you left a dead deer carcass in the tub to decompose. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure bleach will not work on that. I can guarantee…”
“That's not what I meant, Danny.” He said, his tone a little harsher than he wanted.
Another stuttered breath. Long exhale.
“Look, we both need something out of this. My pack is starving. We need you. You need somewhere to stay. You can't run forever.”
So he knew.
“No take backs. You always lived by that.”
“Yeah…no take backs.” He mumbled.
“Sweet! So how long 'til you get here?”
“Week, minimum. I'm across country.”
“Alright, should have the place all sparkling. Just give us a call when you're close. Or text, that works too. Uh, do you want my number? Yeah, probably better to do that…”
“I'll see you in a week, Danny.”
“Uh, Sounds good. Party on!”
He didn't like how his heart was buzzing. Nervousness and anxiety were crawling up his spine. The long road outside his windshield was tuned out by his spinning brain.
Already he could imagine Danny's boyish grin. That wild brown hair and those brilliant dark chocolate eyes. The enticing light charm of his scent was still fresh in his nose.
He was part of the reason he left. It wasn't right what he felt. The second Danny turned eighteen he knew he had to leave. It was a blessed curse he found out his mother was sick. He needed to get away from him.
That pup was his weakness.
Those jokes when he was nervous. Innocent curious questions when he was intrigued. Rambling when he was passionate about something.
Always others before himself.
He wanted to chuck his phone out the window. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Byron should've said ‘no’. Kept his pack safe.
Kept Danny safe.
The phone vibrating in his hand made him flinch. He looked down at the lock screen. A text from a new number.
This is Danny.
His fluttering heart dropped to his boots.
How was he going to keep his heart numb until Byron forced him to leave for his pack's sake?
For Danny's sake?
How was he going to stop himself from imprinting on that pup before then?He was a horrible wolf. A selfish one. A stupid one. A cursed one.
His mother should have let them kill him a long time ago.
Everywhere he went, he brought misery. Byron's pack was just one example.
With a sigh, he flicked his turn signal for the next exit. It was about time he adjusted his GPS.
Michigan was a long way off.