Reverence – Shelly Crane

I woke up with a jackhammer in my spine. At first I thought it was just Kyle’s crappy spare bed, but it wasn’t. It was withdrawals. Withdrawals from my Maggie because I had imprinted. And her heart was banging around in my chest. I couldn’t even make myself get out of bed. I just lay there and remembered everything from the night before. It was all real. The girl at the bus stop, her saving me from the jackass in the truck, her being beautiful and awesome, her touching me…she was mine. I jerked up out of bed with a renewed vigor, but quickly slowed a retreat as my back groaned and protested like an old person’s. “Ah,” I groaned to no one. “Holy hell.” “Caleb?” I heard through the door. “Are you awake yet, boy?” “Yeah,” I answered gruffly and ran a hand through my hair of spikes as Gran came inside the door and put her hands on her hips as she grinned at me. “What?” I asked in the most reserved voice I could to show that I was annoyed, but still be respectful.

“You’re bent over like an eighty year old and groaning and complaining through the walls. You still giddy that you imprinted?” “Of course I am, Gran,” I said quietly. I blew a breath and leaned my elbows on my knees. “I will admit that the withdrawals suck, though.” “That they do,” she agreed and came to sit on the bed with me. “The sooner you get to her, the better you’ll feel.” “Yeah, but I don’t want to scare her. If I run over there before a decent hour, she’ll probably freak and kick me out.” “I highly doubt that, boy.” She lifted a piece of hair from next to my ear in her fingers.

“Girls usually invite cute boys in, not throw them out.” “Maybe, but I want to be absolutely sure that she’s ready. I’ll go, but I want her to have a minute to wake up and catch her breath first. Today is going to be really crazy for her.” “Well, I’ll leave you to get ready, I guess.” She stood and looked down at me. “She’ll have to get used to crazy if she’s gonna be with us.” I laughed. “Let’s ease her into it, Gran.” “If you say so,” she cackled and made her way out.

“Please, please, Gran. Take it easy on her.” Her cackle was not reassuring as it got louder. As soon as she was gone, I threw my clothes on and went down the hall to bang on Kyle’s door. He was my key to opening the door labeled ‘Maggie’. “Kyle, I know you hear me banging away out here. Open the door, slacker.” I heard his growl through the door, “I’ll murder you and claim insanity if you don’t scram.” “Kyle, open up. What kind of weirdo locks his bedroom door anyway?” “The kind that has jerks staying over who steal girlfriends.

” I pressed my fingers into my eyes and took a deep breath as the pain in my back and legs got a little worse. “She wasn’t your girlfriend.” “Irrelevant!” he yelled, but I heard movement on the other side. He yanked the door open and glared at me. He was wearing nothing but plaid boxers and his hair was a serious mess. The pillow lines on his face completely disarmed his scowl. “What, Cuz? Wanna steal my wallet, too?” “Dude,” I drawled and pushed him out of the way so I could enter. “What is wrong with you?” “I thought it was obvious,” he said sarcastically and threw himself back on the bed and slammed the covers over his head. “It’s not, actually.” I pulled his desk chair over and straddled it, resting my arms along the back.

I rubbed my eyes again, hoping to stave off the pain behind them a little. “I don’t care who the girl was, if you imprinted on someone, I’d be happy for you.” “Not if you were trying to date her, you wouldn’t,” he said, his voice muffled from the blanket. I yanked the blanket back and punched his leg lightly. “I told you it was a bad idea to even try.” “Whatever,” he muttered and stayed right where he was, arms wide and face turned away from me on the mattress. “Come on, man. I’m about to go get her. I need you to give me her address.” “Not a chance.

” He turned his head to glare at me some more. “Why would I help you with her?” “Because this sucks, bro.” I rubbed my neck. “The withdrawals ain’t no joke.” “Boo hoo. Cry me a freaking river.” “Maggie’s hurting as bad as me, or worse.” He stiffened. “Come on, help me.” He stayed still and silent, but then exhaled and rolled over again.

“Fine.” He spouted the street address and before he was even done, I was gone. I could feel her heartbeat, and it was getting stronger in my chest, and I knew that it would lead me to her if she was distressed anyway. So after brushing my teeth and swiping my hair back with my fingers, I hit the pavement without saying another word to anyone. As I walked, I passed the stoplight where she saved me last night, right as her heartbeat kicked into high gear right next to mine. My feet took off before my brain even understood what was going on. It was strange how I knew right where to go; no guessing, no tripping feet, no veering. I went right into the front door of a house that I’d never seen, went up the stairs to a bathroom door, opened it and took the girl in my arms. Immediately a sigh escaped us both and I could feel again. Breathe again.

Gah, she smelled so good. I ran my hand up her arm to fill her with my touch. “I’m sorry,” I whispered to her. “I got here as fast as I could.” I didn’t want to rush her or scare her, and she needed my touch whether she wanted it or not, but she leaned into me and accepted everything I had to offer. I felt everything inside of me relax. I actually sniffed her hair as I continued to hold her to me. I had to figure out what that smell was, but it could wait. As she leaned back to look at me, anything I might have been thinking was lost to me. Holy….

she was absolutely gorgeous, even more so than last night. Her freckles were spackles of cuteness across her nose. And the blue shirt she was wearing was soft and see-through across her shoulders. I gulped to keep from saying something stupid. Like how much my body was screaming to kiss her, throw her over my shoulder and take her away from everyone and everything, never ever stop touching her. “Hi,” she said, her voice breathy and sweet from toothpaste. “Hi,” I answered back and my cheeks hurt. I realized I was grinning like a frigging idiot and started doing something else to distract myself. I pushed her hair back to inspect the wound…that I had inflicted on her. Man, that hurt to think about.

“How’s the head?” I asked. “It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt anymore.” “Did you sleep ok?” “Yeah. I slept great, actually.” I realized that I still had her in my arms, all cave man like, and promptly stepped back to give her a little space. I wanted her to be comfortable, even if that meant that I wasn’t touching her. “And I was fine, I mean I felt a little weird, like I had the flu,” she said and I nodded to confirm, “but it wasn’t until I started to think about things- um, you, that I freaked.” “I know. It happens, especially the first few days after an imprinting.

” “Why?” I shrugged and tried to speak clearly. “Doesn’t matter. I’m here now, and I have no intentions of going very far.” “Good,” she answered, her green eyes locked on mine. I grinned, couldn’t be helped. She swallowed delicately, her throat working down her neck. Ah…gah…. I asked her about going out with Kyle. Then all hell broke loose in my body. I saw the offense mark, in my mind it was like I gripped her and slung her around I was so angry, but I didn’t.

My touch was gentle and she was calming me down. Some. But it was then that I realized she was just as strong and capable as I was of being there. Of being kind and gentle and just…there when you needed them. I didn’t know if she understood what her touch was doing for me or not, but she was like a band-aid to my pissy mood. Then I seemed to come back into myself as I heard the name of the Watson who’d always wanted to kick my teeth in. “Marcus touched you?” I asked softly, running my finger along her smooth skin. She was so breakable and had no idea the sadistic things Marcus was capable of. “He grabbed me when we tried to walk away. But as soon as he knew that I- you- we…” “That we imprinted,” I supplied, my grin now fixed back into position.

I held back my growl of satisfaction. Barely. “Yes. He left. I didn’t see this until this morning.” “It’s what happens to warn them that you don’t belong to them.” “I know, I felt it, but why didn’t it do that when Kyle touched me?” “Kyle touched you?” I asked and once again felt my blood begin to warm to uncomfortable levels in my veins. “He held my hand a couple times,” she explained. “Mostly to make me keep up with him, but it never did that with him.” “It only happens if the person’s actions aren’t of pure intention.

Your body can sense it when someone means you harm.” “So, that Marcus guy wanted to hurt me?” she said all breathy and vulnerable. “Don’t worry about that just yet.” I got bold and brought my hand to her cheek. My big ugly hand next to her gorgeous face seemed strange…but right. “One thing at a time. I’ll explain it all to you, but right now, I need to get you over to Kyle’s. My family is all there, waiting for us.” “Eh,” she groaned. “I don’t like crowds.

” “You’ll like this crowd.” I smiled to reassure her, and the thought of my family meeting her and this becoming seriously real was the best thing I could think of at the time. “They were so happy last night when I told them what happened. They can’t wait to meet you.” So she took me downstairs, I met her father who barely spared her a glance and then walked with her to Kyle’s. Even though I wasn’t touching her, I knew she was scared. Her heart was beating fast in my chest. And I was scared. What if she met my big, crazy family and bolted? What if once she knew all the facts, she wanted nothing to do with any of it. Or me? What if Gran’s inappropriate comments were too much for this girl whose mom left and dad checked out of her life? She stopped on the lawn and I knew she was freaking out.

I had to fight my hands to stay where they were while she ranted and tried to convince me she was a nobody, nothing, worthless. I’d never wanted to strangle anyone as badly as I wanted to strangle her parents for making her feel that way about herself

.

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