She laughed again. God. She really didn’t want to force him to stay, but the thought of being in the shop without him? Chills raced up and down her spine. Her arms were quickly covered in goose bumps. She was pretty sure her hair was standing on end. “I’ll be all right.”
“Bullshit.” Julian was crouching in front of her, his eyes totally gray. A thick strand of silver appeared right over his temple. “You are very far from okay.” She felt a tingling sensation as Julian used his Kermode powers to calm her racing heart. “I think you need to stay, Ryan.”
“Why is this happening? I thought I was over this.” Glory leaned back against Ryan, his strength becoming her own. “I hadn’t had a panic attack in years, and now I’m getting them all the time.”
Julian shared a concerned look with Ryan. “When you stopped having them, you went into ‘remission’.” Julian took hold of her hand. “Have you ever seen a psychologist for your panic attacks?”
“That’s why. For some reason, the fear of the panic attacks receded, sending the disorder into remission. The recent attacks on Tabby, Cyn and yourself, plus the stress of moving the business and finding out there are shifters, plus the stress of finding your mate, have all combined to bring them back. It isn’t your fear of being left that’s causing all this. It’s your fear of change.”
“It started when Hope disappeared, continued through your family’s abandonment of you. No one has truly left you this time. You’re not alone, not ever. And part of you knows that, but the panic disorder doesn’t distinguish between true changes and what’s happening now.”
“I know that.” She clutched Julian’s hand. “Ryan won’t leave me. I know nothing’s really changed.”
“But your heart and your head are at odds. Tabby mated Alex and moved out of your apartment.” Ryan placed his finger over her lip when she tried to speak. “Then Cyn moved in with Julian. Then the shop got moved.”
“And last night I moved in with you. So it’s all about change, good or bad.” It made sense, in a twisted sort of way.
“Mm-hm.” Ryan stroked her hair. “No one’s saying that what you’re feeling isn’t legitimate. You’ve been through a hell of a lot, sweetheart. It’s a testament to how strong you are that you haven’t lost your mind for real.”
“And the panic attacks can be controlled, just like any phobic reaction.” Julian was smiling, but his eyes were still silver.
She glared at them equally. “So you guys are saying I’m crazy.”
“No. You’re coping with crazy. There’s a difference.” Ryan tugged her hand out of Julian’s, stroking her fingers soothingly. The sensation of Ryan’s power washing over her was different, more jagged and not as strong as Julian’s. “This is something you may overcome with time, or something that will occasionally hit you for the rest of your life. The important thing is knowing what causes it and trying to overcome the fear that triggers it.”
“That’s it.” Ryan kissed the top of her head. “And for now, at least, I telecommute from here. If it keeps the panic attacks at bay, it will be worth it.”
“But we still need to address the phobia, and for that we need an expert.”
“Then we find one. But for now?” Glory smiled as Ryan’s arms tightened around her. “I’m not going anywhere.”
And he didn’t, not for the whole day. He stayed out of the way, peeking in on them every now and then to make sure the asshole who’d bitten her hadn’t returned.
Ryan claimed he had a whiff of the guy now, and if he caught even a smidgeon of his scent anywhere near Glory the asshole was going to suffer a Bear mauling.
He also told her it was the same scent that had been on the gifts she’d found outside her apartment.
That didn’t creep her out the tiniest bit.
Nope. Not at all.
Ryan sauntered out to the front of the shop, stopping to check out the piercing jewelry. Ryan was pleased with the dark earring she’d picked for him. Maybe he was considering getting something else done as well.
Some people loved getting piercings, while others simply did their ears and nothing else. She was beginning to think Ryan might be in that first category. Maybe he would let her pick his next piercing again. Maybe she’d do one of his nipples? She didn’t think he was ready for a Prince Albert or a guiche, but a pretty gold ring in his nipple for her to play with?
The bell over the door jangled, catching Glory’s attention.
A white-blond, blue-eyed man walked in and took a quick look around. She gasped, the stranger all too familiar to her.
He took a look around, his gaze glancing off both Cyn and Glory before whipping back to Glory. “Glory? Is that you?”
Glory collapsed into one of the turquoise chairs, her hands clenching on the arms. It couldn’t be, but it was. “Temp?”
The man’s smile was huge, his blue eyes, so much like Glory’s, sparkling with happiness and tears. “Damn, girl. You look good.”
Glory covered her mouth, her own blue eyes huge. “Oh. My. God.”
The bell jangled again, and another pale blonde walked in. This one was tiny and feminine, a younger, slightly taller version of Glory. “You found her, Temp?”
“Faith?” Glory was shaking, her voice weak with shock. She stood and took a step closer to her baby sister, a sister she’d never thought to see again.
“Glory!” Faith rocketed forward, throwing herself into Glory’s arms. “It’s really you.”
“Oh my God.” Glory began to breathe erratically as Faith sobbed in her arms. “How?”
Temp watched the two women hugging, silent tears streaking down his cheeks. “It’s so good to see you again.” He moved forward far more cautiously than his sister had, watching Glory as if she might collapse at any moment.
Ryan crossed the room to her side, putting his hand on her shoulder. “Easy, sweetheart.”
Her breathing evened out as Ryan’s power poured into her, soothing her. “Rye? This is my family.”