Ryan took hold of her hand. “I have to go home to Oregon for a week or so, and I was asking them to keep an eye on you.”
Glory’s blood ran cold. He was leaving her again.
She could barely hear him over the roaring in her ears. Her chest hurt, her hands and feet tingled. God. She hadn’t had one of these in years, but she recognized all the signs. She had to calm down.
“Shit. What’s happening?” Ryan’s voice, so distant, was thick with fear.
She doubled over, unable to catch her breath, nausea racking her until she began to dry heave.
She couldn’t catch her breath, damn it.
Spots danced before her eyes, blocking her vision. The edges went dark, and Glory knew she was about to pass out. Cyn and Tabby must be freaking the hell out.
The voices of her friends barely registered, but Ryan’s arms, his scent, enveloped her. Dizzy, she clung to his shoulders, barely aware he’d picked her up.
No. She had to leave, had to find a place that was safe. Ryan was leaving.
She needed to get away.
She began struggling violently, desperate to run, to flee from the knowledge that the man who was supposed to stay by her side, had promised her he wouldn’t leave, was once again going away.
A deep hum shattered the fear, the notes off-key yet soothing, a masculine lullaby that slowly but surely chipped away at the edges of her terror. Glory blinked, the spots receding, her breath coming easier as that hum enveloped her in warmth. She could feel it moving inside her, soothing her pain, helping her find her center.
When she could focus enough to see past the panic, she realized she was firmly on Ryan’s lap, being rocked like a child. He held her close, her head under his chin, her arms firmly around his waist. He was humming something that was probably a lullaby but sounded more like a cat with a hairball trying to purr.
“You okay, sugar?” Tabby was kneeling beside Ryan, her hand stroking Glory’s curls.
Glory’s breath was coming a bit easier now. “How long?” When Tabby frowned, she explained. “I lose my sense of time when…” She couldn’t finish. She was just too embarrassed that this had happened again, especially after such a long period of time had passed since the last attack.
“When you have a panic attack.” Cyn’s no-nonsense tone was almost as soothing as Ryan’s off-key hum.
“Yeah.” There was no sense in denying it. She’d had panic attacks frequently when she first moved in with Cyn and her family. Cyn knew the signs of one, and had helped head one off while Glory was in the hospital. Hell, she’d helped calm Glory down when they’d met with the Halle Puma Alpha and Curana, Max and Emma Cannon, to discuss how to deal with the man who’d shot Glory.
Ryan hadn’t been there, either.
“What happened?” Alex, his hand on Tabby’s shoulder, was studying her closely. “I get you had a panic attack, but why? What set it off?”
Glory refused to answer. There was no need to share her shame.
“Ryan talked about leaving.” Cyn sighed as Glory started to lose her breath again. “Glory, he’s not going anywhere.”
Glory flinched. She couldn’t let Ryan know he was the reason she’d—
“I did this?” Ryan tucked his fingers under her chin and gently lifted her face to his. “Oh, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
She struggled again to get out of his lap, but he held fast, refusing to let her go. “Let. Me. Go.”
“No.” He began rocking again, humming under his breath.
Damn it. Why did the sound of his voice, the way his chest vibrated against her cheek, soothe her so much? Not even her mother, who’d left soon after Hope disappeared and divorced her father in a bitter battle that left the family in ruins, had been able to calm her the way Ryan did.
“I won’t leave you. I give you my word, Glory.” Ryan’s vow was made in a voice that could have chipped diamonds. “I’ll stay here and get someone else to take care of the problem.”
She took a deep breath, aware that Ryan understood what had set her off. Damn it, she didn’t need to be even weaker in front of him. “I’m fine.”
“Bullshit.” Cyn scowled down at her, but Glory could see the concern. “Glory, you have an anxiety disorder. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Yeah, right. Glory didn’t see Cyn panicking every time Julian went somewhere.
Cyn growled. “Ryan, Glory’s had episodes off and on for years. They’re always triggered by the fear that she’ll be abandoned.”
“I’m fine.” Glory was going to kill Cyn.
He tilted her face up again. “No. You’re not. But I’m okay with that.”
“Ryan…” She sighed, cuddling up against him. The sound of his heartbeat, the knowledge that he was right there, solid and real, began to destroy the last of the fear. “I’ll be all right.” She had to be. She’d gone through this before, and she’d live through it again.
Part of her was humiliated that she’d had an episode. The other part was so relieved he wasn’t leaving she was almost giddy with it. “I can’t do this. I need… I need to go.”
The low, feral growl was barely audible, but it rumbled through his chest and shook her to the core. “You aren’t going anywhere.”
She risked looking up and found his normally blue eyes had gone dark brown. Fangs peeked over the edge of his bottom lip. Five-inch black claws scraped across her gauzy top, catching in the thin fibers. “Um. Down, boy.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “I won’t leave you alone.”
Now she was going to panic for a whole other reason. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Watch me.” His voice was low, gravelly. Ryan must be close to losing to his Bear.
“Calm down, Rye. She’s fine, she’s in your lap. It’s a panic attack, nothing more.” Alex helped Tabby to her feet. “Take her into the back room and get her some water.”