Before she could protest Ryan was on his feet, Glory cradled in his arms as if she weighed nothing. He carted her into the back room, refusing to let her down when she struggled.
She must have frightened him, more than she thought possible, because Ryan was right on the edge of changing. “Are you all right?”
He stared at her, his expression surprised. “I should be asking you that.” A little bit of blue peeked out from the dark brown of his Bear’s gaze. Ryan was gaining some control back. He leaned forward, holding her steady. “Grab a bottle of water?”
She did as asked, her hands shaking too badly to open it.
He sat at the break table, keeping her in his lap, and took it from her. He opened it and held the bottle to her lips. “Drink.”
Taking a sip of water, Glory studied him from under her lashes. The brown was slowly seeping away as the shakes that had racked her body subsided. She cleared her throat and handed him back the water. “I told you. I have…issues.”
“I noticed.” He took a sip himself before recapping the bottle and placing it on the break table. “I want to know what happened, but not if it will set off another attack.”
She bit her lip. Did she want to give him that much power over her?
The pain, the plea in his voice, gave her the power to speak. He was practically begging to shoulder her pain. “Everyone leaves.” The words came out in a rush, surprising her. She hadn’t meant to say it quite that way.
Ryan’s eyes went wide before closing. “Oh, shit. Your family.”
“Hope disappeared, my mother left, my father took the rest of my family out of state and left me behind.” The words wouldn’t stop tumbling out of her mouth. “Everyone leaves me. Brittany left when she found out what Tabby was.”
Ryan pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. “I won’t leave you, I swear.”
She shrugged, clamping her lips shut before her diarrhea of the mouth took over again.
She huffed out a breath. Damn perceptive Bear. Wasn’t she allowed to have any secrets?
“I didn’t leave you voluntarily. You know that, right?”
She refused to look at him, and he didn’t force the issue. Instead, he pressed her head against his chest again.
She knew that, but it didn’t matter. He should have waited for Julian or Dr. Howard instead of taking off. When she found out Ryan had gone missing she’d damn near lost it. To find out he’d disappeared voluntarily?
She’d been furious and terrified at the same time. The word rogue had been whispered when they thought she couldn’t hear. From the sound of it, that wasn’t a good thing to be labeled in the shifter world.
He rubbed his chin against the top of her head. “I will never leave you again.”
“Never.” His tone was firm. “From now on, I’m stuck on you like glue.”
Wonderful. Half of her was doing the Snoopy dance of happiness, while the other half was terrified out of its wits. “I told you not to make promises you can’t keep.”
“Sweetheart, I hate to tell you this, but now that my Bear knows about your abandonment problems I can’t leave you alone, even if I want to.” He sighed deeply. “We can’t stand the thought of you hurting, let alone being the cause of it. So, please. Trust me when I say, you’ll never truly be alone again.”
Hell. She almost believed him. “Okay.”
“I know you do.” Strangely enough, she did. The last of the panic began to recede, Glory relaxing in his embrace. “But you can’t follow me into the ladies’ room.”
She bit back a grin, refusing to acknowledge how right it felt to be cuddled up in his lap. “You’re such an ass, Ryan.”
Her sappy tone belied her words. He was getting to her, the big oaf, and if she wasn’t careful she was going to fall in love with him.
Admit it. You’re already in love with him.
“Your ass.” When she glared up at him he kissed the tip of her nose. “Give me a chance to prove to you that not everyone leaves, all right?”
She bit her lip. “I keep telling myself that Cyn and Tabby are still here, but part of me believes even they’ll go away eventually.” God, she’d been terrified when her family up and left. The fight had been huge, the bruises her father had left behind a reminder of why it had been a good thing in the end.
But she missed her brother and sisters with a ferocity that would have shocked anyone who didn’t know her well. Temp, Hope and Faith had been the only things that made living in the Walsh household bearable. When Hope disappeared, Glory had been devastated.
It was the first of many losses she’d suffered over the years. Her twin had never been found.
He studied her for a long, uncomfortable minute before nodding. “I want to know. Maybe we can ask some of the shifters to help find out what happened to her.”
For the first time in a long while Glory felt some hope. Why hadn’t she thought of that? “You think they’d be willing to?”
Ryan smiled. “You’re technically a member of the Halle Pride. I think Max and Emma would be willing to help you out.”
Glory smiled. “Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, having you stick around.”
“Yup. I’m like Super Glue. You’ll never get me off your skin.”
He sounded far too happy about that. “You’re crazy.”
He hummed under his breath. “Leave everything to me. You worry about our date, and I’ll worry about setting up a meeting with the Alpha and Curana. Deal?”
Jeez. She was going to regret this, she just knew it. But what else could she do? She kissed his chin, knowing that sooner or later she was going to give in to him. “Fine. Deal.”
The soft, sweet kiss she received in return made her think that belonging to Ryan might not be such a bad thing after all.