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Chapter 21: Truth

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Theo heads to the study. I descend the staircase and follow after him, my heart beating harder with every step. When I find him, he's standing behind his desk pouring himself a drink.

He takes a swig. "Your father and family are fine—the Beta also."

"Thank you," I say softly and near the other side of the desk. There's a cut on his face, swiped along his jaw, but it isn't bleeding. I immediately search for other injuries, though they must be under his clothes. "And you're okay?"

He finishes his glass. "Will you come to bed with me?"

My right hand hangs onto my left elbow. "You've been gone every night for almost a week with hardly any explanation. I should say no. I should sleep in the guest room."

"You aren't sleeping in a guest room," he mutters.

"I've been sleeping there, and I thought it was out of anger, but... Every night I just hoped you would show up and bring me back to your bed."

Theo comes around the desk. "I know. And I know you don't want to go upstairs and sleep alone; you want to be held, and I'll be there now."

"You can't pick and choose when to be close to me and when to be cold."

"I always want to be close to you," he asserts.

"Then why weren't you? We were doing okay, and then suddenly the war is happening and you stopped trying," I condemn, not wanting to shout even though my frustrations have been escalating for too long.

His eyes don't leave mine, but I can't take the silence. "Have you really been gone all of these nights because of the attack?" I ask.

He faces the desk, placing both palms on the tabletop.

"Why did Alexa say you wouldn't be at my ceremony? And what was the tincture the wise woman gave me for you?"

He exhales. "I was gone last night because of the attack."

"And the others?"

His resistance is palpable—dense in the air.

"When I first shifted, I struggled to control my wolf," he says suddenly, and any doubts on the tip of my tongue fall back. "My father found out, said we wouldn't say a thing to my mother. He told me to fix it, but I couldn't. The past few days the moon has been full or nearly full, and I can't control my shifting—that's why I stayed away, and that's what the tincture is for. The wise woman has tried to help me for a long time even though she knows there's nothing to do about it; it isn't something that can be helped."

"But at my ceremony—"

"I tried very hard to be there, but afterward... After I kissed you, I was starting to lose my grasp on it. I told you to go upstairs so you wouldn't see."

My tough demeanor slips away as I comprehend his confession. "Theo..."

"No one knows except Alexa, Corbin, Dan, and the wise woman. I told Corbin and Dan after they took their positions, and Alexa found out accidentally when we were young." He struggles to look at me. "If the pack or other Alphas knew I have...a sensitivity to the moon...they would think differently of me. A man who's vulnerable to the moon's phases is seen as weak."

My lips downturn and my brow furrows.

He glances and says, "Don't be upset."

"I just... I wish you knew you could've told me." I hold myself. "This doesn't make me think differently of you."

I see he's working to maintain his stoic composure.

I inch closer and touch his arm. "Thank you for telling me. I know it wasn't easy."

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