Dex sorted out all of Sloane’s pillows, fluffing them up and arranging them before bringing the tray over.
Once Sloane was settled, Dex placed the tray over his lap and kissed him, tasting a faint hint of minty freshness.
Sloane stared down at the tray.
“Is it okay?” Dex asked. Had he forgotten something? “Eggs benedict and pancakes are your favorite, right?”
“You made heart-shaped pancakes.”
Dex held back a smile. “Are they too unmanly? Should I have made them grenade-shaped? I’m sure Letty’s got a mold for those.”
Sloane chuckled. “No, hearts are fine. It’s real sweet. Thank you.”
Dex sat down on the edge of the bed beside him. He ran his fingers through Sloane’s hair feeling guilty for having left him on his own last night. Sloane could take care of himself, even if he was injured, but his partner was drugged up and obviously feeling a little out of it, considering his reaction to the heart shaped pancakes. Maybe it was time he took care of his partner like he’d promised he would.
“Why don’t you eat your breakfast while I shower, and we’ll watch a movie or something together?”
Sloane gave him a wide smile. “I’d like that.”
Dex left Sloane to his breakfast and went off to shower as quickly as he could. Showering wasn’t as much fun without his partner. As he lathered himself up, a naughty thought occurred to him. He’d also promised he’d make his partner purr. Finishing up, he could barely hold back his smile or the heat spreading through him. Easy there, Daley. Don’t get yourself worked up yet. He dressed in his comfy cotton pajama bottoms and a loose faded Back to the Future T-shirt before heading out into the bedroom. Sloane was smiling, his plate devoid of any evidence food had ever been on there. Wow, his partner had been hungry. Really hungry. Starving. Sort of like after….
“Please tell me you didn’t.” Dex removed the tray and put it on the floor against the wall. He pulled the blanket back and tried to lift Sloane’s T-shirt, but his partner slapped his hand away. “Sloane, let me see, damn it.” He grabbed Sloane’s wrist with one hand and managed to pull up the cotton shirt, cursing under his breath at the tiny beads of blood seeping through the bandage. “For fuck’s sake, did you try to shift?” When Sloane looked away, Dex had his answer. No wonder his partner was out of it. It wasn’t just the meds. Sloane hadn’t recuperated from postshift. Dex opened the minifridge and found it empty.
“When?” He slammed the fridge door shut.
“Last night. After you called,” Sloane mumbled.
“Last night?” Dex put a hand to his head. Veggies and hummus were all well and good for Sloane’s Human side, but not for the Felid inside him. He needed meat, protein, and more than the packet of sliced chicken Dex had left him in the fridge. “Fuck. Sloane, you know you’re not supposed to attempt shifting. The doctor said so, and it’s in the packet. To make matters worse, you do it when there’s no one here to perform postshift trauma care? With no access to the right foods? What were you thinking?”
“I’m thinking I need to fucking heal, and if that’s the quickest way to do it, then it’s a risk I’m willing to take!”
Sloane’s ferocity surprised Dex, and he took a step back. His partner’s pupils were dilated and his fangs slightly elongated. Fuck, what the hell was going on? It was like Sloane was having trouble controlling his feral side. Dex could see it. He could see the Felid inside Sloane staring back at him from behind glowing amber eyes. Could the meds be doing this? The recovery packet the doctor had given them specifically instructed Sloane not shift while he was healing, especially while on his meds.
“Okay, take it easy. It’s me.” Dex held his hands up in front of him and swallowed hard, aware of the telltale signs. “There’s no hurry for you to heal, Sloane. It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay,” Sloane snarled, his fingers flexing against the sheets and his nails starting to grow. Fuck.
“Sloane, you need to breathe. Calm down.” Dex slowly edged away from the bed. Why was this
happening? Sloane had never lost his grip on his Felid side. Not to mention he’d yet to fully recover from his first attempt. “Please, Sloane. Your body’s not healed from the first try. Who knows what a second attempt will do?”
There was no reply from Sloane. He was gritting his teeth, his face red, and his muscles straining.
“Sloane, you need to stop.”
“I can’t.” Sloane lowered his head, his fierce gaze on Dex.
“To protect you!”
Dex gasped as Sloane let out a roar, his body starting to shift. What the hell was Dex supposed to do?
He’d never faced a Therian who’d lost control of his Human side, much less an Apex predator. Quickly, he backed up against the far wall, cringing as Sloane’s cries of agony filled the room. Sloane tore at his clothes, pulling his T-shirt and pajama bottoms off before his mass shifted, bones popped, and fur pierced his skin. Dex reached into his pocket and with shaky hands placed a call.
A gruff voice answered. “What do you want?”
“Ash, you have to help me.” The panic in his voice must have been clear, because Ash’s tone instantly transformed from its usual gruffness to concern.
“What’s going on, Dex? Talk to me.”
“It’s Sloane. He’s shifting, but it’s not… not normal. He tried last night but couldn’t complete the transformation. Then we got into an argument, and it’s like he’s lost it. I don’t think he’s in control. How is that possible?”
“Hide somewhere he can’t get to you. I’m on my way. I’ve still got my key to your place.”
Ash hung up, and Dex shoved his phone in his pocket. Where the fuck was he supposed to hide? When he moved his gaze to the bed, he stilled. There was no time for hiding. The huge black jaguar lay in the center of the bed, his tail thumping against the headboard. He sniffed the sheets, then the air before his gaze landed on Dex.