When Callum woke up, he hadn’t a clue as to where he was. He was in a bed being held from behind by another body. He hadn’t had sex with that person though as he was wearing clothes and did not have that familiar post-sex soreness in his lower back or ass or the sticky evidence drying on his skin.
The last thing he remembered was lying on Mason’s lap in a park under a tree before he fell asleep. He groaned when he remembered he had told Mason of his ridiculous crush back in freshman year. Mason was not going to let that be forgotten or ignored.
Speaking of Mason, Callum turned around carefully in his bed partner’s hold and grimaced when he saw that it was indeed the wolf shifter who was sleeping with him.
Callum rubbed his face. He had to get out of there fast. Before Mason woke up.
Being as cautious as possible, Callum gently lifted Mason’s arm from around his waist and laid it back on the bed. He waited for a few moments as Mason grumbled under his breath and sighed in relief when the shifter did nothing else. Deeming it safe, Callum carefully got off the bed, watching Mason for any signs of alertness.
Once he was satisfied, Callum took a quick survey of his belongings, realizing that his phone, wallet, and keys were not in his pockets.
He scanned the room, his eyes able to see in the darkness due to the predatory nature of his nonhuman half. His items were lying on the nightstand, next to Mason’s own phone and wallet.
Callum grabbed his belongings and stuffed them into his pockets before tiptoeing out of the room. He never had to be this cautious when he was escaping from tricks, but Mason was a full-blooded wolf shifter. Just because he didn’t wake up when Callum got out of the bed, didn’t mean he wouldn’t wake up if he heard someone moving around his house.
Callum paid no attention to what he soon discovered was an apartment. He just made a beeline for what looked like the main door, a tall table holding a bowl that contained a set of keys and a few bills and coins, as well as a coatrack standing in the corner serving as indicators.
Callum winced as he slowly unlocked and opened the door, cursing the fact that literally everything sounded so much louder when you wanted to be quiet as possible. Then again, it was three in the morning and most people were fast asleep, not trying to sneak out of apartments.
The only moment when Callum finally relaxed was when he was safely closing the door to his own apartment that was quite a fair distance from Mason’s. Not really surprising as Callum was almost always pretty much broke or close enough and Mason was quite obviously pretty wealthy. Club ownership was much more lucrative than Callum had thought, although that was the first time he had such a thought.
Callum shed his clothes and flopped onto his bed after plugging in his phone to charge. He had a little less than four hours until he had to go to work but he wasn’t in the mood to draw or read and going back to sleep was not a possibility.
Rolling onto his back to stare at the cracking ceiling, Callum started to feel kind of guilty. There was no doubt in his mind that Mason had carried him back to the apartment seeing as neither had brought a car. And the park they were at was not exactly close to Mason’s place. He had to take care of Callum’s shitfaced, unconscious ass and he hadn’t taken advantage of the situation. Okay, sure he copped a cuddle for a few hours, but it wasn’t so bad. And Callum couldn’t remember the last time he had been spooned against. Well, he could but he’d rather not and it was a long time ago anyway.
Either way, Callum felt like he should have at least left the shifter a note, thank him for taking care of him or something.
Callum reached blindly for his phone and typed out a text but hesitated at tapping send. He didn’t want to wake Mason up.
“I’ll text him later today, before I go to work,” Callum decided.
“Who’d you murder?”
Callum turned to frown at Grayson, “What?”
Grayson rolled his eyes, “You keep staring at the door as if someone was going to come in and seek some kind of barbaric vengeance. So, who’d you piss off?”
Callum sighed and rubbed his face, “No one, I think.”
In the end, Callum hadn’t sent the message and was now on high alert for Mason appearing.
“I’m gonna grab something to drink real quick,” Callum said, heading for the kitchen door marked with a Staff Only sign. The diner was empty anyway, the calm before the lunch rush storm.
He nodded to the cooks and walked straight to the door that led to the staff room where there were two fridges, a mini and a regular sized one, that were filled with whatever the staff brought. Callum went to the mini and grabbed one of the cans. He never had to worry about his coworkers stealing his drinks because he only ever brought blood to work to snack on. He was completely free of the circular stealing cycle that the rest of the staff was part of. He was the only paranormal working at Tracy’s diner.
As Callum cracked the can open and took slow sips, Tracy came into the room. She didn’t notice him as she was on the phone and was looking quite stressed.
“Yes, I know. I’ll figure something out. What? You can’t be serious. A month? There’s no way I can—” Tracy cut herself off when she turned around, a hand clutching at her head, and she saw Callum.
She blinked and then lowered her voice, “Look, I’ll call you later. Yes. I know. Bye.”
“You alright, Tracy?” Callum asked, cautiously.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it, buttercup,” Tracy tried to smile, but it fell flat.
“If it helps, I have no idea what you were talking about,” Callum offered. “But if you’re stressing out, talk to someone.”
“Thanks, buttercup. I’ve just got some thinking to do. Don’t take too long, the lunch rush is going to be here soon.”
Callum nodded and with that, Tracy left the staff room.
Callum finished off half his drink and put it back in the fridge before heading back into the diner where the lunch rush was just about to begin.
“Lover boy’s here!” Grayson called out, grinning at Callum and wiggling his eyebrows as he nodded towards the booth Mason was heading to.
Callum’s eyes widened and it took an inordinate amount of sheer willpower to not turn tail and run back to the safety of the staffroom deep within the kitchen. He simply walked over to Mason’s table to take his order. Callum wasn’t sure how Mason knew exactly where Callum’s assigned section was or if the wolf was that lucky or Callum was just that unlucky.
“Hi, can I take your order?” Callum asked, forcing himself to act completely normal, as if Mason was not the man who he had run away from just this morning while he was still asleep. It was worse than running into an ex-stand who thought you were their soul mate.
“Coffee and a cheese burger, thanks,” Mason replied with a small, forced smile.
Callum nodded, “Right away, sir.” He turned to leave quickly and sighed when Mason did not hold him back.
As he handed the ticket over to one of the chefs – Tracy hadn’t returned to the kitchen and was probably in her office – Callum prepped Mason’s coffee. He frowned down at the machine, waiting for it to spit out the bitter drink. It was one sentence but Callum immediately noticed how odd Mason was acting. There was no teasing grin, heart-fluttering smirk, perverted comment, or even the slightest bit of skin contact. Just a very disconcerting politeness that Callum wouldn’t have thought twice about had it come from another person, but this was Mason. The shifter who claimed to have loved Callum for nine years and counting, who vowed to make Callum fall in love with him, who kissed and groped him out of the blue, who stalked him for a day and cornered him into two dates that were not dates.
Was Mason really that affected by Callum leaving without a note?
“Here you go,” Callum said, placing the mug down in front of Mason. “It’s another fifteen minutes for the burger.”
Mason nodded without saying a word and rested his forearms on the table, gripping the hot mug with both hands. He closed his eyes and dropped his head down, his brown locks that curled at the end hanging over his closed eyelids.
Callum frowned but didn’t say anything. Another customer was calling him over anyway. Still, Callum couldn’t keep his eyes off of the shifter for longer than a couple minutes.
Mason’s burger was ready and Callum brought it up to the shifter who was slumped back in the booth, staring blankly at his now lukewarm coffee that hadn’t been touched.
“I could go heat this up for you if you want,” Callum offered, not knowing why. Mason was making him uncomfortable, and not in the usual way.
Mason didn’t respond. He looked like he was deep in thought, his brow creased, waging a war of sorts that existed only in his mind, a war he was losing badly. It was not a look that Callum was comfortable with on the shifter’s face. Mason was always grinning in some way. Or scowling, but that was rare and it was never directed at Callum.
“Mason?” Callum tried again. Still, Mason didn’t respond, he maintained that glassy eyed look and Callum was getting worried. He placed a hand on Mason’s shoulder but immediately snatched it back, eyes widening in surprise when Mason growled harshly.
Callum stared at Mason for a stunned second before stuttering out an apology and running away.
Callum avoided Mason for the remainder of the time Mason was there. He even went so far as to beg Grayson to cover Mason’s table for him.
When he went on his official break, Callum decided to just hang in the staffroom and finish off the can he had started a couple hours ago.
Relaxing into the couch, Callum sipped the cold, sterile blood. His first taste of stored blood was not one he particularly liked, not that any blood drinker liked preserved blood over fresh. Even warming up the blood in a microwave didn’t make it any more appealing and Callum preferred it cold when canned.
But seriously, Mason was screwing with his mind. Callum couldn’t believe that Mason actually growled at him, with the intent to threaten. Sure he’d heard Mason snarl before, but that was the first time it was directed at him. Now Callum understood all too well how terrifying it was to be on the receiving end. Especially since Mason had been a prospective alpha.
But why was he so pissed? It couldn’t have only been because Callum hadn’t left a note and slipped away. Although Mason hadn’t tried to call Callum either.
“Argh!” Callum groaned in frustration. “Why does it even matter? He’s leaving me alone. That’s a good thing. Right? It’s what I wanted. I mean…isn’t it?”
So then why did Callum feel so alone?