Hummus On Rye
A scream pierced the air right next to my ear.
The sound yanked me out of sleep so suddenly I almost fell off the bed. Heart pounding, I caught myself and sat up, wide awake, to check on my mate.
Beside me, Tobias whimpered and thrashed. I ducked as his hand came a little too close to my face. He was one hell of a strong guy. If he hit me, I'd have a black eye, and that wouldn't have looked good to the rest of our pack. The Alpha had the right to fight anyone in his pack if they earned a punishment for breaking pack law, but everyone knew I obeyed the law and didn't fight.
"No." The word left Tobias's mouth in a low howl.
"Tobias?" I spoke softly. I didn't want to jolt him out of sleep the way he had me. If he was having a nightmare, waking him suddenly might not be a good idea. But as a werewolf, he should have heard me even if I'd whispered.
He didn't respond other than to let out a long whine. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I'd never heard a sound so full of pain.
"Tobias," I said more loudly. I touched his arm and he shook me off, still showing no sign of waking. "Tobias, wake up. It's a dream. You're here, safe, with me."
He thrashed again and this time I had to roll off the bed to avoid him. The nightmare had one hell of a hold on him.
A sharp knock sounded on the front door of the apartment. "Kyle? Tobias?"
Suzannah's voice. She lived upstairs, so of course she'd heard Tobias's scream. Probably the entire pack had. They didn't all have as strong hearing as I did, but a scream, especially from their Alpha, would have gotten their attention.
I didn't want to leave Tobias alone to answer the door. Calling to Suzannah might startle Tobias. I wanted to wake him, not scare him. Not answering at all might lead her to think something serious had happened. The rest of the pack might be out there with her, for all I knew. Suzannah's mate Kirk was the pack Beta, which meant he had a right to know that everything was okay. They would barge right in if I didn't let them know what was going on.
"It's all right, Suz," I said, only a little more loudly than I would have spoken if she'd been in the room with me. "Just a bad dream." I paused. No one answered. "You can come in. Just not into the bedroom."
"What's going on?" Tobias's words were slurred and he didn't quite open his eyes, but he sounded coherent. That was one hell of a relief. I'd started to worry that he wouldn't wake up at all.
The front door opened and a few sets of footsteps trooped into the apartment. They stopped in the living room. None of them would disturb the Alpha in his bedroom, especially since he shared the bedroom with his male mate. They still weren't totally comfortable with the fact that Tobias and I were mates, let alone that we'd moved in together a week earlier.
I was fine with them staying in the living room, since Tobias and I had fallen asleep naked. Nudity wasn't a big deal among werewolves; we had to take off our clothes to shift, after all. That didn't mean I wanted the entire pack seeing us.
"Kyle?" Tobias spoke more clearly.
"I'm here." I sat on the bed beside him. His gorgeous brown eyes were open now, squinted a bit either in tiredness or confusion. Probably both. I pretended I didn't see the fear in those eyes. "You're okay. Bad dream, huh?"
"Fuck." He ran his hand through his tangled hair without sitting up. "I hear voices."
"You screamed. The pack heard."
"Oh, shit, no." He sat up and stared at the bedroom door. "I screamed?"
"Yeah. That's what woke me. I tried to wake you, but…" I stopped myself from telling him I hadn't been able to wake him. That had scared me, and it would only give him something else to worry about.
"I kept trying to wake up." He shook his head. "I think I tried. There were a couple times I was sure I was awake. Except he was here, so I couldn't have been. He's dead."
"Who?" I had an idea of who Tobias meant, but I wasn't entirely sure. I clenched a fist. The guy who'd changed Tobias had really done a number on him. If he was invading Tobias's dreams, I wanted to get in there myself and stop him. Of course that wasn't possible, which just made it worse. I hated seeing my mate hurting.
"You can't tell the others about this." He stared at me with that alpha look of his, and compulsion tugged at me. For him to even try using his alpha powers on me, he had to be either still groggy or more scared than he wanted to let on. He'd promised never to use them on me.
It helped that I couldn't be compelled. Not by him, not by any alpha I'd met. Not even by the Northeast Region Arkhon, the guy in charge of every pack from Maine to Pennsylvania.
I was irritated that he'd tried it, but I understood. Fear caused people to do strange things sometimes. I could excuse it given the circumstances. "You don't need to zap me. I won't tell them. They know one of us had a nightmare, because I had to tell them something about that scream. We don't have to say any more than that."
"Tell them-no." He slid out of bed and yanked on the gym shorts he kept close at hand in case of middle-of-the-night visits from pack members. "I won't lie to them. There's no weakness in having nightmares. We can't control our dreams."
"Exactly." I was glad he realized that. I hadn't been looking forward to trying to get it through his head. He'd been a dominant wolf since being changed at age fifteen, and he'd become Alpha of the Boston North Pack before his eighteenth birthday. He didn't deal well with anything that made him appear weak, and he was harder on himself than anyone else could ever be.
"Put some clothes on and let's go out there. I don't want the pack just sitting around my living room." He tossed me a pair of shorts which pretty well matched his. I wasn't sure which of us they belonged to. Somewhere along the line of packing and unpacking and trying to share a space, some of our stuff had gotten jumbled.
I put on the shorts and we opened the bedroom door. Only three pack members sat in the living room. That was three too many, but at least there weren't more.
Harriet Frelich, the pack Peacekeeper and third in command, stood and scrutinized Tobias as he walked into the center of the room. "You woke most of the pack. What happened?"
"We've been through a lot in the past six months or so." Tobias settled on the arm of the plush chair that we'd brought over from my old apartment. It was the nicest item of furniture I owned, and he'd adopted it as his the moment I'd brought it in. "Sometimes memories resurface, especially when we're asleep and can't control our minds as well."
"I was afraid there'd been an attack." Kirk McCoy's comment sounded a lot like an accusation.
"I apologize for that," Tobias said evenly. "I had a nightmare. In the dream, I screamed. Obviously that scream, shall we say, escaped. I'm sorry you were concerned." He looked each of them in the eye. Kirk and Harriet looked away.