“Tobias,” Kyle said softly. “I can hear your mind racing. Please tell me what’s going on.”
I took another breath and decided I might as well blurt it out. “I killed someone.”
Kyle gasped and tensed. For a second I was afraid he would pull away from me, but he didn’t. “Now?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I wished I’d kept my mouth shut, but it was too late now. “Someone was here. I don’t know exactly what woke me, but as soon as I was awake, I knew someone was in the house.”
“You kept me asleep.” His tone was perfectly bland, but it still sounded like an accusation.
It put me even more on the defensive. “Yeah, I did. I couldn’t risk anything happening to you. I didn’t know who was here or why, and if you’d woken up, you would have wanted to go with me.”
“Duh. I don’t want anything to happen to you, either.” He cuffed my shoulder. “Go on. I’m listening, and I promise I won’t interrupt again.”
“You didn’t interrupt this time.” I’d stopped talking because I couldn’t quite bring myself to admit what had really happened. “I went downstairs and sensed that whoever was here had gone outside. So I went out.”
I paused again. This time, Kyle didn’t speak.
“There was a wolf in the woods near the back door,” I said. “I don’t know who he was. No one I’ve met. He didn’t smell like any of the region’s packs.” I shuddered, and Kyle tightened his arm on me, still not speaking. I took a deep breath. “He smelled like sickness and death, and he had a compulsion on him I couldn’t break.”
“The Anax.” Kyle spoke the title like a curse. “He sent this wolf after you.”
“I think so. I can’t prove it.” I wouldn’t be able to prove anything. The Anax was more careful than that. “I tried to compel him to shift back to human, but I couldn’t break whatever had already been set on him. He attacked while I was still in human form, and I shifted. He wasn’t strong enough to kill me once I was wolf.”
“You wouldn’t have killed him if you could have helped it,” Kyle said. “You hate what you did. I feel it. But the only other thing you could have done was let him kill you.”
“He was sick,” I said. “I don’t know what he had. He can’t have been changed very long ago, or he would have fought off whatever the illness was. But it had gone too far, and he was dying and in pain.”
“If he’d been changed willingly, it might have killed off the disease,” Kyle said.
“Even if he hadn’t been willing, with enough time, his system probably would have fought it off,” I said. “But he was sent here almost immediately after his change. I don’t know how long he was unconscious, but it wasn’t long enough.”
“It takes time to recover from the first shift, but if the Anax was controlling him, he might have forced this guy to wake up before he was ready.” Kyle snuggled against me, and the full-body contact helped bring me down from the darkness spiraling inside me, even though he was still tense. “You did what you had to do, Tobias. No one blames you, except you.”
“I’m not blaming myself.” I was to an extent, and Kyle knew it. He wouldn’t have been able to miss the guilt.
More than myself, I blamed the Anax. I couldn’t know for certain that he’d been the one to send this wolf, but no one else would have gone to such lengths to try to kill me. And no one else had the power, as far as I knew, to lay a compulsion so strong I wouldn’t be able to break it.