Chapter Forty Three

“Amber?"
 
A knock came at my door, jolting me awake.  A gentle knock, not D.K.'s rude, demanding hammering.
 
“What?" I asked, trying to blink away my sleepiness.
 
“Can I come in?"
 
I sat up.  That was Tyler's voice.  What did he want?  I glanced at the clock Majestic had given to us, and was surprised to see it was almost noon.  I got out of bed, throwing the covers over it and pushing it back into the wall.
 
“Just a minute," I said, going to Kimberly and shaking her awake.  To my relief, she didn't argue when I motioned for her to get up, and I hid her bed as well.  The toy chest and dresser went next.  I may have trusted Tyler more than I did the rest of the Pag, but I didn't want to risk him telling D.K. about the stash of awesome stuff I was hiding.
 
Luckily, I was still in my clothes I'd worn from the night before, so I didn't need to change.  The talk with Stark had been exhausting, and I'd fallen asleep the minute I'd laid down in bed.
 
I opened the door.  “Hey," I said.
 
“Hey," he said back.
 
“You need something?"
 
He jerked his head down the hall.  “D.K. wants me to go get some groceries.  I was wondering if you wanted to come with me?"
 
I brushed a loose strand of hair behind my ear.  “Um, yeah, sure.  Can Kimberly come?"
 
“Sure," he said, and turned to head back down the hall.  “I'll wait for you by the door."
 
I shut the door.  “Want to go to the store?" I asked, turning to look at Kimberly.  She nodded.  “Good.  Let's get you something to wear."
 
We picked out a pair of jeans and a cute pink shirt for her, and a pillow-y jacket to go over it.  She wanted to wear a skirt we'd found, but I'd decided it was too cold outside for that.
 
“Do you like him?" she asked as I zipped up the jacket for her.
 
“Who?" I asked, looking up at her in surprise.
 
“That guy who was just here.  You don't like the others, but you talk to him all the time."
 
“He's nice," I answered, looking around the room to make sure we had adequately hidden everything.  “There aren't many nice people around here, so I talk to him."
 
She smiled mischievously, and raised her hands to cover it.  “Are you in love with him?"
 
“No, I am not in love with Tyler," I laughed, leading her toward the door.
 
“Yes, you are!" she teased me.  “My mommy says that girls only talk to boys they love!"
 
“Did she really tell you that?" I asked, smirking.
 
“No, but it's true!" she insisted.  “Is he your boooooyfriend?"
 
“Quiet," I said, messing up her hair.  “Don't say anything like that around him."
 
Just like he'd promised, Tyler was waiting for us at the door.  Thankfully, Kimberly did as I said and didn't start teasing him too.
 
“Are we taking the car?" I asked.
 
Tyler shook his head.  “Only D.K. gets to drive the car.  We're walking."
 
“That's a pretty long walk," I said, following him outside.  “How much do we have to get?"
 
Tyler dug the list out of his pocket and handed it to me.  I scanned it, and groaned.
 
“Ten cartons of cigarettes, three different kinds of beer, and a whole bunch of junk food," I said, handing it back to him.
 
“It's what D.K. wants," Tyler said.  “He doesn't check the receipt, though.  We can probably get a few other things without him noticing if they're not too expensive."
 
That was a relief, I guess.  Kimberly ran a few steps ahead of us, obviously happy to finally be out of that disgusting old house.
 
“That's pretty rebellious of you," I said.  “I thought werewolves were totally loyal to their alphas?"
 
“We are, but a guy's got to have his limits."
 
I looked at him for a few seconds as we walked.  A guy's got to have his limits?  What did that mean?  Could it mean, possibly, that D.K. didn't have as much control over Tyler as he thought?
 
I decided to investigate a little further.  “Hey, Tyler?  Do you like D.K.?"
 
He gave me a sharp look, and for a second I thought he was going to tell me off for asking such a question.  Instead, he shook his head.  “No, I don't like him."
 
That was encouraging.  I decided to push a little bit further.  “So, then why do you go along with him?"
 
“What do you mean?"
 
“I mean, that he's a twig and you're a boulder.  If you wanted to, you could take him down and become alpha yourself."
 
“No," he said without a moment's hesitation, “I can't."
 
“Why not?" I waved my hand at him.  “Look at you!  One hit, and you'd break every bone in his body."
 
“I can't," he insisted.
 
“But…"
 
“Amber," he cut me off, “it doesn't have anything to do with how strong I am.  I can't do it."
 
I stared at him in silence for a few seconds.  I hadn't even realized I was getting my hopes up by saying things like that, but now the sudden wave of disappointment was almost too much to bear.
 
“Why not?" I asked at last.
 
“Because," he said, both his tone and the look he gave me making it clear that this was all he'd be willing to say on the matter, “if I try anything, he'll kill my sister."
 
I let Tyler keep his silence for the rest of the trip.  After all, I still had a lot to think about.  In just a few hours, Majestic was expecting me to be there to help them catch the Silverblood.  That, alone, was enough to keep me from eating anything all day.
 
Stark…  He had seemed legitimately nice last night.  Besides buying me food, he had offered Kimberly a safe place to have her first change.  That was one thing the Swag Pag could never provide.  I was still convinced he was the Silverblood, though.  Why else would he be so interested in us?  And here I was, plotting to put him back in Majestic's captivity.
 
Who cares? my subconscious fought back.  It's his fault this is all happening in the first place.  You owe him absolutely nothing!  In fact, he owes you everything!
 
But what about Kimberly?  I bit my lip as I watched her run ahead of us, playing hopscotch on the cracked sidewalk.  What did I owe her?  Without me, she wouldn't be in this mess either.  I could blame Stark for the whole thing getting started, but not for my biting Kimberly.  It would be a hollow excuse, at best.
 
Maybe that was why he had made the offer, I thought.  Maybe he blamed himself for Kimberly just like I blamed myself, and helping her through her change was his way of making up for it.  It would be irresponsible of me to take that opportunity away from her.
 
Then again, if I didn't help Majestic tonight, they'd take back everything Ed had brought us.  That meant we'd both go back to living in the Swag Pag's garbage.  I couldn't just let that happen either, could I?  I had the opportunity to give her a better life than what our pack offered her.  In exchange, she might not make it through her first full moon.  There was the issue of my mother, too.  If I abandoned Majestic, Mom would stay with Hendricks.  I sucked in my breath, drawing a concerned look from Tyler.  I gave him an unconvincing smile, and he turned back around.
 
There wasn't a right choice here, I realized.  There were good aspects to both sides, but bad ones as well.  The only thing I could do was weigh the benefits of both options and decide which ones were more valuable, so…
 
If I let Stark go free, he would help Kimberly through her change.
 
If I helped catch him, Kimberly would have everything Majestic had given us, and I would get my mom back.
 
That was two benefits against just one.  I sighed as I looked at Kimberly, blissfully unaware of the decisions I was making for her.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, I told myself.  Maybe I could help her through her first moon on my own.  To be honest, I had no idea what I would need to do, but… well, she was only five years old.  It couldn't be that hard to control her, right?
 
Maybe he wouldn't even show up, I thought.  That would be the best thing.  I'd spilled the beans about the trap, so he'd probably steer clear.  In fact, if he was smart he wouldn't even be in that part of town.  Would he still be willing to help me?  I didn't know, but I decided I'd deal with that when the time came.
 
“Hey Tyler," I spoke up at last, on our trip back to the house.
 
“Hm?" he responded without looking at me.
 
“I've got to go somewhere tonight.  Is that okay?"
 
“Yeah," was his reply.
 
I knew he probably wasn't the one I needed to ask, but I felt better about coming to him than I did D.K.  If it came to it, I could just my alpha that Tyler had given me permission.  I hated the idea of throwing him under the bus like that, but there were more important things going on.
 
“Thank.  Could you make sure Kimberly is okay while I'm gone too?"
 
Tyler finally turned to look at me, and I could see the suspicion in his eyes.  I set my jaw, trying to think of a lie to tell him when he asked what I would be doing.
 
“Yeah, I will," he said, and turned to face forward again.
 
 
 
NEXT TIME: Aaw, Tyler is such a nice guy.  Don't you just wanna pinch his little... okay, no.  But between you and me, I think Amber is TOTES crushing on him.  I ship Tymber.
 

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