Home > Tragic Bonds (The Bonds That Tie #5)(9)

Tragic Bonds (The Bonds That Tie #5)(9)
Author: J Bree

I glance down at my body and find that I’m wrapped up in a blanket, swaddled up like a child, and it’s clear they were trying to warm me up. I’m fully clothed and even wearing socks, heat packs tucked into the layers of fabric around me.

They’ve clearly done a lot to get me alive again.

Oleander is tucked in close to me but isn’t touching me anywhere, her careful respect of my boundaries even now a jarring experience. Was it her decision or my brother’s to maintain that distance? I get the feeling it was both of them, some unspoken agreement of understanding that I both need and loathe.

It’s slow work, but I manage to work my way out of the cocoon I’m wrapped in. There’s no one behind me in the bed, but Bassinger is wrapped around Oleander with Gabe snoring away on the other side of him. Gryphon is asleep on a chair in the corner, his head thrown back and his legs folded out in front of him. He’s still dressed with his weapons strapped all over his body, as though he’s waiting for someone to burst in here and attack us.

North is nowhere to be seen.

That’s unexpected and highly unusual for him.

Usually, if anything happens to me, or something that could potentially affect me, he hovers like a mother hen. Even after I’d grown out of my childish idolization of him, he’d still remained the one constant in my life, no matter how hard I pushed him away and, boy, did I push him hard. It didn’t matter though, North Draven was nothing but a pillar of unerring love and support to me.

Even after Oleander showed up and became the fixation for my rage.

Even when he fell so far into her that I’m sure every word I uttered against her cut him like a thousand sharp blades, and my constant loathing of their Bonding was an acid over those wounds.

Will I fall into her too?

Is that even… possible for me?

Heaving myself up is impossible for a solid three minutes, but eventually, I get it done, swinging my legs over the side of the bed until the world stops spinning. I sit there on the edge of the bed until I can feel my hands again. The pins and needles I have to get through first are extreme enough that I consider cutting them off. My hands have always been a source of distress for me, any pains or stiffness a reminder of the damage my mother had done.

A punishment for trying to stop her from her sick ways.

Oleander knows it all now.

I know everything about her now too. Every broken and beaten inch of her soul is clear in my mind now. There’s no questions or veiled secrets. There’s only the heart of the girl and the god living inside her that belongs to me as surely as the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening.

The moment my legs are strong enough to hold my weight, I stagger to my feet and stumble towards the door, but I only make it two steps before I stop again.

Without thinking too much about it or questioning myself, I move back to cleave Oleander away from Bassinger and into my arms. The warmth of her against my chest has my bond stirring in my chest, only waking enough to give its approval before it goes back into its unnatural slumber.

Bassinger frowns in his sleep, but I use my Gift to send him back to a deep unconscious state. When I’d completed the Bond, my Gift of the Madness had grown into a full spectrum of emotions I could give people, and though I’d rather slit Bassinger’s throat rather than comfort and reassure the idiot, I’m not in any shape to deal with him right now if he wakes up and finds me standing here with Oleander in my arms.

I need my own bedroom and my own space.

And I need her there too.

I’m not going to question it any longer.



Chapter Four





I wake to the booming sound of someone’s shoulder hitting a door.

I’m disoriented, dehydrated, and a little dizzy as I blink open my eyes, the grainy feeling of them like sandpaper. The room spins around me, and it takes me a second to realize that the ceiling hasn’t been painted here yet. I’m definitely no longer in my own bed.

I only have to inhale to recognize Nox’s scent covering everything.

I’ve always wondered what part of being Gifted has made me so sensitive to the scents of my Bonded Group, because I haven’t really noticed any of my friends acting this way around their Bonds. Sage doesn’t cover herself in Kieran and Felix’s clothes like a little hoarder. Even while she was still nesting, she was reasonable about shit, not at all a psycho about demanding to sleep in their beds and steal their clothes.

The next booming thump on the door startles me out of my existential crisis.

Try as I might, I can’t find the energy to get out of the bed.

Rolling onto my side is hard enough, and I let out a terrible groaning sound, something a dying manatee might make, and when I meet Nox’s eyes, he raises his eyebrows at me in a very sarcastic and unwelcome way.

I brought him back from the dead, dammit. I’m allowed to feel like shit after that amount of work!

“They’re here to rescue you from me.”


Now isn’t the time for dramatics because, well, shit is already dramatic enough.

I swallow, my throat still drier than the Sahara, and nod slowly. “Do I… need to be rescued? I can just leave if you don’t want me here.”

Fuck, how did I even get in here in the first place? Why would Gryphon and North put me in Nox’s bed with him and then leave us alone while we were both unconscious?! That feels like a bad idea no matter what the circumstances are. Unless my bond came out and told them to, but I can feel it still sleeping away inside of my chest, peaceful but drained.

Nox stares at me for a second, his eyes so dark that I think for a second that maybe his bond has come out, and then he says slowly and oh-so-carefully, “If I didn’t want you here, I wouldn’t have brought you with me.”


That makes a whole lot of sense while also making none whatsoever.

I finally heave myself into a sitting position to find Nox sitting on the floor in front of the door as though he’s bracing it.

His shadow creatures are everywhere.

Rahab, Mephis, and, of course, my precious Azrael. He still looks more like a Brutus to me, but when he pads over to bump his nose against my chin in a very affectionate greeting, I suddenly can’t imagine calling him anything but Azrael. Things are different now.

I know all of their real names.

The names given to them by that little boy with a dark halo of curls around his head who sat far too still when there were adults around. The boy who used the library of that dilapidated house as his only escape, reading whatever books he could get his hands on to keep his mind busy and away from the abuse he faced when his mother came calling.

No wonder the names of avenging angels called to him.

Azrael bumps my chin again, and I bury my face into the soft wisps of his shadowy fur, my tears falling straight through his body as though there’s nothing solid that I’m leaning into even though I can feel the warmth of him against my face.

“If you don’t open this fucking door, I will take the whole fucking wall down, Draven! This is your last warning.”

Oh shit.

Atlas really does sound as though he’s going to start with the demolition, and I tear my face away from Azrael to shoot a look at Nox.

He’s back to staring at the ceiling as though this is all so boring to him and not at all troubling that his life and the integrity of this room are being threatened. I groan a little more as I move to the edge of the bed, trying to lever myself up and into action, and he looks over at me.

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