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Unbound (Forbidden Bond Book 1)(3)

By:Cat Miller

Adele began, "The day we found out about your little secret, and you did  not retrieve the child as requested, I began to search for her. I  couldn't very well have the child raised by your human pet."

"Mother, please!" Griffin shouted. He'd had enough of their prejudices.

"Hush, son, and listen to me! This will be hard enough without your  interruptions," Adele barked. She continued without pause. "The girl  called a cab to carry her to the human hospital. When the driver was  questioned, he revealed that he was uncomfortable driving the girl,  given she had no car seat for the child. She pleaded with him, saying  she couldn't get the child to nurse. The driver noted the pale and  generally weak condition of the girl and thought better of leaving her  behind. He helped the girl into the ER and left."         



Adele paused, and for the first time in Griffin's memory she looked  nervous. She cleared her throat, another thing he'd never heard her do,  before she continued. She handed him a stack of papers. "I acquired  documentation from a source at the human hospital. Apparently, the girl  was hemorrhaging. The delivery had taken the ultimate toll on her body.  She succumbed to the injuries she received during birth and died in the  ER."

Adele handed Griffin a death certificate for Tessa Lynn Taylor. Tears  began to stream down his angry face, and he did not attempt to wipe them  away.

Adele continued. "The child lived two more days before she also lost her  battle. The cause of death is listed as failure to thrive." She then  handed Griffin the birth and death certificates for Soleil Taylor. The  documents both listed the father as unknown.

"It's really too bad we didn't find the child sooner. The idiots at the  human hospital had no idea she needed blood to survive. The girl's  parents died years ago, and she had no other family besides an older  stepsister. By the time the authorities were able to locate the  stepsister, the bodies had been cremated, as per hospital policy in  cases of unclaimed persons. The sister collected the ashes and had them  buried in her father's family plot."

Lloyd stepped up, coolly patting Griffin on the back, and said, "Well,  now that you know the truth, you can stop all this foolishness."

Griffin's body shook with sobs as his mother went to the window, appearing bored with it all.

His father continued. "We have done all we can to keep this mistake  quiet so your name won't be damaged. But people are starting to ask  questions about your behavior. It's time for you to move on, son. We  have had a binding arranged for you since you were small. Richard  Ashburn wants to know if we are going to back out of our agreement. His  daughter, Sarah, has waited patiently for too long now. Will you finally  do your duty and stop shaming our family name?"

Griffin got up on wobbly legs, still sobbing, and quietly left the room.  He clutched the papers to his chest as if they were all he had left in  the world. He didn't make a sound as he retreated to the bedroom of his  childhood and collapsed onto the small bed. His feet hung way over the  footboard.

He wept all night, trying to understand how he could've been unaware of  his family's death and why he still felt a connection to Tessa. The only  conclusion he could come to was the fact that their bond had not been  as strong as he had expected. The emotional bond could not have been  stronger, but her humanity had impeded the blood bond.

When morning came, he emerged, red-eyed and defeated. He found his parents in the kitchen, trading sections of the newspaper.

"Mother, Father, I am ready to do my duties as your son and carry on the  Vaughn family name with pride. I will disappoint you no longer. Please  tell Mr. Ashburn I'll be coming to ask for Sarah's hand today." Without  waiting for a response, Griffin left them in the kitchen and set about  the business of moving on with his shattered life.

Present day

The day Danielle had been dreading since she received her college  acceptance letter the previous spring had arrived. She was transferring  from community college to an out-of-state school in upstate New York.  How was she supposed to leave Lucas there in Perry Hall? How could she  say good-bye to the person she had spent almost every day with for two  years? Lucas had been her boyfriend and one of her best friends since  the first day of college. She thought back to that day and smiled.

Dani could tell the freshmen from everyone else, because they all  wandered around, staring at maps of the campus with anxious expressions  similar to her own.

She pushed her way through a swarm of plastic-looking girls with cell  phones and too much hair product, to get into the science building. She  could feel the stares burn through the back of her head. She ignored  them and headed off to her first class. She could hear the snickers and  comments about her hair as she walked down the corridor.

In high school, nobody even noticed it after a while. They were so used  to it that it was no longer mentioned. Dani was going to have to start  all over. On the way into class, several jocks shadowed her. They, too,  had noticed the white streaks in the front of her dark, chocolate-brown  hair. She took a seat at the front of the room and pulled out her map  and schedule to find the shortest route to her next class.

One of the jocks snickered, "This place is a zoo. Did you see? They're enrolling zebras now too."

That was when an angel in blue jeans and a Hollister T-shirt came to her  rescue. He had entered the classroom just in time to hear the comment  and the laughter that followed. He scowled at the jock and quipped,  "They've also started letting jackasses on the local football team."  Another round of laughter erupted.         



"Whatever, Lucas. You'd be on your ass if you stepped out on the field," the jock spat back at him.

Dani's savior brushed her arm on his way to sit with the offending jocks  and said, "Ignore him. His mommy forgot his meds this morning."

Lucas was the hottest guy she'd ever laid eyes on. He looked like he  belonged in a teen magazine, smiling his perfect smile and breaking  hearts. He had flawless suntanned skin, shaggy, honey-blond hair, and  steel-blue eyes with gray flecks that made her stomach do strange little  cartwheels. Dani thankfully had several classes with him.

That first day she found an empty picnic table in the common area to  spread out her lunch. She noticed those steel eyes across the lawn at a  table full of mostly older students and other various plastic girls. She  found it odd, considering it was the first day of classes. He must be  one of those people that naturally draw others to them, she thought.  Maybe they'd all gone to the same high school.

He caught her looking, and she wanted to slide under the table. Her face  was so hot she knew she couldn't hide her embarrassment as he began to  get up and walk her way. Dani stopped breathing.

He sat across from her and leaned over to take a few strands of white hair in his fingers and tuck them behind her ear.

"You do that on purpose? Is that a Goth thing or something?" he prodded  with a grin. "Your clothes don't look Goth, and I don't see any black  nail polish."

She had to remind herself to breathe, because blue was not her color.  Other students started filtering over from the table he'd abandoned. She  reached across the table to brush the hair out of his eyes and mocked,  "Did you do that on purpose? You look like a Disney Channel reject."

The other students that had come to the table took in the scene and  waited for a response from Lucas. He cracked a smile and tilted his  head. "I think I'm going to like you. I'm Lucas, by the way." He reached  across and stole some grapes from her lunch.

"I'm Dani. The hair's natural. They're birthmarks or a birth defect, depending on your point of view."

"I like it. And I like a girl that doesn't take any shit." He strutted around to her side of the table to get a closer look.

That was all it took. Lucas accepted her immediately, and everyone else  followed his gracious lead. Dani was part of the in crowd, and they had  been together ever since that day.

Two years and one summer later, they were in the bed of his pickup  truck, curled up in the same sleeping bag. The stars were beautiful, but  she couldn't take her eyes off Lucas. They had done that a thousand  times, but this night was different. She was leaving for school the next  morning, and Lucas was staying home. He had also been raised by a  single parent, but going to college out of state wasn't an option for  him. He planned to continue attending community college and working to  help his mom with his two little brothers. Dani wouldn't see him again  until Thanksgiving.

He drew little circular patterns all over her face, as if trying to  memorize every pore. She placed little wet kisses on his chin and down  his neck. He shuddered with anticipation. Chills ran down her spine with  every tender stroke of his fingers over her skin.