The next day after school, Kylie still sported a chocolate hangover. Yes, they did exist. She was living, breathing, nauseous proof. Holiday, claiming they all three deserved to drown their sorrows in cocoa, had not only come through with the chocolate syrup, she'd had Burnett buy them a gallon of chocolate ice cream and a pack of Oreos.

Of course, more than half the Oreos were gone by the time Burnett and Holiday dropped them off, and Holiday still had crumbs on her chin. "I'm eating for two," she said, excusing herself.

Della had stuck with just her Bloody Chocolate Marys, but Kylie and Miranda had gorged on everything. Kylie wouldn't be surprised if she never touched the stuff again. She couldn't deny that the chocolate had managed to temporarily soothe all their issues. Soothe, not solve.

Della had bitched about Steve not accepting it was over. Miranda had whimpered about having to apologize to Nikki. Kylie had almost gone into a serious whine about how all guys were no-good cheats.

But no sooner than the words were about to leave her lips did she recall what Derek had said about her dumping all her past anger on Lucas. Again seeing truth to the statement, she bypassed that rant and talked about being pissed she was a holy warrior.

Of course, after bringing up the warrior issue she had to go into the whole thing of what happened with the sword, making them vow not to repeat it. Miranda, of course, thought the whole holy warrior thing was cool, and Della was jealous. Kylie was still pissed and downed another bowl of ice cream to help deal with it all. Ahh, but before the night was over, they were laughing themselves silly over all things stupid. Among the topics they discussed were sex, boys, and what was more appealing on those boys, briefs or boxers.

Boxers won.

"Okay, so maybe chocolate and blood don't go so well together," Della said, looking pretty gloomy this afternoon as well. It was Kylie who should be in the worst mood. She was about to meet Lucas to have her first sword fighting lesson. By the lake, too.

Why had he chosen that spot to practice?

Oh, damn, she knew why-because that was sort of their make-out spot. But what she didn't know was if he thought there was a chance in hell that they'd be making out today. If he did, he had another think coming. She'd come here to fight, not French-kiss!

She spotted Lucas waiting, leaning casually against a tree. She hadn't seen him since yesterday in the office, but for some reason it felt like a long time ago. He had missed school. When Ms. Cane asked about his absence, Fredericka popped up and said he'd had to go pick up something from his grandmother.

Kylie figured it was the books Burnett had wanted.

Moving closer, her gaze continued to shift toward him. He stood there appearing as natural and rugged as the woods behind him. For some reason, he came off more were than human, and she surmised it wasgetting close to the full moon. About two weeks before a full moon she started noticing he would appear more masculine. The closer she got to where Lucas stood, the more she realized just how hard this was going to be.

His jet black hair needed a trim and flipped up in places. Those tiny almost-curls stirred in the breeze and made her want to run her fingers through them. He wore jeans that were just tight enough to showcase a lower body of a man, not a boy. The aqua blue T-shirt fit snug across his wide shoulders and defined the shape of his chest beneath the thin cotton. The hem of his short sleeves landed perfectly to draw attention to the muscles in his arms. And the color of his shirt just made his blue eyes look a tad untamable. He looked like he'd just walked off some magazine ad selling some super-masculine product.

He pushed off the tree and started walking toward her and Della, but she felt him moving right at her as if she and she alone was his destination. Not that he hurried; his gait was slow, but confident. Her stomach fluttered and she could feel her hands start to sweat.

Della leaned her head down and whispered, "You do know a were can smell your pheromones, don't you?"

Friggin' great, she thought, but then realized that while she couldn't control being attracted to him, it didn't mean she had to act on those feelings.

"If it makes you feel any better, you're not the only one polluting the air right now."

Kylie hadn't purposely dressed to draw his attention. Had she?

The pink scooped-neck tee didn't give more than a hint of cleavage. Sure it fit snug enough, but most of her clothes did since she'd grown a cup size. The color was feminine, but could she help it that she liked pink? Her shorts were cutoff jeans, nothing too short, her shoes just plain white tennis shoes worn over pink socks that matched her shirt. And the only makeup she wore was mascara and lip gloss.

Lucas stopped in front of her. Crazy, how he smelled like the outdoors; fresh, earthy with a hint of mint.

"I'm here." She tried to appear unaffected by his presence.

"Good," he said, and there was a softness to his tone.

Their gazes met and held a second. Her heart picked up speed.

Della waved her hand at Kylie as if to say she was feeling like a third wheel. "Did you want me to stay?"

Kylie's yes and Lucas's no chimed out at the same time.

"Sorry," Lucas said, not sounding so sorry as he looked at Della. "But I need Kylie's full attention to teach her, and you would just distract her."

"Right," Della said in a tone of complete disbelief.

Lucas frowned at the vamp.

"Okay," Della said. "I'll just mosey along." She focused on Kylie. "Call me when you're ready to go and I'll come back when you're finished."

"I'll walk her to the cabin," Lucas said.

"I'll call you when I'm done," Kylie said.

Della took off, leaving them alone. Kylie looked at the water for a second and tried to find the strength to get through the next hour.

* * *Neither of them spoke for several minutes. She continued to stare at the water and she could feel him staring at her. The butterflies playing bumper cars in her stomach revved their engines and went into high gear. Taking a deep breath, telling herself she was being silly, she faced him. "Where do we start?"

"Let me get the supplies out." He went back to the tree where a big cloth bag rested beside the trunk.

He pulled out a towel from the bag and then shook it out on the ground. Reaching into the bag again, he pulled out a sword. She recognized it immediately as the one stalking her. Something close to a shiver spiraled up her spine. But not fear, something else. Like some crazy form of recognition.

Lucas rested it on the towel. Just the way he carried the weapon spoke of respect, reverence. She hadn't even realized he knew how to use a sword. Perhaps the topic of fighting and such just didn't come up in their conversations.

Kylie moved closer and watched as he pulled out a second sword, a little different, but similar. The size and shape seemed almost the same and it had the same look of antiquity.

Did another one just magically appear? "Where did that one come from?" she asked.

He glanced up. "This one's mine. When I got the books for Burnett I also brought my sword."

"Where did you get a sword?" Kylie asked.

"It's a family heirloom. It's been in my family for a long, long time. My grandfather actually gave it to me before he died."

She noticed again that the swords sort of looked the same. "Were they crusaders or holy warriors?' He grinned up at her-one of his sexy bad-boy smiles. And damn if her toes didn't curl inside her tennis shoes at that smile. She remembered feeling that smile against her lips. Tasting it. Loving it.

"Actually, they were Vikings. I'm told that they were the Robin Hoods of their kind, not the murdering pirates, but I wouldn't swear on it."

She brushed her sweaty palms on her back pockets. "Has Burnett had a chance to look at the books yet?

Did he learn anything useful?"

He reached back in the bag and pulled out two wooden swords. "I saw him right after lunch and he said he was still making his way through them."

"Have you read the books?" Kylie asked.

"Yeah. When my grandfather was giving me lessons, I devoured them. I used to pretend to be a holy warrior." His smile brightened. "Saving damsels in distress."

She could see him playing that role. She remembered when they were kids and he'd caught the rock that the bullies had thrown at her. At six, she'd considered him a hero.

At sixteen, she considered him a heartbreaker.

"Okay," he said. "Here's my plan. First I'm going to teach you how to hold the sword, and then to do some very simple defensive moves. Then we'll actually spar for a while."

He picked up her sword and moved behind her. She immediately swung around.

"Turn around, I want to guide you on how to hold it."

"Why can't you just show me?"

He frowned. "This is how my grandfather taught me. Please, turn around."

She frowned right back at him, but she swung around. Then she held her breath and waited for his touch. Waited to feel his body against hers.

Waited for the pain that came with touching him-emotional pain-that was both sweet and bitter.She felt his chest, warm and solid, come against her shoulder blades. His right hand reached down and pressed two fingers down by her elbow. Then he slowly glided his hand down to her wrist. The feel of his touch was both wanted and unwanted. She swallowed and it sounded almost too loud.

"Take the sword." His voice, deep and hoarse, whispered in her ear.

She hadn't realized until then that she'd closed her eyes.

Popping them open, she saw he'd reached around her and held the sword in his left hand. Reaching for the sword, she wrapped her palm around the handle.

"Now, move your wrist just a little to the..." He paused at the same time the sword started to glow.

His intake of air said he was again awed by the sword's action. Kylie was too centered on the feel of him pressed against her to care about the sword.

"This way," he said, and shifted her wrist to the right ever so slightly. His head turned also and she felt his cheek on the back of her head.

She thought she heard him inhale, but she couldn't swear on it.

"Do you feel how the sword is level in your hand?"

She nodded, not trusting her voice. His scent surrounded her. The strongest waves of pain stopped, but she still felt a dull ache. She also felt ... the wonder of his touch. She felt his skin wherever he pressed against her.

"You're doing good. This is the way you need to hold it."

They stood like that for several long seconds. His firm form pressed again her, his arm encircling her, the sword in her hand.

For a second she thought she heard his hum, the powerful hypnotizing sound meant to weaken women.

"Now what?" she bit out, fighting the feeling of being lured, of being seduced.

He inhaled sharply and stepped back. "Now I get my sword and show you some moves." His voice sounded extra low.

He shifted quickly to reach for his sword. He moved to stand right beside her. His dark blue gaze turned and he looked at her. She saw the heat in his eyes, she saw the desire. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen."

She looked away quickly and while part of her wanted to call him on it, she simply stood there and waited for him to show her the next move. And hoped it only involved sword fighting and not seduction. Copyright 2016 - 2024