She held a warning finger out to him as she struggled to her feet. “You stay the hell away from me.”
He edged nearer. “You are afraid of me.” Greta didn’t trust herself to speak. She needed him now. Her body sought his. After the first day, he’d been nothing but kind to her. Never raising his voice, never grabbing or threatening her.
He’d gone shopping for her; he’d done everything right. Dreams were often a jumbled mixture of all the things people experience, desire, and fear. It made sense Dayne would get jumbled in too.
She had no illusions he wanted to keep her around, and she didn’t want to sleep with him again if it was going to be just another meaningless ritual biology had set up as a physical act with no feeling. If she was going to be physical with someone, she wanted the feelings that came with it. She wanted him to care.
“I’m not afraid of you.”
He cocked his head to the side looking past her, and she wondered what had caused the confused expression to come to his face.
“You’re conflicted,” he said after a moment.
“I’m not conflicted. I just want control of my own damn body.” Her voice quivered more than she liked. She darted behind a row of hedges and passed through the gate before detouring to her room. She shut and locked the door.
Moments later there was a quiet knock.
Greta’s need flowed through her. It thrashed about like a live wire demanding satisfaction. The arousal was so strong it was becoming painful. A rumbling purr started in her chest, trying to soothe it away. She needed him inside her now.
“Greta, let me help you. You can’t make it until tomorrow,” Dayne said reasonably from the other side of the door.
She sat on the edge of the bed, her nails digging into the sheets, rending long tears in them. Dayne didn’t seem conflicted at all.
Greta was glad at least one of them wasn’t suffering from that problem.
“I don’t want to frighten you. I don’t want to open the door with magic. But I’m not sure I can stay out here and listen to you howl like that.”
She hadn’t realized she’d been making vocalizations. Sounds that could be either pleasure or pain. At this point, even she couldn’t decipher the tangled web of sensations running through her. She left the bed without conscious thought and crawled to the door. Her fingernails dug into the wood as she pressed her ear to the flat panel listening to him while he spoke soft words of reassurance. She panted as she breathed in his scent.
Greta ripped the clothes from her body. The room was becoming too hot. She couldn’t think. A horrible sound tore from her throat.
“I’m coming through the door if you don’t open it.”
She wanted him to. Anything so she wouldn’t have to make the choice to throw herself at him. Let him be the one on a conquest, not her.
She couldn’t form a thought that would translate itself into a sentence. The only words that wanted to work their way through her brain were, “Please fuck me now.” She knew he was more than willing to oblige. All she had to do was move a few inches, and unlock the door. One tiny little turn.
Her hand reached out, and she pulled it away, biting her bottom lip.
“I’m counting down, and then I’m opening the door. Ten . . .
nine . . . eight . . . seven . . . six . . . five . . . ” She unlocked the door.
“ . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . ” She opened the door.
Dayne’s clothes had already been stripped off. She wanted to say he’d been presumptuous, but large words like presumptuous couldn’t be processed in her near feral state. She pounced on him and wrapped her legs around his waist.
He walked them backward to the bed. “I’m never buying Egyptian cotton sheets again.”
“Please,” she breathed. They both knew she wasn’t asking for sheets.
RETA’S eyes shot open. Her heart palpitated wildly, Gthrumming through her chest. Blood pounded in her ears.
Dayne’s arm was slung over her hip, hugging her naked body loosely against him. Why hadn’t she shifted? She’d had the dream again, this time more vivid than before. Yet, despite her fear, she’d held onto her human form.
She wanted to stay wrapped in Dayne’s warmth forever, but she forced herself to move. He was the face of her death; there were no doubts now. Getting the same dream twice wasn’t something she could ignore. It was prophetic. Dayne was the one holding the ritual knife that spilled her blood.
She twisted and shimmied out from under him. His arm fell with a sharp oomph much louder than it should have been. Was her hearing getting better?
He rolled to his other side with a grunt, and Greta eased out of the bed. She grabbed her duffel bag from the corner, and made her way to the kitchen for her pills.
She didn’t need crazy lust while trying to survive. It had already inconvenienced her twice. Now her heart hurt to leave the man she kept finding herself in bed with. Stupid fucking heat cycle. Her body and heart were convinced he was the guy for her, but her brain knew better.
She felt a pang of regret at breaking her agreement, then her brain kicked back in as she remembered his plan had been to get her blood at the full moon. And to kill her doing it. No, she didn’t feel bad leaving. Besides, she’d slept with him. To men of Dayne’s reputation that was probably considered payment in full.
She wondered how he’d struck the deal with her tribe. Jaden wouldn’t send her to a sorcerer if she cared about her. Duh, Greta.
And the story Dayne had concocted about Jaden betraying him?
Way to shine the light away. Gullible. It wasn’t a lesson she’d be forgetting anytime soon. Assuming she survived her birth moon.
She crept to the kitchen, wincing when the hardwood floor creaked beneath her feet. She stopped and held her breath as she waited to see if it would wake Dayne. The house remained silent with only the ticking of the clock over the fireplace mantle breaking the stillness.
She jumped as Mink padded in, weaving her body between Greta’s legs. “Shhh! Do you want him to wake up and come in here?”
Greta smiled sadly down at the orange tabby. She’d have to leave Mink behind. Covert ops were clearly lost on the talkative cat.
She rummaged in the fridge until she found a slice of ham and dropped it on the floor, hoping it would shut the cat up. She poured herself a glass of water, gulped down a pill, then slipped the prescription into her pocket and took one last look around.
Tears teased the corners of her eyes. She wished Dayne hadn’t turned out to be evil. She could have imagined living here with him in his quiet cottage in the woods. It felt comfortable, like home.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
Her hand had been on the knob. So close. “Nowhere. Outside for some air.”
“The garden is protected; the front stoop is not. You know it’s not safe out there.”
She turned toward him, and her mouth went dry. He was dressed in navy silk lounging pants and no shirt. He had the kind of body college students sketched in art classes everywhere. So warm and beautiful. And he and Greta fit together perfectly, in the carnal way. She wanted to run into his arms. Her knowledge of his betrayal wasn’t enough for a body that still trusted him.
“It’s not safe in here either,” she said after a beat.
Dayne incanted something in Latin, and Greta felt the magic swirl up as the deadbolt turned. She pressed herself against the door as if somehow it would bend to her will and unlock. This was normally when she shifted. The edges of wildness intruded on her senses, but even stronger was her own will pressing back, for once choosing not to change.
“Please,” she whispered as he moved closer. “You don’t have to kill me. Whatever you need my blood for, you can have it. You know that.”
His brows drew together. “What are you talking about?”
She wondered which would be faster, her enhanced strength, or his magic.
He embraced her, then pulled back to look into her eyes. “I’m not going to hurt you. What exactly is going on in that head of yours?”
“Stop lying to me!” Greta shoved him with all her strength, and he went flying back, confirming her theory that he was only human with a few fancy language upgrades.
He opened his mouth to even the odds, and she flew at him, punching and clawing. With one last burst of energy, Greta slammed his head against the wall. Dayne crumbled to the floor, and the door lock fell open, withdrawing its simple magic now that the spell caster was unconscious.
She ran into the night, her eyes adjusted, and she fought the urge to shift. No fur. No paws. The trees were coming toward her too fast. She’d never run like this on two legs before, but her reflexes came to her rescue, causing her to zigzag through the woods without even a branch snagging her top.
When she’d put a few miles between herself and Dayne, she slowed her pace. Time to strategize. Think. The tribe wouldn’t be looking for her; they’d just expect Dayne had her, keeping her safe until it was time for the sacrifice.
She wasn’t sure how long he’d stay unconscious. She might be able to make it out of the city and take shelter with a wizard. Unlike sorcerers, wizards could be trusted. Too bad there weren’t any within Cary Town city limits.