Dean was a big guy, as big as Grayson, if not bigger, dark to Grayson’s light. He was gruff and should have been intimidating, but I felt at ease with him. I could trust him. I returned his smile. The first smile since I’d been arrested. It felt good on my face.
“I’ll take it from here,” Grayson snapped, ruining the moment.
Annoyance flashed in Dean’s eyes, but it was gone too quick for me to be sure. He shrugged, smiled at me, and then walked off to join the Loup in the bar area. Grayson led me to the cylindrical lift that rose up in the center of the room, and then it clicked. This was where the fire pole would have been. Clever.
The doors opened, and we stepped inside. I glanced over my shoulder at Dean to see him watching us with a confused expression. He’d been trying to be nice, trying to make me feel at ease, and Grayson had shot him down.
I kept my eyes on the lift doors as they closed. “Why did you snap at Dean?”
My stomach lurched as we began to rise.
“How I speak to my pack is none of your concern,” he said.
That fucking condescending tone. Anger burned behind my eyes. “I thought you were a decent guy, but I guess I was wrong. You’re acting like an alphahole dick.” The doors opened, and I strode out. “And just for the record, I hate alphahole dicks. That attitude won’t fly with me. I made that clear to the Dominus when they tried to coddle me, and I’m making it clear to you.” I stood in the corridor, hands on hips, glaring at him.
The lift closed behind him as he joined me, his body way too close, forcing me to tilt my head and acknowledge he was taller, bigger, probably stronger than me, but not giving a damn because if he tried to smack me down, I’d smack back. Hard.
But he was looking at me with a torn expression on his face like he didn’t know whether to kiss me or push me away. I cracked my shields a fraction and caught the edge of something jagged, and the flat gray feeling that was confusion. I closed my eyes and took a breath. I was falling into the yell-first-ask-questions-later trap. The Loup inside made it hard to think. To stop. To empathize. But being the peacemaker was who I was. I was good at it.
I allowed my shoulders to drop and the tension to flow out of my body. “Look, I don’t know what happened between me cleaning your face and us getting in the car, but something obviously pissed you off, so spit it out already, so we can deal and move on.”
He opened his mouth and then snapped it closed again.
I arched a brow, waiting, and bit the insides of my cheeks as another emotion hit me, dark-red and spiraling.
“The room smelled of sex when I came back,” he said. “You and Azazel were intimate.”
He clenched his teeth. “I don’t like it.”
Seriously? “Who I decide to snog is none of your business.”
He rolled his lips into his mouth as if holding back a tide of words and then nodded. “I know that. I didn’t say it was a rational response.”
And then the emotion untangled and made sense. “You’re jealous?”
“Despite my best efforts, and against my better judgment. Yes.”
Better judgment? Nice.
He wants us. His beast wants us.
She surged to the surface, infusing my skin with heat and sharpening my vision. Grayson practically glowed. Every angle, every slope of his face perfectly defined. I caught the sharp sting of his desire before I could slam my shields down.
His nostrils flared, and he grabbed my upper arms, yanking me against his chest, crushing my breasts to his pecs. His nose dove for my neck, inhaling me. Shivers shot down my spine, my nipples hardened against him, and then he licked me. One long lick up the side of my neck, ending at a flick to my earlobe. Wetness pooled between my thighs.
Yess. Oh, yess.
“Fuck off!” I shoved him away, not sure who I was more pissed at, him or my wolf.
He stood, chest heaving, his expression dazed. “I…I’m sorry.” He licked his lips and locked onto me. “I didn’t mean to…”
“Lick me? No, your tongue just fell out of your mouth and attached itself to my neck.”
He opened his mouth to reply, but I needed to get away from him, away from the throbbing need inside me.
“You.” I pointed at him. “You can sleep downstairs tonight, Mister.” I turned on my heel and made to stride off, then realized I had no idea which room I was meant to be staying in.
I turned stiffly back to him. “Which room?”
A small smile of amusement lifted his lips. “The one with the double doors at the bottom of the corridor.”
I walked off, aware of the heat of his attention on my back, aware of the slick wetness between my thighs, and aware of the monster inside me who wanted to spread herself for him.
I needed a shower.
I had no fresh clothes, so I settled for showering and donning the same outfit, sans boring cotton panties. I washed and hung those to dry on the heated radiator in the ensuite bathroom of Grayson’s quarters.
The place was huge and an open plan. There was a huge bed smack bang in the center of the room. A seating area with couches and a coffee table and massive windows behind the bed. The glass was tinted, but you could see the city laid out beyond. They’d added stories to this firehouse, and we must be on the sixth or seventh level. The sun was setting, and even with the tint on the windows, you could see how the dying light refracted off the windows on the taller buildings. It made me feel small. It made the city seem too big.
How would they find a lost specter in Necro? How would they find Lucas? What if they didn’t? I’d refrained from dwelling on the possibility that they’d fail, that Lucas would remain hidden, and the hearing would see me sentenced to death.
I didn’t want to die. I’d killed Lucas, and that knowledge was a sickening ache inside me, but I didn’t want to die for a crime I’d been forced to commit against my will and control.
There was a knock at the door.
Urgh. If this was Grayson, come to apologize… “Who is it?”
“Hi, um…My name’s Eliza.”
“And I’m Beth.”
“We wanted to say hi,” Eliza said.
“So…Hi, I guess,” Beth added.
Eliza and Beth. They sounded young. Were these the two young female Loup Hunter had wanted for his pack?
I pulled open the door to find two teens with bangs and huge doe eyes staring up at me.
“Wow…you’re tall,” one of them said.
No, they were just short, but who was I to point that out. “I’m Fee. Would you like to come in?”
They ventured forth, peering around the room as if they’d never been in here before. And it hit me, they probably hadn’t. Was I fucking with some kind of status quo by letting them into the alpha’s inner domain?
He’d licked me without my permission.
Fuck it. “Have a seat.”
They perched on the edge of the large couch and clasped their hands in front of them.
“You’re pretty,” the one with the bob said. It was obvious they were twins. Identical twins. The only difference was the length of their hair. One had a bob, the other’s hair was shoulder-length.
“Thanks. So which one is which?”
“I’m Eliza,” the one with the bob said.
“I’m Beth,” her sister replied.
“We wanted to welcome you to the pack and ask you to have dinner with us. Once the males have eaten.”
I blinked down at them. “What do you mean once the males have eaten?”
“Oh, we won’t be eating with the males.” Eliza ducked her head. “It’s too stifling.”
Beth nodded. “It’s safer for us to eat later, once they go out to run.”
“Safer? Would they hurt you?”
Beth widened her eyes. “Oh, no. Not intentionally, but now that we’re older, we’re entering the mating, so our scent can be distracting.”
“The mating is like a cycle where every month we exude pheromones to attract a mate. Grayson feels we’re too young to be mated, so we stay away at those times of the month.”
“Like a period?”
They nodded in unison. “Except, this happened a week before the full moon.”
Was that why the wolves downstairs had been so interested in me? It explained Grayson’s reaction and why he’d wanted me in his chambers where it was safe? Had I been too harsh on him?
I pressed my palms to my thighs and leaned forward slightly. “I guess I still have a lot to learn.”
“So, you’ll eat with us?”
I opened my mouth to say yes, but the beast inside reared her head.
We do not hide. We do not cower.
I sat back and crossed my arms. “Maybe next time.” I smiled to soften the rejection.
They stared at me, wide-eyed.
“You’ll eat with the males?” Eliza shook her head. “The alpha won’t allow it.”
My smile felt wicked on my face, and the Loup inside me rejoiced. “Yes, I will, and no, I don’t need permission. I don’t see why I should be hidden just because they can’t control their urges. They’re big, strong Loup in body, maybe they need to work on strengthening their minds.”
Beth’s eyes lit up. “Now this I need to see.”
Mal and Conah wait for me on the pinnacle. I know the news is less than favorable even before I land.
“How is she?” Mal asks.
“How do you think? Scared but putting on a brave face.”
Mal looks torn. “She’ll need clothes. I packed her some things.”
I notice the bag at his feet for the first time. “I’ll take them to her.”
He gives me a fuck-you smile. “Nah, I think I’ll pay our Dominus a visit in the flesh. She could probably do with a little cheer.”
I’m the humorless one. The cold one. The one made of stone. Let them think me distant. It’s better that way. They can’t know how my heart is still racing from the kiss I shared with Fee. They can’t know how her taste is still on my tongue, or how the memory of her skin beneath my fingertips will haunt me. I won’t touch her again. I can’t because if I do, then I’ll be lost. If I do, then I’ll forget the dangers and abandon myself to what my soul and body crave.