Read Stray Wolf; pt 1 here.
“What do you mean it’s back?” I set a glass of water in front of Nico on the kitchen table. Instead of sitting with him, I leaned against the counter my arms crossed over my chest. He didn’t ask for the water, in fact, he said he was fine when I’d offered. Getting it gave me something to do other than stare at him. It was too much to see him all flesh and bones, when he’d been built and torn down and rebuilt in my mind. Over and over.
He looked tired; as if, the past twenty-five years had been sleepless. The flannel he wore was theard-bare like his jeans, in the left shoulder he’d sloppily mended a tear. He used to be clean shaven. He was washed and it looked like he had tried, but his appearance had been too wild to tame.
There was a growing ache in my chest–a black hole feeding on every detail of him. If I wasn’t careful, it would consume me.
His forehead furrowed. “There… aren’t a lot of… things…” His eyes flicked to mine. “Like me.”
I understood his meaning.
The animal attack in the woods that night had put him in a comma for almost a month. The doctors were beginning to speak less optimistically about his potential recovery. I’d been at his bedside when it happened. I’d called for the nurse, terrified at his thrashing body. In the end, I ran from his room just as a snout grew from his face. It was full of teeth like the ones that had torn at his body a month before.
There was a report of an animal attack and a missing teen in the news the next day.
Four nights later he climbed through my window, completely healed and terrified. And that was the last time I saw him before today.
“So you are…” I began.
“What we thought I was? Yeah. And there’s, uh, different theories on how to… exist like this. My sire,” the word looked like it tasted disgusting, “doesn’t like how I do it.”
He looked up at me, through his hooded brow and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.
“He’s here for you.” His voice was a growl so similar to the rumble in the dark woods that night.
The blood rushed in my ears. Sweat beaded on my brow. I looked out the closest window for any signs of the predator, but there was only my suburban backyard and my neighbor’s backyard beyond it.
“Why?” I whimpered through my dry throat.
Nico stood and moved towards me completely silent. The floorboards didn’t creak under his socked feet.
His chest was within six inches of mine. He consumed all of the space around me. One strong hand gripped the edge of the counter on each side of me. Without touch, he wrapped me up. He breathed in long and deeply through his nose–his eyes fluttered closed. The right side of his lip twitched. His tongue was pink as it wet his mouth and he let out a sound like he could taste me and liked it.
I had to restrain myself from clinging to him. My skin pulled towards his. My hands wanted his warmth. It was as if a pain I didn’t know I was suffering from was relieved just slightly and I wanted the cure.
When his eyes opened the animal within stared back. “I’ll keep you safe.”
Come back for more on Oct. 19th!
I usually write contemporary romance and you can download You and Me in Quarantine while you wait for the next installment.