Bryce waited until Rayna had climbed the stairs before continuing down the hall. He hadn’t meant to listen in on their conversation but their voices had grew steadily louder with each passing second.
He stared down at the cup in his hand. The blood for the vampire was getting cold. He wasn’t sure if Garrett even wanted to talk but just walking away seemed wrong. Looking up the stairs when he heard the slamming of a door, he shook his head and walked to the living room doorway.
Garrett was standing near the fireplace, staring at the cold bricks. His back was to him but even from across the room, Bryce could see how beaten he looked. His head was lowered, his shoulders drooping.
He cleared his throat. “Is there anything you’d like me to do?” He waited for long minutes and when no answer came, he turned and headed for the stairs. The sound of his name stopped him.
Walking back to the living room, Garrett met him at the doorway. The look on his face was one he hadn’t seen since the night of the fight with Malcolm.
“Jacob was with Carmen,” Garrett said. “I won’t believe for a minute its by choice.”
Bryce nodded. “I saw him, too.”
“We have to get him back.”
“How do you want to go about doing that?”
“I’d personally like to rip every member of Carmen’s little pack into shreds but I don’t know how many of them are in the same situation Jacob is. We can’t assume they’re all there by choice.”
Bryce had never thought of that. Just because Caleb had created a small pack of werewolves didn’t mean they all wanted the same things Caleb did. Or the same things Carmen did, for that matter. Just because they were there didn’t automatically lump them into the bad-guy camp. “You’re right. I have Gavin and Ethan patrolling the edge of the forest. Do you want me to have them go in further to see where they’re camped?”
Garrett was quiet for long moments before slowly shaking his head. “No. Bring everyone back to the house, even those watching the town and the main road. I’ll meet you, and the others, back here in an hour.” He walked away then, taking the stairs two at a time.
Bryce followed a few minutes later, making his way to the third floor where the vampire’s room was. He knocked before opening the door and walking in. She was standing by the window. Her hair was brushed; a riot of brown curls falling down her back. She’d showered, he noticed. She didn’t smell like a rotting corpse now. The scent of shampoo and soap filled the room and he had to admit it lifted his mood a bit. Having to face her at all was a daunting task but her smelling like walking death just reminded him of what she was.
He stopped when she turned to face him. They stared at one another for endless moments and if someone were to ask him later what it was that caused his feelings toward her to shift, he wouldn’t be able to answer. It may have been the look in her eyes. Fear was something he’d never seen in a vampire before but this girl looked at him as if he were about to execute her. Yesterday, he would have without a second thought. He wasn’t so sure now.
She was wearing a nightgown. The white material swallowed her whole and she looked like a child playing dress up. Moonlight from the windows shined through the material and gave him a glimpse of what lay beneath. There was nothing girlish about what he saw, then. Long limbs and full breasts caused his wolf to stir. It prowled just beneath the surface and he had to swallow to keep his chest from rumbling as a growl worked its way up his throat. She was pretty, he thought, with surprise. Her features were delicate looking. High cheekbones, large eyes in a dark shade of green and her lips were full.
He blinked before looking down at his hands. The cup he held reminded him why he was there. Looking back up, he lifted his hand. “I brought you something to eat. It’s not exactly warm. Do you want me to heat it back up for you?”
A barely noticeable shake of her head was all he got in return. He watched her stare back at him before he cleared his throat and crossed the room, sitting the cup down on the dresser. She never moved and her gaze didn’t stray. A tingle raced up his spine and he backed away from the dresser, edging closer to the door. “I’m Bryce.” He felt like an idiot the moment the words were out of his mouth. He’d told her his name in the mine. He was sure she remembered it.
He wondered how many people in the house knew her name. Lydia. He tested the sound of it in his head. It suited her for some reason. He wasn’t about to examine why he even cared but he repeated the name a few times before looking away from her. He could hear the sound of voices and remembered what he was supposed to be doing.
Nodding to the cup, he said, “Someone will bring you something else in the morning. Do you need anything?”
She shook her head again, a long curl falling over her shoulder as she did. He stared at it draped over her left breast. The urge to run his fingers through those tightly wound curls made his fingers twitchy. He cleared his throat again. “Well, goodnight, then.” He turned and practically ran from the room. When the door clicked into place, he exhaled a long, noisy breath. He stared at the floor, replaying the entire encounter again in his minds eye. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Looking back at the door, he imagined her there, the cup he’d brought her clasped in her hands as she drank the contents. He glanced at his wrist, irritation taking hold as he spotted the bandage there. Tugging at his shirtsleeve to cover the wound, he shook his head and walked away from her door. He reminded himself of why he hated vampires with a mental list of every disgusting, annoying trait he could think of about the species. The mantra worked. Or at least he told himself it did.
* * * *
Rayna ignored Garrett as he stood by the door watching her. The task of packing her clothes was difficult enough without having to look at him while she did it. She was still mad, still furious at the circumstances that now dictated how her life would be, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to talk to him rationally even if she tried.
Slamming the dresser door shut, she tossed her underclothes into the suitcase and turned to the bathroom. When she’d collected her things and turned, Garrett was blocking the doorway. He looked angry. His mouth set into a tight, thin line. The soft brown of his eyes were sparking with shades of amber and Rayna knew she’d not be able to just walk away like she’d planned. Like he’d told her to do. Regardless of the fact she couldn’t stay, he wasn’t going to just let her go either. That wolf of his wouldn’t let him.
The silence stretched until it was a near tangible thing. It hung like a specter in every corner of the room and each breath she took became harder as her heart began to hammer inside her chest. Her hands tightened on her make-up bag, the hairbrush handle grew damp with moisture from her clenched fist. Inhaling deeply, she looked him in the eye. “Either say what’s on your mind or move out of the way.” To her surprise, he moved, but just barely. She squeezed past him, choking back a gasp when her arm brushed his stomach and her wolf stirred. She swallowed the desire to throw herself at him and tried to think of something other than how much she wanted him. How much she wanted to stay.
“When I first came to Wolf’s Creek, Malcolm was mated to a woman named, Evelyn. She was Alpha female of the pack.”
Rayna snapped her suitcase closed, ignoring Garrett, and looked around the room. Her jacket was draped over the chair next to the window and she rounded the bed, intent on grabbing it. Garrett grabbed her arm as she passed him.
She looked up at him. “Let go of me.”
“Not until you hear what I have to say.”
She sighed and gave him a bored look. “Fine. Say it, then leave.”
The color of his eyes flashed amber again and the muscle in his jaw clenched. “Malcolm shared a room with a woman named, Diana. She was a Beta.”
“I don’t really care about the history lesson. Now let go of my arm.”
His grip on her loosened but he didn’t let her go. “I know you don’t care but you’re going to hear it anyway.” He stared down at her, his gaze roaming her face before he looked back at her eyes. “Carmen wants to be recognized as pack leader. That’s all she’s ever wanted. If Malcolm was able to spend his nights with a woman of his choosing, and not his mate, there’s no reason why I can’t.”
He should have just slapped her. It wouldn’t have hurt any less. Rayna laughed lightly before looking across the room. When she knew she could look at him without lashing out, she turned her head back to him. “So, instead of the pack knowing me as your mate, I’ll just be the slut who lets you crawl into her bed, right?”
His eyes darkened, the grip on her arm tightening until she had to clench her jaw to keep from crying out. “No one would ever think that of you.”
“No?” she said, laughing again. “And what will your new mate think? How long do you think she’s going to let you crawl into my bed?”
“She’ll be my mate in name only, Rayna, and you know it. I chose you. The wolf chose you. Nothing Carmen says or does will change that.”
“And nothing you can say or do will make me stay here while you, and everyone else in the house, pretends she’s yours!” She jerked her arm free, crossing the room to snatch up her jacket. He grabbed her before she could turn around. “Let me go, Garrett.”
His arms circled her waist and she knew without trying she wouldn’t be able to move. She sighed and closed her eyes, fighting back tears. She was through crying. Through being the victim.
Since the day she’d arrived in Wolf’s Creek her life had been one roller coaster ride after another. She’d been chased, scared half to death, punched, bruised and made to feel insignificant. Days spent confined to a bed while the torn flesh on her stomach healed left her feeling fragile. Weeks trying to come to terms with the infection that allowed a monster to live inside her body left her confused and vulnerable. The only thing good to come from her entire ordeal was Garrett. Her suffering had been eased by his presence, in knowing that no matter what happened, he’d be there for her.
And now this.
Finally being able to say Garrett was hers had been just another cruel twist of fate. For whatever reason, the marks he’d left on Carmen all those years ago were enough in the eyes of the pack to make them forget he’d chosen her, instead. A human, turned werewolf, while he was trying to protect her.
Garrett lowered his head, burying his face into her hair. His breath was hot against her neck, his arms tightening around her waist. She sighed and leaned back against him. “Just let me go, Garrett.”
“I can’t do that,” he said.
“Why? Twenty minutes ago you told me I had to leave. Now you won’t let me.”
“Twenty minutes ago all I was thinking about was your safety.”
He turned her in his arms, holding her close. “I’m just thinking about myself right now.” He raised his hand, brushing her hair away from her face. “I’ve wanted you since the moment I saw you Rayna, and I can’t just let you go. I won’t. I’ll fight her myself if I have to.”
Rayna stared up at him and wanted to give in. To just let him have his way. To stay and be his mistress while Carmen ruled the house. She couldn’t though. She wouldn’t stay and let Carmen win without lifting a finger in protest. She’d rather get beaten down and made to stay.
Neither would happen.
Shaking her head, she raised her hands, placing them on his chest and tried to move away from him. His arms tightened and trying to break from his grasp was useless. “Garrett…”
“Look me in the eye and tell me, honestly, you want to go and I’ll let you.”
She knew that was a lie but wasn’t about to say so. Regardless of what Garrett said or did, that wolf of his would think otherwise. She’d seen that first hand and knew no matter what happened, Garrett would be forced to go along with the wolf. She knew without a doubt he wouldn’t let her go. It was why Garrett was trying to keep her now instead of sending her away. Because the wolf demanded it.
Inhaling deeply to calm her racing heart, she looked him in the eye and lied. “I want to go.”
He had the nerve to smile at her. “You’re lying.”
Rayna’s temper flared again at the smug look on his face. “Prove it.”
“With pleasure.” He kissed her, forcing his tongue into her mouth. She struggled, pushed against his chest and his hold on her tightened, the kiss stealing air from her lungs until she went limp against him. Her fingers clenched, bunching the material of his shirt into her fists and it wasn’t until he broke the kiss, giving her only seconds to refill her lungs, that she realized he’d loosened his hold on her.
His hands slid under her blouse, her breasts cupped in his palms. His eyes changed to that eerie wolf amber and she knew the beast was lurking close by. Her own wolf slid against her bones, its hunger for her mate causing Rayna’s blood to heat, for moisture to pool between her legs and her limbs to burn for his touch. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, the torrent of emotions she’d been fighting since Carmen walked back into their lives bursting wide open.
She pulled at his shirt, lifting and jerking it over his head. Hers followed and they undressed each other quickly between fervent kisses, the sounds of ripping material mingling with their harsh breaths. Her pants were barely to her ankles before he turned her, forcing her back onto the bed. He jerked her shoes off, her jeans, and ripped the side of her panties and was inside of her before she could even catch her breath.
Rayna grabbed his shoulders as he kissed her again, his hips bucking against her in rapid succession. The feel of his flesh against her own, the solid length of his cock inside of her, and she forgot what they had been fighting about. She clung to him, locked him in place with her legs around his waist and dug her nails into his back. He growled, the sound vibrating against her chest and her wolf slid closer to the surface. Heat penetrated her limbs. The need to mark him as hers overwhelming.
The claw marks on his neck met her gaze when she opened her eyes and she knew it wasn’t enough. Sliced from ear to chest and it wasn’t enough. Carmen still took him, snatched him right out from under her without so much as lifting a finger. The wolf brushed against her bones and an answering growl worked its way up her throat. Garrett’s hold on her hips tightened, his thrust grew harder and when Rayna’s stomach clenched, her legs trembling, she pulled him to her and bite into the side of his neck.
His hoarse scream was enough to make her let go, ecstasy washing through her body as his blood filled her mouth. Garrett jerked against her, spilling himself and holding her head to him.
When he stilled, she unclamped her jaw and stared at what she’d done.
She’d heard the others talk about bloodlust. The wolf craved the taste of blood and she’d been repulsed at the very idea. That wasn’t the case now. She licked her lips and stared at Garrett’s neck. The flesh was torn, trickles of crimson slid over his skin and she leaned up, taking a small lick. A growl worked it way up her throat as his blood hit her tongue.
Rayna sucked his flesh into her mouth, laving the teeth marks she’d left on his skin with soft kisses and long licks. Her chest was still rumbling and she held him to her and whispered, “Mine.”
“Always,” he breathed into her neck, his arms sliding around her waist. “Only yours.”
They lay there for long minutes, neither saying a word. When the sound of voices filled the house, Garrett lifted his head. He stared at her, raising his hand to brush the hair away from her face before kissing her. When he leaned back, he said, “There isn’t anywhere else I want be at the moment but I asked Bryce to gather everyone. We need to figure out a way to get Jacob back.”
Thinking of Jacob made Rayna think of Carmen. She glanced away from him and only looked back when he grabbed her chin and tilted her head up. “He’ll come back when Carmen does,” she said. “Why not just wait until then?”
He stared at her and she knew by the look on his face he hadn’t thought past the getting Jacob back part. The fact the boy would come back when Carmen took over the house had escaped him. He smiled at her, kissed her quickly, and rolled off of her.
Standing, he fixed his pants, and bent down to pick up his shirt. “Do you want to come down with me or are you going to unpack that bag?”
Rayna glanced toward her suitcase before looking back at him. He slipped his shirt on, wincing when the fabric slid over his neck. The skin around the bite looked raw, the bruising on his flesh already staining the area in shades of purple and blue. He leaned down over her, nuzzling his face between her breasts before kissing each one, then the side of her neck and up her jaw. “Unpack,” he said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes and we’ll see how many other places you can find to mark me.”
He gave her a deep, thorough kiss before he left the room. She lay there until her skin cooled before sitting up and crawling off the bed to find her clothes. She dressed, slipped her shoes back on and finger combed her hair before turning back to the suitcase.
The desire to unpack it was strong but she knew she couldn’t live with only being seen as Garrett’s mistress. She had no doubt that’s what the others would think her to be. She could mark him until he was covered in bite marks but the fact remained, Carmen was stronger, she could take what she wanted and she wanted Garrett. Unless she was strong enough to fight Carmen and win, Garrett was lost to her.
Feeling the anger resurface, she snatched up the suitcase and made her way to the door. Sitting the bag down, she walked into the hall, hurried to Mitch’s room and went inside. Five minutes later, she had the keys to his car in hand and went to retrieve her bag.
The pack had assembled in the living room, every eye on Garrett as he talked. No one turned their head as Rayna walked down the stairs and around the banister to the hall. Quickening her steps, she made for the back door, closing it quietly behind her before running for the garage.
She wanted to laugh at how easy it was to just… walk away. No one shouted in protest as she opened the garage doors. No one blocked her path as she backed out and turned around, pulling down the driveway. She was pulling into town before she wondered what Garrett would do once he realized she was gone.
Stopping, she let the car idle as she looked at what was supposed to pass for the town of Wolf’s Creek. The buildings stood silent and filled with goods, only no one ever walked into one to buy anything. No one ever “worked” in any of them. They were just ghosts, shadows of a life no one here had.
Putting the car in park, Rayna wondered what would happen to everyone once Carmen took over the house. Garrett was still pack leader but she was sure Carmen would get her say. She wasn’t sure how decisions would be made. Did Garrett have final word or would Carmen’s little pack of wolves help sway votes in her favor. Would their pack, the wolves Garrett had been protecting, be safe from the newcomers? Would Garrett?
Carmen had wanted control of the pack enough to kill for it. She’d lured Garrett here in hopes he’d kill Malcolm. Who would Carmen lure to kill Garrett when he didn’t play by her rules?
The thought caused a shiver to race up her spine. Would Carmen kill him? When Garrett told her he didn’t want her, that she could help rule the pack but he didn’t want her in his bed, would Carmen try to get rid of him, too?
As much as Rayna didn’t want to bow down to Carmen she couldn’t leave knowing she left her mate vulnerable. Garrett belonged to her, to the wolf hiding inside her flesh. Putting the car back into gear, she turned around in the middle of the road and started back to the house. She barely made it to the first turn when her headlights flashed on someone stepping out of the forest and into the road. She slammed on the brakes, her heart hammering in her chest as she looked at the man who stood in her path. It took her a few minutes to recognize him and her eyes widened when she did.
“Please get out of the car, Ms. Ford.”
She didn’t have time to do as he asked before the door was jerked open. “Kill the engine.”
Rayna scowled at the man standing there. “Erik Foster. Why am I not surprised?”
“You know my name?”
“Of course. Garrett told me. He also told me you were a liar and that you were up to no good. I guess he was right.”
Erik laughed before reaching in and turning the car off. Rayna winced when he pulled her roughly from the vehicle. “I’ll have to work harder on my acting skills. I was sure Garrett bought my reason for being at the house.”
“Well, unlike you,” Rayna said, “Garrett isn’t stupid.”
He slapped her, her head turning with the blow. She stared at the ground, her eyes watering before he jerked her around to face him again.
“That isn’t necessary,” Stan said. “We aren’t to harm her.”
Erik grinned. “I didn’t harm her. Besides, a little slap is the least of her problems.”
Rayna turned her attention to Stan. He looked exactly how she remembered him. Tall, thin, wearing jeans and cowboy boots. A brown corduroy jacket paired with a hat in the same color completed the look.
He’d been missing since the night Malcolm had died. The pack had searched the mountain for him with no luck. She didn’t get time to wonder where he’d been when the sound of a car caught her attention. Turning her head, she saw an SUV coming toward them. When it stopped, and the doors on the passenger side opened, Rayna could only stare as Carmen stepped out onto the road followed closely by a man she’d never forget.
The vampire, Sabriel.
Read Chapter Six
A Night Breeds Novel
© 2011 Lily Graison