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Dark Moon (Chapter Sixteen)

The woman had a point.

Kind of. Since we were dealing with werewolves, there weren't a lot of rule books. Nowhere did it say I couldn't become different, even from what I was. Damien had.

Of course, he'd been cursed. Blessed. Hell, I didn't know anymore.

But since sex is a normal, physical function of both humans and wolves, perhaps in abstaining, I'd done myself more harm than good.

See, I could rationalize with the best of them.

"Jess? Will called. "We're supposed to check in with Sheriff Stephenson."

"Keep your pants on, Slick." Jessie moved past me and into the hall. "Or maybe take them off," she murmured so only I could hear. "He looks much better that way."

A muffled thump at the front of the house announced they'd left, and weariness washed over me again. I stumbled into the room that was now mine, dumped my sweat-stained clothes, then crawled beneath the chilly sheets in nothing but Jessie's T-shirt.

The windows were covered with heavy curtains – a J��ger-Sucher staple, issued right along with silver ammunition and fake IDs, since most of them slept in the daytime and hunted all night.

Considering that, a vampire would make a great werewolf hunter, if you could trust the bloodsucking undead. I'm sure it goes without saying that you can't.

I awoke much later, rested but stiff. I'd slept so heavily my body was in the same position as when I lay down. Unusual for me. I was an active sleeper. Lucky I slept alone.

Except I wasn't alone. The instant I woke up, I heard someone breathing. The door was closed. I remembered leaving it open.

In an attempt to fool whoever had invaded my place, I kept my respiration deep and even. I moved nothing except my eyes.

Near the window stood a man.

I tried to pin his scent, but he'd showered so recently I caught only a whiff of soap and damp hair. New clothes that smelled of the plastic they'd come in, new shoes so fresh I could taste the rubber.

Best defense and all that, I bounded out of bed and had my elbow around his neck before he could turn.

He tried to talk but I was cutting off his air.

This close I didn't need to smell him. I knew the shape of that body, the texture of the skin. I loosened my hold, and he turned.

"Miss me, sweetheart?"

It was a rare occasion when I didn't know who was coming after me long before they got there. Those few seconds of not knowing had scared me.

"Do you have a death wish?" I snapped.

I stalked across the room and tapped the reading lamp on the bedside table. The muted glow barely reached into the corner where he hovered.

"No one throws me out of town," Nic said.

"I think someone did."

His eyes narrowed. "I'm here, aren't I?"

"And when Edward sees you he'll have a temper tantrum. I don't want to watch."

Edward's temper tantrums usually consisted of guns firing, blood spurting, bodies bursting into flames.

Nic crossed the room and crowded into my space. The action should have been intimidating. I'm sure he meant it to be. Instead, I found his nearness, his attempt at dominance, arousing.

Why did he have this effect on me? I wished the desire would go away. I wished he would go away.

As if he'd heard my thoughts, he grabbed my arms, and gave me a little shake. My breath caught on a gasp, not of shock, but excitement. I was pathetic. Since when had I enjoyed being manhandled?

Since the man doing the handling was Nic.

"I'm not leaving."

His fingers tightened as I tried to get away. I could have, easily, if I hadn't been enjoying the struggle so much.

"What hold does Mandenauer have on you, Elise? What is it that he knows?" I froze, eyes going wide.

"Who is he to you?"

"M-my boss."

"There's more to it than that."

He was right, but I couldn't tell him so.

"When you disappeared," Nic murmured, "I asked everyone if they'd seen you, but no one had."

Trust Edward to make sure of it.

"Except for the guy sneaking in from a night celebrating a solid C on his biology test."

Uh-oh.

"He saw a beautiful blonde leaving with a skinny, scary old man."

I swallowed. "So?"

"Now I've met the skinny, scary old man and I wonder… He wasn't your boss then, so why did you leave with him?"

My head tilted; my hair, loose and wild, brushed his arm and his nostrils flared, even as his lips thinned.

He was furious.

And as aroused as I was.

"I left because I wanted to."

That much was true. I'd wanted to get away from a place where everyone had suddenly smelled like meat.

"You were… too clingy," I blurted. "You were pushing me into something I wasn't ready for."

Something sparked in his eyes, and for an instant I was afraid of him, which was foolish. He couldn't hurt me. At least not physically.

"You mean this?"

His mouth crushed down. Our teeth clashed. I tasted blood. Mine? Nic's? I didn't care. The taste, the scent, only tempted me to give in to the wildness I kept trapped inside.

My lips opened. I welcomed him in. Our tongues dueled – touch, spar, retreat. I shuddered, fighting the urge to draw more blood.

His fingers wound in my hair, pulling my head back so he could trace a heated path down my throat. His tongue pressed against my pulse; his teeth worried a fold of skin as his fingers stroked my already aroused nipple to an aching peak.

Had he come back for me, or for this? Didn't matter. I wanted him. Always had.

I needed to hold on to something or fall, so I clutched his shoulders, then became fascinated with the thin line of his collarbone and the shape of his biceps.

Somewhere along the line he'd discarded the suit and found a bright, white T-shirt and a pair of jeans; his holster and his gun were gone. The lack of dress-up clothes and a weapon – his new, yet somehow old, outfit – reminded me of the boy I'd fallen in love with.

Happier, more innocent times, when we'd lie on the couch all tangled together, studying, kissing, unable to resist the fury of first sexual awareness.

Nic's hands fluttered down my back, under the flimsy cover of the T-shirt, stilling when he encountered nothing but skin. His fingernails scraped the sensitive area where my thighs sloped into my rear, before he filled his palms and ground us together.

I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ride the tide. As if he knew my thoughts, he lifted me, settled my knees over his hips, and buried his face between my breasts.

I crossed my ankles behind his back and clenched, pressing myself against him. Cursing, he whirled and dumped me onto the bed, then he lost the jeans and the T-shirt.

The lamplight turned his skin to gold. He'd grown in the years we'd been apart, and without his clothes he seemed taller, broader, stronger.

His shoulders were wide, his waist narrow, his legs long and taut. The light dusting of dark hair across his chest led down his flat stomach and fed into a curling frame around another part that seemed a lot bigger without clothes.

I'd touched him in college – my hand down his pants, his breath harsh and rasping as I worked him in my palm and made him come – but I'd never seen him.

I didn't get much time to see him now. One look at my face and he joined me on the bed. He didn't ask, didn't hesitate, and I was glad. If I'd had too much time to think, maybe I would have stopped him.

But I doubted it. I'd held Nic in my heart as the man of my dreams, the one I could never have, and if I couldn't have him, I didn't want anyone. So here I was, a twenty-nine-year-old virgin werewolf. Fat lot of good abstinence had done me.

If I lost my soul, so be it. They could always shoot me tomorrow.

Nic took my mouth; and then he took my body. One deep thrust and I was no longer a virgin. The werewolf thing was going to be a little bit harder to get rid of.

The pain was minute; I endured worse every full moon. However, Nic froze, then slowly lifted his head.

The anger still lurked in his eyes, but there was wariness now, and a gentleness I hadn't seen since he'd returned.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You didn't ask."

His forehead dropped to rest against mine. "Elise – "

"Don't stop. If you stop, I just might have to kill you."

He gave a half-laugh, but I wasn't kidding. My body was on fire. My skin felt too small for my body.

Every sensation bubbled in my blood.

My hands clutched his back, learning the swell of his buttocks, the curves and the dips. Urging him closer, I asked the eternal question and was answered with another fierce thrust.

The entire world narrowed to the one small area where we had joined. My virginity was history, and I was still a woman. Or as close to a woman as I got.

Jessie had asked: What more could the universe do to me? Right now, I only cared what else Nic could do to me and for how long.

I rose to meet him, and his body responded, pulsing within me to the beat of our hearts. Eyes closed, head thrown back, with every movement he reached deeper, loomed larger.

"More," I mumbled against his mouth, then bit his lip. "Harder."

"I'll hurt – "

"You won't." I clasped his hips and showed him what I needed. "You can't."

What had started out rough became rougher. The slide of flesh against flesh incited me. Arching, I offered my breasts, only Jessie's T-shirt was in the way. I tried to tug it free, but the material was sandwiched between us and there was no way we were going to separate now.

With a growl that seemed to reach all the way to my toes, he put his hand in the neck and tore the garment down the front. Lowering his head, he captured one nipple, then scored it with his teeth.

My body trembled, and I tightened around him. Shuddering, he suckled, his tongue pushing me against the roof of his mouth in a rhythm echoed by our bodies.

I could no longer keep my eyes open as a whole new world exploded in my mind. The forest, the trees, the sky – no moon, full moon – the answer to every question I'd ever had, right there, so close, I could almost hear the words, see the solution.

I was no longer divided but whole. Not woman and wolf, just me. Two become one in a rite as old as time, and then…

I climaxed with a startled gasp as he reached a place meant only for him. Over and over and over again, he moved within me, and the orgasm surged through us both.

When the last shudder fell away, and the air shifted from hot to cool, I ran my palm over his hair. My chest went tight. I wanted to both hold him close and fling him away.

Nic rolled from my body and onto the bed. He didn't speak; I wasn't sure what to say.

I felt both different and the same. How could that be?

"This isn't what I came here for." His voice was remote. I wasn't sure what I'd done, or maybe not done.

"No?"

He made a sound of disgust and sat up. "I didn't use a condom. Dammit!" He scrubbed a hand through his hair.

I wasn't worried, since I couldn't get pregnant, and, since lycanthropy can heal a non-silver bullet to the head, STDs aren't even a blip on our radar. Too bad I couldn't explain any of this to Nic.

"I've never been so stupid in my life," he muttered.

Suddenly naked and alone, I glanced away and my gaze was caught by a smudge of blood on my inner thigh. Quickly I wrapped the covers around me so he wouldn't see.

"Thanks," I murmured.

"I didn't mean it like that."

"What did you mean?"

He lifted his hands, lowered them. "You confuse the hell out of me, Elise. I see you, and it's like you never went away. Everything feels the same, but we're not the same people."

He had that right, I wasn't even a people anymore. Had I ever been?

"You look as if seven days have passed, instead of seven years." He tilted his head, stared at my face.

"How can that be?"

His words reminded me, if I'd needed any reminding, that we could never be together. Not really.

Sooner or later he'd find out what I was, what I'd done, and he'd hate me.

"I want to hate you," he murmured.

I started. Could he read my mind?

"You don't?"

His gaze wandered over the bed, then over me. "Did that feel like hate to you?"

"No."

He sighed. "But it wasn't love."

Then why had it felt like love to me?

My eyes burned and I stood. The languid, peaceful feeling fled, and as I paced the room, dragging the end of the bedspread behind me, a buzzing energy took its place.

Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the dresser, I froze. My eyes had bled blue; not a hint of white surrounded the iris. Wolf's eyes, except for one difference.

Most laymen aren't aware that only puppies have blue eyes. So if you see a wolf in the wild with orbs of blue? Better hope you have a silver bullet handy.

Panic made my breathing shallow. When I was wolf, I had human eyes, so what did it mean that they had gone wolf when I wasn't? I doubted it was a good thing.

I glanced into the mirror once more. Nic was getting dressed. Convenient, since I had to get rid of him right now.

"You wanted me," I said. "You had me. Get out."

His head lifted, he turned in my direction. I ducked my face so my hair would cover my eyes. If he saw them I was doomed. Or he was.

"What?" he murmured.

Beneath the calm I heard liquid steel, red hot and bubbling.

"We both wanted to see what we'd missed." I inched toward the door with a shrug. "Now we know. It wasn't all that much."

"You lie almost as badly as you fuck."

I winced. He was lying, too. Despite my inexperience, even I knew what we'd just shared had been as far from bad as it had been from a common fuck.

I heard him coming after me but I didn't pause to see how close he was. If I could get into the hallway, he'd never catch me.

Yanking open the door, I nearly screamed as a large, dark shadow swooped close.

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