Dire (Page 26)

“I didn’t admit—” Why was it so hard to talk? All I wanted to do was go to sleep.

“Yes, you did. I kind of have that effect on people. I help them realize what their subconscious is trying to tell them.”

“What’s my subconscious telling me now?”

“You’re scared. You’re scared about how you’re going to get home. You’re scared of what will happen with Gage, but even more than that you’re scared of how I make you feel. You don’t understand how you could have feelings for me when you finally have the man you’ve wanted for years.”

“No. I wasn’t thinking that.” But I was thinking all the other things. How did he know so much about what I was thinking? I couldn’t be that easy to read.

“Your subconscious was.” He touched my forehead. “And the answer is you don’t really have him. It’s temporary. It wouldn’t be temporary with me. You’d always be protected and warm.” He ran a hand down my arm. “You’d also be cherished. Your body worshiped and adored. Your every need and desire fulfilled because I know them better than you know them yourself.”

“Stop.”

“Stop what? Letting you know there are options?”

“I need to sleep.”

“Then sleep. We can talk more about this tomorrow night.”

“I won’t be here tomorrow night.”

“Yes, you will,” he whispered, his lips right by my ear.

I rolled over, not trusting the effect he had on me, and I stared at the wall. I needed to get out of there. Fast.

***

I woke up with a start, remembering exactly where I was and who was lying next to me. Hunter’s arm was draped over me as I lay on my side. I tried to shrug it off, but it didn’t budge. So much for an easy exit.

I tried again carefully, and he stirred. “I told you not to leave. I begged you not to,” he said in barely a whisper.

I held my breath.

“You should have stayed.” His voice sounded weaker this time. Was he sleeping?

“Stay,” he murmured against my hair.

He was definitely sleeping. Was he talking about me? Did his fear of my safety really transcend into his dreams?

I couldn’t think about it long. I pushed up against his arm for the third time, and this time I was able to slide out from under it. He mumbled again before rolling over. Phew.

I waited a few moments to make sure he was really sleeping before slipping out of bed. As silently as possible I pulled on my sweater and pants—I had my jeans back. I’d left both my coat and boots downstairs.

Halfway down the stairs I collided with a body. My chest clenched.

“It’s just me.”

I relaxed once I heard Gage’s voice. “Thank goodness.”

We hurried down the stairs. Gage handed me my coat. I zipped it up before pulling on my boots. “Are we ready?”

“Yes. Let’s do this.”

The ground was still covered by at least a foot of snow, and Hunter was right about the layer of ice. At least it was easier to walk over since my boots didn’t sink in as much.

The first tentative steps onto the frozen ground were slow, but then we picked up the pace, determined to get off Hunter’s property before he realized I was missing. The wind picked up the farther into the open we moved, and the effect had snow blowing all around us.

We were getting close to the road. We had to be. Reaching the road would only be the beginning of a full day journey, but it was easier to delude myself into thinking it was the goal.

Gage’s hand remained wrapped around mine. Even through our gloves, the contact provided comfort. Despite the doubts Hunter tried to put in my head, I knew there was more between us than sex. Gage’s feelings for me were more than that, and so were mine. It was crazy how much had changed between us in just a few days. I guess extreme circumstances can do that to people.

A single howl made me stop short. “The wolves!”

“Let’s hope they are farther away than they sound.” Gage tightened his hold on my hand and pulled me forward.

Three more howls filled the night. “They sound closer.”

We picked up the pace, and I chanced a glance behind me. That was a mistake. Several large grey wolves came into view. “Run!”

Gage didn’t need to be told twice. He broke into a run without letting go of my hand.

I ran as fast as possible over the frozen snow, but we didn’t get far before the wolves started circling around us. “Oh my god.” Could things get any worse?

“You have to make a run for it.” Gage’s voice quivered. “They’re going to kill us.”

“I’m not leaving you.” I tried to stay strong, and I kept my eyes locked on the wolves. There were five of them. All of them were massive, much larger than any wolf I’d seen before, but one of them was even bigger and had a large silver streak running down its back. That wolf seemed to be staring right at me.

“I’ll distract them. You run. I’ll catch up.”

I spotted an opening next to one of the smaller of the wolves and went for it. I didn’t make it far before one of the wolves stepped in front of me. I froze, paralyzed with fear before my legs were knocked out from under me. Suddenly, I was lying in the snow with a giant wolf hovering over me.

“We’re fucked.” Gage voiced exactly what I was thinking.

The silver streaked wolf stared down at me. It’s almost glowing eyes bored into mine. Was I really going to die as half-frozen food for a giant wild animal?

Then things got hazy and the air seemed to buzz. Moments later it wasn’t a wolf on top of me—it was a man. A completely naked man with a faint scar across his face.

“What the heck?” I tried to scurry back, but Hunter didn’t move. His very exposed parts nearly touched me. I didn’t want to notice his size, but I did. He was huge. He also didn’t look remotely concerned with the cold.

His lips brushed against my ear. “Were you going somewhere?” His voice came out scratchy, and his eyes didn’t leave my face.

“Yeah. We’re getting the hell out of this place.” Gage sounded confident. I was impressed. I could barely breathe. Then again maybe he didn’t have a giant naked man nearly on top of him.

“I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to her.”

I tried to turn to look at Gage, but Hunter captured my chin and made me look back up at him.

“To me?” My voice didn’t sound like my own. It was shaky and low.