Dire (Page 31)

“She’s special, and she will be mine. Not my slave, my mate. My equal in all things that matter.”

“Your equal? You’re a leader of a pack of wolves. No human is going to be your equal.”

“You need to stop drawing conclusions without evidence. You know nothing about us.”

“And you know nothing about us.” I emphasized the word, letting him know that Mary Anne and I were a package deal.

“I know plenty.” There was something about the look in his eyes that made me wonder what he was really saying.

“How’d you know this was my truck?”

“How many trucks are out here right now?”

“But it’s miles from your house. Did you just search for it?” My suspicion grew. Did he have anything to do with the accident? I remembered the dark blur that made me hit the brakes and sent us careening off the road.

“I do my research.” He released my jacket. “If I were you I’d stop asking questions and get on.”

I jumped onto my seat just as he pulled away. In another lifetime I would have run to the road and saved myself. But this wasn’t another lifetime, and Mary Anne needed me. Running away wasn’t, and would never be, an option unless she was with me.

The ride back seemed faster. I kept thinking about the burnt out truck and the reality that no one would come searching. If we wanted to be rescued, we were going to have to do it ourselves. As much as I wanted to do it immediately, we needed to play along. Our only chance was making the wolves believe we’d given up. Aggressors tend to ignore those who roll over and play dead. The thought of doing that went against every fiber of my being, and I knew I couldn’t take it to an extreme, but I didn’t have any other ideas. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Hunter parked the snowmobile in the barn, and I silently followed him back to the house. I did everything possible to keep my face unreadable in case Mary Anne was downstairs. She’d be searching for answers, and I didn’t have any to give yet.

She was up and waiting a few feet from the front door. Mary Anne’s face flashed with relief when we walked into the house. Her eyes locked on mine, sending me a silent message that would probably have been “thank god,” had it been in words.

I tried to tell her “Of course” with mine, but for all I knew it came across as “I want you.”

Her long red hair was wet, bringing thoughts of what the rest of her looked like fresh from the shower. How was I thinking about that? Maybe because it was a far better alternative to thinking about what Hunter had just shown me. And because it was something I couldn’t have. I couldn’t have it because of a stupid wolf in the woods that may have caused our accident.

“Where were you?” She asked both Hunter and me, but I knew she hadn’t really cared where he was. She wanted to get as far away from him as possible. I had no doubt about that.

“I was just showing Gage a few things.” Hunter’s voice dropped back into his softer octave. The way he talked to her versus me was like night and day.

“Things you couldn’t show me?” Her voice was laced with a mix of suspicion and insult. Only Mary Anne would have been insulted at a time like that. She was probably calling him sexist inside her head.

“Things you don’t need to worry about.” He strode over to where she sat on the couch, but he didn’t sit down. He just towered over her. “There are other things I’ll need to show you.”

My stomach churned at the innuendo I was positive were in his words. It also strengthened my determination to keep him from spending time alone with her. There was no way he was getting an opportunity to demonstrate anything of that sort.

“Gage.” Hunter turned to me. “Chet will take you back to his house so you can shower. You will start working this afternoon.”

“Working?” Somehow that topic hadn’t come up on our snowmobile expedition.

“Yes, working. Everyone has to pull their own weight here.”

“Will I be working too?” Mary Anne crossed her legs and sat up.

“Yes.” Hunter smiled at her. “I’m sure we can find plenty of jobs for you.”

I shook my head vehemently. “I can do all the work for both of us.” Whatever jobs he had in mind for her, she didn’t need to do them.

“You will be doing different jobs.” Hunter smiled, and I wanted to punch him. I knew he was just messing with me, trying to make me angry, and it worked. Only I couldn’t let him know just how far under my skin he was getting.

“Let’s go.” Chet held open the front door.

I thought about arguing, but Hunter’s glare kept my mouth shut. What would happen to Mary Anne if I was gone? I also knew that “gone” likely equaled dead. Everyone was already going to think I was.

“All right. I’ll be back as soon as possible.” I hoped Mary Anne understood what I was doing. Playing along didn’t mean I was giving up on getting us out. I needed her to play along too, but she couldn’t give up. Giving up for her would mean turning herself over to Hunter’s will. I’d die before I let that happen. That animal wasn’t laying a hand on her.

Hunter dismissed Chet and Falcon. “I’ll meet you out there once Marni gets here.”

I felt relief wash over me. Hunter wouldn’t be alone in the house with her. I didn’t like any of the wolves, but Marni seemed like the most harmless. I also realized my radar could have been completely wrong. Maybe she was just as bad. Still, I preferred her to the others. At least Marni didn’t seem interested in getting in her pants.

Chapter Sixteen

Mary Anne

Marni was the only sane one of the bunch, and I’m using “sane” loosely. She was supposedly helping me find work to do around the house, but really she was babysitting me. I’m not sure how she got stuck with that job, but my guess is it had to do with her gender. Hunter didn’t seem to like leaving me alone with any of the other guys, and I also sensed he was trying to put me at ease. He was waiting for me to let my guard down so he could slip in. The thought sent shivers through me. Hunter wasn’t going to be an easy man to keep at bay. Wolf or not, he was all muscle and brute strength. He was also determined. He seemed like the type of guy who always got what he wanted. I wondered how he’d handle things if he didn’t. Probably not well.

“We could bake something.” Marni hopped up onto the old laminate kitchen counter top. “Hunter loves chocolate chip cookies.”

“Bake? I’m a girl, so I’m into baking?” Say gender stereotypes much? Besides, how was I going to bake with everything else going on?