Dire (Page 35)

The day after the shower incident I sat in my usual spot on the couch after everyone else had left the house for the night. The hours after dinner were always the hardest. Hunter made everyone else leave, and it was just the two of us sitting around by the fire. He never tried anything with me, but his eyes told me just how much he wanted to. Usually we fell into a quasi-comfortable silence where I daydreamed about getting away. Before the ill-fated road trip I’d always daydreamed about Gage. I couldn’t anymore. At least not in the way I had before.

“What are you thinking about?” Hunter broke the silence, setting aside a tattered book.

“Nothing really. What book is that?”

“This?” He picked up the book again. “It’s Moby Dick.”

“Oh. I’ve never read it.”

He handed the book over. “Then read it.”

“Oh, it’s okay. You’re reading it.”

“I’ve read it more times than I can count already. I want you to read it. I want to know what you think of Ahab.”

“Ahab? Isn’t that the crazy captain?” I may not have read the book, but I knew enough from pop culture.

“Just read it.”

Reading seemed like a good way to pass the time, so I nodded. “I haven’t had time to read for fun in months.”

“College keeps you busy?”

“Exactly.”

“I’ve considered college, but it was never a real possibility.”

“Because of your work here?” I was reaching for straws and trying to tread carefully on thin ice all at once.

He shook his head. “No, we haven’t been here long. We just have to be careful.”

“Careful of what?”

“Don’t worry about it.” He looked into the fire.

I needed to know. I had a feeling that my only chance of escape was to develop a better understanding of Hunter. On the surface he made no sense. He was keeping me in his bed without touching me, yet he was interested. Something wasn’t adding up. “Please tell me.”

“Why? You still haven’t told me anything about yourself.”

“Yes I have. You know I’m in college and from Mayville.”

“You only told me those things to be polite. You’ve never told me anything personal. You’ve never shared your secrets.”

“You haven’t given me a reason to.”

He looked as though he’d been slapped. “Haven’t I treated you well?”

“Well? You’re keeping me here against my will. You made it look like I was dead. My parents think that I’m dead.” Saying the words hadn’t become easier.

“Who told you that?” He asked suspiciously. “You haven’t been alone with Gage.”

“It doesn’t matter. I know.”

“It’s easier this way. Why should they spend months searching for someone they’ll never find?”

I shivered. “Why won’t you let me go? There have to be girls who would willingly be with you.” It was harsh, but true.

“You think that’s it? You think that’s why you can’t leave?”

“What other reason is there? It’s not like people would believe us if we said you were wolves. You wouldn’t have to move.”

“We’re not the only ones who know you’re here.”

“What does that mean? You’ve talked about the danger of the outside before. What aren’t you telling me?”

“Tell me something.” He sat down next to me on the couch. “Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.”

“And if I do?”

“I’ll tell you everything you want to know.”

“Everything?”

His lips twisted up into a devastatingly handsome smile. I’d never considered Hunter handsome before, more tough, but this particular smile softened him somehow. “Most.”

“I’m not smart. I mean I’m above average, but everyone thinks I’m a genius. The truth is, I study like crazy and stay up all night just to stay on top of my work.”

“And that’s a secret no one knows?” He rested his hand next to mine.

“No one.”

“Not even Gage?”

“Definitely not Gage.”

He smiled again. “You’re smart. I understand what you’re saying though, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Your turn. Tell me. Why can’t I leave?”

“Are you comfortable?”

I nodded. “Yes. Please keep your word.”

“I was planning too, but this might take a while.”

“Oh.” I pulled my legs up under me. “I’m comfortable.”

“Wolves aren’t the only paranormal creatures out there.”

“Meaning what? There are others?”

“Tons. Lots of different shifters, witches, and even vampires are real.”

“Vampires?”

“I wouldn’t worry about them. They’re pretty much the lowest of the low.”

“Oh.” I nodded, not sure what I believed but desperate to hear more.

“Witches though you need to be careful with. They’re powerful.”

“They’re stronger than you?”

“Physically? No. But they can mess with your mind. Especially a human’s mind. They can make you do almost anything and everything. Some witches can also control you physically.”

“Are there witches around?”

“Yes. A powerful and misguided Coven lives on the land surrounding ours. They have helped to cloak us, but I never should have entered into any agreement with them. These aren’t the good kind of witches, Mary Anne.”

“An agreement?”

“They cloak us, and we turn a blind eye to what they do.”

“What do they do? What do you ignore?”

“I don’t want to frighten you.”

“Frighten me? I’m being held captive by wolves, how much scarier can these witches be?”

He looked torn for a moment, like he didn’t know if he should continue. “They use slaves. Human slaves.”

“What?” I moved away from him. “You let that happen?”

“We’re in hiding, Mary Anne.” He spoke so softly I could barely hear him.

“In hiding?” That explained a lot. I knew there was something strange about the set up.

“We’re not ordinary wolves. We’re Dire Wolves and that makes us especially dangerous to the powers that be.”