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Hunter's Moon (Chapter 22)

I waited for Will to argue, but he didn't.

"The fewer werewolves for the Weendigo to kill and eat," he said, "the less power he accumulates."

"And if he doesn't have a hundred by the night of the blood moon, I'd say he's screwed." I glanced at Jessie.

"Works for me," she said.

I glanced at the window. The sun was coming up. "Too late today. But tonight – "

Jessie nodded. "Tonight we have some fun."

Neither one of us noticed Will going into the bathroom, but we saw him come out. He held Jessie's blood-spattered uniform in his hands.

"What the hell is this?"

We exchanged glances. I shrugged. He was all hers.

"What does it look like?" Jessie headed for her bedroom. I assumed to get dressed. I know I never like to argue while wearing a towel.

Will followed her. "What happened?"

"Relax, Slick; it's not my blood."

"I'm so relieved."

He didn't sound relieved. He sounded pissed.

I retrieved my gun and slipped out the door. I didn't want to listen to them argue. I definitely didn't want to be around when they made up. Just the thought made my body remember what I'd been doing with Damien about twenty-four hours ago. I wanted to do it again.

That I couldn't only made me want to more.

I drove home as daylight burst over the horizon. I enjoyed sunrise, the end of night. All the dangerous beings with fangs gone to sleep or returned to human form. What wasn't to like?

For the first time I could remember, I pulled into an empty parking lot. Where was everyone?

I climbed out of the car, taking my guns along. Upstairs I set the weapons on the table, took a quick look-see around my apartment. Didn't appear that anyone had been in here lately, except for me. I considered taking a shower and climbing into bed. Then I heard the music.

The notes flew on the early-morning breeze and shot through my window. Not jazz for a change, but a hoof-stomping country tune. Toby Keith singing about the red, white, and blue. I loved that song.

I loved country music. I liked the slow ones and the fast. I liked the easy southern cadence of the words and the long-drawn-out stories they told.

Who was playing country music in an empty bar? Only one way to find out. I went downstairs.

The door was open. I stepped inside.

Half-afraid I'd find Cowboy, I wasn't any happier to see Damien. Well, who had I expected? Elvis?

A huge boom box perched on a table, a stack of CDs at its side. Damien swept the floor with his back to me. I tried to inch out, but he straightened. "Wait."

Toby was informing the world we'd put a boot in their ass; it was the American way. You can see why I like him. He's a man after my own heart.

"I… can't." I kept moving backward. He turned. The anguish on his face stopped me in my tracks.

"What's wrong?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. You're right. You should go."

I should, but now I couldn't. He was upset. Seriously upset. I'd planned to avoid him, as best I could living in his front yard. I'd definitely decided we shouldn't be alone together. I knew what would happen if he came anywhere near me. I had no self-control around him. I'd already proven that.

But he was hurting, badly. I couldn't just run upstairs and go to bed. Even if he did turn down the music.

I inched closer. Toby wanted to talk about me, I, number one. I wanted to talk about Damien.

"Bad night?" I murmured.

He shrugged and returned to sweeping, though the floor seemed pretty damn clean to me.

"Not really. I accomplished what I set out to."

I frowned. "What? Selling more whiskey than rye?"

"No, more beer than tequila."

I couldn't tell if he was joking or not.

"Why are you still here?" I asked.

"Nothing better to do."

Damien and I had a lot more in common than I cared for.

He glanced up. "Where did you take off to in such a hurry before?"

I'd torn out of here after Jessie's call, which had followed my horrible daymare. Just the memory of it made me cold and clammy.

"I had to meet the sheriff."

The truth. Wow. I could tell it.

The music changed. Toby was done and a sweet, swaying ballad began. Trisha Yearwood wondered how she could live without him. How would she ever survive?

I used to love this song as well. Until it hit too close to home.

Suddenly Damien stood directly in front of me, without his broom. He was close, invading my space. I took a step back and stumbled over my own two feet.

His hand snaked out; his arm pressed against my spine. Now I couldn't breathe along with Trisha.

"Damien – " I began.

"Dance with me," he whispered. "Just once."

I could have refused, should have. But he smelled so good – like wind and trees and summertime, with a hint of tobacco that should have been unpleasant but was, instead, tempting.

His skin was warm, his breath balmy against my cheek. When he touched me like this I remembered everything that had happened between us. It had been sex, not love, but I could pretend, and right now I needed to.

I melted against him and we began to move with the music. He was a good dancer, unusual in a man his age.

My grandfather had shown me the waltz, the polka, the fox-trot. No one knew how to dance like a civilized human being anymore. Except Damien. Someone had taught him, just like my grandfather had taught me.

The music swelled, seemed to both surround and fill me. My feet moved next to his in perfect rhythm. As I laid my head on his chest, he pressed his cheek to my hair.

I hadn't realized how lonely I was. My life was full. Of death, sure, but that's the way I wanted it. I didn't have time to miss all I'd lost. Not much anyway. Whenever I did, I moved to another town, shot a dozen more werewolves, and refused to listen to the sobbing little girl in-side of me who missed her mama. I was heap big werewolf hunter; I didn't get to cry. So why did I want to?

Because here, in Crow Valley, I had caught a glimpse of what I lacked. Not only friendship but also companionship, love, sex, anything that made life worth living, except killing – which made me one sick cookie. And I called Hector psychotic.

I was being tempted back to another world, and I wasn't sure I could live in it. Seeing Jessie and Will, so in love, holding Damien close, so sexy and… aroused.

I stiffened, but he tightened his arms and wouldn't let me go.

"Please," he whispered. "Don't leave me yet."

A thick, warm feeling settled just below my heart. I didn't want to leave. Not him. Not yet.

It was daytime. The werewolves were human again. We were safe – for a little while. And I needed him now. Even more than I'd needed him yesterday.

I lifted my head. He was watching me with an indecipherable expression on his face. I wasn't sure what he was thinking. Was I ever?

A new song began – a boot-stompin' two-step. We continued to slow dance as Trisha informed us that her lover could smile like an angel, lie like a rug.

"Too bad you're no good," I murmured.

Damien's lips lifted in the closest thing to a smile I'd ever seen on his face. Was that an omen?

Suddenly he twirled me out, then yanked me back and started a fancy double-step I was barely able to follow. By the time the song ended I was breathing heavily and laughing. Damien stared at me with an odd expression.

"What?"

"I've never seen you laugh like that."

I quit. I had no right to laugh, to smile, or to be happy.

He touched the corner of my mouth with his fingertip. "Don't stop."

I shuddered, righting the urge to capture his finger in my mouth and nibble. What was the matter with me?

Jimmy and I had had sex, and it had been good. Hector hadn't been bad, either. Well, what did I expect, fucking the Devil?

But Damien… Everything about him exuded sexuality. I couldn't be in the same room with him and not want him – even before I'd had him. Now that I knew what lay beneath those black clothes, I had a hard time remembering why never again had seemed like a good idea.

His finger skimmed my jaw, feathered down my neck, slid along my collarbone.

"Damien – "

"I never should have touched you."

The pain in his voice, on his face, made me go silent.

"It was a mistake. But I can't help wanting you again." His hands closed around my upper arms; the grip was just short of painful. "I don't care if it's wrong."

He let his head fall forward until our foreheads touched. His hair sifted over my face and I caught the scent of the trees.

"I don't care if you shoot me." His breath tickled the corner of my eye as his hands gentled, and his thumbs stroked the soft, sensitive skin at the inside of my arm. "I don't care about much of anything right now except being inside you."

Suddenly I didn't care about anything else, either.

I tilted my head, brushing my lips across his. My tongue flicked out, teasing, taunting, tormenting.

He tensed. "Leigh."

I loved how he said my name. Softly, almost reverently, as if the word were torn from somewhere deep within him.

I didn't want to wait. I didn't want to think. I raised on tiptoe, leaning into him, my fingers busy with the buttons of his shirt, my palms spreading across his chest, satisfying my desire for warmth, strength, sensation.

I needed to feel alive, and in the past two years I hadn't. Not until I'd met him. As he'd said, it was wrong, but right now I didn't care.

I wanted to feel his life in me, and I knew exactly how.

Replacing my hands with my mouth, I kissed his smooth chest, traced my teeth across his belly, laved a circle around his navel. By the time I reached his waist, I'd unhooked his pants. They slid to the floor just ahead of me.

"Leigh?"

He came back to himself long enough to reach for me. I batted his hands away and took him in my mouth.

I'd never gone dov/n on anyone before, not that I hadn't heard all about it. I'd been to college.

He was smooth, hot, and hard. I roiled my tongue over his tip. He tasted like the earth, the wind, the water. I scraped my teeth gently across his skin.

His hands on my head, his fingers threaded through my hair, and he showed me the rhythm. Moaning, he thrust into my mouth, faster and faster. I was so excited, I was afraid I'd be too rough. But that didn't seem to be a problem.

He pulled me away and I struggled to take him back. "Leigh, wait; we should – "

I licked him. His breath hissed in, sharp and quick. He glared at me. "Let's go up to your room."

There was no way I could wait that long. I tugged on his hand until he knelt next to me; then I leaned over and nipped his lip.

"Now," I whispered. "Here."

"Here?"

"You just cleaned the floor, didn't you?"

I startled a laugh out of him. The sound caused my belly to tighten with a hunger that had nothing to do with food. Laughing, he was more beautiful than ever before.

I had to have him.

Now. Here.

I yanked off my shirt, then tore at the rest of my clothes. He didn't help. Instead he watched. Having his sober hazel eyes drift over me in appreciation was nearly as arousing as the touch of his lips and his hands.

Nearly. When he bent and flicked a nipple with his tongue my legs wobbled and I clung to him.

"I can't wait," I panted.

He moved away, yanking protection from his pants – did he have a spare condom everywhere? – then lying back on the floor.

"Come here." He held out his arms.

I shook my head. "Why don't you – ?"

"You're not lying on the floor. Not with me. Not ever. Come here," he repeated.

From the determination on his face, if I wanted him, I could have him. But only like this. Who was I to argue?

I straddled him, took him deep inside. His hands on my hips, he guided me. We were both so close to the edge, it didn't take long. I watched his face as he came. For an instant I wanted to touch his cheek and kiss the lids of his sad, sad eyes. But I knew better.

Then my own release took me, hard and fast, a near-painfui explosion that left me gasping.

When I came back to myself I was draped ail over Damien, his body still buried deep within. But that wasn't the intimacy that made my heart lurch, then thunder.

No, it was the way he ran his long, clever fingers up and down my back.

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