Authors: Rhyannon Byrd
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal
"I won't fuck you," he told her, his voice thick with lust. "God knows I want to, but I can't.
Not when I don't trust what I'd do to you. But that...that isn't going to stop me from taking this."
She blinked, looking equal parts wary and intrigued. "Taking what?"
Despite his fury and frustration that he couldn't have everything he wanted from her, the corner of Ian's mouth twitched at the nervous excitement smoldering in her heavy-lidded gaze. She wanted it...whatever it was--but she was still shy. He could see it in her eyes, hear it in the erratic cadence of her breathing, and it ramped his own need up that much higher, when he already wanted her more than anything he'd ever wanted before.
Slowly...quietly, he said, "You ever had a guy go down on you, Molls?"
Her eyes went comically wide, and she nodded jerkily, a warm blush rising up from her chest, over her throat, blooming wildly in her face. "O-once."
"Like it?" he asked in a low voice, holding her with his gaze, silently commanding her not to look away.
She shook her head, wetting her lips, the color in her face burning hotter. Brighter. "Not...not really."
"Why not?" he asked, his tone casual, completely at odds with the intimate way he braced himself on one elbow between her indecently spread thighs, and placed his fingertips against the soft, golden curls at the top of her sex, stroking them with a slow, possessive touch.
She blinked, panting, and finally managed to stammer out a reply. "I can't b-believe I'm telling you this, but it was...um, k-kind of awkward...and a little...a little embarrassing."
The corner of his mouth twitched again, her innocence melting him with tenderness, at the same time it pushed him perilously close to the brutal, dangerous edge of hunger he was doing his best to avoid. "If you had time to think about being embarrassed, then he wasn't doing it right, angel."
She pulled her lower lip through her teeth, gasping when he deliberately swept his thumb lower, against the damp, knotted heat of her clit. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, if a man knows how to do it right," he explained in a deep, rasping murmur, struggling to keep himself together, "then his woman won't be able to think at all while he's doing it."
He shifted lower, settling himself on his elbows until that lush cleft was only inches from his mouth, glistening and pink and unbearably exquisite.
"God, look at you," he said thickly, his shoulders keeping her from closing her thighs when she stiffened with shyness, an incoherent murmur of panic falling from her lips. Pulling in a deep breath of her mouthwatering scent, Ian used his thumbs to open her wider, revealing that candy-pink center that he remembered so vividly from his dreams. Then he gave in to the driving urgency that had been riding him hard since the moment he'd first set eyes on this woman, and greedily put his mouth to her warm, drenched center.
Her pure, salty sweet taste exploded over his senses, somehow even better than he'd imagined, and all his years of experience and acquired skill were lost in that stunning, jolting moment beneath an overpowering flood of hunger and instinct and insatiable, clawing need.
Through the primal roar in his brain, Ian could hear the small, choked cries of pleasure breaking out of her, while her pale body thrashed, twisting beneath him. His mouth worked on her, desperate for her flavor.
Once he heard her scream, he needed it again...and again, until she couldn't hold them in, the choppy, erotic cries spilling from her lips in endless succession, each one only cranking up his own need to a dangerous, deadly degree.
The first climax slammed into her without warning, arching her like a live wire when it hit, crashing over her, flinging her into some dark, infinite unknown and damn near taking him with her. Ian knew he was tempting fate in daring to take her in such an intimate way--but he couldn't stop...couldn't deny the savage, sharp-edged craving in his blood that demanded he get as much of her as he could, before it all came crashing down around him. There was no doubt that she deserved more than that--more than a man who could only give in half measures. Who had to control himself like an animal on a leash--and the bitter knowledge caused regret to coil heavily around his shoulders, weighing him down.
Time to retreat, jackass, before you go too far.
Right, right. Just a little bit more, he promised himself, his tongue pressed hard against her clit as he suddenly thrust two thick fingers up inside of her. She convulsed around him in another long, wrenching climax, and Ian shut his eyes, promising himself that he'd move...he'd leave...in a moment. He just needed the feel of those lush muscles gripping his fingers for a little longer. Just needed that warm, intoxicating scent filling his head. Needed that sweet, exquisite taste against his tongue.
Just a little longer...a little longer... And then he suddenly knew that it was too late--that he'd taken it too far. His fangs exploded from his gums in a fiery, burning rush, and he froze, afraid to even breathe as he slowly opened his eyes.
"Enough...enough torturing me with orgasms," she gasped, oblivious to the danger as she sluggishly lifted herself up on her elbows, her pale curls hanging over one eye, chest heaving with the force of her ragged breathing. She looked as adorable as she did seductive, and it amazed him that he didn't combust then and there. Wetting her lips with the pink tip of her tongue, she stared at him with a ghost of a smile playing at her provocative mouth, and teasingly said, "You've proven you're the master, Mr. Buchanan. I surrender. I'm officially wrecked. Destroyed. Utterly and completely at your mercy, and if you don't get inside of me right now, I won't be held responsible for what I do to you."
He shuddered, carefully shifting back on his knees, his movements slow...calculated...carried out with excruciating control, while his muscles shook from the ungodly strain of holding himself in check.
"No," she whispered, suddenly seeing the panic in his eyes, her own darkening with a myriad of emotions. "Don't leave me," she said brokenly, sitting up in a clumsy rush of motion, her tattered blouse hanging limply from her shoulders, framing the feminine weight of her delicate breasts and quivering torso. She reached for him, cupping his hot face in her small, cool hands, her magnificent eyes swimming with tears. "Trust me, Ian. It's going to be okay.
Just let me prove it to you...let me take you inside of me. Please..."
A little bit more, Buchanan. Just a little bit more.
The words were guttural and low, coming from someplace deep inside of him that was dark and deadly, and he suddenly understood what was happening.
His Merrick was luring him in...tempting him to take what it needed, like a stranger crooning, Here child, try a piece of candy.
"Goddamn it, no!" The words burst from his throat like the blast from a weapon, and she flinched, stiffening as her hands fell slowly from his face.
"Ian?" Her eyes flooded with tears, and she clutched on to the ragged panels of her blouse, crossing them over her breasts. "Please...don't do this. Don't turn away from me. We have to find a way through this. I can help you. I know I can."
She was wrong. No one could help him--especially not her. But he couldn't get the words out to explain. Hell, he couldn't even look at her. Not without tempting the devil. Without freeing that part of himself that he didn't trust. That scared the ever-loving hell out of him.
In the end, all he could do was turn his back on her.
Henning, Thursday Morning
SHAKING HER HEAD at her foolishness, Rachel Potter moved farther into the forest, the pine needles crackling like a bed of broken shells beneath her booted feet. Seconds earlier, a rabbit had rushed from its hiding place behind a thick, towering tree, making her jump, her hands lifting before her as if to ward off an attack. Not that she'd actually been in any danger, unless the mangy little puffball had planned on nibbling through her boots and assaulting her toenail polish. She'd have laughed at the absurdity of her reaction, if she wasn't so insulted by her loss of dignity. After all, she wasn't one of those brainless ninnies who traipsed off into the woods by herself, not knowing her compass from a compact.
Still, after the gruesome attack last Friday night, Rachel hadn't planned to come alone today, but the so-called friend who'd arranged to accompany her hadn't shown at the coffee shop that morning. She would have just gone another day, but there'd been a problem with her film and this was her last chance to get the pictures she needed for her summer photography course.
The ancient, twisted bristlecone she'd fallen in love with on her last hike was going to be the crowning centerpiece of her assignment, and the lighting today was perfect. Ominous, shredded storm clouds scarred the horizon, while radiant beams of golden sunlight fought their way through the oppressive gloom, painting the forest with dappled shafts of color. If she could capture the atmospheric effect, the photographs were not only going to get her an A, but more than likely a coveted scholarship to the art institute she'd applied to.
Considering how important that scholarship was to her future, Rachel hadn't had any choice but to go it alone this morning. And at any rate, she wasn't really afraid. Maybe a little spooked, but she still felt safer there than she did when surrounded by the hustle and bustle of town. Nature was her sanctuary--where she felt safe, protected, at peace. It was around people that she always kept up her guard, looking over her shoulder, wondering what psychotic thing they were going to do next. People were the unpredictable powder kegs in this world, but nature...nature was a refuge. It wasn't always gentle, but it never let you down.
Sure, it could be dangerous if you didn't respect its power, but it wasn't cruel. It didn't kill for the simple pleasure of killing.
At least...that's how she'd always felt, until now. It was those damn stories swarming through the mountains like a brush fire, putting everyone on edge, that were messing with her head.
She'd thought herself above the media's determination to breed fear into the minds of the masses, but it was obvious that the propaganda had managed to worm its way into her subconscious, catching her up in its frenzied grip. She'd heard whispers that there was a missing teenager who might turn out to be the second victim, although a body still hadn't been found. And there were even some who believed that it was some kind of monster that had massacred Kendra Wilcox, but Rachel didn't buy into any of that supernatural hysteria.
At least, she hadn't thought she did, until a sudden rustling sound off to her left had her flinching, jerking a girlie squeak of fear from her throat. Hiking her camera strap higher onto her shoulder, she chastised herself for allowing her imagination to get the better of her, and forced herself to keep moving deeper into the forest.
Five minutes later, she'd made her way to the tree, a relieved smile curling the corner of her mouth, and was just reaching for her camera bag when a twig suddenly snapped behind her.
Spinning around, Rachel nervously scanned the area, searching for the source, while her heart about beat its way out of her chest--her panic instantly flaring back to life. But nothing was there. Stepping backward, she looked from side to side, that strange feeling of being watched growing stronger, engulfing her.
Icy tendrils of fear clamped around her throat, making it difficult to breathe, until her lungs were working in hard, sharp gasps. Another snap, this one from a different direction, and she spun again, quickly reaching into her back pocket and pulling out the small knife her father had given her when she began hiking on her own.
"Whoever the hell you are, I'm not afraid of you!" she called out, though the vibrato of her words said otherwise. A rush of air came from behind her, like the movement of a body close to hers, and she screamed, spinning around, nearly stumbling as she searched the woods with wild, frantic eyes.
"I swear to God, you had better stay away from me or I'll call the cops!" she shouted, knowing it was a bluff. She'd lost her stupid cell phone at a party the week before and had been too busy with work and school to get a new one.
"Go ahead and try it," a deep, velvety voice suddenly drawled from just behind her, "and let me know how it works out for you."
Spinning, so scared she nearly lost her breakfast, Rachel found herself face-to-face with a...man. He wasn't a monster. No slathering beast or creature from the terrifying dead of night. He was just a tall, easy-on-the-eyes, golden-haired Adonis type. The kind who'd have snagged her notice if she'd passed him on the street, even though he was a little too GQ for her tastes. He didn't even hold a weapon in his hands. No ominous-looking knife or scalpel clutched maniacally in his grip.
"You're...you're just a guy," she whispered, before noticing the strange, icy blueness of his eyes. They were the kind you saw on an animal, not a human, and shock crawled over her body like a thick, slimy ooze, sinking into her pores. She took a clumsy step back, followed quickly by another, careful to keep the knife in front of her. "Just a guy," she repeated, as if saying it out loud could somehow make it true.
"You sure about that, angel?" His head tilted slightly to the side as he spoke, while he matched her steps, slowly stalking her, those oddly lit eyes glittering with something that looked horrifically like joy.
"I'm n-not an angel," she stammered, shaking so badly that her teeth chattered.
"Wanna know a secret?" he asked, slanting her a slow, sensual smile that made her whimper.
As if he enjoyed the childlike sound, a low, husky chuckle slipped from his beautiful mouth, and he whispered, "Neither am I."
She knew he was the one, then. Knew exactly what he would do to her. So many questions flooded her mind, but all she could say was, "Why?"
His hands lifted to the front of his crisp, expensive-looking shirt, the material snowy white against the deep golden tones of his complexion, and he slowly began undoing the top button, then the next, as he calmly explained. "Because I'm the hunter, and you, sweet one...you're the prey."