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Authors: Jenna-Lynne Duncan

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BOOK: Tempest
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“Hayden?” The spell
was broken and she was able to look away from the house toward me.

I couldn’t answer her
yet. The rage and possessiveness I felt while her life was in danger
was confusing to me.

“What are you doing?
And where are we going?” Her once fearful blue eyes were trying to
harden.

“I’m taking you
back.” I resented nearly growling the words and instead focused on
the feel of her in my arms. I felt her stop walking and it took all
my strength not to throw her over my shoulders and keep walking.

“Thanks, but I can
take care of myself. And you didn’t answer my question. What are
you doing here?”

Her beauty had
momentarily arrested me and I struggled to find my next words. “You
were lost and I happened to be in the neighborhood.” I had to look
away from her. Her eyes would be my undoing.

“I wasn’t lost.”
She tried so hard to be convincing.

I genuinely laughed.
No, she was in a much more dangerous situation than being lost. As I
was laughing, I felt her slip out of my grasp. My arms suddenly felt
cold, even though temperature never affected me.

I realized I was
looking at her like she could offer me an explanation as to why I had
these feelings for her. And why had she pulled away from me? I
laughed when I realized I had forgotten my human manners. “Oh, I’m
sorry. Would you care for a ride?” I held out my hand, anticipating
her touch again. I could see the emotions displayed across her face.
Hell, she was actually considering it! I wanted her to say yes. I
wanted to spend more time with her. But she shouldn’t. She should
say no and stay as far away from my immortal self as possible. Much
to my satisfaction—and dismay— with what finally looked like
resolve, she met me at my side.

“I take it I am
bringing you to the Fair Grounds?”

“How did you...?“
Her eyebrow furrowed suspiciously.

I quickly realized my
mistake. “The Crawfish Festival is going on. It’s where everyone
is tonight.” I smiled to make my point.

She believed me,
although her brow didn't smooth entirely. “No, actually you can
just take me home.”

I nodded and didn’t
know if I should be thrilled or not at the extra time with her. I
should stay away from her.

“I appreciate you
giving me a ride but you can’t just grab people like that.”

I smirked, wondering
what she would think if she knew I had really wanted to carry her out
of there. . She didn’t say another word to me the rest of the brief
walk to my car, which was fine, because I needed to straighten out my
thoughts before I said, or did, something stupid. I watched her as we
came up to the car. Would she be impressed? We had money, and I knew
how important that was to humans. It was their downfall. But she
barely noticed the car. Amusingly, she looked at the expired parking
meter and seemed to frown of all things. She wasn’t even impressed
by the car. I smiled at my foolishness; just a few moments ago,
didn’t I not want her to be influenced by our money?

As I opened the door
for her, I caught a hint of her smell. The vanilla coming from her
skin combined with the lavender from her hair had made it too
tempting not to touch her again. As she got in, I brushed her arm. I
smiled when she didn’t even notice but rather looked surprised that
I was holding the door for her.
Good,
I thought. At least I
knew I could still surprise her. The tips of my fingers still burned
from when I had touched her skin. It was then I realized something
was seriously wrong with me. I was beginning to lose all sense of
judgment when it came to her. What possibly could I gain from this? I
was a Hunter, and she was a mortal who was wanted dead by a
centuries-old ghost.

Not to mention the
price that was on her head. I could not complicate things by my
careless feelings. I tried to talk some reason into my head during
the drive but the whole time her arm was a mere inch away from mine
on the arm rest. How easy it would be to lace my fingers in hers…

“Are you lost?”
Adriana broke my train of thought.

Yes,
I wanted to
say. “No.” I made the mistake of looking into her eyes. Suddenly,
everything I tried to tell myself before went out the window.

When we pulled up to
the line to board the ferry, I knew she had really asked if I was
lost psychically. Instead of taking the bridge across the river, I
had unintentionally driven us to take the ferry across. Had I done it
to prolong our ride and gain more time with her? Or had I forgotten
what year it was? I didn’t know what possibility would be worse.

There were four cars in
the line ahead of us when the Ferry came. I saw a familiar face as we
pulled up to board. I handed the ferry operator a dollar and
immediately recognized him as Pierre, a former Grimm. My memory
instinctively went over our history. Pierre was reckless, indulgent,
and the most infamous Grimm this side of the Mississippi. Now he was
spending the rest of his immortal life as a ferry operator? That
wasn’t the Pierre I knew. No, he was up to something. And it better
not have to do with Adriana. As I passed him, I asked the question
with my eyes.

He gave me a quick
reassuring nod and I wondered if Adriana had caught that. Moreover,
what kind of explanation could I offer her if she asked if I knew
him? That he was a former coworker? This was getting complicated.
When I pulled around to a spot, I shoved the gear a little too
harshly and stopped the engine. With the air conditioner off and the
windows closed, her scent was pooling around me. Lavender and vanilla
teased my senses. Damn it! I had to get out of the car. I had to keep
away from her. I should just let her go. I could never have her and I
couldn’t believe I was actually considering it. But for some
reason, I just couldn’t help myself.

Funny enough, this
reminded me of how my parents met.

No, the plan was still
to do whatever it took to get answers from her, to find out why
LaLaurie wanted her dead and how she could give us our freedom in
return. And with a price that high, surely there would be others
after her. So no, technically, I couldn’t just
let
her go.

I felt bad for leaving
her in the car alone with no explanation but God knows, I had to get
away from her just then. I walked upstairs to the upper deck. I went
straight to the railing to lean over the water’s edge. I clenched
the railing when I sensed she had followed me.

“You don’t have to
do this; I can call my aunt for a ride home,” I heard her soft,
hesitant voice from behind me.

She walked close enough
so I could smell her, then stopped. I clenched the railing harder.
What was she asking? There was no way in hell she would be getting
out of this ride home; did she know what could be after her? “I
said I would give you a ride home and I intend to see to it that you
make it there.”

The wind blew across
the Ferry. I closed my eyes to try to get through the assault on my
senses.

She took another step
closer. “Is this like a damsel in distress thing? Because don’t
worry, I’m not that kind of girl.”

I laughed genuinely and
was glad that her humor could ease my emotions.
If I only knew
what kind of girl you were.
I kept watching the water, counting
the lapse of the waves, anything to keep me from going out of
control.

And another step.
“Seriously though, I wasn’t lost.”

She was not going to
let this go. Part of me wished she would and the other part wanted
her to press me until I told her the truth about everything.

“Can’t you see why
I’m confused? You want to give me a ride home, yet you’re
ignoring me the whole way?” She took two steps this time in growing
anger and I felt her right behind me.

I turned around
suddenly. I couldn’t let her think that she had done anything
wrong. “Look, I apologize for my behavior. I know I have not been
the most agreeable this evening. I just have never felt this …“
What
am I exactly?
“… conflicted.”

“It’s just a ride
home!”

“It’s not about
that.”

“What’s it about
then?” She looked at me not with the usual response of dread but
with curiosity and intrigue.

Damn, she just gets
more and more appealing!

Did she really want to
know what this was really about? What would she think of me if she
knew what I was? “You don’t know me, Adriana.”

“You don’t know me
either,” she spit out. It was clear we were not referring to the
same things. “Why were you there? At that house, I mean? And why
did you drag me away like that?” Her demeanor quickly changed and I
admired her for confronting me.

I looked at her with
bated breath. I should just tell her everything. Just tell her the
truth now.
No,
I exhaled. Too cowardly to confess something I
never told any mortal before.

She let out a little
sigh, as if disappointed I didn’t reveal what she already knew.

She joined me at the
railing, her nearness alarming. She was looking at the water
thoughtfully, just as I had done moments ago, hoping it would give me
the answers I needed. What could she possibly be debating? All I
could think about was that I didn’t want to confuse her. I didn’t
want her troubled by unanswered questions the same way I was.

A little crease formed
on her forehead and before I knew it, I was standing right behind
her, close enough to bury my nose in her lavender scented hair. She
turned around suddenly, realizing my presence. Her blue eyes met
mine.

“I don’t want to
lie to you.”

She backed up slightly
but the railing stopped her. I stalked forward, unwilling to allow
any distance between us.

“Then don’t.” Her
breaths came out in irregular spurts, the sweet warmth fanning my
face with each exhale. I felt contented that I had the same effects
on her that she had on me. It just confirmed that she would be mine.

Mine?
—The horn
from the ferry blew and I had to turn away from her penetrating eyes
and figure out where this possessiveness was coming from.

I took a few steps back
toward the car, then turned. “Are you coming?” My hand was held
out, begging her to take it.

“Yes,” she said
after a pause. She ignored my hand and walked to my side. I clenched
my fist, surprised at the pain of the rejection.

To my disappointment,
she didn’t speak again for the rest of our journey to her house.
Maybe I had been too harsh on her. I know I had been rude, my
frustration and confusion had shown in my behavior. It was clear I
couldn’t think rationally when I was around her.

When I pulled into her
driveway, I realized I had made another one of many mistakes: I had
never asked her for directions.

I told myself I
shouldn’t walk her to her door, but I didn’t have any resolve
left. I was already pushing it tonight, what would be the point of
backing off now?

I got out of the car
but she was already outside before I could open the door for her.

“What are you doing?”
She seemed surprised that I hadn’t remained in the car, and that
made two of us.

I was being
‘old-fashioned’ as Luke called it, but screw him and his advice.
A girl like her shouldn’t have to open her own doors. “Where I
come from, we walk a lady to her door.”

“And where is that
exactly?”

I opened my mouth to
answer and then remembered the situation. She had one thin eyebrow
cocked at me waiting for an answer. “Nice try.” I flashed a smile
at her. “Oh, and Ana?” It was the first time I had used that
nickname for her and I liked the way it sounded a little too much.

“Yes?” She
unintentionally gave me a coy look, and that made it even more
appealing.

“Have a good night.”

She nodded and fled to
her front door.

I waited outside her
dark house for a while, then drove the few blocks back to my house
knowing I had Luke waiting for me when I got home.

He knew exactly where I
had been and, from the scent still lingering on my clothing, with
whom
I had been. He wasn’t happy about it either, but his
threats were beginning to piss me off.

“What is
wrong
with you?” It wasn’t really a question.

“What?” I shrugged
innocently as I threw my keys in the ceramic bowl on the counter.

“You are going to
screw this up. We need to just take care of her now—“

“No.” I snarled.

Luke had to be more
shocked than I was. “Don’t tell me you’re falling for her.”

“Shut up.” I
shouldered past him on my way upstairs.

“She’s a human.”
He, of course, followed me.

“So what, so were
we.”


Were
is the
key word here, as in past tense. Is that what intrigues you so much
about her, because you wish you were one of them?”

I straightened,
stopping in the middle of the staircase. Luke really wanted a fight
tonight, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “I don’t
have to answer to you.” I sped up the rest of the steps.

I heard Luke curse,
then continue to follow me. If I hadn’t been so pissed off, I might
have been amused that our roles were suddenly reversed.

“Ok, smartass. Since
you’re the ‘older’ one and never can do less than perfect,
let’s just discuss exactly what you’re doing here. So let’s say
you continue your “relationship” with the girl and give up the
opportunity of a lifetime to free your parents from the curse. Your
mother and father have spent over a hundred years making a life for
themselves and developing a front for our immortality. What if she
doesn’t want you? What if something happens to her? Someone else
gets to her? Are you willing to take those risks? Are you willing to
be implicated?”

Luke knew my
weaknesses. “Fine,” I growled in defeat. “I’ll back off.
For
now
.”

BOOK: Tempest
8.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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