After trudging up the stairs in utter soundlessness, still baffled by Cree's reaction to our infractions, the last thing I wanted to see was Asher waiting in front of our door. Farrah slips by him with a mellow goodnight and closes the door behind her to give us a moment of privacy.
"How bad is it?" He takes hold of my hand while his thumb traces circles across my palm. I'm not sure why, but after the admonishment from Cree, this somehow feels wrong.
"It's not bad at all, he just wanted to let me know he needed me to help with a sensing project tomorrow that's all." I discreetly pull my hand away and tuck my hair behind my ear.
His eyes narrow slightly, "That's it? So there's another reason why I now feel like we're back to avoiding each other?" I shake my head in denial, surprised he could already feel the chasm I intended to increase.
"What? No, we're fine. I'm just tired and I have to wake up pretty early in the morning now." He still eyes me like he doesn't believe a word I'm saying. Hell, I barely believe what I'm saying.
"How about this, when I get done tomorrow, I'll come find you and we can get something to eat?"
He's awfully quiet and I think he's about to call me on my b.s. but he breaks out his megawatt smile and agrees before sending me in to get some sleep.
I go in, fully intending to talk to Farrah about the night's events but she's knocked out, still in her clothing from the party. I quickly shower and change and curl up under my blanket. I didn't even get much time to worry over anything before me eyes close and blissful sleep takes me under.
The following morning I jerk from my sleep completely disoriented and confused. Glancing at the alarm clock on the nightstand I see it's 7:55 am and I almost have a heart attack. I fly out the bed and fall to the floor when my legs get entangled in the sheets and I guess it made a loud enough noise to awaken sleeping beauty.
"Wha- I'm up, I'm up." She looks around the room until her bleary eyes land on me. "Gen? What are yoou doing down there?"
I complete my struggle for freedom and spring up from the floor. "I'm late to meet with Cree. I can't believe I forgot to set the alarm."
Forgoing the shower, I give my teeth a quick run through and wash my face. I'm almost out the door when Farrah stops me.
"What? What is it? I told you I'm late."
"Uh, shouldn't you at least change? Prehaps shoes would be nice?" I look down and see I'm indeed still in my pajamas and my fluffy doggie bedroom slippers adorn my feet.
Going over the incantation in my head, I don't even bother to say it out loud, I just visualize the jeans, tshirt and sneakers I know are all in my closet and in no time I'm fully clothed. I blow a kiss in her general direction to thank her for the heads up. I bolt down the steps at full speed and dash across the courtyard to the administration building. The foliage around me blurs slightly when I add a bit of vampire speed, for the first time ever wishing I dabbled in blood to help that particular enhancement.
I dash through the doors and run smack dab into a rock hard chest. Strong arms wrap around me and my insides turn to mush. My heart rate skyrockets as I bring my hands up to his arms in an attempt to steady myself. Our eyes meet and I'm pleasantly surprised when his eyes have a golden glow letting me know his wolf is at the forefront. His hand cups the nape of my neck and his thumb brushes against my cheek in soft wisps.
"Echo, I-" The sound of Cree's voice is enough to pull us apart, Echo going as far as taking a step away from me. I'm mortified that not only has he seen me in a compromising position with Asher, but less than twelve hours later and he's caught me with Echo, his daughter's boyfriend.
Kill me now.
"Ms. Adams, you're late."
"I know, I overslept. Sorry." I find myself avoiding looking in his direction and the carpet below my feet suddenly seem like the most interesting thing in the world.
"Very well. The item you're looking for has to posses some strong magic, one that would be able to sustain him for awhile. Everything he's used so far has been drained in a matter of a couple of days and it takes awhile for the magic to replenish itself."
"It also needs to be something he can keep on his person at all times so start with medallions and the like. Do you understand?" I finally allow my eyes to meet his own and nod.
"Good, Echo, " He takes some keys out of his pocket and passes them to Echo. "you know the way, lock up when you're done." He turns back into the direction of his office but stops short and turns back around. "Echo, a word?" They face away from me and he says something in hushed tones, officially barring me from their exchange.
Echo leads me down the corridor away from all the offices and activity to a steel door. Using the key that Cree had given to him, he opened it and gestured me forward. I take tentative steps forward when I realize that there was a stairwell leading down, beneath the building. It was a well lit area, but it still didn't take away the anxiety I felt at going underground. An anxiety that only grew stronger the deeper we went.
In an attempt to ease the tension that filtered between us, I decided to strike up come conversation. "Sorry you're stuck with me today. I'll try to find something you can use as quickly as possible so you can at least get to spend some of the day with your girlfriend."
He grunted slightly, "It's me who should be apologizing for keeping you from your boyfriend, don't you think?"
My head snaps in his direction so fast that I miss the next step and stumble a bit. His hand darts out to steady me but I'm too focussed on what he just said to even pay attention to the way his skin feels against my own.
"What boyfriend? I don't have a boyfriend." I retort and carefully make my way down the steps once more.
"Everyone was talking about and the prince this morning, I just assumed you were like an item now." It took me a minute to realize he was talking about Asher, apparently Cree was right and we did make a spectacle last night.
"Oh, we're not, I don't think so." I realize that I don't know what exactly was going on with me and Asher, we hadn't finalized anything and I had to admit that things had changed after my scolding from Cree. We're saved from any more of the uncomfortable discussion when we finally get to the bottom and the floor opens up to giant double doors. Echo brushes past me to unlock these doors as well and I shamelessly inhale his scent when he does. The smell of pine and rain assaults my nostrils and I hold in a moan of delight.
What the hell am I doing? This is Echo, he has a girlfriend! I needed to pull it together. I'm able to compose myself just in time when he turns to usher me in, but I don't miss the know it all smirk that's creeping on his face.
Everything is forgotten when I enter the room and the intensity of magic pulses around me, through me. The room is huge, with two levels to it and filled with magical artifacts that probably age all the way back to Morgana herself.
"So, where should we start?" Echo questions, and I close my eyes in hopes that this could be over soon because I wasn't sure I could be around him for an extended period of time. My eyes spring open and roam the room until they land on the second floor. I can see the deep cherry of the door up there and I instinctively point to it.