Chapter 9 - Crystal (Part 1)
They decided to set out at sunrise. Her family was exhausted from stressing about her and appreciated catching a few hours of sleep in the guest rooms.
The Alpha of the Nickel Moon Pack was gracious, and Ma revealed that the vampires Tiberius had killed had been tormenting the packs in the area for the past few weeks.
While they were still unsure about Tiberius in general as a rogue and his heightened protectiveness of her, they kept a respectful distance to reduce stress and tension. Once he had calmed down some after being reassured no one would take Crystal away from him, the Luna, along with the Beta Female, came to speak with them after Crystal’s family left to sleep.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries with the females, Tiberius and Crystal were taken to a guest room that would be more comfortable with a king-sized bed. They left and returned a few minutes later with the leg of a deer their pack hunted in appreciation for Tiberius’ services to their pack.
He looked embarrassed as he salivated like a starved beast, and looked at Crystal with his ears lowered, asking for permission.
Was he really that nervous about eating in front of her? She’d seen her family take down big game when they went camping—she didn’t have a weak stomach for blood and wouldn’t be uncomfortable with him eating raw meat in her presence. That was what wolves did.
After nodding, he hunched in the opposite corner of the bedroom and feasted on the thick, juicy thigh while the females joined Crystal on the bed and chatted with her about herself and the last twenty-four hours.
They excused themselves when her eyelids began to droop and a few yawns escaped her.
Tiberius was almost done eating when they left and returned with a large mixing bowl full of soapy water for him to wash his face and paws.
Crystal watched him as she lay on her side. Even when he was trying to be careful drying his paws with a towel, his claws caught in the thick material and ripped it. He glanced at her before curling up a little into himself and turning away when the females left and turned the light off.
She understood. How could he touch her when he shredded everything so easily?
Instead of making himself comfortable on the large bed, he curled up on the floor at the side while her thoughts continued to circle around. Knots bunched up in her stomach as she stared up at the ceiling until she heard him whine softly and lick her hand.
Rolling onto her side, she looked into his gray eyes as he rested his head on her mattress.
The moonlight shone in through the window and she hated the look illuminated on his face. It tore at her heart. His eyes communicated more than words could say.
There was an aching sadness, a silent plea. It shredded her.
She reached out to pet him. The compulsion to erase the look was too great to ignore.
He closed his eyes like she knew he would and licked her hand. She couldn’t help but smile despite the ache still present within her.
“What will we do?” she asked in a whisper.
How could they make this relationship work?
He continued to lick her hand until she pulled it away and tucked it under her blanket. She closed her eyes and snuggled deeper into her pillow, feeling his eyes linger on her for a minute before he settled down on the floor with a huff.
Despite the comfortable bed, she couldn’t get her mind to shut off. Her thoughts continued to whirl around and after tossing and turning a few times, she managed to fall in and out of sleep.
Those gray eyes appeared every time she drifted off, only to wake her up until she’d nod off again and wake up because those eyes followed her everywhere.
When morning came, she woke to someone turning on the light.
She rolled over to bury her face into the pillow and through blurry eyes, saw Tiberius’ head on the mattress at her side, watching her again.
She groaned groggily.
“Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty,” her mother sang as she padded into the room and stopped at the foot of her bed. “We have to get up early, thank our hosts, be on our way, and settle matters about your mate with Alpha Jackson and Luna Leanne.”
Crystal groaned even louder. “Aurora was the most boring Disney Princess ever.”
“That she was, and you will be too if all you do is sleep. Up. Up. Alpha’s letting us get first dibs on the showers before the warriors return from the nightly hunt and the rest of the pack wakes up.”
A towel was tossed on her head.
“You got five minutes to shower. Make sure he gets one too. You might have to help him, otherwise, he might emerge with a funky new haircut with those claws.”
Tiberius huffed a cough-sounding chuckle before her mother slipped out.
She groaned again in response.
Tiberius nudged her with his nose and when she ignored him for a minute, he began licking her ear.
Squealing, she pulled the blanket over her head, only to have his paw press gently down on her shoulder and preventing the blanket from moving while his tongue continued to slobber all over the side of her head.
“Okay! Okay! I’m getting up! Just stop!”
He pulled the blanket from her bed and gave it a playful shake before dropping it from his jaws. He gave her a lopsided grin with a tilt of his head.
She gaped at him before rubbing the sleep from her eyes—along with the wetness on the side of her face.
Pulling herself up, she draped her legs over the side of the mattress and gasped as Tiberius appeared in front of her on four legs.
He leaned his forehead against hers, his eyes closed, as a rumble of pleasure, like a purr, resounded within.
Her stomach somersaulted as her heart pounded against her ribcage.
She froze as he slowly lowered his head, brushing his cheek against hers. The hairs on her nape stood as his head dipped lower, his breath fanning against her neck, tickling the tips of those hairs and sending shivers to ripple throughout her body like an electric current.
Just as quickly as he appeared before her, he withdrew. Head lowered, ears flattened back, his tail was slightly tucked under until he reached the end of her bed before rising to his hind legs. Towering eight-feet up and almost touching the ceiling with the tips of his ears, he held a paw out to her.
Those gray eyes held her captive as she struggled to gather air into her lungs, her body still simmering from the effects of his breath against her neck.
She’d never experienced that feeling before. It was thrilling in both a terrifying and exciting way.