Heart of a Beast

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Chapter 24 - Crystal (Part 2)

She slowly undressed after her mother left and climbed into the cool water. She felt her temperature lower and turned the cold water off and the hot water on with her toes.

Relaxing into the water as it gradually began to warm, she smiled at her triumph and couldn’t wait to tell Tiberius.

Where was he anyway?

Soon, the tub was a comfortable warm temperature and she turned the water off. Closing her eyes, she allowed her thoughts to roam to her dream with Tiberius. The way he cupped her face in his palms and gazed at her like she was the most important thing in the world.

She closed her eyes and cupped her cheeks in her palms, picturing him in her mind. Pressed her thumb on her bottom lip the way he had and tried to imagine the feel of his lips on hers.

‘Goddess, what you do to me…’

She remembered how good it felt when he licked the place he would mark her. The way his teeth teased her flesh. Remembered the fire that surged forth when he rubbed himself between her legs.

Her hands trailed down over her breasts, picturing his human hands caressing her, and imagining the way it would feel to be touched in that way.

When? When could he touch her like this?

Her hands explored her body as she imagined Tiberius, flesh on flesh, taking his mate as any male would, and leaving her panting and her body alight in the pool of warmth.

She lay there, staring at the wall as her heart and breathing slowed and the jello-feeling of her muscles hardened.

The warm water grew cold before she climbed out of the tub. She felt stronger. Still not back to normal, but strong enough to stand, dry herself off, dress, and carefully walk from the bathroom to the kitchen.

She collapsed in a chair at the table, tired, but satisfied with everything she had accomplished on her own. Slightly out of breath, she glanced at the clock and saw that it was quarter to noon.

Her memory kicked in.

“Oh shit,” she exclaimed. “We still have to meet the witch at noon.”

“No, you don’t,” her mother said as she entered the kitchen with a folder and checkbook.

Crystal gave her mother a puzzled look as she took a seat across from her at the table and laid out her papers.

“The raven came again this morning and we postponed your meeting with her.”

“Oh.” That was a relief.

“And she will be meeting us in the pack land since it will be a little hard for Tiberius to go anywhere in broad daylight outside and not be seen by the humans.”

“True,” Crystal mumbled, her eyes scanning across the room to the pantry. Her stomach growled.

Her mother rose from her chair. “Hungry? What can I get for you?”

She shook her head. “Nah, Ma, I got it.”

Her mother put her hands on her hips. “Cris, while I can appreciate your new-found drive and determination, you’re still out of breath. Don’t over-exert yourself. What do you want?”

She hung her head at her mother’s scolding.

As her mother made her a grilled cheese and ham sandwich, she looked out the sliding back door to the backyard, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tiberius, but couldn’t see him.

“Where’s Tiberius?”

Ma sighed as she hovered over the stove, her back to Crystal, and didn’t immediately respond. When Crystal was about to ask again, her mother said, “He asked for our help.”

Crystal’s brows furrowed. Her mother was evading the question, and she knew it. “Meaning?”

Another sigh. “You know he’s fighting the moon. He needs this.”

“Ma. Where is he?” Authority found itself in her voice, drawing her mother’s attention with a raised brow.

Crystal stared her mother down as she raked her nails over the table and curled her fingers into fists.

Her mother’s eyes narrowed as Crystal straightened her back and raised her chin, studying her over the faint sizzle of the frying pan.

“He’s in the holding cells,” Ma finally answered.

Crystal shot up from her seat and immediately keeled over and hit the kitchen floor.

“Cris!”

Her mother was at her side in an instant as Crystal tried to pull herself up. She took her arm and helped her up to her chair and Crystal immediately jerked her arm out of her mother’s grasp.

She glared up at her. “How could you put him in the holding cells?”

Ma put her hands on her hips. “He asked us to.”

A growl rumbled up Crystal’s throat as she clenched her hands together on her lap and looked away. She squeezed her eyes shut as she clenched and unclenched her jaw. She pictured him behind bars, holding himself in the darkness. Anger surfaced, bubbling up under her skin and spreading through her veins.

Her mother’s hand rested on Crystal’s shoulder. “Cris, relax. The moon is affecting you too.”

“I want to see him,” Crystal asserted.

Her mother gave her shoulder a squeeze. “After you eat your sandwich.”

Crystal inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. Her mother pulled away and went back to tending to her sandwich before putting it before Crystal on a plate.

One side was slightly burnt but she thanked her mother and ate it without complaint. It was her fault it burned in the first place.

After wolfing the sandwich down, she looked up at her mother sitting across from her with her checkbook and asked, “Can we go now?”

“Are you strong enough to go out to the cells?” Ma asked without looking up and continued to plug numbers into her calculator.

“Um…” Crystal tapped her toes, knowing that she probably wasn’t. There were lots of stairs to go down and back up.

Ma jotted down numbers. “There’s no rush, Cris. He won’t be going anywhere.”

Heaving an exasperated sigh, she muttered, “Fine,” and eased up from her chair and ambled back to her room, where she pulled out her drawing supplies, propped a pillow up against the wall on her bed, and started sketching.

After an hour, she got up, stretched, and walked around her room. Stronger than before but still not one hundred percent, she went into the bathroom to blow-dry and comb her hair. She pulled it back in a ponytail, brushed her teeth, and put some black eyeliner on. She used to wear dark, heavy eye-makeup in high school and toned it down to just eyeliner when she graduated. Looking down at her eye-makeup pallet, she considered applying other shades of eyeshadow. Maybe burgundy, or dark green? What would Tiberius like?

He wouldn’t care, she told herself with a smile and put the makeup away.

She examined the hickey Tiberius gave her, the bruising nearly gone, but it still felt sensitive to touch.

She went back to her room, stretched, and worked on her art for another half hour before she couldn’t wait any longer. She marched out into the kitchen, grabbed a drink of water, and caught her mother out in the backyard with the dogs.

“I’m ready, let’s go!” she called as she closed the sliding door.

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