Chapter 12: Warm Embraces
I am still eyeing Vik when I see Iris fly past him and come to me. I am sure she is aiming for the door so I try to get out of the way but I never get the chance. Iris comes straight up to me and before I can do anything, she wraps her arms around my waist and glues herself to my chest. I inhale sharply as soon as her arms touch me and I feel nauseous. Panic boils inside me and my first urge is to grab her and throw her away from me. No one gets near me and survives. I am Rage, the Hellhound of the Riders and all that touches me is cursed. She needs to know that.
My arm shoots up in a violent move, tense by my wrecked nerves. And then I feel her shiver against me, her whole body shaking with fear and something else is brought forth inside me. It is a warm feeling, a powerful, fulfilling sentiment. She feels safe around me. I make Iris, that little scared, beautiful girl safe. Me, a certified psycho that brings death onto everything around me, made someone safe. And for the first time in my life I feel like... Fuck me but I feel like a man. My arms fall limb on my sides unable to move and even breathe, scared that the voices in my head might demand that I hurt her.
“Seriously?” Vik breaks the moment and forces me to focus on him “Man, I am not going for a run again!”
Vik opens the fridge and takes out a bottle of water. I keep my eyes on him and I breathe heavily. I saw how he came onto Iris and I know that Vik is the only one to compete with Tor when it comes to whoring. He has fucked every single girl that has walked in the bar but Ava and he has an endless streak of getting women in his bed. And he has my woman’s scent. That thought makes me roll my hands into fists, ready to kill my brother with my bare knuckles for just thinking about my woman like that. My woman! Only then I realize what I am saying to myself. Iris, my woman. Mine. Only mine. I look down at her still wrapped around me and at that moment Iris looks up to me.
“Every fucking time I go on a run I come back and the new, hot girl is taken. First Ava, now this...” Vik rants and passes us by out on the bar.
And we are left there alone, Iris hugging me and me looking at her. She is so goddamn beautiful. I can’t breathe looking at such a beauty and for a while I feel that if something so breathtakingly beautiful exists, all is good in the world. All the aversion I felt when others touched me is absent. I don’t dare move lest I make her more frightened than she already is. Or even worse. I am afraid I might hurt her. All I can do is savor the moment and pray it isn’t an alcohol-induced dream.
“Thank you.” she whispers in her soft, low voice.
I nod. I was never a big talker but around her my tongue is tied up, unable to form coherent words to communicate with her. She still has her arms around me but the shivering is gone. Her grasp has lost the desperation that brought her to me the minute Vik stepped away. Yet she doesn’t let go. She just looks into my eyes as if searching for something I know I can’t give her.
And then she smiles. It is a broad, genuine smile that makes her fragile face shine brighter. My heart stops and my breath is caught and I almost fall on my knees crying. Never in my whole life had anyone given me a smile and there is that little scared girl giving me the greatest gift of my life. That girl smiled at the worthless piece of shit that I am and I am scared that if she knew who I really am, she would run away from me disgusted.
“What the fuck?” Tor’s voice stirs me out of my bliss.
Iris lets her arms fall away and instead of relief I feel actual, physical pain to be deprived of her touch. I hold onto the warmness that surges through my skin where she touched me, surprised that I long for her to touch me more. I would kill just to have her smile at me again and at that moment Tor is my mortal enemy. I turn to the King and he yawns outside the kitchen and then looks at us with a wicked smile.
“I am either still fucking sleeping or Rage let someone touch him.”
Iris turns to me with a soft gaze and I don’t know what to do.
“Breakfast?” she asks ignoring Tor.
I nod unable to think of anything else to do. Iris goes back to the stove and resumes making whatever she was making before Vik came onto to her. Tor looks at me scowling and I know he, too, is warning me. I want to scream in his face that I would never hurt Iris. In fact, I would murder anyone that would make her even a little uncomfortable. Instead I focus on her as she is turned away from me. And fuck me but I smile. I know I do. A real smile, not the one I have when I hear people screaming under my brutal touch. It is faint and distant and I probably look like a creep but it is a smile alright. I am taken by that small girl in the kitchen moving so purposefully, creating something out of raw materials. She is cooking for me!