Chapter 11: Playing With Fire
After getting home and getting the water heater installed, Knox mumbled that he needed to leave.
“Where are you going?” I asked quietly. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I didn’t want him to leave. Though he didn’t talk much at all, I found myself liking his company. He listened when I talked - even if it wasn’t about anything important or anything he was particularly interested in. He never made it seem like he was annoyed. He always gave me his full attention and acknowledged what I was saying.
It was a nice change.
“Border patrol. I will be back tonight,” he said. I nodded and saw him to the door - which still desperately needed to be replaced, something I was reminded of by the look of disdain Knox gave the rotted piece of wood.
“Tomorrow I’ll replace this,” he insisted to which I nodded. I opened my mouth to say goodbye when he surged forward and rubbed his cheek against both of my own one by one, rubbing his scent into my skin.
The only time I’d ever seen any male wolf do this to a female wolf was when they’d yet to be marked but had made a verbal claim. I stood shell-shocked, unable to speak as he pulled away and left. It took me a few minutes to snap out of my reverie and realize I was making my house colder than it needed to be by standing there with the door open.
Despite the chill in my house now, my body felt hot all over. I desperately pressed my palms to my cheeks to try and lessen the intense shade of red I knew they were. I released a quick breath from my mouth before turning and facing my living room. Deciding I wanted to get the painting out of the way, and spend some more time with Grace, I mind-linked her and asked if she wanted to come over and help me finish.
Oh thank God, I’m so bored right now. Jason just left to do border patrol for the night and warned me not to get into any more trouble.
I giggled at her reply before dragging my bed back into my room and throwing a few more logs into the fire. She’d just showed up when I had finished taping up the baseboards and setting down drop cloths.
“Wow, this place is really starting to come along,” she commented. I smiled with a nod before stepping back and admiring the place.
“I think so too. I only have three more rooms left to paint and then I can start putting the new flooring in!” I exclaimed in excitement.
“Then what the hell are we waiting for? Let’s get them done!” She insisted before tossing me a roller and popping open a can of paint. Thankfully, she thought to bring a Bluetooth speaker and started blasting a throwback playlist. We giggled and messed around the entire time we painted, making it feel like less than just a mere chore to be done.
Halfway through, I grew a bit hot and had to take the large sweatshirt that I was wearing off. It was then that Grace’s loud gasp caught me off guard.
“What?!” I demanded as she stared at me in shock.
“What the hell is that!” she screeched while pointing at a spot on my neck. I covered the area with my hand, confused as to what she was referring to.
“What? What is it?!” I asked frantically.
“Oh my god, Poppy, are those canine punctures?” she questioned flabbergasted before coming closer. She ran her hand over my neck before sucking in a breath.
“Holy shit! You’ve only been here a few days! This is a partial claim!” she exclaimed. I was so confused as to what she was referring to so I ran to my bathroom and examined the area of skin in the mirror. Sure enough, a vast majority of my neck was covered in dark purple love bites, but right towards the base of my neck were two perfect little superficial holes. I had no idea what they meant, but I knew for a fact they were from Knox and they were apparently a big deal if Grace’s reaction was anything to go by.
“Who! How?!” she demanded at a loss for words. I just blushed bright red and bit the corner of my lip.
“A girl never kisses and tells,” I teased.
“Oh bullshit, you better fucking tell!” she demanded angrily. I giggled at her reaction.
“Fine, but later. We have to get this darn painting done,” I reasoned to which she huffed in frustration before agreeing.
I was glad we started with the bathroom and guest bedroom first, knocking those two out of the way. We were both freezing by the time we made our way to the living room, a painful reminder that I still needed to have a new heating and cooling system installed throughout the entire home. The single fireplace wasn’t cutting it.
We only had one wall left to finish up when I heard heavy footsteps coming up the front porch stairs.
“Who the hell is that? It’s one-thirty in the morning!” Grace asked, looking somewhat worried.
“Could it be Jason trying to find you?” I asked.
“No, I left him a note telling him where I was and that I would be back late,” She whispered, dropping her voice as the footsteps grew nearer.
The door swung open, revealing a bundled up Knox with bloodshot, tired eyes. I released a breath of relief before smiling wide.
“Knox, you scared us half to death!” I giggled before getting up from my kneeling position and setting my paint brush down. I rushed over to him and took his coat, hanging it up on the old coat tree in the corner.
“How was border patrol?” I asked, completely oblivious to Grace watching us from a few feet away as if we were an exhibit in a zoo.
“Boring, except for a group of pups who decided it would be a good idea to try and sneak out after curfew and go skinny dipping at one of the falls,” he grumbled, visibly annoyed. I giggled at his child-like expression of irritation as he slipped his shoes off.
“I didn’t know there was a pack curfew,” I admitted honestly.
“It’s not strictly enforced because our borders have always been safe, but there are specific areas of the land that we aren’t allowed to go after midnight just as precautions,” Grace explained, catching both Knox and my’s attention. He must not have realized she was there as his expression turned sour when they made eye contact.
“Are you almost finished?” he asked me, averting his gaze to the half-done wall.
“This is the last wall we have to do and then we’ll be completely done painting, why don’t you go have a shower while we finish?” I asked, knowing that a hot shower always relaxes me and gets me ready for bed - something I was now able to enjoy thanks to him.
“Poppy, you can’t shower right after you’ve painted the bathroom,” Grace snorted, giving me an amused look. My cheeks flushed with embarrassment before I murmured a quiet oh.
“Well, it won’t take us long!” I assured him, pleading him with my eyes to stay. I was afraid he would leave and go wherever it was he stayed to sleep tonight. Truthfully, I really wanted to spend the night with him. Not only myself, but also my wolf was craving his company.
“It’s fine, Poppy. I’ll just go wait in your room,” he mumbled quietly before brushing past me and disappearing into my bedroom. Like a switch was flipped, my body instantly became exhausted at the mere thought of him waiting for me in bed to sleep. I released a big yawn before picking my brush back up.
“Alright, let’s power through,” I proposed before getting back to work. Grace stayed quiet as we finished up, seeming to be deep in thought. I offered to walk her home once we were done and had cleaned up, but she informed me that Jason was waiting out front for her.
Giving her a tight hug, I thanked her for all her help and promised I’d pay for her pedicure she forced me into agreeing to get with her tomorrow.
I hurried back to my room, giddy to be with Knox again.
Upon entering, I blushed bright red seeing him already stripped down to just his boxers and laying on the bed. I was shocked to see him on top of the covers while wearing so little clothing. He had to be cold, right?
His eyes opened back up, catching me in the act of ogling his body.
“Like what you see, Flower?” he asked, a barely-there smirk pulling at the edge of his lips. I cleared my throat and looked away. Yes, yes I very much do I thought. My wolf flapped her tail a few times in my head in agreement. I chose not to answer him as he clearly already knew the answer. Turning, I grabbed a pair of thick flannel pajamas from my suitcase on the floor and entered my walk-in closet to quickly change.
Once dressed, I was thankful that my mom splurged on these for Christmas one year. They trapped my body heat in and made it so I didn’t notice my cabin’s lack of heating.
I tried to calm my nervous stomach as I walked out and climbed under the covers on my bed. Knox joined me seconds later, catching me off guard when he slid my pillow out from under my head, resituated it under his own, and pulled my body back so that he was cradling my body with his own as I used his bicep as a pillow.
I took shallow breaths while trying to calm my racing heart - which I knew he could probably hear due to how hard it was beating. His hand that was still around my waist nudged my button-down shirt up just enough for him to slip his hand under and stroke my bare tummy at the same time he intertwined our legs. After a few minutes, my body finally relaxed and I was able to fully appreciate the comfort and odd amount of warmth that his body was providing me.
Seconds later, I was out like a light.
I awoke in the middle of the night, sweating bullets all over my body. I tried to push Knox’s arms and legs away carefully as to not wake him, but he wasn’t budging at all. I grew frustrated as I continued to overheat, feeling smothered from the combination of the winter pajamas, the covers, and Knox’s body.
I whined like a child as I tried once again to remove his limbs from me, only to fail. The noise must’ve woke him up as well because seconds later his head raised from the crook of my neck and he peered down at me in confusion.
“What’re you doing, Flower?” He asked, his voice deep and husky from sleep.
“I’m...it’s really hot and I’m sweating,” I admitted honestly. His deep chuckled reverberated through my body, causing every fiber of my being to hum with acknowledgement of him.
“I knew you would be hot in these,” he stated, pulling at my flannel top.
“And you still let me go to bed in them?” I growled back childishly as he untangled his legs from my own and let me hoist myself from the bed.
Not thinking in my half-asleep state, I ripped the pajama top open and threw it across the room - completely forgetting that I never wear a bra of any sort to bed. I was quickly reminded of this when Knox growled deeply and sat up behind me, his hand reaching out to snake around my waist and ghost up my bare torso before stopping just below my chest. I held my breath as his thumb caressed the underside of one of my breasts, causing my body to light up with need.
“Everything about you turns me into a man with no self-control,” He rasped out against the shell of my ear. I could hear the heavy strain in his voice, causing a wetness to form between my thighs. His hand moved around to my lower back, but I immediately jerked away from his touch. Grabbing the first thing I saw on the floor - which was the shirt he’d been wearing earlier - I pulled it on over my body before wrapping my arms around myself.
The scars from my whipping that littered my back were something I’d been self-conscious of ever since they’d healed into ugly, thick pink lines. Feeling them was one thing, but I was thankful the darkness shielded them from his eyes. I wasn't sure how he'd react if he saw them. Most likely he'd demand an explanation. With how happy I was to start over again and begin a new future, I didn’t want to bring my past up and relive those awful memories.
“I’m sorry, Flower. My wolf just can’t help himself where you’re concerned,” he apologized, sounding only somewhat regretful - something that would’ve made me giggle had I not been so worried. I felt guilty for making him feel bad when I liked the touching just as much as he did. I just didn’t want him seeing that part of me yet; the broken part.
The part that was never good enough for her father.
“I-it’s okay. I liked it, I just...I’m not ready for that yet,” I murmured. He hummed in acknowledgment, though he didn’t fully understand what I meant. That was okay, I would tell him when the time was right.
But that time wasn’t now.
“Come back to bed, Flower,” he beckoned, resituating himself into a lying position before pulling the covers up and welcoming me in. I hesitated before glancing down at my pants. He must’ve read my mind because seconds later he said, “just take them off, baby”.
I gulped before pushing them down, leaving me completely bare. Deciding I was feeling brave, I climbed back under the blankets and allowed him to pull my body back in.
His hand rubbed along my side before finally discovering my lack of undergarments. His fingers gripped my skin as I felt the air around us change, becoming charged in a way.
I was playing with fire and oh how good it felt to burn.