In a moment of clarity, I slipped under the water rinsing the barbeque smell from my hair and running my hands between my legs and under my arms.
Lifted from the tub by strong arms, I was laid across a towel-covered couch and tried to catch my breath. Dagen stood in the moonlight and looked at me.
“You are so beautiful.” His hungry mouth slid down my chest and buried itself between my legs, removing me from reality, quickly putting me out of my misery.
After my second wave of orgasm, we moved the floor at the foot of a tall bed. He crouched behind me with his hot chest wrapped over my back, his hands kneaded into my shoulders in unison with my resistance against the heavy mattress.
We continued this way for some time until my mind returned to a state of usefulness. Panic crossed my mind. I didn’t remember using any protection.
I wasn’t planning on living through the week. Was this Dagen’s way of anchoring me to my life? I bought a plan B kit after my last bareback encounter with Leo. It was in my purse, and I planned to use it in the morning.
Dagen followed me as I crawled on top of the tall mattress. After some persuasion, I convinced him to lay flat and took advantage of his solid arousal.
“Grá mo chroí fan liom.” I don’t know what he whispered to me in sexy leprechaun, but his voice was more effective than any lube ever formulated.
The sun rose in front of us, casting beams of light across the bed. Dagen’s muscled body felt young, but his skin was heavily scarred. I didn’t want to know the pain of each injury today but the thought of years unraveling their secrets brought a smile to my face.
His mouth was on my back, and his arms were wrapped around me, looking for places to rub.
I struggled to find any volume in my voice. “Shower, water, pee break.” A short growl escaped his lips before I was led off the high mattress and relocated to the shower.
Water jets on either side of the enclosure quickly washed away the sweat and saliva from our long evening. I tried to sneak into the far corner under the jets to pee.
“You can stab yourself in the heart, but you can’t piss in front of me?” Dagen laughed as he lathered with minty smelling soap.
“I was trying to be discrete.” He wore several new bruises along his back and the tops of his legs. “Holy shit, did I do this to you?” I ran my fingers along his neck and legs, inspecting all the abuse I inflicted.
“Look at your arms?” I realized there were just as many bruises on my skin. “I’m not sorry,” he snickered. “Here, drink a little of my blood.” Dagen pulled a pack of razor blades from beside the shower and cut a short line on the outside of his arm. Licking a small amount of his blood quickly removed all the bruises from my skin.
“That’s a neat trick.”
“Here cut a short, shallow line for me.” Dagen handed me the razor blade and suggested a good spot on my arm with a light brush of his finger. I barely felt the cut until the water hit my skin. He licked at the tiny cut, repairing his bruises. Both of our razor cuts healed in seconds.
“I noticed too late for it to matter, but we didn’t use condoms.” Dagen looked at me, surprised.
“We don’t get STDs if that’s what worries you.”
“A valid concern. I was more worried about pregnancy.”
“It would be my only child in three-hundred-fifty years. None of my children are mine by blood, but I feel privileged to have them in life regardless.”
“Don’t worry, I have a plan B pill in my bag. It’s not a problem.”
“If you find yourself with my child, I would be happy to have a witch pull it into a surrogate—if you don’t want my child.” Dagen sounded as if the possibility I wouldn’t want his child just occurred to him.
“Witches can do that?”
“Yes, they require the placenta as payment plus cash, of course, but they can.”
“The placenta? What the hell for?”
“How do you think they stay so young?”
“Oh, don’t tell me they eat it?” I slapped a soapy hand over my mouth.
“No.” Dagen snickered while slathering soap on his skin. “Ask Kate next time you see her,” Dagen laughed and turned toward the water.
I added soap to my hands and rubbed it over the scars on his back. Deep puncture marks, long thick lines—wounds that didn’t get proper suturing. I thought back to the razor blade cut and how it vanished instantly.
“Why did these wounds scar? Your razor cut and the cuts last night healed completely?”
“Demon claws, ichor tipped weapons, there are several reasons for all the marks left in my skin.”
“Is silver a thing, like in movie legends?”
“A myth. Anything soaked in demon blood leaves a mark, but if silver could kill us, then so would cell phones and almost every electronic device on the market.”
“Oh yeah, hmm.” I coaxed Dagen to turn around to face me. “Now that my head is clear, I’d like a second run at you. Last night was transcendent, but so much of it was a blur. I’m still hungry.”
“We can’t have that.” Dagen smiled and pushed me into the tile wall with such force I hit my head. It genuinely scared me. I pushed my hands against his chest and looked into his eyes. “Sorry, let’s decide on a safe word.”
“I’ve always felt safe with you. I don’t want a fucking word. It’s getting late. I should get back.” I rinsed off at the other end of the shower and stepped out, grabbing a towel from the stack.
“What just happened?” Dagen followed me to the bedroom.
“Nothing happened. I’m fine.”
“No, no, no” Dagen pulled me to a chair by the edge of the disheveled bed and knelt down by my side. “What are you thinking right now?”
“How really stupid I am for coming here.” My heart was trying to pound out of my chest. “Without my car, I’m stuck until I get an Uber.”
“There are six cars in the garage below us. Take one.” Dagen scanned my face. “What else? A car isn’t your real issue.”
“If that grabby, pushy thing back there is standard for our kind? I don’t like it. I don’t begrudge you your proclivities, but I really don’t want to feel like I can’t trust you.”
“It’s not a problem for me, Alerie. I assumed you were more physical. You’ve been with a wolf all your life. I assumed wrong.” The sound of my name in his mouth makes my insides melt, but right now, I didn’t want them to.
“Leo would never hurt me to get off.” What the fuck am I doing here? “I feel much better after spending time with you, thank you, but I should go.”
“I ran a thick comb through my hair and twisted it into a loose bun securing it with my hair clip. My dress and underwear were strewn around the room. I picked up each piece and shook it out before putting them on. Dagen watched with interest.
“Can I get you some breakfast?”
“Thanks, but I don’t eat breakfast.” I found my phone and my purse and opened my car app.
“Alerie, I know exactly what you eat for breakfast. Sweetheart, I told you to take a car.” I found my shoes next to the doorway and slipped them on. Dagen managed to put on underwear and a pair of shorts. He pulled a thin tank top over his head as I was walking out the door.
He jogged toward me and shoved the door closed, leaning his body against the wooden frame. I felt my eyes widen.
“You came here to see me, remember.” I looked down at the carpet and closed my eyes.
“Won’t happen again.” I took a breath and opened my eyes.
“Why because I made one wrong assumption?”
“Dagen, I can’t explain.”
“Try because I’m not opening the door until you do. I’ve got a red Maserati in the garage—take it home.”
“I’m not going to take your car. I don’t drive imports.”
“You want the plane. It’s domestic and faster than the Maserati.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I can’t fly a plane.”
“I can teach you to fly.”
“You won’t be able to teach me anything.”
“I’m a very good teacher.”
“I won’t be alive to learn.” I spat the words out at him. “I can’t want a life I’m not going to be around to live.”
“You don’t know anything for certain. I heard how quickly you dispatched the demons on your first run.”
“I can’t want to live. It’s too hard to do what needs to be done.”
“I’ll be right next to you while you’re fighting.”
“No, you’ll be on the ground running for the Grove while I try to keep them from killing me long enough so you can make it across. Rafferty will pull my body into the Grove and take me to his witch. We’ll have matching tattoos.”
“I won’t let that happen to you.” Dagen believed what he was saying. My other father’s voice asking me not to break him floated in my mind—my first broken promise of the day.
My fingers reached out to run through Dagen’s hair all on their own. They ran over his shoulders and down his arms. He pulled me to him, slowly scanning my face for resistance.
I let him kiss me not because it was a good idea but because I wanted to commit the overwhelming sensation of his mouth on mine to memory.
“I need to go home and get ready for the drive to Old Forge.”
As if on cue, Henry sent a text. “Wills driving me home. Meet you there for our trip later.”
I replied. “See you soon. Be safe. Love you.” The last seven letters were true enough, but I felt like a liar.
Dagen could easily see my screen. “Let me drive you back to Henry’s place. Then we can all drive to the portal together.”
“I’ll need to take Leo too.”
“He’s already at his parent’s place waiting to go inside again.”
“I assumed you knew. Leo checked in yesterday as ready to go five miles away from the portal.”
“I need to see him before we go inside.”
“You need to see your witches. Don’t overthink this. Let’s grab something to eat from downstairs, head to Henry’s place, collect your things, then head to your parent’s house. You can sleep on the way.”
“You didn’t sleep last night, either.”
“I only sleep every other day. Once you hit two hundred, your sleep habits will change.” I shook my head. Dagen’s plan was my best option to see Leo before the event.
A beige SUV pulled in front of the house. A man I recognized from our pre-fight party last weekend tossed Dagen the keys.
“All gassed and ready to go, Boss. The rest of us will see you tonight.” Dagen waved at the man and opened the passenger door for me.
“It’s going to be okay. Put your seat belt on. We need to make up some time.”