☾ h a p t e r 4
A cold chill ran up Zara’s spine as those petals stared back at her. She could feel her heart thump harshly against her chest. Felt it as it got harder to breathe while she continued to stare at the rose.
Ignoring Nate, she kept her eyes trained on the flower, a sense of doom building inside her. Turbulent thoughts spiraled in her mind; like a raging tornado waiting for its supper of dirt and debris. Swallowing it like a hungry beast.
It had been a year since she had last seen the sight of a bloodied rose like this.
A year in which she had finally felt safe.
She tried to remember anything that might have changed over the course of 12 months and could not think of a single thing. But yet, something must have changed if the damn flower sticking from the sand was any indication.
“Zara, tell me what’s wrong.”
The feel of his hand as he placed it on her arm, softly shaking it and trying to revert her focus back to him, almost broke the spell.
Almost, but that damn flower kept staring back at her.
Haunting her with its beautiful elegance. The soft satin-like petals swaying with the wind and the red wine droplets creating rivers down its stem.
“Is that rose important? Should I go and check it out…”
“No!” She shouted out to him, finally having the will to tear her gaze away from the flower. Moving in front of Nate she blocked him from taking a step towards it. “No,” she repeated, softly this time. “It’s nothing.”
She could see him clenching his teeth in frustration, diverting his gaze from her to the flower. His eyes shifted back and forth for a few beats before finally settling back on her.
“Can’t be nothing if it made the air stink of your fear.”
She mentally cursed the enhanced sense of smell Alphas had. She wished it was normal like hers. While they had evolved from furred beasts to a more human-like appearance over time, they still had some of the senses that their animals had before evolution took its place. And, unfortunately, right now this Alpha’s hyperactive senses were kicked into high gear.
She reeked right now — and she knew that. With her chest still hurting from the beating it was getting, it wasn’t something that she could just ignore. But the terror currently gripping at her throat was not needed right now.
“It’s nothing, I promise,” she firmly stated. Hoping Nate would drop it and not look further into things that were not his business.
He growled in reply, the fingers that she had unconsciously put on his chest to stop his forward movement tingled with the vibrations. She ran her hand back and forth, hoping it would soothe him — and her — at the same time.
Instead of stopping, the opposite happened. The growling grew louder, trails of sensual heat delicately moving up her arms, gliding up like vines, creating strokes of lightning to flare and spread before liquifying in her blood.
The hot flare moved with fluidly down her chest and stomach before pooling and settling at the center of her navel.
Zara could feel his searing fingers skim the underside of her jacket before the heat of his palms met her waist. Securing his arms around her waist, a soft pull brought her flushed body against his. Her breasts rubbed against the hard pectorals hidden beneath the blue fitted dress shirt he was sporting.
Nate lowered his head, his lips spanning over her cheek and trailing down to her neck.
The heat from his eyes zeroed in at the spot where her neck met her shoulder, the fervor of his gaze was so intense it felt like it left a brand on her flesh. A shudder ran through her body and she shifted her head to the side to display more of her neck to him.
Without meaning to, she was offering herself to him. A game brought down from generations where an Omega waited for their Alpha to take its prize. That is, if they were powerful enough to do so.
It all came down to pride and possession.
Lips against her skin, his tongue licked her flesh leisurely, no doubt tasting the saltiness from the sand that had sprayed them when the wind had picked up. A soft hum caused her throat to vibrate in a whisper of lyrical notes, the music extending into a song as a soft moan tumbled out of her mouth.
Something began to stir and harden against her body, and with a tilt of his hips, he pressed it up against the softness of her stomach. She started a slow grind in return, the sweet honeysuckle filling the air with its honeyed incense.
Placing his hands under her ass, he hefted her up and against him, her legs quickly wrapping themselves around his hips.
“You sure you want me to stop?” He asked her as they moved against each other, his nostrils flaring as he took a deep breath of air. She could see the lust churning in his honeycomb-colored eyes.
She ran her nails down his back, desperately trying to grasp at his shirt to hold on. He removed one hand from her ass to move it out in front of her and snapped open the button of her jeans.
Nate trailed the digits down to the juncture of her legs.
A soft mewl slipped from her mouth when the press of his fingers touched the crease between her jeans. Warm slick drenched her underwear as his fingers trailed up and down the rough fabric.
The world shifted when he bent to place a knee on the sand below them. He was about to lay her on the ground when everything: the crime scene they were still standing on, the murdered victim and the damn flower all came rushing back to her.
She stiffened up against him, trapping his hand between her legs in the process.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
With a push, she moved his chest away from her, which only made him tighten his hold with every shove she gave.
“No, we have to stop.” She explained as she continued her struggle to get away. “It’s wrong.”
A low rumble filtered the space between them at her choice of words.
“What do you mean? This,” he leveled his gaze at her, the blazing heat of his stare causing waves of molten lava to encompass her body, “what we have here, this is right; it is normal between an Alpha and his Omega.”
She shook her head at him, frowning. “That’s where you’re wrong. I’m not yours or anyone else’s Omega.”
With a last push, she freed herself from his arms and moved away, buttoning the fly of her pants as she made her way back to the SUV.
Clenching his fists tight, the man hiding behind a pine tree located a few miles away punched the tree next to him in anger at the sight of them. He cursed underneath his breath, aware of the keen hearing of the male downwind of him.
Rage burned throughout his body when he saw the two of them in a passionate embrace. It had further boiled, like the water from a kettle surfacing and braving the edges of the copper steel, when the Alpha jogged over and plucked the rose from the ground.
He was taking her flower from its perch. The flower he left solely meant for his female.
Nothing was going according to plan.
First, they had found the last female early and had almost caught him in the process. A fault, he realized, that was entirely on his end. He had not planned the last one as carefully as the other five. There had been too much debating on when to grab her, with her always being surrounded by people even when she was at home.
The weeks had crunched down to mere days before he made his move. It was a close call and had almost made him miss his three-month mark.
The next one, he promised himself, would be better planned out and executed. He had the perfect location on where to dispose of it.
The female has been picked out already, and thankfully this one is more of a lonely soul. All he needs is the time and place to make his move. Time is of importance and everything needs to be done right.
Because, he silently lamented, things are just getting started.
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