Playing with the Wolf

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Chapter 3

________________ Lucy ______________

I’m about halfway home from Elixir when I sense I’m not alone.

Unfortunately, I sense my company a second too late. If I’d picked up on their presence a moment sooner I might have been able to avoid the knuckle sandwich to the stomach, but I didn’t and now I double over with impact.

Shit, that hurt.

I dodge the next body part coming at me and quickly acclimate to the situation even as I suck in some much-needed air. That sucker punch really knocked it out of me.

In a quick move, I retrieve the athame from my left boot. I straighten up and throw it at the demon that attacked me but don’t get a chance to see where it lands because suddenly I’m pinned to the side of a building by a hand at my throat.

That hand squeezes. Brick scrapes the skin across my upper back as I’m lifted up against the wall.

Shit.

“Hello, witch,” a demon sneers into my face.

Talk about bad breath. What do demons eat? Ass?

I see these two demons have glamoured themselves to look human. Why, I don’t know and I don’t care.

I latch onto the beefy wrist at my throat with both hands and try to relieve some pressure off my throat.

Getting relief is a no-go.

Propelled by my need for air, I keep my grip on the demon’s wrist with one hand and raise the other to try to use my power to get him off me.

“Ah, ah, ah,” the demon tsks. He shakes me like a rag doll then slams me against the building.

The demon I threw my knife at, the one that sucker-punched me, appears beside the demon choking me. His lips twist in a smirk as he watches me squirm.

I can’t wait to wipe that stupid smirk off his ugly face.

When silver spots start blinking in my vision, I try using my power again and get slammed back against the wall a second time.

Damn.

I’d teleport away, but there’s no point teleporting while the demon has a grip on me - he’d just be teleported with me.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

I need air. Stat. Blackness is creeping into the edges of my vision.

If I didn’t have a hand crushing my throat and cutting off my airway, I could recite a spell. As it is, I can’t get any words out.

Think, girl, think.

Unfortunately, my thinking skills are getting sketchy.

I’m about to deliver a good old kick to the groin (even though I doubt it will even register with the demon) when a blur of dark barrels into the asshat choking me and I’m released.

I crumple to the ground, choking and hacking like I’ve been a chain smoker my whole life.

Dirty city air has never smelled so good.

Bent over, I raise a hand to my throat as I suck in breath after breath.

When inhaling no longer burns, I lift my gaze from the sidewalk and take in what’s going on around me.

My brow furrows at what I see.

Is that the wolf from last night?

It sure looks like him.

Huge? Check.

Black? Check.

Snarly? Check.

What the hell is he doing here?

I mean, I’m glad he’s here because he just saved my bacon but - what the hell?

I plant a hand on the pavement in front of me and push up to my feet. A growl to my left has my gaze swinging that way and I see the smirky demon that started this little playdate.

“You’re not going anywhere, bitch,” he hisses at me.

The little shit throws my own athame at me.

He’s trying to kill me with my own weapon? That’s an insult I will not let stand.

Squaring off with him, I throw up a hand and stop the blade mid-air. I hurry the few steps to it, grab the hilt, and toss it at the demon.

Unfortunately, I miss. I hardly ever miss. And now’s really not the time.

A fireball the size of my head comes at me, sizzling through the air.

Shit.

I throw myself to the ground and just manage to avoid incineration. Unfortunately, the edge of the curb does not a soft pillow make.

My skull collides with concrete.

It’s an instant KO.

Deklan

I’m a couple of blocks back when the demons attack Lucy.

My wolf growls and I curse.

I shift, leaving my clothes in shreds on the sidewalk, and cover the distance between me and Lucy as quickly as I can.

Going at full speed, I charge into the demon holding her up against the side of a building with a hand at her throat. I knock him off of her and send him to the pavement. The demon gets back on his feet quick enough, adopts a fighting stance, and focuses on me.

Bring it on, jackass.

With a snarl and a show of fangs, I advance on him. When he’s within striking range, I lunge.

Unfortunately, I miss.

I lunge again.

Another miss.

Damn it.

The demon stays just out of reach of my snapping teeth. He’s got an ugly-ass grin on his ugly-ass face. Apparently, I’m amusing him.

I attack again and come up with another swing and a miss. The demon doesn’t make any offensive moves which I find odd.

What the hell? Why isn’t this dick engaging?

My confusion clears when I realize the deal. The demon’s just keeping me busy. He’s serving as a decoy so his buddy has time alone with Lucy.

I growl. It’s time for this decoy to eat it.

I charge, staying right with the demon when he feints left. I get a hold of his ankle between my teeth and bite down through flesh to bone. Satisfaction fills me when he howls in pain.

I’m going to have to drink a bottle of Listerine later to kill the taste of demon blood now saturating my mouth, but it’s worth it.

I tug and release my bite on the demon’s leg, sliding the little whiner under me with the move. Once the guy’s throat is in reach of my mouth, I rip it out. Two seconds later, his body turns to ash. Whirling around, I look for Lucy.

What I see when my eyes find her has me rushing forward and has panic pushing my stomach into my throat.

Lucy’s laying on the ground unconscious. The demon is standing above her in a kill position.

I’m only a few feet away but I’m afraid I’m not going to make it in time to stop the demon’s fatal blow.

I run as fast as I can. Everything downshifts into slow motion. Inch by inch, the demon raises the knife clenched in his fist. Inch by inch, he plunges that knife toward Lucy.

Shit.

I’m so close. I’m almost there.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I’m not going to make it in time.

I make a desperate leap and collide with the demon. The two of us tumble away from Lucy and each other.

Relief floods me when I realize that I made it in time.

My relief is short-lived, though. Lucy and I aren’t safe yet.

This demon needs to be put down.

Quickly getting to my feet, I get the demon in my sights.

The asshole’s a few feet away, getting to his feet facing away from me. I need to act fast.

The knife the demon was about to use on Lucy is laying on the pavement between me and him.

I shift into human form, arm myself with the blade, charge forward, and stab the asshole in the back, piercing his heart.

With him dispatched, I hurry over and kneel at Lucy’s side.

Shit.

She’s out cold, lying half on her side, half on her stomach, with her arms akimbo. The coppery scent of her blood fills my nose. Her upper back is covered in scrapes, and an ugly gash at her temple is oozing blood.

I don’t think she needs stitches, but I’m no doctor. I have suffered my fair share of battle wounds over the last few months though and have patched myself up, so I feel somewhat comfortable with my assessment.

I set the knife still in my hand on the ground and gently brush a piece of hair that’s come loose from Lucy’s ponytail back off her face and tuck it behind her ear.

“Lucy?” I call. I really don’t expect a response but I’m disappointed nonetheless when I don’t get one.

It’s kind of disorienting to see the sassy, aggressive woman I met last night laying there, hurt and vulnerable.

I know I shouldn’t move someone with a possible neck injury, but what choice do I have? We can’t stay here.

As carefully as I can, I maneuver Lucy’s limp body until her chest is pressed against my spine and her arms are draped over my shoulders. Then, on hands and knees, I shift shape.

I do my best to slow my change so as not to jar her, gritting my teeth through the extended pain.

Goddamn, it hurts, let me tell ya.

After all of my bones finish morphing, I pick Lucy’s knife up between my teeth and slowly make my way out of the city and towards home.

Where else can I take her but my place? I don’t know where she lives and I don’t think a hospital is a good idea.

So, my home it is.

As I carry her home, I realize that my annoyance with her is gone.

After seeing that demon come so close to ending her, my plans for her have changed. Instead of confronting her, I’m going to treat her scrapes and cuts and watch over her until she wakes up.

Funny, isn’t it, how life and death situations kind of have a way of putting things in perspective?

***

After positioning Lucy on her side on the sofa in my living room with a pillow under her head, I hurry upstairs, throw on some clothes and fetch bandages and a cloth. I also grab antibiotic ointment from the cupboard under my sink in the bathroom.

Back downstairs, I get a bowl of water from the kitchen then I go sit on the edge of my coffee table and push up the sleeves of my sweatshirt. After dampening the cloth in the bowl, I lean forward over Lucy.

She’s still out cold.

I don’t like how pale she looks.

As gently as I can, I tend to the scrapes on her back.

They aren’t deep, but they cover a lot of ground, running from just above the edge of her bustier to a few inches below the star tattoos on her neck.

She doesn’t stir once as I work, which is good. It’d be better for her if she doesn’t wake up until after I finish cleaning and bandaging her wounds.

When I’m done with the scrapes on her back, I dip the cloth in the bowl of water by my hip, ring it out, then gently press it to the nasty-looking cut on her left temple.

She startles awake at the touch with a hiss of pain. Quickly, I lift the cloth away.

“Easy. Easy,” I croon.

I place my free hand on her bare shoulder and urge her to stay down when she makes to sit up. She’ll just make herself dizzy or nauseated if she gets up too fast.

She cooperates with a groan and eases back down, raising a hand to her head as she lowers.

“Careful,” I warn softly.

She probes the area at her temple gingerly, pulls her hand back, and frowns at the blood on her fingertips.

Silently, I claim her hand, wipe off her stained fingers, and set her hand free. As she lowers her arm back down to the sofa, her eyes meet mine.

It’s clear in her foggy gaze that she’s in pain.

“What happened? Where am I?” she asks. Her voice is rough and her eyelids don’t go higher than half-mast.

She looks around my living room and then back at me.

“What do you remember?” I ask.

I apply the cloth back to her cut and even though I do so carefully, she still winces a little at my touch.

“Um...”

Her eyes close as she thinks back.

“I remember a demon using my throat as a squeeze toy... and I remember his buddy throwing a fireball at me,” she recalls.

I pause in my ministrations, meeting her eyes when her lashes lift again.

“I saw the demon choking you. I was taking care of him when you were fighting the other demon,” I tell her. “I missed the fireball. When I turned around, you were on the ground and the demon was standing over you with a knife.”

Lucy digests my recounting of the night’s events with a frown. Her gaze drifts away from me and down to the floor. After a moment, her gaze comes back up to meet mine.

“Thanks for the save,” she says quietly.

“You’re welcome,” I reply.

I don’t really need a thank you. I’m just glad I was there to help her.

My wolf seconds that emotion.

Lucy clears her throat.

“I guess we’re even now,” she announces.

Hearing that, I have to hold back a smile.

“Even, how?” I inquire, even though I know what she’s going to say.

“I saved your ass last night. You saved mine tonight,” she explains. “Even.”

A corner of my mouth ticks up.

“Except, you didn’t save my ass last night.” I correct.

“Sure, I did,” she insists, brow furrowing.

“Didn’t.”

“Did,” she repeats. Her irritation seems to wake her up. Her eyes, now narrowed on me, aren’t as foggy as they were when she opened them moments ago.

That’s good.

“Didn’t,” I repeat.

Her lips firm into a thin line.

The look she gives me? Professional level stank-eye.

My lips twitch. Secretly, I’m pleased she’s frustrated and arguing. She has to be feeling somewhat more herself if she’s being confrontational.

“Agree to disagree?” I ask.

I let the subject drop for now. We can get back to it, and the fact that she now - technically - owes me when she feels better.

She mumbles unhappily and I keep my smile to myself.

She’s pretty cute when she’s irritated.

I wonder how much fun it would be to really ruffle her feathers.

When my dick twitches at that thought, I cut off that line of thinking faster than you can say ‘happy ending’.

Lucy’s basically at eye level with my crotch. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable or anything if she notices what’s developing there.

I clear my throat, redirecting my thoughts out of the gutter.

“How are you feeling?” I ask.

“Other than a splitting headache, and a sore neck? Okay. Alive,” she replies, going with my subject change.

“Alive is good,” I comment.

She gives me a no-shit look.

I lift my hand to her temple again and resume cleaning her cut. Thankfully, my dick goes back to sleep.

I apply a salve and a small bandage. Then I gather up my supplies, both used and not, stand, and head for the kitchen. When I return to the living room with two extra-strength Tylenol in one hand and a glass of water in the other, Lucy’s still lying quietly.

I sit on the coffee table once more and offer the pills in an upraised palm. After she takes those I hand her the water. She lifts her head enough to wash down the painkillers, hands the glass back to me, and lowers her head, resting it back on the pillow with a sigh.

The weary sound makes me realize I should get her set up in one of my two spare bedrooms and let her get some rest sooner rather than later, but first I want to ask her some questions.

I set the glass aside and lean forward. Propping my elbows on my knees, I let my hands dangle down between my legs.

“I don’t suppose you know why those demons were after you?” I ask.

Lucy huffs a quick snicker.

“I’m guessing they may have had a problem with me killing their hell-spawn buddies,” she replies flippantly.

“Hmmm,” I murmur.

I’d figured that.

Now she’s on the receiving end of my no-shit look. The little smartass.

“You must have killed quite a few of their buddies for them to bother seeking you out.” I prompt.

I would guess her kill count must be in the hundreds for her to be on a demon’s radar.

Am I impressed? Maybe a little.

Am I going to tell her that? No.

“Hey, once you find something you’re good at...” she says. She shifts a little and the movement makes her wince.

“Kind of a dangerous hobby, don’t you think?” I ask.

As demonstrated tonight.

“Beats knitting,” she quips.

I huff a laugh at her cheekiness.

She can try to play it off, but she came really close to dying tonight. Too close. I don’t like how fucking close she came. Her brush with death bothers me, and my wolf, more than I’d like.

“That was a close call tonight,” I murmur, a frown replacing the smile she’d put on my face.

I’m going to be serious about tonight’s events even if she won’t.

“Wasn’t the first. Won’t be the last,” she replies, still playing it off.

She slowly pushes herself up to a sitting position and shifts her legs over the side of the couch.

“Easy. Let me know if you start to feel dizzy,” I murmur and reach out to her, ready to give her a steadying hand if she needs one.

She rests her elbows on her knees, lets her hands hang down between her legs, adopting the same position as me.

“Feeling okay?” I ask and she nods.

I bet she doesn’t.

“Why do you do it?” I ask after a moment passes and she remains upright.

“Kill demons?” she asks, her brows lifting briefly.

I nod.

She shrugs nonchalantly.

“Someone has to,” she replies.

I frown at that.

That just begs the question...

Why has she taken it upon herself to be that someone?

***

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