______________ Lucy ____________
No dizziness sets in, or nausea, and my headache doesn’t worsen when I sit up, so I stay upright.
Deklan watches me for signs of distress. He looks ready to catch me if I keel over.
When he keeps watching me, I start to feel a little self-conscious so I break eye contact and look out the window to my right. Beyond the glass is only darkness so I can’t see much, other than a dirt driveway to the left and a black F-150 parked near the house.
“Lucy - ”
Hearing my name come out of his mouth makes me look back at him.
“Where’d you get my name?”
“I followed those demons into Elixir,” wolfy replies.
Oh, so he’d heard Jack introduce me.
“I heard you introduced,” he says.
Yep, I’d got that.
“You were amazing, by the way,” he tells me as an aside.
I blink at the unexpected compliment.
For some reason, it pleases me to know this man has seen me perform and was impressed.
That reaction is surprising to me after our confrontation last night.
“After your set, those demons were watching you,” wolfy informs me. “When you left, they followed you out and I followed them.”
And thank god he did.
I tense when he starts studying me again. I start to look away from him again, but then I notice that his eyes look like they’re getting lighter and more silvery.
I watch, mesmerized, as his irises become a crisp white-blue.
They are stunning. And the look in them? I get the impression it isn’t just the man looking at me now, it’s the wolf too.
I swallow thickly.
Whether man, wolf, or both, it doesn’t matter. The way he’s looking at me? Gets my blood pumping a little faster.
It takes me a minute to realize that I’m staring. When I do, I blink and glance away from him.
I quickly get my wits about me before meeting his crystalline eyes again.
Wolfy doesn’t need to know how he’s affecting me.
“You know my name, but I don’t know yours.” I point out.
When Deklan answers, his voice is deeper than it was moments before.
“Deklan,” he shares. “Winters.”
With those eyes of his, the name suits him.
He extends his hand to me for a shake. I slip my hand in his bigger one and the warmth of his palm seeps into mine. As our hands pump up and down, the scent of pine and earth and soap wafts to my nose.
I noticed his delicious scent earlier when he was taking care of the cut on my head.
I’m tempted to lean into him, tuck my nose into his neck and sniff him good.
I shouldn’t have to tell myself not to sniff this guy up, but I do.
Girl! Do not sniff this guy up.
In an effort to obey my own command, I let go of Deklan’s hand and sit back, away from temptation. I hiss in pain when my back hits the back of the sofa.
“Yeah,” Deklan winces in sympathy and the silver in his eyes recedes a little.
“I put some salve on the scrapes on your back and taped bandages over them while you were out, but they’ll probably sting for a bit,” he tells me.
His kindness draws a sigh from me.
I feel like such a jerk. I was an ass to this guy last night and he saved my life tonight.
(He was an ass last night too, sure, but that was only because I ruined his plans.)
I owe him an apology and I owe him a debt for his brave actions tonight.
I might as well get the apology out of the way.
“Listen, Deklan,” I begin. “About last night. I’m really sorry.”
At my quiet words, Deklan’s eyes start changing again. Silver starts swirling in with the blue.
“It looked like you were in trouble.” I continue. “I thought I was helping,” I explain. “I didn’t mean to get in the way.”
Deklan’s quiet for several moments, but finally, he responds.
“Thank you for trying to help me last night,” he says. “I appreciate your intentions.”
Deklan surprises me when he makes his own apology.
“I’m sorry for my...” he pauses and his smile goes crooked. “…surliness.” he finishes.
After a moment, his smile moves from crooked to downright cheeky.
“Since I saved your ass, and you didn’t save mine,” he says. “ It seems you owe me one.”
I can’t help but smile back at him.
“And I’m guessing you already have something in mind I can do for you?”
“As a matter of fact,” he confirms. “I’m trying to find a particular demon.”
As he goes on to tell me what he wants, his expression turns serious once more.
“I would consider us square if you would do your scrying voodoo for me and help me locate him.”
“My ‘scrying voodoo’?” I lift a brow at his words.
I’m a witch, not a voodoo doctor.
“Yeah, you know. With a pendulum and a map and...” Deklan’s voice trails off as he starts miming using a pendulum and moves his hand in a circle.
Is he man-splaining right now?
“I know what scrying is dumbass,” I pair my words with an eye roll. “And for the record, scrying isn’t ‘voodoo’.”
“Whatever.” he shrugs. “Will you do it?”
“Yeah. I can do that. What’s the name of the demon you’re looking for?”
My brows lift to my hairline. My eyes widen at the name drop and at the venom in Deklan’s voice.
He has a hate-on for Malek, something fierce.
“Malek?” I repeat.
Deklan nods. All business.
I give a low whistle.
“That guy is seriously bad news,” I say.
The comment is unnecessary. I’m sure he’s well aware of that fact.
“Why are you trying to find him? I would highly recommend avoiding him.”
Face stark, Deklan answers.
“He killed my best friend,”
Well, that explains the hate-on.
I slowly inhale.
Losing someone sucks the big one. That’s an understatement, sure, but it sums things up well enough. I’ve been there, done that, never want to do it again.
Hence, my best friend is my cat, Jinx.
“I’m sorry for your loss,”
Deklan accepts my condolences with a dip of his head. He doesn’t offer any more details and I don’t pry.
I feel the need to apologize again for jumping in on his fight last night.
“Again, I’m sorry about last night,”
“It’s okay,” he replies. “I get it. From your vantage point, I’m sure it looked like I needed help.” he allows graciously. “It’s alright. Really.”
That’s kind of him to say, but it’s far from alright.
Neither of us speaks for a moment. In the silence, things start to feel awkward. At least for me, things start to feel awkward.
I get to my feet and move out from between the sofa and table.
I’m ready to bail.
“Where are you going?” Deklan asks and gets to his feet.
“Home. Once you point me in the direction of my boots,” I reply.
I look around the immediate area but don’t spy my boots.
“Are you sure?” he asks. It’s obvious by his expression he doesn’t approve of my plan. “I mean, you shouldn’t be alone.”
I tip my head back a little to look up at him. The guy has to be 6′2, at least. I’m barely 5′7.
“You might have a concussion.” he frowns. “Someone needs to check on you every once in a while.”
It chafes a little that he assumes I’m single. I’m a badass and, on a hottie scale, I’d rate myself a solid seven. Shouldn’t he assume I’m taken?
“What makes you think I don’t have someone at home to check on me?” I ask.
Deklan’s wide mouth opens and closes twice before sound finally comes out.
“I just assumed. I figured a boyfriend wouldn’t let you fight demons alone at night,”
My brows go up. So, he assumed I’m single, and he assumed a guy would dictate what I could or couldn’t do?
“Let me?” I scoff and set my hands on my hips as I throw him a pointed ‘excuse-me’ look.
He flounders, no words forthcoming as he does another fish imitation.
“It so happens you assumed right. I am happily single right now,” I admit.
I cross my arms in front of my chest.
“But that is neither here nor there.” I continue. “If some guy was lucky enough to be able to call himself my boyfriend, he wouldn’t ‘let me’ anything,” I inform him.
Deklan does an impression of a bobblehead.
“Sure. Right. Of course.”
He looks pretty cute as he hurries to backpedal.
He clears his throat.
“Anyways,” he says and tries to move past his faux-pas. “I think it might be a good idea if you stayed here tonight.” he pauses and continues after a beat. “There’s a bed in the spare room. You could sleep there. And I could check on you every so often. Make sure you haven’t slipped into a coma or something.”
I don’t think I have a concussion, but I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“Alright.” I capitulate.
Jinx’ll be fine until I get home. He won’t give a crap where I am until tomorrow when he needs his food and water bowl refilled and his kitty litter freshened.
“Alright.” Deklan echoes. Relief shows on his face before he covers it up. “I’ll show you upstairs,”
He heads upstairs and I follow along behind him. I must confess, I enjoy the view as he leads me upstairs.
The man has a beautiful body. His ass, in particular, is quite delectable. I watch the twin globes bunch and flex as we climb the stairs.
At the top, we go right then approach a door on the left.
Deklan opens the door and pushes it wide.
“I’ll go get one of my T-shirts for you to sleep in,” he says and steps aside so I can enter the room.
I cross the threshold into a bedroom that’s twice the size of my own.
There’s a large bed to my left with bedside tables on either side of it. There’s a chair over by the window and a dresser along the wall to my right.
As I check things out, I can hear Deklan moving around in a room down the hallway. A drawer opens then closes. Then I can hear his footsteps approaching.
He turns into the room, comes over, and holds out a dark grey T-shirt to me.
“Here you go,” he says.
I accept the offering from him with a 'thanks'.
“No problem,” he replies. “Do you need anything else?”
I shake my head.
“Okay, then,” he says. “Try to get some sleep. I’ll come and wake you in an hour or two.”
“Alright,” I reply. “Good night.”
Do I check out his ass again when he turns and heads out of the room?
Yes. Yes, I do.
______________ Deklan _________
At 4:30 my alarm goes off.
Bleary-eyed, I slap my hand around my bedside table until I find my phone and silence it. It’s been an hour and a half since Lucy and I went to bed.
Ugh. I feel like shit. I imagine I’m gonna feel even worse tomorrow.
Throwing off my covers, I get up.
I left my pants untied when I went to bed, as I usually do, and they’re riding low on my hips. Before I go check on my guest I tug them up a little and tie them. Then I quietly head down the hallway and to the room I put Lucy in.
She’s left the door open a crack.
I press a palm to the door, quietly push it wider and step into the room.
Lucy is sound asleep on her side facing me.
She looks so sweet, so young, while she sleeps.
Her pants and bustier are on the chair by the window.
She didn’t look so young - or sweet - when she was in that outfit.
Knowing she’s wearing my shirt now fills me with some unwarranted, primitive, male satisfaction.
I guess the old caveman gene is alive and kicking.
Quietly, I cross the room and come to a stop near the head of the bed.
Why I’m being quiet, I have no idea. The whole point of coming in here now is to wake her up.
I let myself gaze at her for a moment before I try to rouse her. She’s taken her hair out of its ponytail, so the brown locks are now free and covering the star tattoos on her neck.
I’m curious if she has any other tattoos. For a moment, I enjoy picturing where they might be.
A hip bone. A breast. Her lower back.
Yes, please, to all of the above.
Okay. I need to stop picturing where else she might be inked before I wake little Deklan. The guy doesn’t seem to need much incentive when around Lucy.
Clearing my throat, I bend toward her. Even in the darkness, I can see her well and I can tell there’s a little more color in her cheeks than there was earlier.
I hate to disturb her. I know rest will go a long way to helping her feel better. But, she may have a concussion and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“Lucy,” I whisper.
She doesn’t stir.
I raise my voice and bend a little closer.
“Lucy,” I go full volume with my voice and jostle her arm a little.
“What?” she grumbles, scowling.
The way her face scrunches up is pretty cute.
“How are you feeling?” I ask quietly.
Her shoulder moves a fraction and I gather the gesture was supposed to have been a shrug. Her scowl slips as sleep tries to reclaim her.
I quickly interrupt her fall back into dreams.
“How’s the head?” I ask.
I stroke my fingertips above the bandage at her temple.
“Better,” she mumbles. She opens her eyes at my gentle touch and looks up at me.
Her eyes drop and take in my bare torso.
If I’m not mistaken, she likes what she sees.
My wolf emits a muffled rumble in the back of my thoughts. He’s as pleased with Lucy’s survey as much as I am.
She lifts her sleepy eyes back up to my face.
She has beautiful eyes. Their hazel and almond-shaped.
It occurs to me that a guy could lose himself in those eyes if he wasn’t careful.
And that thought is my cue to wrap this up.
I don’t have time right now to lose myself in someone’s eyes. I need to hunt down Malek and end him.
I straighten up abruptly and step back.
“I’ll check on you again around six,” I tell her.
“Can’t wait.” she grumps.
That puts a smile back on my lips.
She snuggles deeper into her pillow and I turn and leave her to sleep, pulling the door almost closed behind me.
It’s barely audible, but I hear my wolf whine a little at being separated from the witch.
Lucy may have started off on our shit-list, but she’s upgraded herself to our ‘I want’ list. With her looks and smart mouth, it wasn’t a hard sell.
Working with her is going to pose a challenge. I’ve got to keep my priorities in the right order.
My list is short.
Maybe when those tasks are done, and Tuk has been avenged, I’ll add ‘pursue Lucy’ to my to-do list.
Who am I kidding?
As soon as I’ve taken care of Malek, ‘Pursue Lucy’ is going to be stamped at the top of my to-do list in all caps.
I get back in bed and reset my alarm. I’m not looking forward to waking up in a measly hour and a half.
At six, I check on my scryer, as promised. She grumps adorably again but otherwise seems fine. She knows her name, my name, where she is, and what month we’re in. That’s good enough for me.
At 7:30 I interrupt her sleep a third time and again she grumps but gets the answers right.
Half asleep, I reset my alarm for nine. When it goes off, I’m not sure I even slept. I know I must have because it seems like I only just set the alarm a second ago, but I sure don’t feel like I did. I feel like a zombie.
After blindly silencing the beeping, I drag myself out of bed and shuffle out into the hallway and down to the spare room. I open the door, expecting to see a sleeping beauty and witness more of her cute grumping, but instead, I come up short when I find the bed empty.
That wakes me up.
“Lucy?” I call.
I head down the hallway towards the bathroom.
Maybe she’s in there?
No response comes and the bathroom door is wide open. She’s not in there.
I call again as I make my way downstairs.
At the bottom of the stairs, I notice her boots and knife aren’t by the front door where I left them. A peak in the living room shows she’s not in there.
I continue further down the hallway and into the kitchen. There, sitting on the end of the island is the T-shirt I gave her to sleep in, folded neatly.
She left? Without saying a word?
I’m surprised at how disappointed I am.
She could have at least left me a note.
With a sigh, I go to retrieve my shirt. It’s not until I’m closer that I notice a piece of paper is tucked partially under it.
She did leave me a note.
I pick it up and read.
I have a gig at The Spot tonight. I’ll teleport myself to your place when I’m done. Text me if this doesn’t work for you.
Below her scrawled name she left her cell number.
Now I can text her and see how she’s doing.
Note in hand, I collect my shirt. Lucy’s scent wafts up from the material and I take it in on a long inhale.
I return to my room and toss my shirt on the end of my bed and sit down.
I get my iPhone off its charging dock, unlock it and add Lucy’s number into my contacts, then shoot her a quick text.
How are you feeling?
She texts back a moment later.
‘Not bad?’ That’s all she’s going to give me?
A little more detail would have been appreciated, but at least I know she’s awake and feeling okay.
See you tonight. I text.
A thumbs-up emoji comes back at me. I don’t bother sending anything back.
I set my phone back on my bedside table and lie down.
A few more hours of sleep will do me a hella good.