Playing with the Wolf

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Chapter 6

_____________ Deklan ___________

I feel a little out of sorts after Lucy leaves.

I don’t know what to do with myself and I end up staring out the window above the kitchen sink into my yard and the woods beyond.

After hearing Lucy’s story, I now know why she’s taken it upon herself to risk her life killing demons. She has survivor’s guilt. Like me.

Guilt and pain are tireless tormentors. They’ve certainly been haunting me since Tuk’s death. They were so loud when he first died that I turned to alcohol to numb them out. If it weren’t for Blake I’d probably still be hitting the bottle. He found me splayed out on my sofa hungover one too many times and started coming over more often. He got me running more and drinking less.

There’s no ‘probably’ about it. If it weren’t for Blake, I’d definitely still be hitting the bottle.

Thinking of how bad I was right after Tuk died, I have to wonder how Lucy was right after her family was killed. And I have to wonder who was there for her to help her through her loss and trauma.

An image of her as a little girl appears in my mind.

They say kids adjust quickly. But how do you adjust to losing your mom and sister to a demon?

If anything had happened to my parents when I was young, other members of our pack would have taken me in.

I assume Lucy ended up in foster care. Unless a relative took her in?

My wolf whines.

I know, bud.

I’m torn up over what Lucy went through, too.

Feeling restless, I turn away from the window and pull my shirt off over my head. Sleep isn’t going to come anytime soon. My thoughts are too full of Tuk and Lucy. My wolf feels the need to be free, to run wild. And so do I. Hopefully, another run will clear my head.

I toe off my boots, undo my jeans and shove them and my underwear down my legs and off. I leave all my clothes in a pile on the floor and head outside. Bracing myself for the pain, I shift and then bound off my porch and toward the woods.

Animals quiet at the sound of my howl, but eventually, they start rustling and skittering again.

Life goes on in the face of pain.

Lucy

Once I finish my set at After Hours, I find a private spot backstage and teleport to Deklan’s. I drop in on his front porch again. This time, my knock is answered by the owner of the house.

He’s in jeans and a navy-blue hoodie. He looks yummy with his jaw all scruffy and his hair tousled. It looks like he’s run his fingers through it a few too many times. It’s a good look for him.

My mood lifts for the first time all day when I see him.

Last night was rough. After a fitful sleep, I woke up exhausted this morning. My energy’s been low all day. I wasn’t looking forward to coming over tonight. But now that I’m face to face with Deklan, I’m glad I’m here.

“Hey,” he greets me.

“Hey,” I reply as I step forward and join him in the entranceway. “Your friend here?” I ask and look down the hallway into the kitchen for signs of Blake.

“No. Blake didn’t come over tonight,” he tells me.

He starts down the hall and I fall into step beside him.

“You want something to drink?” he asks as we enter the kitchen. “Water? Tea?”

His offer of tea sounds good to me.

“Tea, please,” I request.

While Deklan heads over to the counter on the far side of the island, I head over to the dining table.

“What kind of tea would you like?” he asks, turning to me.

“What do you have?”

“Earl Grey, Peppermint, Chai, and Orange Pekoe,” he rhymes off.

“Peppermint, please.”

I pull my map out of my inside jacket pocket and unfold it across the table.

“Milk?” he asks.

“Yes, please. Just a little.”

I don’t bother waiting for him to join me at the table before I start scrying.

The sound of water being poured into cups, followed by the clink of a spoon against ceramic as tea is stirred, has me looking up a few minutes later. Deklan’s on his way over to the table, a steaming cup in each hand. He hands me one.

“Thanks.”

He sets down his cup, pulls out a chair across from me, and takes a seat. The two of us watch my crystal spin and wait, hoping for a hit on Malek. After I’ve been scrying for almost an hour, a worrisome thought occurs to me. What if Malek magically blocked others from being able to locate him? A demon that has caused as much mayhem as he has, has countless enemies. How has he not been terminated yet?

I frown as I consider the possibility that Malek’s blocked others from locating him. I’m so caught up with my concern that it takes me a second to register that Deklan has said something.

I flick a glance over at him.

“Hmm?” I hum.

“I asked if you’d like more tea,” he tells me.

“Oh. No. Thanks,” I reply and return my gaze to my pendulum.

“Where were you just now?” he asks and I shift my gaze back to him.

“Just thinking.” I reply.

“About?” he asks.

I’d rather not be the bearer of bad news but I suppose I should share my concern with him. We could be wasting time scrying for Malek if the demon has found a way to block others from locating him.

“I was just thinking...” I start to reply and then pause. “Maybe Malek found a way to shield himself from being located magically.” I share. “He’s made enough enemies and yet he’s still around.” I pause then tack on, “We assume.”

The frown that comes to Deklan’s face has me rushing to mitigate the worry I’ve given him.

“We’ll track him down one way or another,” I assure him. “If I don’t get a hit on him after a week, we can hit the streets together. Track him down old school.”

Deklan’s eyes start doing that blue-silver thing at my words. I don’t know what the change in eye color means, but I love when his eyes do that. It’s so beautiful, so hypnotic.

Besides the color change, the way he’s looking at me changes. A smoky heat enters his gaze.

My lady parts take notice and respond accordingly.

“We?” he asks.

His voice is a little husky when he speaks, which is very hot.

He tilts his head and cocks one brow up.

“We’ll track him down? We’ll hit the streets?” he asks and I furrow my brows at him.

Why is he focused on the pronoun I used?

“You agreed to scry for me,” he says. “You don’t have to do more.”

I know I don’t have to. I want to.

I agreed to scry for him because that’s what he asked of me, but that doesn’t feel like enough. He saved my life. I can do more for him than act as a magical GPS. If I can’t find Malek through scrying, I’ll help him find the demon in some other way. And I have every intention of backing Deklan up when he confronts Malek.

“I know,” I reply and shrug. “I’m offering. I’ll help you find him and kill him,” I continue and shift my gaze to the circling pendulum. “If you want.”

Deklan doesn’t say anything and after a moment, I look back over at him. My breath catches at the look on his face. Judging by that look, he not only wants my help, he wants me.

His eyes are more silver than blue, and they’re bright with desire. The look he’s giving me is so potent that my breath quickens and my heart picks up its pace. My skin becomes hyper-aware, ready to amplify the slightest touch.

I stiffen a little when a possibility occurs to me. Can wolfy smell what he’s doing to me right now? I must be giving off a whole heap of sex pheromones. Wolves smell that kind of thing, don’t they?

When a sexy smile plays with Deklan’s mouth, and his nostrils flare subtly, I have my answer. Oh, yeah. Wolfy can smell how he’s affecting me.

I swallow then break eye contact with him and return my gaze to my pendulum. The action takes more effort than it should.

I try to focus on scrying and ignore Deklan’s gaze. My efforts are only successful for about a minute.

I look up and meet his gaze again and the air between us practically vibrates with energy.

His gaze drops to my lips and he licks his own as he stares at mine. My own gaze lowers to his mouth. Slowly, like two magnets unable to resist the pull, we start leaning toward each other. Then suddenly, Deklan moves away and gets up.

I blink and straighten up, and watch as Deklan reaches across the table and picks up our cups. He gets up and walks over to the sink, and I just sit there and stare at his back feeling like an idiot.

Did I just read the situation wrong? Was Deklan about to kiss me, or was he just reaching for my cup?

I shake my head.

No.

He was about to kiss me. I’m sure he was.

So, why did he stop himself?

I’m distracted from his unexpected rejection when my pendulum flies to the map like a dart.

Holy shit.

Apparently, I was worried over nothing. My theory that Malek may have found a way to block others from magically locating him was just proven wrong.

We have a hit on the demon!

***

Deklan

I want to kiss Lucy so bad I can taste it. And I know she’s on the same page as me because the musky scent of her arousal saturates the air. It’s making my mouth water.

I have to put more space between us. If I don’t, there’s going to be no space between us. And I don’t have time for pleasures right now. I have to find Malek.

Quickly, I collect Lucy’s cup and my own and take them over to the sink.

My wolf whines his disappointment.

Sorry, bud.

I’m not happy either, but I can’t allow myself to be distracted. I have to stay focused on finding Malek.

Bracing myself, I turn back to Lucy. It takes me a moment to register what I see. Her pendulum is pinned to the map.

Holy shit!

Lucy’s got a hit on Malek!

I guess the demon didn’t find a way to block others from locating him.

I hurry back to the table and bend over the map even as Lucy stands and bends forward from her side of the table. Adrenaline pumps through my body. Lucy’s crystal points at our city.

She grabs her phone off the table where she set it.

“What are you doing?” I ask when she starts typing something in and then swipes the screen. She types some more and then swipes again.

She doesn’t answer me and after a moment, she sets the device on the table and I can see that she’s brought up the city on google maps and zoomed in on the spot her pendulum pointed to.

Smart.

She starts scrying again over her phone. Her crystal immediately points to a suburban neighborhood in the north end. With her thumb and index finger, she zooms in closer and scries again. We have an intersection. Hyde and Jones. She zooms in even closer.

Jackpot.

Her pendulum points to a house.

My guess? Someone living in that house is a witch and Malek isn’t there to make friends with them. I can’t think of any other reason for Malek to be where he is.

Lucy zooms to street level and swipes around until we’re looking at the front of the house. It’s a bungalow, with a small front yard.

“Got him,” she says and breaks out in a steely smile.

Goddamn, the urge to kiss her is even stronger.

“You ready?” she asks. She tucks her phone away in her back pocket, then pulls her hair back and secures it in a low ponytail.

Is she kidding?

“Fuck, yeah,” I huff.

She comes around the table to me.

“Give me your hand,” she requests and puts her hand out to take mine. “Hold tight,” she instructs.

I grip her hand a little tighter, just in case she means that literally. I blink and find myself inside someone else’s house.

Damn! Teleporting is the way to travel. (Even if it makes me a little dizzy.) I just need a sec.

Lucy lets go of my hand and starts yelling. I look over to where she’s looking and there’s Malek. As expected, he’s not making nice. He has a woman, a witch, on the floor. He’s choking the life out of her even as he drains her energy and powers from her. I can actually see the life energy and magical powers being sucked out of the woman. Her life energy is white. Her magical powers have a blue-violet tint.

The witch clearly put up a good fight before the scales tipped in Malek’s favor. Her bedroom is in shambles. Broken glass and debris are everywhere.

“Hey!” Lucy yells again. She throws her hands up toward Malek and sends a blast of energy at him.

The Jogon doesn’t bat an eye.

She raises her hands toward Malek and tries to freeze him, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Malek isn’t frozen. He glares over at us, clearly not happy with the interruption.

My wolf huffs his pleasure at ruining the asshole’s night.

Sorry, not sorry.

Seeing Malek again for the first time since Tuk’s death brings that night back crystal clear.

For once, I don’t even feel my transformation. Suddenly, I’m on all fours and charging.

***

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