Melted By The Lion: A Paranormal Lion Shifter Romance (7 page)

BOOK: Melted By The Lion: A Paranormal Lion Shifter Romance
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CHAPTER FOUR

 

I awoke again a bit before dawn, after shaking off another dream about Trevor taking my hand in his. Irritated that my subconscious kept seeing fit to give me these dreams, I sat up in bed, listening, straining my ears for any noise coming from Trevor’s bedroom. Not that I cared, I kept telling myself, but I wanted to hear if Veronica had awoken and come to his room to pay him a visit very late. But all I heard was silence.

Feeling at least semi-rested and knowing I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep, I got out of bed, jammed my feet into some cream-colored satin slippers, and went to use the restroom and brush my teeth. Afterward, I splashed my face, pausing to listen and assure myself that Trevor’s room really was silent. And when I heard that it was, I resumed washing my face with a little sense of smug sense of satisfaction. Veronica’s plan to “hop in the sack,” as she’d put it, with Trevor the very first night, had failed. She’d likely fallen asleep and hadn’t heard him come in.

But while I patted my face with a towel, I abruptly stopped, lifting my head. “Wait.”

I looked at my reflection in the mirror, realizing that I should have been
disappointed
that she hadn’t slept with Trevor. I
wanted
her to sleep with him. I
wanted
her to get pregnant, so that maybe Trevor would just let me go and move out with a minimum of fuss, knowing that at least he’d gotten one baby-maker on board.

But then again, I reasoned, maybe the reason I wasn’t feeling disappointed that Veronica hadn’t slept with Trevor was just because she was obviously a witchy kind of person, and it was probably somewhat natural to feel a little satisfaction when a witchy kind of person didn’t get what they wanted.

I gave my reflection in the mirror a little smile, admiring a brand-new champagne-colored silk pajama set I was wearing. “That’s all it is.”

Hanging up my towel, I debated whether to get back in bed and read for a bit before showering, or go downstairs and have some breakfast. The sound of my stomach growling at that moment made up my mind for me. I’d go down to the “informal kitchen” and have some coffee or tea and see what else I could find. The day before, Jeannie had told Veronica and me to completely make ourselves at home, and help ourselves to whatever we liked from the kitchen at any time. She’d also added that alternately, we could call the main line to the staff quarters to have food prepared and served at any time, day or night, but I just didn’t see myself ever doing that, especially not so early in the morning. I couldn’t remember what kind of a cook I’d been in my life before being frozen, but I knew I was more than capable of fixing a simple meal.

After throwing on a silk robe that matched my pajamas, I padded downstairs and into the darkened kitchen, finding no one else awake. I switched on a few lights and a clear crystal Tiffany lamp above a circular casual dining table, then located the coffeemaker and a container of ground coffee and made a pot. Next, I made some toast and got some orange marmalade and a few other items out of the very well-stocked fridge. A short while later, I was leaning over the counter, blowing steam from the surface of my coffee when I heard heavy footsteps quickly approaching. They sounded like
boot
steps, actually.

Slightly startled, I looked up just in time to see Trevor enter the kitchen. “Oh. Good morning.”

Dressed in battered jeans and a navy blue t-shirt that was fitted just well enough to reveal the hard contours of his chest, and holding some rolled sheaf of papers, he returned my greeting, seeming just as surprised to see me down in the kitchen so early as I was to see him. Then a long moment of silence ticked by. Whenever Trevor and I were alone in a room together, especially when we were looking at each other, any silence struck me as too much silence; I didn’t know why. So, I spoke again.

“You’re up early. With as late as you came home, I’m surprised to see you down here right now.”

Trevor studied my face briefly, a bit of surprise again evident on his own. “I’m surprised you were listening for me to come home.”

Heat instantly rose to my cheeks, and I shook my head.

“I wasn’t. It was just that as heavily as you were clomping around in your boots, I couldn’t help but wake up.”

Expression unreadable, he moved from the doorway to the table, sat down, and began arranging his papers, which I now saw were actually maps, in front of him. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot about your sensitive little ears.”

Riled, my only response was to set-borderline-slam my butter knife on the counter with a loud clang, attempting to prove that my ears weren’t sensitive. Only the clang didn’t seem quite loud enough to me to really prove my point, so I picked up the knife and clanged it down on the counter again, this time with a bit more force. Then, I saw Trevor glance up at me with his full lips just faintly twitching, how they’d done the day before, softening his stern features with a hint of amusement, which I didn’t appreciate at the moment.

So, I picked up the knife again and clanged it down on the counter for the third time, this time really, truly slamming it. “My ears could handle this all day.”

I picked up a piece of my toast, took a bite, and began chewing while looking directly into Trevor’s eyes, daring him to tell me that my ears
couldn’t
handle any further clanging. He didn’t tell me that, though. After getting up to pour a mug of coffee, he went back to the table and his maps, and I went back to fixing my breakfast, nibbling on my toast while slicing a banana and layering the pieces with granola and yogurt in a clear glass bowl. While I went about my task, I caught Trevor giving me a few looks from under his dark lashes, and I suddenly realized that I hadn’t brushed my hair before coming down to the kitchen, and I wondered if he was looking at what a knotty mess it was.

“I
do
brush my hair sometimes, you know.”

I began running a hand over it right then, not like that would really smooth the tangles.

Trevor looked up from his maps with just the faintest twinkle in his amber-green eyes. “Well, that’s odd, when you told me just yesterday that you prefer the look of un-brushed hair. I believe you said that you think it looks ‘really nice.’”

I couldn’t backpedal now. Not without telling him that just being in his presence the day before had jumbled my thoughts so badly I’d begun spouting utter nonsense.

So, forcing myself to stop attempting to smooth my locks, I dipped my head in a nod, avoiding Trevor’s eyes. “And I stand by what I said. I do think un-brushed hair looks really nice. See, I’ve always seemed to gravitate to carefree, low-maintenance styles. Though I do brush my hair and try to smooth it down
sometimes
, because I try to keep in mind how others may perceive my knottier, more carefree look.”

I popped my last bite of toast in my mouth and began assembling my yogurt parfait again, hoping Trevor would go back to his maps. But he didn’t, instead continuing to look at me with a faint twinkle in his eyes. And when he spoke, his voice was quiet and so unusually warm I actually startled a bit.

“Your hair really is very pretty, Savannah, even when it’s tangled into knots. It’s beautiful, actually. It’s the exact same shade that the cypress forest out back turns shortly after the sun goes down, when everything goes dark but is still subtly lit by the sun’s very last light. Dark brown with just a touch of golden red.”

With my heart suddenly pounding, I looked up at him, forcing myself to swallow my bite of toast, even though my throat felt like it had constricted. “Thank you. That’s really…”

I didn’t know what it was
really
. It had been really heart palpitation-inducing, honestly, though I probably would have said
kind of you to say
. But before I could get another word out, Trevor suddenly went back to his maps, turning and shuffling them with movements so fast and forceful that I thought he might accidentally rip one. I just watched him, heart still hammering in my ears, and after a few moments, he glanced up at me mid-shuffle, frowning so hard he was nearly scowling.

“You shouldn’t come down here so early. If you want breakfast at dawn, you should just call the main line in the staff quarters and have one of the maids bring you up something.”

“I would never wake someone up just to bring me breakfast.”

“Well, then you should just—”

He flipped a few maps over near-violently, not seeming like he was going to answer.

“Starve?”

He suddenly got up from the table, jaw clenched, and came around the counter to stand in front of me. “Listen to me. The early morning hours are my time to study maps of the Renards’ territories and plan the best ways to keep them from my people and our community. And you coming down here, parading your hair and your face in front of
my
face while I’m trying to plan strategies to keep my people safe is essentially you putting over a thousand lives in danger.”

I actually stifled a laugh. “What? You’re actually saying that by me quietly slicing up a banana for breakfast—”

“You
haven’t
been quiet about making your breakfast. You banged a butter knife on the counter three times.”

Suddenly, something happened to me. Or came over me, or exploded in my brain, or
something
. It was as if a million images, pictures from my past before being frozen, had flashed through my mind in a single second, leaving me with a distinct ache in my chest.

Eyes welling with tears, I reflexively moved a hand to cover a space just below my collarbone, above my heart, and gave this space a feeble squeeze or two, as if that would stop the pain. “Oh. It hurts.”

Trevor’s eyes displayed what seemed like genuine concern, as did his voice.

“What does? What’s wrong?”

I sniffed, trying to blink back my tears at the same time. “Apple, Plum, and Banana. Mike and Judy. I remember all that now. I remember my childhood and my teenage years.”

I wasn’t quite sure if I should continue, wasn’t quite sure if Trevor wanted me to; but he didn’t say anything, just continued looking at me with his eyes seeming to hold genuine concern, so after taking a deep breath, I did.

“I never knew my father, and my mom was a drug addict. The state took me when I was five or six, I think, and I went into foster care. After that, it was maybe a dozen homes—some of them bad, some of them very bad, and some of them okay—until I was fifteen or so, and a couple named Mike and Judy Foster took me in to live with them and their teenage daughters, Apple and Plum. Mike and Judy were hippie-type people—they’d given their daughters and all the animals on the little farm where they lived unusual names, because that’s just the way they were. Just very different, very ‘out there,’ I guess you could say, in a lot of ways, but also very good, and kind, and stable sort of people. They’d gotten the idea to take in a foster child because Mike had had a dream where God had appeared to him as a giant purple chicken who could talk, clucking Mike and Judy’s last name, Foster, over and over, like a chant. And in interpreting the dream, Mike and Judy took it as a command, that God wanted them to foster a child. God as he had appeared to Mike as a giant purple chicken.”

The funny memory should have made me laugh, but instead, it just made my eyes even mistier. A tear fell from one of them and began rolling down my cheek, and I brushed it away before continuing.

“Well, as kind as Mike and Judy were, and Apple and Plum, too, I just never quite felt like I belonged, until one day when Mike started calling me Savannah banana, and then eventually, everyone just called me Banana, and that was my official name. If not on paper, at least in our home. That’s when I finally felt like I belonged to a family for the first time. When I had a fruit name, just like the other girls. Just like the Fosters’ ‘real’ daughters. They legally adopted me just before my senior year of high school, and in my school’s graduation program, I had my name listed as Banana Foster. Just one letter away from the dessert—bananas foster. My friends thought it was hysterical, but I didn’t care. I was part of a family, and I was proud of it.” After pausing again to wipe away another tear, I went on in a voice shaky with emotion. “I can’t quite recall my life from after high school, but I have a hazy recollection of knowing right before I was frozen that the Fosters had all died, probably in the nuclear blast. I think that’s maybe
why
I volunteered to be frozen. My family was gone, and I had nothing left, but I couldn’t just lay down and die. Better to just ‘sleep’ in liquid nitrogen for hundreds of years and forget the pain until a later date.” Lifting my shoulders in a feeble shrug, I paused, realizing that Trevor was looking at me intently, expression unreadable. “Sorry. I’m probably being overly sentimental, and I know you don’t like sentimentality.”

“Please don’t cry, Savannah.”

Another tear had begun rolling down my cheek, and now, stunning me, Trevor stopped it with the pad of his thumb and brushed it away, his touch slow and gentle.

“Please don’t cry.”

Trevor’s eyes were now so clearly filled with pain that I half-seriously thought it was a possibility that
he
might cry. And I was about to be stunned for the second time. After a long moment looking into my eyes, seeming to be deciding something, he lowered his head, brought his mouth to mine, and began kissing me with such exquisite tenderness and slowness that I immediately curled my toes in my slippers, making a quiet noise of pleasure.

BOOK: Melted By The Lion: A Paranormal Lion Shifter Romance
2.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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