Authors: Trina M. Lee
Tags: #indie, #menage, #PNR, #novella, #Supernaturals, #UF
I rubbed a hand over my face and swore again. It had been my decision to leave Alexa where she was, with Kale Sinclair. It was a decision that Shaz told me nightly was stupid. I was starting to think that he was right.
The night she rose as vampire was one of my best and worst nights. My relief had been immense. In my heart of hearts, I’d harbored the fear that she would remain dead. Since the moment I felt her life slip away in my arms, I had been faced with what it would mean to lose her. Three days I waited in total distress, praying to a God who had no reason to grant my request. It had been the most agonizing wait of my life.
Then she had risen. The confusion in her vampire blue eyes was hard to witness. I was overjoyed to see her there before me, back from the dead. But the betrayal in her gaze when she looked at me had made me ill.
When she fled from me, I let her go. Shaz had demanded that we follow. He had been so afraid for her out there alone, so close to sunrise.
Giving chase would only encourage her to flee further. Knowing Sinclair would go after her, I let him. That choice had haunted me every night since.
A car pulled up to a door at the other end of the motel. I watched as a middle-aged couple got out, falling all over each other in their haste to get inside. They caught sight of me and broke apart. I shrugged and turned away. I didn’t doubt that they were having an affair. It was no business of mine. Casting one last glance back at the couple, I studied the woman, wondering if somewhere another man waited for her.
Projecting my own issues onto strangers served only to plunge me deeper into my tortured thoughts. When at last Jenner emerged from the motel room, the night was beginning to dissipate.
“Are you all right, brother?” Jenner’s hand was heavy on my shoulder. “I didn’t mean to hog the ladies.”
“Yes, you did.” I rose and clapped him on the back. “I’m fine. Can we go home now?”
“Ready when you are.”
“And the ladies?”
“Alive,” Jenner snickered. “I promise.”
His word was good enough for me. I was ready to leave. I walked away from the seedy motel without a backward glance.
Like I did every night before dawn, I drove by Alexa’s house on my way home. It was on the edge of town, surrounded by a cluster of trees and a cemetery. Not once had she been there. Which meant she was with him.
Again her car was absent from the driveway. Again I fought the urge to head straight for Sinclair’s house. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to leave him in a pile of dust and drag Alexa out of there against her will.
But that wouldn’t be love.
The need to control my twin flame was part of the conflict that ruled us. We belonged to each other. That’s what made it so hard to let her go.
“You’re a sucker for punishment, Arys. Why do you do this to yourself? Go get her.”
“I can’t. She’ll hate me for trying to control her. This is a choice she has to make.” Making Jenner or Shaz understand bordered on impossible. I was ready to give up trying.
When I turned onto my street to find Shaz’s car parked in front of my house, I knew that it was an argument I was about to have again. The young wolf sat on the front step, drinking one of the beers I’d begun keeping in the fridge for him. He’d been here a lot lately.
“Cutting it a bit close, aren’t you?” Shaz scanned the horizon. “I’ve been here over an hour now.”
The loud clink of beer bottles crashing against one another drew my gaze to the half a dozen empties piled around his feet. Just what I needed, a drunken werewolf with an attitude parked on my front porch.
“I’ve been doing this for over three hundred years, pup. I think I can handle it.” With a pointed glance toward the empty bottles, I added, “Do you think this is the best time for you to start drinking?”
“Start?” he echoed. “I started at dusk. I’m just finishing up now.”
A sniff in his direction confirmed that claim. The wolf stank of booze. I ushered him inside. I couldn’t very well leave him to wallow by himself in the bottom of a bottle.
Once inside I grabbed a can of coffee from the cupboard and tossed it at him. His reflexes were still sharp. He caught it without a fumble.
“Make some coffee,” I ordered. “Time to sober up. You’re a real ass when you drink.” The coffee was something I’d kept around for Alexa. It was the one addiction she’d claimed she would never give up. I scowled at the coffee can, hating it for being such a painful reminder.
“Oh yeah?” Shaz raised a brow and gave me a cocky grin. “So what’s your excuse? You’re an ass all the time.”
Jenner chuckled and held his hands up in surrender. “Don’t even get me started on that one. I’ll leave you two to antagonize one another. I’m hitting the shower.”
I waited until he’d gone into the bathroom and closed the door. Then I turned to Shaz, letting my serious concern show. “What the hell are you doing, Shaz? This is no time to be drinking your life away. You’re better than that.”
A sneer curled his lips. He shook his head and drained the last of the beer in his hand. “Don’t tell me how to cope, Arys. I know better than to take advice from someone who has done nothing but hide out at home drawing endless pictures of dragons and wolves. You’re not coping any better than I am.”
I frowned. He’d reacted pretty much how I’d expected him to. “It’s not a contest. You need to keep your shit together right now. Alexa needs you to do that.”
A sharp bark of laughter erupted from him. He slammed the empty bottle on the counter. “Alexa doesn’t give a shit about us anymore. If she did, she would be here.”
“That’s not true, and you know it. Alexa is going through the hardest time of her life. She needs you to be there for her when she’s ready. Don’t let her down.”
Our gazes locked, and there was a silent struggle between us. Shaz was so incredibly young and stubborn. Trying to tell him something was like bouncing my head off a brick wall. Painful and ultimately pointless.
“What about what I need? When does that matter? When she’s done fucking Kale?” Shaz’s green eyes became wolf. He clenched his fists, drawing my attention to the cuts and bruises adorning his knuckles. He’d been fighting too from the looks of it. If he’d come here to continue such activity, things might get interesting.
I had no answers for him. I wanted to smack him for saying such a thing though I had thought it myself. “That’s not how it is, Shaz. She died. Do you get that? Alexa died, and now she’s something that she doesn’t know how to be. Try to have some sympathy.”
His gaze dropped, and he studied the pattern on the linoleum as if it held some great secret. “Do you think they’re sleeping together?”
It was something I’d done my best to avoid thinking about. Picturing my wolf in Sinclair’s bed was enough to send me into a rage. It was dangerous. “Does it matter?” I tried to redirect the question rather than tell him what I really thought. He didn’t want to hear it. “The important thing is that she’s safe.”
“Wow,” Shaz said, running his hand through his hair as he often did when uncomfortable. “That is such a load of shit.”
“Shaz,” I warned. “Let’s not have this conversation again.”
“The sooner we go get Alexa, the sooner this conversation ends.” There was a hard set to his jaw. His wolf stared out at me, issuing a silent challenge.
But there was something else there, an unspoken need that shone in his eyes. Shaz’s pent up frustration was being fed by more than just emotional upset. It appeared to me that the wolf was hurting for a fix.
“What’s really going on with you, pup?” I leaned against the kitchen counter, pinning him with a fierce stare. I didn’t have to use power on him. He would talk.
“I just want to see Alexa. I’m tired of arguing with you about it. Tired of waiting for her to come home.”
“And?” I prompted.
Shaz paused. He wanted to tell me. I could feel it. He fought with himself until it finally spilled out. “I’m starting to feel like I need it again. The bite. Alexa’s bite.” Those dazzling wolf eyes gleamed with intrigue as he looked me over. “Or yours.”
Just as I’d suspected. “I thought you kicked that shit.”
“I did. It’s not like this with anyone else. It’s just Alexa. And you. You both feel the same.” Shaz was unapologetic. “This is the last thing I want to be saying to you right now. But it’s starting to get inside my head. Help me out here, Arys.”
There had been a time when I would have loved to hear him say that. The last time he’d come to me like this, I’d accepted the offer of his potent shifter blood. It had upset Alexa who’d made me promise I wouldn’t do it again without her being present.
“Shaz, you know I can’t help you with this. I made a promise to Alexa.”
“Yeah, well, she isn’t here. We don’t need her permission. God knows she doesn’t seem to need ours to do whatever it is she’s doing right now.” Anger emanated from him, a delicious scent that taunted me.
The sense of victory that filled me was wrong in all ways. That didn’t stop me from enjoying it though. Shaz had made me out to be his enemy many times in the past. Yet here he was standing in my house asking me to bleed him. Yeah, I was definitely enjoying that.
“You’re drunk. You don’t know what you’re asking for.” I nodded to the coffee can he’d abandoned on the counter. “Make some of that shit and come back down to earth.”
“I don’t want any,” he refused. “I know what I’m asking for. And I know that you’ve got to be trying pretty hard not to gloat in my face right now. So go right ahead. But don’t make me beg. Because that I will not fucking do.”
For a moment I half expected him to throw a punch at me. He’d done it before. But he just stood there staring at me with a challenge written all over his face.
I was faced with a decision. I could give Shaz what he asked for and bleed him with great joy. Or I could refuse. Refusal would mean forcing him to make a decision as well. Suffer or seek out relief in a place like The Wicked Kiss.
It was obvious to me which would cause greater upset to Alexa should she find out. Shaz’s dalliances at The Wicked Kiss had caused serious damage to their relationship. It was unlikely they would survive a repeat of that scenario.
“Fuck.” I slammed a fist down on the counter. “You’re forcing me into a pretty tough position here, you know.”
Shaz held his hands up and shrugged. “Too damn bad. Consider it payback. I’m sure I owe you. I’ve been put in some pretty tough positions because of you.”
I couldn’t argue there. The wolf pup had suffered much throughout the past year. Learning of my twin flame bond with Alexa had caused him undeserved pain. I was sure that it contributed in many ways to the recent changes in Shaz.
“You should never have let Alexa start feeding from you after you came back to town,” I said, accepting defeat.
“Probably not,” Shaz agreed. “But if we all did the things we should do and avoided those we shouldn’t, we wouldn’t be here right now. Would we?”
“Touché.” As an afterthought I added, “You really piss me off, you know that?”
He continued to stare at me with intense wolf eyes. All it did was remind me of Alexa, and I knew that’s what this was really about. Shaz and I reminded each other of her. It was only natural that we’d seek out comfort in one another. Tasting Shaz’s blood would be bittersweet. No doubt it would flash me back to the night I wished I could forget. I was going to do it anyway. It wasn’t in me to refuse such an offer.
Turning my back on Shaz, I entered the living room and took a seat at the end of the couch. The anticipation that gripped me as I watched him come to me was greater than any I’d experienced all night so far. His approach was slow, calculated. He might have been the one to ask for it, but he knew how this worked. Rushing it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable for either of us.
Wearing an expression that was somehow both cocky and nervous, Shaz sat on the opposite end of the couch.
“Let’s not make this any weirder than it has to be,” he said, facing me with expectation.
I suppressed the urge to laugh but just barely. I did, however, grace him with a broad, fang-revealing grin. “So no hand job?”
His pulse quickened ever so slightly. I could hear the pace of his heart, and if I concentrated, even the rush of blood through his veins. “Don’t even fucking joke about that.” A blush colored his cheeks, and he tensed. “I’m trusting you not to take advantage of me.”
“Settle down, pup. I didn’t say who would be giving the hand job. I’m sure we can work something out.” With a wink and a snicker, I moved fast, pasting him up against the arm of the couch.
It brought me great amusement to make Shaz squirm. It was so easy. His sudden apprehension tickled my appetite. The random strangers from earlier tonight had failed to arouse my bloodlust quite like the young werewolf did. Having a personal history with him made it that much more enticing.
Face to face, we stared into one another. My amusement faded. The musky wolf scent of Shaz reached inside me to a place where my best memories dwelled. It made me ache for the woman we both shared.
“Last chance to change your mind,” I said, but my gaze had fallen to his throat, and I had no intention of allowing him to make that call.
Shaz didn’t speak. He sat frozen but willing. I reached for him first with a gentle pulse of power. An invisible touch, it elicited the response I sought. Shaz’s breath quickened and he relaxed.
Just a few inches separated us. As close as we were, we didn’t touch. Not yet.
There was a brief space of time where I considered forcing my way into Alexa’s thoughts, making her watch this. It was a cruel idea but one that might encourage a response from her. I didn’t consider it for very long.
The energy flowed between Shaz and me. An erotically charged force, it wrapped him in a cloak of sensuality. If there’d been a shred of resistance left in him, it vanished then. He leaned forward in mesmerized wonder, entirely under the influence of my thrall.
I laid a hand on the side of his face, ensuring his gaze never slipped from mine. Then I slid it up into his hair where I grabbed a handful of soft platinum.
We were fantastically close. I could have kissed him without moving. At one time I had done just that. But it would only take things down a path Shaz was reluctant to walk. Forcing him was not an option. Despite what he might think, I had immense respect for him.