Well, enough people responded and conned me into a third full moon post…so you’ve been GOOD AND MOONED now. Okay, if you’ve figured out what is odd about this story…go ahead and out it in the comments. (If you didn’t already know!) Something is missing…. If no one figures it out, I’ll give a hint. Wait, I’ll give you one anyway because it’s funny. This omission wasn’t intentional until around part five.
The Cold and Lovely Moon X
This was never going to work. I never should have told him I could hot-wire a car. I mean, sure, in diagrams and on paper, I was amazing. I could freaking blow your mind with all my theoretical skills. They might turn out to be as good as my swimming…in practice.
“We’re sure we need to do this?” I asked.
Since he’d come back to the cave, all our conversation had been stilted and flat. “Yes. Our clan is one hundred and twenty miles away. We won’t reach them in time if we have to go all that way on foot. And while you seem to be weighing out inconveniencing every living thing we come across, I’d rather not have two dozen people I care about slaughtered or captured and used for testing.”
Okay, that was it! That was freaking it! I can only put up with so much crap, and the fact he was implying I was blowing off people he’d only vaguely referenced… Well, maybe if he felt like sharing information with his inferiors, I’d be on the same page with him. Either way, I was so freaking done.
“Tiberius! You are an ass!”
And when he turned to respond, I gut punched him. He recovered faster than any guy I’d ever punched before. And then he swept my legs with his foot, and I ended up on my back. Again. This time he was on top of me, and his eyes were livid as they stared into mine.
“You said you wouldn’t do that again!” I hissed.
“No, I said that next time you found yourself on your back it would be for a different reason.”
Oh, he had said that.
And then I did something that will literally—and I know how to use the word literally—be remembered as one of the dumbest things I’ve ever, ever done. I slammed my forehead into his. He’d done it that first night, and it had looked effective. I’d failed to take into account that apparently we had much stronger skulls or a higher pain tolerance as dark beasts…or maybe he hadn’t intended to crush my skull with his like I did.
“Holy shite.” He rolled off me clutching his head while I pulled my hands up to hold mine together.
I’d shattered my skull. I was pretty sure.
Tiberius squinted against the pain, and his mouth was screwed up in a scowl like he was desperately trying to pretend that hadn’t hurt. “That, woman, was fighting dirty. Next time, just kick me in my junk and be done with it.”
Maybe next time I’d just do both…no, not both, I was never head-butting anyone ever again. “I want to hurl.”
“What do you mean good? It’s your fault.” I pressed my hands against my skull. I might have brain damage. “If you’d quit acting like I’m beneath you…”
“Trust me, I may never want you beneath me again.”
I rolled onto my side, away from him. This seemed to be my new way of dealing with him. “You’ve told me nothing about this clan up until now…ow…how do you have such a hard head? I think you gave me a concussion.”
“You gave yourself a concussion.” He sounded a lot less angry. He shouldn’t. I didn’t.
“Ow. How am I supposed to magically know what’s important if you only tell me what you feel your pet dog deserves to know?”
“I’m not treating you like a dog!” he roared.
I spun back around. I was still seeing double, but rage vision was a bit unclear anyway. “You are! You’ve given me food, somewhere to sleep, and you expect me to trot along behind you boosting your ego! The only difference really is that I think you’d call your dog by name, not just call it dog!” And then I dove at him, intending to do…something…I hadn’t really clarified my plan of action. I punched and kicked and hoped something would injure him enough that I’d stop feeling hurt and meaningless.
He rolled and pinned me beneath him again. He was still wincing and he said slowly, “Don’t you dare head-butt me again, or I will not be responsible for my actions.”
I glared at him and considered spitting in his face. Of course I wasn’t going to head-butt him. I’d never even think of that as a plausible form of action ever again—even if it was life or death.
Then, just as slowly, he said, “There are twenty-six members in our clan. They are gathered where I was taken because that is where we go during this time. I’m sure they’ve realized I’m missing, but they won’t know why. We need to get there and warn them that our gathering land is no longer safe. If you are still with me—which is your choice—I will introduce you as my mate at that time and, I assure you, no one will see you as a pet, and that is not how I see you. If you are with me, I will expect you to respect my authority so that the clan will lend weight to my concerns. They’ve used that as gathering land for several centuries and if you treat me as weak, they will…” He winced and then opened his eyes wider and shook his head. “Damn, you’re as hardheaded as you look. If you treat me as weak, they will assume I was taken because I am likewise weak. You may not like it, but it is our way.”
“Are you in charge of this clan?”
He shook his head and then winced again. Yeah, I wouldn’t be shaking my head either. “No one is. We lead the family we create. We only come together during this time. I know very little of their lives outside of this phase of the moon.”
“What do you mean the family you create?”
“Only males are born to dark beast females. An adult male will find a mate and then turn her into one of our kind if she is worthy.”
He tilted his head. “It’s obviously permanent, and we have to be sure they’ll keep our secret and not just run like hell after the first phase.”
I sighed and looked away. He’d sort of gotten stuck with me. And I was thinking of running like hell already. But, to be fair, there was a lot more going on here, and he was behaving like an ass and that couldn’t be undervalued.
He dropped his face down into my neck and inhaled deeply. “Normally, she is allowed to choose. Possibly that’s why most are so much less obstinate than you.” And then, just as he had that first night, he dragged his tongue up my neck. “I should feel guilty,” he whispered. His breath tickled my ear—in a way that sure wasn’t making me laugh.
“Mmm. About what?”
“That you didn’t have a choice. But I suspect there’d be no way I could have talked you into it—even if I’d begged, and I’d rather not ever beg. I think the only way I’d have gotten you—the perfect wild thing to match me—is trapping you. So I feel like a lucky bastard—especially since I didn’t have to take the blame for it.”
I laughed right up until he bit my neck, and then I tried to wrap myself around him. “Lucky now or about to get lucky?”
“Well, we did discuss there’d be repercussions.”
I looked around. We were near the parking lot for this trail, and I could feel about three dozen squirrels watching us.
He grinned against my neck—the guy had some kind of mind reading skills. Actually, considering we were all off-the-map “thar be monsters here” creatures I should probably make sure he couldn’t read my mind. He kissed a line up my neck. The rub of his beard against my skin sent tingles buzzing through me.
Oh who cared about squirrels? They’d probably be impressed anyway. “Okay, but I’m still holding out for you to say my name.”
“Are you?” he whispered in my ear. “Remember I can smell arousal on you.”
“Yes.” Theoretically. Then, I turned my head and caught his mouth with mine. I like to send mixed messages. It really keeps guys off-balance.
Tiberius has the hottest mouth and the fact that he kisses softly revs me up and makes my whole body scream “more” and “harder” and “now.”
“Mmm.” He pulled back. His thumbs brushed the hair from my face as he said, “We don’t have time to make you screw your edict.”
“I’m not going to.” I sounded breathless and half-way there as I said it.
He raised his eyebrows. “We have to get to the clan before tonight. It’s a big gathering land, but if they’re using infra-red, it won’t be big enough.”
“You know if you’d told me any of this before…neither of us would be craving a couple of ibuprofen and a grave to crawl into.”
“They say sex is good for headaches,” he said, getting to his feet and holding out a hand.
“Is that so? Not the male sex—I know that much.” I let him pull me to my feet.
“Well, next time I have you on your back maybe I’ll show you just what the male sex is good for.”
“You pull that sweeping my legs thing again, and it’ll be target practice.”
We exited the trail into the parking lot. Wow, we’d been a little too close to be rolling around on the ground like that. Even if there were only two SUVs parked there, it was a bit friendly to be moaning out his name within earshot—especially since he’d probably still be calling me “woman.”
I took a deep breath as I examined my two options. It was about time to put this theoretical knowledge to the test, and I was the tiniest bit terrified that it would only work theoretically.
“That one,” Tiberius said, pointing at one of the SUVs. “They were here this morning, and their gear had enough supplies for several days as well as a tent.” He rubbed a hand across his beard. “Though, they’re now missing a razor and a day’s worth of clothes, but I doubt that’ll impact how long they stay out. I would have grabbed shoes if I didn’t think they’d miss them, but you’re used to being without shoes now at least.”
“Is that why you told me only idiots wear shoes while running right after I arrived?” He’d totally shamed me into running without shoes all this time. My feet felt a little sore from yesterday’s running; though, my skin did feel tougher—more resistant to injury—it was probably from the creature blood, not from running for two weeks without shoes.
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to track down shoes that fit every day? Hell, it’s hard enough finding clothes, but I figured you weren’t ready to give that up during our days in the creature phase. On the other hand, hopefully we don’t have to stop anywhere for anything because not having shoes will draw attention to us.”
When I stood there staring at the SUV, he shoved me lightly.
“What? I thought maybe you needed a push.”
“You’re lucky I didn’t push you back.”
“No, then we’d be back on the ground, and we’d both be getting lucky.” His lips twitched in an almost smile. “But we don’t have time for that.”
“Shut up.” He was in a much better mood now that I wasn’t plotting our break-up. I swallowed thickly and took a few steps toward the SUV. I could do this. I could do this. A few steps later, I was beside the sky blue gas-guzzler. And then I crouched and looked in the wheel well.
“What are you doing?”
“One of my fellow prisoners, the chick who taught me how to hot-wire, said that you can count on people to be stupid and lazy. It’s the one constant. Always assume they’re stupid and lazy before you assume they’re geniuses who never cut corners…because even geniuses can be stupid and most geniuses won’t want to call someone to let them into their car and admit to being stupid.” I reached under, felt around, and grabbed the little box. “Hell am I grateful for stupid and lazy people.” Opening up the magnetic box, I upended it, and the silver key fell into my hand. “Plus, if they’re regular hikers, they won’t want to worry about losing their key in the middle of nowhere and being stranded out here.”
“It’s nice of us to take losing the key out of the equation,” he said, grabbing the key from my hand. “Someday, I still might make you hot-wire something…just so I can watch.”
“You like to watch, do you?” I should have known he’d want to drive. Hopefully there was enough gas to get us to where he wanted because, as he said, neither of us was wearing shoes. Besides, I’d left my wallet in my other pants…the ones being held at the penitentiary along with some lip gloss and some gum I probably wouldn’t have wanted again anyway.
“Generally, I’m more of a doer, but if you have something you’d like to show me, I’m game to watch. I even enjoyed watching you run on the treadmill. Though there was the added excitement of it being death-defying.”
“Shut up,” I said, getting in the passenger side. “Oh, hey, gum! Now we’re ready for a road trip.”
Copyright © 2013 by Wendy Sparrow
*drags serial back to the until-the-next-full-moon vault*
But, hey, come back here because I promise you…well, two things. First, this giveaway will blow your mind. Second… : ) I have a cover reveal. That’s right!
I HAVE A COVER REVEAL!
For what novella you ask???
For the novella that we couldn’t find a non-erotica title for at first. (Yes, I’ll tell you the original title so you can Google it.)
Wait, which novella is that, Wendy?
The contemporary romance novella that is coming out next week.
Say what? You have a novella out next week?
I didn’t want to throw it out there just in case the pub date changed.
So, yeah, it’s that novella. You’ll want to come back here frequently…crap, you might as well just subscribe…because, like a ninja, I WILL REVEAL THAT COVER!
Oh, and comment below. This one was sexy. You owe me a comment. (Wow, that sounds dirty. But still….)