Home > On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(6)

On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(6)
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She waited, but it seemed to get worse rather than better.

His eyes snapped open and his cold yellow gaze pinned her against the wall where she sat as he uncoiled and prowled across the room.

Her pulse jumped unsteadily and she bowed her head, curling up to be smaller. She felt rather than saw him crouch in front of her. His hands when they cupped her face were so hot she flinched  -  and regretted it when he growled.

He dropped to his knees, nuzzling against her neck, then rested his body, now taut as iron, against hers, trapping her between him and the wall. He put his hands on the wall, one to each side of her, and then quit moving. His breath was hot on her neck.

She sat as still as she could, terrified of doing anything that might break his control. But there was something about him that kept her from being truly scared, something that insisted he wouldn't hurt her. That he never would hurt her.

Which was stupid. All the dominants hurt those beneath them. She'd had that beaten into her more than once. Just because she could heal quickly didn't make getting hurt pleasant. But no matter how much she told herself she ought to be frightened of him, a dominant among dominants, a strange man she'd never seen before last night (or, more accurately, very early this morning), she couldn't.

Though he smelled of anger, he also smelled like spring rain, wolf, and man. She closed her eyes and quit fighting, letting the sweet-sharpness of his scent wash away the fear and anger aroused by telling this man about the worst thing that ever happened to her.

As soon as she relaxed he did as well. His rigid muscles loosened and his imprisoning arms slid down the wall to rest lightly on her shoulders.

After a while, he pulled away slowly, but stayed crouched so his head was only slightly higher than hers. He put a gentle thumb under her chin and raised her head until she gazed into his dark eyes. She had the sudden feeling that if she could look into those eyes for the rest of her life, she would be happy. It scared her a lot more than his anger had.

"Are you doing something to me to make me feel like this?" She asked the question before she had time to censor herself.

He didn't ask her how he made her feel. Instead, he tilted his head, a wolflike gesture, but kept eye contact, though there was no challenge in his scent. Instead, she had the impression he was almost as bewildered as she was. "I don't think so. Certainly not on purpose."

He cupped her face in both of his hands. They were large hands, and calloused, and they trembled just a little. He bent down until his chin rested on the top of her head. "I've never felt this way before either."

He could have stayed there forever, despite the discomfort of kneeling on the hardwood floor. He'd never felt anything like this  -  certainly not with a woman he'd known less than twenty-four hours. He didn't know how to deal with it, didn't want to deal with it, and  -  most unlike himself  -  was willing to put off dealing with it indefinitely as long as he could spend the time with her body against his.

Of course there was something he'd rather do, but if he wasn't mistaken there was someone else coming up the stairs. Four flights of stairs were, evidently, not enough to keep intruders away. He closed his eyes and let his wolf-brother sort through the scents and identify their newest visitor.

There was a knock at the door.

Anna jerked back out of his hold, sucking in her breath. Part of him was pleased that he'd managed to distract her so much that she hadn't noticed anything until then. Part of him worried at her vulnerability.

Reluctantly, he stood up and put a little distance between them. "Come in, Isabelle."

The door opened and Leo's mate stuck her head in. She took a good look at Anna and grinned mischievously. "Interrupting something interesting?"

He'd always liked Isabelle, though he'd tried hard not to show it. As his father's executioner, he'd long ago learned not to get close to anyone he might someday have to kill  -  which made his circle of friends very small: his father and his brother for the most part.

Anna stood up and returned Isabelle's smile with a shy one of her own, though he could tell she was still shaken. To his surprise, though, she said, "Yes. There was something very interesting going on. Come in anyway."

Once the invitation had been issued, Isabelle blew in like the March wind, as she usually did, simultaneously shutting the door and holding out a hand to Charles. "Charles, it is so good to see you."

He took her hand and bowed over it, kissing it lightly. It smelled of cinnamon and cloves. He'd forgotten that about her, that she used perfume with an eye toward the sharpness of werewolf senses. Just strong enough to mask herself and so give her some protection from the sharp noses of her fellow wolves. Unless she was extremely agitated, no one could tell how she felt from her scent.

"You look beautiful," he said, as he knew she expected. It was true enough.

"I should be looking a nervous wreck," she said, running the hand Charles had kissed through her airy, feathery cut hair that, combined with her fine features, made her look like a fairy princess. She was shorter than Anna and finer-boned, but Charles had never made the mistake of thinking of her as fragile. "Justin came boiling in with some nonsense about a meeting tonight. He was all but incoherent  -  why did you enrage the boy like that?  -  and I told Leo I'd drop by to see what you were doing."

This was why he didn't make friends.

"Leo received my message?" Charles asked.

She nodded. "And looked quite frightened, which is not a good look for him, as I told him." She leaned forward and put a too-familiar hand on his arm. "What has brought you to our territory, Charles?"

He stepped back. He didn't much like to touch or be touched  -  though he seemed to have largely forgotten that while he was around Anna.

His Anna.

Forcefully he brought his attention back to business. "I have come to meet with Leo tonight."

Isabelle's usually cheerful face hardened, and he waited for her to blow up at him. Isabelle was as famous for her temper as she was for her charisma. She was one of the few people to blow up in the Marrok's face and get away with it  -  Charles's father liked Isabelle, too.

But she didn't say anything more to him. Instead she turned her head to glance at Anna, whom, he suddenly realized, she'd been pointedly ignoring up to that point. When she returned her gaze to Charles, she began speaking, but not to him.

"What tales have you been carrying, Anna, my dear? Complaining about your place in the pack? Choose a mate, if you don't like it. I've told you that before. Justin would take you, I'm sure." There was no venom in her voice. Maybe if Charles hadn't already met Justin, he'd have missed the way Anna's face paled. Maybe he wouldn't have heard the threat.

Anna didn't say anything.

Isabelle continued to stare at Charles, though she was careful to keep from meeting his eyes. He thought she was studying his reactions, but he knew that his face gave nothing away  -  he'd been prepared for the way his brother wolf surged up in anger to defend Anna this time.

"Are you sleeping with him?" Isabelle asked. "He's a good lover, isn't he?"

Though Isabelle was mated, she had a wandering eye and Leo let her indulge herself as she pleased, a situation almost unique among werewolves. That didn't mean she wasn't jealous; Leo couldn't so much as look at another woman. Charles always felt it was an odd relationship, but it had worked for them for a long time. When she'd made a play for him a few years ago, he'd allowed himself to be caught, knowing that there was nothing serious about her offer. He hadn't been surprised when she'd tried to get him to talk his father into letting Leo expand his territory. She had taken his refusal in good humor, though.

The sex had meant nothing to either of them  -  but it meant something to Anna. He'd have had to be human to miss the hurt and mistrust in her eyes at Isabelle's thrust.

"Play nicely, Isabelle," he told her, abruptly impatient. He put a little force in his voice as he said, "Go home and tell Leo I'll talk to him tonight."

Her eyes lit with rage and she drew herself up.

"I am not my father," he said softly. "You don't want to try the shrew act with me."

Fear cooled her temper  -  and his, too, for that matter. Her perfume might have hid her scent, but it didn't hide her eyes or her clenched hands. He didn't enjoy frightening people  -  not usually.

"Go home, Isabelle. You'll have to swallow your curiosity until then."

He shut the door gently behind her and stared at it for a moment, reluctant to face Anna  -  though he had no idea why he should feel so guilty for doing something long before he'd ever met her.

"Are you going to kill her?"

He looked at Anna then, unable to tell what she thought about it. "I don't know."

Anna bit her lip. "She has been kind to me."

Kind? As far as he could tell kindness had been pretty far from anything that had happened to Anna since her Change. But the worry in her face had him swallowing his sharp reply.

"There is something odd going on in Leo's pack," was all he said. "I'll find out exactly what it is tonight."

"How?"

"I'll ask them," he told her. "They know better than to think they can lie to me  -  and refusal to answer my questions, or refusal to meet with me is admitting guilt."

She looked puzzled. "Why couldn't they lie to you?"

He tapped a finger on her nose. "Smelling a lie is pretty easy, unless you are dealing with someone who cannot tell truth from lie, but there are other ways to detect them."

Her stomach growled.

"Enough of this," he said, deciding it was time to feed her up a little. A bagel was not enough. "Get your coat."

He didn't want to take the car into the Loop, where it would be difficult to find parking, because his temper was too uncertain around her. He couldn't talk her into a taxi, which was a new experience for him  -  not many people refused to listen when he told them what to do. But then, she was an Omega, and not constrained by an instinctive need to obey a more dominant wolf. With an inward sigh, he followed her down a few blocks to the nearest L station.

   
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