Cassie’s not having a good week. She’s tired of dealing with the mixed signals from her boyfriend and she’s attacked by a large dog. Then it gets worse. Said boyfriend is keeping secrets and possibly using her for his own ends and the dog that attacked her? Yeah, that was a werewolf and now she’s going to be howling at the next full moon.
Not only does she have to deal with a deranged werewolf, intent on killing her but she’s got her boyfriend’s father pushing them to mate. Did she mention her boyfriend was a werewolf too? It’s going to take all she’s got to handle these alpha men and get what she wants too. Things can only get better. Right?
If you missed Chapter Five, you can find it here.
Alex’s obvious acceptance to not press his case allowed her to breathe easier and the stranglehold on her defenses eased a fraction. She could do this.
“Beyond the obvious difference, being a werewolf isn’t much different than being human.” Alex gathered the dishes and carried them over to the sink.
“I’m assuming you’re referring to the ability to shift when you talk about ‘obvious’, but what about my senses and healing?” She stacked the rest of the dishes and joined him at the sink. Keeping her hands busy would stop her from jumping him.
How perverse was she that she wanted him more now that he’d agreed to abide by her rules? His turnaround only enforced the idea that he didn’t care. She was a means to an end. That thought was enough to push any amorous feelings out of her head. He’d already switched to lecture mode while she argued with her libido.
“Your amplified senses are a gift of the wolf. Just like natural wolves in the wild, your hearing, sense of smell and to some extent, your taste buds will be more developed, more sensitive. The healing is due to the increased metabolism.” He filled the sink with hot, soapy water and submerged the dirty dishes.
“Increased metabolism?” She nudged him aside and started washing dishes while he rinsed and dried them.
“I don’t know exactly how it works, but basically, your cells regenerate faster, healing your body faster than a human. It also causes you to age more slowly.”
“Wow, better than Oil of Olay.” Cassie grinned, relieved when she found an answering smile. Despite everything she’d learned, she hated the tension that lay like a thick cloud in the room between them. “So what else?”
“Let’s see…you’ll be stronger. Oh, and you can’t get sick now.” He put the clean dishes away and began to wipe the counters down.
She gave the sink a final swipe and turned to face him. “At all?”
“Nope. The virus or whatever doesn’t allow other viruses to take hold. It destroys them.”
She stared out the window for a few moments and let the silence fill the space between them. Could she ask him the question burning in her mind or should she find someone else? How would he take it? As an invitation? No, he knew how she felt. He would just think her curious about all the changes that had gone on in her body lately. It wasn’t an unreasonable request. Okay, here goes.
“Can I still have babies?” She heard Alex’s gasp and took a quick glimpse. He’d closed his eyes, pain creasing his brow. Probably should have waited to ask someone else. The fear that her dream of a family would be lost forever prompted the question, but now wasn’t the time. “Uh, never mind. I think I’m going to go lie down for a while.”
She hurried from the kitchen and up to her room, locking the door before lying on the bed. She wasn’t sure what Alex’s reaction to her last question meant, but it couldn’t be good. He looked as if he were in pain before she took off. She could only assume she couldn’t have children and that thought weighed on her heart, bringing more tears. She’d always wanted lots of kids, probably a by-product of growing up in the foster care system. For someone who never cried, she sure was making up for lost time.
Cassie decided to stop feeling sorry for herself. From this moment on, no more tears. So Alex didn’t love her. She’d already made plans to deal with that. She couldn’t have kids, but nothing was stopping her from adopting. She remembered what it felt like to be alone in the world – with no one wanting you. Being a werewolf didn’t seem like such a bad gig. She had better senses and was stronger now. She would learn to use that to her advantage and ensure she was never a victim again. Staying younger looking was a big bonus as was the healing. This could be a positive experience if she let it.
She thought about Alex’s behavior this morning. He acted as if she hadn’t overheard his plans to use her and wanted nothing to do with him. Her lids grew heavy and not even the swirling thoughts in her head could keep them open.
Cassie made her way downstairs again, too restless to stay put. Since it was near dinner time, she’d make herself useful and help with dinner.
At the foot of the stairs, she saw Alex and another man leave the study. His resemblance to Alex, as well as his voice, told her this was his father. They stopped when they saw her and Alex’s eyes lit up. His father’s gaze drilled into her. Her determination not to show weakness to this man was the only thing that allowed her to maintain eye contact with him. He was intimidating. All at once, his face lightened and he smiled, moving to stand in front of her.
“Cass, this is my father, Jackson Waters. Dad, this is Cassidy March.” Alex introduced them and stepped back.
Cassie held her breath for a moment, unsure of what would happen next.
Jackson Waters pulled her into a hug and kissed her on the cheek.
“You’re even lovelier than Alex described. Welcome to the Hill Clan and the Waters family, my dear. My Nila can’t wait to meet you.”
She jerked back from his embrace, unsure of how to react. Did he think she and Alex were still together, that they were getting married? A pang of unfulfilled dreams raced through her. “Uh, thank you.”
Alex clapped his father on the shoulder and winked at her. “Come on, Dad. You know Mom will be upset if you’re late to dinner.”
Jackson gave a rueful laugh. “Your mother certainly keeps me in line.” He tipped his head at Cassie. “Miss March, a pleasure.”
Alex herded his father out the front door, and Cassie made a break for the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and the air cooled the telltale heat of her blush. Why did she let him get to her? Pull yourself together, Cass.
Alex walked into the kitchen, and she whirled on him. “What was that all about, Alex?”
His eyes widened and his left eyebrow rose. “What was what?”
She blew her bangs out of her eyes. “That whole welcome to the family and the clan crap. What did you tell him?”
Hurt flashed in his dark chocolate gaze, but his expression closed almost immediately. She must have imagined it. After all, he’d have to actually care about her to be affected by anything she said to him.
Alex sighed. “I didn’t tell him anything, Cass. He knows you’re my mate and he assumed you had agreed to the claiming. As for the clan, every wolf in this area of Texas falls under my father’s rule unless they petition for lone wolf status.”
Cassie’s pounding heart slowed and the weight on her chest lifted. “Oh.” Could the floor open and swallow her whole?
Alex shook his head and turned to leave.
“I, uh, thought I’d make some dinner. Is that okay?” She chewed her bottom lip and glanced up at him through her lashes.
“Help yourself to whatever you want, Cass.” He walked out without another word.
The tension between them dissipated over dinner. They chatted lightly, laughed and joked. She sighed. It was almost like their dates, except now she knew his ulterior motives. Or did she? What was so important about her? Why didn’t he just find someone else now that she knew the truth? Better yet, why didn’t he choose a female werewolf at the start?
As dinner drew to a close, Alex sprung an unwelcome surprise. He explained the inner circle and told her about the meeting with them. His father’s advisors had decided to send out a hunting party to find the rogue.
“We’ll be leaving in the morning so I won’t be here when you get up.”
They were back at the sink, her washing and him drying. She stopped and stared at him until he glanced up.
“What?” He looked perplexed, and she clutched the counter.
“I’m going to be here alone? What if the guy shows up here?” She loosened her grip and scrubbed the pot, trying to keep her hands busy so he couldn’t see them shake. Her heart pounded in her chest.
“Don’t worry, Cass. There will be a couple of guards outside the whole time I’m gone. If he’s dumb enough to show up here, we’ll get him.” He must have noticed her shivering because he pulled her into his arms.
“I promise he won’t get near you. I don’t take chances when it comes to your safety.” He tilted her chin up, staring into her eyes. “Okay?”
Cassie nodded slightly, unable to look away. Her throat closed around a lump as Alex lowered his mouth to hers. His lips whispered against hers like butterfly wings. When she didn’t pull away, he ran his tongue across her bottom lip. Her heart stuttered at the sweetness of the kiss. She knew this wasn’t smart, but the little shocks exploding from his touch ricocheted through her, scrambling her brains and any good sense she might have once had.
He nipped and nibbled until she gasped. He slid inside, tasting all of her. She slipped her hands around his neck with a moan. His hands skimmed down to her buttocks and he pulled her up against him. The evidence of his arousal pressing into her belly broke through the sensual fog enveloping her and she pulled back. She couldn’t do this. Not like this.
“Cass…” Alex reached for her.
She spun around and ran for the safety of her room. Long after returning to her room, Cassie lay awake. She put her fingers against her lips and replayed that kiss. Her emotions zinged from one extreme to the other. All the time she and Alex were dating, he’d never kissed her like that. True, he’d said he wanted to tell her about himself first, but could she trust that?
Then there were the conditions of her remaining here. She was only staying until they caught this rogue. If she gave up any more of her heart, she’d never be able to put it back together when this was over. But was it already too late?
Please return on October 5th for Chapter 7 of Power Play.
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Copyright © 2011 Riley Quinn
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.