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Chapter Three


Slipping Through my Fingers

I’m not in my bed, was Gwen’s first thought as she slowly returned to consciousness.

She blinked carefully, trying to regain a sense of her surroundings. The routine was fairly normal for her, as was waking up groggy and disorientated. It was simply a hazard of living with her curse. She wiggled her fingers and toes checking to see if she’d done herself any damage and sighed in relief when she felt nothing but a dull throbbing in the side of her neck. Her investigation did however reveal that she was naked and not in bed alone. Her questing fingers came into contact with hot, hard, clearly male skin that was equally naked. Never in all of her years had she woken naked in a man’s bed and she was immediately intrigued.

Moving was difficult because of the heavy arms that were keeping her warm but she managed to turn within the man’s arms. She sucked in a ragged breath when she saw the virile specimen of masculinity that was holding her captive against his chest. There was nothing soft about the man whose bed she now shared. His jaw was strong, chiselled and covered in a light coat of dark hair. The stubbled hair covering his cheeks only served to highlight his lips. Firm, wide and designed to give a woman pleasure. His brows were thick; dark slashes over closed eyes with equally dark lashes that fluttered against his skin. A lethal looking scar ran over his left eye making his harsh face seem deadly. He’d shaved the hair from his head leaving only the shortest of stubbled inky black bristles against his scalp. Her search broadened to examine the rest of his body and she found herself becoming short of breath. His skin was covered in a mass of ancient scars but it was the layers of sinewy muscle that caught her attention. His arms bulged even in the relaxed state of sleep and when she moved her legs over his, thankfully, covered thighs she found she could barely wrap her legs around them.

He’s dangerous, was her first coherent thought.

Her heart was racing, her body tingling with the seeds of desire and as she moved against him she felt the seeds begin to blossom, her nipples hardening and her sex becoming damp with desire. It was when she unconsciously undulated her hips against his that she realised he wasn’t simply dangerous because of the damage he could cause her physically but the potential damage he could cause her in other, non physical ways. Never in her adult life had Gwen felt lust or desire but this man, who hadn’t even tried, was affecting her in ways she hadn’t thought possible. As he rocked his hips against hers she felt an undeniable sense of connection with the stranger who shared her bed. Even though she didn’t know him, it somehow felt right to be here with him. Her mind immediately rebelled against the link she felt, knowing that with her curse, it was impossible to have a relationship with anyone and thankfully she’d never wanted to try. This stranger had the potential to change everything.

Stay, Anila whispered softly. Stay here where it’s warm. Stay with him.

The lessons her parents had taught her as a child rarely stuck but there was one thing she’d never forgotten. Do not listen to Anila’s advice. While the spirit was her best and dearest friend she would have her floating aimlessly for eternity if she could manage it. Anila’s advice was never based on malice but the spirit had no sense of responsibility and if Gwen listened to what she had to say she feared she would lose herself. She knew that she was different to other air elementals but her ability to hold on to thoughts and maintain conversations had improved by leaps and bounds since those early days when she had first discovered that she was destined to house Anila. She wouldn’t go back to that time.

I need to get out of here.

Closing her eyes she tried to draw on her power and make her body dematerialise into minute air particles so that she could escape his iron grip. Her power slipped through her fingers and her body stayed stubbornly solid. A frown marred her brow and she reached for her power again but the result was the same. Casting a look out of the closed window she tried to stir the wind and it reacted easily to her desires. Once more she tried to slip out of Nicholas’ arms but her body refused to do as she wanted.

Anila, stop this now. I need to get out of here.

I’m not doing anything, the sprit protested. I sw– Her words faded as she disappeared from Gwen’s thoughts. Though the spirit’s disappearance was annoying Gwen held no ill will against her. Anila was even less capable of staying on course than she was and hadn’t improved since the first day they’d met. She was also incapable of telling a lie. If the spirit said she had nothing to do with her powers not working then she meant it.

Her eyes widened when Nicholas moved, grinding his hardening shaft against her. Resisting the strange urge to moan and rock back against him, she stayed still as stone and waited for the moment to pass. He rolled so that she was beneath him and lay still against her. His shaft hardened further and she wasn’t able to suppress the moan of pleasure or stop her heart from racing at the daunting dimensions he was growing to.

She heard the bed creak and cursed. Looking away from Nicholas she twisted her head over the edge of the bed and cursed again when she realised the bed wasn’t flat on the ground.

I really need to get away from him now.

Her attempts to be free were significantly hampered by the heavy weight atop her chest that was keeping her in place and when the creaking became louder she knew she wouldn’t get away in time. Bracing herself for the impact she wrapped her legs around Nicholas’ waist as best she could, throwing her head back in pleasured torment when her sensitive and exposed flesh was pressed firmly against Nicholas’ hardness. Wrapping her arms around his neck she braced herself against the oncoming impact. The bed gave way with a resounding crash, forcing the air from both their lungs when they hit the ground. Nicholas woke with a jolt his body automatically on the defensive remembering the fragile creature he’d taken to bed that night.

“Gwen!” he called, his eyes still closed.

“I’m right here,” she murmured softly.

His eyes opened and he was met with eyes the most unique shade of blue he’d ever seen, eyes a man could drown himself in. Eyes he felt himself drowning happily in. There wasn’t a measure of shock on her beautiful face; nothing marred her features but a bemused smile and a red flush to her pale cheeks. She moved then, lowering herself to the mattress and taking the delicious curves of her body away from him. He growled softly, unhappy with the new arrangement until he lowered himself against her. His angry growl turned into a contented purr.

Gwen’s quickly beating heart had raced into overdrive when Nicholas had opened his eyes to reveal stunning grey eyes, so pale that they were almost white. She’d witnessed briefly the desire that was in his gaze and it had petrified her. I really need to get out of here now, she decided. Keeping her eyes averted from the pools of stunning grey Gwen quickly assessed the damage she’d wrought.

“Sorry about the bed,” she murmured. “Thankfully nothing else is broken.”

Nicholas looked down and noticed the collapsed frame that they were laying on. “What happened?”

“Life happened.” His proximity was really beginning to affect her, her blood was rushing around her body and she was certain her cheeks were red. “Would you mind letting me go now that you’re awake? My family must be looking for me.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” he growled.

She was stunned by the force of his words and could only manage to squeak in response, “I’m not?”

Nicholas’ brows furrowed in confusion. There was something peculiar about his mate she wasn’t acting in any way like he’d thought she would. “No. You’re staying here with me.”

This bed is huge, she mused. But it’s fitting I suppose for a man that’s built like a small mountain. Realising that she was letting her mind wander she scowled inwardly and forced herself to focus on the problem at hand. “Why?”

“Because you’re my mate. Lycan mates don’t separate. Ever.”

“Oh.” This could be difficult.

She remembered the conversation she’d had with her sisters on the way to the lycans and knew that he was being completely serious. Despite the fact that she was a complete stranger to him and she didn’t even know his name, he thought they belonged together. Some people however, weren’t meant for relationships and she was one of them. Any man that thought to be with her was putting his life at risk. She wouldn’t be responsible for anyone’s death. Wide blue eyes moved around the room slowly, silently evaluating the different things that could go wrong in the space. Her room at home had been changed to minimise the damage she could do while in the space but Nicholas’ room was a disaster waiting to happen.

“I really think it would be best if you let me go. Staying with me won’t end well for you.”

“What does that mean?” he demanded. “Are you going to try and kill me?”

“Not actively no.”

More and more confusing by the minute. Rather than being frustrated with his mate’s confusing answers he found himself smiling. “So you’re not going to try to hurt me.”

“No but it’ll happen whether I try or not.”

He smiled a feral grin. “You don’t seem to realise who you’ve mated. I’m beta to the lycans, there’s very little out there that can hurt me and if it means keeping you with me I can endure the pain long enough to kill whatever it is that’s trying to interfere in our lives together. We’re mated, nothing is going to take you from me and you’re not going to leave me. The sooner you understand that the better.”

Now I’ve definitely got to get out of here. She sighed, “Well don’t say I didn’t warn you. Where are we?” she asked, her eyes wandering about the room.

Ignoring her question, Nicholas watched her carefully for a few minutes before confessing. “You’re not what I was expecting in a mate.”

“Disappointed?”

A deep chuckle spilled from his lips, softening his features and enthralling Gwen with the softness that laughter brought to his hard face. “No. You’re my mate, how could I be disappointed with you?”

Lycans really know what to say to a girl…still, it doesn’t change the fact that I need to get out of here. “That’s nice to know.”

“You’re taking this all surprisingly well.”

I should be, I’m not going to be here for long. “There’s no point in worrying over something I can’t change. If you say you’re my mate then there’s nothing I can do about that.” Except leave. “Should I be hysterical?”

“No, that wouldn’t solve anything. Most people in your position would panic but not you.” He inhaled deeply, taking her scent into his lungs and smiling a predator’s smile. “Not you, you’re aroused.” Her face flushed even further at his stark assessment. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he purred, his head moving closer and closer. “The things your scent is doing to me…you should be proud.”

His intent was clear and Gwen’s heart went into overdrive, pounding against her chest so hard she thought for a moment it would escape. He was a hair’s breath away from her soft skin before she managed to gather the courage and coherence to speak. “I think you’re planning to kiss me.”

“I am,” he stated simply. “I should know what my mate tastes like.”

As he spoke his eyes darkened, the almost white grey morphing into a glowing ice blue. Enthralled by the transition, Gwen didn’t manage to put her hands up until it was almost too late. His lips were so close that she could almost feel them against hers when she next spoke.

“You can’t really intend to kiss a woman whose name you don’t even know.”

“I know your name Gwen.”

I forgot he called my name when he woke up… Her thoughts were beginning to slip out of her grasp, anticipation making her mind even more clouded. Focus! she snapped at herself. I can’t let him kiss me, then he really will think he has a right to me. “But I don’t know yours,” she responded breathlessly.

“Nicholas.”

“Nicholas,” she murmured experimentally. His name suited him she decided, strong and determined.

Groaning, Nicholas closed his eyes to savour the simple sound of his name on her lips. He could easily imagine her calling out to him in the throws of passion, his name the only thing she could remember as he thrust into the soft, giving warmth of her body. Her hands pressed against his chest were the only things separating him from her lips and he lowered his heavy body down further trying to get them to move. She stubbornly refusing to move, keeping her lips away from him but she hadn’t counted on a lycan’s determination especially when it came to their mate. He was going to kiss her this morning, nothing was going to change that fact and the sooner she accepted the truth of those words the happier she would be.

Not a word of protest left her lips but she twisted her head, moving her lips away from his and exposing the red, abused skin on her neck. The sight of the vampire’s mark against her pale skin had his fangs threatening to erupt in his mouth. A vampire had tasted his mate while he was being denied the privilege. He lowered himself further determined to make her submit to him. He could see desire in the depths of her blue eyes and he could smell her body readying to receive his. She wanted this as much as he did.

It was hard to believe that at one point that morning Gwen had thought of Nicholas’ heavy body atop hers as pleasurable. Now, as he surrendered more of his heavy weight to her small frame she was beginning to feel suffocated. Her hands were being forced to bend in uncomfortable ways and unable to silently bear the pain any longer she gave out a small cry. Just as quickly as the weight had come it disappeared. Nicholas was no longer atop her but beside her in an instant.

“What’s the matter?” he demanded, his ice blue eyes wandering over her frame, studying her body intently.

Stunned by the abrupt change in demeanour, it took Gwen a moment to realise that he’d given her the perfect opportunity to escape. She was out of the bed in a flash uncaring of her naked body.

Stunned by the beautiful perfection of her small body, Nicholas simply sat and stared. His eyes wandered up her shapely calves to her soft thighs, his mouth watering when he saw the downy patch of soft blonde hair that guarded her femininity from him. He noted with pleasure the gentle curves of her hips before wandering further up her body to her breasts. A little smaller than a handful and topped with cherry red nipples that had hardened into straining peaks. His shaft went from being semi hard to rock solid in an instant leaving him light headed and reaching out to her. He could never be satisfied with a simple kiss now. He had to have all of her.

Heavens above, Gwen prayed. Please work this time. She reached for her powers and sighed heavily in relief when they stayed within her grasp. Her body began to dematerialise leaving Nicholas clutching at air.

“Sorry Nicholas but I really can’t be your mate. I’m looking out for you.”

The whispered words served only to anger Nicholas and he jumped from the bed, scanning the room desperately for any sign of her. When he found nothing, he let out an unearthly howl that lycans throughout the village heard. Every lycan that heard their beta’s desperate howl shivered in fear wondering who had managed to anger their second in command to such an extent and how they were going to avoid the fallout.

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