Her hand tightened on the gun as regret filled her eyes.
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking I’ll fall at your feet as the women who fill your life do,” she snapped,
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her shoulders straightening, which only pressed her br**sts tighter against her shirt, her ni**les clearly revealed beneath it. Hard, pointed tips he would give his left nut to taste. Well, maybe not a nut, but damned near anything else.
“I’d be disappointed if you did, sweetheart.” He braced his arm over his upraised knee as he fought to maintain a relaxed, calm demeanor. Now wasn’t the time to spook her. He wanted her off balance, not running from him. “I’m merely stating the obvious. You said I was watching you like a bug under a microscope. I’m actually watching you like the very beautiful woman you are, nothing more.”
“I’m an animal. One it would pay you to be wary of,” she snarled, flashing those wickedly sharp teeth again.
Son of a bitch cock, it flexed painfully, more interested than it should have been. His eyes went over her again.
“You guys have a thing about being animals, don’t you?” he stated then. “I’ve heard that comment several times this week. If that’s what you truly believe, then why the hell are you trying to mix with the rest of us? Where’s the closest pen, Dawn, I’ll help you lock yourself in.”
He was pushing, he knew was, and he couldn’t help it. It infuriated him to hear her describe herself in such a way, to see the belief flashing in her eyes. It enraged him to remember how the belief had been beaten into her. As a child, nothing more, raped by Council soldiers, jeered at, forced to be the animal they called her.
“I can kill you and get away with it.” Her voice was hoarse now. “And I wouldn’t regret it. I’ll sleep just as well as I do every other night…”
“You don’t sleep, period,” he retorted, his anger finally showing as she faced him, her expression drawn with exhaustion, nightmares haunting her eyes. And he couldn’t even explain why he f**king cared. “A child could see how little sleep you get, woman. Pull the badass Breed persona on me, it doesn’t work. You could kill me in a heartbeat but you’d never forget it.” He leaned forward then, watching her, knowing she would run, just as he knew he’d never let her go. “You would never forget, Dawn, that you killed the one man capable of holding you during the nightmares, of accepting who you are, and all that entails.”
“So you think you can cure the nightmares?” She sneered then. “Letting you touch me would just wipe it all away, huh, Seth?”
“No,” he whispered, watching her pale again, but this time, the color didn’t return. “Nothing can wipe it away, Dawn. Nothing can change the past or the nightmares. But I would be there when you awoke. You wouldn’t be alone anymore, and in time, maybe, better dreams could take their place sometimes.”
She stepped back, retreating as a nerve jerked at the corner of her lip an instant before the animalistic snarl sounded from her throat.
“Touch me and you’ll die.”
Her hand gripped the gun, her fingers closing over the butt with a desperation he could feel inside himself.
“Even if you ask me?” he questioned her, keeping his voice gentle, calm, when he wanted to rage at the pain in her eyes.
“I’ll never ask you, Seth,” she bit out painfully, staring back at him with eyes that haunted his darkest dreams. “I’ll never ask, whether I want it or not, no matter the circumstances. Ever. Do you understand me? I’ll never lie beneath you, you’re fooling yourself…”
“So lie above me.”
She flinched, her eyes widening as she swallowed with a tight, convulsive movement.
“One of the others will be by later to discuss seeing your sister. I have work to do.”
“Dawn.” He came to his feet as she turned away, expecting what would happen, his expression never changing as she spun back, the gun slipping expertly from the holster, pointing to the center of his chest as she gripped it with both hands, her finger on the trigger.
He stared at the weapon for a long moment before he raised his eyes to hers, seeing the tears swimming within them, the agony reflected there.
“Aren’t you tired of being alone? I am.” He made no other move, just stared back at her, his chest tight with emotions he wasn’t certain he was comfortable with, needs he knew she could never accept.
“Stay away from me.” Her voice was strong, brooking no refusal, grating with purpose and determination. “Stay away, Seth, or we’ll both regret it.”
She holstered the weapon, turned and almost ran from the house. He heard the front door slam, felt her absence in a way he couldn’t explain, even to himself. Regret filled him, slammed through him.
“Bad mistake, man, letting her see it.” Taber stepped from the kitchen, as soundless as the animal whose DNA he carried as he stepped into the living room.
“Did I ask for your advice?” Rage was eating him. His temper was a precarious thing right now, he’d be damned if he would force himself to deal.
“You didn’t have to ask,” the other man growled. “Not that I expect you to listen to me. Kane didn’t. But if you’re serious, soul serious about her, don’t let her know it. Don’t let her see it. Don’t let her suspect it. She’ll run herself to the ground fighting it if you do.”
“And I’ll be there to pick her up.” He turned to Taber, uncertain how to handle the emotions raging in him now. What Dawn made him feel, terrified him sometimes.
“If there’s anything left to pick up,” Taber pointed out, his voice soft, regretful. “That’s your greatest battle, man. Making sure there’s something left to love, rather than bury.”
Peace didn’t last for long for Kane. He feigned sleep the next morning as Sherra slipped from his bed and sneaked as silent as a thief from the bedroom. As the door closed, he opened his eyes and sighed
wearily as he stared up at the ceiling. Breaking through the woman’s reserve was going to be the death of him.
Lifting his hand, he scratched at his chest absently, the light itch around the mating mark Sherra had left years before another reminder of his tie to her. Not that being tied to her bothered him, fact was, he loved her more than he loved his own life. There were few things that meant more to him than that blonde-haired little hellcat did. Hell, he didn’t think anything mattered more than she did. Getting her to admit she felt the same was going to be the damned death of him. If this f**king erection didn’t beat her to it.