A steady stream of light, orange in color with a pinkish hue, shone down on my face. Still clad in my underwear with a sheet draped across me, I laid sprawled out on a bed so soft and comfortable that it took everything in me just to move my hand to the aching in my neck that brought everything flashing back.
With the soft pad of my fingertips, I traced each of the nearly healed puncture wounds in my neck, still not believing that the man that saved me was actually a wolf. By nature, wolves are social creatures, and there seemed to be any other signs of life in the house, no woods for him to shift and run. Nothing.
What was he doing all the way out here?
I sat up with too quickly wincing more as my neck throbbed and scanned the room for the stranger. I was so jumpy that at the sound of a door opening, I rolled clumsily out of bed, bringing the sheet with me. Initially, I wondered where he was, but when he emerged from the bathroom with nothing but a towel around his waist, I became nervous.
Tiny beads of water dotted his skin like beautiful crystals, rolling down his God-like body. Slowly but surely, my eyes fell from his face and traveled down his neck and chest then followed that long line of hair below his navel until it disappeared behind the towel.
I closed my eyes tight and tried to shake the images from my head only to be revisited by the kiss we shared. I could still feel his lips against mine, moving so skillfully down my neck before elongated canines came out and...
"You bit me," I mumbled, still cradling my neck as I looked from him to the bedroom door, preparing to run.
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I don't know what came over me. Please," he held up his hands in mock surrender, probably catching my line of sight, "let me explain."
"Explain what? You bit me! You tried to claim me!" At this, his eyes doubled in size, and he took a step toward me that automatically made me take a step back.
"How do you know about that?" His words trailed off as he ran a hand down the back of his neck. "You're human. You smell human. How do you know?"
I was frozen in time. Pondered what he said and understood his confusion. My dormant gene prevents me from being able to tell the difference between wolves and humans. Apparently, they can't sense me either.
"Because I'm—I just know. Where are my clothes? I have to get out of here." With my hand still to my neck, I searched every inch of the polished wood floor while keeping my distance from him.
"Go? You can't leave!" He growled, bringing my eyes back up to his. That same line from last night—just before he told me off—appeared within his brows, only this time, I was overcome with fear. He stalked toward me and out of instinct I backpedaled, nearly tripping over my own feet. Sensing my trepidation, he stopped and held his hands up again, showing me he meant no harm. "I just want to talk about this."
"Talk? It's bad enough we practically dry humped and I don't even know your name. Let's not add more to this situation by talking."
Cautiously I tried to ease by him, but his hand shot out and latched around my wrist, filling me with a feeling of warmth and… pleasure?
Why hadn't I noticed the power in his touch last night? His body was against mine as his hands explored me, and yet it felt nothing like this.
He looked me in the eyes, and I swear I saw a tornado of emotions roll through them with sadness and confusion being the most apparent. He tilted his head to the side slightly and narrowed them at me. I watched just as intently as he surveyed me further.
All of a sudden, he looked away.
"Dominic. My name is Dominic." His voice broke through my thoughts, and while part of me was enjoying the small dose of his body heat radiating through his hand as his name embedded itself in my brain, I pulled away and quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Nice to meet you. Bye!" Like a bat out of hell, I flew down the stairs, only stopping long enough to figure out where to go next. His house was bigger than I remembered from last night with so many expensive looking things inside it that I felt like I was running through a museum. There was a loud bang just as I turned down a hall, brightened by huge floor-to-ceiling windows covered with sheer white drapes.
Finally locating the sliding glass door that led out to the beach, I wasted no time darting out of it. Under the hot beam of sunlight, I ran as fast as I could back the car parked crookedly against the curb. Inside, I cursed myself for allowing things to go so far last night.
Out of pain and anger, I acted stupidly by going to the beach. More so, kissing a stranger. I should have ran last night, but now, something inside of me felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind. As I drove away, hoping I could forget Dominic ever existed, something in me wanted me to go back.
By the grace of the Moon Goddess, the house was tranquil when I got home. Placing my palm flat on the door, I held the twisted knob until I heard a familiar click of the door connecting with the frame. My heart beat against my ribs so loudly that I placed my hand over it in a feeble attempt to muffle the sound.
Inhaling and holding it as if someone would hear me breathe, I started pushing through my bedroom door a little quicker. After about an inch of width, it creaked. I stopped instantly and slowly released my breath.
Checking down either side of the hall, I said a silent prayer for no one to hear me. Pushing again but lighter, I got the door open enough to squeeze through and shut it with just as much caution. Sighing my relief, I dropped my car keys onto my bedside table and turned on the lamp.
"Doing the walk of shame are we?"
The annoyed tone of my twin brother almost made me jump out of my skin. Turning instantly, I meet his serious gaze.
"Dammit, Jackie! You scared the crap out of me! What are you doing in my room?" I snatched my fluffy purple robe off the back of my door and shrugged it on carefully. Turning away from him to keep the bite mark on my neck hidden, I adjusted the collar and pulled my hair free.
"I was in here, trying to figure out why you weren't in it since you left the party without saying anything to anyone and weren't answering your phone." After giving me a quick once over, he stood with his fists balled up at his sides like he always does when he's fighting off anger. He gritted his teeth and shoved them into his pockets a second later. "Want to tell me where the hell you're coming from without clothes?"
"Since you're giving me an option, no, I don't want to tell you where the hell I'm coming from without clothes." I turned toward my closet, looking for something quick to put on to hide the bite while ignoring the growl behind me. Ending my search, I decided to keep my robe on with the collar turned up, at least until my brother left.
"Look," I sighed, really not wanting to do this, "I had a long night, and I don't want to talk about it right now, ok?"
"You had a long night," he chuckled, but it was anything but amused, "You had a long night?"
His voice was steadily rising with each word. Facing him with doe eyes, I shushed him, silently pleading for him to lower his voice before he woke my parents and brought the fury of an overprotective father down on me.
"Let me tell you about my night, sweet little sister. Some drunk asshole had the balls to pinch Kenya's ass causing Braden to shift on the spot, and by the time she was able to calm him down, another fight broke out in the backyard, and they decided to just end the party. I'm walking around looking for you, and you're nowhere to be found. So, Kenya goes looking for Cameron, and I don't know what he said, but we had to pull her off of him. We spent the whole night searching for you. Caught your scent just outside the house, but it faded at the end of the street. I just got home, Jade! Just walked through the door not even five whole minutes before you came creeping in here in your panties! I want answers. Right now, and I'm not asking."
His eyes continued beating down on me, weakening me under heavy scrutiny that always worked no matter how determined I was to not tell him what was bothering me.
"Jade," His infamous big brother tone that sounded similar to my father's no bullshit tone, chipped away the last of the wall I had up around me and I found myself giving in to it.
"Dammit!" Dropping onto the bed, I pinched the bridge of my nose, releasing a frustrated breath. Reluctantly I patted a spot beside me and waited for him to get comfortable as I focused intently on the thin lines between the wooden planks of the floor. "I don't even know where to begin..." Another frustrated breath breezes between us. He was growing impatient. "At the party, I felt these pains in my chest that I couldn't explain. Foolishly I thought I might have been shifting, so I ran outside just in case, and I caught Cameron with Marissa."
"What the hell do you mean with Marissa?" Jaxon jumped to his feet with darkened eyes and his body shaking with rage.
Slipping my hand into his and threading our fingers, I pulled him back down beside me. Once again, I'm pleading with my eyes. He never really liked Cameron to begin with, but since they shared Braden as a mutual friend, he dealt with him for us.
"I confronted him, and he took that time to tell me he never wanted me and never would. He said some true things and I didn't know what to do. I felt like my world was crashing down around me, so I went to Jagged Point and," I paused, biting down on my lower lip nervously as I contemplated my last words. Inhaled deeply and shut my eyes as I blurted out the rest, "I walked into the water."
"You what?!" He shot up again, fists clenched, body shaking.
"You went to a beach that is infested with sharks, known for being lined with sharp rocks, and having monstrous waves, AT NIGHT?! What the hell were you thinking, Jade? What the hell did you think you were going to accomplish doing something so stupid? You could have gotten yourself killed!" He looked down at me with pain and realization in his eyes. Unexpectedly he dropped to his knees in front of me and shoved his hands deep into his thick, dark hair. "I could've lost you. Why? Why would you—do you know how much it would kill mom and dad? How much it would kill me to live without you? From day one, you've always been by my side. My first friend. It hurts that you even considered doing that because of him! What about those of us that love you?"
If I didn't already feel guilty, sitting on the edge of my bed watching my brother release silent tears while on his knees would have done it. He's always been the stronger of the two of us—of course—and the last time I saw him cry we were barely out of diapers.
"I never intended for it to hurt you, Jaxon. Any of you, but I just… you don't understand how hard it is just to wake up like this every day. I'm not like you, Kenya, Braden, mom, or dad. I'm not an Alpha's mate like Kenya, and I'm not a pure wolf like you and dad are. Hell, I'm not really a wolf at all! Cameron was my only way to redeem myself and prove that I belong here by mating and giving birth to everything I was supposed to be, but that's never going to happen, now. I'm nothing, and I just can't deal with people looking down on me anymore."
"Fuck Cameron and everyone that's too blind to see how special you are! Your father is a top enforcer and one of the only pure wolves in the world. Your mother is the only sister a feared Alpha, reigning over the largest pack on the other side of those mountains. You're best friends with the next Alpha and Luna of this pack and to top it all off, I'm your twin brother. Not to toot my own horn here, but I'm sexy, and you look exactly like me except for dad's eyes, which means that you're cute."
I looked at him with a quirked brow that he smirked at. He just got through calling himself sexy then says I'm cute like I'm a puppy or something.
"Sorry, but as long as I'm your brother, you can't be sexy. I just won't allow that but, you get what I'm saying." He inched closer to me on his knees and held my hands in his, "You're special to everyone that matters, and we need you. It's Cameron's loss, not yours. Whether you mate with him and have pups with full abilities or just become a loving aunt to my future ankle biters, you'll always belong with us. With me. Now, bring it."
He stood up and held his arms open for me, and without hesitation, I stood and accepted a much-needed bear hug. Jaxon could be so sweet when he wasn't the jerk that most people knew him as. From day one, he defended me, and it's why I've gone this far without breaking.
Snuggling deeper into his arms as he planted a kiss on my forehead, my thoughts went back to the wolf that saved me. Had he not pulled me from those icy waters, I would have left so many people heartbroken and possibly damaged beyond repair.
"Jax, I know you and Braden are good girlfriends and can't seem to keep secrets from each other, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him about this."
The vibrations from his laughter rumbled through his chest and through my cheek.
"We are not, but alright. I won't tell him, but you have to promise to talk to me like we used to. I don't care if it's girl stuff. I want you to come to me."
"I promise. Thanks, Jackie." I lost myself in the hug once again, allowing the sound of my twin's heartbeat to relax me as it had when we were babies. That moment was perfect between us and gave me hope. As long as I had people like him, I could try not to revisit the pain of last night or even the mistakes almost made.
"Jade," I felt my brother stiffen and looked up at him curiously. "Whose scent is all over you?"