Oh my God, they were hunting me.
I ran, my breath ragged, a stitch cutting agony through my side as I heard them getting closer. Closer.
I was a girl and maybe not Jackie Joyner-Kersee, but I wasn’t out of shape. They’d gain but not that fast.
That didn’t mean they weren’t gaining that fast.
And I was terrified.
I turned into an alley, hoping in the darkness to lose them, and ran with everything I had left.
Straight to a dead end.
“Shit,” I breathed, panting, turning, feeling them closing in on me.
Then there they were, on me as in on me. In the blink of an eye I was on my back, one of them pinning my body down with his on mine, one holding my arms down over my head, one holding my legs at my ankles while, I stared to the side in disbelief, two humongous, terrifying dogs circled, snarling and snapping their sharp, alarming teeth in my direction.
“Rip her throat out and have done with it,” a voice coming from over my head bit out, and my attention went back to the enormous man who was lying full on top of me, pressing the breath out of me, and staring down at me in a way I did…not…like.
I tried to struggle, but the hands at my wrists and ankles held so strong, it was preternatural how strong they were. I wasn’t pinned. I was completely immobilized.
“In a minute,” he grunted, his eyes not leaving mine. “Christ, smell her. Divine. Fuck me, absolutely fucking divine.” His face changed to a look I liked even less and he finished, “First I’m going to feed.”
He was going to feed?
Oh man. What did that mean?
I didn’t know. What I knew was, it was not good.
“Are you insane?” a voice coming from my feet asked like he thought the dude holding me was, indeed, insane. In fact, very insane. At the same time, ugly-scary growls came from both of the dogs.
It seemed to me these were warnings, but the guy on top of me was apparently insane because he ignored the warnings of the huge, vicious, snarling dogs. His head dipped toward me, slanted, then his mouth was at my neck.
Oh shit. Oh shit!
This was definitely not good.
I belatedly opened my mouth to scream.
Not that first sound came out because suddenly I wasn’t immobilized. Nothing was on me, nothing holding me down.
I still didn’t move.
This was because something I couldn’t see, and not only because it was dark, but because it was happening so…damned…fast, was whirling around me.
I would know what that was when sickening, warm gushes of blood spurted across my chest and neck about a half a second before I saw a canine head (with no body, mind) roll across the asphalt in front of me. More blood splashed the pavement beside me in a hideous surge and I heard the heinous noises of body after lifeless body thudding to the ground.
Then I was up, my own body swinging like it was flying through the air, but I felt hands on me. A breeze was blowing through my hair, I was moving so fast, and then my back slammed against the brick wall of the building at the side of the alley.
I blinked, not feeling the wall at my back but the intense hard-muscled warmth of a body pressed to my front and before my eyes. A man.
A shock of black hair.
An intriguingly tilted set of eyes, the hue I couldn’t make out in the dark, but shockingly, I could see one was a color that was light, the other a color that was definitely dark.
Strong jutting jaw, sharp cheekbones, heavy brow.
The slash of an angry scar that went across his forehead, through his left eyebrow, disconnected then rejoined on his cheekbone to slide all the way down his face, curling around his jaw and disappearing.
I panted in his blood-stained face.
He stared, intense and frightening, into mine, his gaze, honest to God, like a touch.
I stopped panting because I stopped breathing.
His face came closer and my stomach clenched, my muscles tensed near to snapping, my chest burned, but his head veered and he touched his temple to mine, slid it back, rubbing it through my hair.
I sucked in breath only to hold it again when his hands left my armpits. One traveled down my side and then curved to become an arm around my back, holding me so strong, I was plastered to his front. The other went up, over my shoulder and in to curl tight and freakishly warm around the side of my neck.
His chin dipped and I felt his lips at my ear.
“Mine,” he growled in a deep, guttural, forceful way that even I, who had no clue what was happening, I just knew I didn’t like it one…single…bit, agreed.
When he said “mine,” he meant me.
It’s Only Just Begun
He tossed me on the bed.
I bounced, staring at him as he prowled away from me and across the room.
I should have fought. I should have tried to run. I should have done anything but let him take my hand and drag me to his bike.
When we got there, he didn’t let me go even as he swung astride it. Then he pulled me on in front of him, started up the bike, and we took off.
My dad was a biker. I’d been on a bike so often, if I had a nickel for each time, I’d be a millionaire. Hell, I even had my motorcycle license and my own bike at home in Dad’s garage.
But I’d never ridden up front while someone else was driving.
If I didn’t struggle and run when he took me to his bike, I should have done it when he stopped us in another alley, this one dark, dank, and not smelling all that great, located behind a Chinese restaurant.
And if I hadn’t done it then, I should have done it when he shoved a big Dumpster out of the way like it weighed no more than a shoebox, lifted the grate under it, and dragged me down a flight of stairs into a dark hall, to a steel door, and through, to this room.
No one lived in a scary basement room off an alley under a Dumpster.
At least no one I wanted to know.
Vaguely, as I sat on that bed, it came to me that I hurt. My shoulders had scraped against the pavement when that guy took me down. But I ignored the ping of pain, seeing as I was clearly In Trouble, capitalized in a way that shit should be in neon. Blinking neon. In huge letters.
My mother’s voice all of a sudden came into my head. “You’re nuts. You’ve always been nuts.”
This is what she’d said when I’d told her what I was doing during my vacation days.