Home > Love's Prisoner (Wyndham Werewolf #1)

Love's Prisoner (Wyndham Werewolf #1)
Author: MaryJanice Davidson

Chapter One

Engrossed as she was in Glamour's Do's and Don'ts, Jeannie Lawrence scarcely noticed when the elevator jolted to an abrupt halt. She did notice when the lights went out.

"Oh, come on!" she cried, slapping her magazine shut. Getting stuck in an elevator during a power outage was nowhere on her to-do list. Today, anyway.

"Not now," a voice muttered, and she nearly shrieked. She hadn't known anyone else was in the elevator with her. When she had her nose in a book or magazine, she wouldn't have noticed if Barney the Dinosaur was in the elevator with her.

"Well, this is a fine fix, huh?" she asked the voice. "Of all the days to drop my ad copy off early! I guess it's true—no good deed goes unpunished. What are you going to be late for? Me, I'm trying to beat the rush hour traffic to the bridge. I can't stand it when—"

"Hush."

The voice was a pleasant baritone, one she liked despite its abruptness. She hushed, not offended. Some people didn't like talking to strangers. Or maybe this guy was claustrophobic. Or—what was fear of the dark? Darkophobic? Whatever it was, he was clearly unhappy to be trapped in an elevator for who knew how long. Poor guy. She hoped he didn't get the screaming meemies. There was nothing worse than a grown man having hysterics.

"Sorry," she said, then added, "I'm sure we won't be here long."

She heard a sound and recognized it immediately: the man trapped with her had taken a couple steps back. Almost as if he was trying to put as much space between them as he could.

Exasperated, she said, "For crying out loud! I don't have cooties. Anymore," she added, hoping to lighten the mood.

"Be quiet. And step into the far corner. Now."

"The hell I will!" She turned toward the voice. "Look, just because you're feeling antisocial doesn't mean I—"

"Don't." No pleasant baritone that time. That one sounded like a growl, like he'd forced the word out through gritted teeth. "Don't come near me. Keep away. When you move, you stir around the air currents and I get more of your scent."

"And that's bad, right?" Great, she thought with grim humor. Trapped with someone who skipped his medication this morning. Why didn't I take the stairs?

"No. It's not bad." His voice, low in the dark, was a throbbing baritone she could feel along her spine. "It's . . . extraordinary."

"Gosh, thanks." Uh-huh. Clearly a nutcake, sexy voice or no. She hadn't had time to put perfume on after her shower. He couldn't smell a damn thing, except maybe a lingering whiff of Dial soap. "Do you have a special doctor you tell these things to? Someone you should call when we get out of here?"

He barked laughter. "I'm not insane. I'm not surprised that's the conclusion you've drawn, though. What is your name?"

"Jane Doe."

He chuckled softly. "What harm could it do to tell me your real name?"

"All right, but only if you promise not to freak out on me. More than you already have, I mean. It's Jeannie Lawrence." There were a million Lawrences in the greater St. Paul area, she comforted herself, so if he was a serial killer he likely couldn't track her down when this was over. "Now remember, you promised . . ."

"Actually, I didn't. Not that promising would have done any good." He sighed, a lost sound in the dark. Absurdly, she felt sorry for him, this perfect crazy stranger who talked so oddly and in the sexiest voice she had ever heard. "You smell wonderful."

"Don't get started on that again," she warned.

"The moon's coming. I can feel her." She heard him swallow hard. "There isn't much time."

"Boy, have you got that right." She put her arms out in front of her, feeling in the dark, then stepped forward and banged on the elevator door. "Hello!" she shouted. "Anybody up there? A nice girl and a raving lunatic are trapped in here!"

"You're ovulating," he said directly in her ear, and she shrieked and flung herself away from him, so hard that she bounced off the far wall and would have fallen had he not caught her. Even in her startlement, she was conscious of the easy strength of his hand, in his scent, a crisp, clean, utterly masculine smell that she liked very much, despite her sudden fear.

"You—" Her mouth was dry; she swallowed to force moisture and finished her rant. "You scared the hell out of me! Don't sneak up on me like that, for the love of—and you can let go of me, too." She yanked her arm out of his grip, her heart yammering so loudly she felt certain he could hear it. And what was that absurd thing he had said? Had he really said—

"It's too late. You're ovulating," he said, his voice a low rumble in the dark. "You're . . . in heat, to put it a little more crudely. And I'm too close to my change."

"Then empty your pockets," she said rudely. "Let your change out."

"You don't want me to do that," he said softly. "Oh, no."

She supposed some women would be reduced to panic at this turn of events, but this weirdo with the sexy voice and strong hands had no idea who he was dealing with. She had a black belt in karate, could drill a dime at fifty yards, and had once put a would-be mugger in the hospital with cracked ribs. If this guy tried anything with her, he was going to have a very bad day.

"Look, I'm sorry you're feeling . . . uh . . . unwell, but if you just stay calm, they'll have us out of here in no ti—"

With that same shocking suddenness, his hand was behind her neck, tilting her face up, and she could feel his mouth near her temple, heard him inhale deeply. "You're in heat," he murmured in her ear, "and the moon's coming up." He inhaled again, greedily. Frozen by his actions, she waited for his next words. "I'm very sorry."

Then his mouth was on hers. Pressed against the far wall of the elevator, she could feel his long, hard length against her body, could feel his hands on her, could hear his rasping breath. She had the absurd sense he was wallowing in her scent, glorying in it. And she came absurdly close to relaxing in his embrace, to kissing him back. Instead, moving independently of her brain, her hands struggled up and pressed against his chest, hard, but it was like trying to move a tree.

"Oh, Christ," he groaned into her hair.

"Don't—"

"I'm sorry."

"—stop it—"

"I'm very sorry."

"—before I break your—"

"Do you believe in werewolves?"

"—big stupid—what?"

"I'm a werewolf. And my change is very near. Otherwise I might be able to—but the moon's too close. And so are you."

"What are you talking about?" she cried.

"I'm trying to explain. Why this is going to . . . why this must happen. Don't be afraid."

"I'm not afraid," she hissed, shoving at his chest again. This time, it worked. Or he stepped back.

"You're a liar." Odd, how he could make that sound like an endearment. "I can smell your fear."

"I'm not sure how to break this to you," she said through gritted teeth, "but I'm not afraid of any man. And I don't smell."

"Not afraid. Anxious, then," he soothed. "I don't blame you a bit. If I was trapped in a box a hundred feet off the ground with a werewolf an hour from his change, I'd be out of my mind."

"About the werewolf fixation," she said, striving for a note of humor—she'd always had a perverse need to make light of any seriousness. "I confess this concerns me a bit. Perhaps there's a support group that can help. Men-who-love-werewolves-and-the- women-trapped-in-elevators-with-them."

He laughed, a throaty chuckle.

"Couldn't you have waited another hour to have your nervous breakdown?" she complained, pleased that she amused him. If she could keep him distracted, off balance, maybe the power would come back on and she could—

Then she felt his hands on her arms, gently pulling her forward. "I am sorry," he said, his voice heavy with regret. Again, she caught his pleasant, utterly masculine scent, and again she fought her unwitting attraction. Jeannie didn't plan to let him do anything he'd be sorry for. She took a deep breath and prepared to strike him, palm out, with all her strength. A crippling blow, and, if she nailed him on the bridge of the nose, a killing blow. She hoped she would get him in the forehead or cheek. She didn't want to kill the lunatic. That was her thought as she smashed her hand into his chin and felt him rock backward with the blow.

"Ouch," he said mildly.

She felt her mouth pop open in stunned surprise. She hit him, she knew she hit him! Her hand was numb from the force of it. He should be unconscious, or at least groaning on the floor.

"That was some punch," he continued, as if commenting on a drink and not a blow it had taken her four months to learn. "You've had training."

"You're out of your mind," she whispered. Or she was. Could it be true? Was he a—ludicrous thought—werewolf? She felt for him in the dark, sure he had to be bleeding, and her fingers encountered his smooth cheek. She jerked her hand away. "You're completely crazy, you know that?"

"No." She sensed him step close to her and threw another punch, no more fooling around—and her fist smacked into his open palm.

He had blocked her punch. In itself, almost impossible unless he was also a black belt. And what were the chances of being trapped in an elevator in the Wyndham Tower with a crazy man who was also a black belt? More worrisome, he had seen her strike coming. Whereas she couldn't see her hand in front of her face.

She felt his fingers curl around her small fist, felt his thumb caress the knuckle of her first finger. Her knees wanted to buckle, either from sudden, swamping fear or the sensation his warm fingers were calling forth. "Brave Jeannie Lawrence," he murmured, his voice so low it sounded like tearing velvet. "What a pity you didn't wait for the next elevator."

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