Sofia kept the gun, because it was the only thing tangible she had connecting her to her one and only friend.
There sure wasn’t anything back at the farm, and what few possessions she’d left were easily replaced. Meaning, no family heirlooms had ever landed in her lap.
Especially since she’d never been adopted or kept in one foster home long enough for loving relationships to bloom. And those who’d taken her in sure as hell were not going to give her anything they’d deemed valuable. As it was, they’d always regretted opening their homes to her in the first place.
So really, where the hell was she running to now?
Her feet slogged into a reluctant halt. She had nothing except her ties to her dog.
Sol. Dead Sol. Shot in the head Sol.
Waitress, could we have another crying jag over here? Swear to God, she loved to torture herself, because she was turning around in spite of every cell in her body screaming at her to run. Far. As in, what the fuck are you doing turning back?
The voice was one she knew. Hadn’t heard it much, but the few times she had the damn thing resonated. Sang across her skin like sunshine. Not that she’d admit it, especially to the person standing at the edge of the woods panting like he’d just run after her.
No. That wasn’t right. Because he was ahead of her, not behind.
Strange, even by her standards. For some reason, she thought about the way he’d lunged at Charlie: teeth first.
So she snapped at him as her skin cooled when his greeting faded into the trees.
“What do you want?” She nailed him with her usual get lost glare.
“Rhetorical, buddy. Go away.” She didn’t wait for him to move, but left for him—heeded the call of her cells and walked away from the farm.
Except he tagged along. He kept his distance, but he was still following.
In a huff, Sofia spun around.
“Are you deaf?”
“Rhetorical again, right?” He smiled, revealing a row of strong, pearly whites. But he kept his eyes down, and his shoulders soft.
Sofia’s brain meandered like a little lamb in a lush, spring pasture. It paused to nibble at the memory of those eyes. They were green as the forest she was in. Green like grass. Like spring leaves on… Shit. What was she doing? Just because he acted all non-threatening didn’t mean he was. And why am I having this conversation in my head?
Jesus-fuck, she had to learn how to quit looking at people like they spoke two languages. It got her in trouble because she was supposed to believe the lies pouring out of their mouths, not figure out what they were really saying with their bodies.
Like she needed to be having the inner dialogue right now? She clipped off her current thoughts like a ruthless samurai, and turned her metaphorical blade on her stalker. “I said leave me alone.”
“I just thought you might like a little company, given what…you know…how bad things are right now.”
There was that voice again, sliding like cashmere across her skin. Sofia put her boots back onto the forward trail, and ignored her intruder. She had to—it wasn’t like he was getting the hint. If she kept walking, eventually he’d give up on her, go back to the farm. Chore time couldn’t be that far off, she reasoned, and milking cows didn’t wait.
She had no intentions of stopping, German figured after they’d traipsed through the woods for a few miles. But every step lifted his heart and his hopes. She wasn’t going back, at least not yet. And that boded well for his mission.
Plus, she never headed for the main road. Not once. Not even when the trail petered out. She opted to stay hidden in the forest.
This was too good to be true. He never had this kind of luck when dealing with rogues. Somehow, he had to ease her through things. Hell, she deserved it, given that she’d just shot and killed the one creature who’d probably had the most affinity with her ever.
He’d been on Charlie’s farm long enough to see that. Christ, the big mutt went…ah, had gone everywhere with Sofia. If you saw one, you knew the other wasn’t far. How in hell was she coping with the fact she’d killed her truest companion?
Dearest Luna, he was out of his depths here. If she could kill her best friend, she could kill anything. Or anyone. Besides, the chick hadn’t ditched the pistol. She had that souvenir cinched into her belt at the small of her back. Which made him think of his scar and the close call with Charlie. He hadn’t been that out of control in the heat of a fight since…well, since he’d been given his scar.
The poor dog. He was like German had been when he’d been a kid and had attacked the human boy: driven by instinct. Like Sol, it had taken someone stronger to snap the fixation on the fight. Unfortunately for the dog, the rules were different. He got a bullet, where young German had been whipped then purposely mutilated.
His reminder to obey Wolf law. No matter what.
Oh, yeah, he’d never forgotten. Or forgiven.
“You’re not going away.”
German halted with his legs spread, and his feet glued to both impressions on the forest floor.
Shit. He had to quit losing track of this woman. Both physically and mentally. At least, this time the gun wasn’t in her hand.
“Yeah, well. Like I was saying, I thought…”
“Don’t think. Go.”
German shook his head and looked up into one hell of a set of hard, gray peepers, and resisted the shiver tweaking up his spine.
But he noticed the tight skin around those eyes. Sofia’s strength was flagging. And why wouldn’t it? Her day had been packed fuller than a hypochondriac’s medical file. But she was obviously pushing through it and trying like hell to hide the fact she was exhausted.
Soften your shoulders, idiot.
German relaxed his stance even more, and averted his eyes. As soon as he did, she softened, too, giving in to her fatigue. A little.
“Look. You’ve had one hell of a day and I’m not suggesting we go back, either. But you need rest, and I’m thinking out here in the middle of nowhere isn’t the place.”
It was for him, but she didn’t need to know that. Yet.
In fact, if he handled this right, she would be thinking the woods were the perfect place to rest up, too. Not that he was going to start serving up helpings of no-effing-way. She’d had enough for one day, and telling someone they weren’t really human or shifting into wolf in front of them would be as smart as slapping a rhino with a newspaper. Wasn’t happening.
Even though time was critical, he couldn’t force the truth on her. But, if he could get her to bend a little in his favor…
“If you would let me, I’d be happy to front for a night at the nearest motel.”
Man, but those eyes could level.
“No strings.” German held his palm up like his other hand rested on a Bible.
Dearest Luna, she is such a hard-ass. So why was he trying not to smile? It certainly wasn’t because he liked her backbone.
Or admired it. Or was fighting himself from laying…
“Here is fine.”
Well, wasn’t that just a scrumptious morsel? The inner smile that had been blazing up to his eyeballs exploded onto his face. He probably looked like a leering psychopath, and in about two seconds was going to scare her away from what was coming naturally to her.
Play it casual, idiot. “Ah, sure.” He glanced around him like her suggestion was a tad off the wall.
“If you don’t like it…”
“I know. I can leave.”
She didn’t even scratch half a smile.
~Installment #16 coming January 4, 2014 Happy New Year!