Installment # 18
It took him by complete surprise Sofia opted to follow him, especially since taking her gun had unraveled the thread of trust she had started to weave. German had smelled no fear coming from her when she’d first opened her eyes, and his stomach had twitched with that damned tug he got whenever he looked at her.
Except he’d already been looking at her when she woke, so her eyes on him should not have been pulling on any part of him. He should’ve expected her eyes to go to him, not have to force himself to play it casual. Christ, she read his body language. One wrong muscle moved and she’d bolt on instinct.
Good she was wired that way; bad she didn’t know why. And every neuron in his brain told him she wasn’t going to take the info he had to give like a corsage from a prom date. She was going to bolt then, too, unless he could prepare her, ease her into the idea. Or better yet, let her figure out what she was on her own. Based on hints he dropped, of course.
To do that, though, meant she had to stick around long enough for him to pass along the clues. And he’d have to be on his best behavior. Not exactly his strong suit. Several dead rogues on his career list, plus the other “assaults” didn’t bode well for his chances.
Not that any of the charges were his fault alone. He couldn’t help it if the two-legs, whether they sported touches of wolf in their blood or not, acted like ignorant dicks. Besides, if the Alphas wanted him assimilated into the human world, then confrontations were bound to happen. A wolf does not like to get pissed on, and no self-respecting wolf would back down from a challenge, either. At least, not without a fight.
German sniffed the breeze pressing upon his back. Sofia’s scent filled his head, swirling around inside of him. It wasn’t just her gaze he was having a hard time shaking off, and he figured talking would be quite a sight better than his thoughts. He just hoped his voice didn’t betray him. “I’m thinking if we stick to the woods, we should come out to Route One in Wesley by ten or so. There’s a diner there, right?”
“Yeah, The Blueberry.”
His lids dropped when she answered him, like shutting his eyes heightened his hearing and let the music of her tone splash around a little louder in his head. He wanted to take her to a restaurant about as much as he wanted to clean the chicken coop again.
Besides, he wasn’t hungry. He’d had a successful hunt and had eaten every scrap, knowing full well if he offered the woman a dead animal for breakfast it would send her running for the safety of the farm. Which didn’t exactly fit in with his plan. So, there would be no killing their meals, unless it was with the pistol and they made a fire to cook with.
The first part? Easy. Shoot, skin. The second part? Not so easy without matches. Which meant a trip into civilization, and he might as well feed her while they were there. Put off the inevitable until he was certain she wouldn’t hightail it. A sensible plan if he’d ever had one.
“So, where are you from, Sofia? Around here?”
She was a wee-bit sticky on the dialogue. He was going to have to prime her like a frigging pump if he planned to make any headway.
“Not from around here, huh? Are you from Maine, at least?”
She couldn’t even give him a bone? Thank Luna she couldn’t see the frustration on his face. As it was, he picked up his pace to mask his body language. “Ah, you’re a Mainiac.”
“A Mainiac. You know, like a Mass-hole, or a Kentuckian.”
Well, she just spewed information, didn’t she? Kidding aside, at least now he knew not to make any more references to mental stability. Which meant, of course, personal experience on her part. But it gnawed his ass that he didn’t dare ask how personal. If the rogue’s cheese had slipped off her cracker, he wanted to know. He needed to know what tripped her fuse, and just how long her fuse really was.
He halted and turned to face the woman following him. She stopped fast enough to make the average person think she hadn’t been moving at all.
Very nice. He also liked the fact he could no longer sense her fear. Sofia might be tight-lipped, but she had joined him in his game. And dang if it didn’t make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Upping the ante, German tugged the pistol from the waist of his jeans and handed it to her, butt end first. “Here. I don’t think you’re going to shoot me now.” Dearest Luna, he hoped his gamble paid off, because if it didn’t…well, he’d probably survive the shot but it was going to hurt like a bitch. And he’d lose the woman in the process.
She looked at it like he was handing her a little kid’s plastic shovel. “You’re giving me my gun back?”
“Yeah. I just took it so you wouldn’t shoot me when you saw me first thing. You know, while you were still sleepy.”
“Thanks.” They were connected for a brief second while the .22 passed between them. He didn’t miss the grief stealing across her beautiful features, and the little tug in his guts looped a serpentine around his innards, like he was a fish caught on the rogue’s line.
Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it, or you’ll give yourself away.
He turned his cheek as he lowered his eyes. “Thank you, Sofia. I’m glad you don’t mind my tagging along.” He glanced up quick to catch her reaction.
A risk worth taking. She was stunning.
Wait. Not stunning, moron. Stunned. But he loved the way the expression lit her face. It made her lips pout and her brow furrow in a delicate pinch. When she tucked an errant tress behind her ear after she’d stuck the pistol into the small of her back, German’s guts tugged again.
He really liked that she had red hair. Because it meant she was going to have red fur. A beautiful, but rare, occurrence.
“What?” She shot him with her voice instead of the pistol, and that stung, too. But was sorely needed. He’d tripped out during his assessment of her. Christ, she could’ve bored a bullet between his eyes and he’d have probably just blinked at the barrel.
“Ah, nothing. I was just thinking it’s not that much farther. See,” he jacked his thumb over his left shoulder, “the sun is quite a bit higher in the sky.”
Sweet mercy, she looked, taking the bait of distraction. He took the growling of her stomach as a gift from the gods. “Come on. The sooner we eat…” The sentence fizzled out under her defensive glare. Without a ready excuse, and unable to lie, German figured it was best his words failed him anyway. He turned back toward the rising sun without meeting the challenge of her steady, gray eyed gaze.
Risky. Because if she didn’t follow him now that she had her gun? The hair on his nape stiffened as he thought about having to scratch this plan for another one. Something he’d probably be doing a lot of until he handed her over to the Alphas.
When he heard the crackling of the dried leaves in the path behind him, he refused to think of the real reason he was relieved. It was enough she followed, and he’d leave it at that. He had to leave it at that. Anything more and he’d stop making plans and act on instinct. Which wouldn’t turn out good for either one of them.
German kept his mouth shut until their feet hit pavement, and followed the scent of hot grease toward the Blueberry Diner.
~Installment #19 coming soon.