Installment No. 24
No effing way!
Sofia’s brain repeated the denial several times before she realized her jaw was hanging open like a fish tossed onto the bank. She snapped it shut and let her mind skim over the details so she could concentrate on what had unfolded before her.
There was something physically wrong with German, and she’d seen it with her own peepers. He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Incredible Hulk, maybe. He was something not human. German’s body had changed somehow; Sofia just didn’t know the how. He’d scrambled out of sight before she could see much of anything to define it. But what she was certain of was the heat of his body as he’d launched himself away from her.
The same spike in temperature she’d felt the night before. Which meant, just maybe, he hadn’t been repulsed by touching her like she’d thought. Huh.
She sat up a little a taller. And opened her mouth to shout for him then clapped it shut. What was she doing? She’d just witnessed some man’s body writhe and buckle, probably into some kind of monster, and she was calling him back?
Because in spite of her huh moment elbowing for some quality time, Sofia couldn’t ignore the absence of her fear. She wasn’t scared. Intrigued as hell, yes. But frightened? Far from it. She wanted to see more. There was something about all of this she was missing, and for the first time in her life she wanted to talk and not play the Patience game.
She cocked an ear to listen, but with her heart fluttering like Tinkerbell’s wings in her ears, she couldn’t hear much else.
There! Sofia spun on her knees to face the rustling behind her. German stood against the trees, as naked as she knew he’d have to be since his pants were spread across the ground not far from his boots.
And because his shirt was still wound around her wrists.
“German.” It was her turn to sputter names without tagging on words.
She took a couple of steps toward him, then stopped as his body went hair-trigger tight. Even from fifteen feet away, she could feel his heat, see the clenching of his scruffy jaw.
“You came back.” Ordinarily, she’d have hid her happiness as it bloomed across her face like sunshine. But this time she wouldn’t, not when German seemed so raw. And ready to bolt. Like they’d reversed roles and she was his captor. A game to catch her off guard?
In spite of herself, Sofia’s eyes licked over every inch of the man, memorizing the contour of his muscled legs, the tuck of taut belly muscles along his hip bones. Christ, he was beautiful. But definitely not playing any kind of head game. Which aaalmost made her feel guilty for messing with his head with her silent treatment. Almost. He had trussed her up like a calf, after all.
“Will you untie my hands?” She held them up as if to make it easier for him to reach. Except he didn’t move. Or look at her. He kept his face averted, as if hiding his expression or something. Like she couldn’t see his jaw muscle clenched tight as a baby’s fist? As if the rest of his nude body didn’t give him away?
German shook his head no.
Now he looked at her. “Because you’ll run,” he growled, making her think there was something wrong with his vocal chords. But whatever. She liked the scratch of his voice and the way the scrape of it tingled her belly—exactly the way his kiss had.
“No. I promise I won’t.”
His eyes narrowed to suspicious slits, weighing the integrity of her words. Finally, he stepped closer. She could smell his heat. Along with something else.
“You smell like trees.”
The corner of his mouth twitched in a shy smile before he glanced away.
“Yeah. Trees. I like it. So, was there something you wanted to tell me? I mean, you’re putting in an awful lot of effort for a standard kidnapping here.”
“Yeah. But I am kidnapping you, sort of.”
Now why didn’t that spike her heart rate into the sky? “I gathered the sort of. You’re not exactly playing it by the manual. I mean, Chapter Two clearly states that to subdue your victim you’re supposed to tie their hands and their feet. Then gag them so they can’t talk or scream.”
Oh, yes, Sofe. Give him ideas. “You’re fudging your job,” she taunted as she sidled closer. Man, did she want closer. Was she missing a safety gene? She knew she was a freak, but did she actually have a death wish?
“I know. I should have killed you days ago.”
Yep. Yes, I do. “But you didn’t.”
“I couldn’t.” He locked his gaze on her then, and Sofia read the desperation behind those green eyes. He was worried.
About her? Impossible, right? Except she trusted her judgment when it came to body language, even though she’d always gotten in trouble for it. Yet, in this moment it was finally going to hold her in good stead, so she kept her rudder on frank.
“Why are you worried?”
The naked man before her clenched his jaw and averted his gaze again. She’d struck home.
“German. Why are you anxious?” She kept her tone steady and her voice low as she inched closer to him. Man, but that aroma of trees wafting from his warmth ribboned all the way through her.
He pinned his gaze on her again, hardening his stare, stopping her cold. “Because once you know the truth you’re going to freak out, and then I’ll have to kill you.”
Damn, that wasn’t the answer she was fishing for. He was riled, and his muscles twitched and flexed as his body heat engulfed them.
She knew that heat, and now her heart rate finally did jack up. Mr. Hyde itched to get let out. And she kind of liked that, too, felt herself bracing for it.
“Because you can’t,” she taunted, and sidled in so tight she had to look up at him. Christ, he was a goddamned oven, his toasty grill heaving up and down as he took gulps of air. Acting on instinct alone, riding her body and what it dictated, Sofia shut off her brain as she stretched onto her tippy-toes.
Then wrapped her mouth around his searing throat.
German flinched like she’d electrocuted him, then shoved himself away from her. When they locked eyes again, his tightened with sorrow. Or was it regret?
Sofia froze as the man before her dropped to his knees, shook his entire body, and roared as the muscles and bones beneath his skin slithered like snakes.
Jesus, Mary, Mother of God. He isn’t human.
Sofia didn’t notice her lungs burning from lack of oxygen. She was just a little too busy staring down upon the most spectacular being she had ever laid eyes on.
~Installment No. 25 coming Tuesday, February 4, 2014.