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Home > Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(10)

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(10)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"Like the one whose funeral is tomorrow?" she said. Yes, that was the undercurrent she'd been sensing.

He nodded once, fiercely. "You couldn't have helped with this one, no one could have. But maybe the next one..."

"Your father won't really let me leave?" Was she a prisoner?

He caught her anxiety. "I didn't mean that. He doesn't lie. He told you that he'd see to it that you could leave if you wanted to-and he will. He'll try to get you to agree to go where he needs you most, but he won't keep you against your will."

Anna looked at him, and the wolf inside her relaxed. "You wouldn't keep me here if I didn't want to be, either. "

His hands moved with breathtaking speed, clasping her wrists before she could react. His eyes lightened from burnished gold to bright wolf amber as he said hoarsely, "Don't count on that, Anna. Don't count on that."

She ought to have been afraid. He was bigger and stronger than she was, and the speed of his movement was calculated to scare her-though she wasn't sure why he felt he had to unless he wanted to make sure she understood. But with the wolf ascendant, she couldn't be afraid of him-he was hers and would no more hurt her than she would willingly hurt him.

She leaned forward, resting her forehead on his. "I know you," she told him. "You can't fool me." The conviction settled her. She might have known him only a short time-a very short time-but in some ways she knew him better than he knew himself.

Surprisingly, he laughed-a quiet huff that she hoped didn't hurt too much. "How did Leo manage to fool you into behaving like a submissive wolf?"

All those beatings, the unwilling couplings with men she didn't want-she looked down at the scars on the wrists that Charles held. She'd used a silver knife, and if she hadn't gotten impatient, if she'd waited until she was home alone, she'd have died.

Leo had been trying to break her because she wasn't a submissive, she was something else entirely. He hadn't wanted her to know it. She was outside the pack structure, Charles had told her. Neither dominant nor submissive. Omega. Whatever that meant.

Charles's hand traveled rapidly from her wrists to the sides of her face. He pulled her away from him until he could see her face. "Anna? Anna, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"

"It wasn't you," she told him. "I'm all right." She focused and noticed that he looked even more tired than he had before. "You need to sleep."

He looked at her searchingly, then nodded and released her. "There's a TV in the dining room. Or you can play on the Internet on my computer in the study. There are-"

"I'm tired, too." She might have been conditioned to walk around with her tail between her legs, but she wasn't stupid. Sleep was just what her exhausted mind needed to try to cope with the abrupt changes in her life. Exchanging Chicago for the wilds of Montana was the least of it: Omega and valued, not submissive and worthless; a mate and whatever that meant. Better than she'd had, that was for darn sure, but it was still a bit traumatic.

"Do you mind if I sleep here?" She kept her tone diffident, not wanting to intrude where she wasn't wanted. This was his territory-but her wolf was reluctant to leave him alone and wounded.

It felt awkward, this needing. Awkward and dangerous, as if what he was might reach out and swallow her whole- or change her beyond recognition. But she was too tired to fight it or even figure out if she wanted to fight it.

"Please," he said, and it was enough.

* * * *

She was right, he knew. He needed to sleep.

After she'd come back from the bathroom in a thread-bare flannel shirt and faded pajama pants, she'd curled up next to him and dropped right off. He was exhausted, too, but he found he was unwilling to give up any of the time he could spend with her in his arms, his unexpected gift.

He didn't know what she thought about him. Prior to being shot, he'd been planning on taking more time courting her. That way she'd be more sure of him before he dragged her out of her territory.

The look on her face when she'd stepped into his home...she made a noise, and he loosened his arms. He'd done some more damage to himself with that change, and he'd heal even slower in human form-but if he'd lost her, that would be a wound he suspected would never heal.

She was tough to have survived Leo's treatment and still come out whole in the end. No matter what she said about her lack of options, he knew if he hadn't distracted her, she'd have run from him. The weariness he felt now and the pain of the change were well worth it. He'd waited a long time to find her, and he wasn't about to chance losing her.

It felt strange to have a woman in this bed-at the same time it seemed as if she'd always been there. His. She had her hand lying over the wound in his chest, but he ignored the ache for a fiercer, more joyous pain.

His.

The Marrok's voice floated into his head and out again, like a warm stream. The funeral will be at nine in the morning. If you can't make it, let me know. Samuel will be there; he'll want to take a look at your wounds afterward.

Bran wasn't a true telepath; he could send but not receive. Samuel had once told Charles that Bran hadn't always been able to do even that much, but sometime after becoming an Alpha for the first time, he had developed the talent for it.

And there is something I need from you...

His father's voice trailed off, and Charles knew he wasn't meant to hear that part. Or at least his father hadn't meant him to hear it.

He'd never questioned either his father's faith in God or his grandfather's faith in the spirits, because he knew them both. God seldom talked to him, though He sometimes warned or lent comfort or strength. But the spirits were more demanding, if often less beneficent, and Charles had learned to recognize when one of them was tugging at him.

"Sorry," he whispered to Anna as he reached for the telephone, which was thankfully not too great a stretch from his side of the bed. But she didn't stir.

He dialed his father's cell phone.

"Can't make it to the funeral? Are you worse?" Even before caller ID, his father had always known who was calling. With Charles, he'd long since ceased to waste time on greetings and jumped straight into conversation.

"I'm fine, Da," Charles said. Anna's muscles tightened against him just a little as she woke up. "But you had something else to tell me."

There was a pause. "If I'd known your mother was a medicine man's daughter, I'd never have taken her to mate." He'd said that ever since his son had begun showing signs of his mother's talents. Charles smiled: his father knew better than to believe even he could lie to another werewolf-or at least not to his sons. Not even over the phone.

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