Home > Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(9)

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1)(9)
Author: Patricia Briggs

She threw the rags of his bandages and clothes into the trash next to the washing machine. He had a sink in the laundry room, and she filled it with cold water and loaded it with everything salvageable. She let them soak a few minutes while she changed into clean clothes, dumping her bloodstained shirt and jeans into the sink, too. She found a five-gallon bucket filled with folded, clean rags sitting next to the dryer, and grabbed a few to clean the floor.

He didn't react when she came in; his eyes were closed and his face composed. He should have looked silly sitting in bloodstained underwear with stripes of pink and green bandage wound around him, but he just looked like Charles.

The blood on the floor cleaned up as easily as he'd promised. She gave it one last polishing swipe and stood to go back downstairs with her bloodstained rags, but Charles caught her ankle in one big hand and she froze, wondering if he'd lost control at last.

"Thank you," he said, sounding civilized enough.

"I'd say anytime, but if you make me bandage you very often, I'd have to kill you," she told him.

He grinned, his eyes still closed. "I'll try not to bleed more often than necessary," he promised, releasing her to her tasks.

Once the washer was churning away downstairs, she busied herself nuking frozen burritos from his freezer. If she was hungry, he must be starving.

She didn't find any coffee, but there was instant hot chocolate and a variety of teas. Deciding sugar was what was needed, she boiled water for cocoa.

When everything was done, she took a plate and a cup of cocoa into the living room and set them on the floor in front of him. He didn't open his eyes or move, so she left him alone.

She looked through the house until she found his bedroom. It wasn't difficult. For all the luxuriousness of his furnishings and trimmings, it wasn't a huge house. There was only one room with a bed.

That gave her an unpleasant little pause.

She pulled back the blankets. At least she didn't have to deal with sex for a few days yet. He wasn't in any shape for gymnastics right now. Being a werewolf had taught her- among other things-to ignore the past, live in the present, and not think too much about the future. It worked, too, as long as the present was bearable.

She was tired, tired and completely out of place. She did what she'd learned to do over the past few years and drew on the strength of her wolf. Not enough that another wolf could sense it, and she knew that if she looked in a mirror, it would be her own brown eyes staring out at her. But under her skin she could feel that Other. She'd used the wolf to get through things her human half wouldn't have survived. For now, it gave her more strength and insulated her from her worries.

She smoothed her hand over the forest green sheets- Charles seemed to like green-and returned to the living room.

He was still sitting up, his eyes were open, and both the cocoa and the burritos she'd left him with were gone-all good signs. But his gaze was unfocused, and his face was still paler than it should be, with deep lines of strain on it.

"Let's get you to bed," she told him from the safety of the hallway. Best not to startle a wounded werewolf, even one in human form who was having trouble sitting up on his own.

He nodded and accepted her help. Even in human form he was big, a foot or more taller than her five feet two. He was heavy, too.

She could have picked him up and carried him if she'd needed to, but it would have been awkward and she'd have hurt him. Instead, she put her shoulder under his arm and propped him up on the way to his bedroom.

So close to him, it was impossible not to respond to the scent of his skin. He smelled of male and mate. Aided by that scent, she let herself sink into her wolf's certainty of him, welcoming the beast's contentment.

He didn't make a sound the whole way to his bed, though she could feel the extent of his pain in the tension in his muscles. He felt hot and feverish, and that worried her. She'd never seen a werewolf feverish before.

He sat down on the mattress with a hiss. The blood left on the waistband of his boxers was going to stain the sheets, but she didn't feel comfortable pointing it out. He looked ready to collapse-he'd been in a lot better shape before he decided to change to human. As old as he was, he should have known better.

"Why didn't you just stay wolf?" she scolded.

Cool eyes met hers with more wolf than man in their yellow depths. "You were going to leave. The wolf had no way to talk you out of it."

He'd gone through that because he was worried she'd leave him? Romantic...and stupid.

She rolled her eyes in exasperation. "And just where would I have gone? And what would it have mattered to you if you'd managed to bleed to death?"

Deliberately, he dropped his gaze.

That this wolf, this man, so dominant that even humans skittered away when he walked by, would give her the advantage took her breath away.

"My father would take you wherever you wanted to go," he told her softly. "I was pretty sure I could talk you into staying, but I underestimated how badly hurt I was."

"Stupid," she said tartly.

He looked up at her, and whatever he saw in her face made him smile, though his voice was serious when he answered her charge. "Yes. You throw my judgment off."

He started to lie back in the bed, and she quickly put her arm around him, just above the bandage, and helped him ease back onto the mattress.

"Would you rather lie on your side?"

He shook his head and bit his lip. She knew from experience how much lying down could hurt when you were badly injured.

"Is there someone I could call for you?" she asked. "A doctor? Your father?"

"No. I'll be fine after a little sleep."

She gave him a skeptical look that he didn't see. "Is there a doctor? Or a medical person who knows more than I do around here somewhere? Like maybe a ten-year-old Boy Scout?"

He flashed a quick grin, and it warmed his austere beauty until it hurt her heart. "My brother is a doctor, but he's probably still in Washington state." He hesitated. "Maybe not, though. He'll probably be back for the funeral."

"Funeral?" Bran's friend's funeral, she remembered- the reason Bran hadn't been able to stay longer in Chicago.

"Tomorrow," he answered, though that wasn't what she meant. Since she wasn't sure she'd wanted to know more about who was dead and why, she didn't ask again. He fell silent, and she thought he was sleeping until he spoke again. "Anna, don't trust too easily."

"What?" She put her hand on his forehead, but it didn't feel any hotter.

"If you decide to take my da up on his offer to leave, remember he seldom does things for simple motives. He wouldn't be as old as he is, wouldn't hold as much as he does, if he were a simple man. He wants you for his own use." He opened his gold eyes and held her in his gaze. "He's a good man. But he has a firm grip on reality, and his reality tells him that an Omega might mean that he never has to kill another friend."

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