Numbers Page 24

’’F*king wonderful,’’ Paul muttered.

Dana stared at her brother. ’’Mourn isn\ going to hurt me.’’

’’How do you know? You only spent a few nights talking to him. I\ve known him far longer than you have, and I\m the one who keeps seeing him brought in with injuries. He\s got a death wish.’’

’’I know him better than you do.’’

’’Bullshit. You are being naïve, Dana. You know nothing about Species. I\d rather you hook up with one from the Wild Zone than Mourn. You don\ even know what that means, but at least I\d know one of them would never turn on you. They call it the Wild Zone for a reason. Some of them are almost feral, but Mourn is crazy. He lost his mate and he snapped. He attacks people who try to befriend him. Hell, he attacked the man standing behind you. Take a look at Darkness. Only a crazy son of a bitch would pick a fight with him. He\s scarier than shit.’’ Paul glanced over her head. ’’No offense, man.’’

’’None taken,’’ Darkness murmured.

’’You\ e upset, and you were worried. I get that, and I\m sorry.’’ Dana wanted to defuse the situation. ’’We overslept or I would have been back before you woke up. Mour ’’

’’You slept with him?’’ Paul lowered his head to stare at her clothes. He paled, and then jerked his gaze up. ’’You just slept, right?’’ He jerked out of Becky\s hold. ’’Did he f*k you? Tell me you didn\ let him touch you.’’

’’Calm,’’ Darkness ordered, his tone harsh.

’’Did you let him have se* with you?’’ Paul reached for Dana.

Darkness suddenly hooked her around her waist and jerked her back against his body, retreating a few steps in the process. He snarled, the sound scary and menacing. ’’Don\ touch her in anger.’’

’’I wasn\ going to hurt her.’’ Paul let his hand drop. ’’That\s my baby sister.’’

Darkness released her waist and stepped to her side, staying close. ’’You\ e the one acting crazy, Paul. She\s a fully grown female who shared se* with Mourn. It was consensual. They are bonding, and Mourn is moving into one of the cottages so they have a place to spend private time together. She\s attempting to tell you that, but you won\ allow her to speak.’’

Paul backed up and bumped into the island. He gawked at Dana. ’’Is that true?’’

’’I wouldn\ have worded it just like that but yes. Mourn asked me to move in with him, but I told him I wasn\ ready for that. We\ e going to spend more time together and see how that goes.’’

’’Have you lost your mind?’’

She could see how upset Paul was. She hated being the cause of it. ’’You wouldn\ understand.’’

’’You\ e right. I don\ . He\s the last person you should get involved with. He\s emotionally unstable. I know you feel sorry for him, but this is taking it way too far.’’

She\d just dropped a bomb on them so she was willing to forgive Paul for being a bit of an ass. She could even understand why he\d be upset, but she needed to rectify his last statement.

’’Stop right there. I don\ feel sorry for Mourn. I actually really care about him. I haven\ felt anything for anyone since Tommy.’’ She paused, shifting her gaze to include Becky as she glanced between them. ’’Mourn makes me feel. I know it\s irrational, and a few days ago I\d probably be thinking what you are. You don\ know him the way I do. He talks to me, and I can open up to him too. He also wouldn\ hurt me. I trust him. He\s sweet and really wonderful, Paul. I don\ know how to explain this so you\ll understand, but I want to give a relationship with Mourn a try.’’

The silence in the room was terrible. Dana could see Paul\s anger.

’’You don\ know what it\s like to watch someone you love die, or the kind of pain that comes with it. I put on a brave face, and tell people that time heals all. That\s bullshit, Paul. There\s this gaping hole inside me, and I exist every day with just the hope that I\m going to feel something besides the loss and loneliness that has become my life. For the first time, I wanted to be touched by someone. I slept without dreaming about Tommy or waking up to the realization that he\s dead. It\s like reliving that loss over and over, ripping off a scab and making it bleed again. I opened my eyes this morning to Mourn holding me. I wasn\ alone. I didn\ even think about Tommy until now. Do you know how wonderful that was? How great?’’

Tears filled Paul\s eyes. ’’Dana, I\m sorry. Why didn\ you tell me what you were still going through?’’

’’I knew it would tear you up, and there was nothing you could do to fix my problems. I realize I can get my heart broken if things don\ work out with Mourn, but I\d rather try this than go home to the life I left behind. It sucked, Paul. Mom setting me up with every loser she could find made it worse. You think Mourn is nuts? At least he doesn\ live in his mother\s basement, or give our mother pelvic exams.’’

’’What?’’

She glanced back at Darkness\s horrified expression. ’’It\s a long story but trust me, you don\ want to know.’’ She faced Paul again. ’’I don\ expect you to be overjoyed, or anything. I want to get to know Mourn better, and see if we can be happy together. I need to do this, hell, I want to do this. I\m taking a big risk, but guess what? It\s living instead of just existing. I\m scared and nervous that this could be a disaster, but I\m also excited to see where it leads. I\m pretty sure that I\m falling in love with him.’’

Becky walked over to Dana and hugged her. ’’We support you.’’

Paul still didn\ look thrilled, but the anger had drained out of him. ’’I will kill him if he hurts you.’’

’’Fair enough,’’ Darkness stated. ’’I\m going to arrange for Mourn to get new living quarters, and make phone calls to explain this situation. I take it that everything is fine here now?’’

’’Yeah. Thanks, Darkness.’’ Paul nodded at him.

Becky released Dana and Paul hugged her next. He held her close and sighed.

’’I worry. That\s all. Couldn\ you have picked anyone besides Mourn?’’

’’No.’’ She held onto him. ’’We\ e a lot alike.’’

’’Why are your clothes damp? Do I even want to know?’’


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