Numbers Page 7

He was breaking her heart. She made a decision. ’’Well, you have a friend now. You\ e important to me. Don\ give up, Mourn. Let me help you. I know you probably feel as if there\s nothing that will make things better, but take a chance. Just give it a shot. You can\ allow things to remain the way they are.’’

’’You don\ know me.’’

’’I want to.’’ She leaned closer. ’’What\s your favorite color?’’

He was silent for a moment. ’’I love red. It is so bright.’’

’’It is. What about your favorite food?’’

’’Is this important?’’

’’We\ e getting to know each other. I love the color yellow. Have you ever seen a sunflower? I love those. I know they aren\ as beautiful as roses or tulips, but they remind me of summer days. They are cheerful. Plus, I like to eat sunflower seeds. They are pretty and a food source as well.’’

He rose to his full height. ’’I should take you back.’’

Dana had messed up somehow. Perhaps talking about favorites with a New Species wasn\ her best idea. She slid off the branch and got to her feet. Mourn stepped forward and bent, scooping her into his arms. He lifted her easily, as if she didn\ weigh much. She wrapped her arm around his neck and curled her other hand over his bare shoulder.

’’I could walk.’’

’’You\ e barefoot, and I don\ want you to step on something sharp.’’

’’Thank you.’’ She hesitated before relaxing in his arms and resting her cheek against his chest. He was really warm and smelled of something manly, perhaps a scented body wash. ’’I hope I\m not too heavy.’’

’’You\ e not.’’ He stopped at the short wall that marked Paul\s backyard. ’’You shouldn\ smoke. It\s bad for you.’’

She turned her head and their faces were close enough that she could make out his striking eyes. ’’So is fighting. Besides, it\s vapor not the real stuff. I\m not looking to hurt myself anymore.’’

His lips twitched but he didn\ smile. ’’You want to live.’’

’’So should you.’’

He bent forward enough to clear the wall and gently placed her on her feet. She missed the warmth of his body when they parted. ’’Your shirt...’’ She started to remove it, intent on handing it back.

’’Keep it. I\ll come back tomorrow night. Expect me. We\ll talk more.’’

’’I\d like that.’’

’’Don\ tell anyone.’’

That statement surprised her. ’’Why?’’

’’They will attempt to talk you out of it, or prevent me from coming near you. They know I\m unstable.’’ He stepped into the shadows and turned his head as if searching for something. ’’I\ll come when the lights go out.’’

She watched him disappear into the night. She turned, strolled up to the table and bent over to pick up case and replace the tube. She eased open the slider. Silence assured her that Paul and Becky hadn\ noticed her absence. She stepped in and locked the door behind her.

Dana entered the guestroom and ran her fingers over Mourn\s cotton shirt after she removed it. She walked to the closet and hung it up, hiding it among her own clothes. He wanted to keep their meeting a secret, and she would respect that. Her brother would have a fit if he knew she\d willingly allowed a stranger to carry her off. A smile curved her lips. It had been a pretty brave venture on her part, and it beat sitting on the patio feeling depressed. Mourn needed a friend, and she appreciated feeling useful.

Mourn kept his back pressed tightly to the tree trunk as he watched the slim blonde hang his shirt in her closet. She didn\ pick up the phone to call Security. He had feared she might. She also didn\ wake Paul or his mate. Instead she removed the robe and tossed it over the chair by the bed.

He moved to leave, but the sight of her nightgown surprised him. It was a white T-shirt that fell almost to mid-thigh with narrow straps at her shoulders and a big yellow, round face over her belly. The two black eyes and the curved smile on the big dot indicated happiness. She rounded the bed and climbed on it.

The shirt hiked high, and he sucked in air. The human wore white panties that barely concealed her se*. They were narrow and were cut high on her hips, exposing a lot of skin on each side of her ass. She had a curved, generous one with very pale skin.

She got under the covers and shoved pillows behind her back. Her gaze darted around the room, and he wondered if she sensed him watching her. She didn\ look toward the window though, or at the gap in the parted curtains. She hugged the bedding to her waist and her head tipped down. Her hair fell forward, hiding her features. She used her thumb to push it back, hooking it behind her ear. When he could see her face again, the sorrowful expression did something odd to his stomach.

She was suffering too. It was tempting to approach the window and knock to let her know she wasn\ alone. He held still though, keeping in the shadows. She\d lost her mate. She also didn\ seem to be in a hurry to fall asleep. They had much in common.

He replayed their conversation inside his head. She\d been right about many things. He did live with guilt. He wished he\d talked to her longer, but he\d noticed her shivering despite the addition of his shirt. Humans were fragile, but especially the females. He didn\ want to risk her growing ill.

Motion at the edge of his vision drew his attention. He turned his head and watched an officer on patrol stroll down the sidewalk, heading toward the front of the house. He shifted positions and took off before the wind direction changed, revealing his presence. He kept to the shadows until he was far from the house and back in the park.

’’What were you doing?’’

He started and spun, a growl tearing from his throat as his hands curled into claws. ’’You make no sound,’’ he accused Darkness.

’’I don\ . I\m good at that.’’ The male wore all black, and stood about eight feet away. ’’Why were you watching the human female?’’

He clenched his teeth, refusing to acknowledge anything.

’’She didn\ kill your mate.’’

’’I know that.’’

’’You hate humans, but that\s Paul\s sister.’’

’’I know who she is.’’

’’Then you are aware that she\s not the enemy.’’

’’I didn\ say she was.’’

’’I came to seek you out to talk about today, but instead I found you under a tree watching a human through the window. I would have confronted you there, but I didn\ want to alarm her. This is her first visit to Homeland, and Paul is very excited about that. He will not want her to have a bad experience. He\ll want her to visit again. Stay away from the human areas. Do you wish for Paul to attack you if he believes his sister\s life is in danger? He won\ be able to do you much damage, but it would piss off his friends enough that they might seek retaliation if you harm the male. Is that your plan?’’


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