Mr. Dawson had said that there was a big creek behind the neighborhood. The dark part was probably where the drop started. I walked toward the edge of the darkness, where the ground started to slope. Yup. My house had to be somewhere down the edge here since both our houses backed up to the creek.

I sat down on the grass and contemplated walking home.


Listening to the sounds of the night, I took another sip of the beer and gagged again. Even though I was dying for a cold drink, I couldn’t choke it down. I looked around to see if anyone else was outside, and then pitched the liquid into the creek.

“Hey!” A voice shouted from the darkness.

I jumped up. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry! I totally didn’t see you.” A shape of a guy stepped into the light—tall, definitely over six feet, with dark hair. He was brushing himself off. His eyes glowed yellow in the moonlight. My breath caught.

“It’s fine.” Dastien motioned to my now empty cup. “Not to your taste?”

“No.” My face flamed. “I really am sorry. I didn’t see you.” He was wearing the same black jeans and black T-shirt he had on earlier. When he shoved his hands in his pockets, a line of his skin peeked from beneath the shirt.

I looked down at his feet to get away from the overload he caused, but even the sight of his bare feet on the grass made my heart stop.

Where were his shoes?

He put his finger under my chin, lifting my head until our eyes met. I squeezed mine closed, dreading the vision that would come.

Running through the forest. Smell of grass and trees. And a rabbit. Hunt.

-- Advertisement --

He dropped his hand to his side, and the vision went away. “Don’t worry about it.”

That was it? A feeling of running, the smells of nature, and a slight urge to chase animals. What kind of guy thought about those things? And why didn’t I see the usual triple-X rated show? A guy that hot had to be a chick-magnet of extreme proportions. No way was he celibate.

I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until I gasped for air. I seemed to do that a lot around him. The burning in my cheeks slowly spread through my whole body.

“Vamanos, Dastien,” a deep voice said from the dark.

Squinting, I tried to find where it was coming from.

“I’ll catch up with you later,” he said, keeping his gaze on me.

I smiled. I didn’t think I could stand it if he left so soon.

“Dude,” said a different voice. “Not a good idea. You know—”

Dastien had his back to me before I even saw him move. I stepped away from him as a growl echoed through the darkness.

The guys must have a dog out there. Some kind of really big and scary sounding dog.

“Fine. It’s your funeral if anything happens. Come on, Cody. Let’s go.”

Dastien turned back to me and sat next to my feet as if that little exchange hadn’t happened. “How was your day?” He smiled as he held out a hand.

I laughed at his so very ordinary question. “It was okay, I guess.” I couldn’t figure this guy out. There was something different about him. He didn’t act like any other guy I’d ever met.

I tried to tell myself that I took his offered hand because I was curious. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that for the first time that I was attracted to someone real. Movie stars and characters in novels didn’t count.

His hand was so warm that I could feel his heat through my glove. When I settled down next to him, I thought he’d let go, but instead he laced his fingers through mine.

I stared at our joined hands. Mine fit perfectly in his, and at once I felt completely relaxed, which never happened. Not around people. Especially not when someone was touching me.

I was losing my mind. I had gloves on. That was the only reason that I could hold his hand.

I searched for something to say. Something not stupid. “You said you went to St. Ailbe’s, but Mr. Dawson said you were taught there sometimes.”

“Yup, graduated two years ago. I’m taking a year or so more before college to help out at the school.”

“You don’t look like any teacher I’ve ever had.” I nearly slapped a hand over my mouth. I could not believe I’d just said that.

He smiled. “Is that a good thing?”

Whoa. Dangerous territory alert. This called for a major subject change. “You only have an accent sometimes.”

“I’ve lived in the area for most of my life, but I was born in France.” He grinned at me. “And don’t think I didn’t notice the subject change.”

-- Advertisement --