“I don’t know for sure.”
My heart raced. “Guess.”
“Your heart’s racing. Let’s drop it for now. It can wait.” He finally looked up at me. A slow grin spread across his face. “Trust me. It can wait.”
“Okaaaay.” Weirdo. But I had enough to worry about without this thing, whatever it was. “Are we still going on the walk?”
“I wouldn’t let you out of my sight if I could manage it.”
I tugged on his hand. “Not cool. That’s more than a little stalker-ish, dude.”
He laughed. “Okay. So that didn’t come out right.” He thought for a second. “How about I’d like to spend as much time with you as you’ll let me.”
I nodded. “Better. Just this side of Stalkerville.”
He gazed down at me. “I thought girls liked that kind of thing.”
“Yeah. It’s kind of nice.” I grinned.
We walked in silence. I didn’t know where he was leading me, and I didn’t care. The ground crunched beneath my shoes. The smell of trees, grass, dirt and clean air was intoxicating. It wasn’t the same air as LA. You had to breathe through the layer of smog there. Some days it was so thick, you couldn’t even see the mountains. Totally gross. But in Texas, the fresh air made me long to spend time outside even in spite of the heat.
We reached a sharp drop. I glimpsed the rocky bed below us. “The creek?”
“Yep. We’ll get heavy rains in the winter and spring and it’ll fill up for a while, but by summer it’s always dry,” he said. “Want to go back or climb down?”
Caves pocked the wall on the other side of the creek bed. One of them looked large enough for someone to live in. Shadows filled its depths. But the thing that made me pause was the ladder that hung between it and the cave below. It was weather-beaten and missing a few rungs, which made it look ancient. “What’s in those caves?”
Dastien looked where I pointed. “Some Native American drawings. It was a popular place for spirit quests.”
Cool. I shaded the sun to try to get a better look, but it didn’t do any good. “Can we go look?”
The side of Dastien’s mouth lifted. “Sure. There’s a small path down here. Be careful. It’s steep.”
I watched Dastien take the first couple of steps. His lithe movements mesmerized me. His muscles tensed and released under his tight grey T-shirt, and his jeans made his butt look so cute. I titled my head as I stared.
He chose that moment to look back at me.
“You coming?” A grin spread across his face. “What are you looking at?”
“Just enjoying the view.” No guy ever caught my attention the way Dastien did. I studied his face, with its strong angles. His amber eyes seemed to be laughing at me, and his grin sure said I was amusing.
It took some effort to reign in my hormones.
I turned my gaze to the ground and started down the path. He wasn’t kidding. It was steep. Dastien made it look easy as he climbed down, but dirt and rocks skidded out from under my shoes, dropping the forty feet or so to the bottom. I kept one hand against the cliff wall as we walked.
I gasped as I slipped, pebbles scattering.
Dastien grabbed my waist. “Careful.”
“You didn’t tell me I might die on this trail.”
He didn’t laugh like I expected. “I would never let you fall.”
I rolled my eyes. “I was kidding.”
“But I’m not.”
The moment was too intense for words. He kept eye contact a second longer than was comfortable, and then turned back to the trail.
By the time we reached the bottom, I’d worked up a good sweat. I scanned up and down the creek. “It’s so quiet.” With the creek walls and trees cutting off even the normal outdoor noise, it felt like we were the only people for miles.
Dastien sat down on a large rock. “Yeah.”
“It’s peaceful here. I’m peaceful.” I sat down next to him and took a deep breath. It was the most settled I’d felt in days. Years. I’d always been frazzled from the torrent of visions. Sure, I’d gotten used to them, managed them, but it was never easy. “Something’s changed.”
Dastien stared at me. He knew what was going on and the jerk wasn’t sharing.
“What?” I said.
“Why do I feel so calm?”
“I’m an alpha. One of the perks of being a strong alpha means that you can hold a pack.” He laughed at the confusion on my face. “I’ve used it on you a couple of times. Made you feel calm. Settled down your wolf to stop the shift.”