Crescent Moon (Chapter 15)

Adam's place definitely looked better on the inside. Not much furniture, but tidy and dry – what more could anyone want?

Hot water and a shot of whiskey – Irish, to be sure. I was suddenly so cold, my bones ached. Which made no sense. The storm hadn't done one thing to dissipate the heat.

"I'll put your clothes in the dryer." Adam held out a hand. I stared at it, confused. "Your shirt, cher."

He wanted me to strip in the living room?

His mouth quirked at my sudden shyness, but he didn't point out that he'd already seen everything, touched and tasted it, too. Instead he nodded to the nearest door. "Bathroom's right there. Take a shower, toss out your things."

"Hot water?" My voice quivered with hope.

Adam nodded. "I live here year-round. Could do without electric, but why? Bought a generator first thing."

I practically ran into the bathroom, which was small but functional. I turned on the water, tossed my clothes through the door. As I waited for the steam to rise, my gaze flickered over the countertop.

Shaving cream, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, blow-dryer. I guess that solved the mystery of the un-wet hair, though why Adam had taken time to dry his locks while I wandered the swamp, I had no idea. Maybe he caught chills easily. He should try wearing a shirt and shoes.

Climbing into the shower, I nearly moaned as the water hit my skin. Though I would have liked to stand under the stream for an hour, I made do with fifteen minutes. Then I dried off, wrapped my hair in one towel and my body in a second, and went searching for Adam.

He stood at the front window. Night had descended completely. The thought of going out in that storm, walking alone through the dark, was too much. I would never be able to do it.

My clothes were gone, presumably whirling around the dryer with his. The image of our things all tangled together and warm made me think of other warm things that should be tangled together.

What was the matter with me? Was I suddenly obsessed with sex because it had been so long since I'd had any, or was I obsessed because I'd had it with him?

"Hey," I murmured.

He turned, and our gazes met across the tiny room. He'd donned gray sweatpants and a bright yellow T-shirt, which made his skin appear more bronzed and his eyes more blue. I was so out of my league.

"Hey," he returned. "I'll get you somethin' to wear while de dryer does its thing."

I didn't protest. There was no way I could be in the same room with Adam wearing only a towel and not be distracted by thoughts of him tearing it off of me.

Then again, would that be so bad? What were we going to do all night? Play chess?

I followed him down the hall, standing in the doorway as he rooted through a dresser. The bedroom was as sparse as the living room – nothing but a queen-size bed and a place to store clothes.

I lost the towel. The swish of the terry cloth down my legs, the slight thunk as it hit the floor, were taint, yet his head went up like a deer sensing danger in the forest His eyes widened, and he dropped the T-shirt in his hand back into the drawer.

"The bed looks comfortable," I observed.

He crossed the floor, stopping just in front of me. Reaching up, he tugged the towel turban from my head. My damp, wildly curling hair tumbled free.

"Better than de ground," he whispered.

Lightning flashed so brightly, I still saw the flare after it faded. Thunder shook the earth; the windows rattled.

"Gonna be a long night, cher."

"I hope so."

He led me to the bed, and we passed the long night together.

I awoke in that hour when the moon dies and the sun is bom – the darkest time. The storm had raged outside, wild and primitive. Inside we'd done our best to imitate nature. I was both exhausted and exhilarated. Achy and alive.

I turned my head. Adam's face was so close, his breath caressed my cheek. I resisted the urge to brush back his hair and kiss his brow.

Just sex, I reminded myself. I had a job to do, a vow to fulfill, a life to lead. One that did not include a reclusive former Special Forces officer with too many secrets.

I didn't believe he'd murdered a man with his bare hands. How could he, and then touch me so gently in the night? There was violence in him certainly, but not insanity. At least not yet.

I frowned at the thought and shifted to glance out the window. My heart seemed to leap into my throat I wanted to call for Adam, but I couldn't speak.

A wolf stared through the glass. Huge, black, beautiful. A shaft of excitement, of joy almost, shot through me that I'd at last found something I was searching for. And then I saw the beast's eyes.

Wolves have brown eyes – dark, light, sometimes hazel. They do not possess orbs of blue.

But what really freaked me out was the white surrounding the iris. I could swear those eyes were human –  and familiar.

They were Adam's eyes.

I sat up with a gasp, trying to catch my breath, finally succeeding. I looked to the right. The wolf was gone.

Bracing myself, I looked to the left. Adam continued to sleep undisturbed.

I put my palm to my chest; my heart threatened to burst through my skin.

A dream, that was all. There hadn't really been a wolf with human eyes staring at me with just a hint of desire –  though I had to say his expression had been more famished than carnal.

I lay down, spent a few moments breathing in and out, trying to make my heart return to a normal pace, hoping I didn't wake Adam with my foolishness. After his performance, he had to be more tired than I was.

The memory calmed me. I shifted closer, enjoying the warmth, the scent of his skin, the rhythm of his breathing. I hadn't realized how much I hated sleeping alone.

I drifted, perched on the precipice of sleep, when a tap at the window brought me wide awake again. My eyes snapped open. I expected the wolf; I did not expect Simon.

A soft sob escaped my mouth. Just a dream again, had to be. Simon was dead. He could not be outside Adam's window.

I cringed at Simon seeing me in bed with another man, even if it was a dream Simon.

He tapped on the glass, crooked his finger, so I slipped from beneath the covers and padded naked across the floor.

Simon appeared exactly the same as he had the day he'd died. Tall and a bit gaunt – he'd always forgotten to eat unless I reminded him – his blond hair and blue eyes appeared almost Nordic. I hadn't known he was British until he opened his mouth. That accent had been my undoing.

When I'd met him he was well respected in his field. By the time he died he was a laughingstock, referred to as "The Wolfman" by people who'd once admired him.

A few days before his death he finally told me why he was willing to risk everything to find something no one else believed in. He'd seen a werewolf as a child in England – out on the moors, in the fog – and ever since, he'd been unable to forget.

I'd rationalized away the sighting as too much American Werewolf in London for a twelve-year-old mind He'd been understandably angry that the one person in the world who should believe him, didn't, and when he'd received a call that a werewolf had been seen hi northern Wisconsin, he'd gone alone.

I hadn't believed him, and he'd died for it

Simon laid his palm against the glass. Droplets of ram ran down, skirting his fingers. I lifted my hand and pressed it to the windowpane, too.

God, I missed him.

"D-baby," he murmured.

Only the two of us knew that nickname.

"I'm here, Simon."

"I'm not"

"I know."

He glanced over his shoulder as if someone had called him, then returned his gaze to mine. "I have to go."

"Not yet"

He stepped back. Weird. He wasn't wet, and the rain was still coming down. Or maybe not so weird after all.

"You promised," he said.

I'd sworn till death do us part, but in my heart that meant forever. A love like ours just didn't go away.

I felt it now, swelling inside of me, making my eyes tear and my chest tighten. "Don't leave me."

"I never have. I'll be with you until the end of time. You took a vow, D-baby. Remember?"

He'd come to remind me of the vow and not our love? Dream Simon or not, I wanted to slug him.

"I haven't forgotten," I snapped. "Why do you think I'm here? I've been chasing legends every which way ever since you died. I haven't found one damn thing."

"You have to believe in order to see, not the other way around."

He'd told me that countless times, but faith, for me, was tough. I was a scientist; I needed proof.

"Be safe," he whispered; then he was gone.

I jolted as if I'd been startled awake. However, I wasn't in bed; I was standing at the window. I couldn't have been sleeping. Unless I'd been sleepwalking.

As I leaned close, my nose brushed the glass. Nothing was out there but the night. I inched back, and my gaze caught on the imprint of a hand.

My heart gave one hard thud before I came to my senses. I'd touched the window in my sleep, that was all. To prove it, I fit my palm to the outline.

The fingertips on the glass extended half an inch past my own.