Seducing The Wolf (Chapter Nine)
Figuring she had waited long enough, Billie started filling her plate with food. "If you don't get out here soon the food will be cold," she called out to Royce.
She looked up when he stepped out of the bathroom. He wore only his jeans. His hair was damp in places where he had obviously used water to fix the spots where she had tunneled her fingers through it earlier.
He eyed the mound of food she had put on her plate. "Are you sure you have enough there?" he asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.
Billie looked down at her plate, then back up at Royce. She shrugged her shoulders. "What can I say, I like to eat. I work out enough I can get away with eating whatever I want and as much of it as I want."
"I can attest to that. You are by no means fat, and you aren't one of those stick thin women who starves themselves either. You're solidly built." Royce blinked when a chicken ball smacked him in the middle of the forehead. "What was that for?"
"Solidly built? Just what every woman wants to hear from the man she's sleeping with."
"Well, you are." A second chicken ball sailed across the table. This time it hit him square in the chest and bounced into his lap. Royce picked it up and put it on his plate. "I meant it in a good way, Billie. There's nothing worse than holding a woman in your arms, having to handle her as if she were glass because you're afraid if you hold her too tightly she'll shatter."
"Okay, I can see your reasoning, but can't you think of better way to describe it? Solidly built makes me think of pickup trucks that are used at construction sites. I know I'm not the most feminine woman on the planet, but I'm not that bad."
Royce made a show of studying her before he said anything else. "All right. How about sleek and strong? Like a leopard or some other large cat."
"Or a wolf." Much to Billie's surprise, all the humor left Royce's face and he went very still. "What? A wolf is strong, and it's built for running. I know I envy wolves being able to run wild in the forests. It must be an exhilarating feeling."
"It is exhilarating," Royce said quietly.
He had spoken so softly Billie was sure she had heard him wrong. "What did you say?"
"I said yes, it would be." Royce then seemed to come out of whatever had come over him. He motioned to her plate. "Eat up, or I'm going to think your eyes are bigger than your stomach."
Billie watched as Royce somehow managed to dish up twice the amount of food she had onto his plate. He then proceeded to put a remarkable dent into it in a short amount of time. She shook her head. She had a feeling with Royce around she was going to find it hard to keep food in her apartment. As she picked up her fork and started to eat, Billie couldn't help but wonder why her bringing up the topic of wolves had caused Royce to react the way he had.
* * * *
Billie caught herself looking at the clock hanging on a wall in the main gym for the hundredth time in the last half hour. It wasn't nearly as bad as it had been the day before. This time she got smart and didn't use her ability to see where Royce was every few minutes. But it still was annoying that she should feel so attached to him that being away from him for a few hours would do this to her.
Royce was going to be meeting her at the gym when her shift was over. He had at first insisted he would drop her off and then pick her up, but Billie had quickly vetoed that. Even though she was going over to Royce's place right after work, she didn't want to put him in the position of having to drive her back to her apartment in the morning so she could get her car. It just made more sense for her to follow him back to his house.
To help pass the time until Royce was to arrive, Billie was keeping busy by making sure all the free weights were put back in their proper places. She was in the middle of pulling forty-five pound plates off the barbell at one of the flat benches when Finn came up to her.
"Billie, do you think you could take a prospective member on a tour of the gym?"
"Isn't there anyone else who can do it?" Showing people around the gym while trying to sell them a membership wasn't something she enjoyed doing. Given her state of mind at the moment, she didn't know if she could trust herself to stay in the salesperson mindset that she needed to have to convince someone to buy a gym membership.
"Nope, just you. I would do it, but I have a training session to do. The others are busy as well, and Dad is out at some meeting."
She slid the last plate onto the rack of weights and nodded. "Fine. I'll do it."
Finn flashed a smile at her. "Thanks, Billie. I owe you one."
Heading for the front desk, Billie took another quick look at the clock. Royce would be arriving in fifteen minutes. If she was quick enough maybe she could have the tour done, and the paperwork finished if this person decided to join the gym before Royce arrived.
At the front desk Billie could see a man standing by the counter. He was tall, very tall, probably only an inch or two shorter than Royce. He was standing with his back to her, but he turned around when he heard her approaching. She noticed he was extremely good looking, and from the way he smiled at her, well he knew it. The only thing about him that set Billie on edge was his eyes. His light brown eyes had a hint of cruelty to them. The friendliness that he was trying to portray with his smile didn't seem to reach them.
Billie stuck out her hand to him. "Hi, I'm Billie. I understand you're interested in joining the gym?" He took her hand and gave it a quick shake. Before he released it, he rubbed his thumb back and forth across the back of her hand. Billie resisted the urge to wipe her hand on her pants.
"I'm Gren. Yes, I'm very interested, especially now that I've met you."
Plastering on what she hoped was a believable smile, Billie motioned for Gren to follow her. "Well then, let's get started on the tour. Once you've seen the gym, we then can talk prices."
"By all means. Lead on. So far I definitely like what I'm seeing."
Billie ground her teeth together as she led Gren onto the gym floor. His innuendo wasn't lost on her. Ignoring his last comment, she took a deep calming breath then started her sales pitch. As she took him around, she could feel Gren's eyes watching her every move. Completely out of character for her, she felt a chill of uneasiness run down her spine. There was just something about him that had Billie wanting to get as far away from him as possible. Hoping to get this over with quickly, she picked up the pace.
* * * *
Royce pulled opened the door and stepped into the gym's lobby. He was about to tell the girl behind the front desk that he was here to see Billie when he detected the scent of another werewolf inside the building. And it was one that he easily recognized. Curling his lip back in a snarl, he followed the scent trail as he battled to keep the wolf inside him at bay. That Billie's scent was mixed in with the other had the wolf rising up, wanting to battle the other who was with his mate.
Not caring that he probably looked pretty threatening to the people he passed, Royce followed the fresh scent to the bottom of the stairs that led to the floor above. He took them two at a time. At the top, he headed for the one door that stood open. He could hear Billie's voice coming from inside the room. The sound of the male voice that answered her had him growling through his clenched teeth.
He stepped inside the room and barely managed to hold back from going wolf when he saw Gren standing next to Billie. Instead, he growled a warning at the other werewolf. "Get the hell away from her."
Gren ignored his warning. "Ah, the lone wolf has arrived. Your mate was just showing me around her family's gym. I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to join."
"I won't tell you again, Gren. Get away from her. Now." Royce pulled his upper lip back in a snarl.
"I mean your mate no harm, at least not yet. You have something I want, something that I used with a certain spell."
"There is no way I'm giving you any of my blood. And who is to say the spell will work on another."
Gren bared his teeth at him. "I'm sure it will work on another. Maybe I'll do you a favor and try it out on your mate here. Wouldn't you like to have her as one of us, able to live for thousands of years? That way you won't have to watch her grow old and die while you remain young looking."
Royce glanced over at Billie. He could tell from the confused look on her face she had no idea what was going on. Quickly, he turned his gaze back on Gren. "Roxie was special. You know that. It's because of that the spell worked."
A look of hatred came over Gren's face at the mention of Roxie's name. "Ah yes, your precious granddaughter. How can I ever forget what she is? The one from the ancient prophecy chosen to rule over all the packs. If it wasn't for me, she'd still be a weak mortal. And what do I get in return? I get abused."
"You would have killed Beowulf. You deserved what you got."
Gren growled low in his throat. "Watch your step, lone wolf. Remember you have a weakness now. If you don't give me what I want, I won't hesitate to use it against you." He turned and looked pointedly at Billie.
Unable to hold back any longer, Royce howled with rage as he launched himself at Gren. With one leap he was on the other werewolf and had pushed him back into one of the mirrored walls. The mirror shattered on impact. Holding Gren pinned to the wall, Royce stuck his face into his. "You ever threaten my mate again, you die. I'll gladly do what Roxie should have done in the first place. Dogs who go bad need to be put down."
Hearing that others had entered the room behind him, Royce growled menacingly, then roughly shoved Gren away from him. He kept his eyes on the other werewolf as Gren made a show of brushing himself off. He gave Royce a look that said they would be meeting again before he stepped around the newcomers and left.
Fighting to keep the wolf inside him leashed, Royce kept his back to the others in the room. This had not been the way he had wanted to tell Billie about his kind. As with Roxie and Beowulf, Gren had done something to bring it all out into the open. Heedless of the pieces of shattered glass that still hung on the wall, Royce swore and rammed his fist into it, wishing it was Gren's head he was hitting instead.
* * * *
Unsure of what exactly had just happened, Billie turned to face her brothers. It was no surprise they had all come rushing up here to see what was going on. If it wasn't the loud howling and growling that had taken place, she was pretty sure the sound of the mirror shattering had sent them running. Right now all Billie could think about was getting rid of them before Royce did anything else that was too animalistic and couldn't be easily overlooked or ignored.
Keegan gazed at the glass on the floor, then back up at Royce. "Billie, are you all right?"
She nodded. "I'm fine. It's over now. You can all go back to what you were doing."
Not to be put off, her oldest brother shook his head. "We're not going anywhere until you tell us what happened. It sounded as if a bunch of wild animals were attacking each other up here."
Which Billie had to admit was what almost happened. Seeing both men's eyes glowing as they growled at each other made them appear more animal than human. But what had gotten her the most was when Royce had leapt across the room in one jump. One minute he was standing at the open door and the next he was half way across the room, slamming Gren into the wall. It didn't seem humanly possible, which probably was the case.
"It sounded worse than it actually was." Billie took a quick look back at Royce. He was still breathing heavily and appeared to be fighting to bring himself back under control. "The prospective member Finn had me show around the gym, Royce knew him. They're not exactly on friendly terms, to put it mildly."
"So your boyfriend decided to pick a fight with him?" Keegan asked harshly.
"He wasn't the one to pick the fight. It was Gren. He's not the type of person we want at the gym. There is something about him that gives me the creeps. Royce was just warning Gren off when he showed an interest in me. If it wouldn't be too much ask, can you guys make sure he left?"
Billie had known that would be more than enough to get all four of her brothers out of the room in a hurry. She knew if Gren happened to still be in the building he would be lucky if her brothers didn't literally kick his ass out onto the street. She waited until they were alone before she turned around to confront Royce.
"Okay, I got rid of them. What was that all about?"
Royce slowly turned to face her. "I never intended for you to find out this way."
"Find out what? I don't understand, Royce. You're going to have to spell it out for me I'm afraid."
"Not here." Royce ran his fingers through his hair, making sections of it stick up. "Christ, I wasn't ready to tell you about any of this."
Billie crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him. She could see he was uncomfortable with the situation. "Tell me what? Is it about this mate business Gren referred to? That will do for starters, but I have questions of my own. Such as, why he called you a lone wolf. Why he referred to you as Roxie's grandfather. Or better yet, what is with the whole glowing eyes and growling the pair of you had going on?"
She didn't know why, but she couldn't help feeling a little pissed off that Royce had been keeping secrets from her. She knew she was being irrational. It wasn't as if they had been seeing each other for years. She really hardly knew anything about Royce. All she knew was she felt more connected to him than she had ever felt to any of the other men she had gone out with.
Royce closed the distance between them and reached out to hold her by her upper arms. He bent his head down so he could look her in the face. "Look, I know there must be a million questions running around in your head. I just can't answer them here. It's too public. I have a feeling you aren't going to believe what I have to say at first. And if that is the case, I'm going to have to give you the proof you will undoubtedly ask for. I'd rather it was at some other place where if you freak out on me your brothers won't come running to your rescue."
"All right. Then where?"
"I need to go make some phone calls first. I'll call you after that, okay?"
"Fine. I'll be at my apartment once I get this mess cleaned up."
Royce leaned in and kissed Billie's forehead. "I promise I'll explain everything to you. You can tell your father I'll pay for the damages as well. I'll see you in a bit."
Billie watched Royce walk out of the room. She would give him an hour. If she didn't hear from him then, she would go find him. As Hayes knew from first hand experience, there was no hiding from her.