“Do I have to worry if I’m—with a woman?”
Micah and Payter frowned.
“Meaning?” Payter shook his head.
“Will I harm her? Lose control? With Osceola, I bit and fed off her when we had our romps. I don’t want to kill a woman by mistake.”
“Then keep it to yourself,” Micah warned. “Unless you’re sure you won’t be tempted, then don’t bed anyone. You’ve been without before, you’ll be without again.”
“How do you two manage? If you don’t mind my asking?”
Payter and Micah exchanged a look.
Huffing into his beard, Micah spread his hands. “There are women among my people who are more than willing to accommodate us. We’re strong, smart, passably good looking. They particularly like Payter, considering all his attributes are proportional.”
The big man blushed, chuckling softly. Raven eyed Payter with a critical gaze.
“Strewth, Payter! If that’s so, there is no justice in this world, whatsoever.”
Micah sneered. “Don’t I know.” Shaking his head, he sipped his wine.
“I’m for bed,” Raven said. “Thank you both. I value your advice and I shall follow it.”
“Tomorrow, we’ll make a plan for what you can do while in town,” Payter said, yawning. “I survived it. You can, too.”
They all bedded down for the night. Raven’s dreams were wild and chaotic. His memory kept changing, adding details. He had no idea what was real and what was false. Waking with a start, he got up and dressed. It was the darkest hour before daylight, and everything was still. The waxing moon glittered on the low waves of the ebbing tide. Walking barefoot down the sand, Raven stared at the starry sky, wishing he knew more about himself. Osceola had told him a lot, but there were things she didn’t know, couldn’t possibly even imagine. No one, who was not in his particular situation, could ever understand what he was going through. Not even his friends. Sure, they were both shifters, but they weren’t werewolves, a different animal entirely.
Sitting on the sand, he watched the nightly dance of the sea creatures who lived along the edge of the water. He inhaled the salty air, watching the rippling waves break and crash against the shore. It was quite hypnotic. Soon, the sound and movement lulled him into a stupor. He imagined he saw a woman walking across the surface of the sea, coming toward him. He couldn’t see her face, but he recognized her figure. There was no woman built like she—voluptuous, majestic.
“Osceola….” He rose, holding out his hands to her, but she faded. With a start, he woke, not even knowing he’d been asleep. He might have thought he was dreaming, but he saw her footprints on the sand.
His throat hurt as it had after the beast bit him. Running his fingers over it, he felt welts as he had after Osceola fed off him. Had she been here, drunk her fill and left? How? And why? Rising slowly, he made his way quietly to the cottage, lying down on his palette once more. He slept heavily until full light, then the noises of his house mates woke him.
“I had an odd dream,” he said without preamble. “I dreamt Osceola came to me.”
“And?” Payter wanted to know details.
“And…. I don’t know. I think she did. I think she fed.”
Micah grabbed the collar of Raven’s shirt, yanking it aside. Running stubby fingers over his friend’s skin, he frowned deeply.
“Aye. Something bit you. Wasn’t human. Wasn’t shifter, or were-kind. Did you feed off one another?”
Raven was slightly embarrassed by the question. Unlike sex, which was normal and spoken of between men, being bitten and sharing blood, was something entirely more intimate. Ducking his head, he nodded slightly.
Micah rapped him upside the head. “You daft bugger! Don’t you realize she is probably a vampire?”
“Then why would you send me to her?”
“You needed answers. Did she give you them?”
“Yes, she did. For the price of taking her to bed. Once for each question. I had—many—questions.” He smirked, tilting one eyebrow as he walked across the sand toward the water.
Micah muttered and grumbled. “She only made me do chores. Wouldn’t have been unhappy to bed the wench, but would have been a danger.”
“Danger adds to the allure,” Raven said, proud of himself. “And so what if she bit me? No harm done? I’m still me.”
“But you fed from her,” Micah emphasized. “More than once. Don’t you feel different?”
“Not especially.” He shrugged, shaking his head.
“You mark my words, this is not a good thing, Raven Willoughby. Not a good thing at all. I’ll pray for your soul, my friend.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes