The shrill sound of my ringing cell phone jerked me out of my dreamland and back into reality faster than a kamikaze diver falling to earth without a parachute. I winced and massaged my pounding head as the insistent ringing kept up. My eyes fell again onto the heavy envelope on the counter, and I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to keep myself together.
I toyed with my phone, playing with the idea of letting my voicemail catch it and not having to speak to anyone. I really wasn’t in the mood for human contact.
But something on the back of mind thought differently. Some part of me whispered, for the briefest second, answer it.
So I did.
A soft hiss escaped my open mouth. “Hunter? Damn it, how did you…?”
“It doesn’t matter. Listen, I just…need to see you. Can you meet me? Now?”
“Now? It’s the middle of the night, and it’s not a very good time for me at the moment.” I couldn’t help it; my tone was poisoned with sarcasm.
“Please. I just want to talk to you.”
I bit my lip and closed my eyes. “Yeah, well, fine. I need to talk to you too. Tell me where to find you.”
He was lying at the base of a big tree by the pond where we used to play as kids. He was in his human form, and in the darkness of night I couldn’t see his gray skin, nor the dangerous look in his eyes. It was almost as if nothing had changed.
Except everything had changed.
He sat up as I came nearer, and shifted over so that I could lie down next to him. “Scarlet,” he murmured softly, pulling me closer and tangling one hand onto my hair.
“Stop,” I whispered, pushing him away as the tears brimmed on my eyes again. “Please. I can’t do this.”
He didn’t reply, just looked at me with those searching eyes and moved his hand from my hair to my cheek, rubbing a finger gently along the side of my face. I turned my eyes downward. “What’s wrong?” he breathed.
“We’re being evicted,” I said shortly. “They gave us thirty days.”
“Oh,” he replied quietly, and I could hear the pain in his voice, and the restraint, and the deep and unmistakable sorrow. He truly cared about me, and I was breaking his heart.
It was then that I made up my mind.
“Oh hell,” I whispered, and kissed him.
It was long, and sweet, and passionate. He pulled me in tight, one hand in my hair, the other caressing my face. I held him close, both hands caught in his hair, my lips close against his, and I realized I had been wanting this for a long, long time.
When we finally broke apart, all I could do stare at him, taking him in for as long as I could. His eyes were bright and wondering, his smoke-silver skin flushed. He took my hand and flashed me a smile. “Sending kind of a mixed message, don’t you think?”
“Oh, shut up,” I whispered, and kissed him again.