CRAVED (book one) is currently FREE on Amazon until September 29th!
~ Gwen ~
Dorian released me, holding his hands up in surrender as though the action would convince me he wasn’t going to hurt me. His appearance contradicted the friendly gesture though. At six-foot-three, the man towered over me. He had shoulder-length brown hair that brushed against the leather of his motorcycle jacket. His legs, swathed in black jeans, were muscular and strong as were his broad shoulders. I couldn’t tell with the darkness of the night, but if I had to guess, I’d say his trim waist was just as muscular and full or washboard ripples. Despite how menacing he appeared, I couldn’t deny that he was attractive, very attractive.
“Gwen,” he said and I could tell he was using a soothing tone to assure me everything would be all right. I wasn’t buying it, not after he chased me down the street and I witness things that shouldn’t be possible.
“Gwen,” I repeated, testing the name for familiarity. It didn’t trigger any of my lost memories. “Is that my name?”
He nodded slowly, the light from the streetlamp reflecting off his aviator sunglasses. Why the hell was he wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night?
“Someone cursed you,” he continued in that same soothing tone, “that is why you cannot remember anything. Don’t worry though, when I find the bitch that did this, her soul is as good as mine.”
I arched an eyebrow, taking a step back. “You’re like her aren’t you, the elf woman?”
Dorian shook his head, a slow smile slipping across his mouth. “I’m much worse.”
Yep, I’d been smart to be afraid of him. His good looks were only a mask he used to hide the monster within.
My gaze skirted around the town. “You said someone cursed me?” I asked. “As in, witches, potions and spells?”
He shrugged as though I hadn’t just asked him the most ridiculous question. “It could have been a witch, but they’re not the only ones capable of casting.”
I ran my hands over my face and through my hair. This was all too much, elfin women, witches, magic and curses. What sort of town was I in and why on earth would someone want to curse me?
“I’m imagining all of this, right?” I asked, a nervous laugh bubbling up my throat. “I bumped my head and now I’m hallucinating.” I stared at Dorian expectantly, though why was beyond me. It wasn’t like a delusion would confirm that yes, I was crazy.
“You don’t know what you are, do you?”
“Other than confused?” I asked. “No, what am I?”
“A spirit walker.”
I stared at him dumbfounded. “I don’t know what that is,” I said, “but it doesn’t sound good.”
“Come on.” Dorian motioned with his head and started walking down the street. I stood in the same spot deciding if I should follow him or take off running again. I had two options. I could either run around a town I didn’t know for who knows how long, or I could follow Dorian and maybe learn what happened to me. I didn’t trust him, but he was my best choice at this point.
I started forward, making sure to keep my distance from the attractive stranger. We walked wordlessly for a few seconds. Every once in a while I snuck glances at Dorian, wondering how we knew each other. The possibility that he might be my boyfriend just didn’t seem realistic, not that I knew what was or wasn’t realistic at the moment. I just got a sense that he wasn’t my usual type of guy.
“What is a spirit walker?”
“Hmm?” Dorian asked, almost as though his mind had been somewhere else and I caught him off guard.
“You said that I’m a spirit walker,” I said, “what is that?”
“Promise not to freak out?”
“Is it something that provokes a freak out?”
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. “I guess we’ll find out. A spirit walker is special type of witch.” My mouth dropped open at the information. “They specialize in death, ghosts specifically. You can sense, see, touch and control them.”
I tried very hard not to freak out, but only because Dorian expected me to. I wanted to prove him wrong and show that I wouldn’t go running down the streets screaming. Well, not again anyway.
“And this is why someone…cursed me?”
His broad shoulders lifted in a shrug. “Perhaps, though with you it could be a number of reasons.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
He stopped walking and faced me, a slow smile slipping onto his lips. “It means, you have a tendency to attract trouble. If something is going down, you can bet your ass will be at the root of it or affected by it. You’re just lucky you have me to watch over you.”
I frowned. “So, your what, my bodyguard? Where were you when my brain got zapped?”
Dorian’s smile faded, his face going steely. “Come on.”
Instead of asking more questions, I followed alongside Dorian and focused on the crunching of our shoes. We’d just made it to the end of the street when we turned right and the heart of the city opened up. Cute little shops lined either side of the street, their lights reflecting through their windows and illuminating the sidewalks. A few people walked, shopping bags in hand, but none seemed unordinary. As I eyed each person, I wondered what they were and what they could do. Were they witches like I supposedly was, or elves like the woman who bewitched the rose bushes? My eyes flicked over to Dorian again. He’d said that he was worse than the elf. Even with my shoddy brain, I knew whatever he was had to be bad. Why was I associated with him if that was true?
“So…” I began after the silence grew too heavy for all the questions lingering on my tongue. “All this is real, huh? Monsters exist and I’m one of them. I’m not being pranked am I?”
“Yes, it’s all real and no, you’re not being pranked.” Dorian’s steps quickened and I had to speed walk to keep up. Whatever he was looking for must be important. Maybe it was the key to getting my memories back.
We stopped outside of a bakery named Twisted Treats. The storefront window displayed rows upon rows of cupcakes, decorating in various shades of pinks, purples, reds and greens. Each had sprinkles that had a faint glow emitting from them. I bent down, pressing my face against the glass and stared in awe. They were beautiful in a weird sort of way, very magical, though I wasn’t sure they were edible. Is something that glows safe to eat?
I jumped at the sound of Dorian slamming his fist against the front door. He tried the handle, curling his large hand around it and jigging until I thought it would break off.
“Son of a bitch,” he snarled.
I stared at him with wide eyes. “I’m sure we can find cupcakes somewhere else if you really want one.”
“Come on,” he said in that same snarly tone. Pushing forward, he headed down the sidewalk and disappeared between two buildings.
My eyes fell on the sparkly cupcakes again. I’d never seen anything like them. Little rays of light bounced off and casted an undulating rainbow against the glass.
“Gwen,” Dorian called, his voice echoing down the alley.
Pulling my eyes away from the colorful display, I looked down the sidewalk to find Dorian waiting for me at the mouth of the alley. I’d heard of women craving chocolate, but men going bat shit crazy for cupcakes was new to me.
“I don’t think you’ll find any pastries down there.” I headed down the sidewalk. “Besides, I think we have more pressing issues than your craving. We need to figure out how to get my memories back.” I paused, realizing that I had included him in my mission to fix my broken head. For all I knew, he was responsible for my dementia. I had to remind myself that I didn’t actually know Dorian, which meant I couldn’t fully trust him.
“That’s what we’re doing,” Dorian said, slipping his fingers through mine. My body stiffened as our skin made contact. A flash of memory flickered though my head: Dorian’s body curled over mine, his hot mouth searing a path along my neck...then blankness again. The memory faded and I was back to not remembering how I knew Dorian, though the flashback suggested I knew him in the intimate sense.
I blinked and looked up at him. “Uh…you and me were…I mean…you’re my boyfriend, right? That’s what you said.”
Another shrug. I noticed he did that a lot. “In a sense, yes.”
“What does that mean?” I asked. “You either are or aren’t.”
“Why the sudden interest?”
I bit my bottom lip, the memory of us still fresh in my head. “I remembered something I think.”
Dorian’s eyebrows arched over his sunglasses. “What was it?”
I hesitated for a moment, unsure if I should tell him. What if we hadn’t been intimate and it was some long lost fantasy that decided to pop into my head? There would be no words for how embarrassing that would be.
“You and me,” I said, staring down the alley instead of at him. His fingers tightened around mine, drawing my attention back to him. Slowly, he started toward me, his face unreadable. Worried, I moved back until the brick wall of the bakery stopped me. Releasing my hand, he caressed the side of my face with more gentleness than I thought a man of his size possible.
“I thought I lost you completely,” he whispered, and then leaned forward and brought his mouth to mine. The shock of his boldness brought me up short. I fisted his leather coat in my hands and shoved against him, only to have him press harder against me. When his tongue slipped between my lips, all ideas of pushing him away fled from my mind. I opened my mouth, welcoming him inside and kissed him back. My already fuzzy head got a whole helluva lot fuzzier with his dizzying kiss. I should have known that a man that looks like him would know how to handle a woman.
He broke away from my mouth, resting his forehead against mine. “I’ll fix this, Gwen. I want you to remember all of me.” Standing up, he watched me for a long time. At least I think he was watching. Again, it was difficult to tell with those damn sunglasses.
“What’s with the sunglasses?”
A half smile bent one side of his mouth up. “They conceal what I am.”
“And what are you?” I took a step toward him. Reaching up, I gripped either side of his glasses and withdrew them from his face. His eyelids were closed, hiding his eyes from me. Slowly, he opened them and all I could do was stare in awe. Wispy gray clouds churned within his sockets as if a thunderstorm brewed within him. He didn’t have an iris or pupil, just a blanket of foggy clouds.
“They’re amazing,” I breathed.
“You’re afraid,” he responded, taking his sunglasses from my hand and replacing them onto his face. “That’s why I didn’t want you to see them.”
“I’m not. They’re just…I’ve never seen anything like them before.”
He snorted. “Actually, you have. You just don’t remember.”
“What are you?” I asked again.
“We should check out the rest of the store.”