Waking up beneath a pile of covers, Mila’s body was approaching inferno level. Grabbing the bulk of weight, she shoved the quilt down to find relief from the sweltering temperature of the cave.
As soon as she did, the sweat encasing her body turned to ice. The brief respite was enough. She gulped in a deep lungful of chilly air from the room. She shivered as she gripped the covers tightly, and slid them up to her chin. A faint hint of burnt wood hung in the air.
Fire. Fireplace to the right. Faintly she remembered being dropped on the bed, then a fire being swept into life. Not much else. The bed beneath her wasn’t the most comfortable, the covers just a bunch of different old patchwork quilts. A stale odor drifted off them, which wasn’t familiar. She wasn’t Lycaen so couldn’t scent them if she tried.
A shudder wracked her. Her teeth chattered. It wasn’t just the room. She had a temperature. Testimony to the sweat soaked bed beneath her, the clothes she wore clinging to every inch of skin, as well as the clammy forehead she sported. Her cheeks were on fire.
When she swallowed, her throat rebelled and she winced. A window across the room showed nothing but the tops of trees in the distance, and a bright white glow filled the panes. The room was a floor or two off the ground. The edges of the pane were coated with snow, and icicles hung from an overhang above the window.
A small night table on her right sported a glass of water and a bowl of water with a dark green washcloth hanging from the side of it. She slipped her arm to the side, remaining under the covers until the last minute when she snuck her hand out to grab the glass. Bringing it back beneath the covers, she ducked her head and sipped the water gingerly.
Wincing as it bit her throat going down, she opened her mouth to breathe. One of her nostrils had sealed shut during the night. Putting the water back on the table, she leaned over to check the floor. Everything blurred in and out before clearing. A small rug lay on the ground where she could put her feet. Slippers waited for her, but nothing else. Looked male, definitely not her own.
To her left sat a chair in the corner with a thick black robe. Next to that a dresser she hoped bore clothes, but the mere act of thinking herself out of bed to check exhausted her.
How did I get here? A tickle slid up her nose. She shook it away, but it refused to be ignored. A small squeak escaped her when she sneezed. Wasn’t more than what a fairy could do. Fairy? Weird thought. Then she was forced to once again swallow. Jesus, she couldn’t ever remember being sick like this.
In the hall outside the room, large cloddy feet boomed through her head. Flinching against the sound, she begged the noise to quit. The door exploded through her temples as a lock disengaged, then the knob turned and she shrunk deeper inside her cave, not knowing who it could be.
The door slid open and in he came to check on her, then went over to the fireplace to stoke the fire. The short black cropped hair matched his eyes. Eyes as cold as the icicles outside. Mila pressed her memories.
All she could remember was here. Wherever here was.
Him, she knew. “Where am I?” she whispered, afraid to tempt the throat gods. As if in answer, her voice croaked out of her, breaking apart.
“A cabin,” Dane’s curt voice barked.
Duh. Mila grimaced as she swallowed. A small bottle poked out of Dane’s back pocket on the dark pants. The warmth of the fire as it bloomed slipped under the covers and over her face. Her eyelids drifted closed.
Suddenly he was towering above her in the bed. Mila leaned back when his smooth hand drifted down toward her. Turning it around, he placed the back of his hand against her forehead, despite her attempts to avoid his touch.
“Still sick,” he muttered beneath his breath as if it was her fault she was sick. She managed to raise her top lip to the remark. Showed him. With a shake of his head, he reached into his back pocket to reveal a generic bottle of cold and flu medicine. Without saying anything, he popped the top, spilled a few tablets and held them out. When she reluctantly took the pills, he handed her the water. “Only thing we got for now.”
Mila slid the pills into her mouth with her tongue, then took the water. She hated swallowing, but he wouldn’t move without her doing as told. Every move she made came with great effort, so she determined her best course of action was to simply do. Dane’d have no problem forcing her mouth open to take the pills.
His eyes narrowed and like an animal, he tilted his head to the side out of curiosity. “What do you remember?”
Mila pressed the exhaustion that wanted to claim her. One eye closed to help her think. Claim. Her forehead bunched, making a bead of sweat slide down her temple. She smooshed it away with a finger. Dane did nothing more than stare at her.
Dane was there.
Dammit! Can’t remember much but drifts of nothing. “Dunno.” Sounded more like duddo thanks to her flu.
Dane nodded. “The fever. Don’t know what the fuck is happening, but we can’t . . . proceed until that fever goes away.” Again with the touch of disgust like it was her fault.
The breath stuck in her throat, causing her to cough. Him. Dane. Proceed. He wanted to Claim me. Her heart raced and she attempted to slide her body out of the covers, only managing an inch before her arms gave out and she groaned. Under her breath, she grumbled, “Never happen.”
The chuckle that could’ve easily seduced any woman he wanted, along with those Asian angelic looks, slid up her spine like slime. She wiggled her body toward the edge of the bed. I’ll be damned if I stay here.
Casually—too damn casually—Dane slid an arm around her waist and dragged her back in place, tucking the covers tightly around her. It took great force to pop her arms out of the cocoon he encased her in. She wasn’t a freakin’ burrito! She heaved in air.
Dane placed his face right above hers, and a deep growl slipped along her skin, making her turn her head toward the wall. His lips quivered along his jaws and the teeth elongated above her.
“Where do you think you’re going to go?” Temperamental, wasn’t he. The heat of his body and his breath encased her, and despite the her temperature, she shivered. Alien fear gripped her and made her need the bathroom desperately.
“Away,” she whispered, attempting another hard swallow.
He leaned in closer until his smooth skin brushed against hers. His lips fluttered over her hot cheek and an unconscious need gripped her. Mila attempted to fight his will, but in her weakened state, the need pulled beneath the fever.
“Play nice . . . or I won’t.” He paused and slid elegantly long steel fingers over her hot face, forcing her to look his way. She pressed back in the pillow to avoid being near him. “You may as well be in the middle of Antarctica for all the running you will do. Haven’t you noticed? We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
Keeping her voice low, she didn’t dare use much effort, but damn if she wouldn’t let him have the upper hand, “I’d sooner die.”
His fingers dug into her cheeks, making her whimper. “Don’t worry love, you will.”
Mila attempted to move her head, but was incapable. Dane’s faced darkened with cruel desires. She reached up and with weak arm, pressed his shoulders away. “No,” she puttered. The little energy the move took, exhausted her and her arm fell back to the bed.
The side of his lips curled up. “Not much you could do to stop me, is there? Get better, baby.” And with that, he pressed his lips against hers. Mila attempted to bite him for it, but he pulled away and she sucked in a breath when he pressed his aura around and into her, making every nerve she had wilt and cower.
Dane had the easy ability—she didn’t know how—to encase her in an outlandish fear. Lycaen will wasn’t supposed to work on her. Wasn’t supposed to factor in at all, but oh he could. His entire alpha pack could. They weren’t normal Lycaen or she would’ve been able to strike them down. After all, when she got mad and called the lightning, it struck Lycaen. Pure damn Lycaen.
And they were all still here. At least as far as she knew.
And now she was stuck with the man who wanted to make her his, and if that wasn’t bad enough, a Lycaen too.
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Claiming the Enchantress is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, stories, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019 Kim Iverson, 2021 Kimberly Sue Iverosn
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