The Hunt (By Kiss and Claw #2) - Melissa Haag Page 0,1

forever. They’ll want the real thing, and I’m not feeding from you or anyone. Why can’t everyone just get that through their heads?” Frustration had crept into my tone. How could it not? Mom acted like abstinence was the worst four-letter word any succubus could utter. She didn’t understand that I didn’t want to embrace a life filled with a string of men I’d never remember. That I needed to live my life my way, whatever way that might be.

“Eliana, you’re a succubus. You can’t avoid feeding forever.”

I stood for a moment, glaring at him in disbelief. Had he truly not realized how important living a completely non-succubus life was to me after I’d admitted that desire to him?

“I thought you understood,” I said, hurt leaching into my tone.

Finally, some of his humor faded, and he got off the bed. Rather than leaving, he gently ran a hand over my hair.

“I’m not pushing you, Eliana. I’m trying to help you find a solution.”

“No touching,” I whispered.

He sighed and withdrew his hand.

“I don’t want you to start feeling alone again. You have friends. You have me.”

“I know. But right now, I need you at a distance. I need to think.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go to bed, and I bet things will look better in the morning.” He looked at the rug covering the wood floors in my room. “Not the most comfortable surface to bed down on, but I’ve had worse.”

The idea of Fenris in my room while my control was at its weakest made my stomach clench with inappropriate need.

“Fenris, you’re not sleeping here. I don’t care if Mom and Adira assume the feeding didn’t go well. I need you to leave. Please.”

He studied my serious expression, then slowly nodded.

“Fine. I’ll sneak out the back. But think about my offer.”

I wrinkled my nose at him and silently pointed toward the door.

For the briefest moment, his expression shifted as he looked at me. His grin never faltered, but something flickered in his eyes before he shook his head and left. I had the distinct feeling I’d disappointed him by not immediately agreeing to pretend like he wanted.

Since coming to Uttira, I’d carefully held my ground, surrendering only minimal concessions to appease Adira and keep my mother away. Whenever I’d imagined attaining my freedom, it had never been won by giving in but rather by finding a way to gain their understanding. I’d figured out from the beginning that if Adira thought there was even a chance I’d willingly feed, she’d be after me like a shark in bloody water. And that’s exactly what would happen if Mom told Adira what she’d seen tonight.

Leaving my room, I went to Oanen’s door. No music played from inside, and I hesitated to knock. What could I possibly say that would undo what Mom thought she saw? What could get us back to the place where she was trying to understand me and not assuming I’d want another round of “breakfast in bed” succubus-style.

I knocked without having a plan.

When she didn’t immediately answer, I knocked again. It wasn’t like Mom to go to bed before midnight. Then again, it wasn’t like her to close her door either.

Frowning, I let myself in and looked at the dark interior of Oanen’s room. The curtains were open, letting in just enough moonlight so I could see the bed was made and empty.

I retraced my steps and grabbed my phone from my purse.

Me: I wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.

Mom: Of course you weren’t. Sexual play of any kind is very appropriate for your age. I hope you didn’t stop to reassure me. Go have fun. I hope he limps from your room when you’re done with him.

“Sweet Mary’s burnt biscuits!” I threw my phone on the bed before turning on my heel and marching into the bathroom.

Cold water helped cool the fire in my face but not the hunger burning in my belly at Mom’s coarsely painted imagining of my time with Fenris. I smoothed down any errant strands of my blonde hair and focused on my black eyes until they went back to their normal brown.

Returning to my phone, I tried again but more bluntly.

Me: Please don’t tell Adira about this. Nothing has changed. I don’t want to be pushed by either of you.

Mom: I’d kill her myself if she tried. I love you, baby. Now stop texting your mom and go have a good time.

Setting the phone aside, I went to the closet and changed into my pajamas. I