One chance, that’s all he had. Devlin sat in his hotel room, finally feeling some semblance of freedom. How long it would last? There was no telling, but he needed to make an attempt.
Simply holding the medallion on the white-gold chain drowned out the humming noise that had filled his head for so long he had forgotten what peace felt like. Twenty years of constant static, all thanks to the Dales and the wards their dark mages had placed on him, blotting his last connection to the outside world.
Holding his breath, he slipped the chain over his head. His wards completely disintegrated the disruptive spells.
Built-up tension from years of fighting the dark magic melted away. He took a deep, cleansing breath and let it out slowly. Peace washed through him. The relief was immense. Devlin slumped onto the bed, his eyelids sliding shut, succumbing to real sleep for the first time in ages.
The moon shone bright over a crystal clear lake. Thousands of stars were reflected, like floating diamonds sparkling. The breeze blew gently through red cedar, pine, and maple. The clean mountain air reminded him of camping with his family when he was a boy.
It had been so long since he had the liberty, and desire, to enjoy nature. The water called to Devlin. Carefully, without a sound, he pulled the clothes from his body and placed them on the stump beside him.
With a slow breath, he walked into the gentle ripples, creating larger crests of his own. Warm water greeted him. He dove under, swimming deeper.
A splash caught Devlin’s attention. He broke the surface to find nothing, and no one. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his senses. A lone werewolf was close.
Panic flared through him, and he started for the shore, but a woman surfaced before him. A slow smile spread on her face when he flailed back, splashing her in his surprise.
“Your heart’s pounding.” Amusement sparkled in her pale blue topaz eyes as she placed one small hand over his chest. Warmth washed through him offering a calm he couldn’t remember ever feeling.
Yet, he was terrified the Dales were tracking him. A dream, nothing more than a dream. They can’t find me, he reminded himself.
“You startled me,” Devlin replied.
“Hmm.” Her foot brushed against his calf, sending a shiver through his entire body. She tapped her finger to her chin. “You remind me of someone, but I can’t figure out who.”
Intrigued, and certainly heading toward aroused, he asked, “What makes you say that?”
One corner of her shiny pink mouth lifted impishly. “Don’t know, but you do.” Her voice had taken on a husky purr which effectively made his blood pump faster.
A dream, just a dream, he told himself. Then he did something bold, something he hadn’t done in so long he was sure he’d fail, even in a fantasy. “What’s a sweet little wolf like you doing out here all alone?”
Her giggle was melodic as her already dazzling eyes lit up. “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”
As if on cue, his resistance broke. Her tiny waist fit perfectly in his hands, her hips flared in a way that made him groan. Devlin propelled them closer to the shore, until his feet touched bottom.
Before he could make his move, her legs locked around his hips and her fingers caressed up his shoulder and neck to delve into his hair. She grazed her lips over his. Afraid to take things too far, he slid his hands up her back, pressing her full breasts against his chest.
Needing more of her taste, he deepened their kiss. Devlin felt more alive than he could remember. A dream, just a blasted dream, his brain chimed in. The knowledge didn’t stop him from sweeping his tongue into her mouth when she opened to him.
Her body undulated in tune with his, and her heated core slid against his hardened length. The urge to bury himself in her was too much.
Pulling back, he panted, “Your name? Need your name, Precious.”
“Precious?” She licked her lips as she stared back at him with something like awe in her big blue eyes.
He tipped his forehead to hers and breathed in her wild but seductive scent. “You’ve set me free of my old life. You’ve given me something to look forward to.” He didn’t know where the words came from, but he didn’t dare take them back. They felt right.
“Jamie Abrams. You better come to me.” There was a command hidden in her sweet sassy voice, one he truly wanted to obey. “I’ll be waiting.”
He nodded, rolling her name through his head like a fine wine over his tongue.
Devlin woke with a start, the name Jamie Abrams dancing through his mind until he reached for his satellite phone. Something told him he needed to find this woman, if she was even real.
More than 20 years had passed since he was able to reach another person in a dream. Something about her name was familiar. If only he could recall where he’d heard it.
* * * *
“Bad Influence” by P!nk played on her phone, drawing Jamie from her too-short nap. Time had passed since she dozed off. The sun was warm on her shoulders, and her kindle had shut down. She could still feel his lips on hers, his body responding.
Shaking off the dream, Jamie hit talk. “Hi, Jess. Aren’t you and Slater busy?”
“Not at the moment. He had to go with Hayden.” Jess let out a sigh. “Are we still on for tonight?”
Jamie dropped her head to her arm. “Yeah. We are.” She wasn’t sure she still felt like going, but she had promised. Besides, who didn’t love a good bachelorette party at a strip club? Maybe it would get her out of her funk.
“How long until it’s time to go?”
“About an hour before we leave. I’m heading over to keep you company.” There was a hint of concern in her twin’s voice. It made her nervous. Too many times over the years, Jess would waltz in and warn her about some horrible event lurking around the corner. This felt like all those times.
“See you soon.” With a sigh, Jamie hung up, and climbed to her feet. She gathered her tea, kindle and the fleece blanket she had laid out in the open back yard.
Why didn’t I ask his name?
His emerald eyes still haunted her, his nervous attraction drawing her in, intriguing her. She had a million questions, but she knew there was no time. Then, for some illogical reason, she’d told Dream-man to find her.
A fantasy, a goddamned fantasy. One that felt so real she had a hard time believing it was so simple.
Why could I feel his emotions in my dream? That doesn’t happen.
Jamie went inside, dropped her cup in the kitchen, and tossed the blanket and kindle on the chair, before going back to her room. September was still warm enough she didn’t feel the need to layer her clothes. She went with a cute floral sundress and tied her pale hair into a ponytail before touching up her makeup.
His accented voice played through her head. She took a slow breath and let out a dreamy sigh. “Precious, he called me precious.”
Jess giggled, stepping into the bathroom with her. “Who did? What did I miss?”
Jamie pouted. “My Dream-man.”
“Your dream man?” One pale eyebrow arched. “And who would that be?”
Frowning, she glanced away. “No one you know. No one I know.” The reality dragged down her good mood. Letting out a sigh, she shrugged a single shoulder. “Doesn’t matter, it was a silly dream.”
Jess’ whole face scrunched in consideration. “I hate to tell you this, but don’t trust a dream.”
“It was only a dream.” Jamie licked her lips. “A very hot dream, which felt more real than any other I’ve ever had, but a dream nevertheless.”
His sexy rumbled endearment whispered through her head, the intensity in his gaze thrilling her, even though she was firmly back in reality.
A smirk formed on Jess’ lips. “You need to get laid. It’s been how long since Preston?”
Jamie’s eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t need a man to tide me over until I find my mate. I’m done wasting my time on men who can’t be what I need.”
“Okay then. So what did this dream-man look like?”
“It was dark, the moon shining down over the lake, and we were in the water. Pale skin—I think he was a redhead, but I can’t be sure. His eyes sparkled like emeralds. Mmm, and his body certainly felt long and hard. Oh, and his mouth was so damned scrumptious.” There was definitely a dreamy quality to her voice she didn’t bother to hide.
Jess rubbed her chin, watching her sister closely. “I don’t recall anyone fitting that description around here.”
Jamie rolled her eyes, turning back to find her favorite pink lip gloss, muttering, “It was only a dream.”
* * * *
The Edenton Crier was an interesting blog. Devlin had found Jamie Abrams. He also found his sister in the very same town, like it was fate. He had to see his sister, at least once.
And Jamie… he couldn’t resist her sweet, sassy smile or those big blue eyes that seemed to see straight to his soul, coaxing him from hiding.
Now he knew where he heard the name before, or rather something similar. Ten years ago, Jamie’s twin, Jess Abrams, was held by the Dales. Fallon, his own sister, was the one who took down the San Francisco ring, with the help of two mages.
DeMarco had made him to watch the video feed of what Malachi forced the two mages to do to her. Unlike Devlin, Fallon fought with everything she had against her captors, then turned around to free those held against their will.
He wished he had her strength, but he’d seen what happened when he resisted their demands. Devlin had never been a fighter, and he broke every time they started to torture someone. When DeMarco was being particularly cruel, he kept the victim in the next cell where Devlin couldn’t help, sometimes until they died.
Shaking off his regrets, and what he couldn’t change, he directed his attention to the blog. He knew Fallon was a tattoo artist but the blog confirmed rumors she was warding the tattoos themselves. It also went into how she won over the town when she helped the citizens of Edenton take down some mysterious Other fighting ring in Washington.
That might explain where Sarah’s master had disappeared to, and why DeMarco was becoming more desperate. Though the liche never would say what happened to Malachi.
Fallon was also getting married to a werewolf. The alpha’s second, in fact. The wedding was in a few short days. Jamie was part of the wedding party. He had two very good reasons to go. The same reasons he couldn’t stay.
Devlin felt drawn to Edenton, to Jamie and Fallon. It wouldn’t be long before the Dales came for him. He couldn’t risk showing himself to Fallon, but he’d promised Jamie.
His father had formed a bloodoath, keeping Devlin from telling his sister about their relationship unless she somehow found out. However, anyone who knew they were brother and sister were also bloodoathed because even at two, Fallon was already stubborn and strong-willed. The only way to keep everyone safe was to run, and never go back, except through dreams.
Now though, Devlin was afraid to seek Fallon out in the dreamrealm, though they spent years as friends there. Thanks to his captivity, he’d disappeared from her life twenty years ago. There was nothing he could say to explain his absence, so he stayed away.
He scrubbed a hand over his face, and drew a breath. If Fallon didn’t know, maybe it was for the best. Still, he needed to see her once, with his own eyes, to find out if their father’s choices had worked out for one of them.
It was too late to get back any semblance of the life he should have had. Free or not, the Dales would come for him. He couldn’t chance leading them to his sister, or his little wolf.
He smiled, remembering Jamie’s pale blue eyes sparkling in the moonlight, and her command
In two days’ time, his baby sister was going to be married. He remembered holding her chubby, wriggling little body. Her big green eyes staring up at him while she fiercely gripped his finger in her tiny hand.
Part of him still missed her and the relationship they could have shared. Often, he wondered about her life, about their mother, about so many things which could have been different.
With a decision made, he grabbed his few belongings and forged documents before heading to the airport. The trip to the United States would buy him some time to figure out the details.