The Savage Grace Page 35

I worked the soap down both of his arms and then across his back and then down his chest—trying all the time not to linger on the thought of how much bigger everything about his body was now. Daniel had always been well cut, but with a slighter build. However, his muscles were larger now than I remembered, firmer. Even his jaw and cheekbones were better defined. Everything about him was perfectly shaped, like Adonis himself lay in my bathtub.

After I finished washing his body, I lathered shampoo into his hair and washed away what was left of the week he’d lived in the woods. As I leaned over him to brush his now clean, wet, hair off his forehead, he lifted his hand and touched my arm.

He opened his deep dark eyes and stared into mine for a moment. “Thank you,” he said quietly through chattering teeth. He closed his eyes again, convulsing with a shiver.

I clasped my hand over his forehead and realized his skin felt positively frigid now, even though the ice in the water had long melted away.

Had I done something wrong?

I took a moment to change into clean yoga pants and a cami, and threw my dirty clothes into the washer with a heaping scoop of detergent to destroy the muddy evidence. Then I fetched a pair of pajamas from Jude’s unused room for Daniel. He let me help him into the flannel pajama pants, but he refused the flannel shirt. “Don’t want to overheat again,” he said through his pale blue lips. I wondered if kissing them would help him warm up. Instead, I draped a dry towel over his shoulders and led him to my bed. He barely made it before his legs gave out from under him.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing,” I said as I tucked him under my bedspread. “Maybe I should go for help.” Leaving him was the last thing I wanted to do, but if he needed more help…

“No,” he said, grasping my hand tight. “Please stay with me.”

I nodded and crawled into the bed next to him. I pressed myself against his side to help warm him with my body heat. But it wasn’t long until he was burning up again, and I had to bring ice packs from the freezer to press against his forehead. At one point he shook and screamed, clutching at the sheets, as if some sort of invisible force was trying to drag him away.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to go for help,” I called desperately over his cries. “Maybe Dr. Connors would—”

“Don’t go.” Daniel shook his head. He grabbed me in his arms and held me to his bare chest—clutching on to me like a drowning swimmer to a lifesaver. “I need you here with me tonight. So I don’t go away again…”

And then I realized what was happening—Daniel wasn’t suffering from some sort of illness, and not from a reaction to silver. There was an internal battle raging inside his body.

Daniel was fighting to stay human.

I wrapped my arms around him and clung to him with all my strength—it was up to me to ensure he survived this fight.

Chapter Nineteen



I didn’t let go of Daniel. I held him through fits of burning hot and freezing cold. Through screams of pain, and low wolflike whimpers that barely passed his bluish lips. Finally, well after three in the morning, he gave a great sigh and his grasp on me loosened. His skin felt neither hot nor cold, and his labored breaths eased into a normal rhythm. The tension in his taut muscles slipped away, and everything about him became heavy with sleep.

I watched him for a long while. Smoothed his golden blond hair off his face, and caressed my fingers lightly along his perfect cheek and jawbone. Careful not to wake him, I brushed kisses against his forehead. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to drink in everything about him. It felt as if I’d been stuck in some sort of hell-like limbo, with the week he’d been gone seeming more like a century.

But he was here with me now, and that’s all that mattered.

At some point I must have drifted off to sleep in his arms because I was awoken several hours later to the sensation of someone’s fingers brushing my hair off my forehead, and then tender lips pressed against mine in a kiss.

I slowly opened my eyes to find Daniel gazing at me as he lay beside me in my bed. A weak smile curved on his lips, but it was a smile, nonetheless.

“Hey,” I said, and pushed myself up on my elbows. “How are you feeling?”

“Better than last night.” His deep, dark eyes were locked on my face, as if it had been years since he’d seen me. “Thank you for staying with me.” He leaned closer and gently kissed my lips. I gripped him around his neck and pulled him in for a harder kiss.

“This isn’t a dream, is it?” Daniel asked. “I had dreams so realistic they were cruel.”

“Better the hell not be.” I laughed softly against his skin. “But it is hard to believe you’re actually here, isn’t it?”

“Then maybe we need to convince ourselves a little longer.”

We kissed again, longer and deeper. Quite some time passed before our mouths broke apart, short of breath.

“Remind me to wake up in your bed more often,” Daniel said with a heartier, devious smile.

“Not allowed. Never. Ever. Again.” I pushed him away with a playful slap to the arm.

“Ow,” he said, grasping his injured shoulder just below the red, blistered wound caused by the silver bullet.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Do you think you can heal that?”

He shook his head. “Already tried. Must have been caused by pure silver,” he said. “Not much I can do but hope it keeps healing on its own. Hurts like hell, but at least I can still use my arm. Do you know how this happened?” he asked about the wound.

I scrunched my eyebrows, concerned. “You don’t remember?”

He shook his head.

“You were shot. A couple of hunters in the woods. There was a whole hunting party out there looking for you—equipped with silver bullets, courtesy of Mr. Day.” I touched the reddened skin just under the wound on the front of his shoulder. “I’m glad it passed clean through. I don’t know if I’d have had the nerve to dig out a bullet. You seriously don’t remember getting shot?”

“It’s all patchy. I’ve got images here and there … Did you hit someone in the head with a rifle?”

“Yes. But he was one of the hunters who was trying to shoot you, so it was totally justified.”

“Totally,” he said with a smirk.

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