Home > Blackwing Wolf (Kane's Mountains #2)(9)

Blackwing Wolf (Kane's Mountains #2)(9)
Author: T.S. Joyce

Emma crossed her arms, leaned back against the seat, and stared out the window as the October woods blurred by. Pretend to be his? He’d lost his damned mind. She and Dustin were as different as two people could be. Pretending to be in a relationship with him felt like a very, very bad idea. And thankfully, Dustin didn’t push her on it. Wise Wolf kept his trap shut and didn’t suggest any more ridiculous scam-artist ideas.

Fucking typical werewolf. She was angry. Angry they’d had some sort of breakthrough today, angry she’d begun to feel differently about him, and then he’d pulled this. While he’d slept, she’d cared for his bleeding neck and slept near him, listening to his breathing until her heart knew the cadence. And then she’d been simultaneously irritated that he’d undressed her, but flattered that he’d researched how to take care of her. He’d teased her with first-date jokes, kissed her hand, but then he let it slip that he was exactly the kind of man she’d assumed he was in the first place—a scammy werewolf.

Her disappointment was as deep as a well.

“Your neck still looks like shit,” she grumbled uncharitably.

“Yeah, well, it’ll heal up good-as-new eventually.”

“You speak as if you’ve had your throat nearly ripped out before.”

Dustin snorted. “You wouldn’t survive a single day in a pack. Hell, you probably won’t survive in a crew. Do you feed your vamp family?”

“No. I’m their kid, not their feeder, and that was a dick thing to ask.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“As a human or as a woman?”

“Both. You get mad at everything. It’s like you’re looking for reasons to be pissed. Life is going to be long and dark if you don’t switch that shit off.”

“Sorry, Dustin, not all of us replace feelings with jokes.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’ve obviously been through something hard, Dustin. I didn’t get you before, but it makes more sense now. You’re funny. You make me laugh. You’re witty all the time and have a smart remark for everything.”

“You’re talking like that’s a bad thing.”

“It is if you’re just trying to cover up all your shit, Dustin.”

He snarled loud enough for her hearing aid to pick it up. “So you have me pegged, huh?”

“Yeah, I think I do. You’re fireworks, Dustin.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“You’re dark on the inside, but you’re popping off pretty sparkly distractions so people don’t see who you really are. You cover up all your shadows with jokes. You make people laugh so they don’t have a chance to be disappointed with what you are really saying, with what you are really feeling, with what you really are.”

Dustin gritted his teeth so hard his muscles jumped in his chiseled jaw. He shifted gears again, hit the gas, and finally he was going the fucking speed limit and beyond. “You have a whole lot of judgement for someone who has issues of their own. You have me pegged? I fucking observe the people around me, too! Princess of the vampires, coveted, sheltered in the center of a coven so no one hurts you or hurts your feelings so you can feel superior. I fucking remember your answer when Kane asked why you wanted to join the crew. Boredom, Emma? Really? Must be nice to have so much free will, but life doesn’t work like that for everyone, and it sure as fuck doesn’t work like that for me. Never has.”

“I’m not judging you, Dustin! I’m telling you, you don’t have to be a firework with me. I’m okay with the shadows! I was raised in darkness. The real you scares me less than some plastered, empty smile and hollow eyes. And you’re wrong about me.”

Dustin shot her an intense glare, then eyes back to the road. To her, then back. “I’m wrong about which parts?”

“All of them. Was I wrong about you?”

Dustin gripped the steering wheel so hard it creaked under his grasp. “Forget what I asked you earlier. I couldn’t pretend to care about you if I tried.”

“And there it is,” she gritted out, shaking her head against the urge to cry.

“There what is?”

“Your ugliest firework. The dark one with all the smoke. The one meant to burn eyes and make people look anywhere but at you. The one where you say something mean and make them flinch away. Success, asshole.”

He sped down the gravel hill of Kane’s land, going way too fast, but handling his car like it was made to race on loose dirt. He blasted across the bridge, but she didn’t want to be in here anymore. Not with him. Not when he’d purposefully hurt her.

“Let me out.”

Dustin slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop near a thin dirt road that led to a clearing for the trailers. He exhaled explosively and said, “Emma—”

“Nope.” She shoved open the door and got out, then made her way down the dirt lane, dashing her fingers under her eyes just to make sure none of those stupid tears had betrayed her and leaked onto her cheeks.

Before she even registered that he’d left his car, Dustin was there, a solid wall of muscle, his arms around her, a snarl rattling against her cheek, his chest heaving under her. He was hugging her too tightly, so she was stuck with her arms pinned between them.

“You were right about everything, Emma. All of it. I shouldn’t have said that. You’re really nice and pretty, and it wouldn’t be hard pretending to like you as more than a friend. I just… I just say dumb shit sometimes.”

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