Reaper, p.5
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       Reaper, p.5

         Part #1 of End of Days series by Mina Carter
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Chapter Five


  The bold statement threw a shudder along Mason's spine. His gaze dropped to her lips. Plump and perfect with a slight sheen across the lower one. A cupid's bow of temptation. He shouldn't, he knew that. . . there were a thousand reasons why he shouldn't.

  "Is that so?"

  He leaned forwards by slow degrees, teasing them both with anticipation. Her breath caught as she went still, her gaze locked on his mouth. His lips brushed hers. An introductory touch that whispered over the surface of her skin.

  She moaned. A soft sound in the back of her throat, but it fuelled his male pride. With a groan he claimed her mouth fully. Crushing her lips under his, he dominated the kiss, demanding a response from her.

  His hand delved into the thick hair at the nape of her neck and held her head still as he explored every inch of her lips. This is heaven. Her lips were soft and seductive, clinging to his as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He'd heard flowery descriptions from old books about this moment. . . about women tasting like champagne and strawberries and other such nonsense.

  Andy didn't taste like that. What she did taste like was indescribable. Like a taste that extended through his whole body and affected each part of him from the top of his head right down to his toes, and certain portions of his anatomy in between. Bollocks to champagne and strawberries - she tasted of heaven and coming home.

  A taste he wanted more of.

  Wrapping his arms more securely around her he pulled her forwards onto his lap. She whimpered again, that little half-moan in the back of her throat that called out to everything male within him. Sweeping his tongue over her lower lip he demanded entry. Like a flower opening to the sun she let him in, and then it was Mason's turn to bite back a moan.

  He slid his tongue against hers, teasing and tempting, and then, when she responded to him, he took control again. His free hand roamed down her back, and the part of his brain that was functioning noted how well she fit against him. Her slender curves were a perfect match for the harder plains of his body.

  Within seconds the kiss wasn't enough, was never going to be enough. The need to roll her under him and slide deep into her welcoming softness almost overwhelmed him, and banished all other thoughts. The crotch of his jeans tented, the savage ache there reminding him just how long it had been since he'd been with a woman. How long it had been since he'd even wanted to be.

  Gentling his movements with an iron control he didn't know he had, Mason lowered her to her back and stretched over her. One large hand looped about her wrists and he pulled them slowly over her head, alert for any sign of discomfort.

  Her breathing caught, a delightful little hitch as her eyes darkened another notch. Her back arched as he held her hands captive. Her breasts brushed against his chest, and caused a cascade of fire to roll down his spine.

  She was smaller than he'd thought. Now, with that sassy tongue quiet and her eyes watching him with an unreadable expression, he realized just how delicate she really was.

  A warm breeze gusted over them, catching a stray curl and blowing it over her face. Slowly, gently, he reached out and brushed it back. The look of wary trust in her eyes nearly unmanned him.

  "If you don't want this, say something now. " His demand was raspy and rough-edged, but he didn't care.

  Swooping in, he claimed her lips again, letting go of her hands. He didn't know, didn't want to think, what he was going to do if she said no. Okay, so that was a lie. Somehow he would find the strength to release her from his arms. He'd never forced a woman before, and there was no way he intended to start.

  Her lips pursed in disappointment when he pulled away to look at her.

  "As I recall I asked you to kiss me. "

  She stroked a soft hand up his arm, finding the edge of the worn T-shirt and sliding under it. He sucked in a ragged breath. He was harder than he could ever recall. What was it about her that drew such a reaction from him?

  "Yeah, but a kiss isn't the same as. . . um. . . "

  Just like that Mason found himself speechless. What the hell did he say next? Having sex. . . fucking. . . doing the dirty? Making love? Startled, he damped down on that last thought, not sure where it had come from. He'd known her all of forty-eight hours. Love didn't come into it in any way, shape, or form.



  "Shut up, and get your kit off. "

  "Yes, ma'am. "

  The speed Mason scrambled to obey her softly spoken order massaged Andy's feminine ego. Within a heartbeat he hauled his shirt over his head to reveal a muscled and scarred torso that made her mouth water. His T-shirt had barely hit the ground before he started on his belt buckle.

  She chuckled softly. "Slow down, tiger. We have all night. "

  His second boot thudded into the dirt next to the first. Andy paid it no mind as Mason crawled towards her. The inferno in her veins threatened to engulf her, burning everything else away apart from the arousal that clenched her stomach and made her ache.

  Her skin was too hot and tight. Pulling at her top she fought down the urge to tear it away from her. She needed to feel the cool night air against her skin, needed to cool the fires that raged through her at the look in his eyes.

  "Oh, I know. I'm counting on it. "

  His voice was a silken whisper as he reached her. Then he was in her space, something she guarded jealously, not allowing anyone within it. He didn't seem to care, crowding her with a dominance, which took her breath away. "I'm planning on using that time to explore you. Taste you. . . and make you scream my name. "

  A soft moan of need and arousal escaped her before she could stop it.

  His hands bracketed the sides of her head, capturing her between the hard ground under her and his hard male body above. His nostrils flared as a tiny muscle in his jaw pulsed tightly. He wanted her but still he held back. The air around them swirled with sexual tension, yet he was taking things slow rather than falling on her like an animal.

  "If you want me to stop, say something," he begged hoarsely. "Because if you don't say something in the next two seconds, then it's gonna be too late. "

  She smiled - the mysterious little smile of a woman who knows she has her man. Arching her back she let her breasts brush against the hardness of his chest. He was lean and solid, with the kind of muscle that said he didn't spend his days sitting comfortable at a guard post. No, he had muscles that could only have been built by hard work and hunting.

  The scent of warm, clean man filled her senses. Andy lifted her hand and trailed her fingers down his chest and then beyond to explore the ridge at the front of his jeans. He shuddered and closed his eyes.

  She smiled, enjoying her sensual hold over this powerful man. Again that disturbing feeling, that he was more than human, came back to haunt her. She squashed it in favor of dipping the tips of her fingers under his waistband.

  "How about you quit talking and make good on your promises?"

  His lips crashed down on hers. Without thinking she opened up, allowing him access. His tongue thrust past her lips, and he kissed her like there was no tomorrow.

  Their hands were everywhere, stroking and caressing, touching and teasing. Clothing fell away as though it were no more substantial than mist. His skin slid against hers and she was lost. They moved in concert, part of a dance as old as time yet made new all over again because this was their dance. Heat and need welled up from her core as his hair-roughened knee slid between her thighs. They parted automatically, his weight cradled by her hips.

  Her teeth worried at her lower lip as he moved. The broad head of his arousal brushed against the entrance to her body, slick and ready for him. With a moan that was echoed a second later by hers, he sank into her welcoming warmth.

  Sleep receded in comfortable waves and, for the first time in years, Andy woke feeling refreshed. Grunting in complaint as the chill dampness of the morning air whispered across her ex
posed cheeks, she snuggled back against the warm, male chest behind her. Waking up next to someone was a novel feeling, something new, but she liked it.

  She hadn't woken up next to anyone for a long time. Sure, she'd had lovers. . . she wasn't an innocent, no matter how people decided to interpret her looks. . . There was no way she'd have trusted any of them enough to sleep next to them though. She knew better than to put herself in such a vulnerable position.

  Some people said having sex was the most vulnerable position a woman could be in. That allowing such intimate access to her body left her open to all kinds of emotional and physical violence. Andy disagreed. If someone was going to hurt you then they were going to do it anyway. Or at the least, try.

  Awake, you could fight back. You could see the situation developing and manage it to the best of your ability. Anyone that couldn't see a violent situation brewing these days quite honestly didn't deserve to live. It was survival of the fittest. Asleep a person, male or female, was truly defenseless.

  A solitary bird chirped the dawn chorus with entirely too much enthusiasm. Andy yawned and opened her eyes. The campsite was a mess. Clothes and boots lay in a tangled mess, thrown willy-nilly in their passion last night. The only things laid out neatly within easy reach of the sleeping bag were their weapons.

  She wriggled again, trying to get more comfortable. It was a roomy single but with Masons large frame crammed into it as well, it was a little snug. The smell of warm bodies, sleep and sex wafted up as she wriggled.

  She felt deliciously sore in places she had begun to think didn't exist anymore. Hell, a nun would have seen more action than she had the last couple of years. He'd woken her a couple of times in the night and their coupling had gone from tender and touching to fast and frenzied, as though they couldn't get enough of each other.

  Ordinarily that sort of link would have scared the crap out of her, but with Mason it felt right. Amused, she snorted a little. Who would have thought it. . . the big, bad Reaper feeling safe and protected in the arms of a human?

  Behind her Mason stirred, and his strong arm looped crosswise over her body to pull her closer into him. He sighed and buried his face against the nape of her neck, as if she were a human-sized teddy bear.

  She nuzzled her cheek against his hand on her shoulder. What was it about him? As soon as she'd seen him in the bar the other day something had pricked her interest. Both her feminine and her non-human instincts had stood up and taken notice. At first she'd thought the latter was because he was due to make a decision that might bring him under her blades but no, a look at his lifeline had revealed a dull, flat line.

  She turned her head to study him. He was older than she was. Physically at least. Inside Andy felt ancient. If she didn't know better, she'd believe the claim her grandmother had always made.

  "You're an old soul, Andrea, my love. You've been here before. "

  The first part might have been true but not the latter. She didn't have a soul, ancient or otherwise, just a dead lifeline. She snorted in wry amusement. Dead lifeline for a Reaper. Fitting.

  Mid-thirties, she decided, still studying Mason. His muscled frame bore no puppy fat and the lines on his face were telling. Even before the war he'd had a hard life. His skin bore the scars of violence. . . both new and old. . . one gunshot wound looked like it had been treated surgically, which put it pre-war.

  Yes, his lifeline was different. Now she had the chance and the leisure to study it properly she realized it was the grey of humanity but flatter than normal. Most lifelines pulsated with life, the potential of a thousand decisions taking them closer or further away from the touch of the Reaper. His didn't move, no pulse of life even though her other senses, and her experiences last night, told her he was very much alive.

  How odd, she thought to herself. Just what are you, Mason?

  Mason woke as a cold draft chased down his spine. Pulling the sleeping bag tighter around his bare torso he tried to recapture sleep. Then it occurred to him that he didn't sleep naked and didn't own a sleeping bag.

  Movement nearby had his eyes snapping open. For a second he was treated to an extremely nice view of Andy's backside before she pulled her jeans up over her hips. Everything slammed back in a second. . . going after her, her wounded arm, and everything else. No wonder he was tired, the woman was insatiable.

  "Nice view to wake to. " His voice was rough and raspy with sleep. Propping himself on one elbow Mason cleared his throat and waited for her answer.

  She was gorgeous, all slender curves and satin skin. His cock stirred as he thought of what they'd done. By rights he should be exhausted, but he wanted her again already.

  A frown settled onto his brow at her quick movements. This was no leisurely dressing, she was moving with economy and purpose, as though she needed to be somewhere quick. That or she wanted to be away from somewhere quickly. Or someone. . .

  "Going someplace?"

  His voice was light-hearted, but concealed the doubt that seethed in his gut. She regretted last night. . . that was it, and she was trying to get away from him as fast as she could.

  "Your soul is dark Mason, black and steeped in blood. I can't be around you. Not anymore. " Julietta's words, never far away, escaped from the locked box he kept them in and swam up to haunt him. Once the first part of the memory was free, the rest wriggled loose and filled his mind.

  "Babe, you know I've only been protecting us. That girl wasn't human. . . she was going to kill us," he argued, shock filled his chest. He needed Julie. She was the only thing that made sense in a world gone mad.

  She shook her head, her palm soft against his cheek as she looked into his eyes. Looked down into his very soul. "It's not that Mason. It's not even recent. Your soul. . . it's dark, black. I've never seen anything like it. You have blood and lives on your hands. I'm sorry, I can't be around someone like that. It's not good for my karma. "

  Mason's heart stilled as lead lined his gut. Perhaps his soul was too corrupt for any woman to want him for more than a night and a quick fuck. His heart ached. He didn't want that, didn't want to be a throwaway lover. He knew he wasn't a good prospect for any woman, but for Andy, he wanted to be.

  "Huh? What?"

  The exasperated look she shot him as she shrugged on her jacket and reached for her curved blades reassured him. It wasn't the hunted look of a woman trying to get away but the look of someone with a task on their mind.

  "Yeah, time to get up. Early bird catches the worm and all that. "

  She slammed home the buckles of the sheath and tested how easily the wicked-looking blades pulled free. Nodding in satisfaction she looked at him and smiled. His breath caught in his throat. The expression transformed her from pretty to breathtaking.

  Their gazes locked. She knew what he was going to ask, and he knew she knew it. Before he could open his mouth though, she spoke.

  "I. . . help people. It's part of what I am," she explained, as though the words were dragged from her. "Like I helped you yesterday. "

  "You save people from Werewolves?"

  Her dark hair danced on her shoulders as she shook her head. "Not just wolves. Any predator, paranormal or human. Far too many of them out there. "

  "How can you tell someone needs help?"

  Mason was relentless in his questioning but he had to know. They were his people in the town and damned if he was going to put them. . . or her in danger.

  "I just can. "

  She leaned forwards and brushed a lingering kiss against his lips. Carnal thoughts ambushed Mason as the urge to drag her back down onto the sleeping bag almost over-whelmed him. Possessiveness filled him. Somehow, in the last two days, she'd wormed her way past his guard and under his skin. This was his woman, damn it, and no one was stealing her away, not as long as he had breath in his body.

  It took them less than five minutes to pack the campsite up. Whilst she packed the sleeping back, Mason dealt with everything e
lse. A few minutes later he did the top of the pack and looked around. All that remained of their cozy little camp was the remains of the fire. Slinging the backpack over one shoulder he kicked the ashes over to make sure it was out.

  He stamped again, trying to shake the ash, which clung in a black tidemark on the battered leather. There was no sense in making tracking them any easier. Leaning down he grabbed his rifle, and smiled at Andy.


  "Yeah. Let's go. "

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