Wren Marlowe placed the basket of freshly rolled silverware onto the shelf by the door directly below the vinyl coated menus she had wiped down. A total of five customers had wandered into the old truck stop that night, leaving her with a whopping fourteen dollars in her pocket in tips. At least the small trailer that she lived in behind the diner was rent free. Grimly, she took the bottle of spray cleaner and a towel and began to clean the ancient vinyl booths, cracks and all. She couldn’t explain the restlessness that plagued her, but it was there nonetheless. There was an impending sense of doom, but she knew better than to speak of it. She had learned the hard way to keep her thoughts, her predictions, to herself.
As Wren cleaned the booths along the front wall of the diner, she could look out onto the parking lot through the grimy windows. He appeared out of nowhere. One minute there was nothing but an empty parking lot and a deserted stretch of highway. The next, he was striding across the pavement, his long limbs eating up the distance. His stride was confident, purposeful, and aggressive. Predatory, she thought. In spite of that, she found herself watching him, appreciating the powerful play of muscles beneath his clothes. Her breath hitched in her chest and her heart raced, blood rushing through her veins.
As he approached, the blinking neon sign that announced their 24 hour service cast harsh shadows over his face. It was both beautiful and frightening. Hard, chiseled features and slashing dark brows were offset by lips that curved sensually. Images assailed her, flitting through her mind, both shocking and erotic. She could see them clearly, his body covering hers, her thighs parting to welcome him. She could almost feel the weight of him on top of her, the exquisite fullness of his cock moving inside her. Other images came, a flood of them, mirroring the rush of warmth, of liquid heat that now flooded her thighs. Her knees quaked, and her breathing was ragged.
When he entered the room, he filled the space. His presence was overwhelming, powerful and frightening. She noted that his hair was damp, though it had not begun to rain yet. They were miles from anywhere, and there were no vehicles nearby. She felt it then, a deep certainty that blossomed within her. He was not what he appeared. Instantly and with little provocation, she was intensely afraid of him. She was also terrified of her response to him, of the spark of lust that had erupted into wildfire within her. No man had ever affected her so, and he had done so without even touching her. Instinctively, she backed away.
“Wren Marlowe,” he said in a deep, slightly gruff voice, “You must come with me.” His voice caressed her skin, warm and rough, it raised goose bumps on her flesh. Her nipples puckered, hardening inside the padded cups of her bra. Desperate to hold onto some semblance of good sense, she seized the most disturbing piece of information from his short greeting. He knew her name.
“No,” she replied, “I mustn’t.” He might be beautiful and his body might make her mouth water, but she didn’t know him from Adam. She wasn’t going anywhere with him.
The sensual line of his lips firmed and he stepped toward her. His movements were slow and deliberate, much like someone approaching a strange and frightened animal. Without any real weapon and his large body blocking her only escape route, Wren dropped the dirty towel to the floor, and hurled the bottle of spray cleaner still clutched in her hand. She aimed it directly for his head. He ducked to the side, and it glanced off his shoulder. It slowed him down not at all and he continued moving toward her, his face a grim mask of determination.
Wren braced herself, clenching her fists tightly at her sides. She didn’t know what his intentions were, but she wasn’t going to give in without a fight. He reached for her, and she lashed out, knocking his hand away. She lunged to the right, squeezing past him. He spun quickly, grabbing her from behind. His powerful arms closed around her upper body, pinioning her arms to her sides. The lush curves of her behind rested in the cradle of his hips, and she could feel the hard ridge of his aroused cock. She fought the urge to press back against him, to feel his hardness sliding against her flesh. Her body might be out of her control, she thought, but her mind wasn’t. She renewed her struggles, but in the steely band of his arms, they were futile.
In spite of the strength of his hold, he wasn’t hurting her. Even in her fear, she acknowledged that. Against her ear, he said, “I will not harm you, Wren Marlow, but you must come with me now.”
Wren didn’t respond. Her eyes were drawn to the door of the café which had just opened. Three men walked inside, their hands covered in leather gloves and the dark hoods of their sweatshirts pulled up, casting dark shadows over their faces. Dread filled her, spreading icy tentacles through her body. The man in the center reached up, pushing back his hood, and what he revealed elicited a scream of pure terror from her. She knew those faces. They had haunted her dreams for her entire life.
Rather than flesh, he was covered in scales, ranging in shades of gray and black. The structure of his face was vaguely feline, with a wide forehead, narrow chin, and broad, high cheekbones. His eyes were red, with elongated black pupils, shielded by nictitating lenses. Those strange eyes slashed sharply upwards at the end, giving the appearance that his face was twisted in a macabre grin. He opened his small mouth, emitting a wet hiss and revealing double rows of sharp, jagged teeth.
“She is ours, Kyr,” he rasped.
The man holding her didn’t respond. He simply clasped her tighter against him, and pressed his thumb against an intricate emblem on the leather cuff at his wrist. Blackness swirled about them, and the world simply fell away. Wren felt as if she were spiraling into nothingness. She tried to scream, but no sound emerged from her throat as she was sucked into the void.