Dmitri stood next to his truck, shivering. He didn’t have to wait long. After only a few seconds, the stranger stalked out of Mac’s, looked around, and then he was coming at Dmitri as if drawn to him.
He willed his legs to stop shaking. He didn’t know what the fuck was going on. What he did know amounted to this: this guy had met him on the ice tonight, had collided with him on purpose, several times, and had spoken to him. Had raised the small hairs on his neck. Had raised other parts as well.
And he was a shifter and younger than Dmitri by a good decade. He had been able to tell in the arena that the guy was good-looking but Christ, out of his helmet and pads…
Those eyes met his now, close. Sensual, expressive lips were forming words.
“Wh-what?” Dmitri stammered.
Dmitri managed a nod. He was behind the wheel and starting the ignition before his brain kicked in with any kind of question. What was he doing? He didn’t know this guy. What if he was some kind of nutjob? Images slammed into his mind, of Stephen King stories about writers held hostage by their biggest fans.
Which almost made him laugh. Right, like this guy next to him was remotely interested in the kinds of books he wrote. Or even old enough to have read the last one he’d published.
But he felt a compulsion to keep moving, and while it wasn’t really a comfortable sensation, it was undeniable.
He pulled out of the parking lot, hyperaware of the body next to him. The guy vibrated energy into the small space of the cab. His legs were long under that ridiculous coat, and his hands rested on his thighs. Dmitri didn’t dare look at his face or even farther up his torso.
Didn’t need to—their brief interaction at the bar was seared into his mind. The man had longish hair, dirty blond and curling. At least a day’s worth of dark scruff shadowed his jaw and mouth. His eyebrows made dark, expressive slashes above a nose that had been broken at least once. If tonight was any indication, that didn’t surprise Dmitri at all. He had a feeling this guy attracted fists to his face like beehives attracted bears.
He tried to concentrate on getting them back to his cabin without driving off the road. It was a close thing on one of the final turns, when the guy flexed his fingers and Dmitri was momentarily distracted by how long they were. The tires skidded—shit—but he managed to right them again. Finally, the dark outline of his house rose in front of them.
He gulped greedily at the cold air outside the truck. Slamming the door shut, he reached into the bed to pull out his duffel. A sudden presence at his side stilled him.
Dmitri looked sideways at him. He couldn’t make out the guy’s features in the cloud-covered moonlight, only the more luminescent shapes of his teeth. “Who are you?”
“Who are you?”
“I asked first.”
The teeth turned into a grin. “My name is Marrou.”
He spoke with an accent, but his voice was so quiet Dmitri couldn’t place it. That, and his own pulse was deafening. “Marrou? What kind of—”
“And you are?”
“Dmitri,” he said before he could stop the word.
The guy took a deep breath through his nose, and his shoulders rose under the coat. Its fur flexed in aggressive spikes, but what had looked unnaturally red in the bar had a more muted tone under the moon, like a cabernet. “Dmitri.” He said it as if he were tasting the name. Maybe it tasted like that cab; Marrou smiled again. “Nice to meet you.” He looked as though he might say more, but then his eyes only glinted in the silver light, and Dmitri figured he’d misread his face.
Not that he had a bead on any of this, but the guy was compelling. Literally, and he hated when people misused that word, but this stranger was literally compelling him to move, to speak, to—
“Run with me, Dmitri?”
Shit, a request, and with his name added, like a thumb pressed to the throat during a kiss.