Highland Shifter
Page 15

 Catherine Bybee

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Simon’s hand grew warm in hers. When he started to speak, it felt as if it were on fire.
“In this day and in this hour, we call upon the Ancients’ power.”
Helen’s hair brushed against her shoulders as a warm breeze drifted around the room. With wide eyes, Mrs. Dawson’s lips split into a huge grin.
“My windows are closed,” she said, laughing. “And it’s cold outside.”
Helen slid a glance to the window anyway.
“Deliver the books to help us see, what will be our destiny. If the Ancients will it so, give us a sign so we will know.”
The singsong rhyme drifted from Simon’s mouth and lifted high. Helen wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen, if anything. But when books flew off the shelves and stacked themselves on Mr. Dawson’s desk, all she could do was clutch Simon’s hand and gasp.
The wind died down and the candles flickered out.
On the old desk sat several piles of books, five to ten deep.
“How did you…?”
Simon sought her gaze and said. “I’m a Druid, love. As are you and Mrs. Dawson.”
“Aye. I’ll explain while we’re doing our homework. Seems the Ancients aren’t in a hurry for us to find the answers.”
“You realize I have no idea what you’re talking about, right?”
Mrs. Dawson laughed and let go of her hand. “I’ll have Mavis prepare dinner.”
Chapter Seven
Three hours later, they were no closer to finding an answer than when they’d called the Ancients for help.
Simon had explained his heritage, what he believed was Helen’s and Mrs. Dawson’s heritage, too, although he knew Helen doubted his words. In fact, as the day had drawn on, she’d become more and more distant.
Mrs. Dawson retired for the evening, suggesting they stay as long as they desired. She’d even had her helper prepare rooms for them to use if they chose to stay the night.
At Helen’s suggestion, they’d piled the books into categories. Only those categories were vaguely similar. There were books on myths, folklore, and magic. There were many directed at Celtic lore while others spoke of ancient witches.
The Ancients may have narrowed their search, but the common thread eluded them.
“This is useless.” Helen closed the book in her hand with frustration.
“The answers are here.”
“Just because a bunch of books fly off the shelf, doesn’t mean they have the answers.”
Simon sat back and watched Helen’s temper surface. “You’ve seen books fly off the shelf before, then?”
“Don’t be a smartass.”
“The answer is here, love, trust me.”
Helen pushed out of her chair. “Trust you? I don’t even know you. And why do you insist on calling me love or lass? I’m neither.”
Where had this angry outburst come from?
“I don’t mean any harm by using these endearments. They’re meant to put you at ease.”
“Yeah, well, they’re not working. Besides, I think you should actually know someone before you start using endearments. It’s kinda like a man in a black van hanging outside an elementary school saying, ‘Come here, darling little girl, and pet my puppy.’”
She paced the room while she spoke.
Her words penetrated his mind and tightened his jaw. “I’m not an evil man hiding behind a small animal.”
“I don’t know what kind of man you are. Sure, we’ve been on some kind of cosmic rollercoaster together, but I don’t know you from Adam.” Her voice was elevating; her pace became more frantic. She reminded him of a caged animal needing to run.
“What has you upset, lo—” Simon stopped his words, not wanting to push her further.
“You know, when you shoot flames from your fingertips, you might give a little warning next time. That’s some startling crap. Mrs. Dawson’s not a young girl. She could have had a heart attack when these books started flying around.”
Ahh, so that was the problem. The lass was worried about her friend.
Simon stood and walked to her side. “Mrs. Dawson is a strong woman.”
Instead of backing away, she placed her hands on her hips and glared. “You’re so arrogant. You’ve been in my life for what? Ten minutes? Mrs. Dawson ended up in the hospital last fall with angina. Her heart can’t take a whole lot of stress. Your little stunt today could have killed her.”
A trickle of guilt slid over his skin. Mrs. Dawson may be stronger than Helen believed, but she was elderly, and he’d do well to remember that.
“I’m deeply sorry for causing you worry, lass.”
Her chin shot up and surprise lit her eyes. “Good. You should be.”
Simon stepped closer and felt the heat of her skin. She smelled of the strawberry shampoo she used in her hair. Helen’s hands slid from her hips and fell to the side.
“’Tis time we clear up a few things in your lovely head about me.”
He stepped closer, and Helen, the wise girl, took a step back until her bottom met the edge of the desk. She reached behind her to steady herself and keep from falling.
Like a predatory cat cornering his prey, Simon towered over Helen, watching her body twitch and her eyes travel over his.
“Really?” Her voice wavered. After clearing her throat, she asked. “Like what?”
Simon licked his lips and glanced at hers. “I’m not evil.”
“Uhm….” Her eyes never left his mouth while he spoke.
“And I’d never lure a child into my presence.”
Simon leaned into her, their thighs touched and Helen’s breathing started to quicken. He placed one hand on the table beside her, leaving her very little room to escape should she want to. From the hunger in her gaze, and the heat of her body, he didn’t believe she would.
“A woman, however, might tempt me to entice her attention.”
“I-I didn’t mean to suggest you’re some kind of pervert.”
“Yet your words said exactly that. Perhaps I should show you my desire lies in the company of women and not girls.”
Helen opened her mouth to respond, shut it, and froze.
Simon focused on her pert little nose and soft rosy lips. A firm set of br**sts brushed against his chest with every quick breath Helen took. He wasn’t sure who was breathing faster, him or her.
Her mouth opened again, and Simon moved in to make his claim.
In the next instant, a leg wound around his and a firm palm pushed him squarely against his sternum.