Read Wild Rain Online

Authors: Christine Feehan

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #General

Wild Rain (6 page)

BOOK: Wild Rain
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There was no come-on in her voice, no deliberate seduction, just simple honest admiration. And that was what made it so damned sexy. He hadn’t even been thinking about sex. Or soft skin. Or full breasts. Or silky hair. She smelled like a damned bed of flowers. He hurt like a son of a gun. He was tired and edgy and he didn’t understand what was happening to him. And now his body was reacting to her voice. Or her words. Or her smell. Who knew? Need punched him in the gut and hardened his body like a rock. He was furious with her. With himself. With his lack of control. Now he had a hell of a hard-on and a sick woman in his bed. And damn it all, if he had to endure it, she could just look at it.

He finished stitching his hip, all too aware of her unwavering gaze. It didn’t seem to bother her that he was primed and ready and they were completely alone. Her eyes were overbright, her skin flushed with heat in spite of the continual shaking. Fortunately, the pain from the ugly gash on his hip drove the heat from his body so his lust wasn’t so brutally exposed to her.

Rio didn’t look at her but he felt her eyes on him. Hot. Staring. Devouring him. The thought made him ache all over. He swore again. Even with the pain of stitching his own wounds, her gaze, staring at his hardened body, set jackhammers tripping in his head and his temples pounding.

“Are you going to stare at me all night?” He growled the words at her. A threat. A promise. Retribution in the lines of his body. He turned his head then faced her down, allowing naked desire to flare just to scare the hell out of her.

She smiled serenely. “I’m sorry. Was I staring? It’s just that you’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. I thought if I did die, you might not be such a bad thing to take with me as a last image.”

She disarmed him just like that. The power she wielded was frightening. Nothing touched him the way she managed to. With a look, a single word. Just the tone of her voice. He was drowning and it made no sense. And it made him angry. He just wasn’t sure whom he was angry with.

She was still staring, her eyes huge. Rio stalked over to her and pressed his palm against her forehead. “You’re burning up.”

“I know.” He was standing right up against the bed, his groin level with her eyes. Rachael thought him extraordinary. She floated in a dreamy haze, where nothing seemed very real. Except Rio and his incredible body. She reached out to touch him, not believing he could be anything but a dream.

Her fingertips brushed the head of his penis and nearly sent him through the roof. Her touch was feather-light, barely there, but he felt it vibrating through his entire body.

“You are real.” She sounded awed and her breath was warm along his shaft, tightening every muscle in his body. Her fingers trailed over his heavy erection, slid across his balls and down his thigh and the feeling was unlike anything he’d ever experienced.

“It’s a damn good thing you’re hurt,” he snapped, turning away from her, afraid she might go further. Afraid he might let her. And he’d never forgive himself if he stooped that low. He had never wanted a woman so much. It was the way she looked at him. The sound of her voice. The honesty. Intellectually he knew it was the fever talking, taking away her natural inhibition, but he couldn’t help reacting. Fever or no, she liked what she saw. Walking was torture, his body so hard he was afraid each step would shatter him, but he moved away.

Rio filled a bowl with cool water and caught up a cloth. When he turned around she was staring at him again. He sighed.

“You swear a lot, don’t you?”

“You have a way of making me feel like I need to,” he said and dragged a chair to the side of the bed. “I have to get your fever down.”

Rachael laughed softly. “You’d better put on clothes then. I don’t think anything else is going to help.”

“Do you even know what you’re saying?”

She frowned at the tone of his voice. “I don’t know. Should I lie to you?”

“Do you always tell the truth?” It was a challenge.

Her eyes met his. “When I can. I prefer the truth. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable. You just seemed so at home without clothes. I didn’t think you could be real. I thought I made you up.” Her gaze drifted over his chest, dropped lower to inspect his flat stomach, the dark brush of hair and his thick shaft, moved over the strong columns of his thighs. “I’m not actually certain where I am or how I got here. Isn’t that strange?”

She sounded lost. Vulnerable. His belly did that strange somersault he was beginning to associate with her. “Never mind.” Rio wiped her face with the cool damp cloth. “You’re safe with me and that’s all that matters. I don’t care if you want to stare at me. I suppose it’s flattering to have a woman like you admiring me.”

“What kind of woman am I?”

“A sick one.” He peeled back the cover, wishing he hadn’t fed the fire in the fireplace, not even for hot water needed to cleanse her wounds. For both their sakes he needed to cool the room down. “I’m going to open the door for a few minutes. The wind should help. Don’t move.”

“I wasn’t planning on it. I feel odd, sort of heavy, like I can’t move.”

Rio ignored her comment, opening the door to allow the wind to clear the room of the smell of blood and infection. Of flowers. Of the scent of a woman. The cool air rushed through the room, whipped at the blankets covering the windows, tugged at Rachael’s hair. In the soft glow of the lantern, he could see that her face was flushed, her body too hot.

“Rachael,” Rio said her name softly, hoping to bring her partially back so she understood what was happening to her. “I’m going to open your shirt. I’m not making a pass at you, I’m just trying to cool your body down.”

“You look so worried.”

“I am worried. You’re very sick. I don’t have a lot of medicine with me. I have a small knowledge of herbs, but I’m not nearly as good as the local medicine man from the tribe.” He sat in the chair and leaned over her, his fingers brushing soft skin as he slipped the buttons from the holes to open her shirt. Her full breasts beckoned to him, the call much stronger than he had anticipated. Touching her felt familiar and right. Rio dipped the cloth in the water and bathed her skin, trying to be impersonal when nothing about touching her seemed impersonal.

“My leg hurts.” Rachael tried to reach down to feel the wound, but Rio caught her hand.

“That won’t help, try to think of something else.”
He
needed to think of something else. The cold water turned her nipples into hard, inviting peaks. “Tell me what you’re doing here.”

Her eyes widened. “Don’t I live here?” She looked around her, her gaze moving over the room and back to him. “Didn’t we move here? I thought you wanted to live someplace where we could be alone and stay naked all day long together.”

Her words struck a chord deep in his memory. A vision of another time and place. Rain falling softly against the roof. A breeze ruffling the curtains at an open window. Rachael turning over in an ornately carved bed, her dark, chocolate eyes filled with love. With that same honest admiration. Soft laughter played like a movie in his head. Her voice. Soft and sultry and sinfully tempting.

Emotion choked him. He didn’t know what he felt, only that it was all-encompassing.

“Did I say that?” The cloth moved over the swell of her breast, lingered in the valley and slipped along the soft underside. “I surprise myself sometimes. It sounds like a very good idea.”

“When I look at you, there’s a light surrounding you.” Her expression was mischievous, teasing. “I’d say a halo, but certain parts of your anatomy seem to be keeping you from sainthood.”

“Or elevating me to that status.” He had no idea where the words came from, or that teasing, familiar tone. He was always gruff and surly with strangers, yet Rachael didn’t feel like a stranger to him. He dipped the cloth in the bowl Of water and allowed it to trace the soft swell of her breast. Even that felt familiar to him. He knew her body intimately. He knew there would be a small birthmark right above her buttocks on the left side if he turned her over. He knew the feel of dipping his tongue into her enticing belly button and making a slow foray lower. He knew exactly what she would taste like. It was in his mouth, a honeyed spicy tang that always left him craving more.

“Do you know me, Rachael?” He leaned close, his gaze capturing hers. “When you look at me, do you know me?”

She flung out her hand so that her fingertips rested ultimately on his bare thigh. “Why do you ask me that? Of course I know you. I love just lying in bed with you, your arms around me, listening to the rain. Listening to the sound of your voice and the stories you tell.” Her smile was far away, dreamy. “It’s always been my favorite thing to do.”

She was burning up with fever. Her body was so hot to his touch he was afraid the cloth was going to burst into flames. He bathed her wrists and the back of her neck, beginning to feel desperate. The wind cooled the room but her body was flushed a bright red. Her leg was a mess, swollen and infected, blood oozing from the wound. His stomach lurched.

“Rachael.” He said her name in despair. Her palm was burning a hole through his skin where it rested.

“You’re afraid for me.”

“Yes,” he answered honestly. Because he was. For both of them. He was as confused as she was. Abruptly he rose and prowled across the room to stand in the open door. The wind was dying down, a lull before the next wave hit. He was moody and restless and uncomfortable in his own home. The forest beckoned, the treetops swaying, leaves nearly silver as they rustled all around him with their own strange melody. He found the sound soothing in the midst of his uncertainty.

Rio knew Rachael intimately, yet he’d never laid eyes on her. Certain things were familiar, more than familiar, nearly a part of him, like breathing. He pushed a hand through his hair, needing the peace of the jungle. Rachael’s gaze followed him wherever he went. “Look.”

He didn’t turn around, didn’t want to meet the blatant appreciation in her gaze when she looked at him. He didn’t like the fact that the heat between them was a tangible thing when she was so obviously ill.

“I am looking.”

She sounded amused and for some reason, his stomach did that idiotic flipping thing he knew to associate with her.

“Go to sleep, Rachael,” he ordered sternly. “ I’m going to try the radio again, see if I can get you some help. I may be able to pack you out of here to an open area where we can bring in a chopper to take you to the hospital.”

Rachael frowned, shook her head in obvious alarm. “No, don’t do that. I’ll stay here with you.”

“You don’t understand. You could lose your leg. I don’t have the proper medicine or the skill you need. As it is, you’re going to have a mass of scars—and that’s if I manage to save it.”

She continued to shake her head, her bright eyes pleading with him silently. His gut tightened. Abruptly, he stepped outside into the night, dragging air into his lungs. She was tying him up in knots. He didn’t know why. Didn’t understand it. Didn’t like it or want it. He didn’t know who she was or where she came from. He didn’t need the complication or the danger.

“Damn woman,” he muttered as he stretched his arms up to the driving rain. The drops fell on his hot skin, cool and tantalizing. His veins sizzled with life, thrummed with need. Even away from her, he felt her presence.

He was not wholly human, nor was he leopard. He was a separate species with characteristics of both. And he was dangerous; capable of killing, capable of great jealousy and outbursts of temper. The animal in him often dominated his thinking, a cunning, intelligent creature, but very flawed. He needed to be alone, a secretive solitary being by choice. Few things touched him in his carefully guarded world. There was something about Rachael that made him restless. Moody. Fear shimmered in him, blurred the edges of his control. “Damn woman,” he repeated.

He stretched again, wanting the freedom of the change. Wanting to go out into the night and simply disappear. The wildness rose in him like a gift, spreading so that his skin itched and his claws lengthened. He felt the muscles running like steel through his body. He smelled the feral scent of the cat, reached for it, embraced it. An extraordinary means of leaving behind Rio Santana and all that he was, all that he had done. Fur rippled over his body. His muscles contorted; bones cracked as his spine became supple, flexible, as his body took the form of the leopard.

The leopard raised its head and scented the night. Inhaled the smell of the woman. It should have repulsed him, yet it drew him, just as strongly as in his human form. The cat switched the tip of its tail, padded around the verandah beneath the windows, and then leapt to a neighboring tree branch. In spite of the pouring rain, the leopard ran easily along the network of branches, a highway above the forest floor. The wind ruffled his fur and blew in his face but it couldn’t rid him of the woman’s enticing scent. Every step he took away from her brought uneasiness.

The leopard gave a soft grunting cough of protest, followed it with a sawing roar of temper. She would not leave him alone. Everywhere he went, she went with him. In his mind. In his churning belly. In his groin. He raked claws along a tree trunk, ripping the bark in a fit of foul temper, shredding it into long strips. She clung to him, would not let him go. The rain should have cooled his hot blood, but it did not nothing but fan the embers smoldering inside of him.

Rio should have been able to shed his human concerns and escape into the mind of the animal, but he could taste her. Feel her. She was everywhere he went, everything he did, the very air around him. There was no logic to it or explanation for it. She was a total stranger, without a real name or a past, yet she somehow had consumed him. It was alarming to him. He didn’t trust her, and worse, he didn’t trust himself.

He made his way back to the house in silence, padding slowly along the forest floor to give himself tune to think. It shouldn’t matter so much that he thought about her. It was natural. He hadn’t had a woman in a very long time—now one was lying in his bed. Rio told himself that had to be what it was. A simple case of lust. What the hell else could it be when he didn’t even know her? Satisfied that he’d worked it all out, he leapt into the trees and returned to his house using the safer and much faster route.

BOOK: Wild Rain
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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