Trusting the Wolf Ch. 03bykitten101©
At 8.00am, the morning after her spectacular failure at combining alcohol and B&E, Faith rolled reluctantly out of bed.
As tempting as it was to slap the snooze button on her evil little alarm, she kind of felt the need for some penance.
Some super secret spy she'd been. What had Nathaniel called her? A drunk newt? She groaned and raked her greasy hair out of her eyes.
And now she'd gone and agreed to partner with him. Sure, it was pretty much her only option after plain-old giving up... But still. Talk about salt in the wound.
Faith bit her lip, and stared at her unmade bed. Maybe it was time to admit more openly that it wasn't entirely Nathaniel's fault? She had kind of fucked up by not saying anything... But still... That tearing pain... The way he'd pinned her with his body? How in the hell had he been so blind to the pain he'd caused?
Surely women didn't enjoy... That...
Despite all the stuff she'd read? And the occasional comment she'd overheard?
Maybe some of them did enjoy sex. Maybe Faith was built wrong? Or Nathaniel was just too big?
For some reason, thinking about his cock made her flush with warmth. 'Horrified warmth' she assured herself.
After shaking herself, Faith set her lips stubbornly, and made her way to the bathroom. She wasn't going to think about it anymore. She'd just do her job, and find Alexia Devon. And Nathaniel could throw himself under a train for all she cared.
Nathaniel paused for a moment on the balcony. He could see Faith slumped with her forehead resting against the table where she'd sat her firearm the other night.
He had been about to just walk in... But he remembered the fear from last night. Maybe surprising her would be a bad idea. Instead he knocked, and watched as her head snapped up, and her eyes widened in fright.
Wincing, he realized that someone loitering on her balcony - five floors off street-level - probably wasn't the least scary thing she'd ever come across either.
"Going to let me in?" He asked.
She narrowed her eyes.
With a shrug, he popped the balcony lock open the same way he and Aaron had the last time they'd been there. He strode in, taking another look around her apartment.
Spartan. Aside from the plate of uneaten toast on the table in front of her... It looked... Empty. Unused. It was clearly just a place to sleep until she had to move on again.
"How did you do that to my door? And for that matter? How did you get onto my balcony?" Faith snapped, eyeing him nervously.
Her throat seemed to be closing up again... And for some reason? All she could smell was him, and his clean male scent. He was wearing some kind of deodorant, or cologne, that she liked.
It was weird. Unexpected.
Why should she like his scent?
Nathaniel shrugged, drawing her attention to his shoulders. Wide, strong shoulders.
"I think Aaron modified it. A hard tap to the left of the handle... And it just pops right open. And I climbed."
Faith sat staring in shock. That was how the tricky fucking Death Walker kept getting in undetected? Fucker. This time she really would slam his ball-sack so far up his ass he'd taste it. And she'd kick extra hard for making her notice how nice Nathaniel smelt.
Clearly it was all Aaron's fault.
"In broad daylight?" She asked.
Nathaniel shrugged. "Stealth."
They both remembered the lessons on stealth he'd given her. The hours they'd spent together patiently learning one trick after another - she'd needed the tutoring too. Her wolf form was too pale for natural stealth, and it didn't come as naturally to her human form as it had to Nathaniel's.
The times he'd caught her from a fall, or quietly warned her about an upcoming threat. The patience he'd had with an untrained wolf - even though he was far more interested in getting back to his real job. How protective he'd been, up until that night...
Faith shuddered, and shrank in her chair.
Nathaniel didn't miss the movement.
With a sigh, he swung the backpack off his back. He'd brought the information from Aaron. He thought, maybe they could go through it. Start narrowing down the leads. Seeing her shrink back from him though... Maybe he should have waited for her to come to him.
She was jumpy.
He sighed, and dropped the papers in front of her, watching the tense set of her shoulders. "Info from Aaron."
Then he'd crouched down to thoughtlessly check her ribs.
A bolt of panic shot through her, and Faith scrambled up away from his hands. "What are you doing??"
"I slapped you around last night... Remember? You were drunk, I had a big stick? I was just making sure I didn't do any permanent damage." Nathaniel explained, remaining crouched.
He gave her a disbelieving look. "Yahuh. Prove it."
With a hesitant frown she lifted her silk shirt, until it exposed the purple bruises on her stomach and left side. Nathaniel sucked in a breath.
"Fuck. Come here." He tapped the seat in front of him.
She slowly stepped closer, and flinched, and he urged her to sit with a hand on her hip. He understood she was jumpy, but when it came to injuries he'd inflicted, he wasn't prepared to let her assessment of 'fine' stand. If he'd done serious damage they needed to know.
It chafed that he'd only thought to check now. He could have sent her home last night with broken ribs. Sure, at the time he didn't think he'd hit hard, but he'd been so angry with her last night...
After a careful examination, he concluded she was probably right about being fine. Nathaniel drew her shirt back down to cover the bruising, and moved away, hoping the erection that had sprung up upon touching her smooth skin, wasn't on obvious show.
Despite the self loathing, and recriminations, she still made him hot.
He moved to the other side of the table, and stripped off his sweatshirt, before sitting across from her.
Faith didn't know what possessed her to look... But she did. The ripple of muscle in his shoulders as he'd peeled the top off had been... Unexpectedly exciting.
And the tee-shirt he'd had on underneath had ridden up a little, as he peeled the top layer off. She held her breath as it caught, rose, and then shook loose, covering his abs again.
God, he really did have a dangerous body.
Faith snapped her eyes back to the papers in front of her. This was what she wanted. Not the terrifying man across from her. She focused intently on the papers, hoping she didn't look too much like a crazy person.
It took her a few calming breaths before she could actually understand the words on the sheet in front of her.
Nathaniel for his part, sat quietly, observing her out of the corner of his eye. She was obviously uncomfortable. Tense. But... He'd heard the way she had gasped. And now she was reading Aaron's message with the intensity of a serial killer.
Something was... Off... And he resolved to figure out what it was.
That first day had been the hardest. She'd barely relaxed enough to read, and Nathaniel knew it. The next week went better though. They started some of their own research, and decided to narrow down the search to locations - that was, after all what the seeker had been focused on, not names, or objects.
Aaron had sent them some ideas initially, and they used those for a jumping-off point. Aaron was also working with another couple of seekers, and a witch, though, so with any luck, they could narrow it down further.
It was hard, because the list of possibilities were endless - Ferr wasn't much to go on when you didn't know if it referred to a country, or a house, a person, or a landmark, a captor, a friend... Add to that it was entirely possibly Alexia had changed her name... Or the possibility she wasn't even still alive...
It was hard going.
"God-Damn-Stupid-Mother-Fucking Computer!" She said, slamming her hand onto the table in front of her as the 'god-damn-stupid-mother-fucking computer' froze in the middle of a search for a Tiger body-guard rumored to have been exiled with Alexia.
-Of course the rumor HAD come from a drunk 80 year old leopard who they'd been unable to confirm had actually lived at the court in Aruba.
"Yes, continue doing that, because swearing at it has produced results so far." Nathaniel said dryly.
"Shut up." She snarled.
"Oh good. Now you're taking it out on me. Your PARTNER. Who you FORGOT to take with you on this mythical breakthrough interview." Nathaniel said, still smarting over being left out of that one.
Faith fought down a flash of guilt over that. She should have taken him, but she'd chickened out. She was meeting the leopard in a bar... She didn't want to be anywhere near Nathaniel and beer at the same time - look at what had happened last time!
Even so... Aaron had been pissed at her when he'd found out. He'd yelled at her for two days straight - via a series of phone calls - and threatened to fire her. He was within his rights to do it, too... She would have done the same if it had been any of her partners sneaking off to meet informants without backup.
"My partner who's doing shit all - I'm the one making all the discoveries here." Faith sniped to cover the flash of guilt.
Nathaniel had been making some discoveries of his own though - about Faith.
It was true, she was jumpy, and fearful around him, but after a few days they both settled into each other's company. She only really got fearful around him when she thought he was going to touch her.
The first time she'd done it he'd reached past her for a pen. She'd nearly thrown herself off the couch in an effort to get away from him. Nathaniel had frowned, and filed the information away in his brain, making more of an effort to keep physical contact to a minimum.
In the second week he'd begun talking more socially with her. She'd laughed at a few of his jokes, and relaxed enough to talk about the past few years. He couldn't help but notice that she'd said nothing about men in her life.
It made him feel guilty.
He'd fucked up, and because of it, she might be missing out on the chance of having a relationship, or falling in love.
-Yeah, he was a big, rough, scary guy who swore a lot, but he believed firmly in love. Not for himself, or anything - He was well past that point - but Faith was definitely going to need someone in her life.
Now she had the search for Alexia to keep her busy, but one day they'd find her, or they'd find evidence she was dead, and then what? Alexia would be alone, and purposeless.... And seeing the near-rabid way she threw herself into the hunt, this was a girl who needed a purpose.
He even imagined her with pups. Lots of them - A whole house-full.
It was presumptuous, but when she wasn't tentatively making conversation with him, he had a lot of time to think. And, naturally, being that he was spending all this time with Faith, he thought about her. And pups.
Faith, for her part was slowly coming to some realizations about Nathaniel.
He was still the same wolf she knew from 'back in the day'. He still looked out for her. He was still world-weary, a little grouchy, a lot sarcastic... He also hated himself. She saw the way his eyes followed her when she got tense. He blamed himself for it.
One part of her though 'Good. He SHOULD blame himself. He HURT me.' The other part was a little more honest... She had played a part in what happened. Maybe she should move on? Get over it, and stop looking at every man with a cock like he was a potential threat...
Not that 'potential threat' was strictly how she saw him these days - Oh there was A LOT of that... but also... On the odd occasion, his scent would catch her unaware again. Or she'd notice some small thing about him...
Like how his terrifyingly large and scary body, actually seemed to ripple with strength and grace sometimes... And actually? On occasion that made her more warm than terrified.
And, yes, it was true, Nathaniel had a cold, unforgiving kind of face... A lethal killers kind of face... But, when he relaxed enough to smile some times she forgot about the coldness of his eyes - in fact, sometimes they looked down-right warm when he looked at her.
And his voice? That sinful, persuasive, rich voice? It gave her shivers.
She wasn't supposed to have shivers - not the kind that ended up tightening her nipples. Faith had decided that she wasn't going to ever act on that kind of thing. She was HAPPY not having sex. Sex hurt. It was terrifying...
Which is why the occasional response from her body was so terrifying.
She'd gone four years without a single desire for closeness... And now she barely went two days without wondering.
It was scary to have her body acting so weirdly.
Nathaniel had been noticing her tension for most of the morning. They'd gone out for lunch though, to get out of the house, and he hoped that would help a bit.
The restaurant Faith had picked at random was good, and relatively quiet. They joked around for a bit about some of the stupid stuff Nathaniel had done as a pup in training, and she'd told him about Aaron catching her breaking into his house one time - leading to his insistence on breaking into hers every time he came to visit. (Some people just don't know how to let go of a joke it seemed...)
Nathaniel excused himself for a moment and Faith surreptitiously watched him go, before taking a close look at the couples around her. Funny that she hadn't thought about doing it before... She was with Nathaniel, and for whatever reason, she seemed to trust him enough to relax in public, and let her protect her.
Just like old times...
A couple in the corner caught her eye. They were obviously oblivious to everyone else in the restaurant, giggling to themselves, and sitting about as close as they could to each other without actually being in the other's lap.
The guy was telling the woman a story about something, using his hands to illustrate. Seemingly without even thinking about it, he dropped a kiss on her forehead - mid sentence - and carried on talking.
The woman's eyes shined just a tiny bit brighter, and she smiled - he might not have realized he'd kissed her, but she did, and she clearly treasured it. Their conversation was peppered with tiny near-meaningless things like that...
It kind of made Faith ache... For the first time, she understood that she wanted that. She wanted closeness, and intimacy, and stupid stories, and kisses on the forehead.
She bit her lip, and devoured the couple with her eyes.
Nathaniel paused on his way to the table. Faith watched a couple enviously. She looked sad, and it made his heart lurch.
Over pasta he finally asked her "Have there been men in your life?" He had a suspicion as to what her answer would be, but he wanted to hear her say it.
Faith snapped her eyes up in surprise. "Some. Partners. And Aaron."
Nathaniel's mouth twitched into a smile. "Not like that. Like that." He said, nodding at the couple.
She frowned. "No."
Nathaniel regarded her over the table. "Why not?"
"You know why not."
"What we did, Faith? It wasn't the way it was supposed to be. It does get better." He said, feeling the familiar rush of regret.
She laughed humorlessly. "Sure, what did you say? 'Trust me'? Forgive me if I wasn't in the mood to do that. You hurt me. And you were supposed to be with someone else... You made me the other woman! I didn't know."
Now that she'd started, she didn't seem to be able to stop. "And it was too much, too fast, and I felt like I couldn't tell you, because you would have stopped completely, and I didn't want that either. It was terrifying. And then afterwards you just... Left. You left me sitting there. And you GLARED at me, and you called me an idiot! You were so..."
"I know... I scared you. But I didn't mean to. I wasn't angry at you, I was angry at myself for fucking up. Fuck, you must have been so fucking scared." He groaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"NO. You were so fucking exciting that I couldn't bring myself to say anything... I was mostly terrified you'd stop. Then... It hurt, and you treated me like shit, and I was so fucking ashamed of myself for wanting it..." She trailed off.
"Fuck." Nathaniel started to understand why she'd avoided men. Yeah, she'd been scared, but she was also punishing herself for having wanted it in the first place.
"I know it means nothing... But I am sorry. I'm the one that fucked up. I just didn't realize. I would have done a million things differently if I had known." Nathaniel's eyes met hers, looking impossibly gentle - for a killer, he really did like to confuse a girl.
"When you find a man you trust, and when you're ready, ask him to help you. If he's the right guy he'll go slowly, and you'll be able to learn from him. I promise it won't hurt - not like before." Nathaniel said, clenching his fist.
Faith snorted, and looked down at her pasta dish. Both of them knew she wouldn't be taking his advice.
Later, as he dropped her off back at her place, he watched her leave. An idea was beginning to form.
Finally they found a link, a name on some property papers in a place called Fern, that indirectly linked with a Jeremy Maddox. Possible former guard to the royal family. It wasn't much, but it was the closest thing they had to a lead.
Faith leaned back against the office chair she'd been sitting in, and blew out her breath in relief.
Nathaniel watched her with dark eyes. "I don't know about you? But I'm stiff as a fucking board. I could use a little exercise."
She wrinkled her nose and agreed. They'd taken advantage of the small gym he had set up in his building a couple of times. He'd run her through drills every couple of days, just to reassure himself that she hadn't forgotten anything.
She'd bristled the first couple of times he'd suggested she was rusty, but arguing back earned her a reminder of how badly she'd performed when she'd snuck into his house, drunk on scotch, trying to steal the information from Aaron.
Now she just set her chin stubbornly, and strove to outperform his expectations in the gym. So far she'd been yet to elicit anything past a grudging "You haven't forgotten how to do this then."
It made her mad. She was sharp, and he knew it.
Hell... He'd trained her. Of course she was good.
"Close combat?" He said challengingly.
Faith narrowed her eyes, and grabbed her backpack, storming out of the room to change. She wouldn't say no, because that was as good as admitting she couldn't do it. And she sure as fuck wasn't doing that.
She waited out on the mats looking agitated. He stood for a moment in the doorway, watching her wrestle her blonde mane viciously back into a ponytail. She hardly ever wore it up - it was a bit wild and untamed... Kind of like her. He liked it.
Making a small noise, Nathaniel pretended not to see her whirl around to face him. He kicked off his shoes, and casually pulled off his shirt. He wore nothing underneath.
Still not looking directly at her, he grabbed the pile of clothes and moved them to the wall, noting the way her eyes widened. He bit back a smile. She was interested - perhaps despite not really understanding why.
He moved towards her, utilizing his wolf-side to add a little extra grace and fluidity to the movements. He was projecting 'predator' at her, and for some reason, that made her wolf perk up.
A casual roll of his shoulders made her nearly gasp. Oh boy... The man had some muscle.
Finally he made eye-contact, making an effort to keep his face relatively friendly. "Warm?"
She resisted the urge to fan her face and whimper a yes. Instead she nodded firmly.