The Better to Bite(2)

By: Cynthia Eden

And Fido was right below me, doing that deep, rumbling growl that freaked me out.

“Go away!” I yelled at him as I glanced at my left arm. Jeez, he’d clawed me! I had four long slices cutting across my skin. Four long, bleeding slices. The kind that you knew weren’t going to heal easy. No, thanks to Fido, I’d probably be carrying these marks for weeks.

My dad was going to flip out over this.

And now, I was stuck up in a damn tree while the dog circled around me, sniffing the air every few minutes, and pawing at the ground.

I took a walk and ended up trapped. That was pretty much the story of my life, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by this messed up situation.

“Go away!” I yelled. “Go find someone else to bite!” I shifted around, trying to ease into a better spot. Future note—there is no better spot when you’re stuck up in an oak tree.

And then things got worse for me. Yeah, how is that possible, right? But I started to hear a distinct…crack.

I have the worst luck in the world. My gaze flew to the right, and I saw that the limb, my sweet safety, had started to break.

Fido still circled below me.

Crap. Crap. Crap!

“Go—” I began again, but the dog stopped mid-snarl. Its head tilted to the right, and its ears perked up. Then, without even another glance my way, it turned and lunged into the woods.

Yes. I sagged back. Blood dripped down my arm.

This would teach me to leave my mace at home. But I figured, hey, not in Chicago anymore. What bad thing can possibly happen in the boonies of South Carolina?

Apparently, wild, vicious dogs could happen.

My breath hissed out when I touched the claw marks. Ten to one odds they’d scar. Then I’d be the not-so-cool girl with claw marks on her arm.

“Uh…you okay up there?”

The male voice was deep, hinted with just a bit of the south, and…amused. Amused at my expense.

My head snapped up, and my gaze searched the ground. I frowned because I didn’t see anyone, not at first and then—

Then he stepped out of the shadows.

Oh, wow.

Tall, tan, with lots of muscles. Muscles I could see because the guy didn’t have on a shirt. A pair of old faded jogging shorts, tennis shoes, but…nothing else.

His thick, black hair was a little too long, and his eyes had to be the absolute bluest that I’d ever seen.

He looked like he was around my age, maybe a year or two older. One look, and I knew he was trouble. The really good kind of trouble that can make a girl want to sneak out late at night.

And I was stuck up in a tree, bleeding. Right. Way to make a killer first impression. Things were supposed to be different this time.

I cleared my throat and felt I had to warn him. “You need to be careful! There’s some kind of wild dog running loose out here.” Yeah, my voice broke a bit because I’m super cool and sexy like that. Nice.

He blinked and his brows rose. “Dog?”

There was another crack. Louder this time and I knew that—

The limb broke, and I went down. In that half-second, I prepared for the impact and the staggering humiliation of falling at the hot guy’s feet.

But I didn’t slam into the ground. He caught me.

He caught me.

Up close, I realized that his eyes weren’t solid blue. Gold circled his pupils.

My arms locked around him. He was warm and strong and…I cleared my throat. “Thanks. You move fast.” How lame did that sound?

A ghost of a smile lifted his lips. Nice lips. Not too thin. Not too thick. “You spend a lot of time falling out of trees?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Only on days when Fido chases me.”

The smile faded as quickly as it had appeared, and his gaze dipped to my arm.

I was still holding on to him. Okay, now this was getting awkward. “You can put me down.”

His face was truly perfect, in the dark-and-dangerous kind of way. Strong features. Hard jaw. Incredibly white teeth.

Slowly, he lowered me to the ground. I didn’t want to be bleeding all over him—and I didn’t know him and we were alone in the woods and my dad hadn’t raised a fool—so I took a few quick steps back. Adding a little space might be a good thing.

“What happened?” He wanted to know as he put his hands on his hips.

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