Day 1, 16:00, Boston
She was standing in the entrance area of the motel, fingers drumming impatiently against the side of the public phone she was making a call from. Hovering there only in the scratchy bathrobe supplied by the motel with her hair still damp and hanging around her shoulders, she ignored the stares she got from the receptionist and an older man sitting in a corner with a newspaper. It wasn't like she had any other clothes with her that resembled anything close to wearable.
After five resonating rings, a voice crackled through the receiver. "Yes?"
She wanted to shut her eyes in exasperation. With her luck, it would obviously be her answering her call.
"Rashel? Well. You've been gone for a while"
The snide voice of the older girl hadn't changed at all. Neither had the naturally authoritative tone that Rashel could only handle for so long without snapping back. She cleared her throat impatiently.
"Yeah, look, I have some really important news. For Elliot. Is he around?"
She made sure to emphasize the name so that the other hunter couldn't possibly mistake the meaning behind the sentence. Voices mingled in the background and when the next words were spoken into the receiver, they were thankfully no longer Vicky's.
"Finally! I'd started to actually worry Rashel," the good-natured voice of the Lancer came through, "Good to hear from you"
She could picture him standing there, tall, lanky but on the scrawny side with his intense gaze. Good old Elliot. She actually felt a twinge upon hearing him again, serious but cheerful and found herself missing the old group.
"I've got news"
"Doesn't sound too pleasant. What have you been up to?" She loved how he could almost read her mind on these kinds of things. Directly to the point.
"I took out an enclave last night," she started and relayed the whole course of events in brief to her fellow vampire hunter in less than five minutes. She sidestepped the details of Quinn's presence being really the only reason she was still alive and conveniently avoided mentioning the soulmate connection. There was only so much they needed to know.
Elliot gave a low whistle on the other side of the line. "You are unbelievable"
"Don't flatter me. I'm getting to the bad news now," she took a deep breath, "Nyala and I made it back on a different boat because we were the last ones out. We were ambushed on the docks this morning when we landed. Five of Hunter's people"
She didn't go on. She could hear Elliot's slow release of a breath. "She's not there with you is she?"
"No. I had to leave her. I didn't want to take more risks. I wasn't in the best state. I thought maybe the police could take care of this one. It could have been any human who committed the murder. You couldn't tell they were vampire bites…her wounds were beyond that," she cleared her throat awkwardly, realizing to her dismay that her throat felt tight, "I don't even know how I survived it."
The lie tasted bitter on her tongue. Not telling the whole truth was weighing on her. Elliot didn't notice at all. He sounded awed if anything. Death was not unheard of in their ranks and Nyala had barely been on the team a couple of days before she'd vanished. He hadn't seen what she'd done, what sacrifice she'd brought in the fight, both last night and today. She couldn't judge him for not mourning this loss.
"That's…still intense, Rashel. Making it out of there alive, eliminating all of them, pretty much by yourself. I mean, Vicky mentioned that you had some absurd idea about…"
"Forget Vicky. I knew she wasn't going to make me sound credible. Thing is, these girls I told you about, that got out of there, they can be anywhere. You guys are much better equipped to find them and teach them than I am out here on my own"
"We'll handle that," he contemplated for a beat, then added, "I think what you did was right. About Nyala's body I mean. So things come to an end for her family. From what I hear, her parents have been quite beside themselves since their second child disappeared"
"I'm so sorry," Rashel whispered, not knowing how else to contribute.
Elliot let out a sigh on the other end. She could picture him pushing his glasses further up onto the bridge of his nose, a habitual thing he did before he spoke of something particularly significant or when he was lecturing.
"There's only so much a person can do Rashel. You can't beat five vampires at once and look after a barely trained hunter while fighting. That's impossible and you'd both be dead if you'd tried. Things are as they are"
His steady words worked miracles for her. She managed to swallow the guilt and switched back to her all-business voice.
"Anyway, thanks Elliot. It was good talking to you"
"Are you coming by anytime soon?"
"I'm probably not staying in Boston. Got places to go," she answered evasively but with a small smile on her lips, "I'll miss you all though. I might drop in some day. Better keep the password the same"
"Hm. Now I'll have to work on my skills so I can impress you with my body count when you come back," he chuckled.
"Trying to rival me?" she joked, even though she knew he easily could. There would be no more reckless killing sprees every night for her anymore. From now on, it would always be in defense.
"Don't kill the hope"
She shook her head at him. He'd really been a close acquaintance. She somewhat regretted that she'd never allowed herself to have friends.
"Goodbye Elliot. Good luck"
"Take care, Rashel"
Once the phone was back in place, Rashel trudged back to her corridor, weighing the leftover coins in her hand but feeling almost weightless with the sorrow taken off. She supposed Nyala's death had only hit her that hard because of the emotional turmoil she'd been in for the last couple of days. Elliot's words had been the balm she needed to cover that emotional wound with.
She locked the door behind herself and dug her toes into the scratchy surface of the carpet. It actually felt good to have a room to herself. Being shackled in a warehouse, a truck and a cellar with other people in need of rescue had never been her favorite pastime. She appreciated having her solitude back, to gather her wits and clear her head. Most importantly, to catch up on sleep. She was practically useless after so many hours of no proper rest.
As she crawled under the covers her mind momentarily drifted back to the girls and the apologetic redhead she'd met in that mansion. Fayth. She'd said she was a daybreaker. If Rashel had then had any idea how the night was going to end, she'd have asked about the Circle then and there. She wondered if the girl had made it out okay.
And Nyala. She couldn't comprehend that the girl had died five mere hours ago. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. She shouldn't have let that happen. She was supposed to be the best and she hadn't managed to save the girl who was prepared to give her life for her. As soon as her eyes shut she could see the queenly head, coated in blood that wouldn't stop gushing from the gaping hole that was her throat. Her eyes had been blank, the glassy surface spattered with her own blood. Just because she'd been a couple of seconds too late.
In the end, it had been Quinn who'd snapped the bastard's neck from behind while she struggled to stake the one pinning her to the tarmac. Nyala hadn't lasted longer than a minute after the battle had been won.
Then there was the matter of Timmy. He'd vanished during the fight along with the single female vampire of the ambush group. In the aftermath, she'd wondered if maybe, if he was capable of it, he had called out to Hunter's minions telepathically. Maybe he'd wanted them to be attacked, to enable him to return to the Council's protection in the turmoil of it. Maybe he had sold them out.
Whether kidnapped or not, he was gone and although Quinn had reached out as far as he could with his mind, they must have had a method of transport nearby to ensure an impeccable escape. There was no finding Timmy when they were exhausted, nutrition-deprived and wounded. It had been Quinn's idea to search out a relatively safe place for the day to allow them both to recover and regain their wits after the chaotic night.
That was actually what she needed to do right now, she realized. Her vision was already blurry; she was daydreaming and not even paying attention to the muffled voices drifting up and down the corridor outside, as she usually would have. Quinn had gone to feed so she had a couple of hours to herself and should be spending her time more wisely than contemplating everything that had gone wrong until now.
A minute later she was out like light, her hand curled around the hilt of her knife underneath the pillow.
That's how Quinn found her upon his return. The sun had already dipped towards the horizon again. He guessed it was well past five o'clock. He'd needed a couple of hours to get everything done and discovered that separation from the vampire hunter had made him edgy. Every now and again he'd found his mind drifting back to her, contemplating if he should check in on her, then dismissing the thought.
It didn't suit him to be worrying about another person. He'd need to get used to this. Having a soulmate. Only a month ago the rumor of it had appeared ridiculous to him.
Prodding the window open from the outside was harder than he'd expected. She'd actually done a good job of barricading herself in while he was gone. Talented girl. She'd lodged the handle in such a position that it took some patience on his behalf to unfasten it from the exterior. Once inside, he let the bag he'd been carrying slide to the ground. She never stirred from her sleep though, one hand hidden under her pillow, the other resting near her head, her back to him.
He remained by the window ledge, watching the rise and fall of the slim, toned body of the girl on the bed that had come to mean something to him, virtually overnight. How the hell it had come to all this? He still couldn't figure it out. Or decide whether or not his recent actions were worth it. He'd turned against his adoptive family, basically betrayed what he had stood for over decades, oh, and broken Night World law…the list went on.
In silence, he pulled off his shoes and removed the coat he'd obtained during his outing. Not removing his eyes from her, he placed them next to the desk that was lodged in the corner close to the window. He considered just stripping down the rest too because it was relatively warm in the room but he faltered as soon as his hand touched the hem of the stolen shirt. For the first time since many years, he suddenly felt out of his comfort zone.
What if she didn't want this at all? What if she awoke with the realization she didn't want to be with somebody who had thousands of crimes to atone for, starting with illegal trading and ending with murder?
Somewhere in between there were also the many women he'd seduced, sometimes purposely, other times because they'd offered themselves. He wasn't short of experience on anything in this world and just that fact rose to his attention now.
She was his soulmate but that didn't guarantee them a relationship of those sorts. He wasn't even certain either of them desired it to be that way. For him, it was more an honest wish of seeking her acceptance of who he was. Maybe he also hungered simply for an understanding with someone who was as much of an equal as anybody could ever be. She'd already seen some of his ugly sides in that room on the enclave last night, as he had hers.
On one hand, Rashel was surely the last person to judge him for anything he'd done in the past but the issue was, he didn't know how to best handle the bond between them now, in the present. He couldn't even define it properly.
He longed for her, sure, he craved her touch and he definitely wouldn't complain about Rashel's kisses but it wasn't exactly of a sexual nature. Not truly. Not yet.
He'd been with girls before. Vampire, human, he'd even had a couple of witches now and then. But she wasn't any of them because she mattered. Whatever it was, this connection they had, he didn't want to ruin it and sex could cause just as much damage as it forged deeper attachment. Not that he expected her to want any of these things. He just didn't want to her to believe that it was the reason he was here with her.
He took a deep breath; chastising himself for over thinking the simple act of sleeping in a bed with a girl who could see into his soul, witness his demons and his dreams. There wasn't anything to hide. She could pluck his intentions from his head as soon as she regained full consciousness. This contemplation he kept coming back to was growing worse by the hour and it was useless. He supposed it was this that they called being driven crazy by having feelings.
He took his time moving around the bed to the empty side, observing the very subtle sign of her breathing and listening to the heartbeat that he could pick up. Complete ease was expressed in her body language. Even when the bed dipped lightly under his weight her features didn't shift and he remained propped up on his side for a long time, memorizing the beauty that she wasn't even aware she possessed.
Asleep, it was even more pronounced in the manner in which her dark hair fell free over her shoulders to spill over the white sheets. Her lashes weren't thick but in comparison to her skin, they looked perfect, nestled against her cheeks. From there it didn't take long for him to lose focus and drift down to her lips. Not quite full but ever so expressive if she chose to smile. Then again, everything about her physique seemed to complement her personality.
The flexible, supple build enabled her to wield her weapons of choice like a fully-fledged ninja. The dark hair in combination with her choice of clothing helped her blend into the darkness she chose to stalk her prey in. The green eyes that reminded every Night Worlder, who had the pleasure of being faced with her sword, of the graceful feline she was named after. The softness of her body in her sleep was the only aspect that fooled any stranger that her personality was not as fierce as her nickname. She would have made a perfect vampire. She was so young but the one of the most ferocious creatures he had met.
Quinn extended a hand in her direction, brushing it lightly over the bare skin of her forearm that wasn't covered by the pillow and drinking in the warmth of human skin. He should have foreseen the reaction he got with his touch though. Latest by the time the bond fizzled to life inside him and he sensed her consciousness returning like the impact of a punch against his head. The frenzied alarm rushing through his mind was hers alone.
So realistically, he shouldn't have been surprised to find himself straddled by her in a matter of seconds with the pressure of that carved knife against his throat and her eyes piercing through his with the intensity of the wooden blade crushing against his jugular.
Sparks flew and both were caught in that silent explosion that forged their minds into a connection that defied scientific logic. Quinn couldn't just feel her instinctual defense but beneath that her shock; he experienced her self-repulsion and fear as she realized whom she was preparing to deliver a killing blow to. She, in turn, sensed his irritation at his lack of a quick reaction to her attack, his respect for her as she embodied a degree of danger. Their eyes locked for an eternity.
Rashel forced her muscles to relax, the dagger to drop away from her soulmate's throat. Her breathing had accelerated with the panic that had swept her senses as she awoke. Being caught unprepared counted as one of her deepest fears. For once her fingers actually shook as she fisted them in Quinn's shirt.
"Are you insane?" she hissed, eyes blazing into his.
"I've been told so," he replied, not raising a hand to remove her from his hips.
She didn't bother rolling her eyes at him but toned her voice down a couple of notches. She didn't want to alert any neighboring guests. Remaining undercover was the word for what they were practicing right now. She couldn't help the authoritative choice of words though.
"Don't sneak up on me. I'm not used to anybody doing that who doesn't want to kill, torture or maim me."
"In that case, I think you're mistaking me for somebody else," he answered without batting an eyelash, letting a faint smirk dance over his lips.
"You're making me think twice about using my knife on you"
No, he didn't exactly fancy being skewered by that chunk of lignum vitae. Not that he'd even let it escalate that far. So he switched tactics.
"Realistically, it should be me mistrusting you. After all, you could have called your back-up while I was gone"
"Oh yes, they've actually already surrounded the nearby buildings and I gave them a description of all the torture you submitted me to. Don't expect anything less than extreme pain once they get their hands on you, John Quinn. I'm finally putting an end to this hide-and-seek game." Rashel shook her head at him, "Did you seriously expect that from me?"
"I've stopped expecting things. You're unpredictable," he confessed, raising his free hand to run it through his hair, "And you don't know how to trust me"
At this she furrowed her brow, turning her expression into one of irritation. Her fingers released the material in her grip and she let her hands flatten onto his chest. "That's not true. My attack was a reflex. That's not something I can control when this place isn't exactly a safe house"
He remained silent, his pupils enlarging as she leaned closer and cast his face in shadow.
"I trusted you with my life last night. I'm still doing it now," she finished before pulling away.
He tightened his hand on her hip just a fraction to still her movement as she made to get off him. She glanced at it then raised her eyebrows at him in question.
"I want you to know," he began, but paused to choose his words more precisely, "That whatever happens from here on out, I don't want to disappoint your trust. I still don't know exactly what has happened with us but I know you're what I live for now. I will stay around until you force me to leave."
She appeared taken aback by his confession and didn't reply immediately. Quinn knew it was very out of character for him to lay his emotions bare before someone, much less a human vampire hunter but this was exactly what she did to him. Somehow along the way she had messed with his mind and stirred feelings that he'd almost entirely forgotten.
A soulmate will do that to you, he mused in silence. He remained patient, not pushing for a response but taking his time to watch her face change as she thought about the deeper sense of what he'd said.
He didn't initiate skin on skin contact to delve into her mind or attempt to read her thoughts telepathically. He simply wanted to hear it from her mouth as though they were two regular people speaking. There was definitely something going on with these human urges he was getting recently.
"So you're saying if I get killed anytime soon, you want to come and share my grave?" she chuckled, for which he gently shoved her back onto the mattress. She turned her head towards him on the pillow and met the black gaze steadily, seriously, "I…feel the same, you know"
They lay there for some time drinking in another's presence in silence. There was no need for words when there was already such a deep understanding connecting them. He found himself on the verge of dozing off in the comfort she exuded.
There was warmth on his temple and a sensation in his mind that was Rashel. His eyes focused on her both in his head and in reality. Her hand drifted down his face from temple to cheek and he was intrigued that the touch had him both igniting and peaceful inside.
I know this sounds masochistic but…is dying…do you remember what was it like?
He didn't know where this was coming from but since things had been crazy the entire past thirty-six hours, he wasn't going to start worrying about questions like these. At the moment, they seemed to have all the time in the world and he would answer her anything she wanted to hear.
It depends. It wouldn't be the same for others. I died in a way that I struggled against so it hurt more than it should have. At that point I welcomed the pain though. I thought I deserved it so I wanted to immerse myself in it. The love of my life had been murdered and I felt nothing but agony at that point. Putting myself through physical pain was just a mechanism to drown out my emotional pain. I suppose it's why I ended up so bitter from the very start.
He felt her mental nod of understanding, accompanied by a light pressure against his cheek. She sounded wistful as she answered him.
I've always prided myself on not being afraid to die. I've been reckless when I could have just gone to school and hung out with friends like a normal human. I never wanted to though. I think by facing myself with potential death every other night I was proving myself invincible. I was convincing myself that I didn't have to be scared of it and if I could do that, I could beat anything.
But you are afraid. Quinn thought softly and felt her hand tremble fractionally as it dropped from him. He reached out and touched her fingers on the mattress with his own. That's not shameful. Even my kind isn't immune to death and for some of us it's their greatest secret fear. We're much the same – feeling invincible when we're not. We forget that eternity does not mean invulnerability.
I'm more scared now than I was as the Cat. She confessed and he felt her inner conflict at exposing this weakness so voluntarily to him. The only thing that is different is that I'm not just scared for my own life. I'm worried about what would happen if you died now. And I'm scared of being scared for someone else. I'm scared of caring.
Something burned inside him at her words. Her honesty struck him deep and he knew he did not deserve any of her worries after his past actions. However, this made her fear for him even more potent. He was overcome with admiration. She was honorable even as she admitted to her secret feeble points. She was perfect in her contradictions.
"That doesn't make you weak," he reassured her.
"I've seen it with Daphne last night. I allowed our friendship to get in the way of my job and that risked all the girls' lives. I know that it makes me stupid and irrational and in any sticky situation it will kill me" she pointed out, removing her hand from his and resting it on her stomach, "Kill or be killed, wasn't that your phrase?"
"A week ago I would have agreed," he admitted, "But I know we survived this morning's fight because we both think this way now"
Her cat-eyes flicked back to him and she flashed him a sarcastic smile. "Or because we both have trained and killed for too many years"
"From what I've seen on the human side of things, you people work well because you come in bulk. Your teammates stand up for another and that makes them quite strong. Well, not in your case. Cats are known to be loners" he smirked at his last statement.
Rashel lifted herself onto her elbows, whispering to the ceiling, "When did the universe decide to punish me with a wisecracking, bloodsucker for a soulmate?"
"Since you secretly wanted an experienced old man?" he mocked and received a not so gentle elbow jab from her. He almost winced as it hit in between the ribs. Old habits died hard and her expert martial arts trained shone through with every little move she made.
She sat up now, ran her hands through her dry hair a couple of times to tease out any knots, then flipped the dark strands over one shoulder. He couldn't help but admire the curve of her neck down to her waist and the taught muscle of her back as she shifted.
"So, did you by any chance get me some clothes?" she asked with a pointed look over her shoulder at his relaxed form.
"Naturally," he indicated to the stuffed backpack he'd left near the window. She made her way over smoothly and rifled through his obtained treasures. Quinn, on the other hand, went into the bathroom while she was busy to indulge on a quick shower. He hadn't taken the liberty of a break yet and had left shortly after reserving them a room to satisfy his hunger and give his newfound soulmate some space.
As the shower started running, Rashel unearthed a handful of t-shirts from the bottom of the bag. She assumed that he had just grabbed a few in the hope that one would fit. They didn't have price tags on them and she hoped that meant he hadn't shoplifted for her sake. Although, they could easily have been stolen off a washing line too.
She unfolded them until she found one that sat loosely but at least didn't look like it would hang somewhere near her knees. Pants had been a harder find for him. After digging through the entire bag, the only piece of clothing that could be meant for her appeared to be some black shorts. Upon slipping into them she realized they must have been meant either for a size 0 or a skinny fifteen year old because she definitely found them extremely tight to pass as comfortable.
She had the urge to laugh at this outfit. Even she, the girl who despised shopping and wasting money on easily ruined clothing in general, could have done better. Then she realized that he was probably never forced to steal clothes with his lifestyle, yet alone to suit the requirements of a vampire hunter he was on the run with.
Taking a few steps around the room to loosen up the shorts somewhat and stretch her muscles, she immediately leapt to attention at a knock on the door. Silently and with precise speed, she lunged for her discarded weapon on the bed.
"Delivery service," called a bored voice from the other side just as she snatched up her dagger. Rashel paused, contemplated, then slipped the knife into the back of her shorts, hand at the ready to whip it out.
Cautiously, always aware of her surroundings, she flipped the lock on the door and after another wary glance towards the closed bathroom, opened it far enough to peer out.
A scrawny, greasy-haired blond youth leered up at her from behind a bag of what looked like take out boxes. One knowing glance told her he was human. With the one visible blue eye that wasn't obscured by his crookedly cut bangs, he looked her up and down appreciatively before extending the food towards her.
"One four-piece garlic bread, one penne Bolognese and one parmesan salad" he read off the receipt that was stapled onto the plastic bag he was dangling in front of her nose, "Room 24. Is there a Mr. Jordan who ordered here?"
She had to suppress a frown at the name. Why did he have to use hers to cover? After all, it was possible the Night World had already begun to keep tabs on her and ordering under her official last name would do nothing to preserve their secrecy.
But the sight of hot, uncontaminated food after almost five days of being denied proper nutrition had her licking her lips and she paid for the takeout without causing any fuss.
She located a bunch of bills in the backpack and shoved them into the youth's hand without demanding any change. A moment later she was on the floor, steaming cartons in front of her and absolutely ravenous. She didn't care that it was cheap, grease-laden pasta and nowhere near her normal diet, she dug in without a second thought.
By the time Quinn emerged from the shower, she had polished off the Bolognese and was getting started on her salad. Looking up to thank him for the food and catching sight of the more than half-naked vampire had her heart skip a beat while in mid-chew. Luckily, her self-control extended far enough to break out of her hormonal admiration for his body and feign more interest in her meal. She took some more bites of the salad as he headed for the pile of clothes to her right, absolutely not bothered about sporting just a towel.
She suddenly grew aware again of the worlds that separated them. While she had, up to this point, seen guys as only acquaintances, annoyances or useful co-fighters, she figured he had a totally different perception of women. Frozen forever at eighteen and with dashing, dark-handsome-stranger looks that rendered him easily older, he'd probably had his fair share of action in the last centuries. It would have been abnormal if it hadn't been so.
She on the other hand, had only ever committed to her passion and her obligation of exterminating as many Night World people as possible. Boys had never really been a topic in her life and she usually wasn't ashamed to say there was no real experience there because it wasn't something she would pride herself on.
But now, in Quinn's presence, she felt inexperienced and younger than ever. Her strength and confidence lay in her abilities to stalk and kill, in taking and simultaneously saving lives. The sporting of a fake identity in the club with Daphne had already been quite challenging. She didn't peg herself an actress at all and flirting with guys had been foreign territory. It was by pure luck that she'd managed to peg his attention at that time. It had embarrassed her to be taught something basic like flirting by the overenthusiastic blond girl because it highlighted just another one of her weaknesses.
She cleared her throat, putting down the salad for a second, "Thanks for this. I hadn't planned to be starved on this mission"
"I figured," was all he said, "Take your time with it, we're staying here tonight"
She swallowed the mouthful she was gnawing on. "No, I think we should move"
"They'll have expected us to leave Boston tonight anyway. They're not going to comb the entire city when we're probably on the road. I'd rather risk a couple of hours of rest here and head out in the morning"
"Sure and after very subtly using my last name to order food for this room, it is obviously safer than hitting the road," she didn't feel the need to tone down the sarcasm, "Seriously, after the ambush this morning, it's too dangerous to stay put in Boston and just wait for them to pick up on our trail."
He didn't seem fazed by her anger at all as he fastened the button of some fresh jeans and dug through her discarded options for a shirt. "Nobody knew you by your official name. You came as Shelly and left as the Cat. None of those who survived the fire will be out to come rip your head off. Even if Timmy gave Hunter details about you, he will rather be looking for us in one of the Redfern's secret residences. As for a trail, we went on foot through some of the worst districts in Boston. I doubt there is one in that dirt. They'll expect us to have gone by car"
She wasn't convinced. So she did what she knew best, stood and checked the window for any sign of movement in the road below.
"This is the Night World. I know when I need to worry. During daylight it's fine but in an hour latest they'll be everywhere. We should go," she objected, still gazing down the back street for any telltale signs of movement.
"Relax," he stepped behind her, "If anybody should stumble in on us, I'll handle it"
She twisted around to face him with narrowed eyes screaming her disagreement, and hissed, "No. No way. There are not going to be any ifs. I don't care if you have a reputation that has others bowing at your feet because that's not going to happen much longer when word gets out about what you've done yesterday! We're being hunted and I'm not going to take chances!"
Quinn took her by the waist then and pushed her up roughly against the window ledge, "Listen to me. If you don't calm down I'm going to knock you out again," he warned her in a tone that did not need further provocation.
"I'd make you regret it," she retorted just as dangerously.
He backtracked slightly, compensating for his rash reaction by using a softer tone, "Rashel, if I had even the slightest worry that this place wasn't safe for the night, I wouldn't have taken you here. Nobody has followed us and nobody is going to be checking that takeout place for a name they don't even know belongs to you. Trust me. A night of sleep is not a risk."
She breathed out steadily, just like her instructors had always taught her. Breathe out your emotion until you can think clearly. No insecurity, no anger, no fear.
Eventually she let her stiffened muscles grow slack in his grip. Quinn saw her submission because his hands loosened when she did although they didn't drop from her hips.
This doesn't mean I'm agreeing with your mentality, this means I'm still exhausted and being stupid for actually trusting your speculation.
He only nodded, not triumphant but grateful that she had come around. He didn't want to have to fight on his first night with the person that he was destined for. He could see that she had been pushing herself and the hour of sleep this afternoon had been nowhere near enough. Although almost superior in her stamina and reflexes, she was still human.
He himself, even after a decent meal, felt drained and knew he needed to catch up on some sleep and let any remaining wounds heal. The past twelve hours had been, by no means, an easy journey.
Finish your food. I know you need it. I'll make sure we're all locked up.
Her lips tugged upwards in a half-smile and she broke out of his hold to retrieve the remaining cartons off the floor. Quinn completed her routine of double-locking every possible entrance to the room, including the miniature bathroom window before settling on the bed. He ran a hand over his eyes, finding the light in the room increasingly bright with every passing minute. Sleep sounded perfect right about now.
The rustling of plastic and thud of objects hitting a plastic container told him that his soulmate was dumping the remaining trash in the bathroom. He kept his eyes shut but sighed with satisfaction as the light dimmed behind his eyelids. Rashel had switched off the lights and according to the rustle of denim, was also removing clothes.
He forced himself not to think about that aspect as she finally came into bed. The cheap mattress sagged under her weight and he instinctively felt the presence of wood in her hand. He smirked in the dimness. She truly was a hunter through and through. Never caught unprepared.
After getting comfortable in the thin sheets with her head nestled against the headboard and a pillow in her back, Rashel again probed the soulmate link. I'm keeping watch first. I'll wake you later.
Suit yourself, he replied drowsily, but I'm telling you, nothing will happen. This place is as far as incognito will go.
Your confidence knows no bounds. She was silent for a couple of minutes. Then…you know those shorts you found are unbelievably tight?
He just grinned into his pillow and let himself drift off.