Taken by Moonlight

By: Violette Dubrinsky


“I can go back by myself. I—”

“It’s not safe for you at this time of the night. Conall will take you back.” His voice was firm. “Do you like chocolate?”

If not for the fact she was in some deserted area with a potential pubescent killer, he would have been her new best friend. She loved chocolate. All kinds. She had a big sweet tooth that had grown even larger through absolute overindulgence.

“Here, it’s Swiss chocolate. Conall always carries some with him.” He handed her a bar of something and after sniffing that, too, because just because he looked all of fourteen didn’t mean he couldn’t feed her poison, she nibbled at it.

Heaven. She sighed and relaxed even more. The sugar forced the lethargy away, and after consuming the bar, she felt more awake.

“Who is Conall?” She remembered a man with a deep voice, black hair, dark eyes, harsh, distinct features.

“Conall’s the leader—erm—he’s in charge,” he finished lamely and Vivienne lifted her brows in confusion. Remembering he couldn’t see her expression, she was about to ask what that meant when Eli spoke. “He’s in charge of me. He’s my uncle.”

She nodded. Eli was slowly putting her at ease. First, the water then the chocolate, and now he was telling her that he was camping with his uncle. Nothing serial-killer like, if not for the blindfold.

“Why did you blindfold me?”

He didn’t answer. She turned to look at him in the dark. Of course, she could not make out his expression. Just a shadow.

“Do you have a lamp or something?” she finally asked.

“Yes.” He moved about and then the cave was illuminated by a burst of golden light. She squinted and then looked at him. She was right. He was a teenager—an attractive teenager, but a teenager still.

He smiled at her, and she found herself returning it.

“The blindfold?” she repeated, and his smile fell. He didn’t want to answer the question and she could read it in the startling green of his eyes.

“You’ll have to put it back on soon,” he hedged, looking very uncomfortable, and she narrowed her eyes. “It’s just that we’re private people. I’m sorry. I promise we won’t hurt you.” With that, the light suddenly went out and she felt hands on both sides of her head as the blindfold was reapplied. A trace of fear leapt through her but the boy’s whisper—“You’re safe with us”—settled her.

She was opening her lips to demand that he escort her back to her sister when the sounds of laughter and shrieks filled her ears.

“What is that?” She didn’t know that she’d asked the question out loud until Eli replied.

“Family. Friends. Stay here, please. And don’t remove the blindfold.”

“No, don’t leave, Eli,” she said urgently. “Eli? Eli?”

Her hand lifted to the blindfold and she would have tugged it off but for the large hand that suddenly stopped her. The hairs of the back of her neck rose at the contact. This was not Eli.





***




“Stand up.”

His voice was gruff as he helped her to her feet. Conall had returned from the run before the rest of the pack to find Eli talking to the woman as if he’d known her all his life. Not only that, but the blindfold had been on her lap. He’d remained hidden in the shadows of the cave, waiting for his nephew to scent him on the air, and knowing he would have to put the pup through intensive training to hone his skills as both hunter and fighter. Maybe he was just distracted among pretty females. Eli was of that age. Conall vowed to find him some pretty pack females. Not pretty, brown-skinned human females with trusting golden eyes and vulnerable expressions.

“Wait, please. Who are you?”

Conall contemplated answering falsely, before he remembered Eli had told her his name already. “Conall.”

She nodded, a little shiver racing across her body. “Will you take me back to my sister?”

“Yes.”

“I’d like to remove my blindfold to see you.”

“No.”

“Why not? I can’t walk with it on.”

She released a shriek as he lifted her, her arms scrambling to grasp at his shoulders. The human held him tightly, like he was an anchor, and burrowed close.

“You don’t have to carry me.” He was already moving. “I can walk.”

“This is faster. Just hold on to me.”





***




A cool breeze touched Vivienne as he moved, and her lids grew heavy. Before long, she felt the world slipping away, her heartbeat easily matching the solid thump under her ear as her breathing evened. When next she awoke, Vivienne was perched against the bark of a tree and she could hear her sister’s frantic voice.

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