I opened my mouth to speak, but realized in my haste to yell at him, I hadn’t thought of exactly what to say. Kale released a sigh and waited for the bombardment of words to be unleashed. I remained silent. I rammed my fingers through my hair, completely destroying the ponytail I’d perfected earlier. I pulled the elastic band off and allowed my hair to fall in layers down my back and around my face. Kale’s body stiffened, and his eyes morphed into burnished black pools of liquid. The muscles in his jaw clenched and released as he sniffed the air. He literally sniffed the air. I looked around, but I knew we were alone except for Jace, and he was doing a perimeter check. Did Kale smell me, or was there something else out there? Kale drifted closer to me. His face was washed in the light the moon reflected off the snow. Harsh lines tainted his face as I watched him battle the urge to close the space between us. Using my better judgment for once in my life, I calmly started to move backward, earning me a sly smirk from Kale.
“Um, is everything okay?” I stuttered, trying to tamp down my worry. Kale had never looked at me like that, not even when we kissed, and it scared me.
His face was beautiful, but as the moon cast a glow on his skin, I saw Kale was interested in more than just a kiss. Another icy breeze wafted past us, ruffling my hair and sending a shiver down my spine as I realized Kale could smell my hair. The wind blew my fragrance to him, branding his senses with my scent. Quickly, I reached for the elastic band on my wrist and went to control my freed locks. Kale groaned low in his throat, stopping midway through the action.
“Ah, but you smell so…” He took another deep breath and stared at me with his obsidian eyes.
I quickly pulled my hair up into a messy ponytail and pulled my hat over my head. I hoped it was enough, but it seemed all it took was one scent to release the predator in Kale. It was odd; Kale had never before cared about my scent. What was so different tonight?
“See, all better. Right?” I asked, with still a trace of fear.
He hadn’t stopped his lazy gait toward me, but I stopped as my back hit a tree.
“Kale, are you okay? I have never seen you like this.”
Kale smiled wider, revealing what he had spent so long hiding from me. His teeth were mesmerizingly white, and his fangs were revealed. They peeked at me, scaring me with the promise of pain. Kale’s smile shined brighter and made me want to walk toward him, but I didn't. I knew better.
Kale cocked his head to the side and asked, “You have never seen me like what?” His voice was like music to my ears, causing my heart to speed up. I could feel each and every beat as my heart pumped blood throughout my body.
“Like you want to eat her for dinner,” Jace said, out of nowhere, answering Kale’s question for me.
Immediately Kale’s vision cleared, and he shook his head. He looked at me, confused. Jace appeared in my line of sight just behind Kale with a silver stick in his hand. At first glance the stick looked harmless, but as my vision focused, I realized what Jace was holding.
“Jeez, no!” I ran between Kale and Jace. “What are you doing, and what is that?” I asked, unable to take my eyes off of that damned shiny stick.
“He means to kill me with it.” When Kale finally spoke, his voice was no longer like a Siren’s call, but its normal, warm timbre.
I sighed in relief and spared a glance back at him, examining his eyes. They were still dark, but nothing like before. Jace moved forward, and his footsteps on the fresh snow were eerily quiet. I watched his feet as they moved toward me, finally meeting their destination. He stopped and looked at me.
“I mean to protect you,” Jace said, giving me a hard, appraising look. “When was the last time you fed, diseased one?” Not once did he release me from his ice blue stare.
I flinched at the words that came from Jace’s mouth. Even though Kale had scared me, I wasn’t about to let Jace use that against him.
“Kale, his name is Kale,” I said.
Jace inclined his head, acknowledging my correction, but didn't modify his words. He waited for Kale to answer him.
I turned to Kale, torn between wanting to know the answer and waiting to respect his privacy. Kale stood still as a bronze statue, keeping his body taut and his eyes trained on the silver stake.
“It’s none of your concern,” Kale answered.
I pushed aside my disappointment. I thought I at least deserved the answer because I was the one who got the “hungry eyes” stare down. “Put the stake away,” I quietly commanded Jace. “Everything is okay now.”
Jace placed the stake on his belt under his coat without protest.
My worry slightly dissipated. I assumed if Jace thought Kale was a threat, he wouldn’t have put away his weapon so readily.
“So, Princezná, what’s the plan?”