~ SASHA ~
"…the killer is believed to have murdered five men in the past two years. He remains unidentified, but his work has baffled detectives. He appears to corner his victims in their homes, or other urban settings, yet all five victims have reportedly died as a result of animal bites, earning him the nickname, "The Wolf." The coroner cites undeniable evidence of predatory feeding behaviors, however—"
Rob clicked the remote and the widescreen television went black. Sasha shuddered.
"Well, that sounds… horrible," she said with a nervous laugh
But Rob wasn't looking at the television. He was staring at her with concern… and a little bit of pleading. When she didn't meet his eyes, he leaned forward to put the remote on the coffee table and then rested his elbows on his knees. It made his shoulder blades stretch against his shirt.
"This Wolf guy is starting to make a habit of it." He was still in his collared shirt from work, but the top two buttons were open and he'd rolled the sleeves halfway up his forearms, revealing the tight lines of muscle and scattering of golden hair.
For a split second, Sasha saw him as other women must—handsome, with sandy-brown hair that stood just a little too tall. Broad shoulders that let his shirts hang just right. A smile that could light a room.
She wished she felt that delicious tension with him.
It wasn't his fault he wasn't Zev.
"You know… you don't have to go," Rob said softly, putting a hand to her arm. "It's freezing outside and it's supposed to snow. You could stay here—"
Sasha pushed out of the couch like she'd been launched and picked up her shoulder bag from the floor, not quite meeting his eyes as she smiled and made a show of digging through it for her phone.
"Thank you, Rob. Seriously. But I need to sleep in my own bed. And a little cold won't hurt me," she said.
Rob opened his mouth like he might say something, but Sasha turned, pretending she hadn't noticed. With a sigh, he got to his feet to follow her through the living room and kitchen, to the little entryway at the front door.
Her heavy winter coat was on the line of hooks just inside the door, and she paused to put it on. He was right about one thing; it was bitterly cold outside. Sasha had a seven-block walk.
Rob appeared in the open doorway behind her as she got her hand into the sleeve. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked quietly, reaching out to hold the coat for her as she shrugged it on.
"I'm fine," she sighed. "I'm just tired." Then she grimaced, because she wasn't in need of more sleep. Sasha was tired of pretending not to notice how her best friend's feelings for her had changed. She was tired of not being interested in him—or anyone else—because of a man who'd betrayed her almost five years ago, and of having a heart that refused to open to anyone but the guy she hadn't seen in so long.
She was tired of being alone.
Rob waited until she had her jacket on and her bag slung over her shoulder, then pulled her into a hug. She held his trim waist and sighed, her head against his chest.
He wrapped an arm around her head, pulling her in tight. "He doesn't deserve what you give him, Sash." His voice rumbled under her cheek. She knew he was right. But that didn't change anything.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
They broke apart and Rob raked a hand through his hair. "Don't be. You're leaving early enough that I'll actually get enough sleep tonight. You're doing me a favor. I'll see you at work in the morning. My turn to bring the coffee, right?" He smiled tightly and she made herself hold his eyes and let him see that she wished things were different.
But, just like always, because Rob's eyes were bright blue and striking, and his hair was long enough to fall over his forehead, instead of seeing him, her mind turned back to a different man: Taller. Broader. With eyes that were ice-blue and startling and that never seemed to leave her face for more than a second. Dark hair that was almost black. Shoulders so broad she couldn't circle them in her arms. A square jaw that twitched when he was irritated. And a smile that made her blood heat and left lines in his cheeks—
Groaning in frustration at her own, pathetic mind, Sasha turned for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Are you sure you don't want me to walk you home—or at least call a cab?" Rob asked, holding the door open as she was about to step through.
She shook her head, embarrassed to be blinking back tears. "I'm sure. Thanks for hanging with me again. I'm sorry I'm so boring to be around right now. It'll get better. It always does," she lied.
As her best friend, Rob knew the story about Zev's sudden disappearance just days after Sasha gave him her virginity. She'd met Rob two years later when they both started working as interns at the same security company. That was back when Sasha had still been convinced something had happened to Zev. But just a few weeks later she learned that no, Zev hadn't been killed or hit by a train and left in a coma somewhere.
He just… left.
Rob had been listening to her whine about her heartbreak and trust issues ever since. He knew she was trying to move on. Now he wanted to be the one she moved on with.
"But haven't you heard?" he said, trying too hard to smile, "There's a killer wolf loose in the city. It's my duty to make sure you get home safe."
Sasha rolled her eyes.
"Luckily he only kills men. I think I'm good." She shifted the bag on her shoulder and smiled as she stepped through the door and waved goodbye. But as Rob closed the door behind her and she reached the top of the steps down to the sidewalk, she suddenly felt very, very tired. With a heavy sigh, she trotted down the steps of the brownstone, gasping at the frigid air as her breath made a steam cloud in front of her.
Sasha flipped up the collar on her jacket, then buried her hands in her pockets and turned right to head for the crosswalk on the corner that would take her a block out of her way but keep her on well-lit streets.
Except, two steps later another wave of that weariness hit her—and on a whim she turned on her heel, to walk in the opposite direction. There were no streetlights for three blocks this way, but it was a safe neighborhood and she'd get home several minutes faster. She was just too damn tired to stay in the cold a moment longer than she needed to.
Lifting her eyes off the sidewalk in front of her, she caught sight of the form of a man silhouetted by one of the townhouse porchlights—tall, broad, and moving silently towards her further down the block. A jolt of adrenaline clenched her stomach and made her heart pound.
She stopped walking, sucking in a breath to scream for help when the guy stepped back and began to turn away, but for a split second he was caught in the golden cone of light and her breath stopped.
Sasha had a fleeting impression of dark, unruly hair punching out from under a black beanie, high cheekbones, a square jaw that was even heavier than the last time she'd seen it five years ago and shadowed by stubble because of the late hour. But it was the thick rounds of his shoulders, and those eyes—deep set and so bright they almost glowed even in the dim light... those eyes widened with recognition when they caught on hers.
Quick as a flash, he turned on his heel and darted back the way he'd come.
Sasha's breath whooshed out like she'd been punched.
Want to hear this chapter read by the author? Go to YouTube and search "AimeeLynn Dark Alpha" ENJOY!