Chelsea’s melancholy lifted slightly as curiosity reared its head. Jackson had pulled up to what she knew to be an empty warehouse.
The monster hunter grinned at her. “Hold up.” He hurried into the cold air and opened her door for her. “Close your eyes.”
Chelsea stood and did as commanded, but couldn’t help the snicker as freezing wind made her hair flutter. “Can I trust you?”
From the darkness, Jackson Hawk’s breath rose gooseflesh as it snaked along her neck. “Oh, my little nun, you should know better by now.”
She laughed loudly, unable to help herself. She did know better. Jackson Hawk might be sweet, and good looking, but the word ‘no’ wasn’t a part of his vocabulary when it came to women.
Still, in the weeks since Dink died, he’d been her shadow. Living in her dorm room and generally keeping her spirits up, however he could. Now, he’d brought her here. Where ever ‘here’ was. Chelsea hit a patch of ice and her feet slid out.
“Whoa.” Jackson grabbed her waist, keeping her upright, while not incidentally pulling her closer to him. “Guess I’m gonna have to buy some salt.”
Pressed against the lean mass of muscles that made up the monster hunter, Chelsea let go of some of her misery. Jackson had that effect. Something about his simplistic worldview called out to her.
Jackson never worried about what other people thought and he tended to do whatever felt good at the time. That attitude was why she tried to keep her distance. More and more, though, she had to deal with the fact that it be might impossible to stay detached.
She took another step out of the ever-blowing, icy wind. “Where are we, exactly?”
Jackson hands gently spun her around. “Eyes closed.” He pressed her up against something metal and cold. Cold enough to soak through her thick winter coat and into her skin. Her goosebumps weren’t from that though. Jackson had his lips pressed to the exposed skin of her neck.
He worked his way up to her ear. “Welcome home, Chelsea.”
The metal at her back moved, and she would have stumbled if Jackson hadn’t lifted her into a deep kiss. He set her back on her feet, and a door slammed shut.
“Open your eyes.”
The aggressive pine scent told Chelsea that the concrete floor had been scrubbed recently. Waning, gray daylight filtered through the high windows, glinting off the wall of mirrors. A few mismatched chairs littered the floor space. A long island, made of reused doors, separated the kitchen from the rest of the space.
“Jack, what is this?”
He grabbed her hand, grinning manically, as he pulled her towards a black metal, spiral staircase. “Well, the nuns at your school have been giving me really dirty looks. It’s getting harder and harder to duck them, too.”
Chelsea giggled, imagining the sisters’ glowers. They didn’t hold students to any kind of chastity but they also didn’t approve of pre-marital sex… and Jackson Hawk oozed sex appeal.
Jack smirked back at her. “I figured if I was staying in town for a while, I should get my own place. Boney owed me a favor—”
“Who’s Boney?” She hated the tinge of jealousy in her voice, but there had been so many stories about so many other women…
Jackson shrugged, leading her up the stairs. “He owns the haunt. Anyway, he also rents this out to hunters who need a place to stay. I have it for a few months.”
At the top of the stairs, an all-white room glowed orange as a skylight let in the dying sunshine. The wood floor held only a bed. Though that may have been a grand title for the pallets that held up the giant mattress.
She stepped away from Jackson, examining the room. Propped against the wall, a folded screen sat next to a few hooks.
A wave of cold apprehension shivered through her veins. “I don’t—”
Jackson cut her off with a kiss. “I’m tired of sneaking around, and hiding. I want to be able to relax when I’m not killing monsters. That’s hard to do when you’re always worried about somebody showing up.”
He unzipped her coat. “And I’m really, really tired of having to be quiet during sex.”
“Jack…” She couldn’t find words to describe her worry. Not that it mattered. Jackson had her out of her clothes in breathtaking moments.
He tumbled her onto the low bed. “This is our place, Chelsea. I can start teaching you how to fight.”
She froze for a moment. “Fight?”
“You want to kill that nightling?” He pulled off his shirt.
“Then you need to learn how to fight with an ax. That’s pretty much impossible in that cell you call a room.”
She tried to object, though why and to what she didn’t know, but Jackson kissed her again, and her objections fled.
The morning sun woke her. For a moment, she lay staring out the skylight disorientated, unsure where she was. Jackson rolled over, slinging an arm across her, muttering in his sleep.
She laughed softly, remembering the warehouse.
She slipped out from under him, and into her clothes. Surprisingly warm air meant she didn’t need to bother with her socks and shoes.
A door she hadn’t noticed the night before caught her eye. Behind it was a large bathroom, with high windows and a claw-footed tub. Chelsea licked her lips at the thought of real soak. She bitterly resented the tiny shower in her dorm room.
Curious to explore the apartment, she hurried past the snoring Jackson and down the stairs. The main room was as empty as she remembered, but the tall windows let in so much light. She caught herself planning where to set up her easel and stopped herself.
You are killing one monster and then saying goodbye to Jackson Hawk and the supernatural.
Her melancholy from yesterday swept over her. She tried not to let the tears fall. She was so damned sick of crying. The tears came anyway.
She stared at the perfect corner for her easel, face growing ever damper until Jackson came down the stairs.
She hurriedly wiped at her cheeks. “So breakfast?”
Jackson waved her over to the island. He pulled eggs out of stainless steel fridge. “Can you get the toast started?”
She nodded, pulling open a bread box. They cooked in silence. Chelsea had no idea what to say, what would make her feel better. Jackson seemed engrossed in making perfect scrambled eggs.
When they were both served, he settled himself beside her at the island. “So, after we eat, fight practice, then we grab your stuff, or do you want to move in first?”
Her food stuck in her throat. She forced it down. “I have class in an hour.”
He grinned, eyes raking over her. “You missed class.”
Tears pricked again. She loved school but failing out looked to be on the horizon for her. “Guess we’ll get my stuff first, then.”
His chair scraped across the concrete floor before he pinned her to the wall. His kisses were urgent and desperate this morning.
He pulled away, green eyes determined. “I have two ways to cheer you up, and we aren’t killing that damned nightling for a while yet.”
She laughed into his shoulder. “You don’t… you cheer me up.”
“Doesn’t look like it this morning.” His sincere voice brought a lump to her throat.
“I just…” She leaned her head against his. “I’m so confused, Jack. I don’t know what I want or what to do.”
“I know. You should take a few days and figure it out.”
She looked at the gray concrete of the floor, hating herself for what was about to come out of her mouth. “And you…”
His soft laughter raised the tiny hairs on her neck. “I’m kind of attached to you, my little nun.”
She forced herself to look at him. The gleam in his green eyes matched the little half smile on his full lips.
“This place is too big for just me.” He ran a thumb over her lower lip. “I’m not saying we should pick out curtains… although, we kind of need curtains…”
She laughed, a real laugh, from deep in her belly. “We have no neighbors, we don’t need curtains.”
She leaned her head on his shoulder. “For now, Jack.”
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