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A haunting howl pierced the night almost immediately, making Deja freeze in her tracks. She jerked her gaze towards the horizon, following the general direction of the sounds.
Had the animal been hit and how badly was it hurt? But almost as important, she wondered if it was a timber wolf.
Deja had always found wolves so alluring and majestic in general, but especially the timber wolf, and had read up on the animals before her trip to the resort. She didn't believe in the old superstitions about wolves attacking people, knew the animals, like most animals unless provoked or hungry, had no interest in humans and did everything to avoid civilization.
However, the thought of coming face-to-face with an animal that could take down a full-grown moose and had a biting capacity of 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch colored her curiosity and excitement with a smidgen of fear she tried to squelch with logic.
Deja peered into the distance, the moonlight glancing off Cache Lake just enough to help her make out something or someone falling off a cliff edge in the near distance and landing in the lake with a muffled splash.
She stared at the spot for only a moment before making a split-second decision and ran for one of the boats moored to the dock. Deja dropped the blanket onto the seat, quickly untied the boat and shoved off, rowing with as much speed as her arms could muster, a mixture of desperation and doom fueling her strokes.
There was no way anything, animal or human, could have survived that fall. If anyone had survived, that person was probably in pretty bad shape. An injured animal would surely be dangerous. Maybe she'd be better off just going to theLodge and using the guest phone to contact some wildlife organization with the description of what she'd heard and seen.
Even with the doubt, Deja continued to paddle. She'd been shy and tried to keep a low profile all her life, especially once she discovered how different she was from all her peers, but she had never let fear rule her actions.
Deja peered into the night as she closed the distance between herself and what she thought had fallen. She caught the outline of someone draped over an outcropping of rocks, moonlight glinting off damp, bronzed shoulders.
She blinked at the fine black fur receding from the flesh of the man's lower back. She shook her head at the impossibility. What she saw couldn't be right!
Upon closer inspection, Deja noticed the wound in the back of one shoulder, blood still seeping and mingling with the lake water as she neared.
She pulled alongside the motionless figure, unsure if he was alive or dead until she noticed the fast rise and fall of his back as he panted.
She rowed closer, steering the boat towards the nearest piece of land and docking. She made sure it was moored tight before getting out. It wouldn't do either of them any good if the thing floated away and left them stranded.
Deja squatted beside the man and turned him over onto his back, not knowing what to expect, but certainly not to see one of her employers. "It can't be..."
She had no idea she had spoken aloud before a hand shot out to grab her wrist.
"What did you see?"
"Are you okay?" she asked, rather than answering him.
Lincoln McCabe blinked and stared at her. In an instant, his eyes lit with recognition, or so Deja thought, until he called her 'Dahlia.'
"No, I'm Deja." She tried to pry her wrist loose, but he had it in a death grip. She gave up and focused on him instead. "Mr. McCabe--"
"Lincoln. My name is Lincoln."
She grinned at his verbal confirmation, as if she could ever forget him. "I know who you are. And right now we need to get you some help."
He blinked, glance widening when he caught sight of the ankh dangling from a gold chain around her neck. He reached up and caressed the pendant before pinning her with a look. "You are a witch."
How could he know? She'd been so careful. She didn't even think Shawn knew. She did everything she could to keep her gifts from him before she thought he was ready to handle them. She hadn't had the luxury, her powers manifesting when she'd been a young girl. She knew all too well what it was like to grow up different and with a mother who was different from everyone else's mother, one too involved with her own needs to recognize those of her child. She did not want to put that cross on her son.
Her own mother flaunted her youth, acting like Deja's sister instead of her mother, tried to hang out with Deja and her friends whenever she could as if her daughter was a peer. Deja avoided this scene by fostering as little friendships as she could. Her mother and her own burgeoning powers sealed her loner lifestyle. Better a loner than a freak. She'd become so accustomed to living this way, afraid of her powers and what she could do as a child, that keeping to herself easily followed her into her later years, until she met Shawn's father.
Deja swallowed at the memory of his departure, what she'd done to him after he rejected her and before he left town. She promised herself she would never use her powers that way again.
Jeff had been lucky, leaving with a new lease on life, but Deja was left with the memory of how she'd let her self-righteous teen anger and hurt drive her into his dreams to 'teach him a lesson.' She'd pulled up the mirror in his soul, dug deep into Jeff's subconscious to show him a vision of what he would become if he continued on his current course. It had been enough to frighten not only Jeff but Deja herself with what she could do.
"Are you working with him? Are you helping him?"
Deja shook her head and stared at Lincoln, train of thought momentarily lost before she found her voice to say, "I don't know what you're talking about. I rowed over from my cottage to help you. That's all. I'm not working with anyone and the only one I'm here to help is you. I'm not here to hurt you, Lincoln." She tried to free her hand again and instantly stopped at his resistance. She tried to stay calm, softened her voice. "Please, let me go so I can help you."
"No doctors. No hospital."
Why was he so adamant but, more importantly, why was he so paranoid? Maybe it had something to do with how he had been injured and fallen off that cliff. Maybe it had something to do with why he was in his birthday suit!
He groaned, lifted himself out of the water onto the rock with his free hand to lay flat on his back and Deja gaped when her gaze drifted to his lap.
She darted her gaze up his body focusing on the shoulder and noticing the hole. The bullet must have gone straight through, since he seemed to have a wound in the front of the shoulder matching the wound in the back.
Deja let her glance move over the rest of his body, admiring his smooth, well-delineated chest and broad shoulders, then back down over his slim waist and lean, muscled thighs. She had a flash of herself and him together, Lincoln's legs flexing as he pumped inside her.
Deja avoided the center of his body altogether, at least as much as she could, though she couldn't stop thinking about his semi-erect cock rising from a nest of fine black curls.
What would he look like fully erect? Certainly he'd be drool-worthy and imposing. What would he feel like inside her? Deja's pussy spasmed at the idea of him, hot and pulsing, against her inner tissues. She got wet just imagining the scenario and shook her head again, nipping her wayward thoughts in the bud. The man was injured. He needed tender care and medical attention, not sexual harassment. "My hand," she blurted.
He raised his head to look at her, realized what he was doing and released her wrist as if it burned him. "I'm sorry."
Deja immediately missed the skin-to-skin contact, almost regretting saying anything. She went closer to wrap an arm around his waist as he sat up. "Can you make it to the boat?"
He frowned at her. "Why are you helping me?"