by Kat Pope
“Where are you going at this hour?” Fiona stood in the doorway, a hand at either side of the frame.
Percival thought about trying to explain, then shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“You’re packing a suitcase.” She pitched her voice in a way that suggested that she was willing to forgive this apparent lapse of sanity, as long as he was willing to abandon course immediately.
He stared down at his suitcase. Inside was a blue button-down shirt, a pair of jeans, underthings, and thick socks. Percival frowned, took out the cotton shirt with its shiny horn buttons, and replaced it with a thick flannel one. He’d rather be too warm than too cold, and didn’t want to pack a lot, in case something happened.
“I’m waiting.” Fiona purred like a cat about to strike.
“You weren’t supposed to be here tonight.” Each time he said it, her expression tightened minutely. He hated doing this to her; he could practically smell the anger rising under the sultry scent of her musky perfume.
“I wanted to surprise you.” She fingered the collar of the jacket he’d warned her not to take off. She hadn’t, but he couldn’t help but speculate on what she might not be wearing under it.
Percival shook his head. He closed the suitcase and clasped it. The red leather was creased and scarred in a hundred places, but it was light and tough and waterproof and had served him long and well.
“Perce, it’s after eight. I thought we could have an adult sleepover, since my kids are at their dad’s . . . they’ll be home tomorrow.” Fiona’s expression grew strained. “Where on earth are you going? It’s the middle of the week. You have work. I have work.”
“Then why don’t you go back home, and get some sleep?” He’d meant the question to be kind, a suggestion, but his voice was rough and sounded angry.
Fiona’s eyes narrowed. “Fine.” He knew this was the beginning of what could be a relationship-ending fight, but what was he supposed to do, tell her the truth? He shook his head, distracted by the way her bare throat and wrists were swallowed by the shiny black coat. All she wanted was for him to set aside his packing and take her to bed . . .
He shivered, caught his breath. “I have to go.” He gasped, frightened by how close he’d come to staying. He grabbed his suitcase, white knuckled, and walked toward the door.
“Seriously, Perce.” She lay her hand against his chest in that way that made him want to puff it out, to flex, to impress.
Damn it. He had to go. It was nearly moonrise, and he’d stayed too long already.
“Move.” He snapped. He didn’t want to manhandle her, he wasn’t that kind of guy—which was precisely why he needed to get out of here. Now.
Because there was no such thing as a mild-mannered werewolf.
Katherine Jean Pope was born in Ashtabula, Ohio in 1981, and grew up near Cincinnati. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2008 and spent the next five years traveling and teaching English in Taiwan, Thailand, and China before returning to the states. Muse is her first published novel, though she is hard at work writing more adventures.