A rhythmic sound invaded. He paused in his pacing, trying to place the origin. It was the crunch of gravel under feet. Someone was jogging up the driveway toward his place. He leaped off the porch, oblivious to his bare feet, and raced toward the sound.
His eyes weren’t as sharp as his ears, but he knew—fucking knew—the figure that emerged from the curve was Isleen. She sucked and wheezed rapid breaths. Her heart beat with a frantic duh-dum, duh-dum tempo. Her gait was all wrong—sloppy and disjointed, arms flailing almost as if she were swimming instead of running. With the way she’d acted earlier toward him, something had to be terribly wrong for her to seek him out.
Adrenaline bucked through his system, charging his muscles, readying him for a fight. He scanned the lane behind her, expecting to see someone pursuing her. Nothing. He listened for the sounds of a chase. Nothing.
He sprinted toward her. “What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
She didn’t answer, didn’t look at him, just continued on, ignoring him as effectively as if he were invisible. For only a fraction of a second, pissed-off-ness nearly got the best of him. Then he realized she was all lights-on-but-nobody-home. Again. “Shit.” He chased after her, nabbing her by the arm. Her body swung around to face him, her forehead thunking against his sternum. The sound—an unnatural wonk of bone hitting bone separated by thick skin—reverberated through his chest. His arms trapped her close to him. “Goddamn it.” The last thing she needed was a head injury caused by him. “I didn’t mean to…”
He lost what he was going to say in the sensation of holding her. She was so petite, barely tall enough to reach his pecs, and yet she fit every angle and curve of him as if they were two pieces finally fit back together to make one. He held her until her heart shifted out of warp drive, then stepped back from her.
Moonlight silvered her skin, giving her a luminescent glow, but her face was completely devoid of expression. Her gaze fixed forward, locked on an intangible spot in the air between them. He’d seen this look at the hospital right before she spouted off about a murder she could not have known about. And yet, did know all about.
“Isleen. Snap out of it.” His voice went deeper, carrying a strength beyond what it normally possessed. He shook her hard, one rough jerk that slung her head around her shoulders. “Wake up. Now.” Wake up? Where’d that come from? Did he honestly think she was sleeping? One moment she was lost, and the next, clarity and lucidity slammed into her features.
“Xander,” she cried and flung herself against him, clawing at the back of his shirt with her hands and pressing herself so tightly against him that it felt like she was trying to hide inside his skin.