"Mmm." His hand touched her hip and he moved her until her back spooned against the delicious heat of his chest.
She let herself be pulled, let him cover her with a soft blanket and push one muscular thigh between hers, let him wrap his strength around her. Not only that, she made herself quite comfortable on the arm he slipped under her head. "Are you awake?" He was so hot and he smelled male in the best sense of the word. She blushed at the realization that she was tempted to lick his skin to see if he tasted as good as he smelled. "Clay?"
The arm around her waist squeezed. "I'm sleeping."
She smiled at the bad-tempered response and snuggled even tighter against him. He dropped a kiss in the curve of her neck, pretended to snore. Her smile turned into a grin. "I want to talk." About Max, about the children, about nothing and everything. Sensing his indulgent mood, she dared play her fingers over his arm, trying to quiet the hunger inside of her, to assuage this need she had for him. "Wake up."
He growled low in his throat and bodily shifted her until she faced him, or more accurately, the hard wall of his chest. Then one of his hands stroked up to her nape, pressing her cheek against his heated skin. "Sleep."
Putting her hands against the resilient strength of his pectorals, she opened her mouth to argue when a yawn overtook her. "I don't wanna," she murmured, conscious of him rubbing her lower back with his other hand. The slow circles were nice...they made her limbs feel heavy, relaxed. Safe.
Clay felt Tally surrender to sleep minutes after she'd refused. It would've made him smile had he not been fighting the urge to wake her right back up and ease the pain in his cock. The leopard was drunk on the scent of her. It urged him to taste her in every way a man could taste a woman. He wanted to lick, to bite, to drive into her with raw animal heat.
Patience, he told himself. She'd been scared of him only days ago and now she slept in his arms. Tally was remembering what she was to him. Soon, her childhood memories of absolute trust would merge into the liquid heat of adult desire. God, the scent of her arousal was a drug he could lap up for hours. One of these days, she was going to get curious enough to taste him, too. Then they'd play his kind of games.
Tonight he'd hold her, and when she woke, he'd tease her just enough to make her wonder about what came next. Smile slow and satisfied despite the heavy ache in his body, he closed his own eyes, settled her firmly against him, and let sleep take him under.
But things didn't go according to plan. The leopard clawed to life at the first sign of her distress. Birdcall filled the air, the room lit by stray beams of dawnlight, but all he could see was Talin on her back, eyes closed, breath coming in tortured gasps.
"Talin, wake up," he ordered in his most steely voice.
Her eyes snapped open, the cloud gray washed to black in violent panic. Her breathing got worse, a gulping scrape that was almost metallic in its harshness.
"Stop it." He cupped her face with one hand. "You're hyperventilating. Calm down."
After three more dangerously shallow breaths, she seemed to focus on him and nodded. He watched as she tried to bring herself under control, felt her fear when air continued to elude her. Her hand raised to her neck and her eyes pleaded with him. "C-c-can't," she somehow managed to say and he realized this wasn't a psychological issue.
"Is something blocking your airway?" he asked, terrified but knowing he had to keep his reactions under control. Tally needed him to think.
She shook her head, then lifted both her hands and closed them together, palm to palm, those remarkable eyes of hers furiously focused. The thin ring of amber seemed to glow molten gold in the morning light.
"It feels like your airway's closing up?"
At her nod, he lifted his hand from her cheek and rose to a sitting position. Then, putting his hands under her shoulders, he helped her up, too. She sat leaning against the wall below the window, eyes locked to his, one hand fluttering at her throat.
"Is that better?"
She shook her head, reaching for him with her other hand. He held it, his mind racing. He had emergency medical supplies in a first aid kit Tamsyn kept updated. He also had some medical training - enough to patch up himself or another packmate until they could get to their healer. But what Talin was now experiencing was nothing close to a bleeding gash or broken arm.
"I'll be back, baby." Breaking her hold with that promise, he ran to grab the medical kit from under the sink, then snatched up his cell phone from where he'd dumped it on the breakfast table. Punching in Tamsyn's number as he arrived back at Tally's side, he saw that her breathing had worsened. Her skin was starting to lose color.
"Hold on, Tally." He stroked his fingers down her throat. "You hold on for me." An order, not a request.
Fighting to keep her eyes open, she closed her hand over his wrist as he waited for someone to answer the call. He knew it would be answered - as their healer, Tamsyn was never out of contact.
"Clay, what is it?" Her voice came on the line, all business.
"Something's wrong with Talin. She can't breathe. It's like her throat's closed up."
"She says no."
"Has she got any major allergies?"
"No, nothing," he said on the heels of her question, knowing that from childhood.
"Ask her - it's something she could have developed."
"Baby, major allergies?"
Another shake of her head, this one slow, heavy. Faint traces of blue edged her lips.
"Nothing," he repeated, before a memory flickered awake. "But she used to have a small pollen allergy. Used to make her sneeze."