Soul Bonded
Author:Meghan Malone

chapter TWO



Eventually time ceased to have meaning. Katie didn’t know how long it had been since she tried to open the car door—probably hours, maybe days. Each time she drifted into consciousness, she was less tethered to reality. Her perceptions were muddy and it was painfully difficult to stay awake. So she slept whenever she could. Her lucid moments came less frequently, then seemed to stop altogether.

She dreamed—of rescue, of not being able to find her classroom on exam day, of being in love. The last one was her favorite. It made her feel safe, like everything would be okay no matter what happened. Waking from that dream was particularly disappointing, and she immediately yearned to float away again into the refuge of her own mind. Reality had nothing to offer her anymore.

At some point her dreams took a strange turn, and in a moment when she’d actually thought she was awake. But she couldn’t be awake, because she saw bare hands begin to clear away the snow on the windshield, and that was impossible. The hands were attached to muscular arms—also bare—that worked furiously to dig her out.

She managed a weak chuckle. Naturally she would imagine a rescuer who wore even more impractical winter clothing than she did. She closed her eyes and listened to the muffled sound of digging, the moving of snow, then the startlingly loud crunch of a fist crashing through the frozen windshield. A frigid blast of air stole her breath, violently shattering her numbness. She curled away from the icy wind on instinct.

Then she was floating, cradled against solid warmth that barely penetrated the chill that had settled into her bones. She tried to get closer to that heat, to cuddle up to it, but she just couldn’t get enough. The cold surrounded her, she was drowning in it, and no matter how badly she wanted to claw her way out, she lacked the strength and, sadly, the will.

Was this what it felt like to die?

Katie surrendered. Relieved, she sank into the strong arms that cradled her and waited for the cold to abate. Surely she wouldn’t be forced to endure this icy chill for eternity.

Images came in disjointed flashes. Snow. The trees. Impossibly warm, bare skin against her frozen cheek. Then a cabin lit by a golden glow from within. Perhaps that was heaven. All she wanted to do was get inside that glow, to bathe in it. To forget that she had ever frozen to death alone.

The next time she came to, her body hovered between intense pain and razor-sharp ecstasy. Her skin tingled as though a thousand bees were stinging her at once. She wanted to scream, but a heavy pressure building low in her belly caused her to moan instead. Waves of incredible pleasure nearly overwhelmed the agony of whatever was happening to her body, leaving her breathless and disoriented. The sensation was like teetering on the edge of orgasm, and she wanted nothing more than to tip over into oblivion and leave the pain behind.

As though the universe had finally decided to cut her a break, the excruciating sting receded until all that remained was bliss. And now she could feel—soft sheets against her naked skin, the firm press of a male body against her own. Swept away by swift, aching need, she snuggled closer to her dream companion, desperate to sate her desire. Still foggy, she struggled to find the friction she craved, hands roaming over coarse hair and hard planes, but total satisfaction proved elusive.

She had a vague thought: Why do my sex dreams always end in frustration?

Then another: I’m safe.

With that, the last trace of her consciousness slipped away.