Harper was already waiting in the middle of the far sparring mat that had been set up in one of the out buildings on the property. She’d pulled her hair back into a braided ponytail and had traded her jeans and t-shirt for black yoga pants and tank top. The stretchy fabric clung to her body, and the color contrast practically made her ridiculously pale skin glow. If it wasn’t for the flush that stained her flesh every time she was furious with him, he might have been concerned that a vamp had worked its way into the organization.
Christ, she was beautiful. With her delicate features and flowing black hair, she made him think of a maiden in a tower in need of saving—a princess. He almost laughed. That was the last thing Harper needed. She had the rescue part covered.
As if she felt his gaze on her, she whirled to stare at him, hands on her hips. She was small and solid. She couldn’t be more than five-two or five-three, but she was strong. His chest still ached a bit where she’d slammed herself into him.
Though he tried not to, it was nearly impossible not to let his gaze drop to the soft curves of her breasts and hips. But, he managed it, keeping his focus on her glittering blue-green eyes.
“You ready to get this over with?” she asked.
He tossed his towel on a stool next to the mat. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
Lifting her hands, she beckoned him forward. “Bring it.”
The second his foot hit the mat, he charged her, but she neatly sidestepped him as he’d expected. Pivoting behind her, he slipped an arm around her waist in an attempt to lock her to him, but she slammed her elbow into his gut and brought her head back toward his face. He shifted, and she ended up smacking her skull on his collarbone, instead.
Wrapping his free arm around her chest, he yanked her flush to him and tried to ignore the press of her ass against his groin. Before he had a chance to worry too much about it, she grabbed onto his arms and heaved her body forward, lifting him in the process and flipping him over her head.
He landed hard on his back, but the fact that she was so much shorter than him slowed his momentum, and he didn’t have as far to fall. But, the landing still jarred him a bit. Snaking out a hand, he grabbed her ankle and jerked up, tugging her legs out from under her. He thought he heard her mutter “fucker” as she hit the floor.
She attempted to roll away from him, but he kept hold of her ankle. She kicked him in the hip with her free foot, and the impact was enough to loosen his grip, and she lurched free, leaping to her feet before diving for him again. He twisted to the side before she could tackle him. Clearly realizing in mid-move that he wasn’t where she’d hoped he’d be, she tucked her head and somersaulted to her feet and spun around to face him then lunged again.
He lost track of how long they’d gone at it. All he knew was he was winded and sweaty, and so was she. She watched him through narrowed eyes, and he could tell she was searching for anything she could use as an exploitable weakness.
Distantly aware some of the other hunters had gathered around the outer edges of the mat, he heard them discussing his and Harper’s odds, and he was pretty sure money had changed hands a few times. So focused on kicking his ass, he was equally sure Harper had no idea they were there.
Ignoring everything but the woman slowly circling him, it was impossible not to feel the anger that rolled off her in waves. Her rage and frustration were clear on her face. Her expression hid nothing. Despite her temper, her physical responses were carefully controlled and deliberate.
What would it take to get her to make a mistake? How far could he push her before that unyielding restraint faltered? He grinned at her. “Getting tired, princess?”
Her eyes narrowed further. “Go fuck yourself.”
Holding her gaze, he deliberately let his gaze slide up and down her body as his hand drifted down across the front of his sweatpants. “Oh yeah. I’ll definitely be doing that—just as soon as we’re done. You can stick around and watch if you want.”
Elliot recognized the exact moment her rigidly held restraint snapped. Something that sounded like a growl escaped her throat, and she launched herself at him, tucking herself into a ball at nearly the last minute and plowing into his shins and taking him to the floor. The fall knocked the air from his lungs. Wasting no time, she straddled him, tightening her thighs around his waist and chest, squeezing mercilessly. Drawing her arm up, she paused briefly before she mimed driving a stake into his heart.
Before she could make imaginary contact, he grabbed her wrist in one hand then wrapped the other around her upper arm on the opposite side. Throwing her to her back on the mat and following her over, he straddled her, his ass resting lightly against her groin. Keeping hold of one wrist, he quickly snagged the other one and transferred it to the first hand, pinning her arms above her head.
The noise that escaped her was nothing short of a snarl, and he couldn’t deny he was more than a little turned on. That desperate sound didn’t help matters. Grunting, she slammed her hips upward, trying to dislodge him. That didn’t fucking help, either. She did it again, harder this time.
Leaning forward, he braced his free arm on the mat next to her head and hooked his feet between her thighs, yanking them apart, taking away the small amount of leverage she had. He lifted his hand from the floor and gently wrapped his fingers around the soft skin of her throat.
Her eyes widened, and her pupils suddenly dilated, the black nearly swallowing the pale aquamarine color. Her pulse pounded erratically against his fingers. If anything, it seemed to increase the longer he kept his hand there.
“It’s over,” he murmured quietly—too quietly for the other hunters to hear.
She arched impotently against him, struggling against his greater weight and reach.
“If I were a vamp,” he whispered. “Your blood would already be filling my mouth.”
She stilled beneath him, and he couldn’t look away from her face. His gaze dropped to her slightly parted lips more times than he wanted to admit.
“And mine would be filling yours. There’s no way you’d just be a happy meal.”