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Authors: Aliyah Burke

A Love For Lera (Haikon) (5 page)

BOOK: A Love For Lera (Haikon)
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“You make me feel things I’m not sure about. You
know I don’t like being close or being touched, and yet, when I’m near you,
that’s all I want to do. And it scares me.” Lera nibbled on her lower lip.
“I’ve tried, you know, tried burying my memories so I could experience what my
friends talked about. The
supposed
amazing experience of sex.”

Kori forced himself to remain immobile and not
react. It killed him to imagine her looking for another male to sleep with, to
share the pleasures of her body with. He wanted to maim every single male who
had looked at her with lust.

“Twenty-five years,” she mumbled, as if unaware
he stood right there listening. “I just wanted to know what was so good about
it. But I can’t.” Her voice caught. “I
can’t
. I’ve barely tolerated guys
putting their arms around me, much less a kiss. Not a good way to be. In
college, I was dubbed ‘The Ice Queen.’ So then it was a test to see if they
could be the ones to crack the ice.”

He pressed against her, letting her feel his
hardness. Holding her gaze, Kori trailed a finger down the smooth skin of her
cheek.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,
mo ghrá
.
Nothing at all.” Up and down, his fingertip moved.

“There has to be,” she said with a whimper that
tore through him. “I always froze up and hated them for touching me.”

“You’re not frozen now, Valera. Do you hate me
for touching you like this?” he asked, continuing to stare at her. Refusing to
release those pools she called eyes.

Lera shook her head. “It’s different with you,
Kori. That’s why I have to keep away. As hard as it is for me to not know what
they talk about, it would be worse to experience it with you and then be thrust
back into the cold world I’m in now.”

Of course it’s different with me, Lera. You
belong with me.
“Who says you’d go back to a cold world, Lera?”

“The day you found your mate would make you off
limits to me. I’m better off not knowing.”

I have found my mate. You, Valera. And I’m never
letting you go.
“I don’t think so, Lera.”

“You make my insides feel funny. Make all the
walls I’ve erected crumble.”

“And?” He delved his hand into the hair at the
back of her skull and nuzzled her neck. Her fresh scent poured new life into
him.
How the hell did I manage without you?

“And I don’t like being out of control.” Her body
shuddered.

Kori kissed her lightly. “Okay, Lera. Ball’s in
your court. You want something from me, you take it.” Another light kiss. “Let
me tell you something, though. There is nothing wrong with you. Not at all. But
if you want to ride, do so. We’ll leave for the bar this afternoon.”

He stepped back, ignoring every instinct
screaming within him to make her his. This woman wasn’t like shifters he knew.
One, she wasn’t even one, and two, her past made him need to tread even more
cautiously for, if he moved to fast, he could lose her forever.

Lera blinked a few times before looking back into
his eyes. “You know something, Cormac MacLochlainne?”

“What?”

“You’re going to be a great mate to someone. If
only…” She trailed off and slipped by him to grab her jacket.

Kori faced the wall until he heard the low hum of
her bike. His head rested against the coolness of the wallpaper. Deep, harsh
breaths were taken in as he fought for control. His cock ached and pressed
against the material of his jeans, and the wolf was howling to escape.
Not
someone, Lera. You! Only you.

“Fuck!” he uttered, slapping the wall before
spinning around and flopping over on the bed, burrowing his face into the
pillow which still had the faint scent of Lera on it. All of his iron control,
all of his emotionless actions faded the second she was involved. Suddenly, he
was overly possessive and feeling very predatory toward anything near her.

He closed his eyes and prayed for the strength
needed to make it through this.

Chapter Three

Lera was quiet when she returned to the room and
entered cautiously, not knowing what she’d find. Her gaze landed upon the
sprawled body of one Cormac MacLochlainne across the only bed in the room. He
lay on his belly, head buried into her pillow.

She stared, waiting for him to sit up and look at
her. He never moved. Slipping out of her jacket, which she’d unzipped before
entering the room, she hung it over the back of a chair and turned her head
back to where he lay as she removed her gloves.

Hotness personified. Biting her lower lip, she
continued to watch him. For some reason, when she looked at him, she wasn’t
scared; she didn’t want to curl up in a ball. She wanted him to touch her, to
show her that there wasn’t anything wrong with her.

It was going to break her heart when he found his
mate. There hadn’t been another person she’d ever been so open with before. Not
even in her own family. But with him, it seemed so natural and the right thing
to do.

And that kiss!
Her body shivered when she
remembered how it felt to have his arms around her and his lips upon hers.
There was no mistaking his arousal, and it only increased her own.
I wonder
what he’d do if I walked up to him and kissed him.
She laughed at herself
and shook her head, sitting and pulling out the postcards she’d picked up.

As she wrote on them, her gaze continued to find
its way back to the man on the bed. Finished with all except one card, her
pulse so high, she pushed to her feet and walked to the bathroom, grabbing her
bag along the way. Her hands shook as she turned on the shower and stepped
inside. Eyes closed, Lera fought to find and hold onto the control she knew she
had. The water hot as she could handle it, she dropped her head and let it
sluice over her skin.

The image of Kori wouldn’t leave her mind. A wail
rose up within her. and she barely managed to clamp it down behind her lips.
Why
do I want things I can’t ever have?
Allowing herself a few moments of
weakness, Lera cried until she managed to pull herself back together. She
finished her shower and stepped out. Once dry, she began to dress and tugged
her shirt down over her belly, hiding the scars. Facing herself in the mirror,
she took stock of what she saw.

Black leather pants which would flare over her
heeled boots once she got them on. A skintight dark green shirt with a spade
royal flush spread across the front and the word “Lucky” beneath it.

“We can do this,” she said softly to give herself
a much needed burst of confidence. “Rissa’s depending on us.” And she knew it
was true. She would be willing to walk through hell in order to get her friend
back.

Brushing her hair, she quickly drew it up into a
high ponytail, only to take it back down seconds later. Lera made sure her
necklace was tucked in. Another deep breath, and she grabbed her bag then
headed back out into the room. Kori sat at the table, and she wanted to smirk
at the heated look his eyes got when he stared at her.

“Have a nice nap?” she asked as calmly as she
could manage.

“Yeah,” he said, his voice more graveled than
normal. “That’s what you’re wearing?”

“Yes. It is a bar. I can dance in this, and I
like it.”

He jerked to his feet and strode toward her, his
face set grimly. Lera swallowed back her yelp. Kori stopped right before her
and gazed at her.

“You want to dance, Lera, you dance with me. I
will kill anyone—”

“Who tries to touch me. I know how we’re supposed
to act, Kori. Don’t worry.”

She moved to the bed and sat to put on her boots.
His eyes followed her, and Lera fought down the desire to shudder. The way he
continued to stare at her made her feel like his next meal. Tossing her head,
she looked at him while tugging down her pant leg. “Are you ready?”

She saw the flash of wolf in his gaze and refused
to cower. Something was riding him hard, and he was close to losing his
control. Lera didn’t fear for herself, but she didn’t want him battling his
wolf.

“Ready,” he bit off.

Pushing to her feet, she walked toward him and
stopped. “You seem edgier than usual, Kori. Are you okay? Do you need to let
your wolf run? We can go in a bit; I don’t mind.”

One corner of his mouth lifted. “You’re very
astute. I’m okay,
mo anam
.”

She wouldn’t argue with him on it. No one could
know better than he could if he was fine or not. “I can’t figure it out; what
language is that?” she asked, grabbing her jacket off the chair and slipping it
on.

“Gaeilge.”

Lera smiled. “Gonna teach me to speak the
language?”

“Would you like to learn?” he questioned from
behind her.

“Yes.”

“One day,
beag amháin
, I’ll teach you.”

She sighed and faced him. There was a hungry look
in his eyes again. Lera pulled her hair out from her jacket and zipped it.
“Let’s go.”

“We’re taking—”

“Your Humvee,” she broke in. “I know.”

“This going to be a habit of yours, Lera?
Finishing my sentences?”

“I don’t know. Gonna say something I may not
expect?”

His gaze became molten as it raked over her.
“Remember what I said about tempting the devil?”

“Yes, I remember. You’re a scary man, Kori, but
believe it or not, I’m
not
scared of you. You wouldn’t lay a hand on me
in anger. Come on. The sooner we find this Butch Caine, the closer I am to
finding Rissa. And the closer we are to going our separate ways.”
I may not
be scared of you but I sure as hell am scared of how you make me feel.

He muttered something she didn’t catch but was
right behind her, pulling on his black trench coat as they walked to his
vehicle. Lera couldn’t meet his gaze when he held the door for her. She felt
small sitting in the interior. And the interior shrank when his large body
filled it.

“Nice Humvee,” she commented, looking over her
shoulder into the back.
That’s a lot of space back there. Imagine what he
could do you with all that room.
Lera slammed those thoughts to an abrupt
stop and stared out the windshield as the powerful vehicle started.

The closer they got to the bar, the calmer she
felt. Focusing on Rissa took pressure off sorting out the feelings that Kori
created within her. Despite her anxiousness, Lera didn’t jump out the moment
they stopped; she waited until the vehicle had been shut off and Kori walked
around to open her door.

They walked to the door, side by side, but before
they entered, he touched the sleeve of her jacket. “Be cautious of your
surroundings, Lera.”

“I will. Besides, what can go wrong? I have you
with me.” She smiled and pulled open the door. After pasting the mask of
indifference upon her face, she stripped off her gloves before shoving them in
her pocket, then entered.

Lera strode up to the bar and saw the same man
there from yesterday. He looked up and raked his gaze over her before glancing
past her to where she assumed Kori stood. She didn’t turn to look; there was no
point. He was watching over her.

“Well, well, if it ain’t One-oh-eight,” he said.

Propping one foot up on the step, she arched a
brow. “One-oh-eight?”

“Honey, we don’t get many in here who can down
Fighting Cock like you did, so I’m callin’ you One-oh-eight.”

She smiled. “I’m guessing that’s the closest
thing I’ll get to a compliment here, so thanks.”

“You’d get other ones, but guys are scared of
your man.”

“It happens,” she said with a shrug. “Now, what
about Butch Caine?”

The bartender bent down and slapped something on
the scarred bar top before sliding it toward her. “This is where he hangs out.
Otherwise, he’ll be in here after eleven tonight.”

Lera reached for the paper, and the man stepped
back and raised his hands. She cocked a brow at him. The man didn’t say
anything just glanced in a direction past her shoulder. Turning, she saw Kori
leaning against a wall, women on either side of him, but his gaze was on the
bartender, and it was cold and dangerous. Then, he placed his eyes upon her,
and they softened. Shaking her head, she faced forward again, ignoring the
feeling doing its best to grow in her belly.

“Thank you.” She slipped the paper in her pocket.

“You the one they call One-oh-eight?” a guy
slurred from beside her.

“So they tell me,” Lera said, slanting a gaze at
him. Unwashed, big, burly, and the way he looked at her made her skin crawl.
It’s
like he’s a relation to Stinky, Nasty, and Ugly.

“Don’t believe it. Prove it.”

“What’s in it for me?”

He grabbed himself and chuckled. “Me.”

Lera yawned. “Not interested. I have a man. Make
it money, and we may be able to talk.”

“Money?” he said.

“Cash. One shot one deal.”

“And if you lose?”

“I pay you the same amount of money.”

“What if I want something different?”

“No deal, ‘cause cash is all I’d want from you.”

He dug into his wallet and slapped down a wad of
cash. The bartender counted it and looked at her. “Two hundred seventy-three.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s see yours,” her challenger said.

Lera reached into her pants pocket, pulled out
some money and handed it to the bartender who counted it and said, “Two hundred
seventy-five. I’ll give you the extra two bucks if I can’t drink it.”

People began to crowd, and Lera could feel her
discomfort at having strangers behind her racing to the surface. Then, just as
suddenly, the feeling disappeared, and a hand settled upon her shoulder.

“What are you doing,
mo chroí
?” Kori
asked, his voice a smooth ripple of sensual awareness upon her skin and yet
drenched with possessiveness.

“About to win some money.”

“How much?”

“He only had two hundred seventy-three,” she
said. “But I’ve matched it.”

“As will I,” Kori said. Three crisp hundred
dollar bills landed near the bartender.

Lera watched as the pot grew bigger. Kori took
his hand away but he remained behind her. A glass was placed before her, and
the amber liquid slowly filled it to the brim. Lera reached for it, tossed it
back, rolled the empty glass along the back edge of her hand, flipped it and
slammed it down on the countertop. She licked her lips and said, “Thanks for
the money.”

The unwashed man reached for her arm and was
stopped short by Kori’s hand. “I don’t like people touching my woman.”

“Yours?” the man asked in a nervous tone.

Silent, Kori tugged Lera’s head back with a firm
grip in her hair and slanted his mouth over hers. Lera wasn’t prepared. Not
even close. Every synapse within her sparked as his tongue swept possessively
through her mouth. His taste embedded into her, and Lera purred, arching into
him. She put one hand out and settled it along his side. He growled in his
throat in response.

Moisture pooled between her thighs, and the flow
increased when he nipped her lower lip as he broke he kiss. Never again would
she ever think of his eyes emotionless. They swirled with heat, and she could
feel it much like a brand being pressed into her skin.

Lips still touching hers and his eyes holding
hers prisoner, Kori uttered, “
U bent van mij
!”

Yes!
I am yours, Kori.
Her heart
screamed even though she remained silent.

His eyes cooled into the blank look she knew
well, and he faced the man who’d tried to touch her. “Like I said...mine.”
There was no emotion in his tone. Kori turned back to her, and his gaze
softened but was no less possessive. “Let’s play some pool.”

Lera gave him the money and watched him put it in
his pocket. Her heart tripled in speed when he placed his hand on the small of
her back, the tips of his fingers grazing her ass.

“You okay?” he whispered in her ear as they
walked to the back where three pool tables were.

No. I want to feel your lips on mine again. I
want to be held in your arms where the rest of the world ceases to exist.
“Yes.
The bartender gaze me a piece of paper that he says has the place Butch is at
on it. Or else we can wait here until after eleven which is when the man will
be in here.”

“Okay.” Kori nuzzled her neck, and she gasped at
the longing which shot through her. “I am
really
curious to know where
you learned to take a shot like that,
mo ghrá
.”

“I can’t give away all my secrets, Kori,” she
said with a laugh.

He gripped her hips and pressed tightly against
her. She could feel his erection digging into her. “That sounds like I won’t
like the answer.”

“See, I was thinking you weren’t getting one.”
Lera grabbed a pool cue and handed it to him, jumping when he smacked her on
the ass. Her body hummed with pleasure mixed with desire, and she had to
swallow hard a few times to get herself back under control. Was this what
people talked about feeling with someone else? That elusive connection she
hadn’t ever experienced before…Kori.

“That’s what you think.”

They played a few games of pool. Lera thought
he’d make her leave when the first fight broke out. He didn’t, but she did get
to see the intimidating, unwavering look work on others. No one bothered them
after that. She didn’t argue when he pulled her down to sit on his leg, his
hands around her waist as he watched another group play pool.

“Let’s go track him down, Lera,” he murmured in
her ear around seven-thirty.

She’d been thinking that very thing herself.
Silent, she pushed to her feet and waited for the feel of his hand on her back
before she moved through the throng to the door. At his Humvee, he held the
door for her again. Lera shuddered from the light touch of his hand each time
he allowed contact between them.

He climbed in the driver’s seat and looked at
her. She didn’t want to meet his gaze for fear he’d be able to read her desire
for him. But she forced herself to. Almost a mistake when she saw the lingering
hunger in his own eyes.

BOOK: A Love For Lera (Haikon)
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