Authors: Aliyah Burke
As quickly as her touch had been, it was gone.
She held her hands in front of her but didn’t pull away from where his fingers
still remained in her hair.
“Will you tell me why you’re so stressed?” she
“I don’t like this.”
Lera shook her head. “No, Kori. It’s different. I
know I’m not a shifter, but I grew up with them. Something is riding you. I
a good listener, Kori. And while I don’t have many friends, I’d like to think
We’re so much more than that, Lera. But I
don’t think you’re quite ready to hear what is truly riding me so hard. I don’t
think you want to know how much I long to strip you of your clothes and devour
you. Fill you full and make you scream out my name in pleasure until you
collapse from exhaustion. Are you ready to know you are my mate?
stiffened, and he shifted slightly.
Twirling her hair around his finger again, Kori
allowed himself to be swept away by her deep, pooling gaze.
No, I can’t tell
her right now.
“Maybe I do need to take you up on directions to go run.”
Her expression fell. “Okay.” Lera stepped back,
and his heart wrenched when her hair slid through his hand, leaving it bereft.
“Out the hotel and go right three blocks. Take a left and follow that; it will
lead you straight to the park which opens out into the countryside.”
Kori swore to himself. He circled her wrist
before she could go very far. “Lera,” he said. Behind her big, beautiful eyes
he could see tears lurking.
“I’m going to bed, Kori. Goodnight.” She pulled
free and slipped back into the bedroom.
He snarled low.
All she wanted to do was help
me, and I basically told her to fuck off.
Kori angrily shoved a hand
through his hair and made sure the door was secure. His wolf raged within him,
and he struggled to keep him contained. Realizing he wasn’t going to run, he
filed the information on where to go for later. Silently, he turned off the
lights and moved to the bedroom. It was dark, and he slipped to the bathroom
where he soon stood under the multiple spray panels.
Tipping his head down, Kori remained there. Hands
braced on the shower wall, he let the water stream over his skin.
She was so close he could almost reach out and touch her. His cock stiffened,
and Kori groaned. It had been a long time since he’d had the touch of a woman,
and he shook with need. Not need for any woman, for only one would do. And she
lay in the next room.
His fingers curved into claws and dug into the
wall. The power of the wolf rode dangerously close to the surface. He ground
his jaw and took a few deep breaths until he was back in control. Kori made
short work of the remainder of his shower and was soon standing before the
large mirror with a large towel wrapped around his waist. He stared at his
reflection, taking in the faded scars on his body as well as the tattoo over
Removing the towel, Kori dressed himself in a
pair of black lounge pants and strode from the bathroom, shutting off the light
on his way. Sure steps took him to the bed but there he hesitated.
Will she attack me?
It didn’t matter. Kori pulled back the covers and
slid in. No attack. No anything aside from her consistent, even breathing. It
told him how much she trusted him, and he was humbled by it. Closing his eyes,
he took a deep breath and willed sleep to arrive.
He woke feeling two things, content and
hard-as-nails. Lera lay against him, pressed to his side. Her head rested on
his shoulder, her arm on his chest, and one leg straddled his waist, brushing
against his erection.
If this is a dream, I don’t ever want to wake.
She stirred, and Kori damn near held his breath.
He grew harder when Lera burrowed tighter against him, making small mewls in
the back of her throat. Kori had a hand of his own holding her securely in
Where she belongs. In my arms.
“Lera,” he whispered, removing the arm he had on
The mewls stopped, and she stiffened. Kori
waited for her to move.
“It’s early, Kori. Murdock won’t be up until
closer to noon.” She rolled away from him. “I’m still tired so go run if you
His missed her heat immediately. Making contact
with his wolf, Kori found his beast in agreement with him. Her touch was more
important. With a sigh, Kori reached out and rotated her body back so it rested
once more against his. As it should.
anáil de mo anam
Even though he felt harder than a diamond, Kori
had a small smile on his face when Lera easily relaxed into him.
“You smell so good.” Her murmur reached him.
His cock pulsed, and he fought back a groan.
do you, Lera. So do you.
Kori buried his nose in her hair, closed his eyes
and drifted back to sleep.
When he woke, he noticed one thing and one thing
Lera was gone.
Lera sat out in the late morning air of the park and
sighed deeply. Chin resting on drawn up knees, Lera had her arms locked around
her shins. She needed to embrace the calm wall she was known for. Murdock was
not going to make this easy on her.
What the hell is wrong with me?
made sense. She had been shocked to wake the first time in Kori’s arms, but the
fact he’d pulled her back to him made those deep feelings emerge again. The
second time she woke, she moved from where she lay all pressed up, intimately,
against his hard half-dressed body.
Lera shivered despite the warm air around her.
Kori had a body she could stare at for hours and never grow bored. Faded scars
were visible but it had been the tattoo over his heart that had taken her
breath away. A wolf’s head in the center of a trinity Celtic knot with a phrase
she didn’t know around it. All of it rested on a line of ivy. It was beautiful.
Why am I thinking of him? Kori is just a means
to an end. Once Rissa is safe, we’ll go our separate ways.
question was why that saddened her.
“He confuses me,” she admitted aloud, one hand
She flinched from the force of anger in which her
name was spoken in her mind.
‘I am merely in the park, Kori.’
Lera glanced at her watch but remained quiet. She
was becoming entirely too attached to Cormac MacLochlainne. Her belly clenched
at the memory of being pressed against him in bed. His warm skin covering all
those hard muscles, she hadn’t wanted to get up. Quite the opposite, in fact.
She wanted to touch and explore him. See if his skin tasted as good as it
smelled. His impressive body had scars on it. Kind of like hers, but where she
was repulsed by hers, she longed to touch, lick, and discover what Kori’s felt
like beneath her fingertips.
Gulping, she shoved those thoughts far away. It
was more than difficult. Kori seemed destined to take up her thoughts. Lera
tightened her hold on her legs and worried her lower lip. Unease filled her,
but then most things did when they tied into Murdock Denton. Rescuing Rissa
wouldn’t be as easy as Murdock tried to get Lera to believe. Things never went
“There will be people waiting to try and get
Rissa back,” she muttered. “Maybe even going after Kim.”
Shit! How could I
have forgotten about him?
Fear spiked through her as she shot to her feet
and headed toward her bike at a run.
‘Meet me at Kim’s. I know they’ll go after
It was Murdock’s way, doing what he could to maintain the upper
She threw a leg over the sleek machine and
started the powerful motor. Across the open link, she could feel Kori’s anger
grow, and in that second, Lera had never been so grateful to have him on her
side. Gunning the engine, Lera tore out of the lot, racing well above the speed
limit to reach her friend in time.
‘Be careful, Lera,’
Kori said gently but
Compulsion which she ignored. Lera wove in and
out of traffic like it stood still. A sigh left her when she screeched to a
stop before Kim’s building. Kori’s Humvee was already there. Dashing up the
walkway, she released a curse when she hit the locked door. Pressing a button,
Lera waited for it to be answered.
“Mrs. Piper, it’s Lera. I’m here to check on Kim
but he’s not answering. Can you let me in?”
“Of course, dear. I think it’s wonderful how you
take care of him.”
The click informed her the door had been opened.
Lera pushed through while Mrs. Piper continued chattering away. She moved
swiftly to Kim’s door and paused, noticing it was cracked open. Inside, she
could hear sounds of a scuffle.
Lera burst in, low, weapon ready, and scanned the
room. Kim lay on the floor, unmoving, and across the way of his small apartment
stood Kori. At his feet were two guns but the man who’d had them now dangled
from where Kori had him against the wall. The room smelled of urine, and Lera
hurried to Kim’s side.
“Kim?” she asked, shaking him lightly.
There was no response. She checked his neck for a
pulse and expelled a sigh of relief when she found it. Faint but there. Anger
welled up within her.
How dare this man! How dare he!
Her hand lingered
on Kim’s face before she rose and headed to where Kori still had the man up
against the wall. He too wore all black but was nowhere near as impressive as
“Why?” she spat out.
The dangling man didn’t speak.
“Don’t make her ask again,” Kori said on a snarl.
“Following orders,” he gasped. “Are you Lera?”
“What’s it to you?” Kori demanded in a tone so
deep, Lera almost didn’t recognize it.
“I just hear you were the one he wanted this
stuff done for. Wondered is all.”
“Get him out of here. I don’t want him around
when Kim wakes,” she ordered.
‘Somewhere specific you want him?’
tone was soothing to her nerves.
‘Dead works for me.’
She growled low and could feel his pride at it
‘I would kill for my friends, Kori. Do with him what you will.’
at the man still watching her, she said, “I see you again, and you’re a dead
man. And you know I’m not lying.”
‘Make sure he can’t get to Murdock for at
least twenty-four hours.’
Kori stared at her before nodding once. Lera
never saw them leave, her attention immediately upon Kim’s prone body. Feeling
his neck, she was content when the alignment felt okay. Glancing to the couch,
I don’t know if I can lift him.
Pushing to her feet, Lera
worried her lower lip.
“I’ll put him in his bed,
voice wound around her.
Startled, she almost jumped. Spinning on her
heels, Lera sucked a sharp breath as she stared at Kori. He watched her with
more of that unending intensity.
“Thank you,” she said.
Facing away from him, Lera took in the mess
before her. She noticed the movement and knew Kim was on his way to his bed.
Lera shrugged out of her leather jacket, draped it on the window seat cushion
and stripped off her gloves. In seconds, she’d dug out some cleaning supplies
and had begun to erase the stench of urine from the room.
She paused and slowly got to her feet, gathering
the cleaning supplies with her. Meeting his gaze, Lera sighed and went to the
kitchen to clean up.
“Ignoring me isn’t going to help.”
‘Worth a shot.’
‘Dinna bet on that, lass.’
lilted through her mind in a thick Irish brogue which made her toes curl.
“Stay outta my head, Kori,” she muttered without
looking at him.
“Why did you leave this morning?”
“I needed to gather myself. It’s been a while
since I’ve been touched, and Murdock will be doing that.”
“The hell he will!” Kori’s voice sliced through
the air. “Look at me,” he commanded.
Lera turned slowly and met Kori’s furious gaze.
“You aren’t going.”
She sighed and turned back around. “Do you have
that money on you I won at the bar the other night, Kori?”
“Who gives a fuck about the money? We’re not done
with this discussion.”
“Don’t cuss at me. I want you to leave it on
Kim’s desk in his bedroom.”
“Look at me.”
Squaring her shoulders, she did just that. Kori
was right up in her face, and she took a deep breath, her senses immediately
swamped with the outdoorsy and wild masculine scent that defined him.
“The money, Kori. Go put it there. I have to get
back to the hotel and change.” She knew Kori would have checked her friend
over, and since he never said Kim was still in danger, she was content to leave
She moved past Kori and headed for the door,
fully expecting him to stop her. He didn’t.
Back at her hotel room, when she got out of the
shower, Kori was right there in the bedroom. Door closed behind him while he
leaned against it, arms crossed and an expression on his face which would have
scared the devil himself.
Her fingers tightened in the robe but she merely
arched a brow and looked at him. “What, Kori?”
“I’m ending this, Lera. I will go to him and get
your friend. But if you think I’m going to let that man put his hands on you…”
His jaw clenched and the raw anger of his wolf flashed in his gaze.
As if she weren’t wet from her shower and dressed
in a robe, Lera walked toward him. The flames in his eyes grew hotter, and a
few times, her steps faltered. When she stood before him, Lera held his gaze.
“It has to be this way, Kori. Murdock is…he’s…
I’m not sure what he is but he’s undeniably crazy. He won’t hurt me, not right
away; there’d be no sport in that. I don’t care about me. I care about Rissa.
She needs to be safe. You can’t go blasting in there; innocents may be hurt. So
with or without you, I’m going to trade myself for her.”
Fury raged in his gray eyes. “So you’ll give up
your virginity for Rissa’s life?”
“In a heartbeat. Not that the status of whether
or not I’m a virgin is any of your business.”
“You’ll let this man touch you, undress you, and
more for her?”
Bile rushed up, and Lera swallowed it back.
Clenching a fist, she took a deep breath. “I told you, Kori. I would kill for
my friends. I would also die for them. I’m not as harmless as you keep trying
to convince me I am.”
“Why the hell do you think I would go along with
this?” His words were razor sharp.
“I don’t know, Kori. All I know is I’m in your
debt, and if it is within my ability to repay you, let me know and I’ll do it.”
A pained expression crossed his face. “I don’t
like this, Lera. Not at all. You want me to let you go with a man who you’ve
admitted has deranged sexual appetites. You want me to take your friend
somewhere safe.” He gripped her arms, his fingers branding her through the
sleeves of the robe. “And leave you alone at his mercy?”
“Kori. Everyone who looks at me makes the
assumption I’m a scared little girl. I know what Murdock is capable of. I also
know he’ll wait before he starts anything. The thing is,
capable of. I have the advantage. You said it yourself, I may
not be a shifter, but my daddy raised me. You know Daddy was an Enforcer. And
my uncles had some say in what I’ve learned as well.” She could see the
indecision in his eyes. “Please, Kori,” she begged.
“I will be collecting on that debt, Valera Grace.
On that you can be certain.”
His gaze raked up and down her body, setting it
aflame. “Get dressed. We have plans to make and not a lot of time to make them
When Lera reached down to pick up her bag, a soft
click reached her ears. Without looking, she knew Kori had left the room. She
fell to her knees and shook. It took her a few moments to pull herself
together. Lera pulled her shirt down over the top of her leather pants when the
door opened again.
Kori watched her, eyes cold and hard. “I called
in a friend to help.”
“One who will change places with me and take
Rissa after I get her from Murdock. Then, I will follow you.”
She licked her lips and picked up her weapon. “He’s
“So sure it’s a male?”
Blinding jealousy swamped her vision for a
moment. Lera forced herself to relax and shrug. “Sorry. Is she good?”
“Verra,” he purred, prowling toward her.
Swallowing back her envy at the thought of this
unknown woman touching her Kori, Lera licked her lips and held his gaze. “You
Why the hell am I thinking of him as mine?
“With my life. I trained her.”
“Great.” Lera moved to step around him but Kori
blocked her way. With a sharp breath, she tried the other way. His large body
was there. “Do you mind?” she bit off.
“Are you jealous,
“Of what, Kori? You’re a man, I would
assume you’d have women. It doesn’t matter to me. Get out of my way so I can
finish getting ready.”
He didn’t. If anything. he stepped closer. Lera
found it hard to breathe. Her heart pounded out of control, and her belly
clenched with a longing she’d only ever felt in this man’s presence.
“I will kill that man if he lays a hand on you,
,” he uttered, deadly and dangerous. “I will rip out his throat.”
It sounded like nothing but the truth coming from
him. “You can’t say a word when we meet him, Kori. Don’t threaten him.”
“So worried about your friend, and not yourself.
Her feeling of inadequacy threatened to spill
over. Clamping it down under lock and key, Lera held his stormy gaze. “Because
she…she…she’s my best friend. And it’s my fault she was taken.”
She moved to the side only to find herself jerked
up against his marbled physique. Eyes wide with shock, Lera looked up at him.
His gaze was purely wild as he stared at her. Raw hunger, anger, and
protectiveness swirled in them.
“Honest answer, Valera. Will you be in danger
within the first two hours?”
The look on his face told her not to tarry with
her answer. “No. Or rather, I highly doubt it. He’ll take us to his place, I’m
sure. A few hours out of town.”
like you using yourself as bait,
I’m not a fan of it myself.
“I know but
I’m the only bait he wants.”
She shuddered when his hand sank into her hair
and pulled her head back. Lips parted, Lera stared up at him. Closer and
closer, his mouth drew to hers and it was harder for her to breathe. There was
a pulse pounding between her legs, and she wanted to rub against something. No,
not something, Kori. Lera could feel his breath on her sensitive lips, and it
felt like her entire body was suspended, waiting for the moment he would allow
their lips to touch.