Authors: Harmony Raines
Tags: #General Fiction
“Well, Joel, why don’t you…” Her voice was so soft, so seductive.
“Yes, Mia,” he rumbled, his voice full of emotion.
“Get the hell off me.” She shoved her hands against his chest, but he was unmovable.
Humour replaced his desire. “You really ought to be feline.” However, he eased off her. This fight was not going to be won by force; he didn’t need to be an expert in body language to know that. “No running away, though.”
He eased himself back and then stood, offering her his hand. She ignored it. Of course.
Why was it so hard? She should have turned wolf and been out of there in an instant, but she didn’t trust that side of her where Joel was concerned. It made her heart ache. Her wolf had always been the one thing she could depend on. They worked together to get themselves out of scrapes; now her wolf was too obsessed with this big bear to listen to her.
Betrayal, her life was full of it.
“What do you want from me?” she asked.
“The same thing you want.” His eyes raked up and down her body.
“I doubt that,” she said, but found the nearness of him too powerful to put any force into it.
“I can smell you. So don’t let’s kid each other. Honesty and trust, that’s what’s between us.”
“So the stories go. But I don’t buy it. In fact I could walk away from you right now and never give you another thought.”
“Really? Is that a dare?” She folded her arms to protect herself, and to cover her breasts. She could feel her nipples hardening and pressing against her tight leathers. Yes, even her body betrayed her to him.
“You might walk away. But I will consume your thoughts. Every waking moment, and all through the night you’ll dream of me, of what I can do to your body and how I can make you come like no other man ever could.”
It was her turn to laugh. “You do think a lot of yourself.” But she had to swallow down her desire to find out if that was true. Although technically, he was already correct because she had never given herself to another man, even though she had been pressured more than once. Not because she was saving herself for her true mate; she wasn’t that sappy.
More that no man had ever proved himself worthy of her. Conceited? Maybe, but none of the good men in Wolf Valley were attracted to her, and all the bad men … well, they were bad for a reason. Not something she found attractive.
“I know how you make me feel. I can only assume you feel the same way. Like you have this deep itch you need to scratch.” He took a step closer to her, leaning in to breathe his warm, sweet breath on her neck.
She closed her eyes, trying to shut him out. This was not what she wanted.
, she told her wolf firmly when it began to wag its tail like some neutered dog. Yet her head still tilted, her lips closing in on his and then they parted and he moved fast to claim them.
Her knees went weak and she had to put her hands around his neck to stop herself sinking to the floor. Joel took advantage and wrapped one arm around her waist, pulling her in, oh so close. The hard press of his cock against her thigh told her that he wanted her, would take her right here, right now if she allowed him.
And she wanted him, too. If she didn’t grip his jacket in her fingers they would be moving right now down between their bodies and touching his hard, stiff length. Unzipping his leather pants and stroking his cock.
She sighed against him. Imagining him taking her clothes off and kissing her body. Tendrils of desire awoke, snaking up though her body, connecting all the points of her arousal. Her breasts, the taut buds of her nipples and down to the ache between her thighs, and the throbbing of her clit. Every part of her clamoured to be touched by him, to be taken by him.
“Damn it, Mia, now do you understand,” he said raggedly. And she did, she really, truly did.
However, being with him meant giving up a part of herself, and she didn’t want that. No, that wasn’t true. She did want it. But it wasn’t possible. She had to maintain her place in the Wolf Valley, and that would never be possible if they found her running with a bear.
“I can’t,” she said, feeling so feeble, so weak.
“Why not?” He fisted her hair and kissed her again, her world erupting into those stupid stars that romantics see when they are kissed by the man of their dreams under the moonlight.
She allowed him in, parting her lips for him, her body gripped with a desire so strong it took her breath away. Her tongue searched for and found his, and she tasted him, storing it in her memory bank so she could use all of her senses to remember him with. Because this had to end. Now.
The sound of motorcycle engines revving up told her it was time to go. She pulled away from him, but he reached out and took her hand, his fingers tightening around her fingertips as they slipped through his.
“Don’t run, Mia.”
“I have to.” But her body would not move away from his.
“I won’t let you.” He moved towards her and placed one hand on each of her arms.
“Joel. Listen. This whole bond thing. It works on more than one level, right?”
He nodded, and she could see the strain on his face, as he realised he was not going to like what she had to say.
“I need to leave. I am not lying or trying to mock you. If I don’t go back to Wolf Valley, my mom is going to be in trouble. I have to stay on top of this. I don’t have time to explain it all now. But that is the truth.”
“Then meet me tomorrow and explain it all.”
“I can’t. If they find out about you then I’m gone, and my mom too.”
“Then we don’t tell anyone. I swear this will stay between us, but only if you agree to meet me.”
“I am not willing to let you ride out of my life on your motorbike. Meet me or I swear I will be visiting Wolf Valley tomorrow night, and I will not be leaving unless you are with me or they are scraping me up off the road.”
“That might very well happen. Wolf Valley is not a good place to be.”
“Then come live with me.”
“I can’t.” She shook her head furiously, as the sound of the motorbikes disappeared into the distance. “I have to find my helmet.”
Moving away from him hurt, as though she was tearing herself in half. Her breathing became laboured and her heartbeat quickened. This was going to be a lot harder than she thought. Joel made it easier for her; he took her hand and led her to the spot where she had thrown down her helmet.
He picked it up and lifted it to place on her head, kissing her lips before he did. “Tomorrow. Out by the four ways. I’ll meet you there and we’ll go somewhere private.”
Behind them, there was the sound of voices. “Joel!”
“Hey, Joel, you OK?”
He looked at her and smiled, although now she could only see him faintly. The night was closing in around him as she backed away.
“Run,” he said, “I’ll call them this way. You get on your bike and go. But remember, the four ways, at ten, or I’m coming into town.”
She nodded, and then walked away, each step getting harder, as she placed one foot down in front of the other, moving away from her fate.
“Here,” he called, and she heard voices joining his as she made her way back onto the road and then to her bike.
Trembling hands struggled to put the key in the ignition, but on the third attempt, she managed it; the engine came to life and she throttled forward down the road and away from her mate. Only when she hit the road back into Wolf Valley did she let herself think, and it was then that she realised she was crying, tears of loss running down her face.
What the hell was she supposed to do? Her life had been complicated enough before. Now it threatened to become unbearable. Her life was in Wolf Valley and her heart and soul were in Bear Creek. Inside, her wolf let out a mournful howl. At least now they were of one mind. They both wanted their mate.
“What happened to you? Ethan asked.
Joel was glad they couldn’t see his face, he hated lying to his friends; they were like family to him. “I followed one of them into the woods. Must have doubled back on me.”
“You’re losing your touch, Joel.”
“Looks that way doesn’t it?” he joked, wondering if his voice sounded natural, because he felt terrible. A dull ache inside of him, filled with an emptiness that could only be filled by Mia. His bear roared, the sound one of loneliness and longing.
She will be ours
, he told him, but there was no appeasing his bear. It wanted their mate and it wanted her now.
“We stopped the deal anyway, although their contact disappeared. Here is the merchandise.” They had walked back through the trees towards where they had parked their bikes. Ion switched his headlamp on and opened the bag. “Phones.”
Joel sighed with relief; they had thought the wolves were selling drugs. It was good to know his mate wasn’t involved in something like that. “Seems to have been innocent enough.”
“Except it was on our territory. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but things are going bad over in Wolf Valley, so I think any deterrent has to be worth it. We need to make it clear that they are not welcome in Bear Creek.”
“True,” Joel conceded. Mia had said herself that Wolf Valley was not a good place to live. As they mounted their bikes and started their engines, he hoped she had got home safely and that he hadn’t caused trouble for her. These phones would have been worth a lot of money, and without them, she might lose her grip on her gang.
Tomorrow he would meet her and get as much information out of her as he could. After he had made love to her. Of course. Claiming his mate was most definitely his first priority. He could picture her now, her hair spread across his pillow, her arms welcoming him.
“Hey, Joel, you gone off in a dream again?” Ethan called.
“Sorry. Just tired. Let’s get back, I have some paperwork that needs doing.”
Ethan laughed. “After that fight my adrenaline is pumping. I might have to find myself a woman to help release some of my pent-up tension.”
“Go for it.” Joel intended an early night, not that he would be able to sleep for thinking about Mia. However, the days, or nights, spent with another woman were gone now. He would never cheat on her. He only hoped she held the same values.
Closing his helmet, he revved his engine and rode off behind the others. He loved his bear brothers, the men he lived and worked with. They might be bikers but they always kept everything above board, especially since their leader, Will, had inherited a multi-million-dollar business.
As the miles disappeared behind him, putting more and more distance between him and Mia, all he could think was: Why a wolf? Out of all the beautiful bears in Bear Creek, why did he have to be stuck with a wolf?
Yet, as the memory of her scent came to him, and the touch of her lips could almost be felt once more, he came to the conclusion that he was the luckiest bear alive. A wolf who was strong, confident, and no doubt able to hold her corner in any fight.
But he didn’t want to fight. He wanted to lay her down in his bed and make love to her. Tomorrow, he soothed his bear.
she would be theirs.
Mia couldn’t face going straight back to their hangout; the others would just have to wait for her. It wasn’t going to be pretty, she knew that; after all, they had lost the deal. However, that was not the reason for her reluctance to return. No, it was more than that. It was because she wasn’t the same person anymore.
The Mia who had left Wolf Valley was not the same woman who returned. Her mate had changed her, although they had only just met, and only shared one kiss. Her lips stung at the thought, and she could recall the taste of him, the feel of his hands on her body. Shaking her head, she tried to rid herself of the need to turn her bike around and go back to him.
Yet as she crested the hill and looked down on Wolf Valley, she knew that this was no longer her home, not if he wasn’t here. And a bear would never live in this dump. The absence of their alpha was slowly tearing them apart. They were slipping into lawlessness, the males too busy arguing with each other, or keeping themselves to themselves to avoid the danger of being signalled out as a threat.
Mia knew that was the answer to all of their problems, they needed someone to take charge, to be chosen as their new alpha. It was a shame they would never accept a woman, or a bear. She smiled. Joel would most probably whip them all into shape, get everyone back on track and allow the town to prosper, but it had to be a wolf. No luck there, then.
She throttled forward, guiding her bike down through the empty streets and away towards the hangout. They must have heard her bike, because one by one her men appeared from inside, and she could instantly tell this was about to get nasty.
Parking her bike, she took her time to remove her helmet and her gloves, trying to calm herself down. This night had been filled with too many surprises already; she wanted a clear head when she finally spoke to her men.
“So you showed your face. We thought you might have left town for good.” Traff came forward. Mia could tell he had drunk too much and was in the kind of mood that got you in trouble. His mouth was working too fast for his brain.
“Why wouldn’t I come back, Traff? I know we lost the deal, but if you contact the buyer, we’ll trade elsewhere.”
“Trade what?” Traff held his hands open and she understood just how nasty this was about to get.
“What did you do, Traff?” Turning the blame around was always a good move. Her men were not the brightest, and she could outmanoeuvre them, easily.
“What did I do? Nothing. At least I’m not the one who ran off into the trees at the first sign of trouble.”
“I tried to lure them away so you could get out of there.” She walked up to him, right into his face. “Are you telling me you lost the merchandise?”
His silence said it all, but the others were crowding in behind him, and she sensed they might just back Traff. Did she care? Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk away from them? This life was not hers. It was the life she had picked up after her brother discarded it.