Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series) (8 page)

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
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Irrationally upset he’d finished easier than she had but sensitized by the aroma of his cum, she growled as her body bowed off the bed. Thrusting three fingers, she worked in a frenzy until, God, here it came.

Oh, damn. It had been so long.

So good.

Electrocuted, her body quivered and undulated, clutching her orgasm and wringing her dry.

 

Chapter Five

 

 

Ari took a moment to let her body settle. She stretched on her mattress and stared at the ceiling until her lungs stabilized and the aching between her legs calmed to a subtle drumbeat in the base of her abdomen. Blowing out a breath, she sat up and straightened her clothes.

Still in her work suit, skirt and heels, she shook her head. Had it only been an hour ago she’d pulled her little yellow car into her drive and seen Whiskers hovering fearfully in her tree? So much had changed in a span of minutes. She felt permanently altered.

But then, she
was
altered, wasn’t she? She had a mate now. Well, okay, she’d always had him, but now she was aware of him. She could even sense how his body had calmed after jacking off in the shower.

The thud of her heartbeat steadily synced with his, which explained so many things: strange moments in the past when she’d become irrationally upset or happy when nothing in her own life had caused it. All this time, she’d been experiencing Dane’s emotions with him.

She glanced at the door shielding him from her view. She felt closer to him than she’d ever felt to anyone. They really were bound together. Ari bit her lip, not so sure she wanted to sever the tie. She’d been linked to him her entire life; what would happen if that stopped?

The shower water in the bathroom continued to run. She crawled off the mattress with shaking legs and purposely left her abandoned panties on the bed for Dane to find when he finished his shower and exited the lavatory.

He might want to break their connection, but she was no longer convinced it was the best path. Unknowingly sharing a life source with him for twenty-five years told her he was a male of worth; she could feel his merit deep in her chest. Spending an hour in his company said he was a male of sensual pleasures.

Honestly, it was everything she’d ever wanted in a mate. And here, she’d had him the entire time. Her face lit with pleasure. Well, that certainly cut out a lot of useless dating and searching through all the toads for her perfect dream shifter.

As she entered the hall, however, she spotted her father leaning his forehead against his own closed bedroom door, and her smile faltered.

“Jaycee.” His pleading voice cracked and he pressed his palm to the wooden panel. “Please try to understand. I did it for Ari. For our daughter.”

When no muffled response came, Ari winced. She and her mother both knew how much the silent treatment bothered Knox. With a sigh, she approached. “Daddy? I need to borrow some of your clothes for Dane to wear.”

He jumped as if her catching him at such a weak moment mortified him. But when he spun her way, a scowl marred his face. “What the hell ever! That cub’s not getting shit from me.”

He started to rage on, but the door to his bedroom opened. Jaycee barely spent a moment to glare at him before she thrust an outfit into his chest, making him ‘oomph.’ Then the door slammed back in his face.

For a moment, Ari thought her father was going to burst into tears. Then he knotted his jaw and silently handed the wad of clothes to her. She thanked him with a quiet nod, knowing better than to make any kind of audible comment. Hurrying back into her room, she set the clothes on the floor in front of the bathroom door, just as she heard the shower inside shut off. Straightening, she hurried away, backing from the room.

“So that’s it, then,” Knox rumbled from behind her, sounding pissed. “You’re just going to accept this forced bond without a fuss and let him do whatever he likes with your life?”

She whirled around and frowned, setting her hands on her hips.

His nose twitched. “I’m not stupid, Ari. I could smell both your releases. You fucked him. In
my
house.”

She flushed. Being a full-blooded shifter, her father had no qualms or modesty about such subjects. But still… She was half-human, and this conversation was uber
-uncomfortable. “We stopped,” she mumbled, feeling lame. “And finished ourselves…
by
ourselves.”

He arched a brow, letting her know good and well he realized exactly why they’d stopped; because
he
had intervened. “So you’re not going to stay with him?” he asked, sounding skeptical.

“No. I’m not,” she lied. In truth, she had no idea what the future held, because if Dane intimated even once he’d like to remain
bonded, she’d be his…in a heartbeat. In their
shared
heartbeat. She cleared her throat, unable to meet her father’s gaze. “Dane has a plan to break the bond. That’s why he came to find me.”

Knox arched a curious brow. “Oh, really? And how does he plan to break a
mated
bond?”

Again, she blushed and shoved a dark lock of hair behind her ear. “The mechanics of it aren’t really important. But the fact remains, he realized we both need to be free of each other so we can go on with our lives. And he’s here, determined to accomplish just that.”

When Knox didn’t look convinced, she narrowed her eyes. “Your spiriting Mom and me away from him in the middle of the night solved nothing. It merely delayed the inevitable. As long as we’re bonded, he’ll always be able to find me. That’s why Dane and I have to deal with this, and at least
try
to sever our…connection.”

“At least I delayed it enough until you were an adult,” Knox grumbled. “That little prick would’ve tried mounting you when you were five if I hadn’t gotten us out of Locks Hollow. I smelled the change in his hormones. He’d reached his maturity. It would’ve been only a matter of time before he looked at you like a piece of fuck candy.”

She rolled her eyes. “That is possibly the crudest thing I’ve ever heard you say, Daddy. Honestly. I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”

But when she whirled away, he said her name, almost sounding scared as he spoke. “Ari?”

Curious about his uncertain tone, she turned back. “
What
?”

“Is he really here to break the bond?”

“He says he is, and I tend to believe him. He’s denied me three times since he’s showed up in town. A male trying to
retrieve
his mate wouldn’t do that.”

Knox winced and had to admit, “You’re right. He’s definitely here to break the bond then.” Convinced of it now, he let out a sigh. “No mated male would even attempt the herculean effort of denying himself entrance into his mate unless he was serious about deserting her.” But as soon as he spoke the words, he closed his eyes and hissed, “Shit. This complicates matters.”

Ari watched his face drain of color, and a lurking sensation filled her with dread. “Daddy, why do I have a bad feeling you’ve done something you shouldn’t have?”

His large hand trembled slightly as he smoothed his fingers over his mouth and glanced at her with a guilty, brown gaze. “Because I did.”

She closed her lashes tight. “What did you do?”

“I…I sent out a message to a nearby pack that a female resided here, a female wanting to be claimed, yet needing to be rid of her current mate first.”

Ari’s eyes and mouth both sprang open wide. “You did
what
?”

He held up his hand. “That doesn’t mean you would have to bond to someone else. That’s completely your choice. It just means they’d gladly eliminate your existing mate for a chance to win you. And with him dead, you’d be free to deny or accept—”

Knox’s bedroom door flew open and his trembling, white-faced wife stood in the entry. “My God. You sent for a pack of wolves to come
eliminate
Dane? How could you? How could you just order his death?”

“Jaycee…” he started for her, but she backed away from him, a look of complete horror crossing her face. “I did it for Ari. She’ll never be free to live her own life until her bond with him is severed.”

“And you didn’t even
wait
long enough to see if she
wanted
it to be severed? What if she actually ends up liking him and wants to stay with him? What then, you big, stupid wolf?”

“There’s no way to know if she would come to like him or not.
Sweetheart
. The bond blinds her and makes her think the feelings inside her are love. There’s no way to know her true affections.”

“Then let the bond blind her. For heaven’s sake, Dane is not the devil. He’s a good boy and would take care of her, respect her.” Her eyes narrowed. “Never
lie
to her.”

Knox gulped, but stood his ground. “You haven’t seen him in twenty years, Jaycee. You don’t know what he’s like now. He might’ve changed.”

“But the only reason I haven’t seen him in twenty years is because
you
kept him from me. Through lies and deception.”

The door slammed shut again and Ari’s father wilted before her eyes. Too stunned, frightened, and crushed to move, Ari stood frozen in the center of the hallway. The idea of Dane being harmed, ripped savagely apart by a pack of horny wolves, killed because of her…

Bile rose in her throat. Cold enveloped her soul.

She clenched her hands into fists. “Is there any way to stop this wolf pack you sent for?”

A tortured-looking Knox shook his head.

Her jaw set. “Is this your way of telling me you’d rather I bond to another wolf, not a jaguar?”

“No. God, no. Ari…I just want you to be able to choose your own path.”

Her voice rose with her mounting ire. “But what if I did choose Dane? What if I actually want to be with him? Would you still respect my decision?”

Closing his eyes, he bowed his head. “Yes, daughter. I would respect any mate you chose.”

“Except it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?” she hissed, her mind spinning with ways she could protect her mate. They would have to run. “When is this pack supposed to arrive?”

“Soon. By morning.”

The next question came from Dane, floating down the hall and surprising her into whirling around. “And from which direction are they coming?”

Her mate slipped silently from her old bedroom, wearing a pair of her father’s jeans and one of his old shirts. The top actually fit a little snug across his shoulders, which stunned her. She’d always thought her father was so massive. Larger than life. But Dane’s girth obviously exceeded his.

He didn’t look terrified or even upset about the fact that his own father-in-law—for lack of a better word—had sent for a posse to slaughter him.

Knox lifted his face and croaked, “From the west.”

Dane paled. “The Mahlikari pack. I passed them on my travel here. You
are
aware they’re absolute purebloods, right?”

Ari glanced at her father, who shared a puzzled frown with her. Together, they turned back to Dane. “They’re what?”

“Absolute purebloods. Extremists. A full-blooded shapeshifter pack that despises anything human, especially half-breeds with any kind of human in their bloodline. Actually, I think they hate half-bloods more than they do humans.


You know what they’ll do as soon as they get here, don’t you? After they kill me, they’ll rape Ari like the cheap piece of dirty blood they think she is, then leave her for dead if they don’t finish her off themselves.


Then they’ll decimate your entire community. I’ve seen it done before. They have no respect for half-breed
anything
.” He narrowed his eyes. “Not even you. Duo-animagous shifters, any kind of blood mixing, is an abomination in their eyes.”

Knox shook his head, but rasped, “You’re certain they’re—”

“Yes,” Dane barked, already a flurry of motion. “We need to get the women to safety. How many other shifter families live in this area?”

Knox swallowed, looking sick as he turned to stare at his mate while Jaycee slowly sank to the floor, also looking nauseated, her eyes large and frightened.

Ari answered for her parents since they didn’t seem able. “Around thirty. Thirty families.”

Dane’s jaw tightened. He nodded. “Gather as many as you can, spread the word. All humans or shifters too old, young, or weak to fight need to leave immediately. I want to meet with the remainders to form a strategy of defense.” He paused then, sending Knox a curious look. “You do intend to stand firm and fight them, correct? If you abandoned the houses, they’d probably burn them to the ground.”

Knox nodded. “Of course. This is my home. I’ll defend it against any foe who threatens us.”

Dane gave a single nod. “Then I’ll stand with you.”

 

Chapter Six

 

 

Ari’s hand trembled as she tied the laces of the black combat boots she’d just tugged over her feet. Two hours after learning a group of extremist purebloods were headed her way to decimate her entire community, she’d showered, pulled her hair into an economical plait and dragged on her ass-kicking gear. Laces snug, she let the leg of her khaki BDUs fall over the tops of her boots, and straightened to her full height. Just as she checked her scrunchy to make sure her ponytail was still pulled tight, a voice startled her from behind.

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
9.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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