Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series) (9 page)

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“You plan to stay then? I thought you’d go with your mother.”

She whirled around. “You’re still masking your scent around me.” Her voice filled with irritated accusation.

Dane shrugged and scoped out her bedroom, his gaze flickering over her bed and decorated walls as if purposely avoiding direct eye contact. “Seems wise.”

With bitter laugh, Ari shook her head. “How can you think about what’s wise right now? We could all be dead in the morning.”

Gaze veering to her, his blue eyes held her riveted. “So…what? We should just spend the entire night fucking until the extremists get here?”

He released his scent then. It felt like he opened a floodgate; his arousal swamped her, oozing into her pores until she thought she might climax from simply scenting him.

Her pussy swelled and nipples tightened to rock
-hard nubs. In response, a purr of approval rattled from his throat. Unable to stop herself, she started toward him, probably to rip his clothes off his delectable body.

Just as quickly as he’d freed his scent, he bottled it back up, slamming a metaphorical door in her face and snatching away one of the most thrilling aromas to ever please her nose.

“If coming here was only about satisfying my cock, I would’ve done it as soon as I walked into your yard. Hell, I probably would’ve left you suspended from that tree and shoved up your skirt, then taken you dirty and hard before even introducing myself. I know you want me inside you, Ari. We could throw down right now, but it wouldn’t solve shit. I will save you from the purebloods. Believe that. And then I’ll free you from our bond.”

Ashamed by her own weakened resistance to temptation, Ari bowed her head. Her voice was hoarse as she asked, “So then why did you come here? To my house. You knew I’d return to my parents’ soon. That’s where everyone is to meet in another two hours. Why bother tempting us further?”

When he didn’t immediately answer, she looked up. Agony filled his gaze. “I needed to see…”

He didn’t finish the sentence, which only titillated her more.

His attention dropped to his hands. He cleared his throat. “I wanted to see…see if you needed any help packing.”

She shook her head and very nearly called him a liar. “As you can tell, I’m not leaving. I don’t need to pack.”

“You should. You should go with your mother.” He lifted his face. “Ari, it will be dangerous and bloody. I don’t…I won’t let you to risk your life like this.”

“And why’s that?” A warm smiled spread across her lips. She sauntered toward him, pausing only when they were inches apart.

He wouldn’t answer, but the look in his eyes told her all she needed to know. And the heavy thud of his heartbeat echoing through her pulse emphasized how close he was to his arousal’s breaking point.

Changing tactics, she reached out and idly ran her hand down the outside of his bare arm, skimming his elbow, then forearm and wrist. When he shivered, she hummed deep in her throat. Focused on the warm flesh she caressed, she said, “When you were organizing forces with Dad, Mom told me you used to talk to me before I was born. Sometimes you’d answer a question as if I had asked you something.”

His throat worked as he swallowed. With a barely discernible dip of the head, he nodded.

She crinkled her brow. “So you could really communicate with me inside her womb?”

Another head bob. “Yes. I actually thought we were
to be together because of it.” He barked out a harsh, self-demeaning sound. “What a colossal fuckup I was.”

She blinked, confused. “Why would that make you a fuckup? I would fully believe I was destined to someone if I could hear them even before they were born.” Maybe it
mean they were destined to be together.

“No.” He snorted, but when he looked at her, his throat worked, swallowing whatever he was going to say. Feeling soft toward him, she reached up and caught a piece of his dark, silken hair before she brushed it across his forehead in an affectionate gesture.

“I like how you took charge of the situation when you heard about the purebloods coming. I like how you thought of the entire community and took steps to save them. They’re all strangers to you, but you care about their well being.”

He let his eyes fall half closed as she continued to play with his hair, occasionally scraping her fingernails against his scalp. “You’ve lived here twenty years. I figured they must be close to you.”

“They are,” she assured.

A beat of silence passed. Dane opened his lashes, his gaze swimming with tender emotion. “Thank you for jumping between your father and me to protect me when we were fighting. But don’t ever do anything like that again. It was stupid and dangerous.”

Tender moment dissolving, she scowled. “I’ll protect you whenever I feel like it.” She began to remove her hand from his hair.

He caught her wrist and tugged her against his chest. “I can protect myself, Ari. Don’t ever needlessly put any part of you in danger, especially because of me.”

As his dark gaze brewed with irritability, the truth slammed into her yet again. He still cared for her. After all these years. It warmed her.

With a smug little smirk, she announced, “I’m still not going to flee with the rest of the community. I’m staying to fight with you and Dad.”

His nostrils flared. “The hell you are.”

She batted her lashes in a playful manner. “Well, goodness me. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were worried about me.”

“Of course I’m worried. As impetuous as you are, you’ll probably find yourself in trouble before they even get here.”

Lips twitching, she shifted closer, rubbing against him. “You really do care, don’t you? Why

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously even as he stepped back, putting an inch of space between them. “Why do
care if I care? You don’t even remember me.”

“Ah, but I think I do. Except I think it hurt so much to lose you, I had to block it.”

He dropped her hand and started to turn away with a disbelieving snort. “You don’t remember.”

She reached for him, brushing her hand across his scalp, just behind his ear. “You like to be scratched here whenever you’re in your cat form. I remember that.”

He sliced her a sharp look. “I hate to be touched when I’m in my animal.”

She merely grinned. “Really? Is that why I remembering petting this huge, speckled cat for hours and hours upon end? Is that why I remember how you would purr louder than any kitten I’d ever heard?”

He scowled, his lips tightening. “Only
were allowed to do that.”

“Why?” Her eyes glazed with approval.

His glower grew darker. “Because I thought you were special to me, okay? I thought…Christ! Why do you keep asking me these questions? What are you trying to wheedle me into saying?”

“I want you to confess I’m
special to you.”

“Well, maybe you’re not.”

I am.”

He gritted his teeth and fisted his hands. “Goddamn stubborn-headed she-wolf.”

Just a little more prodding and she’d get him right where she wanted him. She could sense it in her blood.

“Yes, I honestly thought you were something special to me,” he hissed. “From the first moment I heard your fetus inside Jaycee speaking to me, I thought you were
. You want me to confess that? Fine, I’m confessing it.

But listen to this ironic little twist. Jaycee was simply the first pregnant woman I ever encountered. Turns out, I can hear the voice of
unborn child. It’s one of my shifter gifts. I ended up becoming an OB-GYN because of it. I midwife for shifter families and deliver their young.”

Ari drew in a sharp breath, bitterly disappointed to learn she hadn’t been a rare case for him after all. Licking her lips to gain a semblance of control over the rioting heart pounding madly in her chest, she murmured. “You’re a doctor?”

He shuddered out a breath, then nodded, refusing to make eye contact with her.

She crossed her arms over her chest and rubbed her elbows, feeling bereft, abandoned. “So, uh, I guess if you’d met some other pregnant woman before my mother, then you would’ve assumed that baby was your destined mate then. You…you probably would’ve bonded to her.”

Shoving his hands into his pockets, he shrugged. “I don’t know.”

A part of her shriveled and died. “Oh,” she murmured. “I see.” Utterly disheartened, she started to turn away, but he grasped her wrist, stopping her, and growled. “Don’t.”

Confused, she frowned at him. “Don’t what?”

“Don’t…don’t feel disappointed.”

Stiffening her spine with righteous indignation, she lied. “I don’t.”

His gaze merely probed hers as he reached out to place his hand over her thudding heart. “Don’t you?”

Her chin trembled. Damn it. Maybe sharing his emotions wasn’t so cool after all.

He closed his eyes and swayed toward her. “I hate it when you ache like this. I hated it even more when I didn’t know where you were, when I couldn’t be there for you.” He let out a moan of misery and pressed his forehead against hers. “You’re special to me, okay? You’re fucking special. Is that what you want to hear?”

Hurt by his regretful tone, Ari tried to pull her arm from his grasp, but he tightened his grip. Hauling her close, he pressed his hard, aroused body against hers, molding perfectly to her.

“Forget the bond and this fucking mating business, forget that I could talk to you before anyone else, forget even the fact I named you because you told me from the womb Ari was the name you liked best. Forget all that, and I still love you. You’re my Ari.”

His words echoed through her head. Dazed, Ari gazed at him, unable to believe what she’d heard. “If…if you love me so much, then why do you want to break the bond?”

“Because it’s too much.” He shook his head, looking lost and unable to explain himself. “I love you. I always have. I always will. But being away from you shattered me. Broke something inside me. I won’t be that vulnerable again. I can’t.”

The emotion in his features snared her. She wanted to know this all-encompassing love. And yet, even as she ached for it, she felt a memory of it, saw the glimpse of a young boy grinning at her as he picked her up to swing her in a circle. The memory was the embodiment of happiness. She wanted to feel that way again, and only this jaguar could give her that bliss.

“But what if we weren’t separated from each other ever again?” she had to know.

He winced. “What’s your guarantee we wouldn’t be?”

She grinned, then gave a careless shrug. “I don’t know. I’m older now. I won’t let my father carry me away in the middle of the night.”

“And what about death?” he pressed, looking almost feral as he demanded an answer. “What if the absolute purebloods take you away? Kill you.”

Again, she gave a nonchalant lift of the shoulders as her gaze trailed over his taut body. “Nothing’s permanent, of course, but I know I’d like to have as much time with you as possible.” She lifted eyes as she reached out to caress his chest. “I think I want to keep our bond just as it is. I don’t want to break it.”

He made a strained, tortured sound that seemed to come from deep within his chest. “Ari—” he started as if he wanted to argue.

But she cupped him through his jeans. His warm cock jerked under her fingers. “Can’t we just make the best of the time we could have together?”

His eyes look glazed, unfocused, as he nodded. A sheen of sweat coated his brow. “Okay,” he whispered.  “Okay…okay. Let’s—”

She wasn’t sure who moved first, maybe they surged together in tandem. But in one breath, they stared at each other. In the next, they were together, as one, their mouths fused and fingers tangled.

They inhaled each other, bodies meshing, limbs intertwining, breaths whooshing.

,” he panted between kisses. “My heart. My soul. My mate.” With each noun, his mouth returned to her flesh, claiming his territory.

Ari closed her eyes and bowed toward him, clinging as he ravaged her with pleasure.

“Then take me,” she commanded.

“Yes.” His mouth continued to plunder, skimming up her neck and to her ear. “The purebloods are still coming,” he managed to pant, trying to reason a way to stop even as he peeled her pants down her legs and ripped her panties from her body, snapping the band in half.

“We can be fast,” she argued, heeling off her boots so she could kick the BDUs away from her ankles. Unable to stop touching him, she planed her hands down his hard, able body until she came across his fly.

When she unzipped him, he growled. “I don’t want to be fast. I want to linger over you, worship you, take my time and spend an entire hour just sinking into your body.”

“God, I love your sex talk.” Clawing her hands into the back of his jeans to clutch his ass with both hands, she climbed his body and crawled into his lap. “Now,

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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