Authors: Mel Favreaux
Her hands clasped behind his neck, holding his mouth to hers, breathing him in. He was all around, inside, and out. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she lost her sense of self, the pleasure he’d conjured exploded with ferocity. She was conscious enough to clench her teeth in order to hold back the feral yowl that threatened to escape.
Dean’s hips pumped against hers one final time before he buried his face in her neck and groaned. Holding her close, he locked their bodies together so their mutual orgasms could meld.
She reined kisses over his mouth and jaw while they caught their breath and curled together. Emotional exhaustion from the previous day combined with being physically sated, Amber laid her head on his shoulder and drifted off.
It was close to four-thirty when Amber roused. Dean was still sleeping and at peace. Pulling the blanket over him, she smiled and used her magic to clothe herself and left the room. She was amused that he hadn’t remembered she could’ve dressed herself in this way earlier in the bathroom.
Soft murmurs behind the closed library door informed her Dori and Aaron were having more than just an intimate conversation.
Coming down the stairs, she saw Allen had taken post in the living room. The Frenchman must have been off resting somewhere. Braedyn was in the sitting room going over some more strategies with Peyton and Terry.
The Alpha raised his head when he saw her drift in. “Looking for Casey?”
Amber nodded and remained at the door.
“In the kitchen. She claims the view over the garden is calming.” The tick in his jaw told her Braedyn knew this was a lie but didn’t want to press the topic with his new wife.
Casey was standing at the counter, staring out over the garden with a mug of coffee in hand. Another freshly poured one sat nearby.
“Is that for me?”
“It is. I heard you coming downstairs.” Casey turned to her with a smile. “Are you doing okay?”
She put a spoon of sugar and a large splash of cream into the waiting mug. “Much better now.” Her cheeks warmed when she glanced back up at her friend. “Dean’s still resting. How are you?”
Her friend laughed and leaned a hip against the counter. “I don’t know. Aggravated I guess. Knowing I have all the answers but not how to tap into them. When push comes to shove it’s like second nature, but I have no idea how I’ve done it.” She sighed, sounding annoyed. “I mean, I accept the fact I can’t go out there with you guys, but everyone has to understand that I am not so easily cowed anymore. What happened to me was fate…” Casey ran her thumb over the mated mark on the inside of her left wrist. “…but Braedyn and I chose each other a long time ago. It just took me becoming the Silver Wolf to bring it about. I can’t let anything happen to him.”
“I will do my best to protect both your father and Braedyn.” Turning to look out the window alongside her, Amber sighed. “After what happened yesterday, I
understand why people do stupid things in the name of love.” She turned to her friend. “I love your brother.”
Casey laughed. “I know you do.”
“I’ll kill for him.”
“You’re an assassin—”
“Only when necessary, I don’t enjoy it. People get that term stuck in their head and think it’s a way for a sociopath to get paid or compensated for doing what they would be doing anyway. I am just naturally bred to be good at tracking, hunting, stalking, and killing my prey.” Amber took a few sips of her coffee. “I fooled myself into believing I could keep all my feelings locked up and just meander my way through. It was like there was a switch turned off. I felt anger but other than that, I was pretty numb. And then Dean…”
“Dean found the switch.” Casey smiled and let out a deep breath. “I can’t lose you either.”
Tears stung her eyes when she looked up. “Same here…” Blinking rapidly to quell the tide, Amber cleared her throat. “Damn you Maynards.”
* * * *
Dean clenched his jaw and watched his comrades preparing to go out and search for Elan. To say he wasn’t thrilled being left behind was an understatement.
“Don’t…” Amber whispered, tugging his chin to make him face her. “You promised me you wouldn’t get upset like this.”
“I made you a promise. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.” Letting her go out there went against everything in him, but he had been her champion. It was time to give in and pray she would come back to him.
She tugged him close, her emotions in an uproar. He could tell his recent outburst did little to help.
He sighed, resting his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry, babe. Watch your ass out there, okay?”
“Always.” Meeting his gaze, she fisted her hands in his shirt. “Promise me you’ll stay inside.”
“I swear, I won’t leave this house unless you’re with me.” Brushing his knuckles against her cheek, he wished time would turn back a couple of hours. Not only for a repeat performance of their earlier interlude, but to go back to those moments of peace where they were the only things that mattered.
No, you just don’t want her out there without you.
Dean ground his teeth, trying to remove the frown from his expression.
“I mean it—”
Letting out a deep breath he covered her hands with his. “I know and you’ve my word.”
Across the room Casey and Braedyn were having their own rough goodbye.
“I feel like we did this not long ago,” Casey said, trying to make light of the situation.
Braedyn smiled and kissed her forehead. “We did and it turned out okay then too, remember?”
She nodded and followed him to the door.
“It’s time, you guys,” his father said, hefting his M-4 carbine over his shoulder. He was decked out in night gear, night vision goggles hung around his neck. Dean knew from experience, lightweight Kevlar was underneath the warm layers.
“Dad, you be careful out there, old man,” Dean said, offering his hand.
“Always son. You watch out for those here, okay?”
Dean nodded and turned his attention to Amber once more. He pulled her close and kissed her one final time. “Come back to me,” he whispered before stepping back.
Casey grabbed Amber’s arm just before she was able to slip out the door. His sister’s plea went unspoken, but the Tigress had read it clear.
“I’ll do my best.” Her eyes met his for a fierce beat. Looking back at his sister, Amber’s expression softened, and she hugged Casey. “We’ll
do what is necessary,” she whispered and slipped out the door behind Braedyn.
Closing the door, his sister stared at it for a few long moments. He walked over and placed an arm around her shoulders. “They’ll be all right and back home before you know it.”
She reached up and squeezed his hand. “I hope so Dean.”
“You’ve got to have faith, sis. This is what they are each meant to do. I am healed now, thanks to you. So I know without a doubt between me, Pierre, and you, if Elan manages to somehow get around them…we got this.” He looked at the closed front door. “My thinking is, he didn’t have enough time to assemble a strong team. They are probably a couple of defects who managed to escape when Harlan tried to form his coupe against Walker’s Run last month. Four to six guys, smart enough to get away, but unable to function without someone to lead them. Knowing this is a suicide mission, Elan could care less for their safety. He just wants to inflict the most amount of pain possible before it happens.”
Casey shivered and glowered at him. “Yeah, hearing that out loud makes me feel a whole lot better, Dean. Thanks.” She sighed and shook her head. “I just can’t understand how he can hold so much anger toward Braedyn. Even Tala…I can’t even imagine how Braedyn must feel being betrayed by everyone in his family except his parents.”
“The only thing that has kept him sane has been you, sis,” he said, giving her a reassuring hug. “He needs to know you can hold it together. Braedyn would love nothing more than to have you at his side right now but doesn’t want to put that kind of pressure on you being so new.”
She let out a deep breath. “I just wish I could drink to settle my nerves. A whole bottle would be the equivalent to one drink for one of us.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Aaron snorted with derision. “The night before my first change I killed almost an entire fifth to get the pain to ease enough so I could sleep.”
Dean turned to see him and Dori sitting on the couch. They had stood back while they’d all managed their good byes.
Casey turned to her assistant. “How are you holding up? You’ve not had a whole lot to say about all of this.”
“Better than you two, I think.” She managed a small smile. “At least Aaron and I weren’t split up. I’m not sure how I’d handle myself were he out there. Staying in last night when there was a slight risk during your last shift was hard enough.” Sighing, she laced her fingers in Aaron’s. “I guess I need to get used to just being human.”
“There are plenty of humans in Walker’s Run. Whenever you’d like to come visit, you’re more than welcome. Braedyn has already extended an invitation to Aaron. Walker’s Run is a sanctuary. We protect all who come there.”
“I’ll be out there for next month’s shift. I don’t want to chance going through another alone, not until I know I have it under control.” Aaron ran a hand through his hair, looking tired and nervous. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
Dori picked his hand up, holding it in both of hers. “You didn’t hurt me.”
His brows knitted together with worry. “I don’t want to take any chances. You didn’t see what Dean looked like, and Elan is a wolf. The claws of my jaguar could do a whole lot more damage. We were lucky that night, Dori, damned lucky.”
A tick started in the cheek of the adorable Greek and she crossed her arms. “If you even
to go on about how much safer it will be for me to go on without you, I will
your ass right now. I won’t leave any more
than I would last night.”
Aaron was silent for a few moments. Dean knew he was running through a lot of things by the way his emotions fluctuated all over the place.
“Don’t even try it,” Dean said when Aaron opened his mouth. “She’s made up her mind, and you’re not going to be able to change it.”
“What are you man, a mind reader?”
Dean laughed and shook his head. “No, I’m an empath. Which means I know what you are feeling,
I know what she is. Buck up, there’s no way you’re gonna change it.”
Dori gave Aaron a triumphant grin and leaned back on the couch.
“Will you not
?” Frustrated, he stood and paced across the room. “Your father wouldn’t want you to be in this position. What do you think he fought so long for?
protection. How do you think he’d feel after finding out you were with a
She stalked him across the floor, her blue eyes blazing with anger and grabbed a fistful of his shirt. “It wasn’t the
that convinced me to come to this house the other night. It wasn’t the
that made love to me. It wasn’t the
who refused to let me leave the next morning without letting me know what it meant to him.” Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Aaron stood there, taking her verbal assault in silence.
Dean could feel Dori’s anger jump up a few notches and wondered just how quick either he or Casey could get across the room to stop her from throttling him.
She slammed her fists against his chest. “If you didn’t care…you wouldn’t have explained everything to me. You laid yourself bare and waited for me to walk out. In case you haven’t noticed. I. Didn’t. Walk. Out.” Dori punctuated each fragmented sentence with another side-fisted punch to Aaron’s torso.
“Why would you place your heart in the hands of a
?” He put as much cold inflection on that final word as possible.
“I haven’t…I placed it in yours.” Grabbing another fistful of his shirt, the top two buttons popped off and skittered across the floor. “You’ve shoved everyone else in your life away. I am the one person who has somehow managed to get inside…I don’t know how…it wasn’t my intention. I’ve been in this position before and knew where I stood with guys like you. I wasn’t going to let my heart get involved.” Dori choked back a sob, a new flood of tears came forth and she ground her teeth, staring into his eyes. “But you…you aren’t that playboy anymore. You cared what I thought and what I felt…what I
, no matter how hard you’re pretending not to give a damn. If you didn’t want a chance with me…you should never have begged me to listen when you explained to me what you were yesterday morning. You shouldn’t have laid your soul bare for me to see the man inside…
the man who wanted me to stay
Dean could tell her very emotional speech had affected Aaron, hell it had moved him. But he had to give the fool credit, never once did he flinch or give any physical indication of it.
“I—I can’t say I love you, yet. But what I feel is pretty damned strong,” Dori admitted.
Aaron’s resolve crumbled. “You…deserve better,” he muttered through clenched teeth. “I am worse than the biggest asshole out there.” His voice waivered on the last word, betraying his entire stoic act thus far.
Grabbing him by the collar, she tugged him close, and kissed him. It didn’t take but a moment for the rest of his doggedness to dissolve, and he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Yeah, I think we can leave ’em alone now,” Dean whispered, taking Casey by the arm and leading her back toward the kitchen.
Casey laughed. “I thought she was going to kill him, or I wouldn’t have stayed so long.”
“I thought it was just me.” Dean grinned and shook his head. “Having worked with her father, I knew the boy didn’t have a chance in hell of getting away.”
His sister busied herself fixing another pot of coffee.
“You know, sometimes it’s easier to just be a grouch,” Dean murmured looking out the window. “To not give a damn or care about whose toes you’ve stepped on or what people think of you.” He smiled and shook his head. “But then…you find that one person who just opens
up. And then everything just…makes sense. And you feel so good inside. Complete. Things just feel right for a change. And then fear sets in. Am I going to lose this? How can I make sure he or she is safe?” Dean licked his lips and turned to Casey. “Sorry for getting all philosophical on you there. Things just are never as simple as the movies make it seem.”