Authors: Becca Jameson
Jaden approached with a steaming bowl. “At least we have chicken soup from a can,” he teased. “How can you go wrong with that?” He sat on the edge of the bed and set the bowl on the dresser next to him.
Before she could protest, he’d pulled the covers over her and tugged the towel away. She didn’t think he’d seen any of her pitiful state, but her breath still caught in her lungs.
Jaden reached again for the bowl and brought it to her.
Her hands shook when she reached for it, the blanket tucked under her armpits, just covering her chest.
“Shall I?” he asked, reaching for the spoon and bringing a bite to her lips.
It might have been from a can, but it smelled like the best food she’d ever had at this point. Her lips parted, and she took the bite graciously. Another followed, and another, until she’d scarfed the entire contents. She was still hungry, but her stomach was sensitive also. She knew better than to overindulge right away and get sick.
“Sleep, Emma. Your body needs to heal. We’ll talk again later.” Jaden pressed a kiss to her forehead, and Liam squeezed her thigh.
They made her feel special. Tears welled up, but she refused to let them fall. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. In moments she had her last thought. She was safe. For now.
Liam stared down at the angel asleep in his bed. Both he and Jaden had given up the bed last night, letting their skittish mate have it to herself. Jaden took the couch; Liam the floor. He’d feared lying down next to her in case she woke up scared half out of her mind.
Three days they’d been here now, and no work had been started. They needed to begin cataloguing the local flora soon. Luckily they had free rein to conduct their studies however they wanted, but they couldn’t go on like this forever. Neither of them was willing to leave the cabin for more than a minute though.
Liam was concerned. What were they going to do with Emma? Where had she come from? Was anyone missing her? Was she lost? So many questions he wanted answers to. If only she would wake up and spend some time with them in human form.
He sat on one of the kitchen chairs pulled up to the bed, leaning against his palms, watching her sleep.
It was late morning before she moved a single muscle. How long had she been out in the elements in wolf form? Except for last night for about an hour, she’d been asleep for almost three days since they’d found her.
Emma blinked and sucked in a deep breath as she came alert. She appeared frightened for a moment until her memory kicked in.
“Hey,” Liam whispered. “Welcome back.” He smiled at her as Jaden came up behind him.
“How long did I sleep this time?”
Jaden stroked her good leg through the blanket. “Just one night—a long night. Thirteen hours.”
“I’ve never slept so much in my life.”
Liam spoke next. “You were exhausted when we found you. How long had you been in the forest alone?”
She bit her lip. “A few weeks.”
“Why?” Liam asked.
“I was…” She pulled herself to sit straighter as her voice trailed off. “It’s a long story.”
Liam had been breathing her air for three days, but somehow now that she was awake, it changed everything. She’d used his and Jaden’s shampoo and soap last night, but her own pheromones also filled the room. How was he going to hide his erection while the three of them worked out their arrangement?
The bed dipped when Jaden sat on the edge of the mattress. “You do realize you belong to us, right?”
She nodded. “Yeah, but this is weird for me. I wasn’t expecting…”
Jaden chuckled. “Neither were we. In fact, we came out here for the summer to avoid women. We weren’t even unpacked before we heard you crying.” He squeezed her leg. “May I look at your leg, hon?”
She leaned forward. Liam took her arm to help steady her while she held the blanket up to her chest. “Of course.”
Jaden lifted the bottom of the blanket and took her foot in his hand. “It’s remarkably improved. Amazing how fast we heal in wolf form. Thank God you weren’t left there any longer. That bone would have started to heal displaced.” He set her foot back down.
Liam stared at her leg. The cuts were already pink scars. The leg would be tender for a while, but he’d seen similar injuries on shifters before. Within a week, most wolves could comfortably apply pressure to a break.
“Why are you way out in the forest for the summer?” she asked.
Liam helped her lie back. “We took a three-month job with the university we both work for collecting data on the local vegetation. What are you doing all the way out in the middle of nowhere alone? Is anyone looking for you? Do we need to call someone for you?” There was only spotty cell service out here, but they could go into town if they needed.
She shook her head vigorously. “No. In fact, if you don’t mind, I’d rather no one knows where I am or that I exist. It’ll buy me some time.”
“Buy you time for what?” Liam watched the distress as it crossed her face.
She glanced around the room, not answering him. “I don’t have clothes.”
“True.” Jaden narrowed his gaze when Liam glanced his way. “We’ll get you some things in town. You can borrow one of our T-shirts for now.”
“No. Please. I don’t want you to buy me anything.” She shook her head again.
“Why? You like being naked? We could also learn to live with that,” Liam teased. He was kidding of course, but he was worried about Emma’s story.
“I don’t want anyone to know you have a woman in this cabin. Can I just hide here for a few days until I’m healed enough to leave?” she pleaded with them, her face contorted with worry.
“Leave? Where would you go?” Liam’s stomach flipped over as he considered her words.
“I need to keep moving. I can’t stay here.” She tipped her head toward her lap, her hair falling to hide her face in a curtain of curls.
Jaden flinched next to Liam. “Did you miss the part where we just agreed you’re our mate? You can’t leave.”
She jerked her gaze up and stared at the men.
Liam swallowed the lump in his throat. Emma had a pile of issues she wasn’t sharing with them. He didn’t want to push her. She’d learn to trust him in time, but for now, he needed reassurance she wouldn’t run. That would kill him as much as losing Jaden would.
“I’ll shift and keep moving when my leg heals.”
Liam grabbed her hand from her lap and lifted it to his cheek. He loved the feel of her soft skin against his rough, unshaved face. She ignited a flame in him with just her touch. His cock grew stiff, and he fought to keep from adjusting himself. “Not a chance, baby. Whatever you’re running from, we’ll deal with it, but you can’t leave us.”
Emma yanked her hand free. Was she as affected as he was by the contact?
Emma held the blanket up against her chest and heaved for air. She needed to avoid touching these guys. Every time their skin made contact, her brain fogged with need. She’d never known feelings like this. She’d heard stories as a child about what it was like when wolves mated. Memories of her parents proved the sensations were real, but never had she expected anything like this for herself.
And now was not a good time. Regardless of her body’s reaction to the two sexy hunks using up all the air in the cabin, she couldn’t stay. It would be dangerous…for all of them. No. The sooner she left them in peace, the better.
Jaden squeezed her good leg, making her flinch at his touch. Even through the blanket, she could feel his warmth. “Do you belong to a pack?” he prodded.
“No. I’ve been on my own most of my life.”
“You’ve been alone?” His grip tightened.
Might as well come clean. “Not alone. My parents died when I was eight. Someone killed them actually. They were run off the road over a ravine. I was supposed to have been with them, but I’d been sick so my parents left me with my aunt and uncle.” She swallowed hard. She’d never shared this story with anyone in her life.
“Go on,” Liam encouraged. He brushed the back of his fingers over her cheek, and she leaned into his touch involuntarily.
Tears welled up in Emma’s eyes, but she held them at bay. “I sat in the hallway listening to my aunt and uncle as they argued about my parents’ deaths. They knew stuff. They were sure my parents’ demise had been orchestrated. Someone had killed my parents.”
“Did they raise you then?” Jaden asked.
“No. After my parents died, my extended family was scared the killer would come after me next. No one would be safe if I stayed with them. They decided to hide me by placing me in foster care with a human family in Kentucky. I never saw my family again.” She choked the last words out, the tears slipping down her face when she became unable to control her emotions anymore.
“That’s awful,” Liam stated. “I’m so sorry.” He wiped the tears from her face and cupped her cheek. The last time someone had comforted her like this she’d been a small girl.
“You’re safe here,” Jaden whispered.
Neither man asked her another question, for which she was grateful. She couldn’t elaborate anymore right then.
Jaden stood and opened a drawer in the dresser next to her. He pulled out a T-shirt and smiled at her. “At least this will let you release the sheet.” His smile was teasing as he eased the shirt over her head, and it fell around her.
Liam got up next and headed across the room. A moment later, he set a plate in her lap. “Eat. You must be starving.”
Emma stared at the food, a pile of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Tears continued to fall. When was the last time someone had cooked for her? And it smelled heavenly.
Her hand shook as she took the fork.
Her face burned. Again she considered the plight of these two men. If they were half as horny as she felt, she needed to make an escape fast. None of them would be able to keep from mating if she stayed.
And she feared if she let them claim her, she’d never be able to get away. The draw would be too strong. Was it too late? Could she even leave them?
As much as she’d considered the idea of having sex with one or both men last night, she knew in the light of day this morning that could never happen. She wasn’t strong enough to turn away from them after. And she had no choice but to flee. Even if it meant running when they weren’t looking. They had no idea how dangerous it was to be near her.
She shivered and kept her gaze lowered while she shoveled the delicious food into her mouth. Every taste was perfection after her meager diet of squirrel and rabbit lately. Human food was so much more palatable.
When she finished eating, Liam took her plate.
“I need to use the restroom,” she muttered. She was at their mercy right now, and it embarrassed her.
“Of course.” Jaden reached for her, but she pulled back.
“I can do it.” She was weak, but she needed them to stop touching her. She ensured the huge T-shirt reached past her butt and then pulled the covers back. When her feet hit the floor, she winced. She couldn’t put pressure on her broken leg yet. There was no way to avoid some assistance.
Jaden took her arm without a word. He helped her hobble to the bathroom and shut the door behind her.
Emma stared into the mirror above the sink, frowning at herself. Her hair was a mess—long curls hanging in every direction. She didn’t often wear makeup, so that at least didn’t send her into shock, but her face lacked color. Her eyes were sunken and blue around the edges.
She turned the faucet on and splashed water on her face. It refreshed her. Her mouth felt gritty. She found a tube of toothpaste and made do with her finger. It was the first time she’d brushed in weeks, and she moaned as she rinsed, letting her tongue run over her teeth.
Next she found a brush and worked through the tangles until her hair lay in some semblance of order.
After she’d used the toilet, she opened the door once more.
Liam dashed to her side, smiling. He didn’t say a word, just swung her up into his embrace and carried her to the bed where he deposited her gently and pulled the covers over her legs.
She glanced down. The white T-shirt didn’t hide much. But then again, there wasn’t much to hide. Her chest had never been larger than an A cup. And, until this moment, she’d been grateful for her size. No one paid much attention to her in high school or even after when she’d gone to work. She was considered rather mousy. Her figure didn’t bring attention to her, and she liked it that way.
“You’re beautiful,” Liam mumbled. He stroked her bare arm up and down her bicep and tilted her chin up to face him.
She smirked. “Sure, right. Men have always been beating the door down to get to me.”
“Well, if they haven’t, I, for one, am glad. It made you available at this time and place for me to claim.” He narrowed his gaze. “Me and Jaden.”
She sucked in a breath and shook her head. “You can’t. It’s not safe.” The words flowed out before she could stop them.
“How so?” Liam asked.
Jaden returned to sit at her feet again. “Whatever your issues are, we’ll figure them out together. This is not really something we three can ignore. It’s unconventional. I get that. But here we are.” He set a hand on Liam’s arm, his other on her good leg. “Liam and I have been together for several years. We knew we wanted a third, a woman. Fate put you here for us to find. Does the idea scare you? Is that what you’re worried about? There being two of us?”
She shook her head. Truly, the idea of having two men hadn’t even really entered her mind yet. Now it did. She flushed, a warmth covering her cheeks and running down her chest. “I can’t do this no matter how many of you there are.”
“Why?” Jaden cocked his head.
She had to tell them. There was no other way. “People are after me. As soon as they find me, they will kill me on the spot, and you too if you’re with me.” She wrapped her arms under her chest as though the room had a sudden chill. “You won’t be safe with me. If I leave, hopefully they won’t find you.”
“Who are they? You think the people who killed your parents are still after you? Is that why you were alone in the woods?” Liam asked. Neither man seemed very concerned with her plight. At least not with the level of worry she would expect.