Authors: Rose J. Allister
Gold flared in his eyes in perfect tune to the heat spreading low in her pelvis. “Oh, I aim to mark you in ways that’ll drive you crazy, darlin’.” His eyes flickered, then dimmed to their normal bluish color. “Male weres have an urge to mark their mates, and we do, at times. But the only way for you to be officially recognized as a bond mate is for the alpha to make the mark while your mate is inside you.”
Prickles shot along her skin at the thought. “So in effect it’s like giving their blessing?”
“More than that. The alpha’s mark warns off other males and claims you for the pack, bonding you to all the weres in it—and them to you.”
“‘All’ meaning just you and Kyle, right?” She frowned. “I wouldn’t be bonded to your old pack or to his current one?”
He shook his head. “You’d be drawn only to those under Kyle’s control. He is alpha only to me.”
“I see,” she said, wishing she truly did. “But would Kyle’s bite make me a wolf?”
“Not the way we intend to do it. Once you’re claimed, a mark by pack mates durin’ sex won’t change you. Before you’re claimed, however, any bite would infect you—even mine. That’s why I’ve had to hold off on some of my urges.”
She glanced at him. “That’s how you both became wolves?”
He nodded. “Six years ago for me. Longer for Kyle. Solomon turned him to save his life after a mountain lion attacked him in the woods.”
“Is that how he got the scar?”
“No. He got thrown by a horse the year before. Landed face first on a barbed wire fence. He doesn’t like to talk about it much, as you’ve probably figured. Apparently he got quite the cold shoulder from the ladies after that.”
She clutched at her chest. “Jesus. And you? Was Blaise trying to save you from something?”
Dillon snorted. “Hardly. He wasn’t tryin’ to turn me. He wanted to kill me.”
Her eyes widened. “Why?”
“I was workin’ a ranch down the mountain and tried to chase off his pack when they came sniffin’ around the cattle. He attacked me and left me for dead. When I came to, I was alone out by the perimeter fence. I began the first shift right away because of the full moon. Not a good night, all around. Instinct led me straight to Blaise, and he had a fang hold on me ever since until Kade Winchester challenged and killed him.”
Her heart pounded as images flashed through her mind. “And Kyle? What happened to him?”
He sighed. “Kyle, Kyle, Kyle. You have quite the one-track mind.”
“And you have quite the devious one.” She cocked her head. “Speaking of which, you stole something of mine, I believe.”
“Did I?” He laid a finger on his lips and glanced upward. “Hm. Let me think. Your virginity? Sorry, darlin’, but that’s long gone.”
She crossed her arms. “Funny, but not what I meant.”
“You must be talkin’ about your heart, then.”
She attempted a glare but couldn’t pull it off. “It’s smaller than that. Round, has a shiny rock in the middle?”
“Ah, so your love for me is bigger than a diamond.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring, peering at the stone shimmering in the lantern light. “I suspected as much.”
“Also not what I meant.” She held out her hand. “Let me have my ring back, Dillon.”
His eyes shifted to her, the hint of golden glimmers sending a shiver through her. “Is it, Aimee? Is it truly
Her legs weakened from the intensity of his stare. “No. But it isn’t yours, either. I have to return it to the man it does belong to.”
“So, you decided not to marry for money, after all.”
“I decided I can’t pretend to do the right thing if it isn’t the right thing.”
He lifted her left hand and slid the ring onto her finger. Her heart skipped like crazy with every millimeter the band advanced. The symbolism in his gesture screamed in her mind, even though she knew it was neither his ring nor a proposal. “And what is the right thing?” he whispered.
She had to swallow to try and catch her breath. “To follow my heart, not trail after my fear.”
“And your heart keeps leadin’ you here.”
“Yes,” she whispered. “I do want you. Kyle, too. If it’s not too late to admit that.”
His fingers stroked upwards along her arm. “You admitted that the day you first wandered in here, lost and cold and so innocent that I ached to hold you.”
Her answer was drowned in the bottomless desire in his kiss. That brush of his lips erased everything else—her money woes, David’s engagement plans, fear and doubt. There was no denying that what Kyle said her first time there was true. Dillon possessed a magic that enthralled her. His need for her became the only force that held her feet to the earth, yet catapulted her emotions sky-high. She felt so complete in his arms, and yet something was missing.
“I’m not sure whether to be happy to have you all to myself or to wish Kyle were here with us,” she said when he finally broke away from her lips.
His laugh smoldered with eroticism. “I know the feelin’. But I expect he’ll be along any time now.”
“But you said he wasn’t coming tonight.”
“That was before he felt what’s happenin’ between us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Pack mates sense strong emotions in each other, no matter where we are. Danger, despair.” He moved close enough to feel his breath on her cheek. “Passion.”
Strong emotion. The thought penetrated the sexual fog blowing around her. “Is that why Kyle always looks so stiff? Is he holding back so the other pack won’t sense what he’s doing?”
Dillon nodded. “That meditation mumbo jumbo he uses ain’t only to control his shifts. Not anymore. He’s takin’ quite a risk, bein’ with me. The worst was when he got hit by the truck. I thought for sure that would bring his pack runnin’. Even then, he managed to rein up hard enough to keep them from sensin’ his pain. But I don’t hide what I’m feelin’, Aimee. And I’m bettin’ he got the jolt loud and clear the second I walked in here and saw you sittin’ in those chains.”
His cock was stiff in his jeans as he pulled her up against him, both of them on their knees as they clutched at one another. His tongue circled hers until her pussy flooded with wet heat. Damn, how she wanted him. She inhaled his warm scent and reached a hand into his hair, knocking his hat to the ground.
“Do you feel that energy risin’ up under your skin?” he whispered against her lips. “The sense that your body will explode if you don’t let that wave of electricity take you over?”
“Yes.” Her heart pounded like crazy, and she rubbed her torso against him to revel in the pleasure tingling through the delectable hardness of her nipples.
“That’s what a shift feels like when you give in to it,” he said. “Until I met you, I never knew it’s also how it would feel to give in to the mate you were destined for.”
“I am giving in to you, Dillon. I can’t fight this shift anymore. I have to be yours.”
His eyes were no longer blue, nor were they fiery gold. They had gone nearly black. “You’ve always been mine.”
With that he pulled off her collar, and when she opened her mouth to protest, he silenced her by brushing his upper lip over hers. Then he yanked her knit sweater up over her head. With a growl, he slid her bra straps off her shoulders and freed her breasts. He slipped the collar around her neck again before capturing a nipple in his mouth, grazing it lightly with his teeth. She let out a desperate moan as her head fell back, though it was soon halted by the wide metal restraint around her neck.
“Thought that was her I was feelin’.”
Dillon and Aimee’s attention snapped back to see Kyle stride into the cave, looking a shade irritated but delectably cowboy in his blue plaid shirt and faded jeans. He took his hat off and scrubbed a hand through his hair before replacing it.
you were feelin’,” Dillon said. “You just guessed why I was feelin’ it.”
“The bigger why is why is she here?” Kyle’s face appeared taut in the lantern light, and the joy bubbling up inside her at seeing him again slid lower in her throat. “This ain’t a good time.”
“What’s stuck in your paw?” Dillon asked. “I thought you’d be glad to see her back.”
Kyle’s blue stare turned on her, ice cold. “You thought wrong.”
Her stomach churned. So, his generous donation had been just a parting shot. Dillon still wanted her, but Kyle didn’t. A week ago, she couldn’t have cared less whether one man was interested in her, let alone two. Now, her heart thudded like a dull lump of lead because she didn’t have them both.
“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Dillon asked. “This time.”
“Did you ask her?” Kyle’s eyes held the same accusing glare she’d faced in her own reflection on the way up.
“Ask her what?”
“Why she’s here.”
“She changed her mind,” Dillon said. “She ain’t gonna marry David. She wants us.”
“Really. And you didn’t stop to wonder about the sudden change of heart?” Kyle stalked closer, and the smile that breached the scarred side of his face held a dangerous edge to it. When he stood over her, he folded his arms and stared down like a judge on a high bench. “I dangled the carrot, darlin’, and you done failed the test.”
“Test?” Aimee asked.
“Would you stop talkin’ in riddles?” Dillon added, rising from his knees to stand close in Kyle’s face. “What the hot fuck is goin’ on?”
“She’s only here for the money, partner,” Kyle spat out. “That’s why she’d let you chain her up and ride her like a well-groomed pony. Ain’t that right, sugar?”
She shook her head. “That’s not true.”
Dillon’s expression bore outright confusion. “What money?”
“I’ll admit you got here faster than I expected.” Kyle brushed off Dillon’s hat and settled it on the man’s head before staring back down at her. “Figured it’d take at least a few days before you found out about it. Guess I didn’t give your dollar radar enough credit.”
Dillon bent down and took her by the arm. “What the devil is he talkin’ about, Aimee?”
She kept her eyes on Kyle as she answered. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s dead wrong about me.”
“Am I?” Kyle knelt down the way Dillon had earlier, only his encroachment into her personal space prodded her into pulling back. “Funny, because it seems like you and I both know exactly what I’m talkin’ about.”
Dillon stuck his face down in front of Kyle’s, breaking his staring contest with Aimee. “And
like to know exactly what you’re talkin’ about—and why the hell you’re actin’ like she’s our enemy.”
“I wanted to test our hot little vixen’s sincerity,” Kyle said, straightening up again. “I suspected that if she knew the truth about me, she’d come runnin’ back with a fire on her tail. So I set up a little experiment.”
“Just what the hell did you do after we parted ways this mornin’?” Dillon asked.
Kyle folded his arms. “I paid a call on the nursin’ home Aimee told you her mother was at and made a little contribution to her care.”
contribution?” Aimee laughed, turning to Dillon. “He paid Applewood one hundred thousand dollars.”
Dillon let go of her and rose as well, narrowing his eyes at her. Kyle flashed a greasy smile. “Didn’t guess just how well that little trick would work to bring her runnin’ back.” He shook his head with a sigh. “I had hoped to God I was wrong about her.”