HEAT

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Chapter 6: Leasons Learned

Leander

My Wolf was enraged by her rejection.

The thought of us touching her disgusted her?!

We were the last Wolf she’d ever want to touch?!

That was bullshit. I’d seen her body respond, traces of jealousy, a flush in her cheeks, her increased heartbeat. There was no way she wasn’t just as affected as I was by the bond—that ridiculous pull to be with her, even if I didn’t much like her. Growling, my Wolf pushed at the restraint of my skin. He wanted out so he could give her a thorough demonstration of exactly who he was.

She was infuriating! But I shouldn’t have expected anything else, not given the genetics running through her body and the vile bastard who raised her. And it was crystal clear from the righteous indignation that flowed from every pore in her body when she looked at me that daddy dearest had obviously kept all of his dirty little secrets away from his precious baby girl. Oh, the stories I could tell. I had the power to tear her pretty world of illusions and non-truths apart.

Okay, I had tried playing nice. I’d tried talking. Talking hadn’t gotten me anywhere, so maybe it was time for my mate to get a real lesson in what I was capable of and her new reality.

Abruptly, I stood to my feet. Hycinth gripped the arms of the chair tightly again, a sign I recognized to mean her anxiety was on the rise. Before she could get any other stupid notions of running away in her head, I said shortly, “Let’s go see your brother.”

“Oh...” she exhaled, the air whooshing from her lungs in relief as she popped out of the chair, eager now.

I hid a cruel smile of satisfaction—given what I knew about the condition of her brother. But she needed this truth. She needed to learn this lesson of what happened when someone fucked with me. And this male had kept her from me—my mate—for three long years. I was being generous by not already ending his life.

She called him her brother, but no matter what label she gave him, the truth of nature remained. My Wolf clearly scented they didn’t share blood. The male was no different than any other unmated male. A threat.

Everard followed us as we made our way through the packhouse and then descended the stairs, before breaching the reinforced door. Her brother was the only prisoner strung up currently, and his condition was what I expected—he was chained naked to a wall, evidence of a fight on his body. He had a black eye that was nearly swollen shut. His lip was busted, with a trail of blood trickling down his chin. There were claw marks on his chest and thighs as well as red and purple welts and bruises dotting his skin.

Before I could even say a word, Hycinth gasped, tore away from me and threw her arms around his body, clutching him tightly.

Ever swore, “Oh fuck!”

I stared frozen in shock at her clinging to a naked male, body pressed tight, nose angled toward his throat.

My fury turned into something I couldn’t even define.

It was dark, and it demanded violence.

Unbridled rage roiled through my stomach. I shook, my Wolf able to gain ground as he tried to rip through my skin. His thoughts hammered in my head. Make him bleed! Kill him! The Wolf must die for touching our mate!

“Release him!” I snarled, my voice gravelly and thick, more Wolf than human.

Something in my tone must have caught her attention because she jumped away, spinning around to stare at me with wide eyes.

Streams of growls percussed through my throat.

I’d never been this angry before. Ever.

“Hold her!” I barked out the order.

Quickly, Ever grabbed her and pulled her back, restraining her in his arms.

I strode three steps toward the offensive male. Without another word, I drove my fist into the wolf’s face, causing his head to jerk back. He grunted in pain and spat blood from his mouth.

Hycinth screamed, “No! Don’t hurt him! Please!!”

I snapped my attention t her. My Wolf glared.

She didn’t want us.

We disgusted her.

She had run into this naked male’s arms. She wanted him!

Possessiveness and jealousy beyond my own comprehension consumed me. I had no more control. My eyes narrowed into feral slits. “So this is the male you want? This is the cock you’ve been fucking?!” I grabbed his dick, ready to yank it from his body with my bare hand.

“What...No!” she cried out. ”He’s my brother! Please! Please don’t hurt him! I’m begging you!” She stared at his cock in my hand, horror, and fear in her eyes. She didn’t take her eyes off it.

Her physical fixation on that particular part of his anatomy didn’t help. The threat was genuine in my words, “So now you’re begging me for his cock?”

Her gaze snapped up to meet mine. “No!...I, I...” Tears streamed down her face. “Please...I’m begging you to listen to me! I never...we never...”

Ever spoke calmly, soothingly, as Hycinth stood shaking in his clutches, “Leander, just think about this for a minute. I know you’re angry, but don’t do something you can’t come back from.”

He spoke the truth, but it didn’t tamp the wild hurricane force inside of me.

“You call him your brother, but he is not your blood! You’ve hidden away together, lived together for three years, you run into his naked arms in the presence of your mate, and you expect me to believe you haven’t fucked him?!”

Abruptly she dropped to her knees, genuinely begging now. “I swear it to you! We’ve never! Please listen to me! I’ll do anything if you’ll only listen!”

Her abrupt change in positioning jolted me out of my lethal haze.

The image of her was wrong. I hated it. My Wolf agreed.

She was strong. Never should she be on her knees. Not even for me. Not like that.

Instantly, I released him.

Chest heaving, I walked to her and leaned down, pulling her gently back to her feet. Ever stepped back to give us more room. She stood in front of me, trembling uncontrollably. I wrapped one hand around the back of her neck. She flinched.

I hated her body’s response to fear to me—I hated I’d caused it—but I couldn’t focus on that because now I needed to know another truth. Tilting her head, forcing her to look into my eyes, I asked softly, “Has any man ever touched what belonged to me?”

Her response was immediate, no trace of deception, no body language to indicate a lie as she whispered, “No.”

I stood staring into lake blue eyes, still pooled with tears. The truth of her answer hit me hard. I hadn’t dared to hope she remained untouched because it wasn’t a realistic option. But the knowledge that she was still pure and innocent granted a relief inside of me so profound, it soothed the wild beast, causing waves of warmth to flow through my chest.

I pressed my lips to her forehead and held them there as we both caught our breath. The bond vibrated with our touch. For once, I was thankful for it. It wrapped around us like a cocoon, tendrils of living roots helping to reattach what I’d torn apart and almost irrevocably broken.

I dropped my forehead to hers and breathed, “I’m sorry. I should never have lost control like that. When you ran into his arms…after what you said, I...” My words trailed off, uncomfortable and not sure how to explain myself, how to apologize. It was new territory for me.

“Okay,” she mumbled. I understood her forgiveness was not included in her sentiment, only an acknowledgment she’d heard me. That was enough for now.

I lifted my head and added my other hand to her neck, using my hold to tilt her face to me gently. I smoothed my thumbs across her tear stained cheeks and murmured, “Please don’t go to your knees again. Never because I’m angry. I’ll admit, the positioning snapped me back into control...but only because I hated to see you like that.”

Her bottom lip was quivering again. She searched my expression, lake blue eyes filled with confusion and uncertainty. She whispered, “What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry I made you feel it necessary. You’re strong. You irritate the shit out of me, but I love the fire inside of you, and I never want that fire to go out. Promise me you won’t do that again. At least not for that reason,” I added, trying to lighten the heavy atmosphere.

She looked at me strangely, as if she still didn’t quite understand, but nodded her head. And then she blushed, a beautiful pink rising to her cheeks. I could only assume the flush in her bewildered expression meant she just realized what I was referring to at the end.

I didn’t want to stop touching her, so I continued to stare deep into her eyes, and brushed my thumbs along her hairline and her jaw as I gave instructions to Ever, “Get him down and get him dressed. Put him in a cell and call for the healer.”

“Understood,” he replied and stepped away, pulling his phone from his pocket to follow through on my orders.

I spoke to Hycinth, “I can’t set him free. But I’m willing to negotiate the terms of his confinement.”

“Negotiate...how?” she asked.

I gave her a wolfish grin. “You tell me what you want...and I’ll tell you what I want...and then we’ll see what happens.”

The blush on her cheeks deepened. She hadn’t missed the sexual innuendo in my statement.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Maybe I was going about this all wrong. My little mate was a stubborn female, but every woman had things they wanted, and I had the distinct advantage of having her brother at my mercy. If she was willing to compromise a little, maybe we could both get what we wanted.

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