HEAT

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Chapter 7: You're Fucking Killing Me

Hycinth

I didn’t understand him. Not one bit.

One minute, he seemed calm, and the next minute he was ready to emasculate Luca! I shivered at the memory—the devastating and cruel look in his eyes that told me he would do it. But then, he turned around and said he hated to see me on my knees? And never wanted to see the strength he loved inside of me diminish? How was I supposed to take that, let alone respond to it?

I shook my head. I had no answers, but the thing I did know unequivocally was he’d murdered my family, in cold blood. He’d taken the two most precious people to me and ripped them out of my life. He was insane to think I’d ever want to be with him. Bond or no bond, it didn’t matter. But if he wanted to negotiate, I’d negotiate. I said stiffly, “I want you to let me go.”

All softness disappeared from his expression, but he didn’t argue the point. He simply stepped away. Without another word, he turned and walked toward the stairs.

The Beta nudged me from behind, motioning for me to follow Leander who’d turned his back on me.

I stayed where I was planted. My attention focused on Lucky. Eyes closed, he breathed heavily, but I knew he wasn’t asleep.

Ever murmured, “He’ll be in a much better position to chat later after his needs have been addressed.”

Still, I didn’t move. So much for negotiating.

Ever leaned down and spoke quietly in my ear, “Your brother will be taking care of. Please trust me on this.”

I was surprised at the sincerity in his voice—and lack of the usual sneer he liked to favor me with. I walked forward woodenly with stiff legs.

I could no longer see Leander, but it didn’t matter. I could easily follow his scent. I breathed in deeply, drawing the scents through my sensitive nose and sampling them on my tongue—musk, and Hickory with an undertone of sweetness, vanilla. The enticing fragrance lured me forward like a beacon.

My body loved it. The bond loved it. My mind hated it.

My Wolf licked her jowls and growled out her pleasure. Want to taste him.

Yeah, there would be no tasting! I snapped back.

That sure as hell wasn’t happening.

I tried breathing through my mouth, yes, it was easier that way. She pouted.

As we made our way through the extensive house, I cataloged each room, creating a map in my mind, identifying the exits. There had to be a way out, some flaw in security that I could exploit. Multiple hallways and doors later, we entered into a large gourmet kitchen. It was beautiful. The large open-floor-plan included not only kitchen space but also a comfortable adjoined seating area, with couches, chairs and a large fireplace. The dark, richly stained mantle was so big it was almost as tall as the ceiling. Matching cabinets were nestled on both sides, recessed into the wall.

My attention returned to the kitchen, my belly growling its need for food when a delicious smell wafted through my nose—apple something, cinnamon, and cloves.

A plump shewolf was currently bent over, ample bum in the air, while she extracted something from the oven. She mumbled something to herself I couldn’t quite catch that sounded like ’just perfect.′ If the incredible aromatic smell was any indication, her assessment of perfection was right on the money. Gathering it up using oven mitts, she closed the oven door with her foot and turned around to face us.

“Ah...there you are, young one.” Her chestnut colored eyes danced with humor and kindness as she placed the hot dessert on a bronze trivet to cool.

I immediately liked her.

She pulled the oven mitts from her hands and smoothed a stray tendril of almost white hair out of her face so she could peer at me closer. After a moment of inspection, she nodded to herself.

I wondered what she was looking for. Whatever it was, her nod seemed to indicate she found it. Her lips curled, the smile meeting her eyes, reflecting little creases consistent with her age.

“I’ve waited a long time to meet you.” Statement short and to the point, she didn’t seem to require a response from me because she turned around and walked to a nearby hardwood cabinet, muttering again under her breath. Something about a shopping list, milk and flour and other words I couldn’t catch.

“Hycinth, this is Miriam,” Leander finally spoke. I dared to glance at him. He stood off to the side, his forearm resting on the high, caramel-marbled granite counter top. There was softness in his expression as he stared at Miriam.

Miriam spun back around, holding plates and drinking glasses she’d pulled out of the cabinet in her arms. She leveled a dirty look in Leander’s direction. “Eh, don’t be telling her that, young pup,” she chastised him.

Her antics only caused him to grin.

Young pup? I was amazed at her familiarity and ease around him. Clearly, he was a monster, didn’t she know that?

She swiveled her head toward me and muttered, “You may call me Mimi. That’s what everyone calls me.” Another dirty look shot in Leander’s direction.

His smile only grew.

Bustling to the side, she opened a drawer and pulled out forks, a sharp knife, and a serving utensil, setting them on the counter next to the plates and glasses. Her attention was back on me. “Do you like pie, dear?”

It was my turn to smile, asking honestly, “Who doesn’t love pie?”

“Ah, a young shewolf after my own heart.” Mimi seemed pleased with my response as she cut three large slices of the steaming hot dessert and arranged them on plates.

Leander interjected, “As much as I think apple pie, in and of itself, would make an excellent meal, Hycinth hasn’t eaten dinner and might need something a little more substantial.”

Mimi tilted her head toward him. “Of course. Why didn’t you say so?”

Refocusing on me, she asked, “Do you like chicken casserole, my dear?”

I shrugged. “I’m not picky.”

“Excellent, we have leftovers from earlier. I’ll heat some up.”

Within minutes, I had a plate of delicious chicken casserole in front of me, refreshing cool lemonade crinkling around the floating ice cubes and the slice of apple pie waiting off to the side. One bite in and I thought I was in heaven. I let out a sound of pleasure from the back of my throat.

A low growl came from Leander.

My attention snapped to him. His eyes glowed with sexual intent, a continuous low rumble resonating from his chest.

I stared at him wide-eyed and snatched up my drink, swallowing it down, trying to relieve my suddenly parched throat.

“Down boy,” Mimi ordered him firmly.

I choked on my lemonade, coughing as I sputtered. I stared at Mimi in awe. I was now officially way past ‘like’ and well into ‘love’ with her.

“Leave that mating stuff for somewhere other than the kitchen,” she twittered.

Leander’s gleaming stare never left me, but he responded to her, “Don’t tempt me, Mimi. I’m not above making a very vivid point that I am in control.”

His words may have been meant for her, but there was no doubt I would have been an active participant in whatever action he constituted as making a vivid point.

Mimi tutted and rolled her eyes, going back to her task at hand of writing down her previously softly-spoken shopping list. I took another gulp of my drink, swallowing it down and went back to eating, suddenly finding the raised design on the white plate wildly fascinating.

After another moment or so, I still felt his intense gaze like warm fingers trailing along my skin. I squirmed. This was ridiculous, and I needed to put a stop to it. I looked up and grumbled, “Are you just going to stare at me while I eat? It’s creepy.”

Mimi snorted.

Leander had the audacity to chuckle.

I went back to my food. Apparently, it was a lost cause.

After several more minutes of awkward silence—me chewing and him staring—I was finished and sat back.

“Let’s go,” he said.

I exhaled, his words granting profound relief. Jumping down from the tall stool, I made my way after him. Ever followed silently behind. “Where are we going?”

“My bedroom,” he replied without even glancing over his shoulder at me. As if his answer was the most normal thing we’d done all day.

And there went my profound relief—right out of the window.

I ground to a halt, causing Ever to stumble into the back of me. I blurted out, “Hey!” and turned to face the Beta.

“Sorry. Just give me a warning next time you plan on discontinuing use of your legs,” he said wryly.

Leander turned around and looked at us both in annoyed confusion. He raised an eyebrow.

“I, I’m not going to your...bedroom.” Damn it. I intended for those words to come out strong and fierce. Instead, they were stuttered and breathy. Pull your shit together! I reprimanded myself.

Leander replied evenly, “You are. Now, you can, either walk or I can carry you. Which one will it be?” The expression on his face told me he was deadly serious.

I looked around for an exit.

“Don’t even think about it,” his voice dropped low and dangerous.

Still, I stood rooted to the spot on the floor—until he took a very purposeful step in my direction. “Walk! I’ll walk,” I said hurriedly. The last thing I wanted was for him to wrap his arms around me again. The bond was hard enough to fight when we weren’t touching, and almost impossible when we were.

He smirked.

I had the insane urge to stick my tongue out at him but kept it in my mouth lest he took it as an invitation. I wouldn’t put it past him, not with all of that arrogant hotness going on.

We continued our trek through the house until we reached the top floor in the corner. He opened the door and ushered me through, turning to Ever. “I got it from here. Go home. Be back at 7AM."

“Will do.” Ever turned on his heel and walked away.

I didn’t much care for the male, but suddenly, I desperately wanted him to return, anything so that I wouldn’t be stuck alone with the unstable, bordering on psychotic, Alpha.

Leander closed the door. Surprisingly, he didn’t even glance in my direction as he pointed to a room off the side, frowning. “Take a shower. You still have Dagger’s scent all over you.”

I shivered at the horrible memory of that male pinning me down. I quickly made my way toward the bathroom, muttering derisively under my breath, “I wonder why.”

If Leander heard me, he didn’t acknowledge it.

After I shut and made sure to lock the door, Leander called from the other side, “There are a T-shirt and shorts you can wear for tonight until we get proper clothing. And a little basket of toiletries. I’m not sure what Sydney included, but if you’re missing something, let me know, and I’ll have Sydney take care of.”

Hmm, I wondered who Sydney was. I peered down at the pretty little basket on the countertop. Inside, it contained a new toothbrush, comb, and brush for my hair, deodorant, and feminine products. I ground my teeth together. I wouldn’t need feminine products until after I mated and had my first heat. Which wasn’t happening. Period. End of story.

Turning around, I couldn’t help but draw in a low breath. The luxury bathroom was huge with a walk-in, clear-glass shower that could comfortably fit four people. The white marble countertop had two sinks with beautiful cabinetry below and more cabinets along the side wall.

But to the left of the space was the crowning glory—a ridiculously large bathtub, crafted from the same white marble as the countertop. It looked incredibly inviting. But I had no intention of remaining naked any longer than I had to, even for the benign purpose of bathing. So the shower it was.

After thoroughly washing all of the grime and dirt and nasty scents of other wolves off my body, I slipped Leander’s T-shirt over my head. It was large, hanging down to the middle of my thighs. I pressed the soft cotton to my nose. Shit. It smelled like him. A shiver ran up and down my spine. I pushed it back and looked back down at the counter. And glorious day, there was a pair of new lacy white panties!

I jerked the tag off. Thank you, Sydney, whoever you are. I wiggled into them. Lastly, I slipped on the soft boxer shorts over my panties. They were too big, but I didn’t mind having more of my flesh covered. I could just hold them closed.

When I was fully dressed, I made quick use of the toilet, and wash my hands, brushed my teeth, rinsing with a small bottle of mouthwash I hadn’t noticed earlier in the basket. I faced the door and had to give myself a stern pep talk before I could force my hand to grab the handle, turn it and stepped out, closing the door behind me.

Leander was waiting. He sat in a large, comfortable looking chair, but my eyes zeroed in on the thing he held in his hand. It couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was! He stood to his feet and crossed the room until he was standing right in front of me.

I pointed and demanded, “What’s that?”

“A collar,” was his only reply.

“I can see that. Why are you holding it up in front of me with that dumbass look of expectation on your face?” I snapped.

“Because you’re going to wear it.” His tone didn’t fluctuate. It was as if he was just stating some random fact like the sun is yellow.

My heart pounded in my chest. The crazy Alpha had to be kidding.

“Oh, fuck no, I’m not!” I snarled. My Wolf in full agreement, appalled at the contraption he wanted to place around our neck.

“You are...whether you like it or not.” He took a step forward. “Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

I took an even more significant step back until I found the wall at my back and could go no farther.

He was serious!

Fury vibrated through me. I struggled to maintain control. “What the fuck is this?! Some kind of dominant shit? Roleplay? Do you get your rocks off imagining I’m your pet? Because I’m not doing it!”

A wicked grin made an appearance on his face. “While those are all good ideas and I like the way you think, no, none of those are the reason. You’ve made it clear you’re willing to die to escape, and I can’t have you doing something that’s going to end up with you hurt. So until you learn to behave, you will wear this.”

I narrowed my eyes. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I wish now I’d never said the words. I sputtered, “I’ll behave! There’s no need for that.”

He chuckled. “You’re a terrible liar.”

I put my hands on my hips. “And how, exactly, is some little trinket going to keep me here?” I studied the collar. It was actually quite pretty. Several smooth bluish-green stones were placed equal-distance around the black leather strap. Each stone was surrounded with swirls of silver and mounted into the collar.

“The collar is embedded with Moonstone and a silver additive, making it impossible for you to shift. You also won’t have the increased strength of your Wolf nature.” He stated all of those things as if they weren’t devastating to me.

My mouth dropped open. “You’re leaving me defenseless? In a pack of wolves that clearly don’t like me, and don’t want me here? What is this? Some sick game to see which Wolf in your pack can pick me off first? That is if they could get ahead of your father, which I doubt.” I added derisively.

“No,” he replied calmly. “You will be guarded at all times. You’ll be in no danger.”

I still wasn’t doing it. My hackles raised, my legs stiff. I sneered, “Is this how you treat all of your shewolves?”

“Prove to me that I can trust you and we’ll discuss it again.”

“How in the hell am I supposed to prove that?” I glared.

He smirked, “Use your imagination.”

I ground my teeth together. I wanted to smack that smirk right off his face.

He raised an eyebrow, recognizing my answer from my body language. “So it’s going to be the hard way then, huh?”

"Always the hard way with you.” I seethed. A low growl escaped my throat. I naturally sunk lower into a fighting stance.

Before I could even blink, he struck first. Lightning fast, he spun me around, trying to lock one arm around me to keep me in place leaving his other hand free to maneuver the collar.

I wasn’t that easily caught. My father trained me better. Raising my arms in the air, I let my body go limp and fell to the ground out of his hold. I rolled and came up striking fist first. Since I was coming right out of the spin, I wasn’t sure which body part I was going to make contact with I just knew he headed in my direction and I would hit something. I did. My fist cracked into his sternum. It was like impacting a rock. Motherfucker that hurt!

Before I can get another hit in, he lifted me and actually tossed me onto the bed! I squealed as I sailed through the air and bounced up and down twice when I hit the fluffy mattress.

I was on my back with Leander five feet away and headed in my direction with a look in his eyes I’d never seen before—it was pure desire, hot and flaming. If a look could burn, I’d be toast. His eyes glowed. He licked his lips. “I like the fight in you, little mouse.”

Shit. I lifted onto my hands and feet and tried to crab crawl backward only to find nowhere to go there either. In the next second, Leander was on top of me. I didn’t understand how someone so big could move so quickly and with such grace. But there he was, straddling my waist while I bucked and writhed and clawed beneath him. “Get off of me, you fucking asshole!” I screeched.

“Language,” he purred as he grabbed my hands and shifted his body forward so he could pin them down with his knees, placing him directly on my chest—putting his groin way too close to my face for comfort. In another few seconds, he had the collar wrapped around my neck and engaged the locking mechanism in the back.

I quit fighting and just panted, my eyes opened wide, still shocked by the sudden turn of events.

My Wolf was howling in a panic. She felt the restriction. She knew I couldn’t shift.

The look in his eyes changed to one of pain. He eased off of my hands, freeing my arms and slid back so that he was hovering over my waist instead of my chest. He supported most of his weight on his knees, so I didn’t feel it, but it was still impossible to move out from under him. His expression pained. “Let her see me.”

By this point, I realized arguing was futile and let my Wolf come into my eyes, the only place she could. His Wolf joined the party, eyes glowing deep and rich. Leander gently stroked the side of my face, his voice wavering slightly, “I’m sorry, sweet Wolf. I promise it won’t be forever. And I promise to keep you safe. On my life. I swear nothing will hurt you.”

She calmed beneath his touch. She wasn’t happy about it, but she trusted her mate.

That was a hell of a lot more than I could say, that’s for sure.

But I was happy he’d calmed her down. I was also still reeling from the softness in his tone, the emotion in his eyes, the sincerity in his voice. I didn’t understand him. At all.

He gently lifted off of me and stood to his feet, leaving me lying on the bed. “You should try to sleep. It’s been a long day.”

I jerked up into a sitting position, hands out defensively. “Oh, hell no. I’m not sleeping with you!”

He sighed heavily. “Little mouse, I’m not asking you to have sex. But I’m not letting you out my or Ever’s sight, and his mate might not take too kindly to you sharing their bed.”

An embarrassed flush crept up my cheeks. I was not at all comfortable when he talked about having sex with me, even if it was just to tell me it wasn’t his intention. It did something weird to me, caused a flutter deep in my belly that I would rather ignore than try to define. I locked down my muscles. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll try to kill you in your sleep?”

His eyebrows rose. And then his eyes narrowed. He stepped forward. It was just one step, but it felt menacing and dangerous. His voice was low and gruff, “Is that what you want? Me dead. Is that what your heart desires?”

My heart was currently racing in my chest and couldn’t answer. I was frozen, my tongue stuck to the top of my mouth.

He continued,” Do you really have it in you? Have you ever killed someone? Have you felt the life bleed out of them under your hands?”

A cold shiver ran up and down my spine.

He was scary as fuck when he wanted to be.

His tone turned into a disappointed sneer, “And now, you want to do it cowardly, while another Wolf sleeps? I haven’t known you long, but I never took you for a coward.”

Shame flowed through me. I wasn’t a coward. I knew the rules of engagement. If I was going to win, I didn’t want to do it by sneaking up on my enemy. I wanted to do it because I had the strength to back up my challenge. I pressed my lips together, refusing to speak.

He took my silence as my answer. “That’s what I thought. Now get comfortable. You must be tired.” He turned away and pulled his T-shirt over his head.

For a moment, everything in my mind went blank as I stared at his physique and the tattoos running across his back!

I sucked in a sharp breath, which must have caught his attention because he glanced over his shoulder at me as he pulled off his pants. He turned to face me, standing in only a pair of boxer shorts. My eyes glued to his chest and slowly made their way down his body. The designs on his chest were as amazing and intricate as the ones on his back.

Without thinking, I got to my knees and moved to the edge of the bed. I wanted only one thing. “Come here.”

A very low growl exuded from his chest. His nostrils flared, sucking in air and pushing it out. His violet eyes darkened, swirling with flecks of cerulean as he slowly crossed the room and stood in front of me.

I reached to trace the designs as I studied the artwork, moving my fingers steadily along the curves and hard indentions of his chest.

“Do you like what you see?” he asked huskily.

I breathed, ”Beautiful. The shading is amazing.” I spoke the truth. Whoever had done the work was a fantastic artist.

He stood perfectly still, but his hands clenched, muscles quivering beneath my touch everywhere my hand roamed. My fingers trail down, following the design as it flowed down the left side of his body to his abs. It was free, fluid with gentle curves. A combination of hard lines but also soft florals and swirls amidst dangerous embellished claws that looked more like art than paws. I was disappointed to realize the design disappeared down past his waistband where I could no longer see it.

And then I was shocked at what I had missed in my intensity of examining the details.

I gasped and heat radiated through me as I realized his boxers weren’t quite big enough to contain him, and the head of his cock poked up through the waistband, long and hard.

My chest heaved, unable to get enough air into my needy lungs.

I was a werewolf. I’d seen plenty of males, but not like this—never like this.

The bond wrecked me. Tingles flowed through my fingertips, straight into my core.

What was I doing?

I had no idea.

All I knew was that I wanted to see what was hidden. I wanted to know the rest of the design, the complete picture.

It was like someone else was speaking for me. Maybe my Wolf had finally figured out how to make my mouth work because the gravelly demand just slipped out, ”Show me.”

“Fuck,” he groaned under his breath. But there was no hesitation. He reached for the waistband of his boxers, opening them wide enough to clear his cock, pushed the fabric to his hips and then let the underwear fall to the floor.

I inhaled sharply. Fuck was right. He was shockingly beautiful, the perfect specimen of a male in every way. Long, with a wide girth and a thick tan, velvety head, the color matching the tones in his skin. My eyes traced the vein that ran along his length, inspecting the underside. I visually cataloged every detail in the deepest nook of my brain.

But I didn’t touch.

When I was finished visually feasting on Leander’s manhood, I resumed my inspection of the tattoo running down his left hip and thigh. The angle wasn’t quite right for me to see it properly, so I sat back on my heels bringing my head and eyes lower to inspect all of the details.

Another deep groan came from his chest. My eyes flickered up to find his. He stared down at me, his words barely audible, “You’re fucking killing me.” His dick twitched with his words, and I realized my lower position placed my head just about even with his cock.

I didn’t spend time dwelling on it, still too intent to complete the inspection I’d started. I traced each line of the design until it ended just above his knee.

The gravelly sounding voice came from my throat, “Turn around.”

Once again, he complied without hesitation, turning his body so that now I was about eye-to-eye with his ass. Which I could readily admit was as cut as the rest of him, firm and rounded.

I started the process from the back of his knee and worked my way up as the tattoo continued up the left side of his thigh, butt, and back.

My Wolf practically purred with contentment and curiosity. He may have put a collar on her, but he was certainly making an effort to make it up to her now, letting her visually enjoy every aspect of him.

It took several minutes for me to study all of the little details, pictures, and nuances, my fingers continuing to trace and draw along the lines.

When I reached his shoulders, he turned back around without my instruction, large hands finding my hips. He closed the small distance between us, his head coming down. His scent was even stronger, hickory and vanilla.

I inclined my head, sniffing at his neck.

He whispered gruffly in my ear, “Tell me what you want.”

His words startled me. What did I want?

Abruptly, the spell broke. I realized what I was doing. I inhaled sharply and pulled away, eyes wide. “I-I’m sorry...about...” I stuttered, my cheeks flaming with color.

I was shocked to find he wasn’t angry—I had just been the epitome of a cock tease. Instead, he gave a small knowing smile and reached down to pull his boxers up, adjusting his cock as he did so. He sat at the edge of the bed. It dipped down with his weight. His tone was wry, “Okay. Change in plans. After that little display, I’m going to need a shower.”

Not sure it was possible, but it felt like I flushed even redder.

“I’ve already let Ever go home, and I’m not leaving you alone, so you have two options. First, you can join me and watch me take care of this.” He palmed his still bulging crotch. As if I wasn’t already acutely aware what he meant.

Nope. No way. That wasn’t happening.

“What’s the other option?” I croaked.

“I can leash you to the bed.”

I stared at him blankly, not sure I’d heard him correctly. Apparently, we were both on a visual demonstration kick because he leaned and pulled out a fucking leash from the nightstand to show me!

“I hadn’t planned on using it, but wanted to have it on hand in case something like this came up.”

I shook my head so hard, it almost hurt and sputtered, “No, absolutely not.”

“So you’re joining me in the shower then? Good. I like that option better too. It will give me some time to show you exactly how I like to be stroked.” He rubbed along his crotch for another visual aid.

Was the crazy fucker just out of his mind?!

The wicked smile on his face told me he was very lucid and knew exactly what he was doing!

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