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The look of desperation etched in Brinley’s eyes, had me on edge.

She’d been calm, sitting next to me, talking.

And then she wasn’t calm anymore…

She jumped to her feet, hissing, “No!” Her Wolf near the surface, her outlined blurred, she paced like a wild animal caught in a cage.

I tried to speaking soothingly. “I’ll be okay...I promise you.”

She spun to face me, “No! That’s not what I’m talking about!”

I blinked, confused by her words. I assumed she was worried about my sparring with three Onyx Moon warriors. What else was there? I replayed our conversation in my mind, trying to find the cause of her distress. What had I missed?

She didn’t wait for me to figure it out. She ranted on, “It doesn’t matter if you can beat three, or even more, wolves in a fight because no matter what, the odds are not in your favor! Not when the fight is against your father. I can’t let you do this. I won’t! You’re not going to die because of me!”

The irony.

It was the same thing I’d said about her for weeks.

Tears coursed down her cheeks, “I’m sorry...but I will not be your mate!”

And then she ran.

Her words washed over me like ice, stunning me for a moment.

My Wolf howled and raged.

She had run from him…

…she had rejected him!

And then she had run from him!

Unacceptable. Not now. Not anymore.

In this moment, he and I were in complete agreement. I could have understood if Brinley didn’t want to be with me because of the damage I’d done. But I knew now that she did want me. Her hurt and anger were still there. I still had much to make up for. But her small tokens of affection, the shy smile, and placing herself near me, proved she wanted more. She wanted to try.

What I wouldn’t accept was her rejection based on fear. I had already seen how much damage my fear had done to our relationship. I wasn’t going to make another mistake. Not now. And letting her walk away from me would have been the greatest mistake of my life.

Without another word, I walked out of the room.

Brinley’s scent was easy to follow as I made my way up one flight of stairs and then another...

Was she hiding in the attic?

When I reached a landing, four doors lined the hallway. In three long strides, I reached the room she was in. I hoped the door wasn’t locked. If it was, I had no intention of knocking. I would just remove it from my way. Gripping the knob, I focused my energy on not tearing it off and turned. It was unlocked.

I took a step into the darkened space and pulled the door shut behind me. My steely gaze never left Brinley’s lithe form, but a quick note of my surroundings from my peripheral vision revealed a large bed, dresser, and sitting area. We were in a bedroom. Convenient.

The shades were drawn, keeping out the daylight and sealing in the dark. Brinley hadn’t turned on any lamps, but I didn’t need light to see her perfectly in the shadows.

Standing across the room, she trembled. Her hair had dried from her earlier shower and hung in silky waves, framing her round face. Big doe eyes stared at me warily.

I prowled in her direction, very slowly. “Take a good look at me, little wolf. Really see me,” my voice was husky and deep. “Because you are going to learn exactly who I am.”

My promise held an underlying warning. Hopefully, she was paying attention and understood I would stop at nothing to ensure it.

Brinley sucked in a breath and raised her hand, palm facing me. “Stop! I’m not changing my mind. I meant what I said.” Behind her false bravado, I heard a slight tremor in her voice.

My mouth curved into a wicked grin. My Wolf licked his lips. She hadn’t paid attention to my subtle warning. She didn’t know me, not yet. But she would. Soon.

A deep growl rolled through my chest. I asked huskily, “So you want to play hard to get?”

Maybe her way was better.

We loved nothing more than the hunt, the challenge of the pursuit, and the sweetness of our prize.

“What?! No...that’s not what I...” her words cut off abruptly, as I reached her, stepping right into her personal space. Mere inches separated our bodies. But I didn’t touch her. Not yet.

She stared up at me with wide green eyes, her heart racing.

I took a step forward, forcing her to step back. She needed to learn her place. And that was wherever I wanted her. Another step forward. Another step back. Her breaths came short and shallow.

I leaned down to her neck and inhaled deeply. Moonlit glow and the sweet floral of lilacs.

Brinley couldn’t help herself. Her little nose raised, sniffing back at me. She shuddered from head to toe, the unmistakable delicious scent of her want releasing into the air.

My nostrils flared, breathing in the tantalizing aroma. My tone was low and guttural, almost unrecognizable to my ears, more animal than man, ”You’re mine.”

The words were softly spoken, but reeked of danger should she disagree. Surprisingly, she tried to disagree and whispered, “We...can’t...”

I grasped her hips and jerked her body forward, flush against my chest.

“Oh!” she let out a startled gasped, chest heaving.

My lips grazed the skin on her neck where my mark would be. I said huskily, “Your words might have more effect if the air wasn’t thick with the sweet scent of your desire.”

A beautiful blush spread across her cheeks. My Wolf called to hers, puffing out his chest, snarling his dominance. Her Wolf responded instantly. She was more than ready. She’d already gone belly up and squirmed with anticipation, begging for us to take her.

Her skin side wasn’t so willing…


Brinley argued, but her voice quivered, “Let me...go. I...I mean it.” She writhed against me, trying to break my grip.

That just caused the hardening in my pants to increase tenfold. Our little mate was stubborn. Brinley should have listened to my unspoken warning. I wasn’t going to hold back anymore.

Reaching down, I palmed her femininity between her legs, holding her tight.

“Ah!!” a sharp gasp came from her lungs. She stopped fighting me, her chest heaving. Her entire body quivered.

I turned our bodies and forced her to walk backward toward the bed. She stumbled slightly, but my grip on the apex between her legs, kept her exactly where I wanted her.

My voice was low and husky, “I can feel your wetness through the fabric.” To emphasize my words, I curled my fingers, tickling her intimately.

“Coal!” she cried out.

More, more, more!

Make her scream it!

My wolf howled in my head.

The back of her calves bumped up against the side of the bed. I moved my hand out from between her thighs and lifted her onto the soft surface, climbing on top of her.

Using my knee to nudge her legs open, I settled between them, pinning her down with my hips.

I groaned deeply, damn the clothing in our way.

Brinley’s eyes were wide open. She panted hard. I could hear her heart beating frantically.

"Mine!” I growled again and crashed my lips to hers. This wasn’t a sweet and slow kiss, showing her my love. It was fierce and punishing, proof of my dominance.

Sparks flew between us at our touch.

I nipped at her bottom lip, causing the tiniest of cuts.

Brinley gasped in surprise, giving me the opening I wanted into her mouth. I wasted no time. My tongue darted out, meeting hers. Tasting everything she had to offer, committing every detail of her lips and mouth to memory.

I bucked my hips slowly, grinding into her core, letting her know what I wanted, what I was going to do to her.

She pulled out of the kiss and thrashed her head from side to side, biting her lip to keep in her exclamations of pleasure. I could strip of her of her restraint. If I wanted, she would scream my name, even with our clothes on. But I hadn’t forgotten we had an audience a few stories down. That wolf did not need to hear her screams, even if they were for me.

Brinley’s fight was completely forgotten. No more arguments rose from her lips. Her hands came up and curled through my hair, gripping my head tightly, pulling my hair.

I rolled my hips into her again.

Her back arched and her little claws came out. I heard fabric rip apart as she tore open the back of my shirt, her claws eagerly finding purchase in my skin, scoring lines down my flesh. The scent of my blood released into the air.

I growled loudly. So, she liked it rough.

Fuck yes! My wolf exclaimed.

He couldn’t wait to feel her little fingers digging into his fur. He was all for, her being as rough as she pleased, with him. I smirked. Maybe the Moon did know a thing or two about compatibility in mates.

Getting back on track.

“Let’s get one thing straight, right now. I know our situation is tough. Okay, more than tough, it’s fucked up,” I admitted with a small grimace. My fingers ran the length of her leg, pulling her knee so that it wrapped around my waist. I needed her assurances. I wanted her commitment, and I would do whatever it took to secure it.

My voice dropped low and seductive. “But I am more than willing to take you, right here and right now, to get you to understand you belong to me.”

Yes! I want to fuck her!

Fuck her now!

My Wolf’s demands crashed into my brain.

I shook my head just slightly, trying to clear his thoughts. He was out of his mind he thought I was going to shift and let him take over. His savage nature would break her in two. She was nowhere near ready for him. He would have his time soon enough.

Mossy green orbs stared back at me in shock, trying to gauge if I was serious. My voice was thick with emotion, ”I’m done playing games. I’m all in. I’m not gonna hold back, not again, not for any reason. And I’m done fighting alone. The Moon made us to be together. We’re stronger together...if we would just let ourselves be.”

Tears filled her eyes. Her mouth moved to form words, but none came out.

I gently wiped them away from her cheeks with the pads of my thumbs, and kissed her lips, softly and tenderly this time. “This is what I should have done that first night. I should have run to you and told you how I felt.”

A lump rose up in my throat. I struggled to get the words out, “I’m so fucking sorry I hurt you. For as long as I live, I will hate myself for what I did to you.”

Brinley’s expression changed. Little hands cupped my cheeks, and she spoke fiercely, showing me the fire inside of her that I loved so much, “Coal, I understand now why you did what you did. Yes, you hurt me. But I see now you were hurting too. I can forgive the choices you made. I can forgive you.”

It felt like a weight lifted. Tension bled from my shoulders. I was so overwhelmed by the feeling I had to bite back a sob of my own. Fuck, I was such a pussy. But I didn’t care.

…as long as I had her.

Brinley bit her lip, worry clouding her eyes. She whispered, “I’m still scared.”

I lifted off of her and sat back on my knees. Pulling her into a sitting position, I gathered her in my arms, tucking her close to my body, between my open thighs. “I know, sweetheart, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid as well. But I meant it when I said we were stronger together. From now on, we fight the battle together. Because you’re worth it. You’re everything to me.”

I kissed her again, slow and deep. She held to me tightly.

As much as I wanted to continue, I didn’t actually intend our first time to be here or under these circumstances. And unfortunately, our first time was going to have to wait for awhile, because there was no way I could be that close to her and not mark her, not complete the mate bond. My wolf simply wouldn’t allow it. If we were inside of her, he would make her ours.

No, until we had a plan, we couldn’t be found out, which meant marking and mating with her would have to wait.

I pulled back. Brinley whined at the loss. I smiled, “We have to go back downstairs now.”

Her face fell into an adorable pout, but she nodded her head yes. I reluctantly released her and lifted from the bed. My shirt was now useless, hanging open in the back, so I slipped it from my arms and dropped it into a nearby trash basket.

Her eyes went wide with shock, and she gasped, “Did I do that?”

My lips curled into a wicked smirk. “Oh, yes, little wolf, you certainly did.”

Pink flushed through her cheeks, her mouth curved into a shocked ’O’. She whispered, “Turn around.”

I happily accommodated her. I knew what she would find. I healed fast, but not that fast. My back would still show the stripes of her desire.

“Oh!” she squeaked.

I chuckled low and deep, and turned back to face her. I held my hand out to help her from the bed. She shook her head and breathed, “No...we can’t go back down there...not when you look like that!”

I tried to contain my smug smile. I was more than happy to let Langdon see what she had done to me. As a matter of fact, I would enjoy it immensely. And besides, she had no choice.

I snatched her up in my arms, cradling her to my chest and nuzzled into her neck, “We can’t hide up here forever. Now, you can either walk like a good girl or I would be happy to carry you.”

Brinley flushed again, and shuddered hard, her voice raspy, “, put me down, I can...walk.”

I wasn’t entirely sure. She was still trembling as I set her on her feet. I stayed close to make sure she didn’t topple over the minute I let go. She stood for a second, getting her bearings and then gritted her teeth, taking my hand.

I bit back a laugh as we made our way back into the living room. When we walked through the door, Darcie looked up at us pleasantly, her mouth curved into a knowing grin.

I was beginning to love that shewolf, even if she was Langdon’s mother. She had helped Brinley through pain and heartache, even the pain I had caused, and I would be forever grateful for her wisdom and compassion.

Langdon’s expression, on the other hand, was not quite so pleased. He looked like someone had just forced him to eat a raw lemon.

I gave him a slow grin.

His eyes narrowed, and then a smirk appeared on his lips as he said, “I spoke with two other Enforcers in my pack. They are more than happy to accommodate my request to kick your ass.”

My Wolf met his feral grin.

He was excited about the prospect.

They hadn’t seen him fight yet.

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