By first light the next morning Raef had recovered enough to continue their journey. Tarienne bullied him into one more healing session before they left to ensure he had strength enough for the ride. He rolled his eyes at her fussing but conceded that it would make the days travelling easier.
The final leg of their journey lead them up the cold, grey side of the mountain where they would find the caves one of which held the object of their journey the Golden stone. The path was steep and winding, on one side a narrow, grassy plain, on the other a sheer drop down to a rocky bottomed, fast moving, river.
The river, a subsidiary of the River Arnon bubbled and swirled through the narrow course edged with black stone worn smooth by the constant thrashing of the water against its walls. Jagged rocks poked up through the water dividing the river’s path, creating millions of white bubbles as it hurtled along its way. In the distance they could hear the thunder of a waterfall. Tarienne urged Lacey well away from the edge, her fear of heights causing her pulse to race.
Moving up beside her Daien gifted her with his heart stopping smile, speaking into her mind.
Are you alright?
Tarienne smiled, their connection so strong he’d felt her anxiety.
Yes, I just dislike heights.
Without a word Daien dropped his stallion behind her reining it in between her and the drop. His thoughtfulness brought dampness to her eyes.
Did I tell you today, how much I love you?
His eyes darkened.
Yes, but I will never tire of hearing it. I love you too and always will.
Returning their attention to scanning the area for danger Tarienne marvelled at how fortunate she was to have her fierce yet tender warrior. She couldn’t help but smile at the contradiction that was Daien. A battle hardened warrior with a gentle heart who could kill a man but make such tender passionate love to her that it brought her to tears. Fearsomely possessive and loyal he also had a wild side and a wicked sense of humour. And he was hers. Her heart clenched as she watched him astride his powerful black stallion. He turned to her as if sensing her gaze and blew her a kiss. Her insides melting she smiled as his scrutiny returned to scanning for any sign of trouble, knowing that only she had the power to destroy the control that he so prided himself on.
All now on high alert they expected the caves to be guarded and lookouts to either report their approach or intercept them. Raef swept the area with his heightened magical senses more disturbed than relieved that he could not identify any immediate threat. There appeared to be no trackers or sentries monitoring their approach. Pulling their horses to a halt the group scanned the tree line. Still nothing. They exchanged worried glances. It was too quiet. Raef closed his eyes as he sensed a frisson of magic but then it was gone. Frowning he attwmpted to locate it again but it disappeared as quickly as it came.
Starting off again they moved slowly. Without warning a black blur ran parallel to them close to the edge of the precipice. A huge, midnight black wolf shot out startling the horses and their riders.Lacey panicked, screaming as she took off galloping as fast as she could away from the creature. Tarienne frantically tried to calm her and pull her to a halt but Lacey thundered on, eyes rolling, ears back, her side flecked with foam from her frothing mouth. Her sides heaved with the terror of seeing the wolf so close.
Tarienne’s breath came in gasps, her heart thundered and her arms ached with the effort of trying to hold her mare back. Managing to lean forward over Lacey’s neck she spoke calming words into her mares ear. She lifted her eyes as Lacey began to respond barely suppressing a scream. They were hurtling toward the edge of the cliff. Terror coursed through her. Yanking on the reins as hard as she could, Tarienne shrieked.
“Lacey. Stop. Please! Oh Gods. Nooooo!”
The huge wolf blocked the path of Aidan, Daien and Raef meeting their eyes with its wolfish stare. The standoff lasted only moments as Raef roared commandingly.
“Let us pass, Wolf. We must stop her.”
Raef stiffened when the animal did not move preparing to unleash his magic to shift the creature. The wolf hesitated then his form shimmered, golden sparks radiating from his body. He shifted into a tall, muscled and very naked man. His skin was tanned, his black hair, short and spiky and his eyes a bright ice blue. Moving aside he shouted at them.
“Hurry, there’s a precipice ahead.”
Raef kicked his stallion into action his heart thumping hard. His mind sought Tarienne’s thought pattern letting her know they were coming. There was no response he prayed that the reason was she was too busy wrestling against Lacey’s frenzied trajectory.
Daien spurred his horse forward, Aidan hard on his heels. Daien vaguely registered the man begin to shimmer again as he shifted but Daien’s focus was forward his stallion flying across the stones and grass of the narrow plain. Finally he spotted Lacey standing at the edge of the cliff but Tarienne was nowhere to be seen. Daien’s heart slammed against his ribs as he launched himself from his horse before it came to a complete stop, scrambling to the edge. Leaning over the precipice on his belly he frantically called her name. Rational thought fled in the wake of the terror that engulfed him. A sob escaped his lips as an unearthly cry reverberated through the air.
The waterfall thundered hundreds of feet down onto jagged rocks. Daien’s voice was swept away by the sound of the pounding water. His face wet from the spray he thumped his forehead into the wet grass in desperation. Incensed and driven by grief, he felt rather than heard the changeling approach and sprang up, attacking the creature that had caused this. Drawing his knife from his boot in one swift motion he launched himself at the beast. The wolf snarling and snapping, it’s vicious teeth bared, Daien swung his arm in an arc attempting to sink his knife into its flank. Rolling over and over, fur and man and blood blurred into one.
Despite his fury, Daien was much smaller than the huge midnight black wolf. It could have easily ripped his throat out with its viciously sharp teeth, instead it chose not to bite Daien just protect itself. Daien was beyond caring driven by fury and despair blending into a mix that removed any rational thought or control.
Instead of intervening Raef closed his eyes searching for Tarienne attempting to contact her with his mind voice. He knew that locating her was the only thing that would calm Daien. Raef swallowed hard driving back the same despair that he knew Daien felt. Finally her mind voice faint and filled with pain penetrated his brain. She moaned in agony but she lived. Relaxing a fraction he sent a calming pulse through their sibling connection.
We’re coming, Sweetling. Hold on.
He shouted, pure authority lacing his voice
“Desist immediately, Ren needs you. She is alive somewhere down the side of the cliff. WOLF, stop fighting now!”
The wolf’s eyes met Raef’s. Daien faltered as Raef’s words penetrated his anger fogged brain. The wolf jumped back out of reach cautiously eyeing Daien his stance indicating his readiness to defend himself if attacked again.A nick on the animal’s ear left a trickle of blood dripping down his muzzle.
Daien sank to the damp grass panting, his arm bleeding, the knife still clutched tightly in his fist. So tightly that this knuckles were white. Releasing his grip the knife fell silently to the ground.
He dropped his head into his hands then raised his eyes rational thought slowly returning.
“Where is she?”
Glancing across at Aidan he realised that Aidan’s sword was in his hand ready to fight the wolf if he was needed. Daien was grateful for Aidan’s friendship and unquestioning support. Sheathing his sword Aidan offered his hand yanking Daien to his feet.
The wolf once again shimmered into a naked man, his body reshaping itself and strode wordlessly into the bushes. Moments later her returned dressed in black, leather trousers and a torn grey shirt. This was no time to ask why his clothes were stashed near the precipice but there would be time later Aidan thought eyeing the changeling with suspicion. Turning his attention back to Daien and Raef they all crawled to the edge searching for Tarienne. Aidan carefully scanned each ledge his pulse thumping in his ears, fear for Tarienne escalating his breathing. A cry slipped from him when he spotted her. Pointing about a third of the way down to the right.
“There she is.”
Tarienne was hanging by one hand. At first Aidan thought she was gripping a huge thorn but he realised with a surge of horror that her hand was impaled on it. Her feet scrambled for purchase on the slippery cliff face attempting to take the pressure off her bloodied hand. Shaken by the sight, Aidan could only imagine the torture of supporting her entire body weight with her impaled hand. An involuntary shudder racked his body and his heart ached for her. Compassion for Daien threaded through him and he rested his hand reassuringly on Daien’s shoulder.
“We’ll get her back.”
Daien’s desperate eyes met Aidan’s, searching for the truth in his words.
Raef shouted down to her to determine if she was lucid. The thunder of the waterfall was too loud for her to hear them so they resorted to using their mind voices. Tarienne was almost too weak and distracted by the pain to focus on their words. She hung there obviously in excruciating pain unable to take the weight off her hand because the side of the cliff was slick and almost completely sheer save for a few narrow ledges and nicks in the rock.
She barely heard Daien’s voice penetrate her mind through the fog of pain.
I’m coming for you. Hold on. I love you.
Vaguely registering a rope dropping down, the sound of someone scrambling down the side of the cliff reached her ears. Managing to bend her head to her shoulder when some small stones dislodged and hurtled toward her face she screwed her eyes shut against the agony shooting down her arm. Raef spoke to her constantly to distract her and keep her conscious while they held the rope for Daien’s descent but the blackness pulled at her.
Drifting in and out of consciousness she dreamed fitfully of tumbling over the edge of the cliff after managing to yank Lacey to an abrupt stop. Hurtling over Lacey’s head she’d scrambled to grab onto something, anything, as she’d plunged down the cliff face. The terror of her fall engulfed her again as it tumbled through her confused thoughts replaying the trauma of her body smashing like a rag doll into the protruding edges of sharp rocks until she was battered and bleeding.
When she’d glimpsed a huge thorn anchored into the side of the cliff she’d thrust her hand out to grab it. She had no recollection of how she’d missed and skewered her hand instead. Now she hung there close to her full weight supported by the one hand impaled on the thorn. The only other brace a small niche in the rock that she’d located for her left foot. Blood trickled down her arm and she could no longer feel her hand. The pain shooting down her arm however was so intense that she fought to stay conscious, listening to Raef’s calm voice drifting across her mind.
Daien eased himself down the sheer cliff face, his hands threatening to slip on the rope wet from the fine spray rising from the waterfall striking the rocks below. His eyes did not stray from his woman. The woman who had saved him from himself. Letting her die was not an option.Daien’s teeth clenched with frustration as he noted the bright, red blood oozing down her arm, unable to do anything about it. Her beautiful face was contorted in pain, her eyes were glazed. When Daien reached her she was barely conscious. His heart ached, his throat tightened with unshed tears. He needed to be strong for her so he pulled in several deep breaths seeking a semblance of his usual inner calm. and contacted Aidan and Raef asking them to let the rope out slowly so he could move closer to her.
Bracing himself his legs either side of her limp and battered body Daien leaned in gently gathering Tarienne to him. Supporting her weight Daien attempted to snap the giant, wickedly barbed thorn. Tarienne screamed and went completely limp in his arms. An involuntary tremor shook his body. Daien hated that he’d hurt her but took advantage of her unconscious state sliding her hand slowly off the thorn. Desperately wishing that he could bandage it immediately to arrest the bleeding he planted a gentle kiss on her cheek and secured her to his chest wrapping his arms protectively around her flaccid body.
I have her, pull us up, slowly.
Distantly aware of another, unfamiliar presence, listening Daien shoved the feeling aside and concentrated on ensuring that Tarienne did not bump into the cliff face while they moved upwards with painstaking slowness. Keeping his legs either side of her he repelled off the jagged wall when it threatened to pummel the woman he loved.
When they neared the edge a hand reached down and the face that followed was that of the changeling in his human form. Daien hesitated for a moment but now was not the time. Reaching out he firmly clasped the changeling’s hand hauling both himself and Tarienne back onto solid ground. The minute they were over the edge Aidan and Raef dropped the rope, rushing to her side.
Raef swore at the sight of Tarienne’s hand and her battered and bruised body.
“We’re going to need a fire and we can’t light one here. We’ll have to head back into the forest so we can tend her wounds safely.”
The changeling spoke.
“I know where there’s a cave that’s safe, if you’ll trust me.”
“What is your name, Changeling?”
Raef towered over him. He knew that this changeling was powerful and sensed that he had magic but Raef was angry enough to use his height and power to intimidate him. Barely holding on to his outward calm the fury usually triggered by battle threatened to consume him. Raef snapped and was aware of Aidan and Daien eyeing him warily.
“Why should we trust you? You caused this.”
Tere knew that this was his fault and he truly wished to help. He did not hesitate to respond hoping that his willingness would inspire their confidence in him. His words came tumbling out anxious that he gain their trust.
“My name is Tere. I am not with the local pack ruled by Lacas. They’re trying to kill me. I was escaping from them when I saw you. I didn’t mean to scare your friend’s horse and I’m truly sorry that I caused this. Let me help you. Please.”
“Lacas is dead.”
The tall, powerfully built, blonde man, that Tere assumed was their leader, responded in a flat tone.
“I know this, because I killed him as he attempted to rape my sister.”
Tere doubted the words only for the briefest of moments. He met the cold blue of the man’s eyes and knew the truth. Hedidn’t feel the joy and relief that he’d expected to at the news. Glancing around the others he saw them nod in silent acknowledgement. The leader turned back to Tere and in a voice laced with authority he commanded.
“Take us to your cave.”
Daien mounted his stallion and Aidan and Raef lifted Tarienne carefully into the saddle in front of him. He looped his arm around her pulling her limp body into him so that she rested with her head on his shoulder. Daien carefully tucked her injured limb into her shirt to protect it until they could tend it properly. Urging his horse forward to follow Tere who now loped ahead of them in his wolf form Daien heard a warning penetrate his thoughts.
Remain alert, the wolf might yet betray us.
Less than half an hour later they had passed through a heavily wooded area on the side of the mountain and taken a sharp turn down and to the left of the waterfall. The extremely narrow path spiralled around until they came to a partially concealed cave mouth. The opening was large enough to allow the horses to enter when they had cleared the bracken away.Once inside Raef carefully gathered a still unconscious Tarienne from Daien’s arms. Daien slid from his mount scooping her close unwilling to be parted from her for longer than necessity dictated. Holding her tenderly he kissed her cheek softly then waited for Aidan and Raef to create a bed.
After piling blankets on top of some soft, dry moss they’d found near the cave entrance Daien carefully lowered Tarienne, her limp body flowing onto the makeshift bed. Aidan lit a small fire in the corner of the cave, tending it carefully to ensure that it produced as little smoke as possible. Raef knelt beside his injured sister deep concern mirrored in his eyes. Briefly he turned to Aidan, speaking a few soft unfamiliar words directing any smoke the fire produced so that it wafted slowly down the tunnel at the back of the cave. Aidan nodded his thanks grabbing some dried meat from his pack to begin a meal. Daien rummaged in his sack and produced his water bottle, a bowl and a clean cloth so they could cleanse Tarienne’s wound. They worked together silently, understanding what was needed without words.
Carefully washing her broken and bloodied hand Daien gritted his teeth holding back his brittle emotions. What he really wanted was to beat Tere to a pulp. He also wanted to cradle Tarienne in his arms and never let her go. Raking his free hand through his damp hair his gaze searched Raef’s expression for clues on Tarienne’s condition as he gently probed his sister’s arm to determine the extent of her injuries. A tight knot formed in Daien’s stomach. This couldn’t be happening again. Biting back a curse, Daien waited.
Raef’s face drew into a worried frown. Seeing his beloved sister in so much pain forced the battle hardened warrior in him to his knees. He pulled in a deep breath to steady his shaking hands and probed with his sensory magic. Holding a death like grip on their sibling bond he sent soothing words through their connection into Tarienne’s subconscious. Unbelievably her muscles were strained but her arm was not broken. A trickle of relief lessened the anger simmering beneath the veneer of his outer calm.
Raef pulled in another deep breath. A large hole in the middle of her palm where the thorn had been was surrounded by torn skin and muscles and the small bones in her hand were shattered. Pushing his magic through her Raef felt the cuts and bruises respond but her hand showed no improvement. Frowning he sat back on his heels. Daien met his worried glance, his brow furrowed with concern.
“I can’t heal her!”
Aidan turned from the fire where he was stirring the stew.
“What do you mean?”
Raef launched to his feet in frustration.
“There’s something I can’t identify holding back the healing process.”
Tere moved up from where he had been standing at the front of the cave. The three men turned to him as one.
He offered quietly.
“It was planted there with magic how else would it have held her up? It’s likely changeling magic. Will you allow me to try?”
Daien leapt to his feet circling around Raef, standing nose to nose with Tere.
“You will not touch her, Wolf!”
Aidan and Raef intercepted him. Aidan growled.
“Peace, Daien, he’s trying to help.”
Daien whipped round to argue but at that moment Tarienne’s body shuddered and she coughed violently. Daien sprang to her quickly raising her into a sitting position. Settling himself behind her his legs either side of her body his arms wrapped protectively around her. Anger faded to concern and Daien locked away his malice toward Tere, for now.
“It’s alright, Sweetheart. I’ve got you. Lean into me.”
The coughing subsided quickly and Tarienne’s eyes flicked open, glazed but fully aware. Raef bent down feeling her forehead, gently prodding a red welt likely caused by a sharp rock during her descent down the cliff face. Checking her eyes for any signs of a head injury he was pleased to see her green eyes gazing back at him both clear and alert.
“Welcome back, Sweetling.”
Daien’s body visibly relaxed when he realised that Tarienne was conscious. Raef couldn’t help but admire the tenderness with which Daien treated his sister and had been impressed at his courage, fighting Tere’s wolf. Lowering himself to the ground he linked his fingers with Tarienne’s good hand.
“Aidan has made you some tea. Drink, Sweetling, to ease your pain.”
Managing a weak smile, Tarienne accepted the herbal tea. She sniffed identifying the pain killing herbs she’d taught him to blend. Her eyes trailed to Raef then she jumped almost spilling the hot liquid over herself when her eyes met the ice blue eyes of the stranger behind him. Immediately recognising him as a changeling and the wolf that had spooked Lacey her hand began to shake involuntarily.
Daien tightened his grip around her waist and pulled her closer, speaking close to her ear.
“It’s alright, Sweetheart. I have you.”
Turning slightly so she could see Daien’s face her thumping heart slowed a little and her shaking eased. Daien kissed her cheek lightly and she relaxed back into him taking a sip of the warm, soothing tea.Her trust in him implicit.
Raef rubbed his thumb gently across the back of her hand as she focused on her brother feeling a little confused. Releasing her hand and standing to stretch Raef explained.
“His name is, Tere. He helped us rescue you from the cliff face. He also showed us this cave where we could safely tend your wounds.”
Daien growled behind her.
“We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t scared Lacey!”
Aidan threw him a sharp look.
Raef motioned to Tere to come forward. Tarienne felt rather than heard Daien growl against her back like an alpha wolf protecting his territory. Placing her uninjured hand over the one Daien had wrapped around her she caressed it lightly. Daien settled immediately and she tipped her head back to claim a chaste kiss. The love that shone through his eyes warmed her filling her with a sense of tranquillity.
Tere stepped closer, hunkering down so that he could meet Tarienne at eye level.
“Forgive me, I did not mean to startle your mare. I am Tere, from the Inare wolf pack, many miles west of here. I am pleased to make your acquaintance ...”
He paused. No-one had actually given him their names as yet. Tarienne responded graciously,despite the pain and exhaustion etched across her face.
“I am, Tarienne.”
Her eyes sought Raef’s. Raef nodded almost imperceptibly and she continued, introducing them each in turn.”
This is my brother, Raef, over there is Aidan and behind me is Daien.”
Daien nuzzled her neck possessively, a gesture of ownership, not lost on Tere.
Tarienne knew better than to tell Tere too much yet. If he had known Aidan was a King and Raef and herself Crown Prince and Princess of the Fae he may attempt to use that information against them.
Tere nodded at each of the men then focused his attention back on Tarienne.
“Your brother is having some difficulty healing your wound because the thorn that caused it was, I believe forged with changeling magic. I’d like to help.”
Tarienne met his eyes carefully assessing this stranger. He was very handsome and somehow familiar, his bronzed skin contrasted with his shiny black hair and ice blue eyes. His arms were muscled and she suspected the rest of him would be too. Her gaze returned to his face his full lips curving into a smile at her examination. His eyes sparkled with mischief. He did not flinch from her scrutiny holding still while she let her magic judge him. He did however look mildly amused when Daien scowled at him. Tarienne pressed herself back against Daien, reassuring him.
“If you’re willing to try healing my hand I would appreciate it, however, you need to know that Raef will monitor what you are doing.”
“I’m willing given that I inadvertently caused your injury but your brother can be the only one here while I’m doing this.”
He looked pointedly at Daien and Tarienne felt Daien’s anger surge. Caressing the back of Daien’s hand she responded.
“Alright, but could you all give Daien and I a moment alone, please?”
They rose, traipsing outside and Daien curled around, taking her chin in one hand planting a hot, wet kiss on her lips before she could speak.
She smiled at him weakly.
“We can’t finish what we have begun if I’m not well enough to help. I’ll hold you all back, you know this. Remember I love you, my Daien and let Tere try to heal me, please. Raef will be here to ensure he doesn’t do anything other than heal me and you will be just outside.”
Daien started to protest then decided against it nodding instead.
“You are my heart and soul. I will acquiesce to this only so you can be well again.”
Easing himself away he kneeled to look deeply into wide, green eyes filled with love. He sighed kissing her tenderly again before rising to leave. When he reached the cave entrance he looked back at the woman he loved more than he could ever have believed possible and blew her a kiss. Catching it with her good hand she held it to her heart. Daien brushed through the tendrils of ivy hiding the entrance to the cave and found himself incapable of holding back the glare he aimed at Tere. Aidan rested his hand on Daien’s shoulder.
“She’s in good hands. Raef wouldn’t let anything happen.”
Daien looked up grateful for his friends words.
“I just can’t help feeling that something’s not quite right.”
Raef and Tere entered the cave together lowering themselves to the hard, dusty cave floor beside Tarienne. Tere held his hand out in invitation and Tarienne nervously lifted her injured hand, placing it in his. She flinched at the first tingle of his magic but when she met his eyes, a gentle smile curved her lips.
Tere’s pulse beat erratically as he met the gaze of this breathtakingly beautiful woman. Tearing his eyes away he focused his attention on her hand his fingers and magic gently probing, feeling the extent of the damage. Unconsciously he swirled his scent around her to calm her but hearing Raef growl a warning, he quickly withdrew it sending Tarienne an apologetic glance. However he had noticed that his natural fragrance had affected her more than he’d anticipated. Her eyes refused to leave his face. His pulse skittered and his body tightened. Returning his attention to her hand, Tere circled his fingers lightly around the wound. Gently massaging her hand to stimulate the blood flow, he released small amounts of magic into the damaged bone and muscle. Suddenly his wolf senses scented her arousal. Tere paused meeting her scrutiny. A slow burn seared his loins.
Glancing at Raef, Tere realised that he was unaware of the interaction so he carefully wrapped another tiny wisp of his scent around her. When Tarienne sucked in a little breath Tere’s heart thumped hard. What the hell was he doing? He swore silently when his body hardened in response. This was definitely going to be a problem! With difficulty he once again refocused his attention on healing Tarienne’s hand fighting the attraction.
The intense concentration required to heal her wound eased his arousal. That is until Tarienne spoke in what sounded to him like sultry tones.
“Raef could you get me some water please. I’m so thirsty?”
Raef rose immediately, exiting the cave to fulfil her request. The moment Raef was out of sight, Tarienne slipped her hand onto Tere’s thigh. Sliding her thumb up and down perilously close to his groin.
She whispered, her eyes were dark with arousal. Tere badly wanted to lean in and take her lips. When his body hardened painfully again he growled deep in his throat. Tarienne licked her lips and Tere shook with the effort of resisting the temptation to kiss her.
When Raef re-entered with the water she’d requested she slipped her hand back into her lap and gratefully accepted the cool liquid. Tarienne closed her eyes allowing the water to slide down her parched throat and Tere swallowed hard pulling in a few steadying breaths.
Raef’seyes flicked over Tarienne’s hand now partially healed and nodded at Tere.
“It is looking good. Thank you, Tere.”
Tere finished the healing session certain that Raef could sense the tension emanating from him. When Tarienne’s eyes fluttered closed Tere moved away and stomped outside, needing some fresh air.
Tarienne drifted off to sleep, free of pain and totally exhausted. When she woke a few hours later chocolate brown eyes were watching her, full of concern. Smiling lovingly at Daien he moved closer to capture her lips. The kiss was gentle though the need behind it was powerful. Wrapping her arms around Daien’s neck taking care not to bump her injured hand she nibbled at his lips. Daien groaned, pulling her into a strong, possessive hug. Settling her head on his shoulder she inhaled his delicious masculine scent.
When Daien pulled back, he brushed her hair away from her face tenderly and asked if she was hungry. Her stomach rumbled in response. Daien found his pack producing a bowl which he filled with the scrumptious smelling stew that Aidan had made. It was not the first time she had wondered where and when Aidan had learned to cook so well or cook at all for that matter. Daien handed her the bowl and she noticed Tere staring at her. Frowning slightly she sent him a half smile then turned her attention back to Daien leaning into him as she ate hungrily.
Tere wondered if Tarienne remembered what had happened between them. From her lack of reaction to him he doubted it. Returning to cleaning the knives he kept in his boots he thought carefully about their earlier interaction. When Tarienne had finished eating Tere approached her again.
“If you’re up to it I’d like to try another healing session.”
Tarienne’s focus was on Daien so she took a moment to respond.
“If you think another session so soon will help?”
Turning back to Daien, she ran her fingers down the side of Daien’s face.
“Would you leave us for a short while, Dear heart?”
Daien captured her fingers kissing the palm of her hamd.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?”
Tere’s thoughts drifted to another place and time when he and Ileia had shared such tenderness. She looks so much like my, Ileia. His attention returned to Tarienne as she spoke to Daien.
“No my love, Tere says he works better alone.”
Daien narrowed his eyes at Tere, but acquiesced and moved outside.
Aidan followed and Raef asked.
“Do you want me to stay, Sweetling?”
“No Toror, my Brother, I’ll be fine.”
The full force of her smile knocked the breath out of Tere. As she relaxed back onto her bed Tere dropped down onto the dirt floor of the cave cross legged. Holding out his hand out he waited for Tarienne to place her hand in his. She did, but without meeting his eyes. Slowly he began massaging around the wound allowing his magic to trickle through, to heal the bones and muscles. Initially Tere kept his attention on her hand finally allowing himself a glance while he tentatively coiled his scent around her.
She inhaled sharply and Tere immediately scented her arousal. The intensity of his reaction to her slammed into him. Looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was near the cave entrance he slowly and carefully moved closer lowering his head to hers as he continued to massage her hand. Her eyes languidly met his and when she licked her lips it almost brought him undone. A deep growl rumbled through Tere as he captured her lips for a hot, wet kiss. Softening she opened her lips invitingly evoking a groan from him as he deepened the kiss. He was so focused on the sensation of her lips sliding across his that he forgot to maintain his tendril of scent around her.
Suddenly Tarienne stiffened, pushing Tere away. Fury in her eyes she hissed at him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Confused for a moment a smirk finally curled his lips.
“I didn’t hear you protesting and your arousal scent was obvious.”
Gritting her teeth Tarienne knew that he spoke the truth. Her harsh whisper told him that she was furious at him.
“Your magic affects me, I don’t know why. Do not take advantage of that again.”
A tiny frisson of fear slid through Tarienne as she remembered the power of Lacas’ glamour. Eyeing Tere a vague feeling of familiarity tugged at her memory.
Tere huffed out a frustrated breath wordlessly returning to healing her hand. When he had finished he strode outside and to the amazement of the others stripped off and ran shifting into his wolf as he bolted away.
Aidan, Daien and Raef entered the cave to find Tarienne sleeping peacefully her hand almost completely and perfectly healed. Gently lifting Tarienne’s hand AIdan examined where the gaping hole had been. Raising his eyebrows in approval he observed how well the healing was progressing.
“I don’t think there will even be a scar!”
Raef and Daien both scrutinised Tarienne’s hand and admitted that the healing had been done well despite the reticence they’d felt. Aidan’s eyes slid to the cave entrance wondering why Tere had left in such a hurry. His gaze focusing back on Tarienne he suspected that something had transpired between them. Pulling together all they knew about Tere gave him no clues. They knew so little. When Tere returned to the cave, it was time to find out. If he returned.
Tarienne awoke several hours later to find her three favourite males staring down at her. Breaking into a smile she rose, still a little unsteady and kissed Raef and Aidan on each cheek. Leaving Daien until last she wrapped herself around himpouring every ounce of love she had for her warrior into the kiss. His arms clamped around her his lips crushing down on hers. Tarienne swayed into Daien wanting to climb into his skin. Daien chuckled against her lips obliging as he slid his hands down to her bottom pushing them intimately closer.
The heat of Daien’s kisses almost melted Tarienne and she desperately wished that they were alone. Breathless they separated. Aidan and Raef exchanged grins stepping away to stoke the fire allowing the lovers a little privacy Eventually they all stretched out on their bedrolls. Daien and Tarienne snuggled happily murmuring quietly to each other.
Tere had still not returned.
They were all fast asleep when Tere slipped quietly through the cave entrance. His gaze ran over Daien and Tarienne, lovers entwined in each other’s arms. He closed his eyes at the sudden onslaught of emotion. When Tere opened them again he derided himself inwardly flopping onto his bed frustrated. However sleep eluded him. The sky was beginning to lighten outside when he finally succumbed to slumber dreaming vivid, erotic dreams of Tarienne.
Her curvaceous form stretched out naked on top of him as she trailed hot kisses down his body. Her hands reached his arousal, caressing and stroking, followed by her delicious mouth. Running her tongue along the length of him she drew circles with its tip around the throbbing head of his rock, hard erection. His back arched involuntarily to meet her. Tere groaned loudly at the exquisite pleasure. Surrounding his member with her lips she sucked hard, sliding him in and out of her hot mouth making his hips pump involuntarily as he buried his fingers into her hair. With the force of a tidal wave his climax surged, long and powerful his hips rocking as she greedily swallowed his seed. Taking a few moments to catch his breath Tere deftly flipped her beneath him.
Settling between her long, shapely legs he returned the favour tasting her delicious honey until she screamed with release. Finally he slid up her body entering her moist heat with one satisfying thrust. Tere couldn’t resist dipping down for a long passionate kiss as he pumped into her tight sheath. Groaning against her lips he increased the tempo until a blistering climax ripped through him rocking his entire body ...
Yanked awake, Tere was unceremoniously ripped out of his dream. Jumping to his feet he shook his head to clear it a menacing growl rumbling through him.The tingle heralding the beginning of his shift threaded through his body. His desire fogged brain finally registered that Aidan had been trying to wake him. Quickly glancing down, he was grateful that his shirt was long enough to cover the evidence of his dream. Gritting his teeth he forced his wolf back and halted the change before it started. He bit out.
“Damn it, man, don’t ever wake me like that.”
Aidan held his hands up in surrender.
“Sorry, I just wanted to ask if you were hungry.”
Dropping his hands, Aidan clumped away, grumbling something about being ungrateful.
Flopping back onto his bedroll Tere scrubbed roughly at his face with his hands attempting to wipe the dream from his thoughts. He knew that the only way to clear his head was to run so he dropped the soft trousers he wore to bed quickly wiping away the evidence of his climax with the soft cloth. Stripping off his shirt he shifted hurtling out of the cave.
His wolf noted Tarienne’s absence. Sprinting to the closest waterhole he intended to wash away the evidence of his dream in the icy cold water but froze when he saw the naked woman and her lover wrapped around each other waist deep in the water.
The wolf watched from the cover of the trees unable to tear his eyes away as they made love. Transforming in a shower of gold he was still incapable of making himself leave. His body reawakened as he watched Tarienne and Daien rock in unison and he was sorely tempted to seek relief by his own hand. Tarienne cried out her release and Tere’s body pulsed with desire. Clamping his mouth shut so he didn’t make any sound to alert them of his presence he crouched unmoving as Tarienne flowed gracefully out of the water, her wet skin glistening in the sunlight. She was a glorious sight to behold and before Tere knew what he was doing her had risen involuntarily taking a step toward her. Catching himself he swore silently then shifted again bolting through the trees on the silent pads of his wolf.
When Tere finally stopped running he shifted into his human form dropping to the cool grass. Gazing out over the precipice with his knees drawn up his arms wrapped around them to ward off the cold of the early Spring morning.
What the hell did Lacas do to me?
Sitting for what seemed like hours, going over and over his captivity in his head Tere eventually remembered the liquid they’d forced him to drink. They’d poured it down his throat while they’d held him. He’d been manacled by his ankles and wrists to prevent him from shifting and yet it had taken five changelings to compel him to swallow the bitter tasting liquid.
Realising that his reaction to Tarienne was because she looked so much like his beautiful, red wolf, Ileia he broke down, sobbing into his hands. Ileia. The most beautiful reddish brown wolf, with green eyes that Tere had ever seen, Ileia transformed into a stunning woman with long, wavy, red hair and the most gorgeous, compelling green eyes just like Tarienne.
Captured by Lacas minions as they attempted to escape from the violent and dysfunctional pack they been raised in Tere had not been able to stop Ileia’s capture, nor find her since. Certain Lacas had murdered her as revenge for helping Tere escape, Tere’s heart had been broken and empty until he’d meet Tarienne, Raef, Aidan and even Daien. For some inexplicable reason they’d accepted him despite their difficult start.
Starting to feel better, much more like his old self Tere guessed that the run had helped his body burn off whatever it was that remained in his system. He shifted into his wolf form again, knowing now what he needed to do. Arriving back at the cave he slipped in shifted and dressed quickly while the others were outside. He was in luck when Tarienne walked into the cave alone to pack her things. Approaching her Tere stood a respectable distance away.
Tarienne lifted her eyes to meet his, frowning slightly.
“I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for what happened. My captors gave me a potion, I’m not sure what it was but it made me feel and act out of character. I think I’ve burned most of it off by running.”
Grasping her uninjured hand.
“Can you forgive me, please?”
Tarienne paused for a moment while Tere waited anxiously. The sweet look of worry on his face would have made her laugh had the situation been different.
“I believe you and you are forgiven.”
Tarienne watched as relief washed over Tere until the moment Daien spoke. Tensing again Tere readied to defend himself.
Leaning at the cave entrance Daien had observed the interaction.
Just don’t let it happen again.”
Striding over to Tarienne’s side a grin lit his face as he planted a possessive kiss on her lips. He gave Tere a friendly clap on his back as he passed. Astonishment spread across Tere’s face.
“We don’t keep secrets.”
Tere ran his hands through his hair.
“I thought you’d be trying to pound me into the ground again.”
“That is initially what I wanted to do but Ren can be particularly persuasive when she wants and despite everything, I happen to believe you.”
Daien raised his eyebrows shooting a suggestive look at Tarienne.Tarienne rolled her eyes laughing at his playfulness.
“We need to pack.”
Aidan walked through the entrance of the cave.
“Come on you lot we’ll never complete this journey if you all keep jibber jabbering.”
Daien raised his eyebrows.
They all laughed heartily and Tere’s acceptance into the group was assured.