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Chapter 16

When he had finally met up with Riordan and found out Valaria had given him the slip, Kaden had considered thrashing the man for being so careless, but he needed every minute to find her, hopefully before she decided to flee her gilded cage.

Riordan apologized profusely as he took Kaden back to where her cat had climbed into one of the large pines that grew in the area. Kaden knew what her cat was doing, his own had done so on many occasions. Riordan underestimated her cat, he was sure he wouldn’t do it again. And when Kaden found her, he was going to give her a tongue lashing himself. He did admire her for giving him the slip and it raised Kaden’s hopes that maybe her wolf wasn’t that crazy over Riordan after all.

So after climbing the same tree, it was easy to follow her scent. He found it unusual the distance her cat had covered in her bid to get away. He assumed Valaria had kept her moving, trying to put as much distance between her and anyone that might come looking.

But now she was within reach. Her cat watched him lazily as he came closer and sniffed her. Vee was irritated that the freedom that had been so hard-won was cut short. She willed her cat to reach out and give the larger male a swat.

The male responded by growling, before rubbing himself over her muzzle. Vee was helpless as Sia took the hint and made her way down the tall trunk to the ground. When Vee hit the dirt she didn’t even glance up but pulled herself to the surface and then began to run on her own human legs. The trouble was, her eyesight wasn’t as good as her cat so she found herself being slowed down by odd branches whipping at her skin as she tried to plow through.

As she cleared a glut of trees, she was yanked off her feet and hauled back against a very familiar chest. She pulled and kicked, hoping for just another moment to outrun the huge man behind her.

“Valaria! Stop! You cannot win!” she heard his voice and it seemed to spur her on even more.

Suddenly she was flipped up and around and she found herself on the soft ground, buried under a mountain of male flesh. She couldn’t fight him anymore, he was way too heavy to dislodge. Her breath heaved for several minutes until she finally gave up.

“Are you finished?” his tone wasn’t angry, he sounded like he was talking to a child.

“I almost got away,” she bit out, her hopes shot down.

“No, you didn’t, your cat left a trail,” he replied, “for me.”

Vee bit her lip, she thought her cat had wanted freedom just as much as she did…she wouldn’t underestimate her again.

“Now, I’m going to let you up and we are going to a small pond not far from here,” he was true to his word as he pulled her up beside him, “You smell like dog.”

Vee stuck out her chin, “Make me.” She didn’t know what possessed her to dare him because she should have known better. It was going to be his way or the hard way, which was still his way.

“Fine, have it your way,” he grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder, and carried her through the brush as branches whipped the soft flesh of her backside.

When they got to the pool, Valaria had no warning as he threw her in. The water was freezing and she arose, sputtering and spitting, “You bastard! I could have drowned!”

She could hear him laughing from shore, “Don’t worry sweetheart, I would have saved you!”

Vee glared at him as she started for shore…on the other side…She should have known it was a moot point when she heard the splashing behind her just before he grabbed her wet body, hauling her back to him.

Vee’s teeth started to chatter as she pulled away, “Just l..l..leave m…m…me alone.”

She was ignored, as expected. But he WAS heading into shore. As they stood in thigh-deep water, Kaden reached down to grab some mud from the bottom and began to scrub her skin.

Vee’s teeth still chattered as she spoke, “What d…d..do..y..y..you think y…y…y..you’re doing?”

His teeth didn’t chatter at all, “Washing you off, I told you that you smell like…him.”


Valaria couldn’t speak anymore as she was scared of biting her tongue if she berated him again. Instead, she stood still and let him clean her, ducking underneath the water to finally rinse her clean. She only wanted it done so she could get out of the water before she froze to death.

Then she was lifted and brought to shore, they didn’t stop until Kaden found a soft layer of moss on the forest floor. He set her down and began to rub her body with his bare hands, trying to bring warmth back to her cold skin.

Vee stood quietly as he massaged her arms and legs before turning to her torso. As he felt the warmth returning, he spoke, “Lie down and I will wrap myself around you. You will warm up in no time.”

Valaria found her voice, “No, I’m g..g..good.”

Kaden was exasperated at her continued rebellious attitude and he picked her up and laid her down himself on the soft cushion, covering her shivering form, forcing her to look at him, “There, now isn’t this better?” Kaden’s own cat was purring his pleasure at the clean smell that wafted from his mate.

Vee didn’t want to admit that her body was actually starting to warm with his heavy flesh covering her.

“No?” he asked her silent form again before sighing, “Fine, we will find a faster way to warm you up.”

She felt his hand slide between them to cup her breast, squeezing and massaging it until she opened her mouth to voice her denial, and then Kaden captured her mouth, thrusting his tongue deep inside, reveling in her taste. He couldn’t get enough of her sweetness as he continued to slake his desire. When he heard her moan, he moved his mouth to grasp her distended nipple, sucking on it while alternately grazing the bud with his teeth. He was rewarded with her body sliding beneath his, twisting as flames of desire lit them both on fire.

Kaden groaned as his cock hardened to a heavy thickness, pressing into her soft belly, needing to go lower.

But first, he chastised her, “I promised when I found you I would give you a good tongue lashing.”

Vee barely heard him as her body continue to burn, “What?”

He repeated, “I owe you a tongue lashing for trying to run away.” He began to slide downwards, confident now that she wasn’t going anywhere.

What did he say? A tongue lashing? Vee cried out as his mouth found her center and began to scrape its way over her swollen lips and clit. Her legs parted to give him more access to her sex. His mouth pressed deeply into her as his tongue wrapped around her clit and began to vibrate. Vee thought she was going to die of pleasure as her body bucked under the onslaught. His large finger thrust into her, finding the fleshy pleasure spot inside, pressing it as he suddenly started to purr, the vibrations taking her to the edge of her orgasm before pushing her off.

Valaria felt her eyes roll back as her body contracted with each wave. Then suddenly she was covered as Kaden’s large cock thrust deep into her body. She reached up to bring his head down to her, needing to taste him as he flexed his hips deep. But she didn’t want his mouth, she wanted to wrap her lips over his shoulder and bite. She heard him groan as she tasted the coppery flavor that was him. Her feet were braced against the ground as she thrust her hips up to meet his.

Vee felt like she had died and gone to heaven as his thick flesh filled her, grinding into her, building again to another release. Suddenly she was being pulled up and flipped over, hands pulling her hips up until she was on her knees and as Kaden’s body covered hers again, she felt him slam his cock deep inside her again as his own teeth grasped her shoulder to hold her while he pounded deep into her.

Valaria was in a sexual haze as her body was plundered over and over until she was loudly moaning her undying pleasure. She braced her hands into the ground as she thrust back, meeting him with the same force and strength that he was pounding into her. Her cat was not allowing him to master her just yet, she wanted to show him that she gave as good as she got.

Vee heard his growl of mastery turn to one of seduction as he slowed and pulled himself out of her. Valaria whimpered at the loss of his cock before she reached her own peak, but then she found herself picked upwards to her knees and then laid gently down on her back in the cool moss.

She gazed up at the man above her and felt the tightness in her chest again. She felt open and vulnerable as his gaze caressed her body from head to toe before laying gently down on top of her and sliding between her thighs.

As he slid home deep inside her throbbing center, his mouth found hers and began to slowly explore her hidden depths. As his tongue dipped and caressed, his hips pulsed gently back and forth, showing her in languid strokes how it was to be worshipped. Vee couldn’t deny the change from red hot sex to the calm adulation of making love.

He wasn’t trying anymore to conquer her, he wanted her to share his joy and passion as he brought her body to a slow burn.

Vee struggled inside as she returned his torturous kisses and thrust her hips to meet his. His strong hand stroked down her thigh and encouraged her to wrap her legs around his waist as he continued to sink himself deep into her heat.

Valaria wrapped him as tight as she could as she wanted to hold him deeper with each thrust until she moaned deeply as she started to race to her release. His own movements quickened at her encouragement as he sought to bring both of them the pleasure they needed. His hips drove faster and harder, heat building until they were both on fire.

Kaden nipped her ear as he whispered, “Dó dom mo bhanríon.”

Valaria cried out as she came…hard…

When Kaden felt her body spasm, he echoed her release, his own voice joining hers as he spurted his seed deep inside her. He stilled as wave after wave of pleasure shook him to the core until he collapsed onto his side, pulling her into his arms as he wrapped himself around her as they both gasped for breath.

For long minutes, they both struggled to fill their lungs until finally, their breathing settled into the quiet of the forest.

Valaria felt his strong arms cocoon her, one around her waist, the other a pillow for her head. His legs spooned hers perfectly like they were a part of her. Now, with the inevitable lovemaking finished, her brain began to spin again. How in the hell was she supposed to extract herself from this whole situation? No matter how much she tried to deny, she was drawn to him, her body wanted him…and her cat…well, that was a no-brainer, she would be more than content to follow wherever he led…

“What are you thinking, mo bhanrion?” he whispered close to her ear.

What was she thinking? She was thinking how it was going to leave a hole in her chest when she left this life that they were trying to make for her. She was thinking how crazy it was to feel anything for any one of these people. This group of strangers that were determined to keep her in their family.

Instead, she asked, “What are those words you keep calling me?”

She felt his arm tighten as he answered, “My queen.”

His queen??? He was crazy if he thought she could help him rule his kingdom. There was no way she could lead anyone. She was a stranger…she was sure his clan would not bow down for a complete stranger…not that that would ever be a possibility…

Her cat stretched inside, sliding along her skin as she purred…

She chastised her, don’t even think about it, Sia…

The arm encircling her squeezed her gently again, “Why do you hold your heart deep inside?”

Vee felt tears prick her eyelids as she closed them. Maybe in a perfect world where she was raised by a loving family, she would gladly hand this man her heart on a silver platter…

Valaria wet her lips as she felt a tear slide down across her cheek, “I…I have no heart to give. Not to you or anyone else.”

He was silent for a moment before his lips grazed her ear, “I don’t believe you, little one. Your heart cries out to mine every time we make love…and my heart answers.”

No, no, no…this can’t happen…

Then she was pulled over onto her back and he leaned over her, staring deep into her shining eyes. His hand reached up and his thumb brushed away another errant tear as he spoke, “Who has hurt you, Valaria?” His eyes caressed her whole face before he asked again, “What man has broken what is mine?”

Vee couldn’t look at him, afraid of what he might see reflected in her eyes, the yearning of a young girl for the heart of a young boy…

His hand pulled her back, “Tell me…please.”

Valaria stalled, “Why does it matter? I’ll be gone soon and you’ll never see me again.”

She watched his lips thin before he replied, “Because it matters to me. And if you do leave your family here, and if I never see you again, I want to know why your heart is hidden so deep inside.”

Vee bit her lip and then suddenly she found herself spilling the secrets she had kept locked so tight inside her. As she spoke about her so-called stepbrothers torturing her until they finally decided they were going to violate her body, she saw anger burn deep in his own eyes.

“And that’s when I ran away and I swore no one was going to control me ever again. And meeting Ronnie was the best thing that happened to me. She was my rock. She understood me because she felt the same, or at least until she saw you,” Vee laughed, needing to stop him from seeing her soul laid bare.

She pushed against him as she sat up, “Now, she wants the white picket fence, 2 point 3 children and a dog.

Kaden pulled away to give her some room, feeling her pulling away from the moment and he let her. She had revealed so much about who she was and he felt privileged that she shared it with him. He now knew who made her the way she was and if he ever found out their names, he would hunt them down and give them something to be scared of.

Vee wrapped her arms around herself and shivered, “Wow, it’s getting a little chilly, my nipples feel like their going to fall off,” she laughed to herself.

Kaden rose and held out his hand for hers, “Come, my clothes are not far from here. You can put on my shirt. It should be long enough.”

Vee ignored his invitation and rose herself, “That would be great, thanks!”

His lips pursed again, realizing the path to her heart was going to be a long one, but he was more than willing to walk, run or fight to get to it…

He turned and started walking, “It’s this way.”

Vee followed, glad he didn’t touch her again. When she opened up and told him about her past, it left her feeling fragile and vulnerable. Could she trust him not to use it against her?

She watched his back as he strode through the bush and she was glad he didn’t shift. She still didn’t trust her cat not to take advantage of the situation. Although her feet wouldn’t thank her later…

Suddenly, he stopped and turned to her, “Thank you for your trust.”

She looked up at him and wished the darkness didn’t cloak his face. She wanted to read the truth in his eyes as he spoke.

He held out his hand again, “I won’t hurt you, Valaria…ever.”

Vee nodded her head hesitantly and then placed her hand within his warm grasp. She squealed when he pulled her up into his strong arms and carried her.

Her feet were very thankful…


Vee looked up at him again, “Are you sure you aren’t cold?” Although he had given her his shirt, willing to brave the cold with his bare torso, she felt slightly guilty. Her feet were wrapped in his large socks only because his shoes were way too big for her to clomp around in.

He looked down at her, giving her hand a little squeeze, “I told you I’m fine. We cats have thick skin.” He smiled.

Valaria couldn’t help but return his grin. She had rebuilt the wall inside her and felt an easy truce between them. She believed him when he said he wouldn’t hurt her, but she also knew leaving him was still going to make scars, but at least they would be by her own hands. Would he miss her when she was gone as much as she knew she was going to miss him?

“Almost there,” he broke into her thoughts before they entered the place where Valaria had ditched her clothes.

She pulled her hand loose and went to retrieve her garments. She started to unbutton his shirt but his hand shot out, “No, you can keep my shirt on. Your clothes are probably chilled. Just put on your shoes and I’ll walk you back to your place.”

Valaria nodded, he was probably right. His shirt was long enough to fall below her thighs and his socks reached up over knees, basically covering everything. She had been quite warm both inside and out. She put on her shoes and they both traveled back towards town and her little house. He had insisted again on holding her hand again and she was too tired to make an issue of it, not wanting to acknowledge how right it felt.

As they walked down the quiet street, she noticed another person strolling towards them, slowing as they got closer.

She had no warning until she felt the man beside her stiffen, dropping her hand as he halted. Vee stopped immediately and followed Kaden’s gaze as it continued to watch the stranger approach.

The moon slid out from behind a bank of clouds and illuminated the street, allowing Valaria to see the stranger was female and she had a welcoming smile directed towards the man beside her, ignoring Vee entirely.

She stopped a few feet short, her eyes never leaving the cat king. She smiled saucily as she spoke, “Your majesty, I was just coming to find you.”

Vee’s mind reeled. Who the hell was this?

Kaden to his credit remained unfazed by the stranger. His voice was even as he stated, “Sonja.”

The woman pouted as her voice became husky, “Don’t tell me that Thomas didn’t tell you I was coming,” her voice emphasized her double meaning.

Vee breathed deep and caught the distinctive smell of some sort of cat and she immediately took a dislike to the tall blonde bombshell.

“He tried to,” Kaden admitted, “But I was in a hurry.”

Then the woman’s gaze finally turned to size her up and then dismiss her just as quickly, “Hmmm…well I’m here now,” and her eyes again set upon Valaria’s silent figure, “I asked the Alpha to place my luggage in your rooms as I am placing myself under your protection of course.”

Her gaze returned to Kaden, “Do I have your protection, your majesty?”

Vee glanced out of the corner of her eye as she struggled to hold her clothes tight to her body and her mouth closed.

Still, she was shaken as she heard Kaden reply with a nod of his head, “Of course.”

What the fuck?!

Vee watched the woman slide up beside Kaden, linking her arm in his, again dismissing her presence, “I am very tired after a long day of travel. You will escort me home, won’t you?”

Valaria was still in shock at the familiarity of the stranger with Kaden. Obviously, she was a member of his clan, but the hold on his arm said so much more. And though Vee wasn’t an expert in fashion, she was sure the clothes and shoes this woman wore were not something that was bought from the local Walmart.

Kaden turned to Valaria, “Valaria…”

Vee could see the struggle on his face. He seemed as shocked as she was as if torn between his responsibilities and which had priority.

Valaria would make it easier for him, “You go ahead, I know how to get home from here,” she began to walk away, holding her head high, trying to keep her pride intact. Then she turned, hoping Kaden might have shrugged off the arm holding him, but he was now looking at the blond goddess, his mouth saying something that Valaria couldn’t hear and she was glad she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Then she watched the woman lay her head on his shoulder and Valaria turned back around and began to walk faster, tears stinging her eyes for the second time that night.


When Vee got home, she stripped and immediately jumped under the hot shower, trying to erase any smell from her skin. She let herself weep silent tears as she remembered the woman who obviously meant something to Kaden. Of course, every king had to find a queen, an alpha that could lead their clan together. This was obviously someone who was lead to believe that she would be that queen. Every movement, every word spoke that truth…

And Kaden agreed with it…

Wow, wasn’t she stupid! She believed all his romantic bullshit…believed him when he called her his queen…even though his queen was obviously waiting at home till he got back. Except she must have gotten tired of waiting and decided to come and get him…

Vee turned up the hot water as she let loose a string of curses that would have put a sailor to shame. The water began to beat her skin red, the heat becoming almost unbearable…almost… She turned it up higher and felt the sting as her skin crawled with hot flame. Her tears were no longer falling as she bit her lip and absorbed the burning. She stood motionless and let it cover her breasts and run down her legs, turning everything as red as her anger.

Yeah, this is what she needed. She needed a wakeup call to bring her back to her reality and that bitch Sonja gave it to her.

She would have to thank her for that…

After she rots in hell…

The Bitch…

When the water finally began to turn cold, Valaria pulled herself out and grabbed a towel. As she dried her body, her anger began to cool. After all, it only proved what she believed all along…men lied…they were never to be trusted… Shame on her for thinking Kaden was any different…after all, he had known the threat to her sister’s life was still a reality and he wouldn’t have told her anything if she hadn’t stumbled across the truth…

Yeah, she was right…she always had been right…

Vee felt her animals shift restlessly inside her, seemingly as confused as she was. Well, maybe now they would finally believe she was right. They didn’t need anyone…Gawd, she wished she could talk to Ronnie right now, but she didn’t want to contact her and place this all at her feet. She had to learn that she had to deal with her life on her own, especially now that Ronnie had hopes of marrying and having a family. And Vee truly hoped she would find Mr. Right…

Valaria donned a pink cotton nightgown that dropped to her thighs and went out to the kitchen to make herself a cup of hot tea and a couple of pieces of toast. She went into the livingroom and ate as she watched some old movie to fill the silence and stop her from thinking. She laid down on the couch and pulled a small blanket over herself as she wiped her mind and just focused on the figures talking on the screen.

She wondered if she would ever get to sleep…


Vee jumped when a loud knocking woke her from her sleep. She looked around dazedly trying to locate the sound that awakened her and then wrapped herself in the blanket before shuffling to the door and opening it to mid-afternoon sunshine.

“Wow, Vee, you look awful,” her sister greeted her.

Valaria turned around and shuffled back into the livingroom, “Thanks, I feel like shit too.”

Vee crashed on the couch and started to rub her eyes to get the sticky sleepiness out of them, “What time is it anyway?”

She felt her sister land beside her, “Three o’clock. What time did you get in last night?”

Vee shook her head, “I don’t remember, I fell asleep on the couch watching some old movie.”

Her sister looked like she was fighting an inner voice, so Valaria brought up the elephant in the room, “I met her last night.”

Cassidy blew out the breath she had been holding, “Oh, Vee, I had no idea…”

Vee held up her hand, “It’s okay…I’m okay…I don’t care that he has adoring females following him around. I mean, who wouldn’t?” She tried to brush off the concern in her sister’s voice.

“When she arrived last night, she basically told Slayde that she was under Kaden’s protection and she expected to stay with him. Slayde was just as shocked,” her sister offered, “I mean, we had no idea that Kaden might be involved…” she stopped, not feeling comfortable with the topic at hand.

Valaria waved her hand, “Let’s not talk about it anymore, I couldn’t care less.”

Cassidy sighed, “I just wish I didn’t have to have them both over to dinner tonight. Shifter etiquette says we have to entertain the first night.”

Vee’s stomach growled at the mention of food, “Well have fun with that.” She rose and went into her kitchen to find something to eat, settling on ham and eggs on toast.

As she began her fry up, she heard Cassidy call out, “I could use some sisterly backup!”

Vee smiled bitterly to herself and shouted back, “No, I don’t think so. I’m liable to start throwing anything I could lay my hands on.”

“But Riordan will be there,” Cassie tried to cajole her.

Vee hesitated as she flipped her egg.

“I’m sure he would really like the company, Vee. You know he really likes you!” Cassidy prodded again.

Valaria popped her bread in the toaster as she put the coffee pot on. She shook her head, “No, that’s okay, I think I’m going to take a break from men for a while.”

Vee spent the next few minutes in silence as she grabbed her meal and joined her sister back on her couch. Her stomach had soured some at the thought of even seeing Kaden again with that…person…attached to his hip, but she had to start thinking clearly. She had already known she was going to leave him, so what was the difference? At least she wouldn’t have to worry about him missing her.

Cassidy sighed aloud, “Oh, God, please Vee, don’t leave me alone. I might end up saying something rude to both of them if I think you are over here being all sad and everything.”

Vee flashed a fake smile, “Who says I’m sad? I’m not sad, I’m actually relieved. I mean, I knew it was never going to work and I was worried I would break his heart when I left, but now it’s nice to know he doesn’t have one to break.” She popped another mouthful of toast and washed it down with a healthy swig of coffee.

Cassie looked down, “I’m so sorry, Vee. I shouldn’t have tried to find you. Then you wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Valaria set her empty plate on the floor next to the couch and reached out to grasp her sister’s hand, feeling like she just kicked a pile of puppies, “Listen, Cass, I’m glad you did.”

Cassidy looked up with tears clinging to her eyelashes, “Really?”

Vee chuckled, “Of course I am. If you didn’t, I probably would have jumped some homeless man in an alley after I went through my change. At least Kaden is clean and good looking.”

Cassie smiled at her sister’s attempt at reassurance, “He’s still a butthole.”

They both laughed then until Cassidy quietly said, “I meant what I said, Riordan really likes you. And I know it would be kind of awkward for you to be there, but I know Riordan and I would really appreciate it. And maybe it would do butthole boy good to see that other men are more than willing to replace him.”

Vee thought about what her sister said. If she didn’t show, then Kaden would think she was hurt in some way, but if she made an appearance and maybe flirted with Riordan, well, that would show him!

She nodded, “Yeah, maybe you’re right. If he thinks I’m going to just crawl into a hole somewhere and cry over him, well he’s going to have another think coming.”

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