CHAPTER 4

Fury came awake slowly, his body aching. For a moment, he thought he was still trapped in human form. But as he blinked his eyes open, he breathed a sigh of relief. He was a wolf and he was home.

He rubbed his snout against the lilac-scented sheets. Bride always sprayed them with her spring water stuff when­ever she made the bed. Normally he hated the smell. But today it was heaven. “How you feeling?”

He lifted his head to find Vane propped against the wall, watching him. Flashing into human form, he was grateful Vane had put him under the covers. “I’m okay.”

“You look like shit.”

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t date you either, asshole.”

Vane gave a short laugh. “You must be feeling better. You’re back to you usual surliness. And speaking of surly, Zarek was here. He wants to talk to you when you’re up and about.”

Why would an ex-Dark-Hunter-turned-god want to talk to him? “What does he want?”

“He filled me in on what’s been happening at Sanctuary. They cancelled their celebration and have the whole place locked down until they get to the bottom of this new attack. No one can come or go.”

“Good. Where’s Angelia?”

“She’s in the nursery and refuses to come out. I think she’s hoping her patria can track her here and release her from us animals.”

Fury snorted at the idea. “Nah, she’s probably plotting my dismemberment.” Sitting up, he took a breath before he stood and went to pull his clothes out of the chest of drawers.

“You know I can dress you.”

Fury scoffed at his brother’s offer. “I don’t need your help.”

“Then on that note, I’m going downstairs to eat dinner.” Fury’s ears perked up at that. “What did Bride make?” “Leftover turkey and ham.” “Mashed potatoes?”

“Of course. She knows how much you love them.” That made his stomach rumble greedily. Fury debated on whether he should eat or see Angelia. He was really hungry . .. But. . .

“Save me some.”

Vane inclined his head to him. “Wouldn’t think other­wise. Oh, and Fang has been dying to know if Aimee got his note.”

He pulled on his pants. “I gave it to Sasha to hand to her. So I assume she has it by now unless Dare happened to eat Sasha before he could complete his mission.”

“Doubtful. Z would have been a lot surlier had that hap­pened. I’ll let him know.” Vane exited the room.

Fury finished dressing, then left to see Angelia. He knocked on the door before he pushed it open to find her sit­ting in the rocker with her back against the wall. She jerked up as if she’d been napping.

Damn, she was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. Espe­cially the way her lips were swollen from sleep.

She almost smiled until her face froze as if she remem­bered that she wasn’t supposed to be nice to him. “What do you want?”

“I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

She tightened her grip on the chair’s arms. “No, I’m not all right. I’m stuck here with animals whom we both know I hate. How can I be all right with that?”

He gave her a droll stare. “Yeah, well, no one’s beating on you. From where I stand that looks pretty damn good.”

Angelia looked away from that gimlet stare of his and tried not to focus on how handsome he was. On how beauti­ful those turquoise eyes could be . . .

But the longer he stood there, the harder it was to remem­ber he was nothing but an animal just like the ones who’d threatened her downstairs.

He stepped into the room.

She shot to her feet to keep distance between them. “Stay away.”

“I’m not going to hurt. . .” His voice trailed off as his eyes dilated dangerously.

Angelia swallowed as she recognized her worst fear had manifested.

He’d caught her scent. Terrified, she backed into the wall and prepared to fight him until one of them was dead.

Fury couldn’t move as raw lust burned through him. His body instantly hard, it was all he could do not to attack her. No wonder she’d blockaded herself in this room. “You’re in heat.”

She picked up Trace’s brass piggy bank as if she was about to throw it at him. “Stay away from me.”

That was a lot easier said than done since every male particle of him was attuned to her in a way that was virtu­ally irresistible. The wolf in him salivated at the scent of her and it wanted nothing more than to throw her down and mount her.

Lucky for her, he wasn’t the animal she thought him to be.

He approached her slowly. “I’m not going to touch you.” She threw the bank at his head.

He caught it in one hand before he returned it to its spot on the dresser.

“I’m not kidding, Fury,” she growled at him.

“And neither am I. I told you I wouldn’t hurt you and I have no intention of going back on my word.”

Her gaze dropped down to the bulge in his pants. “I won’t mate with you willingly. Ever.”

Those words cut him more than they should have. “Trust me, baby, you wouldn’t be worth the scratches. Unlike the Arcadian bastards you’re used to, I don’t have to force a woman into my bed. Sit up here and rot for all I care.” He walked out and slammed the door behind him.

Angelia didn’t move for several fearful heartbeats as she waited for his return.

He was gone and she was safe again . . . she hoped.

Over and over, she heard the stories in her head about how the Katagaria treated their females when they were in heat. If unmated, the woman was handed off to the unmated males of the pack, who passed her around until they’d had their fill of her. The female had no say whatsoever.

“You’re all animals,” she snarled, cursing the fact that it was her fertile time of the month and she was trapped here with them. “Where are you. Dare?”

As if in answer, a flash startled her.

She tensed as she realized it wasn’t Dare coming to her rescue.

It was Fury. His eyes brittle with anger, he stalked toward her. A true predator bent on the gods only knew what.

“Don’t touch me!” She struck out at him.

He caught her hand in his and held it. “You know what? I’m going to teach you a valuable lesson.”

Before she could ask him what it was, he teleported them out of the nursery and into a dining room.

Angelia panicked as she realized the room was filled with eight male wolves in human form. By their scents, she knew they were as unmated as Fury was.

Her heart hammering, she tried to run, but Fury wouldn’t let her. Blocking her escape, he quickly pulled his clothes on.

“You will sit and you will eat,” he growled low in his throat. “Like a civil human,” he spat the word as if it were the lowest thing imaginable.

How she wished she had her powers to blast him and make him pay for this. No doubt she’d be the first course and he’d probably hold her down while the others raped her.

Fury walked her toward the table, to the right hand of Bride where a young, handsome wolfswain sat. His eyes darkened as he caught a whiff of her scent.

Angelia braced herself for his attack.

His eyes black and dilated, he stood up slowly. This was it. . . .

He was going to throw her down for all of them.

Just as she was sure he would, he inclined his head re­spectfully to Fury, picked up his plate and glass and moved away to sit at the other end of the table.

Fury sat her in the vacated chair.

Bride, who’d been watching curiously, let out a sigh. “I take it the two of you will be joining us.”

Fury nodded. “We will.”

A younger wolfswain who was sitting across the table from her stood up immediately, making Angelia flinch. “I’ll get plates for them.”

Bride smiled kindly. “Thank you, Keegan.”

Thin and blond, he practically ran into the other room only to return with china and silverware. He handed one setting to Fury, then turned to Angelia. “Would you like me to serve you?”

“Sit, Keegan,” Fury barked.

He immediately put the place setting in front of her and returned to his seat.

There was so much tension in the room that Angelia could almost taste it. Ignoring it, Fury put food on their plates and then set one in front of her.

“Uncle Furry!”

She looked up to see Trace entering the room with Fang. He ran from Fang to Fury, who scooped him up into a tight hug.

“Hey, whelp.” He squeezed him even harder while the boy laughed in happiness.

“Trace hit his target!”

Fury laughed, his face softening to the expression she’d known so well in their younger years. . . before they were enemies. “Glad I wasn’t here for the potty training. Good job, Fang.”

Trace squirmed out of Fury’s arms to run to his mom. “Trace hit three ducks, Mommy.”

“That’s wonderful, baby. Good job.” She pulled him up to sit in her lap.

Fang’s eyes widened as he neared them and he, too, caught her scent. He sucked his breath in sharply, before he sat down on the other side of Fury. “Sorry you missed Thanksgiving this afternoon.”

Fury put more mashed potatoes on his plate. “Yeah, me, too.”

Angelia didn’t understand why that would make him sad. “Thanksgiving?”

Fury looked at her as he cut a piece of turkey on his plate. “It’s an American holiday. Every year they come together with their families to give thanks for their lives and com­pany.”

“It’s why all the wolves are here,” Bride said. “The mated ones went home with their wives earlier. Traditionally, the unmated males stay here for dinner and marathon gaming tournaments.”

Again, she had no idea what they were talking about. “Gaming tournaments?”

“Video games,” Keegan said.

Fury scoffed at the young wolf’s eagerness. “She’s from medieval England, whelp. She has no idea what you’re talk­ing about.”

“I can show you.”

Fang rolled his eyes. “Down, boy. Arcadian females equate being with us to bestiality.”

His face stricken, Keegan returned to his food and didn’t bother to look at her anymore.

One of the older males at the table pushed his plate back. “I’ve lost my appetite. Thank you, Bride, for the food.” He looked at Vane. “You need me to stay and help protect your house?”

“I’d appreciate it if you would. We still don’t know how many are able to wield whatever took down the lion.”

He inclined his head before he headed toward the living room.

Two of the others joined him.

Fang handed a bowl of bread to Fury. “So, Keeg, you been practicing Soul Calibur?”

Keegan grinned. “I’m going to pwn you so bad, buddy. No ring-outs this time.”

Vane laughed. “Careful, Keegan, he’s setting you up. Fang knows all the special moves for half the characters.”

That set up a whole conversation about a subject Angelia had no understanding of. But as they chatted and joked with each other, she relaxed.

Strange how they didn’t seem so animalistic like this . . .

They seemed almost human.

Trace slowly moved from his mother’s lap around the table to all the men who took turns holding him for a bit. When he got to Fury, he stood on his legs and reached over to her.

“You got drawing face like my daddy sometimes.”

Her cheeks heated up as that brought her back to the full scrutiny of the wolves.

The wolf on the other side of Keegan sighed heavily. “Damn, woman, stop panicking every time we look at you. We’re not going to throw you down and . . .” He stopped as he looked at Trace. “Do what you think we’re going to do. Yes, we know what’s going on with you. And no, we don’t do that to women.”

Bride took Trace back from Fury. She handed him a roll to eat while she directed her attention to Angelia. “I know you don’t know Katagaria customs. When a woman is . . .” She paused and looked at the baby before she continued, “in your condition, she selects the male she wants. If she can’t decide, they fight and she usually picks the winner, and if he doesn’t satisfy her, she picks another. But it’s al­ways the woman’s choice. The males give their lives and their loyalty to their women. Since their survival hinges on their ability to procreate, that is hardwired into their be­ings.”

As Bride started to rise, Keegan took Trace from her arms to hold. “Do you need something?” he asked her.

“Just going to the restroom, sweetie.” She patted him on his arm as she walked past him.

Angelia looked at Fury as he ignored her presence.

Was that why he’d never touched her? Thinking back, she remembered how he’d always been more respectful to his mother, sister and her than Dare had been. Always worried about them and their well-being. If they’d ever needed any­thing, he’d been there for them.

“Why did you bring me here?” she asked him.

He swallowed his food before he answered. “I want to know what that weapon is.”

Everyone’s attention focused on her and every hair on her body stood on full alert. They were poised to attack and she had a hard time controlling her panic.

“We’ve already had this discussion,” she said between clenched teeth. “You can torture me all you want, but I will tell you nothing.”

Vane laughed. “Katagaria don’t torture . . . they kill.”

Two of the older wolves stood up. “So we kill her?” they asked in unison without even a hint of emotion in their voices.

“No,” Fury said. “I’ve given her my protection.”

“Oh.” The younger one who’d spoken picked up his plate and carried it into the kitchen.

Bride returned to the table and retook her chair.

One by one, all the men left except for Vane, Fury, Fang, and Trace.

“What happened to Zarek?” Fury asked.

Fang swirled his wine in his glass, something that struck her as very human. “He and Sasha are hunting down Dare.”

“I hope they don’t kill him before I do.”

“He’s your brother,” Angelia reminded him.

Fury cut a harsh glare at her. “Let me explain something to you, babe. When Fang and Anya found out Vane was hu­man, they protected him from our father. If he was wounded or sleeping, they’d take turns guarding his human form to make sure no one learned his secret. The instant Dare found out I was a wolf, he called out the patria to kill me. I think I should return that favor to him tenfold. At least he’s a grown man, not an adolescent who had no real way to protect him­self from the stronger, older warriors.”

“He also has an unfair weapon. I think we should take it and . . .” Fang paused as he looked at Trace. “Put it some­place really uncomfortable.”

Fury’s gaze didn’t leave hers. “I’d like to put it in the same place he wanted to drive that hot poker.”

Angelia shook her head at his brutality. “All of you do realize that holding me here is an act of war.”

Fury arched one brow. “How so?”

“You are wolves holding a patria member.”

Vane snorted. “And I’m the Regis of your patria. Absent, true, but I am the head of the Kattalakis Arcadian Lykos. As such, you fall under my governance. To declare war on Fury and his Katagaria pack would require my edict, which I’d never give.”

“So you condone his behavior?”

“For the first time in our relationship, and as scary as that thought is . . . yes. And as the Regis, I want to know what that weapon is that you used on the lion. Failure to give it to me will result in a trial and I think you know what the Kata­garia council members will demand as punishment.”

Her life. But not before she was brutalized. Whenever a Regis, especially one who ruled your particular patria re­quested something of you, you were compelled to give it.

Never had she hated that law more than at this moment. “We call it the Pulse.”

Fury scowled. “What the hell is that?”

“It sends out small electrical charges. Not so much that it causes us to change back and forth, but rather it keeps us locked in our base form.”

Bride sighed. “Like that collar you wear.”

She nodded. “Only the pulse is permanent.”

Fang shook his head. “It can’t be. If it works on electrical impulses, it has to have a battery.”

“It uses body chemicals to keep it charged.”

Vane looked ill at the thought of it. “Can it be pulled out?”

“It’s too small to be seen. There’s no entry wound and no way to find it once it’s inside a body.”

Fang nodded. “That’s what Carson said, too.”

Bride grimaced in distaste. “Who would invent such a thing?”

“A Panther in the year 3062,” Angelia said with a sigh. “He’s now selling them to the highest bidders.”

“Why?” Vane asked. “We don’t need money like that.”

Fury pinned him with an angry glare. “You’re thinking like one of us, Vane. The Panther’s Arcadian. Think human for a minute. Greed is their god.”

Angelia was beginning to understand the differences her­self.

Vane looked at Fury. “You should take her to the Lion at Sanctuary. Let her meet his mate who can no longer com­municate with him. Or better yet, let her meet his children who will never know how much their father loves them. Never hear the sound of his voice as he tells them how proud he is. Or warns them of danger. Good job, really. I couldn’t be prouder of your brutality.”

Angelia refused to be intimidated by him. She knew bet­ter. “Animals don’t do that.”

Fury choked on his food before he pinned her with a vi­cious glare. “Yeah. I never said anything like that to you, did I?” He stood up and wiped his mouth. “You know what? I’m sick of looking at you. I remember a girl who used to be capable of caring about others. One who gave people the benefit of the doubt before she attacked them. But obviously she died. I want you out of here before you finish destroying what few good memories I have of that girl.” He jerked the collar off her neck, then left the room.

Stunned, Angelia sat there, unable to believe what had just happened.

She was free . . .

“Uncle Furry?” Trace looked up at his mother. “Why is Furry mad, Mommy?”

“His feelings were hurt, baby. He’ll be all right.”

Vane met Angelia’s baffled gaze. “You’re free to leave. And I should warn you, the lions are out for blood. The guy you nailed . . . his brother is Paris Sabastienne, and you killed their youngest brother. While as a rule animals aren’t big on vengeance, they are big on protecting their family. You’ve attacked them without provocation and they intend to slaughter all of you when they find you to keep you from doing this to any more members of their pride. You are their prey. Good luck.”

Angelia swallowed in panic. “But I didn’t shoot him.”

Fang shrugged nonchalantly. “They’re animals. They don’t care who pulled the trigger. They’re hunting by scent, and yours was all over Jake. Have a good life, cupcake, at least for the next few hours.”

Angelia drew a shaky breath at his morbid forecast. As much as she hated it, she knew he was right. She wouldn’t get far and there really was nothing she could do. She’d been a part of this. Willingly.

There was no way to change the past. Any more than she could keep the lions from killing her. They wouldn’t listen to reason and honestly, if that had been done to someone she loved, she wouldn’t be forgiving, either.

This was what she deserved for her part in Dare’s brilliant plan. She would fight, but she wouldn’t run. It wasn’t in her. If this was her fate, then she would meet it with dignity.

Yet she didn’t want to die without at least saying she was sorry to one person.

Excusing herself, she flashed from the table, up to Fury’s room.

What she found there stunned her most of all.

Fury stood in front of the dresser holding the small me­dallion she’d given him when he’d reached puberty at twenty-seven.

“What’s this for?” he’d asked her when she’d handed it over to him.

“You’re a man now, Fury. You should have something to mark the occasion.”

It hadn’t been expensive or even particularly nice. Just a small circle with an X on it. Yet he’d kept it all these centu­ries.

Even after she’d betrayed him.

Balling it in his fist, he looked at her. “Why are you here?”

She wasn’t sure really. No, that wasn’t true, she knew exactly why she’d come. “I couldn’t leave without telling you something.”

He rolled off his retort in a dry, brittle tone. “You hate me. I suck. I’m an animal unfit to breathe the same air.” He dropped the necklace back into the top drawer and closed it. “I know the tirade. I’ve heard it my entire life. So go away.”

“No,” she said, her voice cracking from the weight of her fear and guilt. “That’s not what I wanted to tell you.” Uncertain of her reception, she approached him slowly, like she would any wounded animal. She placed her hand over the one he had balled into a fist. “I’m sorry, Fury. You gave me your friendship and loyalty, and when I should have treasured it, I turned on you. I have no excuse for it. I could say I was afraid, but I shouldn’t have been afraid of you.”

Fury stared at her hand on his. All his life he’d been re­jected. After he’d left his mother’s patria, he hadn’t reached out to anyone for fear of being hurt again. Because of his untrained powers, he’d always felt awkward around every­one.

The only person who’d ever made him feel like the man he wanted to be was. . .

Her.

“You stabbed me.”

“No,” she said, tightening her grip on his hand. “I stabbed at a painful memory. You know me, Fury, but what you don’t know is that I have never in my life turned into a wolf. Even though it’s part of me, it’s a part that I have never been able to accept. I’ve lived my entire life trying to silence a nightmare that has never relented. We were friends, you and I. And not once since you left have I ever found anyone who made me feel like you did. In your eyes, I was always beautiful.”

He met her gaze and the pain inside him scorched her. “And in your eyes, I’m a monster.”

“A monster named Furry?”

He snatched his hand away from hers. “He can’t pro­nounce my name yet.”

“No, but you answer to it and you protected a woman who twice wounded you.”

“So what? I’m a stupid asshole.”

She reached up and touched his face. “You were never stupid.”

He turned his face away. “Don’t touch me. It’s hard enough to fight your scent. After all, I’m just an animal and you’re in heat.”

Yes, she was, and the closer she was to him, the more that basic part of herself wanted to be with him. Every hormone in her body was on fire and it was weakening her will.

Or was she just using that as an excuse? The truth was, even without this she’d spent hours at night remembering him. Remembering his scent and his kindness. Wondering what it would have been like had he been Arcadian and still with her.

In all these centuries, he’d been her only real friend and she’d missed him terribly.

Swallowing her fear, she forced herself to say what she really wanted to. “Sate me, Fury.”

He blinked at her words. “What?”

“I want you.”

He shook his head and cast her a scathing glare. “That’s your hormones talking. You don’t want me. You just need to get laid.”

“There’s a house full of men downstairs I could pick from. Or I could go home and find one. But I don’t want them.” He moved away from her.

She followed him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Your brother told me that the lions are hunting us. I have no doubt they’ll find me and kill me. But before I die, I want to do the one thing that I used to dream about.”

“And that is?”

“Be with you. Why do you think while you were in the patria that I never chose a male to sleep with after I reached my prime?”

“I figured you thought they were limp.”

She smiled at his insult. It was so classic Fury. “No. I was waiting for you. I wanted you to be my first.” She trailed her hand down to cup him in her hand.

Fury sucked his breath in sharply. It was so hard to think while she fondled him. Hard to remember why he wanted her to leave.

“Be with me this one time.” She nipped at his earlobe.

Chills ran the length of his body as the wolf in him howled in pleasure. In all honesty, he’d never taken many lovers. Mostly because of the woman whose hand was squeezing his cock through his jeans. How could he trust another one after the way she’d betrayed him?

He’d always held himself back from the other wolfswans. When they’d been in heat, he’d withdrawn until the woman had claimed another wolf.

It was easier that way. He didn’t like human emotions, and he didn’t like any kind of intimacy. It left him too vul­nerable. Left him open to hurt, and he didn’t like being hurt.

He should shove her away and forget how good it felt to be held. He was just about to do that very thing when she wrapped her arms around him and gave him the one thing he hadn’t had from anyone other than his nephew.

A hug.

“Do you have anyone who holds you?”

That one question shattered his last resistance. “No.”

She walked around him and lifted herself up on her toes to reach his lips. Fury hesitated. Wolves didn’t kiss when they mated. It was a human action and it was one he’d never experienced.

But as her lips touched his, he realized why it meant so much to the humans. The tenderness of her breath tickling his skin. Of their breathing mingling while her tongue parted his lips to taste him. That was something the wolf in him understood.

Growling, he pulled her into his arms, tasted her fully.

Angelia moaned at the gentle ferocity of his kiss. He cupped her face in his hands as he explored every inch of her mouth. Part of her couldn’t believe she was touching a wolf.

But it’s Fury. ..

Her Fury.

Even though they didn’t pick their mates, he was the one man she’d given her heart to, even when she’d only been a child. “You’ll always be my best friend, Fury, and one day when we’re grown we’ll be warriors together. You protect my back and I’ll protect yours.” How innocent that promise had been.

And how hard to keep.

Fury pulled back from the kiss to look down at her with those eyes that seared her with his pain and uncertainty. She was afraid. He could smell it. He just didn’t know what she was afraid of. “You know that I am, Lia. You’re about to den down with an animal. Are you ready for that?”

Den down . . . it was Katagaria slang and repugnant to the Arcadians.

Angelia traced the outline his lips. “If this is my last night to live, I want it to be with you, Fury. Had the Fates not been cruel to us and turned you into an animal when you hit puberty, we would have done this centuries ago. I know ex­actly what you are and I love you in spite of it.” She smoothed the angry frown on his brow. “Most of all, I love you be­cause of what you are.”

Fury couldn’t breathe as he heard words he’d never thought to hear from anyone’s lips.

Love.

But did she mean it?

“Would you die for me, Lia?”

It was her turn to scowl. “Why do you ask me that?”

“Because I would die to keep you safe. That to me is what love is. I want to make sure that this time we both un­derstand the terms. ‘Cause if love to you is stabbing me and leaving me to die, then you can keep it.”

She choked on a sob at his heartfelt words. “No, baby. That wasn’t love. That was me being stupid, and I swear to you if I could go back and change that moment, I would stand there and fight for you . . . like I promised you I would.”

Closing his eyes, he nuzzled his face against her cheek, stroking her skin with his whiskers. Angelia smiled at the purely wolf action. He was marking her as his. Mingling their scents together.

And honestly, she wanted his scent on her skin. It was warm and masculine. Pure Fury.

He stepped back and pulled her shirt over her head. His eyes flashing, he ran his hands over her bra, gently massag­ing her. She smiled at his hesitancy. “They won’t bite you.”

A slow smile curled his lips. “No, but their owner might.”

Laughing, she nipped at his chin as she reached around to unfasten her bra.

Fury sucked his breath in sharply as she dropped the bra to the floor. On the small side, her breasts were still the most beautiful things he’d ever seen. His blood thrumming in his ears, he dipped his head down to taste her.

Angelia shuddered at the way his tongue teased her nip­ple. He nuzzled and suckled her in such a way that she actu­ally came from it a few moments later. Crying out, she felt her knees give way from the ferocity of her orgasm.

Fury scooped her up in his arms and held her close as he carried her to the bed.

“How did you do that?” she asked breathlessly. “I didn’t even know that could cause that.”

He made a rumbling sound deep in his throat that was purely animalistic as he laid her back on the mattress. He bent his head down to sweep his hair against her breasts while he unfastened her jeans. “I’m a wolf, Lia. Licking and tasting is our foreplay.” He slid her pants and panties down her legs before he removed them and her shoes.

Her heart hammering, she waited for him to return to her.

He jerked his shirt off over his head, showing her a body that was perfect in spite of the scars and bruises that marred the deep tawny skin. Cocking his head, he watched her. “Why are you hesitating?”

“I’m not hesitating.”

“Yes, you are. I might be a wolf, but I know what Arca­dian wolfswans do when they take a lover for the first time. Are you rejecting me?”

“Never,” she said emphatically.

“Then why aren’t you welcoming me?”

“I was afraid it would insult you. I don’t know what Kata­garia do. Should I turn over?”

Anger darkened his eyes. “Do you want to be screwed by an animal, or loved by a man?”

She sighed in frustration. No matter what she did, she made him angry. “I want to be with Fury as his lover.”

Fury savored those words. “Then show me like you would any lover.”

Her smile warmed him completely as she spread her legs wide. Her gaze never wavered from his as she reached down to carefully spread the folds of her body and hold herself open to him so that he could see exactly how wet she was for him. How ready and willing she was.

Arcadian custom dictated that he enter her while she was like that. They would mate face-to-face with very little tast­ing.

But that wasn’t what he wanted. Removing his pants, he crawled up the bed between her legs.

Angelia trembled, waiting for him to enter her with one forceful thrust. Instead, he nipped her fingers, licking her moisture from them. His gaze on hers, he held her hand in his before he took her into his mouth.

Arching her back, she groaned at how good he felt there. His tongue swirled around her, delving deep inside her body. Her head swam from the intense pleasure that kept increas­ing more and more until she feared she’d explode from it. Unable to stand it, she buried her hand in his hair while he continued to please her.

And when she came again, he stayed there, wringing ev­ery single spasm out of her until she thought she would weep from the sweet ecstasy.

Fury was panting from the pain in his cock as he ached to take her. Among his kind, the female must be fully sated. If not, she’d take another lover after him. It was a mark of shame to have a female call for another male to satisfy her, and though he hadn’t taken many lovers, he’d never had one call in for a second.

There was no way he was going to allow Angelia to be his first.

Sitting back on his haunches, he held his hand out to her.

She took it and frowned. “Is something wrong?”

He pulled her up slowly until she was sitting on the bed. “No. You wanted to know how a wolf takes his woman . . .” He moved her to the foot of the bed where he put her hands on the brass poles.

Angelia wasn’t sure about this. “What are you doing?”

He kissed her passionately before he indicated the dresser with a tilt of his head. “Look in the mirror.”

She did and watched as he moved around to her back. The moment he was there, he lifted her up so that they were kneeling on the bed with his chest pressed against her back. He brushed the hair away from her neck so that he could nip her skin. Wrapping her in his arms, he nuzzled her and breathed in her ear.

His muscles flexed around her as he cupped her breasts in his hands. He nudged her legs wider apart, then dipped his hand down to tease the tender folds.

Angelia watched his play, entranced by it. How could someone so fierce and dangerous be so gentle?

When she was wet and aching again, he lifted his head to meet her gaze in the mirror. With their gazes locked, he slid himself deep inside her.

She gasped at the girth and length of him there. Biting his lip, he thrust against her hips, sinking in even deeper while his hand continued to tease her. She felt her powers surging. Sex had always made her kind more powerful. Stronger. But never had she felt like this.

It was as if he were feeding her from a primal power source.

Fury buried his face against her nape as his senses swirled over how good she felt. There was nothing sweeter than the feel of her body around his. If she were a wolf, she’d be claw­ing at him by now, demanding he ride her harder and faster.

Instead, she let him take his time and savor her softness. Savor the beauty of intimacy. This was a side of himself that he’d seldom shared with any female.

And deep in his heart he knew why that was.

Because they’d never been his Lia. How many times had he closed his eyes and pretended it was Lia he held? Pre­tended it was her he smelled.

Now there was no pretending. She was here and she was his.

“Say my name, Lia,” he whispered in her ear.

She frowned at him. “What?”

He thrust deep inside her and paused to look at her in the mirror. “I want to hear my name on your lips while I’m in­side you. Look at me like this and tell me again that you love me.”

Angelia cried out in pleasure as he thrust against her again. “I love you, Fury.”

She could feel him growing larger inside her. It was something all the males of their species did. The more plea­sure they felt, the more they expanded. The thick fullness caused her powers to soar even more. Arching her back, she reached over her head to cup his cheek.

He quickened his strokes while his hand continued to. tease her cleft. There was a ferocity to his strokes now. One that was both commanding and possessive. She’d always heard the term of being taken by a lover, but this was the first time she’d experienced it.

And this time when she came, she actually howled from the sheer ecstasy of it.

Fury ground his teeth at the sound of her orgasm. At the sensation of her body spasming against his. It ignited his powers, arcing them until they caused the lamp on the night­stand to shatter. Still he pleased her, wanting to wring every last sigh and murmur from her.

It was only after she collapsed back against him that he allowed himself to come, too. He growled at the sudden burst as his release exploded and he finally felt his own re­lief.

Angelia smiled at the sight of Fury in the mirror as he buried his head against her shoulder and shuddered. His panting mixed with hers while he held her in his arms and kept her there. Unlike regular humans, they would be locked together like this until his orgasm finished—which would take several minutes. Normally, an Arcadian male would fall against her and wait for it to end.

Instead, Fury took the brunt of her weight while he nuz­zled her neck and held her tight.

“Did I hurt you?” he asked.

“No.”

He laid his cheek against hers and rocked her gently. An­gelia smiled, placing her hand to his cheek. In all her life she’d never experienced a more tender moment.

And to think it was in the arms of an animal that she’d found it. It was inconceivable.

They stayed there like that until he finally was soft enough to pull out without hurting her. Angelia fell back on the bed.

Fury lay down beside her so that he could stare at her naked body. “You are so beautiful.” He traced the Sentinel markings on her face.

“I’ll bet you never thought you’d mate with an Arca­dian.”

“I did until I turned out to be a wolf.”

She looked away at his blunt truth. “Why did you keep that secret from me?”

He laughed bitterly. “Oh gee, I can’t imagine. Maybe be­cause I was afraid you’d freak out and hate me. What a ri­diculous thought that was, huh?”

Blushing, she looked away, ashamed of the fact that he’d been right about her and he shouldn’t have been. “I’m sorry for that.”

“It’s all right. You weren’t the only one who tried to kill me.”

No, his entire patria, including his mother, siblings and grandfather had tried to kill him. And still he’d managed to survive.

“Did your father welcome you in?”

“I never gave him the chance to reject me. I found his pack and when I saw how little respect he had for Vane and Fang, I decided to lay low and not tell him I was his son. I figured one near-death experience at the hands of a parent was enough for anyone.” He traced circles around her breasts. “You’ve really never shapeshifted?”

“Why would I?”

He stopped to stare at her. “I think you should.”

“Why?”

“It’s part of who and what you are.”

So what? “It’s a part I don’t have to accept or like.”

“Yes, you do.”

She tensed at his tone. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying either you shift into a wolf, or I’m going to shock you and make you.”

She gasped at his threat. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me.”

Horrified, she sat up. “This isn’t funny. Fury. I don’t want to be a wolf.”

His turquoise eyes were relentless. “For one minute, hu­mor me. You need to know what it is you hunt, and what it is you hate.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s what I am and I want you to understand me.”

She wanted to tell him to shove that. She did understand him, but before she could say that, she stopped.

He was right. How could she understand what he was when she’d never experienced it herself? If it was important to him, then she would do this.

“Then for you only, and only for one minute.”

He inclined his head and waited.

And waited.

When a full three minutes had gone by and she was still human, he arched a brow at her. “Well?”

“Okay. I’m doing it.” Glaring at him, she flashed into her wolf’s form.

Fury smiled at the sight of her on his bed. Dark brown with black and red, she was as beautiful in this form as she was in her human one. He ran his hand through her fur. “See, it’s not so bad, is it?”

Can you understand me?

“Of course I can. Just like you can understand me. Now look around the room. See how different things look. How much sharper sounds and scents are.”

She looked up at him.

“You’re still human, Lia. Even as a wolf. You retain all of yourself in this form.”

She flashed back to herself. “Do you—”

“Yes. What we are in one form, we are in the other. Noth­ing changes.”

Angelia sat there thinking that over. She’d assumed as a wolf that they became animals with no rational thought at all. . . but that hadn’t been true. She’d kept all her cogni­zance. The only difference had been heightened senses.

Gratitude swept through her, and as she went to kiss him, a searing pain tore through her hand. Gasping, she sat back, shaking it to help alleviate the pain.

Fury cursed before he lifted his hand and blew air across it. As he did so, the geometric pattern of his pack appeared on his palm.

It was identical to the one on hers.

Holy shit. . .

“We’re mates?” Angelia gasped.

Fury looked at her in disbelief. “How?”

She continued staring at her palm. In their world, the Fates determined who they would mate with at their births. The only way to find the mate was to sleep with them and if it was meant to be, they would have matching marks.

Those marks would only appear for three weeks, and if the woman failed to accept her mate within that time, she would be free to live out her life free of him. But she would never be able to have children with anyone else.

The male was left celibate until the day she died. Once mated, he could only sleep with his wife. He would never be able to have an erection for anyone else.

“We were chosen.” She placed her palm to his and smiled. “You are my mate.”

Fury was having a hard time with this. He’d always won­dered what it would feel like to be mated. The Dark-Hunter Acheron had told him that he’d already met his mate, but he hadn’t really believed him.

To have it be the one woman he’d always loved . . .

It just didn’t happen like this.

He looked at Angelia, his heart pounding. “Will you ac­cept me?”

She rolled her eyes. “No. I’m here naked with you be­cause all my clothes fell off by accident and I can’t find them.”

“You’re a sarcastic little critter, aren’t you?”

“I learned it from you.”

Laughing, Fury leaned forward to kiss her, but before he could make contact with her lips, a bright flash exploded. He pulled back and scowled as four lions appeared in his room.

Their expressions were furious as they threw something at him.

He caught it and then grimaced before he dropped the jackal’s gruesome head to the floor. “What the hell is this?”

“I’m Paris Sabastienne,” the tallest lion said, “and I’m here to kill the bitch who killed and ruined my brothers.”

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