/ Language: English / Genre:antique, / Series: Spellbound Moon

Third Time Lucky

Loribelle Hunt

antiqueLoribelleHuntThird Time LuckyengLoribelleHuntcalibre 0.8.4118.3.20128609f95f-830d-4e32-9bda-5bf5c7e48c821.0



Loribelle Hunt


Spellbound Moon 3: Third Time Lucky

Copyright © October 2011 by Loribelle Hunt

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

eISBN 978-1-61118-575-1

Editor: Jana J. Hanson

Cover Artist: April Martinez

Printed in the United States of America

Published by

Loose Id LLC

PO Box 809

San Francisco CA 94104-0809


This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


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Chapter One

“All right, all right, I’m coming,” Harris yelled while he wrapped the towel around his hips.

He stalked down the center hall but didn’t reach the door before the bell rang a fourth time.

It couldn’t be Ethan. It was too early for their date. Besides, he’d just come in or use his key if the door was locked, which it rarely was.

Harris damned near ripped the door off its hinges when he yanked it open. The sight that greeted him stopped his next angry words cold. He opened the door wide and stepped back to let her enter.


Werewolf soldier and major pain in his ass, but man could the woman work a short red dress. Clingy fabric wrapped around her killer curves, high, full breasts, and a mouthwatering ass. Auburn hair hung loose to her shoulders, framing a face more striking than beautiful. But it was her eyes that did him in every time. Rich brown and expressive.

He hadn’t seen her for three months, and there could only be one reason for her showing up now. She looked him over with a smoldering gaze that confirmed his suspicions.

“In heat again, darlin’?”

Smoldering gave way to bright, sharp anger. “Are you complaining? That’s a first.” She moved to the living room entryway, leaned one shoulder against the wall, and wrapped her arms around her middle. The movement pushed her breasts up so they almost spilled from the top of the low bodice. It was a calculated move, playing dirty, and they both knew it. His own anger started to simmer.

He wasn’t sure who was the cat or who was the mouse, but he was fucking sick of this game. They should be enemies. Wizards and werewolves weren’t allies, friends, or fuck buddies.

Then again, nothing was as it should be, right down to his presence in Redemption, Florida. He’d been banished as a teenager and had made his way here to neutral territory.

Neutral or not, it bordered werewolf land, and a good half of its residents were members of the neighboring Redhawke pack. He hadn’t exactly been welcomed with open arms, but he’d carved out a place for himself. Despite the odds, despite centuries of animosity between his race and theirs, Harris counted werewolves among his friends and lovers. He’d made a name for himself as an honest and ethical and dependable man.

But that acceptance only went so far—and that was part of the problem, wasn’t it?

Gabby would never mate with him. She wouldn’t let him get that close, but she trusted him when she was in heat in a way she’d never trust a wolf. Mating was an instinct a wolf would find hard to resist with a female in heat, but she didn’t believe Harris could create a mate bond with her since he was a different species. Because he’d been content with their arrangement, he hadn’t corrected her. The first time she’d come to him, two years ago, he’d resolved to just enjoy what part of her she was willing to share. He didn’t push. He didn’t make demands. He didn’t come close to taking her the way he wanted to. Why? Because wolves did not mate with wizards.

But then things started to change. First Redhawke’s paladin—their third in command—Liza, the only person on the planet Harris knew of who was half wolf and half witch, had mated with her alpha and beta. It was a year ago now, and even though Liza had always been a part of Redhawke, was seen as more wolf than witch by her pack members, it had made Harris start to think. If that mating could be accepted, why not others? When he’d casually mentioned that to Gabby, she’d stayed away five months. On her return, he’d smelled what remained of a potion he knew werewolf females sometimes used to delay heat. He didn’t bring it up again, but it made him angry and resentful, and he felt ridiculous about it. Who complained about casual, nostrings-attached sex with a hot woman?

“Earth to Harris?”

He realized he was staring at the wall over her head while memories washed through him, and he shifted his gaze to study her face while he went on thinking. Liza had been the first, and her circumstances were special. But then came Harper, a witch looking for sanctuary. It hadn’t taken long before one of Redhawke’s soldiers and its healer had made her theirs. Why couldn’t two witches mated into Redhawke become two witches and a wizard? Harris had stopped thinking about it weeks ago. He knew what he wanted.


A look crossed her face—something between unease and fear—that made his heart accelerate with anticipation. Let the games begin.

“This isn’t working for me anymore.”

At his words, her expression turned to one of annoyance. “Fine,” she said, straightening.

“I’ll leave.”

“I didn’t say you could leave, darlin’.”

He was as good at spells and potions as the next wizard, but that wasn’t what set him apart.

He used his mind to slam the still-open front door shut and turn the locks. The surprised look on her face was so comical he almost laughed. He did grin, and she gave him a dirty look.

“I had no idea you could do that.”

“Oh, I can do all kinds of things.” Read as much innuendo into that as you like, darlin’.

Small white teeth bit down on her bottom lip. He just managed not to groan, remembering what they felt like on his skin.


“Telekinesis.” He took a step forward, and she matched it with one in retreat. “It’s a rare talent, and mine is stronger than most.” Probably the strongest in the world, but she didn’t need to know that yet.

“Can you read minds?” she asked curiously.


“And what can you do other than shut and lock doors?” Ah, his curious little wolf. He had her. With a slow shake of his head and fighting a smile, he said, “Let me show you.”

But she didn’t take the hand he held out. “I thought you said this wasn’t working for you anymore.”

She frowned, but her eyes were feverish, and her gaze kept returning to the erection his towel did nothing to hide. The heat was taking over. He used a finger under her chin to lift her face so he could see into those cloudy eyes. Deep and whiskey-colored, they only spoke of lust and need.

He grinned. “Don’t you think we should wait and talk about this later?”

“Oh yes.” She nodded, lust thickening her voice. “Definitely later.” She reached for him, but he stopped her and turned her around. He kept his hands on her shoulders and moved up close behind her, his cock pressed against her ass, as he whispered in her ear, “Wait in the bedroom. You know where it is.”

“Aren’t you coming?”

He slid his hands down her arms to her elbows, moved them to her hips, and held her still while he pushed his pelvis forward. She gasped and tried to get closer. It took all his restraint not to let her.

“Harris.” It was a panted plea, and he let her desire wash over him, a hot, seductive wave.

He knew what she wanted. A casual, undemanding, very vanilla joining. But he was certain that wasn’t what she needed. It might satisfy her body, but it wouldn’t give her the fulfillment she craved in her heart and soul. He wasn’t a telepath—he hadn’t lied about that—but he felt her emotions and most deeply hidden secrets on a psychic level. Secrets she probably didn’t even acknowledge to herself. The only other person Harris could read so well was Ethan, and Harris knew that was because both wolves were his. Ethan accepted that, but not his skittish little she-wolf. She required persuasion, and Harris was ready to use the most sensual kind.

Releasing her, he stepped back and slapped her ass. “Go. I want you waiting naked for me.” He looked down her stocking-clad legs. It was time to make some demands of his own.

“You can keep the shoes on.”

With one last uncertain glance over her shoulder, she moved down the hall and disappeared into his bedroom. He could sense a low-level tension under her confusion. As a high-ranking soldier in Redhawke, her instinct to resist his order was only quelled by the desire flooding her body. He heard a key in the lock behind him and turned as Ethan sauntered in.

Grinning, Ethan looked him over.

“I figured dinner and a movie first, but if you want to skip straight to dessert, I’m game.” Harris rolled his eyes, but it was only a feeble effort to hide his excitement. “Not now.” Ethan shut the door and leaned back against it with a casual grace that fooled everyone who met him. It was a carefully cultivated image. He was tall and leanly muscled and looked more like a rich playboy than a dangerous soldier. Dark blond hair with tantalizing streaks of gold fell into his eyes, and he shoved the shaggy, wavy mass back to pin Harris with an emerald green stare. His eyes narrowed, and his nostrils flared. That easygoing mask slipped for just a minute as he waited Harris out.

“She just showed up,” Harris replied to the unanswered question. He knew his werewolf lover could scent the woman they both wanted in the house. He’d been with Ethan long enough to anticipate him. Usually. Harris half expected him to straighten and make himself scarce. He didn’t.

Instead a pained look crossed his face, and Ethan muttered, “That woman is gonna kill me.”

Harris understood like no one else could have. He wanted Ethan and Gabby fiercely, always. He wanted a right to them. A right to make demands from them. He was sick and damned tired of being on the outside, and he was pretty sure Ethan felt the same way. Gabby would only come to Harris when she was in heat, but she would only go to Ethan if she wasn’t.

The woman had serious commitment issues.

He looked Ethan over and felt the usual lust strum through his body. He rarely allowed himself the fantasy of the three of them together, but things were changing, weren’t they?

“I told her this arrangement isn’t working for me anymore.” Ethan gave him a sharp look edged with hunger. “And yet, she’s in your bed.”


He snorted. “Hell, yeah.”

“I told her, but she isn’t exactly in a position to think right now. It would be cruel of me to send her away like that.”

“The heat. I thought I scented the beginning yesterday,” Ethan murmured.

“Hmm. No telling what she might agree to in that state.”

Ethan blinked; then a slow smile curled his lips. “That’s not right. Sneaky. Underhanded. I like it.”

Harris grinned. Gabby didn’t feel any compunction about playing dirty. Why should they?

Besides, all was fair in love and war, and this was both. “After you, then.”

Chapter Two

Gabby tried not to obey Harris’s order too quickly, too eagerly, but it was impossible. She burned. Unfortunately she couldn’t blame it all on the heat. Her craving intensified each time she came to him. Heart racing like she’d just run a marathon, she shut the door behind her and stared, unmoving, at Harris’s huge bed. Three adults could comfortably share it. Leaning back against the door, she squeezed her eyes shut. This wasn’t the first time she’d thought about the number of people who’d fit in that bed. It wasn’t any more welcome now than then, especially when she reminded herself whom Harris would invite to join them. Ethan. The wolf who teased her, tempted her, irritated her, and generally made her crazy.

It’s just the hormones, Gabby. Forget about it.

Damn the heat. Men didn’t have to suffer through this indignity. They didn’t get ambushed by their hormones every three months, didn’t become consumed with lust. Sometimes the desperation was so bad it hurt. The women in the pack said it wasn’t so bad if you were mated.

In fact they said the opposite—that it was incredible with a mate. Gabby would never know. She had no intention of mating. It didn’t tend to work out for the strong females in the pack, like her mother. Even Liza, who was paladin—second in strength and power only to the alpha and beta—constantly struggled against her mates’ instinct to dominate her.

No. Gabby would rather be alone than turn her personal life into a battleground. So why was she here now, imagining Harris and Ethan in that bed with her? And worse, imagining being in their power, giving them total control. It was just the heat, damn it. Had to be. Ethan drove her up the wall 90 percent of the time, and despite the time she spent with Harris during heat, she hardly knew him. They didn’t exactly spend their time together talking. When he tried to initiate conversations, she did her best to keep it impersonal. Why tempt herself by deepening the attraction she already felt for him? It was better to keep him at an emotional distance.

With a groan, she moved to sit on the edge of the bed and put her face in her palms. None of that had stopped her from having sex with him before. She almost stood to leave, but where could she go? It was too late for the mix of herbs that would deaden the heat, and dangerous to use more than once a year anyway. If she went home, she ran too big a risk of running into a male who might scent her condition, and he’d try his damnedest to seduce her. She’d probably give in too, not because she wanted to, but because she couldn’t fight her hormones indefinitely.

No, that wouldn’t do.

At least there were no expectations of something more with Harris. They’d spend a couple of days together. She’d screw it out of her system and leave with no strings attached. And if that was getting harder to do, oh well. Life was a bitch sometimes. She’d deal.

Decision made, she kicked off her heels. Harris may like them, but they pinched her toes to the point of numbness. She gasped and wiggled them when they were free, then stood to roll down her thigh-highs. She tossed them away and hurried to reach the zipper on the side of the dress when she heard footsteps in the hall. The zipper was pulled to her waist before she realized there were two people out there. She held her breath, staring when the door opened, but she knew who was there. His scent was just as intoxicating, just as seductive as Harris’s. Rich and male. A hint of forest and dominance.

“Oh no,” she whispered.

“You’re still dressed,” Harris said.

No shit. “What’s he doing here?”

“Did you assume I didn’t have plans today, darlin’? Not very thoughtful of you.” She hadn’t considered it one way or the other. “You should have said something. I don’t want to interrupt.”

Oh gods. Was that a note of longing in her voice? Get a grip, Gabby. She couldn’t have sex with both of them and expect nothing to change. Ethan especially would be insufferable.

He’d brought up relationships and commitments more than once in the last year. Hinted at but never uttered the dreaded m word. Mate. Every time he did, she ran hard in the other direction.

He was blocking her escape now, though, wearing an expression that said he knew exactly where her thoughts had gone.

“You aren’t interrupting,” Harris said. He let the towel drop, and her mouth went dry.

“You’re joining.”

“Um.” She licked her lips and wrenched her gaze from his cock. Need punched hard in her belly. “Bad idea.” She picked up her shoes, but Ethan didn’t move from his position blocking the door.

“I should go,” she said softly. “I need to go.” What she really needed was one of them moving hard and fast inside her, but if they knew that, they’d use it to keep her here. To make it reality. She shut her eyes, afraid they gave her away, and took a deep breath. A mistake. She took their scents deep into her lungs. Ethan was masculine and woodsy, while Harris was rich and mysterious. She got a seductive hint of how theirs would mix with hers if they were mated. She frowned and took another breath. One already had a piece of the other’s. Harris and Ethan belonged to each other, though she didn’t think they realized it was a done deal yet. She opened her eyes, looked first at Ethan, then at Harris.

“I really don’t belong here,” she said, ignoring a twinge of regret. You don’t want that, remember? Two obnoxious alpha males trying to control her life? No way.

“You’re wrong about that,” Ethan said so softly even her sensitive ears had to strain to make out the words.

And still he guarded the door. She very carefully kept her eyes off Harris, who stood naked just a couple of feet away. She’d never find the necessary strength to walk out of the house if she looked at him, so she concentrated on Ethan.

“Let me go.” Damn it, the demand sounded more like a plea. If she showed any weakness to him now, he’d pounce. She knew it, and she suspected she wouldn’t be able to resist.

“Where?” he asked sharply, letting that playboy facade that made her crazy drop. “Where will you go? To someone else? I’ve allowed this because of my relationship with Harris, but do you really think I’ll let you give yourself to another man?” There was incredulity in his voice, but it barely registered. For the first time, she thought there might be a way to defeat the heat. Fury. Pure, undiluted rage. The kind only a cornered female wolf would indulge in.

“Allow? Let? I don’t answer to you. Who the fuck do you think you are?” She’d moved close enough to punctuate her words with a finger on his chest, and she should have known better. He gripped her hips, hard, bruising, and pulled her closer. The eyes that stared down into hers glowed yellow, the tiny partial shift that indicated the wolf was more in charge than the man.

“Your mate,” he growled. “That’s who I am.”

It was said with fierce possession, commanding, and oh so dominant. Her heart thudded in her chest, heavy and fearful. But a secret, buried part of her was excited. Eager. He pulled the hem of her dress up so that it exposed her panties; then he slid his hands under them. Bare flesh.

She was still furious, but her body, her wolf, knew this man’s touch. Knew how right it could feel if she just let go. But letting go with a dominant male equaled giving in. Submitting. If she did it once, he’d expect it always. Especially if she did it now, while she was in heat. He would expect her to take a submissive role and not just in the bedroom. It would change the entire dynamic of their relationship in a way neither she nor her wolf could accept. Knowing all that didn’t change her secret yearning one damned bit, though.

She struggled to free herself, but it was a halfhearted attempt, and they both knew it. Ethan didn’t let her go, and from the corner of her eye, she saw Harris step up behind her. His erection pressed against her butt, and she didn’t know if she should groan or cry. They were insistent, and she was weak. She could resist the pull she felt toward Ethan most of the time, but she couldn’t fight the heat or the attraction she felt for them both now. Her usual emotional armor was useless with this need raging through her. The only recourse was to beg. She laid her hands flat on Ethan’s chest and looked up into his gaze.

“Let me go,” she pleaded. “Don’t do this to me, Ethan. Please. You know what happens with the dominant females when they mate. I don’t want to become that woman.” He looked stunned at her admission and a little hurt. “Gabby. Baby. You know I can’t walk away now.”

Because in a roundabout way, she’d admitted it, hadn’t she? Admitted she knew he was her mate, that she’d been fighting the bond for what felt like forever. She leaned her head back against Harris’s chest, and Ethan reached up to brush her hair out of her face. Maybe they would sleep, and she could sneak out later. Run fast and far. With enough distance, maybe she could free herself. She was strong and capable. Another pack would take her in.

“Whatever plan is going through that pretty little head, forget about it,” Ethan said softly.

“And it’s not all the dominant females. Liza isn’t exactly submissive. I don’t think she knows how to submit.”

“And it’s a constant problem. How many arguments have you walked into?” she asked.

Ethan didn’t look concerned anymore. Instead he smiled. “I asked Zach about that once.” Zach was the pack’s beta. “He said the arguing is fun, because then they have to make up.” She scowled. “That’s stupid.”

“But it’s probably the only time Liza will let them take care of her. Spoil her.”

“Even stupider. All that strife just to give in?”

“Maybe,” Harris said in her ear, “you should ask Liza how she feels about it.”

“I would hate it,” she grumbled.

Harris laughed. “You aren’t her, and we aren’t them. What makes you think our relationship will be anything like theirs?”

Our relationship? She wanted to point out he was taking a lot for granted. She wasn’t agreeing to any kind of relationship with either one of them in her current state. But the point of no return was quickly approaching. She needed to get out of this room, out of this house. Though she admitted she probably didn’t have the will to leave anymore.

Harris’s cock still pressed insistently against her ass, and Ethan had moved his hands to cup her breasts. She was having a hard time sticking to one thought. Her arousal was growing, and she didn’t want to think, didn’t want to argue. She just wanted to feel. To feed the craving.

She wanted to be used and come so many times that she lost count. Until she couldn’t think anymore.

Ethan slipped the straps of her dress down her arms and pushed it to her waist. He bent, brushed kisses over the top of one breast, then the other, before sucking a nipple into his mouth.

His touch was soft, gentle. A caress. He took the opposite breast in his palm, circled the nipple with his fingers and squeezed. She gasped. The combined sensations of tender and hard were more seductive than she would have imagined possible. Weakness swept through her, and she clung to Ethan’s shoulders, certain she would melt into a puddle at his feet at any moment.

Harris wasn’t idle, either. He pulled her panties down her legs and lifted each foot free of them before pulling the dress the rest of the way down. It fell, pooling around her feet. Harris slid his hands up her inner thighs and nudged until she widened her stance. His fingers skimmed over her sex, back and forth, once and then again in a light stroking rhythm that made her pant.

He spread the lips of her sex and pushed one finger into her pussy. She was embarrassed by how wet and ready she was, but she couldn’t leave now if he paid her. One finger became two, and he stroked her, turning his hand so on each retreat and thrust his fingers dragged over her G-spot.

At the same time, Ethan suckled harder. She was swamped by sensation, the emotions she refused to acknowledge and the heat she couldn’t fight heightening the pleasure. Her orgasm was fierce and sudden. She cried out when it consumed her and was left trembling and stunned in its wake. Someone carried her to the bed, but she didn’t open her eyes to see who until it dipped on either side of her. She stared at the ceiling and tried to slow the rapid beating of her heart. She cracked a smile as hands moved on her. Exploring. Demanding. Well, she’d wanted to feel used, hadn’t she?

“What’s so funny?” Harris murmured, his lips moving over her neck, down to her collarbone, and then turned to nibble on the sensitive skin on the inside of her arm. Ethan moved her to her side so she faced him and lifted her top leg over his hips.

“Nothing,” she gasped as Ethan’s erection nudged her entrance. “Nothing at all.” He rolled to his back, pulling her so she straddled him, and with his hands gripping her hips, he lifted and lowered her on his cock. The first few strokes were so slow and careful. She grew slicker around him, her pussy clenching each time he tried to withdraw. Finally his control seemed to snap, as if he’d teased himself beyond endurance. She’d never seen Ethan lose control.

He growled low in his chest, and instead of scaring her, it excited her. He made her crazy. Why not return the favor?

She put her hand on the center of her chest and casually drew it down her body. His eyes, bright and feverish, followed the motion, mesmerizing her. Hell yeah. She could make him burn as much as she did. She paused at her pelvis and stretched one finger to flick her clit, watching as his eyes changed to neon yellow. She’d woken the wolf.

“Do it again,” he ordered. “Open yourself so I can watch.” It should have pissed her off. She’d never let him or Harris have control in bed. That was the first step of a long, slow slide. It should have angered her, but it didn’t. It electrified her, ratcheted up her arousal to a point she’d never experienced before. The heat. It has to be the heat. She knew that was a lie, but she didn’t have the power to delude herself again. She didn’t even want to.

She used one hand to spread the lips of her sex. With the other, she rolled a finger over her clitoris. Harris groaned, and she looked at the other man. She’d forgotten he was there, but he was impossible to miss now. He crouched next to them on his knees. His gaze was on her hands.

His hand wrapped around his cock, stroking up and down almost languidly.

She rubbed her finger over her clit again. And again. Ethan growled and fucked her harder, and Harris, eyes hot with passion, moved into position behind her. He squeezed her ass, then spread the cheeks and pressed a finger against her rear entrance. Her heart, already racing, felt like it would explode from her chest. Could she handle both of them at once? The fantasy took root in her mind, and she rubbed her clit harder, rougher, until she felt her body tighten with another orgasm. She froze as the pleasure swept over her. Ethan’s cry of release only increased her satisfaction, but she didn’t have time to bask in it.

Harris picked her up and arranged her on her hands and knees next to Ethan, who leaned up and kissed her, deep and long. It was a thorough and intense kiss. She felt marked, and for a moment, panic intruded. She wasn’t ready to be claimed. As if he sensed her misgivings, Harris thrust into her pussy from behind, and wherever her thoughts might have gone vanished into a cloud of renewed lust.

Her hands curled into fists in the blankets as he moved inside her. His strokes were deep and forceful; his hands holding her still were strong and branding. She’d never been with him like this before. He’d never lost control, never gotten rough. Never gone all dominating and alpha male on her. It scared her a little because she liked it. Liked it a lot.

Is this what Harris meant when he said their arrangement wasn’t working for him anymore? Was it as simple as he wanted to change the nature of their sexual encounters?


But that wasn’t what Ethan wanted. He watched them with avaricious eyes, but he didn’t join in. His hand wrapped around his cock, already hard again, giving it easy lazy strokes. A pearl of cum was on the head, and she was tempted to lean forward and lick it off. He gave his patently sexy, wicked smile.

“You want a taste, baby?”

Harris’s strokes slowed, gentled. She moistened her lips. Suddenly she wanted that taste as much as she wanted Harris pounding into her. She nodded, and he rose to his knees, moving into place in front of her. She breathed deeply, taking his scent into her lungs, then leaned forward to lick the drop. Salty and tangy. Pure male. She sucked the head of his cock into her mouth, ran her tongue over the slit, and was rewarded with another drop.

His hand twisted in her hair and tugged her forward. An unspoken demand, but a demand nonetheless. She wasn’t giving in. No way. But she decided she could indulge his need, and maybe retaliate a bit for his overstepping her boundaries while she was at it. She gripped the base in one hand and, starting at the slit, licked her way down his shaft. She took her time, explored every vein and bump and ridge. Then she lightly scraped her teeth over the underside of the head.

With a low snarl, his hips jerked forward, the hand in her hair gripping hard now. If she wasn’t so consumed by the same lust, she’d laugh at his impatience and her ability to instill it.

But teasing him turned out to be just as torturous for her. She decided to give in a little. She took the head into her mouth, sucked it lightly while running her tongue over the slit, back and forth, gathering the precum weeping there. Then she took him farther into her mouth. She stroked her tongue down the underside of his cock, coating him in his own fluids. He tried to hurry her, so when she bobbed her head back, she used her teeth. Not a lot. Just enough to warn him to stay still. It had the opposite effect.

Ethan growled. “Stop teasing, Gabby.”

That was definitely an order, but instead of anger and resistance, it inflamed her. It didn’t make any sense, but she didn’t have enough active brain cells to think it over right now. Harris began thrusting inside her again, and his fingers squeezed her clit. She gasped, and when she did, Ethan thrust into her mouth. Even with a hand still around the base of his cock, he nudged the back of her throat. She fought the urge to gag. Then he started moving, and the reflex disappeared. Hard, fast strokes that Harris matched while keeping rough fingers rubbing over her clit.

There was no way she could last, no way to delay the orgasm rising in her. She tightened her grip on Ethan. Part of her knew it was probably hard enough to hurt the tender organ, but he didn’t seem to care. With a cry, he came in her mouth, but he pulled out before she could swallow more than a few drops of his cum. He reached under her, found her breasts and her nipples. Caressed. It was an exquisite combination of pain and pleasure. Coupled with Harris pounding into her and his attention to her clit, it unleashed the orgasm building in her body. She cried out, and her muscles seized. Harris, groaning, fucked her through it until he too spent himself, quieter than her and Ethan, but his groan no less satisfying for knowing she had a part in it.

All three of them collapsed onto the bed. Harris murmured something about a shower, and a few seconds later, she heard water come on. She kept her face pressed to the pillow and refused to move when one of them slapped her ass. Like she could move? They were both smoking crack. Hell no. She was staying put and enjoying the aftereffects of good—okay, incredible, mind-blowing—sex. It wouldn’t be long before her energy returned and the heat once again took over. Though she’d never experienced it like this. She groaned. They better not get it into their heads this was a regular arrangement. She didn’t think she’d survive.

The water turned off, and a few minutes later, Harris bullied her until she slid under the blankets. Then the light went off, and they left her alone. But probably not for long, she hoped, as she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Three

Ethan paced in the kitchen. Back and forth and back again. He glanced at the rear wall for the umpteenth time, wishing he could see through it, wondering if she still slept. He should feel calmer. He should be back in control. But he was wound tight. Her scent permeated everything.

It was usually sweet and intoxicating, but with the heat it was more. Rich, piquant, irresistible. It was making him mad. He felt his wolf side clawing for freedom, demanding he claim her. Mark her. No wonder she'd stayed far away from him when it took her over.

“You’re going to wear a hole through that floor,” Harris said drily.

He spun around, hands fisted at his sides. Harris leaned back in a chair, casual, one eyebrow arched in question while Ethan struggled to control his wolf. He wasn’t jealous exactly.

He’d known for a couple of years that if Gabby ever gave in, they’d share her. But knowing that didn’t stop possessiveness from ruling him. She was in heat, and she was his mate, but she remained unclaimed. He’d damned near bitten his tongue off not marking her. Maybe this intensity would recede after he did.

“This is pretty out of character,” Harris pointed out.

Fuck yeah it was. He didn’t get bent out of shape over women, not even Gabby. It had been hard, but even as a teenager, she was fierce and independent, determined she’d never take a mate. He’d trained himself not to get too consumed with her, because he’d known it was unlikely she’d accept him in her life like they were meant to be. Now, however, all those hard years of training, of denying himself, seemed to have vanished.

“I’ve known for years she’s mine. I think I’ve always known.” He’d never felt torn between Harris and Gabby before, and he didn’t now. It was common in the lupine world to have two mates. It was something their wolf sides craved, like being part of a private pack inside the larger one. He’d repressed his desire for that for years, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to lock it away again.

“I get that,” Harris said. “So why are you struggling so hard with it now?”

“I also always knew it was unlikely she’d ever accept a mate. I learned to live with it.”


“And she hasn’t accepted. She still might not, and it’s gonna be damned hard to go back to being indifferent about the status quo.”

That finally got a reaction from the wizard. His eyes narrowed. “I will not go back from tonight.”

Ethan figured his smile was just as bitter and frustrated as Harris’s voice. They wanted the same thing, but no matter how much he wanted Gabby, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. He wouldn’t allow her to be hurt even if it meant going against Harris. “You can’t force her to accept you. If you try, you’ll be fighting both of us.” Harris didn’t take offense. Instead he smiled. “I had something else in mind.” His words seemed to break the spell Ethan was under, and he paused to examine that startling thought. It made sense in a way. Werewolves were created by magic, so mating and the heat would be a kind of magic, right? He shook the idea away—it wasn’t important now—and sat down.


“Persuasion. Seduction.”

He cocked an eyebrow. Was Harris serious? “I’ve seduced her before. Look where it got me.”

“You’ve talked your way into her bed. I’m talking about getting into her head and her heart, Ethan.”

He snorted. “She won’t let me that close. You either. How do you propose to change that?” With a grin Ethan could only describe as diabolical, Harris stood and walked to one of the cabinets. Ethan joined him when he started pulling out supplies. He knew what was kept in there.

Seeing the bottles made him uneasy. It was one thing to know your lover was a wizard. Another to have it shoved in his face.

“What are you up to? Don’t tell me love potions are real.” One side of Harris’s mouth kicked up in a sexy smile. “They are, but that’s not what I’m doing. This is more like an opening yourself to new possibilities potion.”

“It won’t hurt her? It won’t be against her will?” he asked sharply. It rankled, using magic against his mate. He was a wolf, a natural enemy of magic users, but despite his relationship with Harris and the witches in Redhawke, he rarely saw it in use. He wasn’t quite suspicious of it, but it made him nervous. It felt almost like cheating.

“I would never hurt her. You know that,” Harris snapped. “Look, I’m not proposing that we give it just to her. That wouldn’t be fair, would it?” Ethan laughed. “She won’t take it if she knows about it.”

“Nope. She won’t. So we all take it.”

“And not tell her about it.”

“But we’ll all take it. You have a better idea?”

Gods. He shouldn’t even consider it. This was going to come back and bite him in the ass, wasn’t it? Harris mixed liquids while Ethan thought it over. It was a bad, bad idea, and he knew it.

“We aren’t messing with her emotions,” Harris said softly. “It’s not a love potion or animosity spell. Hell, it may not even work on werewolves.” But it might be their only chance. Harris didn’t have to say the words. Ethan knew. Gabby had resisted any relationship with them outside of sex for so long they would need an edge to breach her defenses. Sharing her while she was in heat was a good start—the opportunity to show how they could be together physically—but it wouldn’t be enough to get her to open her heart. She was too stubborn. Too determined to keep them at arm’s length. Harris finished mixing nd put the vials back.

“Now what? How do you get her to drink it?”

Harris grinned. “We take her to dinner.” He poured the liquid into an empty bottle, capped it, and stuck it in his pocket.

“What’s going on?” a sleepy voice asked from the doorway.

Harris took the small bowl he’d used to the sink, turned on the water, and rinsed it out. He moved with an easy, casual grace. Not at all like a man who would have been busted if she’d come in five seconds earlier. “Nothing.”

Ethan held his breath and faced her, hoping like hell he didn’t look as guilty as he felt. She was so pretty. And so damned stubborn. She looked tousled and well fucked. She practically glowed with satisfaction. His cock took immediate notice, aching and steel hard the moment her hooded, languid eyes met his.

“We were just talking about dinner. How about the pub?” he forced out, fighting the lust screaming through his body.

They could go to the one bar and grill in town, locally called “the pub,” or drive to the next big town. Ethan would prefer to just go back to bed, but he’d have to talk her there first. She’d put her dress and stockings back on, and her shoes dangled from her hand. At the mention of food, her eyes lit up.

“We could throw something together here,” she said. Right. Because going somewhere to eat might be too much like a date. It violated her “don’t get too close” rule. No way, baby, not this time. He wasn’t getting brushed off that easily. He’d had a taste of the way things could be, and that nibble was not enough. It left him starving for more. Harris might be on to something with his potion. If it made her open up to the possibility of a real relationship with them, then hopefully the next step would be to accept mating with them. It might be a foolish hope, but he’d take what he could get.

“We’d have to run to the grocery store. The pub is close,” Harris pointed out. “And the steaks are great. Might as well go there and save ourselves a sink full of dirty dishes.” She didn’t look happy about it, but finally she nodded, her reluctance easy to read.

Bending at the waist, she reached down to slip on her shoes, and her hair fell loose around her.

The memory of holding her hair, of thrusting into her mouth blazed in his mind. Dinner could wait. He took a step forward, but she was already straightening and moving into the hall, toward the front door. Harris gave him an amused, knowing grin and followed her.

Ethan heard the front door open, a murmur of voices. “Let’s go,” Harris called out, and with a growl, Ethan followed.

As soon as he stepped outside, he knew he had a bigger issue than getting back in Gabby’s pants. She and Harris stood on the sidewalk talking to a neighbor. A male, werewolf neighbor. It didn’t matter that Ethan knew the wolf was happily mated and old enough to be Gabby’s father.

The man was speaking to his mate, smiling and joking with his mate. Years of pent-up frustration and denial broke loose, and he snarled, low and vicious. Gabby took a wary step toward him, putting herself between Ethan and his quarry. That pissed him off more. What was she doing trying to protect the male?

She stopped a few inches from him and reached out to place her palm flat over his heart. It beat wildly, fast, threatening to burst from his chest, and her eyes widened, her nostrils flared to take in his scent, his emotions. “If I didn’t hurt so bad, I’d go home right now,” she said.

Her words stopped the snarl like he’d been doused in ice-cold water. He rested his hands on her shoulders and searched her face. “We hurt you?” She rolled her eyes. “Different kind of hurt.”

His confusion must have shown. She went on grudgingly. “It hurts. The heat. The need. It twists you up, and there’s only one way to relieve the pressure,” she ended on a bitter note.

He breathed her scent in deeply and knew she was telling him the truth. He lifted his hand and stroked her cheek with the knuckles. “We can go back inside,” he said softly enough the others couldn’t hear. It was a promise of the relief she sought, but she shook her head.

“I’m starving. I didn’t eat today.”

His hackles rose, threatening to let his feral protective instincts free again. She was his. He didn’t like her not taking care of herself, and if she wasn’t going to do it, he’d do it for her.


Over the top of her head, he saw the neighbor leave, and took her hand to tug her with him.

She shrugged but didn’t try to free herself, and he hid a grin. Progress at last.

“Too antsy, I guess. Nothing looked appealing.”

“Is that normal?” Ethan asked while Harris fell in on her other side. “She doesn’t eat when she comes to you?”

He ignored her blush of embarrassment at the question, and Harris shook his head. “Not in the first twenty-four hours. Sometimes after that.”

Interesting. Ethan had never heard that heat killed an appetite for food, but why would he?

The only woman he’d touch during that time always put him off, so he’d never questioned what was normal or not.

“Is it almost over then? Since you want to eat?” The idea disturbed him. He wanted a couple of days of mind-blowing sex. It might help mellow her outside of bed. Might convince her to give them a chance.

She scowled. “I should be that lucky,” she muttered before continuing in a firmer voice.

“This is the beginning. I have no idea why I’m suddenly hungry. I shouldn’t be.” He looked her over, assessing the little he knew. She was in heat so she was fertile, but even if they’d gotten her pregnant, her body wouldn’t be adjusting to those needs so soon.

Besides she would have taken steps to prevent pregnancy before she came to Harris. Lupines never used condoms. They were immune to the diseases that plagued mankind, and pregnancy could be prevented with a simple herbal brew. There was only one other explanation for her unexpected appetite, then. He hesitated to bring the subject up, but… “You haven’t been with your mate during heat before.”

He got an angry look for that, and she covered her neck with her hands, like she was afraid he’d marked her and she’d somehow missed it. “I doubt that’s it,” she grumbled. “And don’t get any ideas. This is not a permanent arrangement.”

Yeah, we’ll see about that. He exchanged a look with Harris and knew he was thinking the same thing. They had no intention of letting her walk away. She belonged with them as much as they belonged with her. Going back to the way things were would cause a soul-deep pain he doubted he’d recover from. So they’d fight for her. It was a fight he couldn’t contemplate losing.

He didn’t want to make her angry enough she’d leave before they set their plan in motion, though, so he only nodded. By then they’d reached the pub, and he steeled himself to enter. He could already smell them. Men. Young, old, available and not. And under that, sinking talons into his mind, was Gabby’s scent. The intensity of the heat.

This was a bad idea, but she entered before he could stop her. He had no choice but to follow. Only the werewolves looked up at their entrance, and those gazes lingered over Gabby a moment. How many knew she was in heat? How the hell did he control his wolf’s instincts to grab her up, toss her over his shoulder, and get the hell out of here?

She didn’t give him a chance. Her gaze swept over the crowded space, and she set off for a booth on the back wall. He followed, managed to return the bartender’s nod as he passed, and took a seat with the wall at his back. Harris sat across from him and Gabby to his left, exposed to the room. He repressed a growl and nudged her to stand. She’d be by the wall where he could protect her. When she was on her feet, she glared and was anything but obliging.

“I’m going to say hi to Harper. Order me a beer, will you?” She took off before he could protest, and Harris grabbed his arm so he couldn’t follow.

“She’s fine,” he said softly as a waitress approached and set down three mugs. Was it good or bad the bartender knew them well enough to anticipate their drink order? Once she’d gone, Harris pulled the potion from his pocket and put an equal amount in every beer. He returned the bottle to his pocket and lifted the glass, tipping it toward Ethan. “Ready?” Ethan was not as eager, but he picked up the drink at the same time Gabby returned. This time he bullied her into the inside of the booth, but he got the feeling she was just humoring him and not accepting the protection of a mate. The waitress returned for their order, and they all drank. He didn’t breathe easy until, mostly done with her glass, she ordered another beer. There was no way she could skip drinking her whole share of the potion now.

They ate the meal with small talk, nothing of consequence, but it filled him with a sense of contentment even as he felt the heat rising in Gabby, faster and harder until it was consuming.

Harris paid before they were finished, and as soon as she took the last bite of steak, Gabby rose.

There was no lingering, and it was a damned good thing. Much longer and he’d take her on the table, demonstrate his mastery of her and show everyone she was already claimed.

Fortunately, it didn’t come to such a public loss of control. She’d probably scratch his eyes out if he attempted it. He let a grin slip as he followed her out. Maybe he should try. He suspected the resulting confrontation would be hot as hell.

Chapter Four

Gabby led the way back to Harris’s. If she had any sense, she’d get there, get in her car, and drive like hell. But despite knowing that would be the best thing to do, she couldn’t, and she couldn’t even blame it on the heat. She was curious. They were up to something. Something subtle and devious, and she had a sneaking suspicion she knew what it was. Inside the house, they tried to urge her in the direction of the bedroom. Her libido was all for that, but not until she had some answers.

She walked into the living room instead and sat on the couch. “So what did you put in my beer?” she asked Harris, then turned to Ethan. “And why the hell did you agree with it?”

“How did you know?” Ethan asked.

The confirmation enraged her, but the feeling of betrayal was so much worse. She’d trusted them with her body at the time she was most vulnerable. Her wolf side scratched at her mind, furious and spitting. It was much angrier than the woman. All it understood was her faith had been violated.

Gabby fought the urge to lash out, struggled to remain calm when she really wanted to scream. This was exactly what she’d tried so hard to avoid, leaving herself vulnerable to two men who believed they had the right to rule her life. To make her decisions.

“What was it?” she asked evenly.

They both had the grace to look guilty and contrite, which calmed the wolf a bit, but the feeling of treachery remained. It threatened to overwhelm her anger.

“It’s nothing so bad. We all took it,” Harris said, squirming under her glare for just a moment before his expression changed to one of resolve. “It loosens inhibitions.” She snorted. Right. Because during heat she was so inhibited. “Try again, bubba.”

“That’s it, really. It’ll…just make you open to possibilities a little bit more.”

She believed him, but there had to be some trick, some deception she was missing. “I’ve already been with both of you,” she pointed out. “I don’t think inhibitions are a problem.” He shrugged, and his voice was hard when he spoke. “For now. What happens when the heat is over? You disappear?”

Suddenly, the heat receded completely, and she was freezing. “Some kind of love potion?” she croaked out.

No, no, it couldn’t be. That was her worst freaking nightmare. She refused to get that close to either of them. Refused to love them. Everything would change, her life would change, and not for the better. They were too dominant. They would try to take her over, try to mold her into something she wasn’t, and when that didn’t work, the real misery would begin. She couldn’t imagine anything worse than having a mate who didn’t accept her as she was. Well, having two mates who didn’t would definitely be worse. She stood, jerked away when he tried to reach for her, and stalked over to the big window. There was a lump in her throat, and she focused on the scene outside.

It was a pretty little picture. A view of a wide, tree-lined road, boys tossing a football back and forth in the waning evening light. Serene. Nothing like the thoughts rushing through her head, the fury and confusion winding her tight. The utter disbelief and sadness that Harris would pull such a dirty trick on her.

“It wasn’t a love potion. I would never do that to you.”

“Why not?” She laughed bitterly. “Isn’t that what your people do? Fuck with everyone else’s life? Make them do things against their will?” His eyes glittered in anger, but she didn’t care.

“First of all,” he snapped, “it is exactly what I said. It will lower your inhibitions. Some. It won’t mess with your emotions. Everything you feel is all on you. Second, don’t ever insult me like that again, darlin’. You won’t like the consequences.” Consequences? Had he lost his freaky little mind? The wolf pricked at her skin, wanting out, wanting free. She could tear him apart, and he couldn’t do a thing to defend himself. Except use magic. But could he really hurt her with it?

“Whatever. Reverse it. I’m sure you know how.”

She looked him over. His anger was easy to read, but it wasn’t bright and uncontained anymore. He’d gone icy cold. Controlled. “There are conditions.” Oh, he really had lost what was left of his gray matter. She moved toward the door, but the deadbolt slid closed long before she got there. She banged on it once and turned to glare at him.

Then her gaze slid to Ethan, thinking he might help her escape. One glance and she knew there wasn’t a chance in Hades of that happening.

“What conditions?”

“You stop running.” Harris walked toward her. Slowly. Carefully. As if she had anywhere to bolt to.

“You take this opportunity to get to know me. Us,” he added, indicating Ethan, who now stood behind him.

“How about I wait for it to wear off?”

His responding smile was gloating and just this side of mean. “That could take weeks, darlin’.”

Weeks? She was so screwed. She could already feel her resistance weakening. Could she hold out against their combined effort for weeks? She didn’t have a choice, did she? Somehow she’d make it or convince him to reverse the potion. There was no other alternative.

Harris drew closer until he was just inches away, close enough to touch, broad shoulders blocking the hall at his back. Even if she did dart around him, Ethan would be there to stop her.

Panic shook her hard. She felt hemmed in, and that was a bad position to put a wolf in. She lashed out before the thought even finished, intent on space and breaking free. He caught her wrist as her claws connected to his neck. It was a small scratch, but she drew blood, and that pleased the wolf enough that she let her guard down. He yanked her close, pinned both her wrists in one hand behind her back.

“Why does it scare you so bad?” he whispered.

Snarling, she struggled to get loose, and he released her. It’s not like she could escape, could she? There was a bitter taste in her mouth. She pressed her back against the door and tried to find another solution, but there wasn’t any.

“Until the heat is over,” she offered, but he shook his head.

“I want a whole week.”

Oh gods, would she be able to resist for a week? Would she be able to keep her heart out of it? She kept her distance from them for good reason. She knew what would happen if she let her guard down.

“Three days,” she countered, desperately hoping he’d take it.

He just shook his head. “A week, darlin’, or we dissolve this arrangement altogether. Don’t come to me the next time you go into heat.”

She stared. An ultimatum, and the worst kind. He couldn’t do that to her. He wouldn’t, would he? She couldn’t go to someone else. Even if she wanted to, she didn’t think her wolf would let her. She’d become so accustomed to his touch during this time, another just wouldn’t satisfy.

“That would be the worst kind of cruelty,” she admitted, and his eyes softened a bit.

“Any less cruel than you showing up for two days and then sneaking out of my bed?” She couldn’t say anything to that, and for the first time, she felt guilty. She’d always taken what she needed from him when she was in heat and had never considered his feelings. Since he hadn’t pushed for more, she hadn’t believed he wanted anything but sex. She knew better now, but it didn’t change anything. It would be better to end things as soon as possible. Cleanly.

Minimal wounds for everyone involved. She met his gaze and saw he was bracing for that.

Despite his spell, despite the threat, he was afraid she’d walk away. She couldn’t make herself do it.

“What did you have in mind?”

Because this couldn’t be all about sex. Not with Ethan here. She knew exactly what he wanted. But the smile Harris gave her was sinful and lascivious, and she wondered for a half a second if she was wrong.

“Naked would be the best way to have this conversation.” Okay, so it was definitely the sex. That was cool. She could handle that. He took her hand and pulled her from the door, then reached for the zipper on the side of her dress. Her anger faded at his touch, and the heat came rushing back. He stripped her and stepped back to look. She swore she could feel that gaze, could feel his hands stroking over her breasts. Her hips. Move to spread the lips of her sex.

“What are you doing?” she gasped.

“Exploring,” he murmured. “Be quiet and leave me to it.” His tone was so hard, so dominant. It should have made her spitting mad, but instead her toes curled and arousal raged through her. Then she felt those invisible fingers on her clit, pushing into her pussy. He watched with heavy-lidded eyes, almost brooding, while she panted.

“Why didn’t you ever do this before?”

“You wouldn’t let me.”

But things have changed. He didn’t say them, but the words seemed to hang in the air. She was the one who’d opened the door when she’d let Ethan stay earlier. Now Ethan moved closer, quiet and intense, no sign of the easygoing soldier she knew. His eyes glowed an eerie yellow, and she knew his wolf was close to the surface. She shivered when he stroked her cheek with his fingertips, saw the intent radiate from his eyes. This time he would mark her. Her wolf protested, but she was so caught up in sensual pleasure, it was barely a whimper. It wouldn’t do at all to give in so easily.

“The conditions?” she reminded, though her voice was weak and breathy and hardly commanding.

Harris laughed. “She’s thinking too clearly.”

“Definitely,” Ethan agreed.

Ethan grabbed her around the waist and lifted her over his shoulder. She was so shocked it didn’t occur to her to protest when he dropped her on the bed.

“I want her restrained,” Harris murmured.

Now that she would protest, but when she tried to sit up, she couldn’t move. “A few tricks?” she snarled at Harris. “I don’t like this.”

Oh, but that was the biggest lie she’d ever told herself, and he knew it. He put one knee on the edge of the bed, leaned over, and thrust his fingers into her pussy.

“Is that right?” he asked moving them back and forth in short, hard strokes. Her body welcomed him. Clamped around him. “No protest here.”

She wanted to beg and cry for more when he pulled his hand away and lifted his fingers to his lips. He hummed when he sucked her taste into his mouth. “Next condition. I get to tie you down.”

She tugged on one wrist, but it didn’t budge an inch from where he had it mentally pinned.

“You don’t need ties or restraints.”

“It’s a matter of consent.”

“Is this another deal breaker?” Why was she so intrigued? It scared her. She’d fantasized.

Who hadn’t? But she’d never seriously considered bondage before. What had he done to her?

What had really been in that potion?

He cocked his head to one side and studied her, finally sighed. “No. But it’s important. To me. It’s a trust thing, Gabby.”

She opened her mouth to say “no way,” and judging by his expression, he knew it was coming. He looked so disappointed she snapped her teeth shut. Her response confused her. Why was she considering this? If she let him restrain her, tie her down, she’d be acknowledging his dominance. It had to be the potion, the heat, combining to ambush her good senses.

She heard her mother’s no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners voice in her head. Protesting a bit too much aren’t you, Gabby girl? She’d never seriously considered it before, but she couldn’t deny her curiosity. She was tempted. There was a kind of appeal to it, a craving she’d repressed for years. What would it be like to let go? To let someone take care of her every need. Hell, to just not be in charge for once? She was intrigued and pissed at the direction of her thoughts at the same time. Damn Harris and his potion, because this was so out of character that’s what it had to be. But she knew she was lying to herself. She may never have submitted before, but she wanted to try it now. She wanted to experience the loss of control, wanted to know if it would be freeing or make her feel tethered. It was about trust, he’d said, and she was surprised to find that she trusted him enough to explore this desire she’d always fought.

“One time. That’s it.”

Ethan’s fingers slid up the inside of her thigh. The teasing touch made her shiver.

Harris smiled. “Unless you decide you like it?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Not gonna happen.”

“Why try it if you’re so convinced you won’t like it?” Harris asked.

Oh, there was no way she was admitting it was because she didn’t want to disappoint him.

That was too close to acknowledging that this was more than just sex. That there was a repressed, lonely voice buried deep in her mind that wanted more than a couple of days every three months. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, trying to steady her heart, her mind, her emotions. But her inhalation drew their scents into her lungs and only made her more aware of them. They were completely focused on her. On bringing her pleasure, on claiming her heart and soul. She resisted the urge to give in to the inexplicable instinct to accede to their wishes then and there. She’d be weeping if she were a crier, she was so knotted in confusion and want.

Opening her eyes, she shrugged. “It makes no difference to me. I just need someone inside me. Now would be good.”

She craved so badly her skin hurt. Her pussy throbbed. She needed release with a desperation she hadn’t felt before and glanced over to look at Ethan. It was because he was there.

His presence had changed every dynamic. He didn’t wait around for an invitation either. While Harris went into his closet, Ethan stripped, but damn him, the man didn’t hurry. He took his time.

Shoes and socks first, shirt, jeans, finally his underwear. He drew out the disrobing, his eyes glowing at her all the while. By the time he was finished, Harris had her tied, spread-eagled, to the posts of his bed. She hadn’t even noticed and was beyond caring Ethan climbed onto the bed and knelt between her legs. He put a hand on the inside of each knee, slid his palms higher in a light, teasing touch until he reached her sex. He spread her with careful fingers and leaned down to blow over her mound with hot breath. Then he settled onto his elbows and licked her. If she hadn’t been tied down, the pleasure would have launched her from the bed. He nibbled on her clit with his teeth. His thumb rimmed her opening. And when he thrust in, she shattered with a keening cry that would have mortified her if she hadn’t wanted so much more.

He gave it to her.

Chapter Five

Ethan had found heaven, and he was damned if he was ever letting go again.

She came on his fingers and tongue, her taste rich and sweet and fierce. Just like Gabby.

He’d planned on dragging this out. Had planned on teasing her, playing with her for a long, long time before he took his own pleasure. But the eager look on her face, her breathy little cries tested his control. He took a deep breath. Her scent was pure ambrosia. Lustful with a hint of delirium. He rose to his knees, prepared to lunge up to claim her lips as his cock claimed her cunt. Mine.

But before he could, Harris gripped his chin and forced him to look over. Ethan smiled at what he saw, was filled with a joyous sense of rightness. He had his woman and his man right where he wanted them. Right where he’d dreamed they would be one day. The three of them together. Ethan leaned forward, and Harris met him halfway. The kiss was almost feral, his wolf side stronger than the human side at the moment and impatient to claim, to dominate its mates.

The only thing that could bring it back under control was Gabby’s startled gasp. He wouldn’t have believed it possible, but the heady scent of arousal in the air intensified. He broke the kiss and grinned down at her.

“I didn’t know you were such a voyeur, baby.”

She bit her bottom lip and shook her head slightly before answering. “I didn’t either.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Gods, baby, you smell like heaven. Honey and vanilla with a dash of desperate.” Grinning, he looked at her. “And mine.” Her eyes flashed at the implication, but she didn’t protest. Her unspoken acquiescence appeased his wolf, and he decided to modify his original plan. He could tease her without touching her body. He moved away from temptation and stood at the side of the bed. That’s when he noticed some of the other items Harris had retrieved. He held up the butt plug and watched her eyes widen. There was a bit of trepidation there and a whole lot of curiosity.

“Ever used one of these before?” he asked, as Harris flipped the top open on a bottle of lube. Again she bit her lip and shook her head. It was such an anxious gesture, so unlike Gabby—who never gave away anything—that he found it endearing. Normally she wouldn’t betray her thoughts or emotions, but she was dropping those walls she’d kept so high between them.

Harris squeezed some lubricant on his fingers and first circled her opening, then pushed one finger slowly inside her anus to the first knuckle. Gabby’s lips parted with a sigh, and Ethan couldn’t resist. He braced his hands on either side of her head and leaned forward for a kiss. He kept it slow and tender, his tongue sweeping inside to explore her mouth. She gave a startled gasp, and he paused long enough to glance down her body. Harris had two fingers in her ass now, working them back and forth in a sedate, easy rhythm as he stretched her. Harris nodded at Ethan as he held up the plug, already lubed, and instead of returning to that sweet kiss, Ethan sucked her nipple into his mouth.

He kept one eye on Harris as he suckled her, watched as first the tip of the plug worked in, then the widening length of it. She sucked in a sharp breath as it pushed past the restricting ring of muscle, and with one final push, Harris had it all the way home. Gabby’s breath returned to normal for a half a second before Ethan reached down for the controller and switched it on.

“Oh gods,” she muttered. “Too much.”

He chuckled. “You need to get used to it, baby. You’ll have both of us there before this week is over.”

She’d had her eyes squeezed shut, but now they flew open. She jerked her gaze from one to the other. And she didn’t focus on their faces. She licked her bottom lip, and his cock jerked in response. She frowned. “You’re too big to even consider it,” she whispered.

He and Harris exchanged an amused look that quickly turned heated. “I believe she needs a demonstration,” Harris invited, a slight, wicked smile curving his lips.

Ethan was more than ready to take up the offer. They turned to each other at the same time, and he gripped Harris’s hips, pulling him close. The other man’s cock rubbed against his. He had to grit his teeth and fight back the orgasm that threatened to take him over.

“Not gonna last,” he grunted.

“Who asked you to?” Harris countered, and Ethan realized Harris was just as caught up in this new experience as he was.

It was impossible not to be. Gabby knew about him and Harris, of course. She’d never said a word against the relationship. That wasn’t quite the same as taking part in it, however. He’d never known if she’d accept him and Harris like this, in her face so to speak, or insist on keeping the relationships separate. He knew he would attempt to convince her otherwise if she tried, because he was sure he couldn’t divide them. It was exhilarating to know she’d come this far for them. But how far would she go? Ethan didn’t want to compromise. He wanted no half measures. He needed her to embrace every part of this trinity, and not just occasionally because the heat was in charge.

Harris bit his bottom lip hard enough to sting, and Ethan growled in response, turning and pushing until Harris’s back was against the wall next to the bedpost. Ethan ground his pelvis against Harris’s, freed one hand to tweak the man’s nipple. Harris’s groan was loud and lusty and perfect.

“You went away somewhere,” Harris grunted.

“So you decided to get my attention?”

The familiar wicked, sexy smile. “Worked.” He maneuvered a hand between them and wrapped it around Ethan’s cock. Oh hell yeah, it did. He thrust back and forth in the tight grip.

“I can’t see,” Gabby complained from the bed, and he looked over. Her head was turned back, trying to watch them. Had to be uncomfortable as hell. Harris, using those mental powers that no longer freaked Ethan out, released her bonds. She immediately scrambled into a crouch, turning to sit cross-legged to watch them and wincing a bit when her bottom landed on the bed.

He grinned and reached for the controller. She’d forgotten about the plug. He kicked it up a notch, and she shivered, hands gripping her knees so hard her knuckles turned white. He chuckled when her hands began to slide up her inner legs and moved forward to grab them, holding them against his chest.

“Oh no, baby. You’re just watching right now.”

Her jaw clenched, eyes flashing ire, but she obeyed, and it gave him a moment’s pause.

Harris claimed she was submissive, a contention Ethan had always scoffed at, but maybe the wizard was on to something. Ethan lowered her arms and moved them behind her back. She laced her fingers together.

“Hold her like that,” he told Harris.

Okay, it was an order, and normally Harris wouldn’t let Ethan order him around. That Harris followed his command exhilarated Ethan, even though he knew it was because they had the same goal. Claiming Gabby. Convincing her to stay with them.

Harris nodded and stepped up behind him. His wolf tensed until it felt familiar hands on his waist. Lovers or not, old friends or not, the wolf did not like being approached from behind.

But both man and wolf had learned to trust this wizard, and once he was recognized, his touch was welcomed. Encouraged.

Ethan rubbed his ass against Harris’s cock and took his own in hand. Gabby looked mesmerized as he stroked it in long, smooth movements. Her eyes were dazed, fevered, her bottom lip held hard in her teeth. She shifted to the edge of the bed, but she didn’t free her fingers from their laced position. Her gaze never moved from his cock, and with a moan, she leaned forward and licked her lips. If that wasn’t an invitation, he didn’t know what was.

He stepped closer until his knees bumped the bed, his cock jutting out proudly before him.

Swaying forward, tongue darting out, she licked the drop of precum from its tip. Her touch was like lightning whipping through his body. Too much, too fast, too soon. He jerked. Thank gods Harris caught him so he didn’t fall and embarrass himself.

“She’s intoxicating when she’s like this,” Harris murmured. Ethan knew he meant when the hormones of heat were ruling her, but after experiencing it, he was pretty sure he’d always crave her with the same intensity.

Ethan had never been so out of control around her, and he’d had her many times when the heat wasn’t in charge. She didn’t believe it yet, but there was no going back. Judging by the expression on her face, she wasn’t thinking about anything but her next orgasm. Her body was tense, her skin flushed, her eyes dreamy and lost. He was more than happy to give her more.

When he felt like it and not one second sooner.

She had to understand the depth of the pleasure he could give her. Had to understand no one else could ever compete. The wolf rode him hard. He wanted to bite her, mark her, claim her, and he wanted everyone to know. He needed that stamp of possession to glow like a neon-bright sign on a moonless night. And more, he needed her to accept his right to her.

Harris reined him in before he lunged for Gabby, but Ethan was too far gone to the wolf to allow him the lead. He spun them around and shoved Harris to the bed. Harris landed on his knees but rolled to his back, shoving at Ethan with his mind when the wolf tried to surge forward. It wasn’t enough power to throw him aside but it slowed him down, gave him back a little of his mind. In his current state, Harris wouldn’t let Ethan take him on his knees, from behind, and Ethan didn’t blame him. The wizard was strong, but he was no wolf. It would be face-to-face, torso to torso, and would make it easier for Ethan to rein in the animal that was his second half. Things changed when you looked someone in the eye as you fucked them. And everything changed as he looked into Harris’s eyes. Harris knew, and he accepted this part of Ethan. He understood how much it meant to that untamed side of Ethan, how important it was to take over the ones he loved. Harris also understood this wasn’t about sex; this was the expression Ethan allowed himself with the two people he loved most in the world, who he knew were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. The wolf knew. The man knew. But he still needed this. He still needed them to let him take charge, to let him take care of them, at least some of the time.

He knew his eyes were glowing yellow, felt the wolf’s claws breaking through his fingertips, but when he met Harris’s gaze, he saw only invitation. Only love, and it was unconditional. He needed, craved the same from Gabby, but at the moment he’d take what he could get.

Harris was sick of waiting apparently, and he reached up, gripped the back of Ethan’s neck with one hand, and yanked him down for a soul-sucking kiss. Ethan groaned into it, his cock pulsing in insistent demand, and he nudged against Harris’s ass.

Then the tube of lubricant was in his hand, and he smiled. “Do it,” Harris ordered.

Ethan popped the lid open and squeezed some onto his palm. He coated his dick as Harris held his gaze, then covered his fingers to rim Harris’s hole. Harris held his gaze as Ethan pushed first one, then two fingers inside. He felt Gabby scoot closer, and turned to look at her. She was focused on his hands, watching as Harris pumped his cock. Ethan moved into position, and Harris, watching them both, spread his thighs wide so everyone had a view of the head of Ethan’s cock moving into his entrance. Gabby sucked in a loud breath and held it.

“Come over here, darlin’,” Harris groaned. “Over my mouth. I want you to watch while I taste you.”

She rose to her knees and moved to hover next to his head, facing Ethan. He read the hesitation, a hint of awkwardness in her eyes. Harris wrapped his hands around her upper thighs and tugged until she straddled him. Then he pulled until her cunt was inches from his mouth. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back when his tongue stroked over her swollen folds. It was nearly Ethan’s undoing.

Gods, that was one hell of a hot view. The image would be burned into his retinas forever.

While Harris pulled her to his lips, he rocked his hips against Ethan, a subtle demand. One Ethan was thrilled to comply with. He stroked in, the lube easing his way so his thrusts weren’t as violent as the lust pounding through his body, but neither were they tender or gentle.

Gabby was on fire. There was no other way to describe the intense sensations that consumed her. Harris used his tongue like a master. When his teeth closed over her clit, she decided he was a god. It was so hard to keep her eyes open, to keep her gaze on Ethan as he fucked Harris, but it was too damned erotic to miss. Harris’s teeth closed over her clit and gently tugged, pushing the blaze that ruled her body into an inferno.

Knowing each second’s delay would make her release even more intense, she held back as long as she could. Focused on Ethan to hold it off. The skin was drawn tight over his cheekbones, his lips peeled back in a grimace that exposed his sharp canines. The muscles in his neck, shoulders, and arms were thick and tensed, bunched, and held tightly in check. But he wasn’t immune to the pheromones swamping the air, and he came with a muffled cry. Harris took the opportunity to shove her hard-won control out the window. Teeth on her clit, his fingers thrust into her pussy, twisting to stroke the soft, sensitive spot that made her lose all hope of holding back. She was coming before the second brush over her G-spot.

And she didn’t get the chance to enjoy the blissful feeling either. Ethan put his hands on her hips and pulled her to him. He paused for a short, deep kiss before turning her around and urging her to straddle Harris’s hips. Not that it took much urging when she felt Harris’s cock brush over the folds of her sex. They were on the bed, his feet planted on the ground and her knees on the edge. He was lying back, watching her with such greedy intent she caught her breath. Trembling, she grasped the base of his penis and guided him inside her.

This time she let herself go. Riding him slowly, head thrown back and eyes closed, she knew what was coming when Ethan stepped up behind her. When he brushed her hair away and left one side of her neck exposed. Her heart stuttered, and her belly spasmed, though she couldn’t say if it was from fear of Ethan’s bite or because Harris was buried so deeply inside her. Maybe she was just tired of fighting it, because she didn’t protest when Ethan’s hands closed over her shoulders to hold her still. Or seconds later when those sharp, deadly teeth scraped her skin in a soft caress.

“Say yes, baby,” he murmured, and she heard the yearning in his voice. A yearning she wasn’t ready to admit to but shared. Her delay in responding earned her a sharp nip, not quite enough to break skin. Not enough to mark. He moved his hands to shape her breasts, then tweaked her nipples. “Gabby?”

She groaned, the raw, hoarse sound of desire filling her ears. “What was the question?” she managed to whisper, earning another nip.

“You know,” he said darkly. “I want to make this real. I want to mark you. Claim you. I need to, baby.”

She could hear it in his voice and found it impossible to respond to such naked longing. He took it as an invitation. This time when his teeth closed over the flesh at the hollow between shoulder and neck, he didn’t hesitate. She felt the sharp sting as her skin was punctured, felt as if he somehow lived inside her, and knew despite the amazing healing abilities of her kind, this mark would never fade. Like it or not, she belonged to him now. Irrevocably.

The knowledge should have sent her into a blind panic. Should have set her wolf side clawing at the confines of her mind, and the human woman desperate for flight. It was hard to think of those things while they stoked the flame of her desire higher and higher, though.

Impossible, in fact. They didn’t give her time to think. Before the bite had even trickled one drop of blood, she found herself on her back, once again spread open and tied to the posts.

Harris loomed over her, hips between her thighs, cock nudging her entrance, but he waited until she focused on his face before he began pushing in. His jaw was clenched so tightly she could see a tic on the side of his face. She wanted to reach up and smooth away the tension, but of course she couldn’t move. She did the next best thing and forced her body to relax, limb by limb, muscle by muscle, until she was completely available for his mastery. It felt good to let go, but the look on his face was what really made it worthwhile She could even forgive the triumphant, dominant gleam in his eyes when it was mixed with the rest. Tenderness. Joy.


She was Alice fallen through the rabbit’s hole, but she didn’t care when he began his long, slow strokes. Withdraw to the tip of his cock, then that steady thrust back into her pussy. He left her panting, needy, desperate, and it wasn’t because of the heat. It was all him. Harris of the rigid control, eyes dark and stormy with desire and emotion. She was a little surprised when he bent his face to her neck, opposite of the side Ethan had bitten, but what could it harm? He was a wizard, not a wolf, no matter how deeply her wolf’s instinct said they belonged to him.

She should have paid more attention in her “know your enemy” classes. Teeth closed over skin and tugged, bit. It would mark but not permanently. Then she felt a short burst of energy she’d come in a very short time to associate with his mind touching her body. She’d question him, but she felt too damned good at the moment. After the bite, his strokes increased, became hard and fast and then frenzied. She might have cared, might have protested, except she was totally along for the ride and came screaming his name within seconds.

Chapter Six

Gabby stood deep in the tree line. If the three werewolves bickering in the backyard had been focused on anything other than their own bullshit, they would have noticed someone was so close by. Not that it would have mattered. They were in safe territory. Even if someone came upon this scene, he wouldn’t expect any danger. She was not so lax in her personal security and took a deep breath, smiling when she heard steps coming up on her side, the male’s scent preceding him.

“Hey, sis,” her brother, Kade, said softly as he sidled up next to her.

Following werewolf custom, he’d spent his early twenties with another pack and had just returned to replace Baker, one of the other soldiers who’d decided to go wandering. This was the first she’d seen Kade in three years, and her heart soared to have her twin brother home. Though she was tempted to pull him close in a hug, they were both staying out of the way of the fireworks behind the house and therefore drawing no attention to themselves. They didn’t want to get pulled into the middle of it. They’d learned that lesson well over the years. “How’s it going?”

She shrugged. The argument before them drifted around to the front of the house, and he followed her farther into the yard as their parents moved away. “The usual. You?” He tilted his head to one side, and she groaned at his “no bullshit” look. She wasn’t getting out of this one. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve never shown up for one of these little shindigs smelling of two different men.”

Thank gods for turtlenecks. “So I had a fun weekend.” She’d left Harris and Ethan before dawn despite their protests and Harris’s reminder of the deal. But her duties had been abandoned for two days, and she couldn’t delay returning. She’d been running all day playing catch up. She hadn’t even had the chance to come find Kade until well after lunch, and now they wouldn’t have much time to talk. The pack was having an impromptu party to welcome Kade home. She would meet her mates there later.

“Fun and marked are two different things.”

“Who said anything about marked?” She glared. Twin brother or not, he was pushing his luck.

“I wouldn’t be able to scent a man on you if he wasn’t your mate,” he said, voice hard and cold, all protective brother. She was reminded that if he’d stayed the last few years, he’d probably occupy a higher space in the pack than she, and she was near the top in fifth place, right after Jonas. It made her uncomfortable to consider Ethan and Kade both could probably have challenged her for her position long ago But for now Kade was just her sibling, she outranked him, and this was none of his business. Ethan…that was a worry for another time.

“Not your problem. Or your concern.”

He snorted and nodded to the back patio they’d been avoiding. “Tell them that.”

“It isn’t any of their business either.”

He hooted with laughter. “You tell the dads that. You tell Mom that.” He didn’t get it, of course. Hell, he was a guy. She was pretty sure their mother would understand exactly the nature of her reticence. She was a female soldier to two soldier males, and as near as Gabby could tell, none of them had ever been happy. They wanted a submissive woman. Her mother tried; it just wasn’t in her. Gabby had fought so hard to stay unmated because she’d seen exactly how bad it could be.

Her brother nudged her shoulder. “Hey, who’s that?”

She looked over to see Harris exit the path into the yard, Ethan right behind him. “Shit,” she muttered.

Her brother cocked his brows. “Really? Not invited, huh?” He thought it over and then smiled. “Gutsy. I like them.”

But his nostrils flared as Harris approached. “Wizard,” he snarled.

Gabby grabbed his arm when he stepped forward and hissed back, “Mine. And they were invited. I just didn’t expect them yet.”

Holy shit, what was she doing? She’d hoped she’d have more time to brace herself before dealing with Harris again, but she’d be damned if it was someone else who got rid of him. And the idiot man had no sense. None at all. He swaggered into the yard, walked as if he had every right to be there, zeroing in on her. His entrance actually stopped the argument between her parents, and she hurried closer, Kade at her heels. That was bloodshed she didn’t want to witness or take responsibility for. He looked at her, his eyes calm, his expression almost serene before he smoothly turned to her parents and held his hand out to introduce himself. She held her breath and edged close enough to listen in.

“You bear the scent of family, wizard.”

“I imagine I do.”

Robert, one of her fathers, still didn’t take his hand. “Why is that?” Harris turned to give her a small, tight, furious smile. “Because she’s my mate.” His words were hard and certain, proprietary, and made her belly flip-flop. He looked back to her parents, meeting all three gazes carefully. “We have met before. I’m the police chief in Redemption.


“We know who you are,” Steve, her other father, snapped. “Though I haven’t heard any reason why we should let you live.”

She rolled her eyes and stepped into the fray. “Get over it. You’ve been complaining about me being single for years.”

They finally seemed to notice her, and both fathers turned on her at once, nostrils flaring, eyes narrowing. It seemed an eternity before anyone spoke. “You took two mates? And you kept this from your family?” Robert asked, sounding hurt.

“It just happened,” she said meekly. She hated to hear that tone in her voice, but hell, he was her father. Harris stepped up behind her and squeezed her shoulder. Silent support, but she felt it bone-deep and tilted her chin up. Then Ethan stepped up to her other side, nodded, and said hello.

“And Ethan too,” her mother murmured, a hint of approval in her voice. She stepped forward, took Gabby’s hand, and drew her into the house before another word could be spoken.

Gabby wasn’t so sure leaving the men alone was a good idea.

They walked into the kitchen. Its big windows and glass doors overlooked the yard, and Gabby hovered near them, watching the five men out there. They circled each other, speaking every now and then, though of course she couldn’t make out the words from this distance and behind glass. Feeling each other out, she realized. She turned to her mother, who stood at the counter pouring coffee. She took both mugs to the table and motioned Gabby to join her.

They had an unimpeded view of the yard. Where had her brother gone? She searched and found him off to the side leaning against a post. Five keyed-up males. All that damned testosterone. It made her grit her teeth so hard they hurt.

“Is it too much to ask for a normal life?” she whispered. “A nice, peaceful, calm life?” Her mother laughed. “Wolf, wizard, human. Doesn’t matter, they’re all men. That out there is perfectly normal.”

The woman had surely lost her mind, and Gabby was sure her expression matched that belief because her mother chuckled again. “Before I mated them, I went out into the world. I dated nice, normal human men. Who it turns out are just as possessive, some just as dominant.

Just as mule-headed,” she added with a wink.

Gabby was stunned. She’d never considered her mother had had another life. “If you broke free, why did you come back?”

Her mother gave her a quizzical look. “Who said I broke free? You can leave the pack, but in the end, we are pack creatures.” She took a deep breath and shook her head. “No, I need someplace I can be a wolf. Someplace I can run when the urge strikes. And people who understand that.”

Gabby could relate to that, but… “But, Momma, the way they treat you.” She stopped.

How could she explain without hurting her feelings? “I don’t want to spend my life fighting for independence or proving my place.”

Her mother gave her a tiny smile and sat back in her chair. “Is that what you think? Well, I suppose it is. We’ve all screwed up then.”

Gabby scowled. It wasn’t perfect, okay, but she wouldn’t go that far. “What do you mean?”

Her mother shrugged. “I will never be as dominant, as high up the chain of command as you are. I had the strength maybe, but I just didn’t want it. They weren’t holding me back, baby, don’t think that.”

She hadn’t thought that exactly. Had she? No, she’d always known she’d go higher than her mother and her fathers had. “No. It’s the rest of it.” Her mother frowned. “It’s complicated, but I promise you I’m happy with our relationship, baby.”

She was stunned. “Happy fighting all the time? Happy always having to fight for even a little independence?”

Her mother gave her a frank, assessing look. “Even as a little girl, you always were a peacemaker,” she murmured. “I may be your mother, but I’m not perfect. We argue, sure. A lot of the time it’s over stupid little stuff. Most of the time it’s even good-natured. It’s never physical, and we’re rarely angry for more than an hour.” She took a deep breath and stared out the window.

“I think I understand where this is going,” her mother continued finally. “You’re one of the strongest in the pack. Willing to fight, but you hate personal conflict. That peacekeeper gene again.” She smiled. “That’s the problem with your mates, right? You’re afraid it’ll be a constant struggle for dominance.”

“I don’t know how to deal with it,” Gabby whispered. She couldn’t deny her concerns.

“The other high-ranking females, they all seem to have these relationships that are a constant struggle. I don’t want to live like that.”

“You could submit,” her mother said. Gabby growled. Submitting was impossible. Not in her nature. Her mother smiled and shook her head. “Does it have to be all or nothing? Who says it does? Be the she-wolf defender when it comes to pack defense, but when you go home? Be whoever you want. You think they don’t know the difference?” She looked out the window to watch the men, her gaze assessing. “I think they know. And I think they will give you whatever you need.”

Gabby wasn’t so sure about that, but she knew they had to find a way to make this work.

Standing, she bent to kiss her mother’s cheek. “Thank you, Momma. I’m getting them out of here before there’s bloodshed.”

Her mother laughed. “Call me, baby. I’m always here for you.” Gabby knew she was. She left with a smile, collected her men with minimal conversation with her fathers, and led the way home.

Chapter Seven

She took them to her cabin. Shaky. Nervous. Was her mother right? Could she be one thing to the pack and something else in her private life? She’d never thought that possible. Never even considered it. She was strong and independent. A soldier. Didn’t that bleed into every aspect of her life? Except, she remembered with her pussy clenching, in bed. She clearly did not like being in charge there. Even her wolf side liked the mastery of her two mates.

The question was, how far could she take it? Privately how much could she bend and still feel like herself. Like she wasn’t betraying herself. No. That wasn’t the question. She could bend, she already knew that. The question was how much she could adapt to their needs and still respect herself. Huh. She’d never looked at it like that. It had always been an either-or question.

She was lost in thought when she opened the door and wandered in. They seemed to realize she needed some space, and no one protested when she went to her room and ran a bath.

The idea intrigued her. Dominant publicly, submissive privately. She liked it. Liked it more than she thought she would. Or should. Shit. She was in trouble if she was giving in so easily. If they were going to make this work—and it was too late to back out now—there had to be some ground rules.

She sank into scalding-hot water, leaned her head back, and closed her eyes with a moan.

The water felt great. Soothing. Relaxing. She was always sore and tired when the heat was over.

This time more than ever, after slaking her desire on two men. She smiled. Who would have thought this would happen to her? Despite her unanswered questions, her concerns, Harris’s potion, despite everything…she’d never felt so sexually satisfied. It went bone-deep, and she wondered how long the effects would linger. She felt languid and sexy here alone in her bath. So good, in fact, she didn’t react at all when Ethan walked in. His scent wrapped around her, bringing the forest and an odd sense of comfort inside.

“Did you get to talk to Kade today?”

She turned her head and cracked an eye open. “I got there right before y’all. I had a ton of stuff to catch up on today.”

He grunted. “Me too.”

“Did you see him earlier?” Something made her ask.

He gave a brief shake of his head and scrubbed his hand over his face. “No.” He sounded down.

“What’s wrong?”

His smile was forced. “Nothing. Not a thing.”


She expected him to deny it. He laughed, but he sounded more resigned than amused.

“Yeah. It’s just…Kade and I were best friends for so long. I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me for mating his sister.”

She scowled, suddenly suspicious. “That doesn’t sound like him. What did he say after I went inside?”

He flashed her a grin, his amusement a sharp scent in the air, on her tongue. “That if I ever hurt or upset you, he will rip me into tiny little pieces.” She rolled her eyes and stood up, reaching for a towel on the nearby shelf to wrap around herself. “Like I need someone to defend me.”

“Oh, I don’t know, baby,” he drawled, stepping forward and pulling her towel loose. “We could all use someone to stand up for us every now and then.” He first dried her front with slow, soft rubs of the towel, then moved to her back.

“Someone to take care of us,” he whispered against her nape.

Even as her mind rejected the idea, her body responded with a delicious curl of heat. She turned in his arms and looked up at him, for the first time not irritated that she had to look up when she stood this close. He lifted a hand to her shoulder and brushed his thumb over his mark.

The fleeting contact made her heart race and her middle somersault. And, damn the man, he knew it. His smile was sexy and satisfied, his eyes yellowed with an answering heat, and his scent changed to match hers. Spicy. Alluring. Inviting.

“Just the way I like you, darlin’,” Harris said from the doorway. “Naked. And hot.”

As a wizard, he shouldn’t be able to scent her arousal like Ethan could, but she had no idea what his mind was capable of, and she was struck by a sudden curiosity. She tilted her head to one side and studied him. “How do you know I’m hot?” Wasn’t much point in denying it, was there? “I thought you said you weren’t a telepath.”

He shook his head. “No, but sometimes I can feel others’ emotions.” He gave her a cocky grin. “It’s much stronger with you. Always has been.”

“So you know how I’m feeling, but not what I’m thinking?” She didn’t think she liked that idea, but was it any different from Ethan being able to scent her moods?

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“That’s disturbing.”

He looked contrite at least. “I’m sorry, darlin’; nothing I can do about it.” He hesitated a moment, then took her hand and pulled her into the bedroom. She sat on the edge of the bed, and he took a few steps back, leaving her confused. She was naked. On a bed.

And neither one of them was making a move.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m going to tell you something, but I don’t want you to freak out, okay?” She arched her eyebrows, suspicion and disquiet making it hard to answer. Making it hard to breath. “Tell me,” she ordered, crossing her arms over her chest when his gaze lingered too long.

“The most powerful of my race can create a mental bond with a person. A mate.”

“And you did this? Is it the same as a lupine bond?” She remembered a surge of power. It had left her feeling branded and connected. The sensation wasn’t much different from the bond with Ethan. He hadn’t even hinted he could bond with her. His keeping that secret from her hurt and made her angry.

He shrugged. “Basically. It’s unbreakable. Lets me know how you feel. I could probably track you through it. In that way, it’s no different from a werewolf’s bond. But mine is based on the power of my mind, not blood.”

Unbreakable. So even after she gave him his week to get to know each other, she didn’t have a choice, did she? There wasn’t any deciding if she wanted more. Like Ethan, he’d taken that decision out of her hands. An angry reply caught in her throat, and she stood, jerking away from his hand when he tried to stop her as she passed. She needed the armor of clothes, needed to get away from them for a while so she could think. She veered away from her closet, though, when a better plan occurred to her. They followed her into the hall and to the back door.

“Whoa, baby, what are you doing?” Ethan asked as she yanked it open, but she was already shifting and couldn’t answer.

Her muscles contracted and reshaped, bones snapped and reformed. Fur raced across her skin, and claws popped from her fingers, which shrank into paws. When Ethan made to follow her, ripping his shirt over his head and unsnapping his jeans, she showed him the sharp points of her teeth in a low, mean snarl. He dropped to his knees and stared into her eyes.

“Fine, baby, go run it off. But when you get back, you’re going to tell us what pissed you off so bad.”

She tossed her head, spun around, and took off into the woods. Scents were easier to pick up in this form, and she knew a group of juveniles cavorted nearby. She went in the opposite direction, deciding she’d run the outer perimeter, where she was much less likely to run into anyone. Where she wouldn’t slip and take her anger out on someone who couldn’t handle it and didn’t deserve it.

As her fast legs took her farther away, she expected her anger to dissipate. It always did when she gave her wolf free reign to master its world. But this time was different. This time the wolf shared the woman’s fury. It felt caged, cornered, and didn’t like it one damned bit. They’d tied her to them without her permission, without even asking. And at the time, in the throes of passion and the thrall of the heat, she hadn’t been capable of protest, much less reasoned thought.

Damn them both.

She pushed them out of her mind, legs stretching to race for the border fence. She let the wildness rise, let the wolf’s joy fill her mind as she tested her limits, and felt them merging together. The forest quieted as she flew by, the chatter of small animals and insects abruptly cutting off, but she barely noticed. When she saw metal gleaming in the sun, tasting the tang of the bitter scent on her tongue, she slowed to an easy lope.

She drew alongside it and chose to go left, taking her farther away from the homes of the pack and Redemption, farther away from civilization. Slowing to a walk, still breathing heavily from her exertions, she lifted her snout and took in the smells. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Animals, pine and hardwoods, wild roses, the faded scent of the last patrol through this area. The wolf would have frowned if possible. The scent was too faded, days old. She made a mental note to review the roster and find out if this area had been overlooked or if someone was shirking their duty. Maybe it was time to rearrange all the patrols. Shake things up a bit. She’d discuss it with Liza tonight.

If she could get free of Ethan and Harris long enough for a few words with her paladin.

She needed to talk to her. They’d been friends since they could walk, had fought their way up in the pack together. Gabby was the only person who wasn’t surprised when Liza became paladin.

The woman could out stubborn a mule and was loyal to a fault. Paladin was the perfect position for her. Like the legends from Charlemagne’s time, modern-day paladins were werewolves, knights sworn to the defense of their leaders. Though nowadays that meant the pack’s alpha and beta, and instead of many, every pack had only one.

That’s where she should have gone instead of taking off into the woods. Liza understood how she felt about mating, and she might snicker through it, but she’d let Gabby rant to her heart’s content. If it were possible, the wolf would have heaved a sigh. Instead, she turned into the woods and found a path that would take her to the alpha’s house and her best friend.

Her goal wasn’t so far away though. In minutes she reached the large, cleared area they used for gatherings The place was buzzing with activity as pack members set up tables, laughing and joking with each other. Her mood immediately lightened at their joy. The pack was one big extended family, and she always felt better in a group of them.

Liza’s scent came to her on the slight breeze, and she veered in another direction to follow it. She found the woman sitting on a huge boulder, rubbing the small of her back, and grumbling at one of her mates, Caleb, the pack’s alpha.

“I’m pregnant. Not broke.”

Gabby bit back a grin. She knew this was a sore point. One, they kept trying to coddle her.

And two, she wasn’t just pregnant. She was past due, tired, and grumpy. Gabby knew better than to try to assure her friend no one had ever been pregnant forever. Her males were not that bright, and Gabby winced in sympathy when Caleb spoke.

“I know that, but there’s no point in tiring yourself further. The pack can live without your help for one day. The babies will be born any day now, and then you can dive right back in.” Then Caleb muttered, not quite low enough, “Hopefully, any hour now.” Before Liza could strangle him—and judging by the look in her eyes, she really wanted to—Zach walked into the little clearing. He looked to where Gabby was sitting in the trees and grinned, then yanked his shirt off and tossed it toward her.

“You better come help, Gabby. I’ve never heard of a paladin killing his, or her, alpha before, but I’d have to say he asked for it.”

She hurried to shift, tugging her beta’s shirt over her head when she was done. It fell to midthigh, and she walked across the pine-needle-strewn ground to join Liza on the rock. By the time she got there, she had the undivided attention of all three of them. Then, because things weren’t bad enough, Jonas showed up. He looked her up and down, his gaze coming to rest on her neck. With a chuckle, he shook his head.

“So the mighty has finally fallen, huh?”

She couldn’t hold in the growl. “Not fond of having your head attached, huh?” she snapped back.

That just made him laugh more. He was grinning when he stopped and, cocking his head to the side, took a deep breath. “Ethan. And Harris?”

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” Liza said and made a shooing motion with her hand. “Go away, gentlemen. It’s girl-talk time.”

“But I want to hear what she has to say,” Zach—always the teaser—said, but Liza just stared him down.

“Girl talk.”

He assumed a pathetic, pleading face. Laughing, Liza waved her hand at them again, her intent clear. There weren’t any more objections, and all three men went back into the woods in the direction of the pack circle.

“Spill it, girlfriend,” Liza ordered when they were far enough away they couldn’t overhear.

Gabby had no idea where to start. “It just sorta happened.” Liza gave her a frank, assessing look that Gabby was rarely on the wrong end of. It made her fidget uncomfortably.

“Right,” she finally said and lowered her voice. “You said you needed two days off. I know you go to Harris when the heat takes over, but you’ve never let Ethan anywhere near you during that time. You’ve never let him close enough to mark you. Never let the sex get that out of control. So what happened?”

Gabby sighed, but the story started to spill out. Liza halted her with a frown. “He used a potion on you? That’s not cool.”

She snorted. “That’s what I said. He said he’d reverse it if I gave him a week, but then, things got even more intense, and well, it’s too late now. Even if he reverses it, the bond is still there.”

“Yeah. I’ve heard some wizards can do that bonding thing, but it’s uncommon.” Liza looked surprised at that. “They don’t like to leave themselves vulnerable.”

“What do you know about it? How does it make them vulnerable?” She’d take any ammo she could get. Liza was half wolf, born and raised in the pack, but her mother was a witch, and Liza knew a lot about that world.

“Hey,” a voice greeted behind them, and they turned to welcome Harper. “Jonas said y’all were hiding out here.”

Gabby was glad to see her. What Liza and her mom didn’t know, Harper would, being the daughter of the wizards’ leader. Harper came closer and leaned one hip against the rock, brows drawn together in a scowl.

“I was just telling Gabby about wizard bonds.”

Harper’s scowl deepened. “Too late for warnings, I’d say.” Gabby’s chest went tight. Did she need to be warned? But Liza said it made Harris vulnerable too. “Tell me.”

The witches exchanged a look, and Harper shrugged one shoulder. “It’s a psychic bond.

Our worlds are very different. Wizards use that bond to keep track of their wives. They can spy on their emotions, their movements. Sometimes their thoughts, if they have enough telepathic ability.”

Gabby knew Harper had grown up in a cold world, but the way her voice changed, the way her eyes dimmed, Gabby knew it was worse than cold. Monstrous.

“You can…feel this bond?”

Harper bit her bottom lip and nodded. “I can see it, like a shimmer around you.” Liza cocked her head to one side. “Do you see wolf bonds?”

“No. Different kind of bond.”

“Harris said that. One is blood, the other psychic.”

Harper nodded again. “Yes, exactly.”

“And there’s no way to break it?”

“No, sorry. Only if one of you dies.”

“That might be arranged,” Gabby growled.

“Well, let’s not go that far yet,” Liza said and turned to Harper. “Mom said, whether the wizards like it or not, their bonds are not one-sided. That it works for the mate as well.” Harper thought it over. “That would make sense. It’s not something they talk about with women, so I can’t say for sure.” She looked at Gabby. “You could test it, though.”


“Focus on him and let everything else go. Don’t let anything else intrude on your thoughts.

You’ve been close to him. You’ve felt his power at least once before. See if you can feel it now.” Gabby was curious yet reluctant. Would she draw his attention to her if she was successful? In the end, she was too inquisitive to not give it a try. She closed her eyes, called his image into her mind, the feel of his power around her, and kind of wished to know where he was.

And suddenly, just like that, she felt that power surround her again. He was in her house, prowling like a pissed-off, worried cat. It startled her so much, she lost the connection and opened her eyes.

“It works.” She grinned, wondering how she could use this to turn the tables on him.

“Okay. So Harris used a potion and both of them marked you. You managed to avoid everyone all day, so I’m still sadly lacking in details here.”

“What potion?” Harper interrupted. She looked more and more disturbed as Gabby explained.

“How much do we know about this guy?” she asked nervously.

“He’s been here at least ten years. Showed up when he was seventeen or eighteen.” Liza paused with a shrewd look at Harper. “Jonas trusts him. They’re friends. And Ethan’s been with him for at least a couple of years. But you’re right. It makes me suspicious too. Think you can get a read on him?”

“Probably,” Harper answered.

Liza turned to Gabby. “He’ll be here tonight, right? The gatehouse told me earlier he came in with Ethan.”

She didn’t like it. What he’d done with the potion was sneaky and underhanded, sure. And not asking her before he bonded with her pissed her off, but it wasn’t any different from what most werewolf males did. She wasn’t happy about any of it, but she didn’t think it made him untrustworthy. It hurt to think he might be

“Gabby?” Liza prodded.

She nodded. “He’s at my cabin.” She jumped off the rock. “And I better get back there so I can get some clothes on.”

“Not so fast,” Liza stopped her with that paladin tone in her voice. She pointed at the boulder. “Sit.”

Well, shit. She could walk away from her friend, but not her paladin. She leaned back against the large rock, once again the focus of Liza’s perceptive gaze. “You didn’t avoid me all day, then come find me now because of the potion. I’m guessing it was because you found out about his bond.”

Sighing, she nodded. “Bad enough being mated to one. To a werewolf. But two men? One a wizard? No offense to y’all, but I don’t know what he can do. Or why he’s here. Or anything.” One side of Liza’s mouth kicked up. “Maybe you should ask him.” Gabby glared back.

“Right,” Liza drawled. “That would require that you get to know a male. Let one get to know you. And you’ve worked damned hard to not get involved.” Her voice softened, and she winked. “Honey, it’s not all bad, you know.”

She blew out a breath, reluctant to voice her questions, her concerns, but knowing she could trust Liza and Harper. Knowing they wouldn’t scoff or think less of her. “Do you think it’s possible to be strong and dominant publicly, with the pack. And be something else privately?


“Absolutely,” they answered in unison.

Gabby was a little surprised to hear Harper say that, but maybe she shouldn’t be. She looked over to meet Harper’s gaze. When the witch had joined them, she was beaten down, defeated by that cold world she’d come from. Meek and submissive in the worst unhealthy way.

The longer she stayed in the pack, though, the more outgoing and assertive she became. Harper smiled.

“I’m not a telepath, but I know what you’re thinking, Gabby. I was so afraid. So afraid they would completely take me over. I thought I’d have no will of my own. That I was leaving one nightmare for another. But…” She laughed. She was almost giddy as she spoke of her mates.

“They actually make me stronger.”

Gabby could see that was true. “But Harper, honey,” she said gently. “You had to be stronger to be with them. It’s not the same.”

“You think you have to be weaker?” Liza asked, always the shrewd one.

“Don’t I? Neither I nor my wolf will be happy if we’re weaker, and I can’t stand the idea of spending the rest of my life fighting with my mates to keep my place in the pack. I just can’t accept less. If I could be one thing in private and this me, the old me, with everyone else, maybe I could do that. But they’re both alpha males. Ethan especially will try to take over my entire life.

You know he will. He can’t help himself.”

“Ya think?”

“Yeah, I think,” she snapped back sarcastically.

“Gabby.” Shit. The paladin voice again. “Ethan could have challenged for your position years ago, and he would have won it.”

“So he waited till he could win me over?” She didn’t even care that all the bitterness shone through.

“No,” Liza said, shaking her head. “He didn’t do it because it made you feel more secure.

Because you worked so hard to keep him at a distance, it was all he could do. And because, frankly, it doesn’t affect the security of the pack. The difference in your ranks is negligible. You essentially do the same jobs.”

“Well, he doesn’t have that excuse anymore, does he,” she whispered. Oh hell. Her rank and her job were the only things she was sure of.

“This is something you really should be talking to him about, Gabby,” she said, and it was the friend, not the superior in the voice now. “It’s not all conflict, you know. It doesn’t have to be. My private relationship is not on display for the pack. No reason yours should be either.” Liza didn’t have to say what she was really thinking. Gabby knew. Liza kept her personal relationship as private as possible, unlike Gabby’s parents, who were known pack-wide for their volatility.

“And yes,” Liza went on. “You can let go, you should be able to let go, privately, with your mates.”

Liza said it with such conviction, such faith, but Gabby wasn’t sure she had any. She swallowed hard and stood, wanting only to be inside the safety of her house while these thoughts consumed her.

“I need to get back. Thanks.” She nodded to include Harper. “I appreciate it.” She was grateful they’d shared their experiences, that they understood her fears, but in the end she left more confused than when she’d started. She ran home using werewolf speed but without shifting, dimly aware of the damage it was doing to her bare human feet. It didn’t matter to her, but she was so lost in her worries she didn’t realize they were both still in her house until she entered. She didn’t realize until she’d slammed the door behind her and Ethan growled.

Her response was instinctive and mean, and she knew when she snapped her head around to look at him, her eyes glowed yellow. He stood in the middle of her hall, chest bare, jeans zipped but unbuttoned. The smell of sex was heavy in the air. They’d entertained themselves while she was gone.

“Why are you still here?”

He slid forward slowly. Stalked. She stood her ground, refusing to be cowed.

“Why do you smell of our beta?” he practically snarled.

She’d completely forgotten about the gray T-shirt she was wearing. “I shifted to talk to Liza. He gave it to me so I wouldn’t be naked.”

Oh my gods. She wanted to slap herself; the explanation had come out so fast, without any thought.

“Take it off. Take it off now, Gabby,” he demanded, and if she hadn't seen a hint of claws poking through his fingertips, she would have delayed. Would have argued against his trying to dominate her. She’d never seen him like this, though—out of control of his wolf.

She pulled the shirt over her head and tossed it into the corner. Ethan heaved a sigh and came closer. He lifted a hand, claws gone now, and his fingers stroked her cheek. “Where did you run off to? Why?”

She ducked under his arm, feeling exposed down to her bones, and tried to hurry down the hall while looking like she wasn’t running away. Harris caught her elbow when she passed the archway into the living room and tugged her inside.

Chapter Eight

Ethan still wasn’t thinking straight. She’d taken off, angry and confused, and had returned with Zach’s scent on her. He knew in his head she hadn’t fucked their beta. She wouldn’t let Zach touch her, and he wasn’t interested. But the sane, rational human side wasn’t exactly in control right now. Harris shielded her, and that just pissed him off more.

He prowled into the living room behind them and snarled when Harris tried to step in front of her. “Don’t. Don’t do that.” Reluctantly Harris stepped aside, but Ethan didn’t get closer to her.

He was too furious. He didn’t trust himself. He’d never been so angry at her before, and he’d had cause to be plenty angry over the years.

“Where did you go?”

“I ran the perimeter some. I talked to Liza and Harper. It’s not a big deal, Ethan.” He wanted to shake her. He wanted to yell at her. He wanted to kiss the hell out of her until she stopped resisting him.

“Running. Again. Always running, Gabby.”

He paced. It was the only way to stop himself from grabbing her, from begging her to just stop this nonsense already and accept him. Accept Harris. Stop fighting. He knew how much she hated discord, so why was she doing this?

“What do you expect me to do, Ethan? Just let you take over?” Good gods, was she still hung up on that?

“I expect you to talk to me.” He took a couple of steps closer. “I expect you to tell me what you’re feeling. What you’re afraid of.” Two more steps. “I expect you to not come home smelling of another man. Talk to me, Gabby. Please.” Close enough to touch now, and that irrational rage was fading. He set his hands on her shoulders.

He finally noticed, really noticed, she was naked, breathing fast and deep, her skin flushed rosy with the high emotions in the room. He could smell them—a skill all lupines shared—anger and jealousy and protectiveness and yes, even lust. He pulled her close, kissed the soft skin under her ear.

“Talk to me, baby,” he whispered.

He was stunned at how quickly she spun away, moving toward the window and standing with the loose-limbed fighter’s grace he knew so well. Subtly aggressive, ready to pounce. He knew every detail of her, but he was surprised to see this here, now. He held his hands wide.

“I’ve never been a danger to you,” he said firmly.

Her lips twisted in a way that some would have called a smile, but he knew her too well.

“Are you going to challenge me for my rank now that you’ve marked me?” The question stunned him. He could challenge her, and he’d probably win. He suspected they both knew that. But it would be a long, bloody battle. The price too damned high to move up only one rank when neither of them was going higher than they were now. He wouldn’t risk losing her for that little bit of gain. It was too important to her. Not the rank but the position it put her in. She thought he didn’t know about her little side projects. The girls she took under her wing. The abused refugees—human, wolf, and mage—she funneled through Redemption and sent to safer places. She didn’t discriminate against the needy. It was one of the things he loved about her.

“No,” he answered. “I’ve never intended that.”

She didn’t believe him. He could see it clearly on her face, in her eyes. But he also saw confusion and longing, and he knew he still had a chance here. She turned away.

“Baby, I can accept being your equal out there. I have never had a problem with that, and nothing has changed now.”

Her eyes were watery when she looked over her shoulder and met his gaze. “And here?

Are we equals here?”

This was where her confusion came in. She was such a marvelous kick-ass woman out in the world, and she hadn’t accepted yet that she wanted something else at home.

“We can be,” he said carefully. “If that’s what you want.”

She gritted her teeth. He could actually hear her teeth grinding together before her gaze swung to Harris. “And you? Will you accept that?”

And holy fuck, we have a problem, Captain.

Ethan was a dominant male, yes, and he knew it. But Harris was a Dominant, capital D, lifestyle male. Ethan seriously doubted Gabby had ever run across anyone like him. He was going to have issues with that equal thing. He accepted Ethan as an equal because Ethan could kick his ass. Huh. Come to think of it, Gabby probably could too. But Ethan didn’t arouse the instincts of the dominant the way Gabby did. Ethan knew Harris. Knew him as well as he knew himself. And he knew it burned in Harris, that need to control her, to own her.

Harris scrubbed a hand over his face as if it could wipe away any visible emotions.

“Darlin’, I don’t think that’s what you really want.” Ethan was surprised at the tenderness, the gentleness in the other man’s voice. He’d expected demands and orders and was relieved when that wasn’t the direction he went.

“You didn’t answer my question,” she pointed out. Ethan wanted to go to her, hold her until the fine tremor in her body became a reaction of desire instead of the mix of fear and anger he scented now. He sure as hell hoped Harris knew what he was doing.

Harris took a step closer to her and held out his hand. “Come away from the window, Gabby. Anyone walking by will get an eyeful.”

He didn’t trust himself to not kill another man who got a good look at her like this. Which was bad, all things considered. She was a lupine. She couldn’t exactly carry clothes around with her in case she needed to shift in a hurry away from home. Maybe once things were settled, he’d get the primitive urge back under control.

“Come sit down,” he ordered. “Let’s talk this through.” She bit her bottom lip, and he nearly groaned aloud. Tiny, perfect white teeth. He’d felt them on his body, on his cock. He hoped to feel them again soon. His body ached with his desire, with his need of her.

She finally moved from her post at the window and approached the long sofa, an unconsciously sexy walk that made his heart slam against his ribs. She grabbed the afghan from the back and wrapped it around herself, tucking it under her arms before she sat down and folded her knees up. She was covered from her chest down to the red-painted toes that barely peaked out. That glimpse was amazingly tantalizing. He took the opposite end of the couch, fisting his hands against the desire to grab her ankle and yank her to him. She stared at him, and he reminded himself he was supposed to be talking.

“What’s your objection exactly, darlin’?” He couldn’t resist reaching over, slipping his hand under the blanket and wrapping it around her ankle. He didn’t pull her closer, though. Not yet. “You liked me dominating you just fine yesterday.”

“That was the heat. That wasn’t normal for me,” she insisted.

Could that be possible? He used the bond between them. He couldn’t read her mind, but he could read her emotions, and he smiled. “It’s not nice to lie to me, darlin’.” She glared and moistened her lips. “Don’t use that bond on me. Harper told me all about it.”

He narrowed his eyes. He’d only met the witch a couple of times, but he knew some of her history, and it was ugly. “And what was that?”

She didn’t answer, and he gave her ankle a squeeze. “You started this, Gabby. What did she tell you?”

“That wizards use it to keep control of their wives. They use it to keep tabs on them.

Where they are. What they’re doing.”

Well, fuck. He couldn’t really deny that, could he? The ability was what had gotten him banished. He looked at Ethan. “Doesn’t your bond with her do the same?” Ethan shook his head. “I don’t think so. I can find her by scent, and I can feel extreme emotions from her, but I think you’re talking about something much more.” Harris got the feeling the lupine might be a bit envious. At least he wasn’t freaking out like Gabby. Her agitation was rising by the second. It was a discordant drone in his head. She was breathing too rapidly, and he could feel her heart racing. He needed to reassure her fast.

“Take a deep breath, Gabby,” he commanded. “Calm down.”

She flinched but that didn’t stop him from pulling her over. He settled her on his lap and held her in a firm embrace while trying to send soothing energy through their bond. She punched his shoulder.

“Don’t do that,” she snapped, but she wasn’t struggling in his hold and her heartbeat was slowing, her breathing coming in slower pants. “Don’t manipulate me. First that damned potion, now this.” She glared at him. “You made a deal with me, and then you made it useless.” Okay, he understood why that pissed her off. Not that he’d change anything if he could. “I should be sorry about it. The bond,” he admitted.

“But you aren’t.”

“No.” What else could he say?

“You should have given me a choice.” She turned her furious gaze to Ethan, who didn’t look one bit contrite.

He felt her anger but, under that, so much else. Confusion. Resolve. She was determined to get away and, if that didn’t work, to at least distance herself from them. Harris knew they could lose her here, now, if he wasn’t careful.

“No,” he said. “I shouldn’t have given you a choice. I shouldn’t have used the bond at all. I know what it is, what it does. The lengths it will drive a man to.” He definitely had her attention now. Ethan’s too. He took a deep breath before plunging in, tempted to get up and pace as he told the story, but unable to make himself release her from his lap.

“I came here when I was eighteen after my brother banished me.” She gasped and slid her hand down his arm to his hand, gave it a brief squeeze. He knew after years of living among them that a lupine couldn’t imagine a worse fate. He laced her fingers through his and brought them to his mouth for a lingering kiss.

“What happened?” she whispered.

“My parents were bonded, but that world is so different from anything you know. It’s cold.

Love and happiness are frowned upon. Held in contempt. It’s all about power, and those emotions make you weak. My mother was a witch, but she was different. She refused to live like that. She told me she was leaving him, after my birthday.”

He took a deep breath. This part sucked. This was the part he’d tried to forget.

“My father found out,” he said flatly. “Because of the bond. He tracked her movements around the city, knew she wanted to flee, and he wasn’t about to let that happen. He would look bad,” Harris said bitterly. “He decided he didn’t need her anymore since he had two grown sons.”

“Gods,” Ethan muttered, clearly understanding where this tale was going.

Harris didn’t meet his eyes or Gabby’s. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to finish, and they both needed to know what he was capable of.

“He was a cold bastard, my father,” he ground out, remembered fury thickening his throat.

“My brother and I had been gone all day. It was my birthday. Mom left the house the same time we did. To run errands she said, but I knew that wasn’t true. I don’t know how he got her back to the house, but when we returned…he was standing over her in the foyer. The gun was still in his hand.”

Gabby turned her face into his chest, and her hand slid up to clutch the hair at the back of his head. “I’m so sorry,” she murmured.

“I’m not finished,” he ground out.

He knew his voice sounded grim, like it carried death, but Gabby didn’t flinch or try to get away. She just held on tighter. He was afraid his heart might crack open.

“He killed her. He didn’t deny it. The rage was so consuming. He told us not to worry, someone would come along to clean up the mess in a minute. Then he turned around to walk away. I lost it. I lost control of my power. Slammed him against the wall until he was dead.”

“And they banished you for that?” Ethan asked, voice almost a growl as he shared Harris’s fury and grief.

“As the oldest surviving male in the family, it was up to my brother to decide my punishment. By our law, for killing an elder, there are only two options. Death or banishment.

No matter what the circumstances are. There were some pretty loud demands for my execution.” He felt wrung out from telling the story, but he gave them a wan smile. “You’ll have to forgive my brother. He didn’t have a choice, and in the end, it brought the three of us together.”

“So you shouldn’t have created this bond with me because of what happened to your mother. Why did you do it, then?” she asked gently.

He wanted to tell her he hadn’t been able to help himself, that it had just been instinct, but he gave her the truth. “Because I wanted to be that close to you. I wanted to feel this connection with you. I needed it.”

“And it had nothing to do with keeping tabs on me?”

He sensed a trap here. “I’m not trying to track your every move, darlin’.” Her eyes narrowed. “Just some of them?” she asked tartly. “Will you know if I’m on pack business? Dangerous pack business?”

Yep, definitely a trap. He nodded.

“I don’t need protection. I don’t need a big, strong man to keep me safe.” He felt like he’d walked into a minefield. “I know that,” he said warily, not about to admit part of his motivation was protecting her. Even though it was more a guard against his people than any danger a lupine might pose. Any wolf challengers would have to get through Ethan first, and that wasn’t happening. “I can’t pick and choose which parts of the bond work any more than Ethan can control his.”

She didn’t look happy about it, but she let the subject drop, and her anger faded with it.

Thank the gods.

“Now about the dominance thing, darlin’.” He needed her to submit to him here, at home, and he knew deep down she wanted to. Ethan never would fully submit to Harris, and that was okay because he didn’t want to. But Harris hated seeing Gabby deny herself something she needed. Something he could give her.

Her eyes turned guarded.

“You lied to me about liking it,” he said. She scrambled to get off his lap, and he let her go. For now. She got a stubborn look he recognized. “Don’t lie to me, Gabby,” he said softly, not bothering to hide the dom from her.

She heaved a sigh, wrung her fingers, and looked down, refusing to meet his gaze. The actions of a submissive. “Okay. Fine. I liked it.”

Progress, finally.

He didn’t show his sense of triumph, though it was damned hard to conceal it. She felt it through the bond. Her head snapped up. When she looked at him defiantly, he allowed a mean little smile, knowing it would excite her as much as alarm her. Knowing she needed the combination, that it was hardwired into her just as much as her need to submit.

He arched an eyebrow. “I don’t think I like your tone.” He watched her struggle with conflicting emotions. Her desire to fight for dominance warred with her impulse to please him. Interesting. He let his senses expand, opened the bond as he tried to figure her out. She was one of the highest-ranking females in the pack. There was only one way to achieve her position: fight.

But her mind didn’t feel like a warrior’s. She was willing to fight. She wouldn’t hesitate.

She got no joy from it, and she’d somehow managed to learn to contain that part of her, separate from the rest. Almost as if she was ensuring she wasn’t contaminated. He’d never felt a mind like hers, divided like hers.

“You were not born to be a dominant member of the pack,” he said, the realization stunning. “Not as dominant as you are, at least.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, defensive. Cagey. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course, I was.”

“No, darlin’.” He shook his head. “You weren’t. Don’t worry. I don’t have any interest in taking it from you, but haven’t you ever felt divided? Torn between that public life you lead and what you want personally? Privately?”

He saw right away that he’d hit a nerve.

“Tell me,” he demanded, keeping his voice soft and gentle, every instinct he had urging him to go to her, to shelter her as she told her secret desires, but it was too soon. She didn’t trust him enough yet.

“I wouldn’t know where to start,” she murmured, sounding so confused and dejected it hurt his chest.

He glanced at Ethan and registered his stunned expression—he hadn’t had a clue about these revelations. Harris decided to push her a bit.

“You start by letting us help you. Do you want to be held, Gabby? Do you need it? Ethan is right next to you, and I’m only a few feet away.”

She bit her bottom lip and looked over at Ethan from below lowered lashes. Harris was instantly throbbing hard. He wanted her to look at him like that. Ethan met his gaze, a question gleaming in his eyes. He wasn’t sure how to proceed here. Harris shook his head when Ethan started to move toward her, and with a huff of breath, he stilled. Gabby needed to come to them.

To know she could come to them. There was a lot he wanted to demand of her, but she had a right to demand a few things in return.

“Gabby? Look at me, baby,” Ethan said. He waited until she did before going on with an uncharacteristically serious expression. “I’m right here.” Harris held his breath when she moved. She let Ethan pull her into his arms, burying her face in his chest with a heaved, almost sobbed breath that was easy to read as relief. Ethan held her tightly, close, one hand lazily stroking her back until finally she calmed and broke away.

Harris knew better than to smile. “That wasn’t so bad, was it? Come back to the couch. I need you to tell me about this.”

Reluctance was in her every step. When she was close enough, he grabbed her hand and pulled her into her previous position on his lap. She was stiff, but she didn’t try to escape, and Ethan came over to sit next to them. She relaxed as he drew closer, but Harris was pretty sure she wasn’t aware of it. The mating bonds at work? He wanted it to be so much more. Wanted it to be an emotional response that had nothing to do with the bonds they’d forced on her.

Ethan lowered himself next to them, watching. Curious. Cautious. “Talk to us, baby.”

“And tell you what? I…have desires that don’t fit what I am. That frankly freak me out. A few years ago, I thought maybe it would be possible to be…these two different people.”

“Why did you stop believing that?” Ethan asked.

She chuckled. “Too bad you can’t see how you treat your woman of the week in front of the pack. They’re all submissive females. Ever notice that?” Her bitterness was sharp and hurt and angry in his mind. A shock. But nothing compared to what Ethan was feeling if his face was anything to judge by. He was stunned. A little angry. It frustrated Harris. He didn’t know how deeply this animosity ran between them or how to fix it.

Ethan lurched to his feet and stalked away. When he whirled back to face the couch, Harris considered throwing a telekinetic punch at him, the fury etched on his face was so easy to read.

“Don’t go there, Gabby. Just…don’t. You have spent your whole life keeping me at arm’s length. When did you realize I was your mate? How long have you known? Because sometimes I think I was born knowing.”

He couldn’t disguise the hurt in his voice, and though Harris was tempted, so tempted, to call a halt to this conversation, to all the painful revelations, he knew he couldn’t. They all needed to get this out. But damn, it was hard to watch Ethan hurting like that. To feel Gabby’s pain and confusion and panic. The three of them were supposed to be one unit. It didn’t matter who’d been together first, which of them had accepted the other first. But they couldn’t get on with the future until they dealt with the past.

“Damn it, Gabby, how long?”

She shrank away from Ethan’s fury, molding herself to Harris’s chest, and he shot Ethan a warning look. Ethan turned his back for a moment, shoving his hands through his hair. He was calmer, on the surface at least, when he turned back around.


“I don’t know.” She sighed. “I had a suspicion when I was sixteen, maybe a little younger.”

Gods. Harris felt for Ethan, understood why he’d armored himself as he had. What was that? Ten years? Eleven? Ethan stood across from them, hands clenched at his sides, body strumming with tension.

“Did you even care what that did to me, baby? Even a little bit?” he asked so softly Harris almost missed it.

But Gabby didn’t. Her head snapped up, eyes flashing yellow. Regret and annoyance shimmered through their bond.

“You’re three years older than me. Do you know what I remember most about you from when we were teenagers? All the females in the pack panting after you. And you were pretty damned happy to accommodate them. I didn’t want to add my name to that list. Of course, as I got older, the list grew. You think my not acknowledging you hurt you? What do you think your behavior did to me?”

She shuddered, and Harris was sure she was repressing a cry. Then she lurched up and stalked over to Ethan. “Do you have any idea how long I waited for you to come to your senses?” she asked.

Harris watched as Ethan’s eyes turned yellow. “All you had to do was say something and you know it. Don’t throw that in my face, Gabby.”

“You’re so sure of that?” she asked. So angry. So hurt. Then she shrugged it off, or pretended to, but Harris saw right through her. He was pretty sure Ethan did too. “Anyway, you were my friend. I started to think maybe I was getting the best part of you.” Oh gods, that had to cut. Harris watched silently, wanting to intervene, but knowing all this old rancor needed to be aired. Ethan paled and looked like she’d plunged a knife right into his heart. He actually swayed with the imagined blow, and for a moment, Harris was sure he’d spin around and leave the house. He didn’t. He just watched her with wounded eyes for several long minutes.

“You worked damned hard to make me believe you’d never accept a mate, much less me,” he said calmly.

Much too calmly. He moved so fast Harris didn’t see it, but he had Gabby pinned under him on the floor, one hand resting on her throat, when Harris blinked again.

Ethan was livid. He hadn’t known for sure. Not until she admitted it. But gods damn it!

Ten years of fucking misery. For what? So she could prove she was strong? Because she wanted to be something she wasn’t?

“Why, Gabby? Why?” He didn’t even care that he was giving away everything in his voice, in his eyes.

“I…” She trailed off, staring into his gaze. A scent tantalized his senses, and he took a deep breath. Shock rocked through him. The hand he’d pressed to her collarbone, so close to her throat, spasmed. Tensed when that seductive scent intensified. She was under his control, they both knew it, and she liked it. Her body came alive with it. Harris was right. She was submissive.

She brought her knee up, and he barely managed to save the family jewels by rolling away.

She was also no pushover. She was a fighter. He’d seen her in action. It was an undeniable part of her nature.

They stood several feet apart now, aggression a heady scent in the air and mingled so nicely with lust. With her desire. She wanted to be taken, but she wouldn’t make it easy. Why had he never seen this before? He relaxed, smiled, forced his wolf side to back down.

“Oh, you have a lot of ’splaining to do, Lucy,” he murmured.

She backed away warily, but he wasn’t fooled. She was ready, even eager for him to strike.

She wanted him to be strong enough to subdue her. Why couldn’t he have discovered this years ago? He had her in his arms before she could react. He left the blanket wrapped around her, allowing her that last bit of security. The sound of her heart suddenly pounding, the echoing sweetness in her scent, told him everything he needed to know. She wanted him. And she wanted him to be strong enough to take her. But she needed the truth. He owed her the truth.

“My reputation was unearned, baby. I have not slept with half the women in the pack. Not even close. No one could ever compare to you. No one else could touch me the way you do. No chance in hell.”

She stopped fidgeting in his arms. The breath seemed to rush out of her, there was a short burst of tenseness, and then she was all pliant female. All his. For the first time, he thought he understood why Harris liked sex with women like this. It wasn’t just about being in control. It was the trust it took, a woman giving herself over so totally. Trusted completely, with everything. Past, future, pleasure, pain.

He was hooked.

He looked over her head to meet Harris’s gaze and saw all his desire reflected there. Ethan picked Gabby up and carried her down the hall, Harris at his heels. He lowered her to the bed, and though she didn’t rise, she did protest.

“We don’t have time. Kade’s party—”

“It can wait, baby,” he said gruffly. “He’ll understand.” He unwrapped the blanket, revealing her like a present. He didn’t lift his gaze, but he knew Harris watched from the other side of the bed. Gabby writhed on top of the thick comforter. Her eyes were feverish, her skin flushed. If Ethan didn’t know better, he’d think she was in heat again, but it was much too soon. He responded to her like she was, though. So damned beautiful, reacting as she could only to her mates. It made him hungry for the taste of her, the feel of her.

He stripped quickly and made room for his shoulders between her thighs. Harris hadn’t come prepared for this, but he made do. Ethan watched as he slid the belts from both their jeans, and felt sharp canines poking through his gums. Not good. He’d already marked her. That craving should be under control. Still it pounded at him, and he turned his head to the inside of her thigh, up high and so close to her pussy all he had to do was turn his head. She moaned, bucking her hips against him, her scent washing over him like fucking ambrosia, and he was back in control again. Of his canines, at least.

He scooted closer, blew a breath over her sex, and inhaled deeply. Gods. Her scent. It would make him crazy. He had to have a taste. His tongue flashed out, over her hole, up to her clit. She mewled like a hungry kitten, and he would have given her whatever she wanted, except he sensed movement and glanced up.

Harris held her hand in his, stretched high above her head, face bent to leave nibbling kisses on his way to her wrist. She trembled every time his teeth scraped her skin, so he did it often. Finally Harris reached her pulse point, and he paused for a long suck before wrapping the belt around it and securing it to the bedpost. He started to walk around the bed, to handle the other wrist, but caught Ethan watching him. He paused with a wicked smile, braced his fists on the bed to lean down, and kissed him. It was all heat and teeth and brawn, but addicting as that taste was, they were both focused on her. Harris straightened and moved to her other side. She didn’t protest when he secured that wrist the same way as the other.

Ethan sat back on his heels and gazed down. Spread out like a feast just for him. So fucking beautiful, he ached to look at her. She met his gaze and held it when he expected her to look away. When he expected fear to make her back off. Which taught him the futility of trying to predict Gabby, didn’t it? She was back to her usual fearless self.

“What do you think, darlin’?” Harris drawled. “Being submissive isn’t so bad.” Harris lay down on the bed next to her, his hand moving to cup her breast while his teeth grazed the skin on her neck. Ethan smiled at the display. She shivered, tiny goose bumps rising all over her body.

“Gabby,” Harris said in a voice that was way too calm, grabbed a fistful of her hair, and forced her to turn to face him. “You didn’t answer me.”

“You’re asking me to think at a time like this?”

“No. I’m asking what you’re feel, darlin’.”

Ethan wanted to know the answer to that himself. She took a long time to respond—so long he was sure she wouldn’t.

“Don’t…stop. Please.”

Harris leaned forward and rolled his tongue over her nipple until it was a sharp, wet point.

Then he bit her. Ethan’s eyes widened, jealous, as those teeth closed over her soft, creamy skin.

He wanted to do the same, wanted to take his time and leave evidence of his desire, his love over every inch of her body. Harris looked at him with a grin as if he knew exactly what Ethan was thinking. Next he bit her stomach, right above her belly button, sucking the skin in hard and leaving it wet and red when he sat back.

“‘Don’t stop’ isn’t an answer,” he said sharply.

She groaned and opened her eyes, pleading silently. Begging to keep some of herself private. Ethan could read it so well he was amazed.

“What do you want from me?” she whispered.

“Everything,” Harris answered, and Ethan sucked in an excruciating breath. Fuck. He’d ruin everything. She wasn’t ready to go that far yet. She may never be ready to go that far.

She shook her head. “Too much.”

Harris looked brooding and thoughtful, but eventually nodded his head. “Now it is. But I’ll keep pushing, Gabby. Right now I’ll settle for you trusting me with your body. Hopefully you’ll give me your heart later.”

She tugged her arms but was too secure to get free. Her face went pale with alarm, and her gaze shifted between the two of them. No. A soundless response, easy to read on her lips. Ethan had never realized before that she was afraid of falling in love. He didn’t like that. He was crazy about her. Had been since she was sixteen. It seemed only fair that she return the favor.

“Later is not good enough,” he snarled, at her or Harris, he wasn’t sure.

He crawled up her body. Resting his elbows on either side of her head, his torso pressing against hers as a cold fire raged through him. He’d marked her, claimed her, loved her for years, and just when he thought she was coming around, she’d made it clear that was light years from the truth. She would make him mad. Crazed and insane.

“What will it take to make you open your eyes, Gabby?” he asked, desperate for some sign of affection. He stared into lust-filled eyes, and while he loved seeing that look on her face, he wanted to see clear reason right now. The Gabby he could always count on for sound advice and a level head. The one who always gave him the complete, unvarnished, ugly truth.

“To what, Ethan? What do you want me to see?”

“How I feel about you. How I’ve always felt. What you deny.” She focused on his face just a moment before her eyes once again glazed with desire. He looked over to see Harris leaning on her other side, his fingers pushing in and out of her cunt in a slow, rhythmic pace.

“I’m trying to have a conversation here,” he snapped.

Harris grinned. Shrugged. “Go for it.”

Right. Because she was so receptive now with Harris playing with her body. Flushed and sweaty, eyes closed, head tossing back and forth on the pillow while she moaned. Gods, that was hot. He stretched out next to her and skimmed his hand over her torso. When he brushed by her nipples, she froze, and he went back for a second go-round. Again and again.

When she was panting and begging, he stopped so he could lean down and claim her lips.

But he whispered in her ear first. “I’ve loved you for years, Gabby. Don’t you love me just a little?”

And he poured everything he felt into the kiss. Years of watching her, admiring her, wanting her. Loving her. He’d run a gauntlet of emotions with this woman. Love, fear, anger, jealousy, amusement, possessiveness, and protectiveness. The amazing thing was, as he deepened the kiss, as his tongue swept into her mouth, he felt that emotion reciprocated. His heart kicked hard in his chest. She did feel something. She returned all those complicated, messy feelings, even if she hated it and hated to admit it. He broke away and stared into her eyes, deep whiskey-colored pools of frustration.

“Why are you stopping?”

“You didn’t answer me.”

She looked more than a little desperate. He liked that look. “What question?” He rolled over on top of her. Harris who’d been fingering her pussy and clit, deftly turned his hand around to stroke Ethan’s cock. It jarred him for a moment—that sudden, sweet contact—and he turned to press a quick kiss against Harris’s lips, getting that sinful, mysterious grin in return before the wizard released his grip.

Then Ethan refocused on the woman beneath him. The woman who was his world, his everything. Her eyes were wild, bright and blazing with passion and what he hoped like hell was love. He needed the words, though. He needed her to say it. He pressed the head of his cock against her entrance and held her hips still when she arched to take him inside her.


“Why aren’t you moving?” she whined. “Fuck me, Ethan. Quit teasing.” Harris chuckled. “I think you’re missing a few key elements of submitting, darlin’.” Her pussy tightened around him, a slick, hot vise. He gave her a short, shallow, teasing thrust in retaliation. “Can’t we talk about that later?” Gabby was losing her last grip on her mind and her control, and she knew that was exactly what they wanted from her. She even wanted to give it to them, but reversing an entire lifetime of conditioning was harder than it looked.

Harris lay down next to her, leaned over, and gave her a drugging, soul-sucking kiss that left her feeling weak and desperate, while Ethan bent his head to her nipple. He licked her, rolled his tongue over the hard peak before pulling it between his lips and sucking it into his mouth.

Then his teeth closed over it just hard enough to pinch, and she arched into him with a cry.

Harris repeated the action on her neglected nipple.

The pleasure and pain combined until she was flying high and knew just a few seconds more and she’d come. When Harris released her, she swore she heard him mutter something about clamps, but she was too far gone to ask what he was talking about. She wanted to wail.

She’d been so close, and when she met his gaze, she realized he knew it. He’d intentionally held her back. She swallowed hard and tried to relax, knowing the more she strained to reach orgasm on her own, the longer he’d hold back. He gave her his sexy half smile.

“You’re learning, darlin’.”

Damn her heart for stuttering at the approval in his voice. She didn’t dare try to answer him. She had no idea what her voice would reveal. Anger at being under their control? Or eagerness to give in to it? Harris lowered his head to nip her bottom lip. It was such a lupine thing to do, dominant and masculine, she shivered. He caressed her cheek with the back of his knuckles.

“You still haven’t answered Ethan’s question, Gabby,” Harris chided.

She met Ethan’s gaze and felt her eyes change, struggled to keep the wolf’s claws from poking through her fingertips as emotion and indecision raged through her. Did she love him?

She’d always loved him. She’d just never believed she could have him and keep herself at the same time. She still wasn’t convinced that was possible, but she was beginning to hope, and she knew she wanted to give it a shot. She didn’t want to live without either of them.

She couldn’t give him the words he wanted, though, not yet, but she couldn’t hold back the rush of emotion either, the love swelling and breaking free of the constraint she’d always kept it under. She didn’t have to say anything because he felt it through their bond. He threw his head back with a snarl and surged into her. His cock was thick and pulsing, filling her. His thrusts were fast and hard, left her keening as her body strained toward orgasm. She felt someone’s fingers on her clit, opened her eyes to see Harris smiling at her, working her.

He leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Come, darlin’. Come now.” She let go. Ethan froze as her pussy clamped around his cock, his groan barely audible over the roaring in her ears. He didn’t come with her, but she couldn’t wonder why. She was flying apart, sparks exploding behind her eyes and firing every nerve ending in her body. It had never been this good, never this sweet, not even during the heat.

She felt the bonds on her wrists loosen and gentle hands rub the marks of her struggle against them. When Ethan rolled them over, still buried inside her, it took all her effort not to sprawl across his chest, but she didn’t think she had the energy to respond to the roll of his hips, the gentle thrust of his cock still filling her. He chuckled, gripped her nape, and tugged her up to brush a kiss over her lips.

“Did I wear you out, baby?”

“Hmm.” It was impossible not to be amused by the male satisfaction pouring through the bond. “I just need a minute to recover.”

Harris had other ideas, however. He reached across them and picked up the bottle of lube that was on the nightstand. They had used an anal plug over the weekend, and it had been incredible, but not like this. Not both of them at the same time. Fear mingled with excitement, and she trembled. Harris stroked a soothing hand over her back as he worked one lubed finger, then a second into her rear entrance.

“Shh, Gabby, easy. Just relax for me, darlin’,” he crooned.

He worked the fingers back and forth while she forced her muscles to relax. He didn’t give her time to tense up again once she was loose and ready. His fingers disappeared, and the head of his cock pressed against her, eased in just a bit before withdrawing. He took his time, working back and forth slowly, stretching her, until he pushed against the ring of muscle barring his entrance. She cried out at the pain when he pushed past it.

“I’ve got you, darlin’,” he whispered. “Relax. Breathe through it.” He wrapped an arm around her torso, cupping her breast and rolling her nipple between his thumb and finger. At the same time, Ethan uncovered her clit with a firm brush of his thumb that made her keen. The pain in her rear, the pain from being filled by two big cocks diminished to nothing and grew into pleasure. When they started to move, one withdrawing as the other thrust deeply, it became something more than pleasure, something she couldn’t begin to name, much less describe.

She felt them inside her, twining their souls around hers. Desire, love, craving. Devotion. It heightened the physical sensations until she feared for her sanity. Until she feared she’d be lost forever. It was ecstasy and terror. Rapture and a curious, melting sort of pain. She knew that was the last of her defenses failing, the last of her barriers dropping when she felt Harris’s surge of triumph. Masculine and dominant, it should have worried her, but instead she felt comforted.


And they knew. They felt it. They fucked her harder. Ethan strummed her clit faster while Harris plumped and squeezed her nipples. It was too much, more than she could fight, and when Ethan growled at her to come, she did with an explosion so fierce her entire body locked up. She felt Ethan come next, his hot sperm spurting into her pussy, and Harris seconds later filling her ass. She sprawled across Ethan’s chest and swore.

“I am never moving again. Y’all have killed me.”

Chuckling, Harris withdrew, and she felt every inch of him, still half-hard, pulling out. He collapsed at her side, and she turned her head, blowing her hair out of her face to meet his smiling gaze.

“You loved every minute of it, darlin’.”

“Did I say I didn’t? I’m just not moving anytime in the next week or so.” Ethan’s hand moved up and down her back in long, lazy strokes. She loved when he did that. “No more running, baby?”

She thought it over before she answered. She really wasn’t fighting it anymore. A part of her had begun to accept, had begun to embrace these bonds.


Even if she could free herself now, she didn’t want to. She sensed he wanted to talk more about that, but she felt too raw, the acceptance too new, and her body still hummed with satisfaction as lassitude set into her limbs. She closed her eyes and let her mind drift. Sleep wasn’t far behind. She stirred when one of them cleaned her with a damp cloth, but didn’t wake until dusk, and Ethan nudged her awake to get ready for the party.

* * * *

A couple of hours later, Gabby stepped to the edge of the clearing and joined Liza. The paladin glanced at the two men hovering behind her.

“Go find something to do for a bit, guys. I need a private word with my assistant.” They both hesitated, and Liza’s eyes narrowed in ire.

“Go,” Gabby ordered.

Ethan recognized the tone, and while he arched a sardonic eyebrow, he turned to obey, grabbing Harris’s arm to pull him along. Harris went, but the look he shot her promised retribution. She shivered. Maybe he’d tie her up again. When they were gone, Gabby linked her arm with Liza’s. She leaned into Gabby with a grateful smile.

“We could get some chairs,” Gabby offered softly.

Liza shook her head. “I’m fine. Just a little tired. It’ll pass.” Gabby knew better than to argue with that tone, so she looked around the clearing. She saw Caleb and Zach working through the crowd, and Caleb met her gaze, his expression a combination of worry and question. Gabby gave a slight shake of her head. She knew her alpha.

He wanted to march over and order Liza to sit or return to the house. If he did either, he’d have a fight on his hands, and it wasn’t necessary. Between Gabby and Harper, they would maneuver Liza into resting. As if the witch had read her mind, Harper stepped off the trail and approached them, smiling, her mates in tow carrying three chairs.

“Hey,” she said brightly as Jonas and Mick unfolded the lawn chairs and set them in a little semicircle overlooking the clearing. She was just beginning to show, and it was impossible not to grin at her joy. And laugh at Jonas as he glared and nudged her to sit. She rolled her eyes, leaned toward Gabby and Liza, and in a stage whisper said, “I’m helpless now, you know.”

“Get used to it. They don’t improve with age,” Liza grumbled, taking the center chair.

Harper shooed her mates off, and the three women sat in silence for several minutes.

Gabby kept a watchful eye on a group of rambunctious juveniles until raised voices from another part of the party caught her attention. She turned to see her parents arguing—big surprise—and rolled her eyes. She was getting ready to stand and intervene when her mother turned and winked at her. What the hell? Then her mother turned on her heel and stalked away from the party, her mates trailing along and grumbling.

“Did she just wink at you?” Liza asked, incredulous.

“Yeah. I think so.” She shook her head. “I’m beginning to think maybe she picks most of those fights.”

“I really don’t want to ask why, do I?” Harper asked.

“Probably not, no. I don’t either.”

Gabby met Liza’s frank, assessing gaze. “And how are you doing?” Gabby turned to search out Ethan and Harris, who’d apparently decided they’d had enough girl time and were almost back to her. She grinned. “We’re a work in progress.” She knew they’d overhear. Ethan laughed and grabbed her hand, pulling her to feet. “A work in progress? I like that.”

“I don’t,” Harris complained, pulling her from Ethan’s arms.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re grumpy and way too serious?” He cocked a very arrogant eyebrow and leaned in to whisper close to her ear. “Careful, darlin’. Just because I won’t try to dominate you outside our bedroom doesn’t mean you can get away with whatever you want out here. I will make you pay.” She trembled at the sensual pledge. In her wildest dreams. “Promise?” she whispered back.

He groaned and met Ethan’s gaze over her head. “Have we put in enough of an appearance?”

She laughed and pulled free. “No, honey. Sorry. I haven’t seen my brother yet.” She jumped away before he could catch her, and it became a game through the next few hours. Every time one of them tried to corner her, she danced free. She knew they were letting her, but she didn’t care. They were letting her do her thing, checking on the younger soldiers and trainees in her charge, socializing and gathering the gossip and news Liza would ask for later.

They were never far, but they didn’t hover or interfere.

It reassured her as nothing else could have, so at midnight, when she ventured too close to the dance area and they swooped in on her from two different directions, she accepted them with a laugh. Joy infused her. Love, laughter. All the things she’d been afraid to dream of for herself.

Ethan had her hands while Harris gripped her hips and pressed into her from behind. He leaned down to nibble that sensitive spot under her ear, and she giggled.

“Something funny, darlin’?”

She looped an arm around Ethan’s neck, then twisted to wrap the other around Harris’s.

“Not a thing,” she whispered, standing on her toes to brush a kiss over his mouth. “I’m just happy with what I found when I wasn’t looking.”

“Is that right?” Ethan drawled.

She gave him an arch look. “And I don’t share.” He grinned. “Baby, I’m all yours. I always have been.”

“Then take me home,” she said softly, including Harris in her soft demand. “Maybe this time I can show you how much I love you.”

Instead of only them, trying to show her. Ethan’s smile was huge and smug. “Finally admitting it, are you?”

She rolled her eyes. “Are you going to gloat all night, or are you a man of action?”

“Oh, darlin’,” Harris whispered against her ear, dark and dangerous and sending a tendril of wicked desire whipping through her. “I warned you about the attitude, didn’t I?” Before she could protest, he moved, lifting her and tossing her over his shoulder as he stalked from the clearing. She blushed at the cheers of approval and catcalls that urged him on, but she laughed as they carried her home, and cried out her delight as they showed her exactly how they felt about her throughout the night.

Loose Id Titles by Loribelle Hunt


Once Bitten

Twice Shy

Third Time Lucky

Loribelle Hunt

Loribelle is like the South she calls home. Hot and sultry. Languid and sexy. Magnolias and gardenias scent her silk-lined boudoir, and men and children alike bow to her magnificence…

Okay, maybe it isn't quite that glamorous. She does have two smart and lovely daughters who give her a run for her money and a son that will one day be someone's model of a romance hero. (She promises.) Her husband is a real-life hero, and Loribelle just tries to keep up with the demands of military life. In between, she writes a book or two.

She's had every job under the sun, but haven't most writers? That Army military police, bookstore manager, waitress, wedding photographer, website designer experience has to come in useful sometimes. As they say in the South, it all washes out in the end.

She loves hearing from her readers and can be found at http://www.loribellehunt.com.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight