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“And you are under my command.” Wolfe glanced at him, his gaze reflective. Aiden narrowed his eyes, watching the other man intently. He had never known Wolfe to issue an order he didn’t agree with. Never known the other man to ask of others what he would not do himself. But this, Aiden would not consider.


“She is my mate,” he snarled, his body hardening, tightening at the thought of her unclaimed status. “It is not for you to order me there, Wolfe.”


Wolfe sighed. “Unfortunately you are right, Aiden. But it is not for you to choose for her. Charity will be given the choice.”


“No…”


“Aiden.Our very survival depends on our ability to breed. Hope and Faith are in constant arousal now, their bodies no longer their own, their sexuality no longer theirs to control. If there is a way to stop this, then it is not something we can overlook,” Wolfe snapped in frustration. Aiden well understood his leader’s anger and concern. He glanced at his sister in frustration, seeing her compassion, her understanding as she watched him. But he also saw well the signs of her growing arousal once again. Both women were unable to be away from their mates for very long. The situation was breeding nothing but anger and more frustration.


“The blood work I’ve run up to this point supports Charity’s claims,” Dr. Armani said softly in the silence of the room. “The tests I would require would be done gently, Aiden, with all care given to your mate’s body and her mind. I don’t wish to harm her. But we must see the results of the drugs they used on her. It could help me, perhaps, to determine how to recreate the process in a gentler manner.”


“It seems to me it would be smarter to find those damnedWinged bastards,” Aiden snarled. “They have the answers.”


“Doesn’t matter.Charity’s body holds the key. We could do nothing without examining her to see the results of whatever information Keegan holds,” the doctor snapped out. “Stop being so damned possessive, Aiden. I’m not going to hurt her.”


His head swung around as he fought a furious growl. The doctor was watching him as she would a recalcitrant child. The look didn’t set well with him.


“You are right. You will not hurt her, because there will be no tests,” he bit out.


“Aren’t you the same man who claimed this woman was not his mate? Nothing to him?” the doctor asked as she crossed her arms under her breasts, watching him mockingly. “What do you care what is done with her body? She is not a Breed, Aiden, and nothing to you.”


“Do not play word games with me, Armani,” he snapped, infuriated that she would throw his own angry words back at him. “She has yet to heal from whatever hell they put her through. This has nothing to do with a mating and everything to do with a healing. I will not allow it.”


“A healing will not occur, Aiden, until possibly, conception,” the doctor snapped back, her black eyes glittering with her own ire. “Do not presume to believe that, whatever those experiments were, the effects will merely wash away now that she is safe. You know better than this.”


Aiden felt his stomach tighten with a sensation akin to fear.Conception? He clenched his fists as he fought to hold back the blistering curses raging through his mind. Dammit, Charity wasn’t strong enough to hold herself up right now, let alone to survive the unknown trials of a Breed birth. Only God knew what would result.


“Aiden.”Wolfe came to his feet, his expression stoic,his gaze compassionate. “This is not any easier on our women, Hope and Faith, as well as those who will suffer through this when they mate. If Charity holds the answers, then we must find out what they are.”


“Personally, I think you’re talking to the wrong person about this,” Hope spoke up then, her gaze leveled on Aiden. “Charity has conducted her own experiments, and she knows this won’t merely go away. I say we ask her.”


“I say she’s too weak,” Aiden shook his head roughly. “Not now. Not until she has strengthened.”


“Aiden, I just saw your woman not more than an hour ago,” Hope argued. “She is in such need her body trembles from it. I’ve never seen Faith, nor known myself, to suffer so excessively from the heat. It’s her pain, therefore it’s her choice.”


“It will be a child as well, Hope, should she conceive,” he growled. “Have you forgotten so easily how familiar she was with your mother? How easily she betrayed me?”


“You mean how easily she saved your worthless hide.” Faith stepped into the fray then. “I remember how nobly you were willing to give up your life on a whim, brother, and how she saved it. I do not see that as a betrayal.”


“Aiden.”Wolfe forestalled anything he would have said to his sister in the heat of anger. “Remember,


Charity is not the only one who will feel the effects of this arousal. Return to your mate, discuss this if you will, or take care of the needs tormenting you both first, whichever you deem more important. But unless Keegan is found in the next few days, then this discussion will be resolved.To all our satisfaction.”


Aiden drew in a hard, controlling breath. Wolfe watched him without a hint of leniency in his expression. He would not change his mind if no other answer were found.


“Would you so willingly give over your woman, Wolfe?” he snarled viciously. Wolfe sighed wearily as he glanced at the woman in question. “To ease her torment, Aiden, I would do whatever is necessary,” he finally sighed softly. “If it meant my own life, I would give it to ease Hope’s way.” He turned back to him slowly. “But that is my love for her.My understanding of her pain. From where,Aiden, does your reluctance stem?”


Aiden raised his head slowly, proudly.“From ownership, Wolfe. The bitch is mine. Not yours, not the Pack’s. Mine. Remember that before you come to my cabin claiming her in the name of your love for your mate.”


He turned and stalked from the lead cabin, his boots thumping loudly, the door slamming with a satisfying thump behind him.The cool night air wrapped around him, embracing him with a sense of freedom, of wonder. And yet his soul felt as helplessly bound as it had been for six long, torturous years.


* * * * *


“What do you think?” Wolfe turned to Jacob, who had stayed silent, watchful as the confrontation arose with Aiden.


Wolfe felt torn, placed between his friend and the needs of Hope and Faith, as well as Charity. The scent of her need was nearly overpowering the last time he had been in Aiden’s cabin. Even unconscious her body had sought relief, in whatever form it could find. He watched Jacob frown consideringly before his lips twisted in a wry grin. “He’s a goner.” He shrugged. “Give him long enough to sate himself the first time with her, and he’ll think more clearly then.”


“If she’s strong enough to handle it.”Wolfe shook his head wearily then turned to the doctor for her opinion. The more unusual aspects of Breed mating had the potential to terrify, more than to arouse, unsuspecting females.


Dr. Armani arched a brow in mocking question. “You’re asking me? Sorry, Wolfe, I have yet to understand the regular mating process you go through. The anal aspects are even more confusing.”


“It eases the arousal, for a time,” Hope reminded her. “So it must have significance.”


“Of course.I’m certain it does.” She tucked her hands into the pockets of her light jacket. “That doesn’t mean I know what it is yet. And if Aiden has his way, it appears I never will.”


Wolfe growled. “Find that fucking Winged Breed.” He turned on Jacob again. “Send out one of our best groups. They have to be in that damned jungle somewhere. If you have to, put out a call to Sam’s group. I want them found.”


“Two Packs are already there, Wolfe.” Jacob shook his head, grimacing. “If they can find them then they will. I’ll call in Sam, but I don’t like the idea of it. Either way, I have a feeling Keegan or his people won’t show themselves until they have no other choice. Unfortunately, I have no idea what would push them to it.”


Wolfe drew in a deep breath, tamping down his own anger, his own frustration.His own arousal. Aiden’s woman wasn’t the only one in heat, and Aiden’s patience wasn’t the only one being pushed to its limits. If they didn’t find an answer to this soon, then there would be no hope for any of them, let alone their futures.


Chapter Twelve


She was breathing through the contractions ripping her womb apart. Aiden watched from the doorway, his mind consumed with such contradictory impulses that he wasn’t certain if he should leave, or if he should go to her. His body demanded he go to her. Every bone and muscle in his body, not to mention his traitorous cock, demanded that he take her now.


His control, so fiercely won after she had taken it from him, demanded that he run. Run hard and fast, as far away from this woman as he could get. The emotional threat she represented tore at him. The mating to come terrified him. Already he could feel the aggression, the dominance roaring within his body. Wolfe and Aiden had warned him of what was to come, but had anyone warned her? No one had, he knew. Hope and Faith hadn’t been with her long enough, and he knew her earlier fear of their mating would only magnify if he explained the full details of it to her. Anal sex would frighten any virgin in such circumstances. To be taken in such a manner by a Breed male would be terrifying at first. He pushed his fingers through his hair, fighting himself, fighting the urges running through him. How was he supposed to steel his heart against her? She had known rescue was coming, had fought to save him when he would have willingly died to escape the hell he knew was coming. Had it really been her fault…his loss of control?


She moaned weakly, curling tighter into the fetal position she had assumed, holding a pillow tight to her stomach. Cian had told them that her pain had only grown worse over the months. Each injection had pushed her closer to insanity as she fought the changes ripping through her body.Changes that were slowly preparing her for him.


His hands went to his shirt, releasing the buttons slowly as he fought to maintain control of his breathing. Her scent was rich and evocative, filled with the power of a mountain storm, the heady fragrance of honeysuckle. His cock was like a staff of burning iron, throbbing beneath the restriction of his jeans, pleading for the tight confines of her honey-rich cunt. She would be wet, slick and hot. Her channel would clasp him like a wet velvet fist, dragging over his sensitive flesh as he thrust in and out. He


swallowed tightly at the thought.


It only took moments for him to undress. He left his clothes where they fell then padded slowly to the bed. She was his mate. God help them both, but he couldn’t leave her in pain, nor could he bear his own any longer.


“Charity,” he whispered as he moved onto the bed behind her, reaching out to draw her hair back from her perspiring face.


“Go away, Aiden.” Her voice was strangled, thick. “I can’t think while you’re here.”


He frowned down at her. “You aren’t thinking, Charity, you are in too much pain to think.”


“The contractions are worse,” she gritted out. “The heat is worse, when it should be leveling off. There’s a difference to it now. It has to be because of the transfusion. I need a fucking lab.” She was almost crying now. “How am I supposed to figure this out without tests?Without equipment? Goddammit, get away from me.” She was panting for air now.


Aiden shook his head in confusion. She seemed more concerned with testing her damned reactions than she was with alleviating the pain. He lay down beside her, his arm hooking over her waist and pulling her back against his body.


She gasped, her body stiffening before a moan escaped her throat.


“God, you’re so warm,” she whispered, burying her head in the pillow beneath her. “How am I supposed to fight this when you’re so damned warm, Aiden?”

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