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“They know conception is possible, Aiden…”


“By God, if you haven’t conceived yet it’s not from lack of trying,” he growled. If she hadn’t needed to keep the blanket on her to preserve her modesty she would have pulled her hair in frustration.


“Are you trying to make me crazy?” she snarled. “Stop changing the subject.”


“There is no subject under discussion,” he informed her arrogantly. “You are my mate, and therefore part of the pack. You are safest here. When you are no longer so weak, you will realize this.”


She gaped at him for a moment in amazement.


“Get over the mating stuff, Aiden. They won’t stop. How many of your people will die before you hate me for it?” she screamed back at him. “Look at me, Aiden. I won’t allow it…”


“My mate.My decision.”He crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly.


“Drugs do not make a mate.” She wondered what it took to convince him of this. “Do you understand me, Aiden? Not.Your.Mate.”


“My mate.My woman,” he growled.“My child.”


The last word shocked her into silence, but only for a moment. “There is no child.”


“Yet.”Satisfaction glittered in his eyes.


“Ever.”


His brow arched slowly. “Do you think you can deny me, Charity?” he drawled sensually. “Already your body is hot, aroused. Any man in this room can scent your need.”


Her eyes widened as she swallowed tightly then turned and looked at the interested men watching the exchange with no small amount of amusement. She felt her face flush in embarrassment as her gaze went to Wolfe questioningly.


“You can?” she asked, humiliation crawling through her body as she faced the men. Wolfe sighed deeply as he flashed Aiden a disgruntled look. “Charity, it is no different for Hope or Faith. The need is natural. And the scent is very elusive, though very pleasant. There is no reason to feel shame.”


“Why should you feel shame?” Aiden questioned almost angrily. “Does it shame you to be my mate?”


She was going to cry. Charity could feel the tears rising behind her eyes, the fear blooming in her chest. The need to do so made her furious. Damn him, damn him to hell for making her cry.


“Moron.” Her fist connected with his chest, bringing no more than a frown of confusion to his face and an ache to her fingers. “Are all male Breeds so damned stupid?”


Surprise marked Aiden’s face. “Charity, perhaps you need to rest,” he sighed. “You’re no longer making sense.”


“Because you’re crazy,” she accused him furiously. “Insane.Completely without a clue.”


She gave up. A strangled growl of fury vibrated in her throat, giving any breedalive competition in primal response as she stomped around him and headed for what was obviously the bedroom. The open door showed the inviting, turned downed blankets, but the fireplace between the two rooms was a dead giveaway. Thankfully, this one had a door. She slammed it hard.


* * * * *


Aiden grinned slowly as the door closed, cutting off his view of Charity and the furious twitch of her hips as she had stomped away from him. He turned back to his Pack Leader and arched a brow knowingly. Wolfe chuckled, though he was careful to keep the sound low until they heard the bathroom door as well. Moving cautiously to the empty fireplace, Aiden checked to be certain she had gone into the other room.


“Has she conceived?” Wolfe asked. “Her scent has changed, Aiden.”


Aiden shook his head. “Armani is testing the samples now. We should know soon. If she hasn’t, then she is in full ovulation. Those Coyotes were too damned determined to take her, Wolfe. I tried to keep her within the cabin at all times. And the windows of the SUV were down for only a few moments while we were out. I have no idea how they knew when to strike.”


“The scientists would have some idea of the time table involved in this,” Wolfe sighed tiredly. “It would be that simple. She’s in grave danger, though, as your child will be if she does conceive. Those Coyotes got in too damned easy. We’ll have to increase our security both inside and outside the compound.”


“I’ve put in a call to Satin and her Enforcers. Stygian’s group will stay, and Drake and his men are on their way in. We’ll have to scale back on Lab searches until her safety is assured,” Wolfe decided.


“Coordinate the groups and re-assign those Enforcers still in the field. Bring in as many as possible. If she does conceive, then Armani will know how to help Faith and Hope as well. We must move carefully on this. All our women are in more danger than ever before. And they are not just our hearts, Aiden. They are our future.”


“What about the Roberts woman?” Stygian said curiously. “She was on the list as well.”


“When the others get here, take four men and retrieve her,” Wolfe ordered briskly. “We don’t have time to move carefully on this. Get her here any way you can.”


“Satin’s group will be of utmost importance as well,” Aiden said softly. “You’ll have to make them aware of that and pray she doesn’t go ballistic on us. Damn, that woman should have been a man.”


“Hell, bite your tongue,” Styx laughed heartily in response to this. “That woman’s so damned pretty on the eyes she makes my back teeth ache.”


“She’ll cut your balls off if she hears you say that,” Stygian reminded him. “Better guard your goods, boy.”


Styx winced. “Damn if that ain’t the truth. She might look like a little Barbie Doll, but that girl is pure mean.”


“Let’s clear out of here so she can rest then,” Wolfe sighed. “We’ll put the wolves on high alert, and two teams patrolling the grounds at all times, two men outside the cabin. You’re in the middle of the compound now, so you’ll be harder to get to. Let’s pray it’s enough.”


“Put a team of the wolves outside the compound,” Aiden suggested. “Use the most advanced pairs we have and allow them to roam wild. They’ll pull in the wild packs and alert us of any danger.”


Their affinity with the wolves had allowed them to raise and train select pairs for security purposes. The intelligence of the animals and their natural loyalty, added to the surprising degree of communication they shared with the animals, made them perfect for the jobs they were needed for.


“Okay, we’ll head out of here so you can rest,” Wolfe sighed as he glanced at the bedroom door.


“We’ll keep her safe, Aiden. You keep her careful. All the plans in the world won’t save her if she doesn’t use caution.”


“She’ll be too tired not to use caution,” he murmured as he heard the bathroom door open. “See if Faith or Hope can bring her clothes later. For now, I think she needs to rest.”


Wolfe nodded as the other men filed from the cabin and then he followed behind them. Weariness lay about him, and Aiden now understood why.The worry and constant strain of his mate being in distress lay heavily on his shoulders. Accepting Charity as his mate had placed the same strain on Aiden’s. Her safety, her happiness, as well as the future of their race were their responsibility.A responsibility that didn’t set well with any of their mates.


He sighed tiredly as he heard Charity curse from the bedroom. Her voice was thick with unshed tears, and he knew the worries that would be running through her head. He was her mate. It was his job to ease her. He smiled then. And easing her was so damned good, he thought a lifetime of it wouldn’t be


nearly enough.


Chapter Twenty-Three


Adrenaline still pumped through her body, the blood pounding through her veins even now, hours after the attack. Fury nearly overwhelmed her as she thought of Aiden and his refusal to understand the danger she was bringing to the Breeds that had taken her in. The danger she was bringing to Aiden. And there lay her biggest worry.


“Charity, I can protect you,” he spoke from the doorway behind her, his voice dark, rough. She blinked back her tears, fighting herself and the emotions consuming her. For so many years she had fought her needs for him. Denied what her body, her heart and soul, told her on a daily basis.Just as she had tried to deny it to him.


She listened as he moved across the room, watched as he came into her line of sight, rounding the bed, walking toward her. His chest was bare, smooth tough skin and hard muscle. His abdomen was hard, tight, sun darkened. And below there, beneath the waist of his jeans, his erection swelled. She licked her lips, hungry for him, her body desperate for his touch.


“Charity.”He stopped in front of her, his lean hips at level with her gaze, and she couldn’t resist. She leaned forward, her hands gripping the outside of his hard thighs as her lips pressed against the tight flesh of his abdomen. She needed to touch him, to hold him, to assure herself he was unharmed.


“Charity.”His voice was strangled as his hands slid through her hair, holding her close as she licked at his flesh.


The muscles contracted beneath her touch as he strained closer to her. He was hard and hot, and she was tired of the cold knot of fear and loneliness that had grown inside her for so many years. Her hands moved to the metal buttons of his jeans, her fingers trembling with anticipation as she slid the first metal disk free of its mooring.


“Charity, you need to rest,” he whispered, though his muscles tightened as the second disk slid free as well.


“I need you.” She pressed a kiss to the skin she hadrevealed, her mouth watering at the thought of what awaited her behind the snug confines of the jeans.


The buttons slid free easily, and with his help she managed to push the material over his hips and thighs. His cock sprang free, heavy and engorged, the thick veins standing out in stark relief against the


mahogany colored flesh.


He was so thick, so hard, it amazed her that her body could accommodate it. She blew a whispery breath over the crown, watching as it flexed then jerked at the sensation.


“Would you tease me all night?” His voice was strangled. “Do you know how long I’ve waited to fuck your mouth again, Charity?To relive the pleasure of your tongue against my cock?”


She shivered, his whisky-rough voice sliding over her senses like a velvety stroke of power. Fighting for breath, one hand slid across his thigh to cup andcradle his heavy scrotum while the other gripped the base of his cock. She had no hope of enclosing it in the fingers of onehand, she wanted only to hold the heavy flesh steady as her tongue washed over the flared head of his erection. Above her, she heard him groan. His hands tightened erotically in her hair, his hips pressing the hard shaft closer to her lips. And still she teased him. Why, she didn’t know. Perhaps it was to hear the hard, indrawn breaths of pleasure that echoed around her. To feel the desperate throb of his cock head under her tongue, or merely to have him force her to enclose the bulging head between her lips. His hands tightened in her hair. She allowed her tongue to stroke over the flared head, feeling the heat of it, tasting the pearly drop of pre-cum that eased from the tip. He tasted tangy, a bit salty, and completely male.


“Charity.”His tone was harsh and filled with erotic warning as his hands tightened in her hair. “This is a dangerous game you’re playing, mate.”


She smiled, glancing up at him as she tongued the tip of the silk-encased steel. He grimaced sensually, his expression taut, his eyes stormy and intense as she savored the taste of his cock. Her tongue flickered beneath the flared head, stroking the most sensitive area as his breath caught. She wanted him filling her mouth, thrusting heavily into it, but she needed him to want it more. For years she had dreamed of the first time she had taken him like this. Knowing she had forced from him something he had been unwilling to give. She wanted to replace the memory with something so erotic he would never remember that episode in the same way again.

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