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She arched a brow. “Territorial, or greedy?”

“Both.” And he was totally unapologetic about it.

“Fine. I’ll have a cheeseburger.”

Marcus placed their orders and turned back to find Roni gawking at him. “What?”

“You practically ordered an entire cow. You couldn’t have shared just a little of that with me?”

With all honesty, he replied, “No.” Once in possession of their orders, Marcus parked in the lot and immediately dug in. He was halfway through his meal when Roni had finished, and he sensed her watching his fries with a covetous gaze. When her hand reached for them, he quickly positioned the box between his spread legs. “Not on your life, gorgeous.” Her eyes narrowed, calculating, but she said nothing. Then, when he was down to his last fry, she snatched it out of his box. “Hey!”

Roni quickly stuffed it in her mouth, close to laughing at his horrified expression.

“Give it back.” Instead, she quickly chewed it. Then she opened her mouth, showing him she’d swallowed it down. And the sight of that tongue . . .

Roni gasped as his mouth suddenly locked on hers. As if to ensure she couldn’t pull away, he cupped her chin as he traced the edge of her bottom lip with his tongue . . . and the sensuous swipe made her wonder how that tongue would feel on other parts of her body.

She should push him away, right? Of course she should. But she didn’t, because that soft, carnal mouth pushed all other thoughts from her mind as his tongue shot inside, tangling with hers. The kiss was wet, languid, and hotly sensual. And it made her body jump to life.

Marcus groaned as her hands knotted in his hair, claws raking his scalp. He gripped her hip and jerked her toward him as his entire body hardened. Need, possessiveness, and a crushing drive to take rushed through him—all of it was so primitive, it shook him. The scent of her arousal slammed into his system, acting as fuel to those primal instincts.

Ordinarily, Marcus didn’t rush; he took his time with a female—seduced and teased. That patience to take things slow wasn’t there with Roni. He roughly shoved his hand under her T-shirt, fingers splaying across her abdomen like a brand. Her eyes snapped open at the possessive move, but she didn’t flinch away. Nor did she protest when his hand slid up and closed around her breast in an equally possessive move. He wouldn’t take her in a car, he wouldn’t, but fuck, the scent of her need was driving him out of his mind.

“Are you ready to stop fighting this, Roni?” He pinched her nipple through her bra, pleased when she moaned. “Will you make that sound when I’m inside you?” Her eyes were dazed, heated, but also wary. It was clear that the intensity between them unnerved her. Hell, it unnerved him too. But it changed nothing. “Our first time is not going to be in a McDonald’s parking lot. But it will happen, Roni. And soon.” He thumbed her nipple as he released her breast.

Her wolf growled in objection when Marcus pulled back, but Roni was glad for the reprieve. Her reaction to him unbalanced her. “Cocky asshole.”

“Not cocky,” he told her as he piled their waste into the brown paper bag. “Just determined to get what I want.”

“A fuck.”

“You,” he corrected. As they drove out of the lot, he paused the car to wind down the window and throw the bag into the large garbage container. “I’ve wanted you since the second I laid eyes on you, sweetheart, and that’s not going to change.”

“Has it occurred to you that maybe you only want me because I didn’t throw myself at you?”

“I don’t like it when females throw themselves at me.”

She barked a disbelieving laugh. “Yeah, right.”

“I’m not saying I didn’t once-upon-a-time, but not anymore.”

“You prefer the chase?”

“A chase can be fun”—he was certainly enjoying this chase—“but no, I just got sick of being around shallow, superficial people who only wanted me because they liked how I look. I mean, what you see here can be injured, scarred, or disfigured. Underneath the skin, I look pretty much the same as every other guy.”

There he went again, surprising her. Okay, maybe he wasn’t cocky, but . . . “You’re still an asshole.”

“So my sister often tells me. Although that’s usually only when I refuse to babysit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my nieces . . . I just prefer them in small doses.”

“Are you close to your sister?”

Pleased that she’d asked him a personal question, Marcus replied, “I’m pretty close to all three of them.” Going through a bad experience had a way of bonding people.

“So you have a close-knit family?” Her hackles raised when his smile faded and his body stiffened. All trace of his usual playfulness had gone. “Now that’s a story right there.”

“A twisted story, sweetheart. One you’d be better off not hearing.”

Okay, if he were going to repeatedly dodge her questions, it could get annoying. But, really, what right did she have to know his secrets? Plus, in all fairness, he’d never asked her a deeply personal question, never pushed her to confide in him about a wound that would clearly be painful to open.

The rest of the journey was spent in silence, but it wasn’t awkward or tense. The presence of the male beside her seemed to smooth over her ragged nerves. Though her attraction to Marcus made her edgy, the guy himself had a way of putting her at ease.

As they stopped at the border of Quinn McGee’s territory, Roni saw that it wasn’t much different from most wolf-shifter territories—lots of land with log cabins scattered all over it. Two enforcers escorted them to the center of the wide territory where they came to a large log cabin. In the living area, Quinn sat on a long sofa at the far end of the room with a platinum blonde and a dark-skinned female who bore a striking resemblance to the dark-skinned male standing beside the sofa.

Quinn got to his feet, smiling, as they came to a stop in front of the sofa. The smile was genuine . . . yet there was a nervous twitch to it. “Marcus, good to see you, it’s been a long time.”

“It has. This is Roni; she’s a Mercury Pack enforcer.”

Quinn nodded at them both, worry apparent on his face. He gestured to the blonde. “This is my mate, Lola. Beside her is one of my female enforcers, and over there is my Beta.”


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