Head held high, Riley crossed to the rental car and hopped into the passenger seat. She and Tao had agreed that since the route to the main cabin provided no real cover, they would use the car to get there. She was glad of it now, because she needed to get away from Cynthia and Shirley fast or she’d seriously let loose on the shit-stirring bitches.

What bothered her more was that the flock had just stood around, watching the drama unfold—no support, no speaking to Sawyer in her defense, no nothing. Not that she needed anyone to defend her, but dammit, they were supposed to be her flock. The Phoenix wolves would never have stood by while allegations were thrown at her feet. If nothing else, they’d have been at her back in a gesture of unspoken support. And she had to face that the Phoenix Pack felt more like home than the Exodus Flock did.

Neither she nor Tao said a word as he drove them back to the cabin. Inside he surprised her by shoving the coffee table and sofa close to the wall, creating a large space. He then turned to face her and invited, “Hit me.”

She blinked. “What?”

“Hit me,” Tao repeated, sensing just how on edge she was. “You’re gonna snap if you don’t get it all out of you. Don’t worry; I can take a punch from an itty-bitty thing like—motherfucker.” He stroked his jaw, trying to ease the pain pounding through it thanks to the blow she’d just dealt him. “You weren’t supposed to be that enthusiastic about it.”

She shrugged, smiling sweetly. “Sorry.”

Yeah? She sure didn’t sound it. Giving her a little space, he planted his feet shoulder width apart. “Again.”

Tao really hadn’t expected her to come at him like a street fighter on crack, but Riley literally didn’t pull her punches. She was fast. Wicked fast, actually. Fluid too. Even fighting, she moved with grace. She knew every sensitive zone on a person’s body and she targeted every one of them with punches, kicks, and those razor-sharp talons.

Tao did his best to block each blow, but she was a sly little scrapper and had no problem fighting unfairly, so she clipped him a few times. She hadn’t once drawn blood, though—not even when she’d raked him with her talons. Still, he’d have some bruises for sure. And that made him and his wolf kind of proud.

Tao found himself smiling as he asked, “Who taught you to fight?”

“Ethan.”

He grunted as she caught him on the jaw yet again. “Damn. Why do ravens always go for the face?” Blocking yet another punch, he yanked her to him and locked his arms around her. “Feel better, baby?”

She puffed out a long breath. “I don’t feel like I’m going to explode anymore.”

“Good.” He stroked his jaw. “You punch like a guy. Let’s never do that again.”

“Okay.”

He nuzzled her. “As much as it pissed me off that Cynthia confronted you, I can’t deny it was pretty hot when you grabbed her by the throat. Part of me wanted to bend you over right then and fuck you raw.”

She smiled, melting into him. “You can do that after we shower . . . or maybe even while we shower.”

“Sounds fair.” Draping an arm over her shoulders, Tao guided her up the stairs.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

You’re not listening to me, are you?”

Blinking, Riley looked up from her seat at the breakfast bar. “I am,” she lied.

“Oh yeah?” said Tao, doubt heavy in his voice. “What did I just say?”

She pursed her lips. “I’m still processing it.”

“What exactly are you processing?”

“Let’s not revisit the past, Tao.”

He closed his eyes and banged his empty mug on the counter. “Too early for this shit, Porter. Too early.” Pouring more coffee into the cup, he said, “I was telling you that I found my watch this morning. It was in my duffel. I wonder how it got there,” he added drily.

She stifled a smile. “Very mysterious.” Drinking her coffee, she watched him bustle about the kitchen—checking cupboards, messing with the fridge magnets, and tampering with the juicer. Riley had to smile. He was so used to having all his time taken up by a cute little pup that he just didn’t know what to do with himself. “You find it weird not having to run around after someone.”

Tao’s brow furrowed. “I’m enjoying the break.”

She snorted. “You miss Kye like crazy.”

“Yeah, well, you miss Savannah and Dexter.” He’d heard her talking on her cell phone earlier, known instantly from her soft tone that she was speaking with the kids. Tao wasn’t sure if she realized it or not, but it was a tone she used strictly with them. “You promised to call them every morning, didn’t you?” She was a total softy for those kids, and he found it rather endearing. “How are they?”

“Causing trouble. Hoarding food. Hissing at Greta. They’re upset with me for not coming back when I said I would.” And that made Riley feel like utter crap.

“I aim to find who out who shot at you as soon as possible so we can get the fuck out of here.” Tao’s stomach clenched as she licked a drop of coffee from her lower lip. It hadn’t even been an hour since he’d last tasted that mouth, and he wanted it again. He also wanted to see her lips wrapped around his cock. It was something he envisioned often. Probably much too often, but he decided there were worse things to obsess over, so he didn’t give himself a hard time about it.

“You’re thinking about sex, aren’t you?” Riley could always tell, because his face would be completely deadpan but there would be an intense energy in his eyes that speared her.

“I’m thinking about fucking your mouth, to be exact.”

“Of course you are,” she said drily. “You’re a boy. Boys are delusional.”

He smiled. “You’re not going to let me feel what it’s like to slide my cock in your mouth? That doesn’t seem fair. I go down on you all the time.”

“Oh, I won’t deny you eat pussy like a champ.”

He laughed. “Like a champ?”

“Totally. But you know, over seventy percent of erectile dysfunction cases are caused by having too many blow jobs.”

“They are not.”

“They could be,” she said. “Besides, you really shouldn’t give to receive.”

He crossed to her and pulled her off the stool, sliding his hands down to her ass. “I don’t do it to receive anything. I do it because I like the taste of you.” He loved it. Craved it, even. “It’s addictive.”

“Oh really? What do I taste like?”

He brushed his mouth over hers and replied, “Mine.”

Riley didn’t really know what to make of that comment or quite how to respond to it. As if sensing that, he smiled in amusement. She narrowed her eyes. “You like it when I’m off balance, don’t you?” It was more of an accusation than a question.

“It’s only fair. You shake my balance all the time.”

Hearing two cars pull up outside, she frowned. “If that’s the Phoenix wolves, they’re early.”

“Of course they’re early,” he said, following her to the front door. “They’re worried about you.”

Opening the door wide, Riley found Hugh leading four familiar wolves up the steps and onto the porch. She gave the Beta a quick smile. “Hey, Hugh.”

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