His fingers were still moving inside her and it was all she could do to think straight. Pleasure shot through her body, firing up all her senses as a sharp climax tore through her. She’d known she was close, but it punched through her hard and fast, taking her slightly off guard.

Afraid she might claw him she grasped the blanket beneath her as he continued his delicious assault on her. As she was coming down from her high he grasped her hips and flipped her over before she could attempt to catch her breath. She heard the soft buzz of his zipper and then the sound of his jeans being shoved down.

In a long, slow thrust he pushed inside her. Her breath caught in her throat and she arched her back. He stretched her, filling her more than she’d imagined. Her fingers dug into the blankets at the sheer pleasure of knowing that Nikan was claiming her. That they would soon be linked.

Then he began moving and there was nothing steady about his movements. Nothing rhythmic. He pumped into her in jerky, uncontrolled movements. One of his hands palmed her stomach and he moved lower until he strummed her swollen clit.

She should have been too sated, but the feel of his callused finger rubbing her already sensitized bundle of nerves made her clench even tighter around him. With each stroke of his cock and each flick of his finger, her inner walls clenched, milking him until he let out a harsh cry.

As he came inside her he wrapped a strong arm around her waist and pulled her back until his mouth was on her neck. She knew what was coming and tensed in anticipation.

Yes. Do it.

His canines pierced her neck, sharp and bordering on painful, but it only increased the intensity of her orgasm. She cried out his name. More pleasure surged through her, like a never ending wave until finally her arms and legs were too limp to hold herself up anymore.

Before she collapsed, Nikan wrapped an arm around her and held her up so that her back was pressed against his chest. He flicked his tongue over where he’d bitten her, licking and nuzzling the mark with an incredible gentleness, sending little sparks of sensation cascading over her skin. “I love you, Essie.” It was a bare whisper on his lips.

She smiled, loving to hear him say it and knowing she’d never get tired of it. “I love you too.”

Rolling her over, he gently laid her down, then finished shoving the rest of his clothes off. She knew better than to laugh at the moment but it struck her as completely adorable that he hadn’t even been able to take off his clothes before making love to her.

As he stretched out next to her he gathered her close, pulling her so that she was halfway covering him. Her long hair fell down her back and over his body, covering them both and creating a little cocoon around them. In that moment she’d never felt more relaxed or at peace with the world.

His hand idly stroked down her spine, his breathing somewhat under control now. But the raw energy humming through him told her that she was in for a long, delicious night. Reaching up, she gently rubbed the tender spot where he’d marked her. Now all shifters and other supernatural beings would know she was off limits. Taken. Mated. She smiled in satisfaction.

His earthy scent twined around her and would remain there as long they were together. It was the same for him. Her scent was practically embedded in his skin. There wasn’t a science to it; it’s just the way it happened when shifters mated.

If they split up the mark would eventually fade and they’d be free to move on with someone else, but she knew there was no one else for her. He’d scared her a little with his talk of bonding, but deep in her heart she knew there would never be any other option. She wanted to eventually bond with him, to wear his mark permanently. “So what happens when we make it back to the ranch?”

He paused for a long moment but finally said, “I’d like to move in with you and your sisters. Eventually I’d like to build us a home on the ranch, but for now I don’t think your sisters could handle you moving out, and I love your family.”

Something tightened around her chest. He wasn’t just saying that because he thought she needed to hear it. He meant it. Her sisters adored him and while it would take some adjusting to having a male under their roof all the time, she didn’t think it would be that big of a difference considering how much time he’d been spending with them anyway.

“That sounds perfect.” And it did. She couldn’t wait to tell her sisters. Alicia’s death had hit them all so hard. Having Nikan close would probably go a long way in making them feel safer. But for her, the idea of waking up to him every morning was absolute perfection. There wouldn’t be a full moon for over a month and she planned to tell Nikan she wanted him for her bondmate. Not yet, but very soon. Right now the idea of talking felt highly overrated. As his hand slid down her back and cupped her behind in a possessive manner that had quickly become familiar, she grinned against the hard wall of his chest.

Talking could definitely wait.


Two days later

Nikan shut the front door of the cabin behind him as he stepped inside. Just as a precaution he’d been checking the direct perimeter of the house and the extended surrounding area the past couple days. There were no tracks or scents that didn’t belong.

The sweet scent of Esperanze pervaded the air, wrapping around him as he strode toward the kitchen. He paused when his cell phone buzzed in his jacket pocket. When he saw Connor’s name on the caller ID, a slight chill slid through his veins. His Alpha had agreed to give them a few days alone. He wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t important. Not after Nikan had told Connor that he and Esperanze had mated.

He flipped open his phone. “Yeah?”

“I hate to do this, but I need you back now.” There was no room for argument in his Alpha’s voice.

Nikan’s hand fisted around the phone as he entered the kitchen. Esperanze paused from making sandwiches, no doubt because of the grim look he knew was on his face. “What’s happened?”

Connor sighed. “Nothing. Yet. Liam’s getting more agitated watching over December. She’s ignoring him, but that hasn’t stopped him from looking out for her. I received a ‘friendly’ warning call from her brother telling me to rein Liam in.”

Everyone at the ranch knew how bad Liam had it for December, a human female. Unfortunately her brother was the sheriff of Fontana, and he wasn’t exactly a fan of shifters. And Liam wasn’t being subtle about his intentions toward the sheriff’s sister. That whole situation was just a bomb waiting to go off.

With a violent element, the Antiparanormal League, in town and targeting humans sympathetic to the shifters in Fontana, their pack had to be on high alert at all times. Especially now. Their pack couldn’t afford for any humans to get hurt because of their association with them—definitely not the sheriff’s sister.

That would cause bad blood among the rest of the town. Not to mention Liam would go insane if anything happened to the human woman he so obviously cared for.

Something Nikan understood completely.

But if Liam pissed off December’s brother bad enough, that could cause even more unnecessary problems for the pack. They definitely didn’t need to tangle with local law enforcement.

Before Nikan could respond, Connor continued. “I need more round the clock monitoring of the ranch and for December. Liam’s killing himself trying to watch her 24/7 and fuck, he needs to sleep sometime. He’s too edgy and sleep-deprived and I’m worried about him.” The sharp curse from Connor didn’t surprise Nikan. Liam might be more than a century old, but he was also Connor’s younger brother.

Nikan didn’t need to hear anymore. He might want more alone time with Essie, but his pack was his family and he knew she felt the same way. “We’re on our way.” At his words, Esperanze began gathering the foodstuff.

It didn’t take long to pack what little they’d brought and put their suitcases in the vehicle. Less than ten minutes later they were on the road, heading back to the real world.

“I wish we could stay longer,” Esperanze said as they pulled onto the main highway.

He snorted. “Me too.” Two days wasn’t nearly long enough to spend naked with her. They’d gotten a few runs in and had actually eaten a few meals, but other than that, he’d spent most of his time inside her. The more times he took her, the more he wanted her.

It was like a never-ending hunger to claim and cherish her that he wondered if he’d ever feel a sense of normalcy around her again. Or if the driving need to mate and to protect her would always be at the forefront of his brain. At the moment he didn’t really care. Not so long as she was with him.

Even though the future had a lot of unknowns—especially with the Antiparanormal League lurking around Fontana—right now he was truly happy for the first time in as long as he could remember. It was all because of the sweet woman sitting next to him. The woman he planned to bond with and spend a lifetime loving.

Unfortunately he had a feeling things were about to drastically change in Fontana. Things couldn’t keep going the way they were. The Antiparanormal League wasn’t going to stay quiet forever. Eventually they’d make a move against his pack. It was just a matter of when and how. He knew his pack and his Alpha well enough that if some radical hate group pushed them hard enough, they’d push back. And the outcome would be bloody.