Right now she’d no doubt let him do any damn thing he wanted. Self-loathing rose up inside him at the thought.

“December, you need to take a cold shower and I’m going to make some coffee.” Somehow he forced the words out. He definitely deserved a medal for this. A really big one.

Her brow wrinkled and she tugged against his grasp on her wrists. “For weeks you’ve been trying to get me into bed with you and now you don’t want me?”

He wanted her more than he wanted his next breath, but it wouldn’t be fair to her. “I think…” He struggled to find words that wouldn’t freak her out but came up short, so he plunged ahead. “I think you’re in heat.”

She went rigid. “I’m not a freaking animal—” Her eyes widened immediately. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

He knew she didn’t, which was why it didn’t bother him. “I know you didn’t. I don’t know the right words or the human equivalent to what our females go through, but you’re…affected by my presence right now. I can see it in your eyes. You feel different this morning, don’t you?”

Her eyebrows furrowed together for a moment. “I am really…horny, I guess.” Her face flushed at the admission.

It wasn’t as if she were drugged. He wouldn’t be taking advantage of her. On one level he knew that, but his human side didn’t want to take her just yet. Not like this. He wanted her levelheaded and he wanted to know her better. Last night was a start but it wasn’t enough. “Trust me on this and just take a cold shower. I want to spend the day with you, Red. Just the two of us, no interruptions.”

She shook her head, making her hair swish against the pillow. “I’ve got work and—”

“I called Kat. She’s watching the store this morning. Then one of the females from my pack will take over for her this afternoon.”

She gave her head a slight shake. “What about the alarm system? Didn’t you say someone was installing it at my house today? It is Monday, right?”

He nodded. “One of my pack members will be overseeing the installation.”

Smiling, she rubbed against him again. “Then why do we need to leave this room?” she whispered.

Using restraint he didn’t know he possessed, he released her wrists and pushed off her. Lightning fast, he was off the bed and grabbed a change of clothes from the bag he’d brought. “I’ll be in the kitchen.” Without a backward glance he hurried from the room. Behind him he heard her mumble something about him being a jackass, but he ignored it.

His brother’s advice telling him to talk to December about her past rang in his head. He’d planned to talk to her yesterday, but getting shot and then the shit that had happened at her house had blown his plans to hell. And he wanted her clearheaded the first time they made love. That thought brought him to an abrupt halt at the end of the stairs. “Making love” wasn’t a term he was accustomed to, but he knew that’s exactly what he and December would be doing.

December let the warm, pulsing water rush over her body as she scrubbed herself with a loofah. She wasn’t sure what had come over her this morning. Waking up naked in Liam’s arms, she’d felt positively possessed with the need to feel him inside her. Last night she’d wanted to take things to the next level, consequences be damned, but this morning had been…different. She’d been almost overcome with a hunger.

Now that she was by herself, she felt more in control of her lust. Not that it took away from her burning desire for Liam. After being attacked in her home yesterday, she’d been terrified and sure she was going to die. But Liam had been there for her. Just like before. It didn’t matter how much she told herself she needed to stay away from him—Liam always came through for her.

She knew she needed to tell him about her past. About her younger brother’s death. The longer she was around him, the more she realized she owed him that much. She understood why her older brother mistrusted shifters, but she couldn’t lump them all together. Not after all the kindness she’d seen from Liam.

As she rubbed the sudsy loofah between her legs, an image of his head between her open thighs flashed in her mind. Even though she was alone, she felt herself blush. The way he’d pleasured her last night had been amazing. Unexpected. He’d been so giving and he hadn’t wanted anything in return, even though she’d have willingly given back to him.

Her thoughts started to take a much hotter turn, so she twisted the shower knob to cold. The icy blast jolted her out of her fantasies. Quickly, she finished showering, dried her hair, and got dressed. She wasn’t sure what Liam had planned for the day, but she was relieved not to be going in to work. She felt bad that Kat was covering for her when she wasn’t even technically an employee, but for the first time in what felt like forever, December wanted to enjoy herself. After last night, she figured she deserved a little break.

She found Liam downstairs in the kitchen with his back to her, pouring a cup of coffee. The rich aroma made her stomach growl, but it was hard to care as she stared at him. Today he wore a pair of faded jeans that hugged his butt so perfectly, her abdomen tightened with pent-up need. She wanted to grab him and pull him close.

When he turned to face her, his knowing expression said he could read her thoughts. Which was ludicrous. Though he could probably scent her desire. Damn it. She really hated that sometimes.

“How are you feeling?” He stayed where he was, leaning against the counter, so she remained in the entryway.

“Fine. And I am not in heat.” She might feel a little loopy and a lot more turned on than usual, but she wasn’t in heat. She was human. That idea was crazy.

His eyebrows rose as if he didn’t believe her. “Hmm.”

She glared at him. “Don’t ‘hmm’ me. You said you called Kat. Are you sure she’s okay working at the store today?”

He nodded quickly. “When I told her what happened last night, she had no problem.”

December cringed at his words. She hadn’t thought to call the police last night and since Liam hadn’t brought it up, she figured he hadn’t called either. Which didn’t surprise her. If he didn’t have to involve the law in something, she knew he wouldn’t. Part of her wondered if she should tell Parker, but she knew it would upset him, and worse, he’d probably try to get her to leave town or something. She might not feel safe in her own home at the moment, but she did feel safe with Liam and she wasn’t going to give those assholes who’d been harassing her the right to make her flee like a coward. This was her town and she wouldn’t walk away from her friends or her job. And on a primal level she wasn’t sure she wanted to acknowledge, she trusted Liam to take care of the man who’d come after her. “Did you tell her not to tell anyone?”

“No, but I don’t think you have to worry about her. She knows how to keep a secret.”

“How do you know?”

He shrugged, which infuriated her. The man kept so many secrets it was nauseating. She didn’t bother trying to grill him. It was too early, she hadn’t had any coffee, and she was unusually turned on. Rolling her shoulders to ease some of the tension, she eyed him suspiciously as a new thought occurred. “Did you do something to me?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Put a spell on me or something?”

A bark of laughter escaped. “I’m not a witch or a faerie, so no spells, I promise. Why?”

Ignoring his question, she made a beeline for the coffee. If he hadn’t done anything to her, she figured ignoring her raging libido was the best thing. As she brushed past him, their arms made contact and a zing of awareness shot straight to the hot ache between her legs. And he’d only touched her arm. She refused to look at him, because she didn’t want him to see the truth in her eyes. The truth being that if he asked, she’d strip right there and let him take her up on the counter. As she poured herself a cup of coffee, he moved to the side, but didn’t give her much space.

She could feel his gaze on her, intense and scorching hot. If he kept looking at her like that, she had a feeling they weren’t going to make it out of the kitchen with their clothes on.

“So why a bookstore?” His deep voice always had such an erotic effect on her senses, but the question surprised her and managed to jerk her out of thoughts of nakedness.

Cup in hand, she turned to face Liam, still barely a foot from her. Her cup acted as a small barrier between them, but she savored using it as a shield. “I enjoyed teaching, but I wanted something that was all mine.” She paused as she contemplated opening up to him, but finally continued. “I can teach anywhere, but buying my store gave me roots the same way buying my home did. I volunteer at the literacy center and have story time for the younger kids once a week so I still get that interaction, but I love owning my own business and I love books, so it was a perfect choice.”

He was silent for a moment before he slightly nodded. “It suits you.”

“What about you? I know you’ve lived all over, but what exactly do you do?”

He took a sip of his coffee as he shrugged. “I’m Connor’s second-in-command, so I help him with any pack business, but for the last couple decades I’ve handled most of our real estate dealings.”

“Real estate?” That surprised her.

He nodded. “I even have my license.”

Her eyebrows rose at that. Somehow she couldn’t see him as a real estate agent. He must have read her expression, because he grinned, his lips pulling up in that sexy way that made her knees weak and erotic heat burn in low places.

“I just got my license so I’d have access to better listings.”

“So what kind of real estate do you purchase?”

“Commercial and residential. Some properties are long-term investments, others we’ve bought just to flip for a fast profit, and others…”


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