He’d just lied to her face when he’d told her Liam was on patrol, so he could shove it too. That knowledge only served to ratchet up her anger even more. The closer she got to the house, the more the rage burned through her. Like fast-moving lava, it was eating up all her reasoning powers. She knew that it had taken two to get her pregnant, but right now she wanted Liam’s head on a platter.

The man had pursued her relentlessly for over a month; then once she’d finally allowed herself to care for him, even at the cost of her brother, he’d turned his back on her. Now to find out she was pregnant, she didn’t know what to feel. She just knew she was spitting mad and someone was going to feel her wrath.

Connor opened the front door and led her inside. “If you’ll just wait here—”

“I don’t think so.” She stomped farther inside and headed for the living room, to where she heard voices. Liam sat around a coffee table with five other people. Three males and Erin and the blond woman from the other night.

When he saw her, he immediately stood. Concern was etched in every line of his handsome face. “Is everything all right?”

She didn’t give a damn that they had an audience for this. Still holding the positive pregnancy test, she looked at it, then threw it at him. “You tell me!”

He caught it midair. When he looked at it, his eyes widened. He met her angry stare with confusion. “We used condoms. Lots of them. Maybe this is a mistake.”

At the word “mistake” her heart cracked. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was feeling right now, but the word “mistake” had never entered her mind. Gritting her teeth, she pulled out a handful of the other tests and threw those at him. They clattered to the floor at his feet. “Are these mistakes too? Your super sperm apparently has no problem battling mere condoms!”

At the word “sperm,” the others in the room quickly scurried out. As she stared at him, she’d never felt more lost in her life. Her throat was thick and she couldn’t help the small tremor that raced through her. “Aren’t you going to say something?”

He swallowed hard but still didn’t say anything. Instead of anger at his silence, a terrible hollowness filled her chest. Even when he hadn’t returned her calls, she’d figured they still had a chance. He’d freaked out and emotions had been high, but this…nonresponsiveness was too much.

Fighting back the tears burning her eyes, she turned and ran out the door.

Liam stared at the plus sign on the white stick in his hand and tried to catch his breath. December had asked him something. She was looking at him expectantly, but he couldn’t think straight. He was going to be a father. He didn’t know how that was possible, but holy shit, it was true.

When December turned away from him, his entire body jerked to life. He couldn’t let her go. Not again.

The past few days he hadn’t been able to sleep. Had barely been able to eat. The whole pack had been following up on leads and checking into local APL members, but he’d been functioning on autopilot. Without December he was absolutely lost.

He still didn’t understand how his brother had walked away from Ana all those years ago. The pain inside him right now was like tiny razors shredding away at his soul. If that’s what his brother had gone through for all those years, then he was a better man than he. Liam was too selfish to walk away from December, no matter what he’d said to her days ago.

“December!” He caught up to her halfway across the yard. Damn, the woman was fast. Grabbing her arm, he pulled her to a stop.

When she turned to face him, her blue eyes were bright with unshed tears. The sight was like a punch to his gut. She looked down at where his hand still held her upper arm and jerked away from him.

He hated the pain he saw in her eyes and knew he had to make it right. “I’m sorry. You just took me by surprise.”

“Whatever.” She started to turn away from him, but he gently held her arm again.

“I don’t know how this happened, but are you…okay?” God, the question sounded lame to his own ears, but he didn’t know what to say. Or even if there was a right thing to say in this situation.

“I don’t know what I am. I cut myself last night and healed instantly. What’s going on with me?”

Oh, shit. He’d heard of what happened when shifters got humans pregnant, but it had been centuries ago. If a woman was in heat, shifters stayed away. Or used protection. Which was exactly why he’d used condoms. It wasn’t as if he could get any STDs or give them for that matter, so he hadn’t even bothered to explain to her about all that. He’d used condoms because she’d been ovulating. He thought she’d been perfectly safe from pregnancy. He snorted at the word “safe.” Lot of good that had done them.

“Is this funny to you?” she practically shrieked.

Shit. She was going to hate him even more when he told her the truth. “No! I don’t know how you got pregnant…. Well, I know how, but I didn’t think it was possible since we used protection. I never meant to do this to you, I swear. I’d heard about this happening, but it’s been so long and—”

“Spit it out, Liam. I want details, not excuses.” She crossed her arms over her chest as she continued to glare at him.

Why couldn’t there be an easier way to explain this? “When a human female becomes pregnant by a shifter, she…her body adapts to that of her child. In shifter terms it means we’re mates.”

“I thought you said I’d have to be your bondmate to…change to be like you. I didn’t think I could just become your mate unless I was a shifter.”

He nodded again. “Under any other circumstance, a human can’t become a shifter’s mate. Well, technically I guess she can, but her life span would still be that of a human. To be a bondmate, I’d have to take you from behind and sink my canines into your neck as we made love under the full moon. I didn’t even think this was possible.” He held out one of the sticks she’d thrown at him.

For a moment she eyed him curiously. “That’s how the bonding process works? I thought…” She shook her head angrily. “So I’m a shifter now? Does that mean I’ll live as long as you? And will my baby come out as…?”

Feeling miserable and even guiltier, he nodded. “I swear I never meant to do this to you. Your life span will be substantially longer, like mine, but your—our baby will be born human. I didn’t shift for the first time until I was four and that’s pretty normal for most shifters.”

When she wrapped her arms around herself, he wanted to reach out and pull her into his arms. Tell her everything would be okay. But he didn’t know how to voice that. He could smell the fear and confusion rolling off her. Maybe she was afraid of what the town would think. Or maybe she was afraid of him. That thought was excruciating. He could deal with anything she threw at him, but not her fear. “I promise that no matter what happens, I’ll make sure you and the baby are taken care of. If you don’t want to live here, that’s fine. I’ll work something out, buy you a place anywhere you want.”

She stared at him for a moment, then shoved him in the chest. Hard. “I never thought I’d say this, Liam Armstrong, but you’re a Grade A asshole.” Then she spun around and headed for the gate.

He started to go after her but didn’t know what to say. Or what he’d said wrong. He needed to figure some shit out first. Figure out how they were going to make this work. If she didn’t want to move, would he live with her? Would she live at the ranch? And more important, he desperately needed to figure out how to knock down the walls between them. She was his and this divide between them was his fault.

The last few days without her had been the worst days of his life. Nothing could have prepared him for the ache that had settled inside him and spread bone deep.

“You just gonna let her go?” Erin’s soft voice startled him as she sidled up next to him.

He hadn’t even heard the she-wolf approach, which said a lot for how messed up he was. “She’s angry.”

“Duh. I don’t blame her either. You’re acting like an idiot.” She shook her head disapprovingly.

He glared down at her. “What the hell do you know?”

“I know that December is one of the nicest, strongest humans I’ve ever met. I know that she gave up a lot to be with you. Then when you decided that you thought it would be best, you pulled away from her like an idiot. Then, after she’s probably had the worst couple weeks of her life, including her brother being in the hospital and seeing her best friend bloody and standing at death’s door, you barely touch her or console her afterward. Then you kick her out of your life. And now she’s pregnant? So you, what, tell her you’ll take care of her or find her someplace to live? Dumb, dumb, dumb.”

“I will take care of her,” he growled. Why the hell was the she-wolf eavesdropping anyway?

She shook her head again and this time a spark of undeniable annoyance popped off her as she turned away.

Gritting his teeth, he let her leave and turned back toward December, who was already heading back down the drive. As the weight of Erin’s words sank in, he realized what he had to do.

Chapter 22

Wearing a long-sleeved pink and red striped pajama set, December savored the warmth of the thick flannel material. Curled up on her couch, she took another bite of rocky road ice cream while she waited for Kat to return.

They’d decided to have a girls’ night complete with ice cream, movies, and wine…. Well, Kat was drinking. December wasn’t.

Kat walked back into the living room carrying a bowl of popcorn and collapsed on the couch next to her. “Want some?”

December shook her head and took another cold bite. “No thanks.” She planned to eat her weight in ice cream tonight. Liam was such a jackass and hadn’t even tried to contact her all day. Even after her parents had died, she hadn’t felt so abandoned and alone. Right now, it was as if her heart had been ripped out and she didn’t know that things would ever be right in her world again. After everything they’d shared, she’d expected more from him. Especially now.