After everything Kat had been through, Liam had now come to think of her as a sister and he just wanted her to be happy. Even though she’d been getting stronger and was now learning to protect herself, lately she’d been acting strange. Disappearing at odd hours.

It wasn’t his business how she handled her stress and for all he knew, she had a new lover. Though he really doubted that, since he couldn’t scent anyone on her. She wasn’t causing the pack any problems, so he had no reason to bring it up to his brother, but he’d definitely noticed her absences.

When December stepped back into the room with a frown on her face, he shoved those thoughts away and hurried toward her. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her close. “What did he say?”

“He said the newscast is just a stupid way to increase ratings and that I need to stop worrying and let him handle it.” She snorted softly. “Like that’s going to happen.”

Liam held her tight. “Your brother’s right. I’ll call him later and see if he knows more about who leaked this info to the press.”

He’d thought their battle with the APL was over, but it looked like it had only been dormant for a while. If they thought they could start shit using the media as an outlet, they were in for a surprise. The past month his pack had been gathering intel on all known APL members in the surrounding areas and if they had to fight dirty to bring the organization down, they would.

December slipped the sheer black and pink baby-doll lingerie over her head. It barely touched the top of her thighs and the almost-transparent material left nothing to the imagination. But she liked the way it hugged her curves and made her feel sexy. Besides, while she could still fit into it, she was wearing it. Liam had told her wearing anything to bed was a waste of time when he’d just take it off, but she figured he’d like this tonight. He might say one thing, but whenever she wore sexy outfits to bed, he got this hungry look that drove her wild.

And tonight was very a big deal.

Thanks to nature she was officially a shifter—something she was still trying to completely grasp—but she wanted so much more than that. She wanted to be bonded to Liam in the most special way for his kind—her kind now. He’d wanted her to think about it longer before making her decision, so she had. A month later, she hadn’t changed her mind and she knew she wouldn’t.

December paused when she heard the front door open, then close. Next she heard the beeping of the alarm being turned off, then immediately being rearmed into stay mode. Liam was positively ruthless in keeping the house armed. Not that she had any complaints. After everything that had happened, having an alarm on when he wasn’t here made her feel better. And Kat had left an hour ago for the ranch to train with Aiden, so December and Liam had the house to themselves for a while.

Perfect for what they had planned.

“December? I brought dinner home. Ana sent some polvorones home and Vivian wanted to make sure you knew that she helped.” His voice trailed up the stairs.

December smiled at the mention of Ana and Vivian. Ana had been sending food home with Liam every other day for the past month. When she wasn’t inviting them to the ranch for dinner. The entire pack had embraced her so warmly and so quickly it still amazed her. She’d never had a big family, so it was taking some getting used to. She was still getting to know Ana, but her new sister-in-law was fast becoming someone December knew she could count on for anything. The fact that she could actually cook only made December love her more.

“December?” Liam called again.

“Up here.”

“You hungry?”

“Oh, yeah,” she murmured, but didn’t say anything else. She wanted him to come find her. She’d lit a few candles around the room—not that it mattered with his extrasensory sight—but the atmosphere was sexy. Or she hoped it was. Liam hadn’t told her much about the bonding process other than how it actually went down—biologically speaking—and she wanted to make it special.

“Come on, Red, I’m starving. What are you doing up there?” The sound of Liam’s heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs made her grin.

On the end of their bed, she sat on her knees and waited. He’d see exactly what she was doing soon enough.

The moment he stepped into their room, he froze. Immediately his dark eyes glazed over as he drank her in. Yep, he definitely looked hungry. For her.

She pushed up on her knees and slightly slid her legs apart. “Still starving?”

He nodded and something akin to a growl rattled in his chest. It was dark, possessive, and totally hot.

Her nipples immediately hardened at the sound. When he got to the point when words were an afterthought, she knew they were in for a long night. And she couldn’t wait.

Staring at her, he slid his boots off, then shrugged out of his long-sleeved sweater. His stomach muscles bunched under her scrutiny and she didn’t need any extra senses to see and hear how turned on he was. His breathing was erratic and lust seemed to pour off him in scorching waves. A spicy, pure male scent filled the room, wrapping around her like a shroud.

She knew he’d be able to scent her desire too. There was definitely no mistaking it. She’d been thinking about this all day at the bookstore and even closed her shop early so she’d have time to come home and get ready.

As her gaze slid down his chest and muscled stomach, she smiled when she landed on the top of his jeans. Right now too much clothing separated them. Before she could tell him to move his butt, he’d covered the distance between them.

Sliding his hands down her arms, he stopped once he reached the tips of her fingers. Then he slowly slid those strong, callused hands up her waist and ribs, making her shiver. Lust and obvious love shone from his heated gaze. “You wore this to drive me crazy, didn’t you?”

“Of course.” She smiled as he slowly lowered his mouth to hers. His kisses were soft and gentle as he explored her mouth. Her entire body hummed with excitement and she felt as if she could combust at any moment.

As their tongues and mouths intertwined, one of his hands slid across her stomach, then dipped lower until he cupped her mound. Despite the lingerie she wore, she hadn’t bothered with panties. Losing them was always a foregone conclusion.

When he began sliding his finger along her slick folds with deliberately unhurried strokes, she moaned into his mouth. She might not mind it slow—and loved when he gave her hours of foreplay—but tonight she ached for him so bad it was all she could do to stop herself from ripping his clothes off.

Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. Reaching for the top of his jeans, she unsnapped the button and reached into his pants. Holding on to his hard length, she smiled against his mouth when his hips jerked unsteadily toward hers. She couldn’t explain it, even to herself, but she felt as if she’d been waiting for this moment forever. For him.

With one hand she began slowly caressing him, from the bottom of his shaft to the top. She slid her other hand up his stomach and chest until she grasped on to his shoulder. He growled softly and when she started pumping him at a faster tempo, Liam suddenly broke the kiss and pulled his head back. His eyes were dilated and his canines had started to protrude.

He sucked in a sharp, raspy breath. “I need to be inside you.”

The way he said it completely unraveled her. There was so much warmth and love in those few words, she just came undone.

Before he could move, she grasped the hem of her nightie and tugged it over her head. As she did, he stepped out of his jeans, which had only fallen halfway down his legs. The moment she was completely bare to him, he lowered his head to her breasts and sucked one hard nipple in his mouth. Lately she was much more sensitive there and each stroke sent a pulse of pleasure shooting straight to the moist heat between her legs.

Instinctively she arched her back, wanting him to take more of her in his mouth. He ran his tongue around her areola and varied between kissing her and blowing lightly against her moist skin. The feel of his hot breath on her spiked her desire even higher.

Alternating breasts, he continued teasing her and seemed content to do nothing else. Her knees weakened, so she held on to his shoulders for support. When her fingers dug into that hard muscle, he simultaneously grasped her hips and flipped her onto her hands and knees.

Tonight was definitely it.

Her heart pounded wildly at the knowledge. The electricity in the air crackled with enough pent-up lust to set the house on fire.

She turned to look at him over her shoulder when he ran his palm down her spine. In the dimness she could clearly see his expressive need for her and for the bonding.

“You’re sure this is what you want?” he rasped out.

When December nodded and smiled seductively, Liam felt his entire world shift. He felt like he’d been waiting for this moment forever.

With her in front of him like this, so trusting and all his, he finally understood the significance of taking a bondmate. She was putting all her trust in him to make sure tonight went right, to treat her right and to always protect her. She wouldn’t know this, but shifters were extremely superstitious when it came to the bonding process and he refused to screw this up.

The past month he’d secretly been waiting for something else to go wrong, but each day that passed, the more he grew to love her. Finally crossing this line…he shuddered. Nothing would ever keep them apart again. Not even his hardheadedness. Once they were bonded, they’d be linked forever.

Running his hand down her spine again, he didn’t stop this time. From behind, he reached between her legs and tested her slickness. He inserted one finger, then two, into her tight sheath. She clenched around him and moaned. The sound was barely audible and he wanted more than that from her.

He wanted her twisting underneath him and shouting his name in pleasure.

The soft candlelight played against her ivory skin, giving her an ethereal quality. With that and the mass of her shiny red hair spilling down her back, she looked like a goddess in front of him. He wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, how beautiful she looked, but he couldn’t find the words.