No, it was more than that. It had become more than that. “I think of you guys as home. You, Conah, and Mal. You guys are my home, and I belong with you.”
His mouth pressed in a thin line, and determination colored his features. “Yes. You do, and once this is over, that’s exactly where you’ll be.”
His gaze was intense now, focused on me in such a way that made my heart lurch and my body heat. The mark on my chest tingled, and I pressed my palm to his chest, sliding it up the side of his neck and then to his jaw where I allowed my thumb to sweep across his bottom lip. I wanted to kiss him goodbye. I wanted to kiss him full stop.
He didn’t make a move, didn’t back away, hell, I wasn’t sure he was breathing. He was letting me do this. Allowing me to touch him. Who knew how long it would be before I saw him again? Days, weeks. Probably sooner, to be honest, but would we be alone? Excuses, excuses. Because I wanted to do this. I wanted to kiss him.
I pushed up on tiptoes and brushed his lips with mine in a butterfly kiss. His mouth parted, and his breath mingled with mine. Heart pounding in my ears, breath trapped in my lungs, I did it again, lingering this time, molding my mouth to his and savoring the feel of him. I flicked my tongue out to taste him, sweeping it across the seam of his mouth, then gasped when his tongue met mine.
His ragged moan spilled into my mouth, and then his arms were around me, lifting me off my feet and crushing me to him as he took over and deepened the kiss. He was savage, brutal, and dangerous, but he kissed me like I was a fine wine he needed to savor. Every inch of my mouth was loved, and tingles spread across my jaw to settle behind my ears before traveling down my neck and over my chest to tighten my nipples into aching nubs. I slid my hands into his hair, fisting it to pull him closer, wanting to crawl under his skin and become one with him. The connection between us pulsed and throbbed through me, filling me, and then desire smashed into me, potent, dangerous, and ravenous.
Azazel tore his mouth from mine, breaking the intense connection, and slowly, carefully released me as if I were a bomb that could detonate if he made a sudden move.
Despair, longing, and fear hit me next, stealing my breath, and then the emotions were gone, leaving me empty and confused.
His shields…I’d cracked his shields for a moment.
“Fee…This can’t happen between us,” he said. “It’s not safe for you.”
My chest heated with irritation. “Because of Lilith? So, we don’t tell her about it. You said she rarely comes to Necro or the quarters.”
“It’s more complicated than that, Fee. I’m her son. If we soul bond, she will know, and she’ll want to meet you.”
She hadn’t cared to meet the Dominus who’d taken over from Peiter but would take time to meet a random demon? “Fine, then we find another witch. Someone who can hide who I am from her.”
“There is no one.”
“So, what happens when Conah gets married?” The words almost stuck in my throat, but I forged on. “How will I attend? I assume she’ll be there.”
“You won’t attend. You’ll be the designated Dominus who gets left behind.”
It seemed he had an answer to everything, and it hit me, maybe he just didn’t want to make this official. Fuck, look at me, pushing and pushing like a desperate ho. Maybe he was just trying to let me down gently.
“No, that’s fine. I get it. I…um. I’m sorry I kissed you.”
“No.” He took a step toward me. “I’m not.”
Yeah, the heat in his silver eyes didn’t say he was sorry.
Yes, he wants to rut with you.
Azazel blinked, taken aback.
“No, not you. I wasn’t talking to you.”
He made an ‘o’ with his mouth. “The Loup?”
“Yeah, she can be super annoying.”
He cleared his throat. “Was she… when we…”
The beast chuckled. Every hot second.
“Nope. I don’t think so.”
He shook his head. “It’s fine. She’s a part of you.”
And he wants to have a part of himself inside you too.
I choked on my own saliva.
Thank goodness Grayson chose that moment to come back. His nostrils flared as he entered the room, and then his hands curled into fists at his sides.
Azazel turned to face him and crossed his arms. “Are you ready?”
Grayson’s jaw ticked. “Car’s here.”
It looked like it was time to go home with an alpha beast.
I sat in the back of the BMW with Grayson. He hadn’t said a word to me since we’d left Azazel. But his knuckles were white as they sat on his taut thighs. He kept his gaze straight ahead. He was pissed about something.
“You’ll like it at the house,” Dean said from the driver’s seat.
His robin-blue eyes smiled at me from the rearview mirror. At least Grayson’s beta was happy to chat and defuse the tension.
“The others are looking forward to meeting you,” Dean continued in his gruff but friendly voice. “Eliza and Beth are especially excited to have another young female around. Petra wants to meet you, too.”
I had no idea who all these people were, but I smiled and nodded, just happy to have conversation to cover the knots that were forming in my stomach. I shot Grayson a side-look to find him with his chin tucked in, eyes closed. I flicked a glance to his hands and watched as his fists uncurled.
My gaze flicked up to the mirror again to find Dean watching Grayson with a frown, but then he caught my eye, and his frown melted.
“You’ll have your own chambers, of course,” Dean continued.
“No,” Grayson said. “She stays with me.”
I looked from Dean to Grayson, who still wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Excuse me? What do you mean?”
This time Grayson did turn his head to look at me, and I flinched at the darkness swirling in the depths of his husky eyes. This wasn’t the controlled alpha of a half hour ago, this was the beast looking back at me, and the Loup in me stretched and arched her back as if reveling in the attention, as if taunting him.
“You’ll stay in my chambers,” Grayson said. “You’ll be safest there.”
I flashed a look to the mirror to see that Dean’s frown was back. But he didn’t contradict his alpha. There was a hierarchy, after all. But I wasn’t part of that hierarchy.
Blood pounding in my ears, I locked gazes with Grayson. “Do you have a spare room in your chambers? A room with a door?”
He narrowed his eyes. “No.”
“Then, no. I won’t be sharing your chambers.”
“You’ll do as you’re told,” he gritted out.
I leaned in and narrowed my own eyes. “Let’s get one thing straight. I’m grateful for your sanctuary, but I’m not one of your Loup. You are not my alpha. I’m a fucking Dominus, and I don’t take orders. Not from anyone. Got it?”
Dean made a strangled sound in the front seat.
But I was too busy having an eye-off with Grayson. Long seconds ticked by, and then Grayson sat back with a growl.
“You’re safest in my chambers,” he said. “The room is warded. You can have my bed. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“Safest? I thought I was safe with your pack.”
“We’re Loup, Fee.” Grayson no longer sounded angry. “Loup who are going to have a new female thrust into their midst—a mature woman exuding pheromones.” He said the last part tightly. “You stay close to me, and you’ll exude my scent. It’ll remind them to keep their claws to themselves.”
“They will eventually become accustomed to your scent,” Dean said. “You’ll become part of the pack.”
But I didn’t want to be part of their pack. I didn’t want to be part of any pack. But right now wasn’t the time to argue that out. Once my guys found Lucas, once the charges against me were dropped, I’d figure out the exit strategy.
I nodded. “Fine. I’ll stay in your chambers.”
Grayson relaxed against the leather of his seat with a small smile, making me wonder who’d just won this round.
And why was I thinking about it as a round?
“We’re here,” Dean said.
I looked out the window at this house he’d been talking about and bit back a gasp at the huge building standing before us.
“It was a firehouse once,” Dean said. “We bought it and converted it. Now the Regency Pack holds court here.” He cut the engine. “Welcome home, Fee.”
I didn’t have the heart to contradict him.
The inside of the converted firehouse was all high ceilings and windows. A cylindrical lift sat in the center of the vast open-plan room. A huge flat-screen TV hung on the wall surrounded by cushy sofas and bean bags. There was a game area with a pool table, fuzzball, darts, a pinball machine, and a jukebox. There was even a bar. They’d decorated the section with a neon sign that said The Claw. There was a kitchen area, too—neat, clean, and minimalistic—with an island. Overhead lighting and a huge dining table completed the eating area. Huge guys lounged about watching TV, eating at the dining table, or playing pool. Eyes drifted our way, settling on me as nostrils flared. Were they smelling me?
Oh, they smell us. They want us.
Instead of making myself smaller or shifting closer to Grayson and Dean, I stood taller, lifting my chin and allowing them to take me in.
Good girl. We do not cower.
The eyes on me dropped one by one.
“Loup enjoy socializing,” Dean explained. “This is where we lounge, eat, and play games.” He pointed to each section of the room to illustrate. “The upper floors have individual residences.”
The place was massive. “How many Loup are in the pack?”
“Fifteen live here,” Dean said. “Fifteen are the core pack, the rest live in Westside and come if called upon. We call them civies. They lead civilian lives but are affiliated to us and us to them.” He smiled down at me. “And now we have you.”