He sounded flat and emotionless, but I was no one to judge. I’d created a tulpa in the midst of my grief.
“Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Now, get some rest.” Petra smoothed back my hair and stood. “Shifting for the first time will be painful. I’ll prepare some herbs to help.”
She left, taking Dean with her.
Grayson remained, arms crossed, looking down at me. “You undermined my authority tonight.”
“When you attacked Bastian,” he clarified.
“Oh, sorry. Did I beat you to the punch? Because it seemed like you were more interested in your pie than what your bully Loup was doing to Bobby.”
“There is a hierarchy to every pack.”
“Sure, I get that. But I won’t tolerate bullying.”
“Bobby needs to learn to stand up for himself.”
“Really? I thought you said he was an omega.”
“And can that ever change?”
I arched a brow. “So, he’ll always be weaker, no matter what he does, right?”
Grayson’s jaw ticked as he picked up where I was going with this.
But once again, I wasn’t about to let it go. “Shouldn’t it be up to the stronger members of the pack to protect the weaker ones? You did it with the Loup females. You protected them from Hunter, so why not Bobby.”
“He’s a male.”
“And you’re fucking sexist.”
He growled in exasperation. “No, Fee, I’m a fucking alpha, and this is how I run my pack. If you want a say, then you’ll have to mate with me.”
I stared at him, dry-mouthed as the thought of fucking him slammed into me. He’d look good under that shirt, no doubt. He’d feel even better. But sex with those kinds of strings wasn’t for me.
He headed for the door. “Get some rest. You’re going to need it.”
Tomorrow, I’d get to shift. Tomorrow, the wolf would come out.
Dean is waiting for me outside my quarters. I know what he’s about to say, and I shut him down with a look.
He clenches his jaw, and I can see the struggle is real as he battles with his desire to please his alpha and his desire to ask the burning question.
Fuck it. “Ask.”
“Why didn’t you push harder? Tell her you want her. Court her. I can see she’s attracted to you.”
“Her wolf is attracted to mine, but Fee...I’m not even sure she likes me.”
“Then make her like you. We have ways, herbs… Petra could—"
A growl reverberates in my chest, and I bare my teeth in a snarl.
Dean holds up his hands. “Fuck, Grayson. I don’t get it. You always put the pack first. And we need this. You know the Rising Pack is courting the Masterton Coven. They have more wolves and better territory benefits. If we lose Liana’s support, we’re fucked.”
“We won’t. Not while I have her daughter in my bed. Liana will do anything for her firstborn and heir to the throne.”
“But wouldn’t it be better to be free?”
He has no fucking idea. “Yes. But the mating bond is sacred, and I refuse to make a mockery of it by using coercion.”
“End of discussion.”
I stride off because the last thing I want to do is discuss the truth. The last thing I want to do is tell him that I want more from a mate than just sex. Sex I can get anywhere. But I want my mate to look at me with not just carnal heat in her eyes but the softness that I’d seen pass between my father and mother. I want what my parents had shared. I want a mate who will be by my side and committed to the pack.
I want love, and on that, I won’t compromise.
There’s someone in the room. Wake up.
I was alert, my body ready for action in a heartbeat. The tinted windows blocked out most of the moonlight, but there was enough to make out the shape of a silhouette at the end of the bed. It was too small to be Grayson. I inhaled the scent of jasmine and something else…
Sex. I smell sexual desire.
“Did you miss me, babe?” the silhouette said.
The bed dipped, and my covers slipped.
I yanked them up to my chest. “Whoa!”
The figure froze.
The lights came on, blinding me momentarily. I held up a hand and squinted as my eyes adjusted. A woman stood at the foot of the bed, semi-naked in lacy underwear and a short silk robe. Her red hair was tousled, and her green eyes were trained on me, wide with shock.
“What the fuck, Fee?” Cora said from the other side of the room. “Since when did you start liking pussy?”
The redhead pulled her robe closed and tied it. “Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing in Grayson’s bed?”
If looks could kill, I’d be gasping my last breath.
The woman looked familiar, and then it hit me. She was the woman who’d been in the club with Grayson the first time I’d met him, and now she was here, in his room, half-naked, looking for him.
The beast inside me growled. Bitch.
Cora walked across the room carrying a hold-all, plopped it on the bed, and then looked the woman up and down. “I think she was sleeping when you rudely woke her with your snatch on display.”
The woman bristled. “Where’s Grayson?”
I shrugged. “I’m not his keeper. I just get to warm his bed.”
Now why the hell had I said that?
The beast inside me chuckled.
The air crackled. The scent of magic hit me. “I wouldn’t mess with me,” she said. “Where is Grayson?”
“You’re a witch.”
“And you’re in my man’s bed.”
“For fucksake,” Cora said. “I’ll go find him.”
She winked out. The witch stared at the spot where she’d just been.
I looked at my comm. Four in the morning. I stretched and pushed back the covers. I’d gone to bed in sleep shorts and a vest, which was more than she was wearing.
“Did you come here dressed like that?”
She crossed her arms under her pert breasts. “That’s none of your business.”
I glanced down to find a long coat pooled at her feet. Yep, she’d come in her lingerie. Nice.
There was gooseflesh on her arms. “You’re cold.”
She gave me a fuck-you look, and something inside me rose to the challenge. I was on my feet and circling her before I could stop myself.
She tensed and a thrill shot through me.
She has power, but so do we. We are alpha, and no one questions us.
“You’re a Loup…” she said softly. “How is this possible?”
It seemed that news of my incarceration hadn’t reached the covens.
I shrugged. “I’d have to ask my mother, but I think it involved a Loup having sex with her.”
I could see the play of emotion on her face. The conclusions she was drawing about my presence here. Incorrect conclusions. I could correct her, put her out of her misery, but the beast inside me wanted to play. The beast inside me didn’t want to give up Grayson.
Cora reappeared. “I found him. Had to wake up three Loups. Did you know they sleep naked?” There was a wicked gleam in her eyes. “And they’re fucking hung.”
The redhead glared at Cora. “What the hell is going on here?”
Yes, being with Cora could feel like stepping into the Twilight Zone to someone who wasn’t used to her.
The door opened, and Grayson entered. He was bare-chested, and joggers hugged his slender hips. His hair was tousled from sleep, but his eyes were bright and alert.
“Vi, what are you doing here?”
I stopped circling, and Vi quickly backed away from me, turning to Grayson. “Who is she?”
Grayson’s gaze flitted to me. It was probably meant to be a fleeting glance, but he did a double-take. His gaze heated as it trailed from the top of my head, down my semi-clad body, to linger on my chest and my bare legs before returning to my face.
Fuck, my nipples were hard, and there was a definite ache between my thighs. His nostrils flared.
“Grayson? What the fuck?” Vi’s voice was strained.
Grayson blinked sharply and returned his attention to Vi. “You should have called.”
“I got back from the conference early and wanted to surprise you.” She crossed her arms. “And since when have I needed to call?”
He gave her a flat look. “Since now.” He opened the door. “Come, I’ll explain.”
Vi shot me a final look and then scooped up her coat and followed Grayson out of the room.
I looked at Cora. She raised both brows, and then we rushed to the door and pressed our ears to it.
“—the hell, Grayson?” Vi said.
“Fee is a newly awoken Loup that I’m training. She has pack sanctuary. That’s all.”
“Are you two…”
“Is she going to stay?”
“She doesn’t want to.”
“But you want her to.”
“Grayson…you don’t need her. My coven provides you with enough miasma to shift at will.”
“She’s not staying.”
“And you haven’t…”
“Just ask the damn question, Vi. Have I fucked her? No. I haven’t. Now, if you want me to fuck you, then you need to shut the hell up and walk your ass down the hall to the guest room.”
“God, I love it when you talk dirty to me.”
“And I love it when you suck me off. How about you go get the bed warm, huh?”
There was silence.
He’s coming back.
I grabbed Cora’s arm and yanked her away from the door. We ran to the center of the room and then stood there as the door opened and Grayson entered. He completely ignored Cora and came straight at me.
I was too slow to lock my knees and backed up instinctively until my thighs hit the bed.