Dayton stopped long enough to let Aaron know he was fine and then ushered Freya upstairs to his room. He took her straight into the bathroom and turned on the shower as she undressed silently. Now the adrenaline was leaving his body he was left with a pressing need to check every inch of her skin for marks.
Not that he expected to find anything on her but his wolf was going crazy inside him and he had to give in to his irrational need. He turned to find his mate naked and blood-streaked, her expression carefully guarded as if she was waiting for him to say something she wouldn’t like. She was clearly concerned and so was he.
Her standoff with Rafe in the forest showed that she was struggling with adapting to the pack. It wasn’t that she didn’t try to understand the group’s needs; it was as if she was incapable of doing so. That didn’t bode well for the future and they both knew it even if they hadn’t spoken of it yet.
Silently, Dayton tugged her into the shower with him and rinsed the blood from her body. His touch was gentle, his fingers examining every inch of her and finding her skin unmarred. Even though he’d expected it, he still couldn’t hold in the sigh of relief as he wrapped his arms around her from behind and held her close to his chest.
His own body carried faint bruising though the main injuries had healed quicker than he’d expected them to. He wondered if was because of a combination of her previous healing of him and her mating bite. He hadn’t completed the mating yet but maybe he was already feeling some of the benefits of the partial mating.
“I want you so much it terrifies me,” Freya whispered softly, breaking the oppressive silence. “I’m not terrified because of the need you inspire in me, but because I don’t think I can be what you need me to be, Dayton.”
She turned in his arms and her composed expression had melted away, concern on her face as she stared up at him. “What if I can’t accept the pack? What will that mean for us?”
He bit the inside of his lip, his expression tense as he pondered her question carefully, listening to his wolf as well as his own heart. He reached up and brushed her wet hair away from her face tenderly. “Then we will be a pack of two, Freya. I won’t lie to you and tell you that I don’t want to be part of this pack because I do. I never thought I’d ever feel this way again but being here has shown me that I need pack life to feel whole. But if push comes to shove, I need you more. There is no one more important than you, nothing I wouldn’t willingly give up to be with you.”
Her breath caught at the promise she read in his eyes, the sincerity in his quiet words. He would truly leave the pack if she couldn’t cope with it. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her if she allowed him to. Part of her was tempted to take the easy out he was giving her. But she knew that was wrong, what the old Freya would have done. She had come so far all because of the man who held her so tightly and swore he would never let her go.
For some strange reason Rayne’s words came back to her and she realised that if she couldn’t believe in herself then she would always be able to believe in Dayton. It was enough to make her want to try harder. Her mate thought she had it in her to be one with the pack. The Alpha also thought she did too, despite being angry with her. Maybe it was time to start listening to others rather than her doubts?
“I’ll try harder,” she promised fervently. “But I’ll need your help to stop me fucking up again.”
“Always,” he breathed against her lips, his arms tightening more around her. “I won’t let you drown, honey. I’ll always be here for you.”
His mouth took hers in a fierce, hot kiss that that promised her his words were true, that he would always stand by her. All she had to do was let him in, surrender to him and she could complete the journey she’d started the moment she’d laid eyes on a wounded wolf that had nothing left to live for.
Her kiss was desperate, the longing deep within her to have what everyone else appeared to take for granted, spiralling out of control as she clung to him. She’d never felt so vulnerable in her entire life and yet she’d never felt so secure either. Being wrapped in Dayton’s strong embrace gave her a feeling of belonging that was so poignant, so heartfelt that she didn’t stop the tears that slowly trickled down her cheeks.
Dayton could feel the tremors running through her body, knew she was overwhelmed by everything again. He gentled his kiss before slowly raising his head to stare down at her.
Seeing his vampire looking so vulnerable tore at his heart. He knew how strong she was having watched her take out the vampires earlier with a speed and grace that had taken his breath away. His mate was lethal, able to defend herself and the pack if only she could finally accept them as hers to protect.
He kissed her again softly, lightly teasing her lips with tiny rubs of his own as he soothed her distress as he would have soothed a wolf. The power of touch, the power of honest affection given freely was a great healer. He used his tenderness ruthlessly against her until she melted completely into his arms, then he raised his head again and smiled.
“As much as I’d love to take you here in this shower, I’ve a penchant for feeling a nice soft bed beneath us.” His tone was teasing but also full of the crippling need he didn’t try to hide from her.
“Rafe said he wanted us downstairs in an hour. We’ve already wasted most of that time.”
Her practical response made him laugh out loud as he hugged her closer. The fact that she was actually listening to what Rafe had said made his heart kick up a beat and hope flare deep inside him. “Rafe can wait, honey. I’m not done with my inspection of your luscious body for injuries.”
Freya pulled away from him, frowning as her movement caused water to cascade over her face. She moved closer to him again, slicking back her hair. “He gave us an order.”
His wolf growled loudly, wanting to be with their mate, irritated that she was choosing this moment to be the sensible one. Dayton agreed with his wolf and decided to forgo the intimacy of the bed he so desperately wanted to indulge in with her. She was right on that aspect; they didn’t have the time he’d need to satisfy himself between a pair of silk sheets.
His answering smile was nothing short of wicked as he wrapped an arm around her back and lifted her against the cold tiles. “I guess we’ll have to be quick about it then.” He thrust himself into her searing heat as her eyes widened in surprise and her breath sucked in sharply.
For a brief second her eyes turned black and then they reverted back to their deep shade of green as he held himself still inside her, luxuriating in the feel of being joined with her so intimately.
“And you said I was the one who neglected foreplay.” Freya didn’t know how she managed to sound so calm. The feel of him inside her body was sweet bliss, causing her heart to instantly begin to speed up as she welcomed him with a tight squeeze of her muscles.
“One day soon I’m going to get to indulge myself in the kind of foreplay I’ve been longing for, honey,” Dayton groaned out, his voice thick with need. “Right now I need to be with you so badly, I can’t wait.”
He was moving even as he finished speaking, slowly leaving her tight warmth to thrust deeply inside her once more. He wanted to take his time but the feel of her gripping him so tightly was quickly eroding his self-control. His next thrust was deep and hard, a muffled groan escaping him as she pressed back against him eagerly, her arms tight around his neck.
“Harder.” Her breathy demand turned his blood boiling hot and his hips rocked against her, taking her with ruthless intent, giving her what she wanted. Nails dug hard into his neck and he growled loudly, arching into her wild caress. His control snapped; his wolf close to the surface as he began to surge deep and fast into her body, his breath coming out raggedly.
She met him with equally demanding thrusts, her nails scoring him until she broke his skin and the iron scent of his blood filled the bathroom. “Taste me,” he ordered hoarsely, wanting to feel the ecstasy of her bite again. Her fangs sank into the side of his neck and for a moment he stilled completely, buried to the hilt inside her. His body shook wildly as he fought off his climax, not ready for their joining to be over.
His wolf howled loudly, a deep growl erupting from the very depths of him. It wanted to mate with her, wanted to claim her so she could never leave them. Dayton fought a mental battle with his animal, shuddering as he tried to contain it. She wasn’t ready yet for what was entailed in a male Were mating. They needed to discuss it first so she knew what to expect.
Freya raised her head, looking into his eyes and seeing his wolf looking back at her. The feral nature of his gaze made her heart turn over and she knew he wanted to mate with her. She wanted it too and didn’t understand why he wasn’t doing so. “Why do you hold back?” she whispered. “You want to take me and make me yours.”
“Freya!” It was a low, guttural cry, strain crossing his face. “You don’t know what you’re asking. Male Weres, they mate in wolf form.”
Her eyes widened, shock crossing her face for an instant as they stood locked together, their gazes searing into each other. She’d never dreamed she’d have to accept his wolf in that way. Nors hadn’t had to with Ashleigh. He’d told her some of what happened in mating with a Were.
The wolf had to make the bite. It was what Dayton was telling her and why he hadn’t done so already. He was afraid she wouldn’t be able to accept him because of her ambivalence towards other Weres. She didn’t know if she could accept him like that but if she didn’t…they could never be fully mated.
Freya swallowed hard, closing her eyes to hide from the naked appeal she saw in his. She would break his heart if she couldn’t mate with him. He was bearing his soul to her. If she couldn’t accept him she would be hurting him as he’d been hurt when Faith died. It would destroy him.
Swallowing again, she opened her eyes slowly, meeting his gaze once more, seeing sad acceptance on his face. He was waiting for her rejection, trying hard to hide his disappointment because he didn’t want her to feel bad about it. Her decision came easily as she gently cupped the side of his face.
“Mate with me, Dayton.”
Joy flared deep in his eyes to quickly be replaced with caution. “You’re sure, honey. You know what it means. You have to be totally certain you’re ready for it.”
“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, to be with you. Your wolf is part of you, Dayton. He lives here in your heart and is what gives you your strength. I can accept that.” Her hand rested lightly on his chest, over his suddenly racing heart.
“I love you.” Dayton breathed the words against her lips even as he slid from her body, his gut clenching hard with the need to finally take her as his. His intent was to get them to the bedroom but his wolf was too impatient. They made it as far as out of the shower before they were kissing frantically and sinking down to the tiled floor.
His hands roamed her soft curves feverishly as he turned her onto her hands and knees. His wolf was beyond control, his touch harsher than he wanted it to be but his vampire was moaning loudly, arching into his caresses as he positioned himself to take her again.
Dayton covered her body, one hand on her hip, the other on the floor beside her. His heart was pounding furiously as he kissed the join of her shoulder and neck; marked out the spot where he would make her his. “It will just be for a moment, honey,” he breathed softly. “It will still be me.”
“I know,” she whispered pressing herself back against his thick length, urging him to slide back inside her welcoming body.
With a loud roar he thrust in hard and deep, feeling his knot starting to form almost instantly he was so close to the edge. He stroked into her hard until he had no choice but to press his knot into her slick heat. His next growl was one of appreciation as he seated himself firmly inside her. She fit him so perfectly.
Freya cried out, moving with him frantically as he started taking her with short, hard thrusts. Her pleasure was absolute, bliss crashing over her in waves as her lover rode her fiercely; determined to push her over the edge into her climax. She sensed the shift, felt the brush of silky fur against her back. Sharp teeth pierced her shoulder where it met her neck.
She screamed and her body convulsed. Dayton’s strong arms wrapped around her an instant later as lights began to dance in front of her eyes as she climaxed violently. Her wolf was roaring loudly, his body jerking deep within her as he bathed her with his hot seed, both of them joined completely in their passion.
Rational thought faded until all she could feel were the sensations running rampant through her. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, she could only feel her body go up in flames as it had never done before.
“Freya!” Her name was in her head, Dayton’s voice crying out mentally to her. He was slowly lowering them down to the floor, their bodies joined by his knot, his arms so tight that if she’d been a Were she was sure some bones would have snapped. “Are you okay, honey?”
The surprise of being able to speak mentally with him had her silent for a moment. She did wonder why he was doing so then she took in his harsh breathing and realised that he couldn’t speak at the moment. The fact his pleasure had been as mind-blowing as hers brought a satisfied smile to her face.
“That was intense,” she laughed softly, delighting in their new, close contact.
A low, deep chuckle escaped Dayton as his breathing finally started to regulate itself. Intense wasn’t the word for it. His wolf was content as was the man. They had finally claimed their mate when he’d least expected it. Now he just needed his knot to subside and quickly.
His lips brushed Freya’s neck and his hands cupped her breasts and stroked leisurely. “You know, if anyone had told me three months ago I’d be mating again I would have told them they were crazy. If they’d followed that up with I’d been doing it on the bathroom floor I would have died laughing.” He was slightly embarrassed about his shocking lack of restraint.
“Wolves are impulsive,” Freya sighed softly, leaning back to steal a quick kiss. “Thankfully, vampires can endure cold, hard floors while waiting for said wolves to remove themselves from their bodies.” Her tone was arrogant though laughter danced within it too. She liked the fact he’d wanted to mate with her so badly he couldn’t contain himself.
Dayton tweaked her nipple hard and bit the side of her neck. “Laugh all you want, vampire. We still need to get cleaned up and downstairs for the meeting. And our time is most definitely up.”
She groaned loudly rolling her eyes at the thought of the meeting. Not only would they be late but she was now fully mated with her wolf. Which meant the next time Rafe Hanlon yelled at her; she would be expected to take it. She had no doubt that there would be a next time; she just wasn’t sure how she was going to react to it.
Rayne sighed and cuddled deeper against Gard’s warm chest. His lips sleepily brushed the top of her head as his arms hugged her tightly for a moment and then relaxed as he drifted off again. She felt such a feeling of peace and contentment that she just lay basking in it, finally feeling at home. She belonged.
It was hard not to wonder if fate had planned her meeting with Dayton. If she hadn’t sensed him all those years ago, felt compelled to help him; then she’d never have found her way to the Armand-Hanlon pack and ultimately her mate. It was strange how life turned out sometimes.
Hands stroking down her back had her arching into the hardness of her vampire, a soft purr erupting from her throat spontaneously.
“Sexy.” Gard’s sleepy tone was full of warmth as he stroked her again and then suddenly moved, flipping her onto her stomach as he straddled her lower half and began to slowly massage her back.
A long, deep moan escaped her lips as she sighed in pleasure. “I could get used to this.”
He leaned down, soft laughter whispering across her ear as he licked slowly up her neck before nibbling at her earlobe. “I expect my fair share of stroking, Kitty, but for now I want to indulge myself.”
Rayne purred again, struggling to catch her breath as his large hands brushed every inch of her back before sliding down and playfully kneading her bottom. She couldn’t stop herself from rising up, hoping he’d go lower and use his wicked fingers on her again. It only served to make him laugh again.
“Does Kitty want to be played with again?” he chuckled lightly, the heavy heat of his erection pressed against her thigh. “Tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.”
She growled softly though she was trying not to laugh. She loved the way he knew how to tempt and tease her, how to draw her cat out to play. “You know what I want. I suggest you quit teasing and pleasure me properly or I may have to return the favour at a later date.”
That earned her a playful spank on her left cheek before he leaned down and kissed it better. She growled louder, twisting onto her back so his next kiss landed on the delicate skin of her hip.
Eyes flashing at her challenge, Gard smiled slowly and lick across her hip, biting gently at the tender flesh of her stomach as he slid his arms beneath her thighs raising her up from the bed. He rose to his knees and thrust hard inside her, holding her still so he could sink deep within her.
Her head dropped back and a sweet moan of ecstasy slipped past her lips as he claimed her with little fanfare. He held still within her, staring down at the exotic creature that was his mate, marvelling at how precious she was to him and the need she instilled within him.
He was unable to sate himself with her body. A few moments sleep and he was desperate to join with her again, to love her until she screamed her release loudly and he followed her into his own climax. She was an addiction he couldn’t get enough of. “Mine,” he breathed softly, a wave of possessiveness overtaking him.
His whispered word had her eyes opening, the thin band of silver appearing more pronounced than before. His eyes widened slightly as the lighter colour appeared to eclipse the deep green of her iris before she gave him a lazy feline smile that took his breath away.
It was a challenge he had no intention of declining. He flexed his hips and stroked deeply back inside her, holding her captive as he used his body to stake his claim, proving that she belonged to him and no one else. He kept his movements slow but deep, growling softly as she began to writhe against his hold. Pleasure danced across her face with each thrust into her velvet heat.
She was beautiful in her passion. She surrendered to her sensuality with no inhibitions, making his heart soar that he was the one giving her this pleasure even as he took his own from her. She was his mate, his woman, his heart’s desire.
Her eyes fluttered open again and he couldn’t resist leaning down to kiss her. “Sarayne,” he whispered against her mouth before he plundered her lips in a hot kiss, wrapping his arms around her as she held on tightly and moved to the hard beat he set with his body.
Rayne was burning up inside, overcome with the sensations flooding her body as Gard took her hard and fast, then slowed down to tease her with gentle strokes of his thick length inside her. She didn’t know which she loved more, his tenderness or his unrelenting hunger. All she knew was he was hers forever, that she would love with him like this endlessly.
Her heart pounding loudly in her chest, she urged him on to move faster, to take her harder as she spiralled up towards the peak of her pleasure. “I love you.” The words ripped from her as she crested the peak and cried out her pleasure. She was falling, lost in a world of bright colours and endless sensations as he thrust hard into her and joined her in his own release.
He filled her with his seed, stroking into her to prolong her pleasure. As she slowly began to come down, her heart hammered loudly; heat rushing through her body in a short hard blast. She shuddered again at the unexpected sensation, her eyes flying open to see Gard’s glowing lavender eyes staring intently into hers as his chest heaved raggedly. He appeared as startled as she was.
“What was that? Did you use your magic?”
He shook his head and swallowed hard to regain his breath. “Not deliberately,” he finally answered rolling to his side and taking her with him. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before. It felt almost magical but it wasn’t anything I did.”
They lay staring at each other for a long moment, neither of them knowing just what had happened. Rayne didn’t think it was anything bad because the sensation had been pure ecstasy. She couldn’t believe that anything that felt that good could be evil in design.
Smiling she leaned forward and kissed her vampire, licking at his lips slowly to ease the concerned expression on his face. “Loving you certainly is interesting,” she laughed softly before she reluctantly extracted herself from his arms and slid off the bed.
“I need a bath.”
Gard let the tension ease from his body, admiring his woman as she headed towards the bathroom. He crawled from the bed after her, knowing she would be looking for him to supply the hot water. He was concerned about what had just happened but decided he would speak to his sister about it before he started getting too worried. Anakatrine’s magic was the strongest. Maybe she would be able to shed some light on the strange occurrence.
They had just finished a rather extended bath time when the first feelings of unease started to sink into Gard and his eyes flickered towards the cave opening. “Something’s wrong.” He was pulling on jeans and a T-shirt even as he spoke, pushing his feet into his boots as Rayne watched him carefully.
She dressed just as quickly, his unease transmitting down their mate bond. “What?”
“Vampires. Fuck! They passed through a while back. It must have been while we were otherwise engaged. They were heading towards the pack.” Gard was instantly furious with himself. He was supposed to be protecting the wolves and he’d dropped the ball.
“Gard.” Rayne’s tone was quite sharp though she was worried too. She stepped up to him and caught his gaze with hers. “I don’t like to see a look of regret on your face when it comes to our mating. If vampires passed through here then so be it. The pack is capable of taking care of themselves. They have four bloody Ancients in their number as well as the wolves own skills. You may have been The Guardian a long time ago but the world has moved on since then. You can’t be expected to protect everyone.”
He growled angrily, his eyes beginning to glow softly. “They’re her family, Sarayne. If anything happens to them she’ll be hurt.”
She didn’t need to ask who he meant. His connection with Rhianna was as strong as it was with her now they’d mated. It was going to be a challenge to deal with that closeness and not become resentful of it and she suddenly understood exactly how Freya must feel towards her. She turned and headed out the cave with her vampire close behind.
“I’m sure Annie doesn’t expect you to save the world either, Gard,” she remarked quietly, her tone still firm. “I swear if you even try to lessen our mating because of this you’re going to have one pissed off mate to deal with for the rest of your life. Get it in perspective.”
She shifted to her panther and streaked into the forest scenting the air as she did and smelling blood. She headed in that direction feeling a silent Gard coming to run beside her. She wouldn’t allow him to beat himself up about what may or may not have happened. He was entitled to have his own life and claim his mate. If she had to hold him down until he saw sense then she would.