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Broomstick Breakdown

Broomstick Breakdown

Аннотация

    Fate works in mysterious ways.
    Sophia is on her way to her first Halloween gathering for witches when her broomstick breaks down. Luckily, she lands at a garage where a hunky mechanic, after a spell of persuasion, agrees to act as chauffeur.
    Aidan is more than just a sexy driver though. As a wolf shapeshifter, magic doesn’t affect him, but he’s not immune to the powerful draw of his true mate. Mating should be simple, but he didn’t count on a stubborn witch making abduction his only option.
    With the factions they belong to discouraging mixed species mating, will they find love like fate intended?


Eve Langlais Broomstick Breakdown

    Copyright © October 2010, Eve Langlais

Chapter One

    The magic powering her broom coughed and sputtered. Sophia held on tight as she lost altitude and weaved drunkenly through the night sky.
    “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” she muttered aloud. Apparently spelling a broom while frazzled and rushed had unwanted side effects. Like becoming intimately acquainted with the ground. Oops.
    She fought with the roughening antics of her broom, its wooden handle jerking between her hands. As she cursed her bad luck in language not fit for human ears, she spotted the lights of a gas station easily visible in the dark and aimed herself at it for an emergency landing. She also prayed to the Dark Lord-“No road rash. No road rash.” She’d taken weeks to heal the raw patches the last time she’d crashed her broom. A natural broom flyer she was not, and she’d put in a request for the rare and popular Ali Baba book of spells. Somehow carpet flying sounded a lot safer than the traditional witchy method of travel.
    The ground came up to meet her and with one last quick prayer, she used her feet to slow her momentum, stumbling several feet before she came to a halt on the pavement. I didn’t crash. Yay! Sophia swung off her broom and glared at it, the problem easily evident. Most of the bristles had fallen out, along with the magic that imbued them with flight.
    Shoot. Now, how am I supposed to get to the All Hallows’ Eve Convention on time? She was still staring at her only means of transportation in consternation when a man came out of the garage and into the pool of light surrounding the gas pumps where she’d landed. He rubbed his hands on a rag, and the corded muscles of his arms gleamed with sweat even though the air was somewhat cool.
    Any other time, she would have taken the time to admire the way the fabric of his dark T-shirt stretched across an impossibly wide chest and clearly delineated a mountainous amount of muscle. If her concern over being late had not overshadowed all thought, she would have also noticed the way his well-worn jeans clung snugly to his groin and thickly muscled thighs. Oh, who was she kidding, even in the midst of a calamity, she couldn’t help but notice how hot the mechanic was with his tanned skin, ruffled dark hair, and strutting walk. Any other time, she would have enjoyed playing the damsel in distress, a routine that involved the shedding of clothes and inhibitions, but she had an appointment to keep, and while lateness ran in her blood, the senior witches of her coven frowned-with rather unpleasant results-on junior witches who couldn’t show up on time.
    Most people under the glare of fluorescent lights looked sickly. Not this babe, though. Vivid eyes peered at her from under dark brows, and the hunky stranger’s full lips twitched as he gave her the once-over, a look that made her nipples tighten in response and moisture soften her cleft.
    As she cleared her throat and blushed under his frank perusal, she drew her plump self up, all of her five-foot two inches, and in a voice that emerged squeakier than intended said, “Um, hi there.” Although she might be a witch of questionable morals, a witty conversationalist she was not.
    Brilliant white teeth gleamed as he grinned at her, and a deep dimple formed in his left cheek that sent her awakening libido into full sexual crush mode and dampened her panties even further. Damn, pity I can’t bottle him, because I’d make a fortune-after I’d enjoyed him first of course. Her dirty thoughts made her blush even deeper, and she thanked the Dark Lord that the man couldn’t read her mind even if her body seemed unable to stop betraying her.
    “Hello.” His deep voice rumbled pleasantly, and Sophia fought an urge to shiver-and to throw herself at him, begging him to whisper naughty nothings with his sexy voice. She didn’t understand her body’s out-of-proportion reaction to this stud. Sure, he was hotter than molten lava, but since when did her hormones drool and scream at her to maul a stranger on sight? She usually required a drink and dinner first at the very least.
    She ignored how her body tingled and vibrated and got straight to the point. “Do you have a broom I could borrow by any chance?”
    He cocked an eyebrow at her, and one corner of his mouth turned up in a lopsided grin. “A broom? Feeling a sudden urge to clean?”
    Sophia blushed again then remembered who she was. A witch, a junior one maybe, but a witch nevertheless, so he, a mere human, shouldn’t mock her. She straightened her spine and tried to adopt a chilly tone and face, not an easy task with her rounded cheeks and full lips. “Yes, I need a broom, if you please.”
    With a look that said ‘Whatever you say, crazy lady,’ he went back into the open garage bay, and she found herself watching the hypnotic and enticing view of his ass in tight jeans as he strode out of sight. Sigh. He really was a nice male specimen. Maybe she’d make a detour on the way back.
    A few moments later, he brought out a monstrosity of a broom, its wooden handle and wide brush head covered in grease and dirt. He held it out to her, and Sophia wrinkled her nose, not making a move to touch the filthy thing. “You know the purpose of a broom for most people is to clean, not create a bigger mess.”
    “This is a garage. We don’t care if it’s clean. We just use it push the crap out of the way.” His tone and expression held a note of impatience, a feeling she found imbuing her as well.
    “Well I can’t use that, that thing. Dammit, are there any stores around here that sell clean brooms?”
    “Sure,” he drawled. “ ’Course they’re all closed at this hour.”
    Frustration almost made steam pour from her ears, and it must have shown in her face, for he dropped his mocking attitude. “Listen, I don’t quite understand why you need a broom at this hour of night, but surely it can wait for morning. Now, why don’t you tell me where you left your car and I’ll walk you back to it.”
    “I don’t have a car. Why the hell do you think I needed a broom?” she grumbled only when she realized that his face had creased in confusion because what she had said made no sense. To a human anyway.
    She crossed her arms and tapped her foot as she nibbled her lower lip in an attempt to think of a solution to still make it to the coven meeting on time. She couldn’t afford to wait ’til morning when the stores opened. She’d started her trip late and would barely make it as it was. Broom flying, while allowing you to avoid obstacles and fly in a direct path, was very tiring and required frequent pit stops-at least she and her poor, aching ass did. Apparently a full bottom didn’t count for much on a stick only a few fingers wide.
    “Do you need a ride somewhere?”
    His question and solution to her current dilemma made Sophia mentally slap herself in the forehead, because, of course, she should have thought to ask the hunk if he had a vehicle. It made sense after all, given his occupation. However, she needed more than just a quick drive into town.
    Lifting her chin, she smiled at him. “If you don’t mind, then, yes, I do need a lift.”
    “Okay. Just give me a minute to close up and then you can tell me where to drop you off.”
    How about the next state over? It was a good thing she’d learned the spells of forgetfulness and persuasion, for she’d need both before the next twenty-four hours were done. First to make him take her where she needed, then to forget he’d ever met her.
    He closed up his shop quickly and came strutting toward her dangling a set of keys. He gestured to her with a tilt of his head and walked off to the side of the garage. She followed, once again admiring the view of his ass. She admired it so intently, her mind mentally x-raying the fabric of his jeans and wondering if he wore boxers or briefs, that she almost ran into him when he stopped abruptly. Catching herself, she looked up to see a monstrous truck in front of her. No, seriously, the thing even had a painted fresco with the word Monster emblazoned on its side. The truck sat high, high enough that she’d need a boost to get in, and it screamed, I never grew up. In other words, a total guy toy.
    The mechanic-turned-chauffeur pulled open the passenger door and stood back to allow her to get in. She peered dubiously up at the highly perched seat and wondered if there was a graceful way to climb in. As if sensing her dilemma, he simply grabbed her about the waist and hoisted her into the cab of the truck as if she weighed less than a feather. Sophia squeaked, and he chuckled.
    Before she could say a word, the door slammed shut. A moment later, he clambered into the driver seat and placed the key in the ignition. He turned to her before starting the engine.
    “So where to Miss…” He trailed off enquiringly.
    “Sophia.” Actually it was Sophia-Anne, but she’d shortened her name a long time ago.
    “Nice to meet you, Sophia. I’m Aidan.”
    Sophia shivered at the way he said her name. Damn, her hormones were in overdrive and in the confines of the truck cab, his heated presence and subtle scent-soap and man-intoxicated her, making her mind shy from the question and instead go straight into a fantasy of him dragging her onto his lap and using his mouth for something other than talking.
    “So, where do you want me to drop you?” he repeated.
    She snapped out of her erotic thoughts, hornier than ever, and froze, unsure of an answer, knowing if she told him the truth-I need you to drive with me for about eight hours or so, depending on traffic-he’d just laugh and ditch her, probably at the nearest insane asylum. She did, however, have a trick up her sleeve. A witchy one.
    She’d made sure to learn the spell of persuasion before coming on this trip. The Witchcraft for Dummies book had highly recommended it and a spell of forgetfulness to those starting out in the craft in order to ease their way through a world not yet ready for the concept of witches and magic. At least they no longer had to worry about being burned at the stake, but, then again, being dissected by scientists wasn’t exactly a step up.
    Taking a deep breath, Sophia recited the words to the spell of persuasion and imbued it with her innate power. With a flourish of her hands-and a mental apology for using him-she flung the invisible but magical result at him. Then she crossed her fingers, hoping she’d done it right.

Chapter Two

    The revelation came when the little hottie who’d arrived out of nowhere with a pitiful-looking broom, spoke in a funny language that tickled his skin, and waved her hands at him.
    She’s a bloody witch.
    Had he not been so busy trying not to ravish her tempting body, he might have recognized the scent she gave off-part ozone swirled with flowers and vanilla. She smelled delicious, temptingly so, and it made him want to dive between her thighs and eat her up, especially since he kept catching tantalizing whiffs of her reciprocated desire. She definitely wasn’t immune to him.
    Even more interesting, his inner furry friend liked her, actually more than liked, he yipped and growled in agitation, trying to tell Aidan something. Actually the word that kept coming to mind was mine. Unusual behavior for his usually behaved animal half whose usual demands were eat, hunt, or fuck. Even odder, something about this scenario tickled his brain. He was sure he’d think of the reason why later.
    But, back to the matter at hand, her broomstick had obviously experienced some type of breakdown, and, even more evident, she needed his assistance getting somewhere. Much more interesting was the fact she didn’t seem to have a clue he was a werewolf, immune to her magic. Which left him with a choice. Did he laugh and tell her the spell she’d attempted had failed or did he play along and see where she led him? If he was lucky, he would end up naked in bed with her in an interspecies sexual tango.
    “Where do you need to go, sweetheart? Your wish is my command.” He took a wild guess as to the purpose of her spell and almost laughed at the look of relief and delight on her face.
    “We need to make it to Covenhouse Inn before tomorrow night. So, we need to get going.”
    His impish side made him want to ask her where the hell this inn was, but he didn’t want her ditching him for another ride, so biting back a grin at her imperially given order, he put the truck in drive. They evidently had a long way to go.
    And lucky for her-and him-he knew of the perfect pit stop on the way to her destination, where they could rest, among other things. His throbbing shaft couldn’t wait.

* * * *

    Sophia kept sneaking glances over at Aidan. She admired his strong profile while combating the heat that suffused her at his nearness. She still couldn’t believe her spell of persuasion had worked so well. She’d expected more questions from him for, after all, her spell wasn’t one of pure obedience, but he’d meekly followed her command, a heady feeling indeed. It made her wonder what else he’d be amenable to. Her gaze strayed to his crotch and the bulge within.
    A low growl startled her, and she raised her eyes to him, but his gaze remained fixated on the road, and she chewed her lower lip. She must have imagined it, but she thanked the change in direction of her thoughts. Tempting as she found him, to take advantage of his body under these circumstances would be inappropriate, for how could she ensure his response was voluntary and not the spell forcing his will, pleasurable as they both might find it.
    “So, Sophia, where are you traveling from?”
    She debated lying, but without her last name and given the size of the city she lived in, he’d have a difficult time finding her. Besides, once she’d cast the spell of forgetfulness, he’d never even remember meeting her-what a pity. “Niagara, right on the Canadian and U.S. border.”
    “Nice place.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    They exchanged small talk back and forth. She told him she worked as a legal secretary. He shared the fact he was half-owner of the garage with his brother and that tomorrow just happened to be his day off, so there was no problem with him driving her.
    Sophia began to wonder after talking with him for a while if he wouldn’t have driven her even without the spell. Aidan seemed like a genuinely nice guy, one who probably would have extended a helping hand, or in this case a drive, to a lady in need. Too late now, though, with the spell already cast and in effect for around twenty-four hours, or so the manual said.
    They’d only driven for about two hours, chatting like old friends-one whose bones she wanted to jump-when he slowed down and pulled off into a roadside diner.
    “Why are we stopping?”
    “I’m starving. Don’t tell me you’re not hungry, too, for the best burger and greasiest home fries in the whole state?”
    Actually, her stomach could use refueling. She hadn’t eaten since the morning. Before she could answer, he got out of the truck. She shrugged and swung the passenger door open, only somewhat surprised to see him already standing in the opening. The man moved incredibly fast.
    He reached up and grabbed her around the waist to swing her down out of the truck. Her breath caught for a second at the effortless way he kept handling her. Not just pretty muscle, apparently he had strength to go with it. When he set her on her feet, she swayed for a moment and she automatically put a hand out to steady herself, touching his chest. She snatched her hand away quickly as if scalded. Even through the fabric of his shirt, his skin exuded heat, scorchingly so, and her body responded by pouring a liquid languor throughout all her muscles.
    Aidan looked down at her with eyes she could have sworn glowed. He brushed his fingers down her cheek, making her nerve endings tingle rapturously.
    “Let’s go eat.” He stroked her cheek with his hand, then he dropped it down and laced his fingers around hers, finally tugging her toward the bustling diner. Sophia, still dazed from his touch, stumbled along in a fog. I know what I want to eat, and I bet it’s not on the menu. Regardless of how hot he made her, though, she needed to remind herself he was under a spell, meaning he was off limits no matter how much her body craved him.
    Big trucks with long trailers filled the parking lot. When she entered the restaurant, Sophia became keenly aware of the fact she was the only female client amidst a roomful of men-and more than one turned around for a peek at her. Sophia tucked in closer to Aidan, who released her hand and, as if sensing her trepidation, slung an arm around her waist as he guided her to a table against a wall.
    Sophia slid into one chair while Aidan sat down across from her absently, too busy frowning at the room in general. She wondered why. “Is there something wrong?”
    He turned to face her, his brow furrowed and his mouth set. “I don’t like the way they looked at you.”
    Sophia almost gaped at him. He sounded so…possessive. And she liked it even as she knew she shouldn’t. “It’s probably because I’m the only woman in here other than the waitresses.” Who looked old enough to have birthed most of the men in the restaurant.
    Speaking of whom, a frizzy haired blonde with a pencil stuck in a hairdo that had never graced the cover of any magazine slapped two menus down.
    “Evening, Aidan. What can I get you and your lady?”
    Sophia guessed she shouldn’t be surprised the waitress knew Aidan. He apparently knew the place, and, honestly, who could forget him.
    “We’ll have two of your burger specials, Lena. The usual toppings for mine with a coffee. And the lady will take hers…” He eyed her questioningly.
    “Fully loaded with water, please.”
    Screw calories, she’d given up counting a long time ago. Some women just weren’t meant to be skinny. And she did so enjoy her food.
    “Come here often?” she asked when the waitress walked away. Her shouts of their order could easily be heard.
    “I’ve got a cabin in the woods not far from here. I’ve been hitting this place going in and out for the last seven years or so. The food is great.”
    This was an assessment she agreed with when it arrived and she took her first bite. Massive portions, dripping with greasy goodness. Sophia closed her eyes in bliss.
    She heard a chuckle, and she opened her eyes to see Aidan as he grinned at her. “It’s nice to see a woman who knows how to enjoy food.”
    Sophia shrugged. “I get grumpy when I’m hungry or if forced to eat salads.”
    “I’ll have to remember that,” he said, implying they would partake of more meals together in the future.
    Flustered and unsure of a reply, she stuffed a long french fry in her mouth, but the potato was too long and hung out of her mouth. Before she could suck it in, Aidan leaned across the table and bit it off, his lips brushing hers electrically. Sophia sucked in a surprised breath and began choking.
    Several whacks on her back later and to the sound of Aidan’s snickers, she managed through watering eyes to take a drink of water and calm her coughing fit. She glared at his smiling mien when he sat back across from her.
    “Looks like I’m going to have to teach you to share without trying to kill yourself,” he said with a low chuckle.
    “How about you leave the food in my mouth alone,” she replied tartly. Never mind her body had quite enjoyed the brief touch of his lips and was already thinking up scenarios where he ate whipped cream off of certain body parts. She stood abruptly.
    “I need to use the ladies room before we get back on the road.”
    Aidan stood as well. “I’ll go pay the bill.”
    “Here, let me give you some money.” Sophia stuck a hand in her purse to feel around for her wallet.
    He tilted her chin up. “My treat. I’ll meet you at the front door when you’re done.”
    Then he strutted off to stand in line at the register. Bemused, she walked across the room full of men, keeping her gaze down so as to not look anyone in the eye. A tinkling sound caught her attention, and she looked sideways to see the main door open and a burly fellow in a checkered shirt come in. She ducked her head back down, wishing having witchy powers would give her some courage. Her wish didn’t come true, and she ducked into the ladies room, which was of course empty. She quickly peed and was washing her hands when the door opened. Expecting to see a waitress, her eyes widened in shock when she saw a blur of red behind her. She would have screamed, but a rough, smelly hand clapped itself over her mouth while a thick arm wrapped around her middle.
    Caught like a rookie witch without use of her powers, she was still thankful she’d already emptied her bladder or else she would have pissed down her legs when a gravelly voice said, “Hello, pretty thing. You and me are gonna have some fun.”

Chapter Three

    Aidan paid the bill for their meal still quite pleased with himself. The look on Sophia’s face when he’d bitten off her fry? Priceless. Of course, he hadn’t meant for her to choke, but, all in all, he enjoyed knowing he seemed to have the same stimulating effect on her as she did him.
    He walked to the main door to wait for her, but a nagging sense of something wrong made him do a U-turn and instead head toward the ladies washroom. The closer her got, the more his wolf paced agitatedly in his mind.
    Danger. Sophia needs us.
    Not questioning an instinct that rarely proved wrong, Aidan barreled into the women’s bathroom and stopped dead. The first thing he saw was Sophia’s terrified eyes just visible above the meaty hand that muffled her. The second thing he saw was the sneer on her attacker’s face, one he’d take pleasure in wiping off.
    “Get out of here, boy. This doesn’t concern you.”
    “I disagree. Unhand my woman now.” Aidan’s tone was low and deadly. He flexed his hands and barely managed to restrain his inner snarling beast. Seeing Sophia in danger and scared was doing crazy things to his usual iron control.
    “Or what?” The burly fellow laughed.
    Aidan didn’t reply. He showed him. In a lightning-quick motion, he stood in front of the asshole who dared to touch his woman and punched him hard in the face. As soon as the hands holding Sophia loosened, he grabbed her and tucked her behind him, then moved them backward to the door, his body in front of hers shielding it.
    While keeping his eye on the soon-to-be very sorry jerk, Aidan gave her instructions. “Wait for me in the hall while I explain to this piece of shit why he’s never going to accost women again.” And assuage my bubbling rage over his nerve in touching what is mine.
    “But-”
    “Go. I’ll just be a minute.”
    The sound of the door swinging shut brought a feral grin to his face, a lethal one that made the miscreant back up with his hands out.
    “Sorry, man. It won’t happen again. I swear.” The man pled, but Aidan was deaf to his words. He kept seeing Sophia’s terrified face.
    “You’re damned right it won’t happen again.” Then he hit him-over and over again.

* * * *

    Sophia stood shaking in the hall, listening to the meaty thuds coming from inside the women’s washroom. Her terror was slow in fading. Since she’d gotten her magic, she’d grown cocky and sure she could handle any situation. The attack proved she still had much to learn, such as making sure no one caught her by surprise again. If Aidan hadn’t charged in like some type of medieval hero, she dreaded to think what might have happened. She gave a grim smile at the continued violence she could still hear. Some women might have argued against the violent retribution she could hear coming through the flimsy door, but Sophia wasn’t one of them. The jerk deserved every smack Aidan gave him and then some.
    Now that she was safe, Sophia could remember with admiration the ways Aidan’s eyes flashed in fury and his possessive words my woman. If only she were his woman. She truly regretted having spelled him now, thus making any dalliance with him impossible. Such a shame because the man just keeps getting hotter and hotter.
    The washroom door swung open, and the object of her thoughts stepped out. He said not a word to her, just drew her into his arms for a hug.
    “I’m sorry that happened. I’ll do better protecting you from now on.”
    What? She wanted to ask him what he meant, but with an arm tucked tightly around her-which totally distracted her-he led them back out to the parking lot and into his truck. As he lifted her to place her in the cab, he snuck a quick kiss, a brief brush of lips that made all her nerve endings sizzle in pleasure.
    He clambered into the other side. She touched her tingling lips. “Why did you kiss me?”
    “Are you going to tell me you didn’t want me to?
    The problem was she did, and much more, but she was becoming more and more afraid that her spell of persuasion had gone awry. He seemed to be picking up on her feelings and fantasies and acting on them.
    “You mustn’t do it anymore. I can’t get involved with you.” She sensed he wanted to ask her why, but she forestalled his questions by turning to the side and pillowing her head against the window, pretending to go to sleep. Not likely given his proximity, but at least she didn’t have to lie to him about why he should stop kissing her when all she wanted was for him to do that and more. Much, much-nakedly-more.
    She gave up quickly on her sleep act, too wired to sit still. To her relief, he vocally engaged her in a variety of topics-none of them the kiss they’d shared. Aidan turned out to be knowledgeable and witty, and she found herself laughing often. The miles flew by, as did the hours. Their conversation dwindled, and she found herself nodding off and startling awake. As the first pink rays of dawn lightened the sky, she snapped up as the truck slowed down and pulled into a roadside motel.
    “What are you doing?” she asked as she straightened in her seat.
    “I’m tired. I need to sleep for a few hours. Don’t worry, we’ll be on the road again by early afternoon and get to the Covenhouse in plenty of time.”
    She debated ordering him to go on, but the yawn he cracked behind his hand decided for her. He was right, they’d made great time. Besides, a few hours’ straight sleep in a bed sounded great. She wanted to be at her best for tonight, her very first Halloween gathering as a real witch.
    Aidan made her wait in the truck as he went into the motel office to secure them some rooms. When he strode back out, she opened the truck door and looked down at the ground far below dubiously. She was still wondering if she’d break an ankle if she jumped when he took the choice from her. His big hands grabbed her around the waist and pulled her out of the cab. For a moment, he held her against the rigidness of his body, setting off a trembling heat that made her sway toward him.
    Maybe just one kiss…
    She’d almost closed her eyes and puckered up when he set her away from him. Sophia resisted the urge to stamp her foot. She knew she shouldn’t kiss him or even want to, but, dammit, her libido kept going into overdrive every time he was near and a part of her wondered what harm a kiss-or two-would do. And therein lay the danger. Could she stop at just one kiss? The answer didn’t please her. Or her body.
    Ignorant of the frown she blasted at his wide back-for of course her arousal and hence all her inner turmoil were all his fault-he opened a motel room door and half-turned to gesture her in.
    Her brow creased. “We’re sharing a room?”
    “Last one left. We lucked out.”
    Sophia looked around at the vacant parking lot in front of the units and whirled back to eye him accusingly. He just smiled at her benignly.
    “Are you telling me the truth?”
    She could have sworn mirth twinkled in his eyes as he replied. “Of course I am sweetheart. Do you think I’d lie to you?”
    She knew she still had him under the sway of her magical spell of persuasion that in turn prevented his ability to lie, but when she swept into the room, she stopped dead.
    “There’s only one bed,” she exclaimed. A queen-sized bed, but still one bed only to share with six-foot something of male yumminess. Her pussy creamed in excitement. Down, kitty, remember the spell. I mustn’t take advantage of him. It wouldn’t be right.
    Apparently, the prospect of sharing the bed with her didn’t seem to interest him one bit. Never mind the kisses back at the restaurant, for without even a look at her, Aidan stripped out of his shirt and kicked off his boots before stretching his body out on the bed, his eyes immediately closing.
    Seeing the bare muscles of his chest exposed so temptingly, she fought an urge to take a flying leap on him just to grope him. No, she couldn’t allow herself to be distracted from her mental vow not to molest him. Deciding a shower was in order to cool her licentious thoughts and to give him time to fall asleep, she closeted herself in the small, but clean, bathroom.
    The hot shower did nothing for her raging libido, not when her thoughts kept straying to the fact a hunk of male perfection lay just a few feet away, half-naked. And once her shower was done, if she wanted any sleep, she’d have to crawl into bed with him and somehow not ravish him.
    Impossible given the state of arousal she currently found herself in.
    Sophia leaned against the cool tile wall and took matters into her own hands, literally. She ran her hands over her rounded body, the water making her skin slick. She cupped her heavy breasts, squeezing them, and while her touch felt nice, she couldn’t help but think it would feel a hundred times better if Aidan’s calloused hands were the ones fondling her. Her nipples hardened instantly at that thought, their pointed peaks perfect for a mouth to suck on.
    Sophia sighed and closed her eyes, allowing the fantasy of the stranger in the next room to take hold. She’d tease him, straddle his bare chest, and dangle her tits in his face, then smother him with them. His hand would find her cleft as his mouth pleasured her areolas, and he would let his fingers stroke her clit.
    Sophia’s hand slid between her thighs to work her sensitive nub, and her breathing came faster. Oh, yes.
    Aidan would be the impatient type, flipping her onto her back, his mouth capturing hers in a kiss as his cock found her sex and plunged in, stroking her deep and hard.
    Sophia mewled as her fingers penetrated her channel and worked in and out. Her whole body quivered with excitement and arousal, her pussy slick with her juices. She tilted her hips, trying to give herself deeper access with her fingers, her orgasm hanging just out of reach.
    She continued on in her fantasy of Aidan plowing her, his heavy body above hers pumping away. His hands would hold her legs up, allowing him to penetrate her deeply, his hard cock filling her up.
    That’s it, do me. Her visual fantasy made her pant, while her body thrummed in pleasure. Faster and faster, she pumped her fingers in and out of her channel. Still, her orgasm hung elusively out of reach.
    She mewled with frustration. Why can’t I come?

* * * *

    Aidan feigned indifference when he noticed Sophia’s nervousness at the realization they’d not only be sharing a room, but a bed too. He’d lied to her. The motel had plenty of empty rooms. However, seducing the sexy witch would be a lot harder to accomplish if she were in another room, and he definitely wanted a taste of her. He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t just thrown her onto the bed and had his way with her, although he’d almost swept her into his arms when he’d smelt her sweet arousal as he’d stripped off his shirt. Only one thing stopped him from a full-tilt seduction: her. He wanted her to come to him, and with good reason, for he’d come to an amazing realization during the drive-the little witch was his mate.
    Upon first meeting her, he’d found himself instantly attracted and in lust. Not an unusual reaction. He had a healthy sex drive and she was definitely hot, but the more time he spent in her proximity, the more overwhelming became the urge to touch her, taste her, mark her.
    His wolf, not usually interested in the other sex beyond fucking, kept shaking his shaggy head inside of Aidan’s mind. Agitated and excited, he finally made the thoughts in his bestial mind known to Aidan. Claim her, mark her, make her ours.
    The revelation stunned him, and he was thankful she’d been snoozing when it hit and the truck swerved on the road.
    He couldn’t believe it. Apparently, the information his father had handed down about mates had been true. Not that his father and mother were true mates, but they’d both heard the stories. When you met the one, a shifter instantly knew. Not that it happened to everyone. True mates weren’t common, the theory being with thousands of wolf shifters scattered around the world, what were the chances a wolf’s mate lived within the pack or even nearby? Some actually left the pack, questing for years in the hopes of finding the one who would complete them. A few even succeeded, more just ended up settling for an attractive bitch and popping out a few pups if they were lucky.
    However, the knowledge that Sophia was meant to be his mate came with a slew of problems-the first and foremost being the fact she wasn’t a werewolf and the pack really frowned on interspecies marriage. Banishment was a distinct possibility if he followed this through. Then, even if they overlooked the fact they came from different genomes, he also had to keep in mind just because he was ready based on a mystical reaction to commit forever didn’t mean she felt the same. Heck, would the true mate bond, a magic of sorts, affect a non-wolf? And lastly, she still didn’t have a clue as to his origins, and while she might not be a regular human, she might balk at having a husband who turned furry on full moons and, well, basically whenever he felt like it.
    Itemizing the reasons a mating wouldn’t work, though, forced him to think of reasons why it might. Such as the clear evidence she desired him, her lust readily evident in her scent. He desired her as well, his arousal almost constant since the moment of their meeting. Apart from wanting to plow her, he also found her intriguing, cute, intelligent, and just about perfect so far. How did she view him, though? Despite her sexual interest in him as a man, he also couldn’t miss her trepidation. How should he approach the matter? Hi, just so you know, I’m a werewolf and you’re my true mate. Let’s fuck so I can bite you and make you mine forever. Hmm, the direct approach probably wouldn’t work. He didn’t want to scare her off, not that she’d ever be able to escape him. Now that he had her scent, he could track her to the ends of the Earth. However, how did one explain to a woman he’d just met that they were destined to live happily ever after? Oh, and how did she feel about having puppies?
    The sound of the shower made his thoughts turn as he imagined her curvy body under the spray, naked. His erection sprang back to life, throbbingly so. Damn, he’d have to do something about this mate thing soon. His control was wearing thin already and he’d only met her last night. The easy solution? Fuck her. The problem? Could he keep enough control during the act to not mark her? Unlike others of his brethren, he wouldn’t force his bite on her. He’d give her the choice when the time was right and let fate decide. Surely they wouldn’t have chosen her if she wasn’t destined to feel the same way? However, it wouldn’t hurt if he played a little dirty in his quest to have her see him as more than just a ride to a witches’ convention.
    He unbuttoned the top of his jeans to give his cock a bit of room to breathe. Once again, though, his mischievous side, which was determined to move things along, had him shucking his pants completely so he wore only his black briefs. Unlike his brothers, he couldn’t go commando. The zipper scared him.
    Lying back on the bed, he placed his hands behind his head and waited for her to finish her shower. A moment later, he sat bolt upright in bed.
    No, she can’t be. She is! His witch was pleasuring herself in the shower-without him. It was only through a great exertion of self-control that he kept himself from barreling through the flimsy bathroom door to take what was his. The only thing that stopped him was the frustration that radiated from her over her mounting need. Apparently, his little witch needed more than the stimulation of her fingers, and he couldn’t wait for her to come to that conclusion and get her ass into the bed so he could pleasure her-and himself.
    He’d just relieve their sexual tension. He could control himself long enough to do that. And if the urge to bite got too strong…well, he’d worry about that dangerous cliff when he came to the edge of it.

* * * *

    Sophia sagged in the shower and admitted defeat. Much as she wanted to and tried, she couldn’t come. But at least she’d been in the shower long enough for him to have fallen asleep.
    She turned off the shower, stepped out, and toweled herself dry. She’d brought her purse into the bathroom with her. She opened it and scrounged around inside.
    Bigger than it seemed, the purse came almost up to the shoulder as she reached in to find her sleep T-shirt and shorts. Dressing in them, she shoved her dirty clothes into her magical purse which doubled as a closet, medicine chest, and anything else she thought to shove in there.
    She stalled for time. She brushed her teeth. She ran a brush through her hair. She rubbed moisturizer over every inch of her skin. This is stupid. I can’t stay in the bathroom forever. He’ll be asleep for sure by now, and it’s not like he’ll know I’m horny.
    Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and exited the bathroom. The sinking feeling in her stomach when she saw him sleeping on top of the bed in his underwear definitely wasn’t disappointment.
    Who could be disappointed when the most perfectly shaped man ever to grace the planet lay on the covers wearing only black briefs that did little to hide an impressive bulge, one that seemed to grow and twitch as she watched it with wide eyes?
    Sophia swallowed the extra moisture in her mouth but could do little about the moisture that pooled in her sex.
    He moved on the bed, rolling on his side to face her. He opened eyes that she could have sworn glowed and said in a low, husky tone that made her cleft quiver, “Come to bed, Sophia.”
    She wanted to shake her head, say no, run away from the blatant sex appeal he oozed. But as if he had her under a spell of persuasion, she found herself taking one step after another toward the bed until her thighs brushed the mattress.
    She still couldn’t speak. She could only watch him as he rolled onto his back, his eyes never leaving hers.
    “Get into bed,” he said in a voice that was almost a growl.
    When she didn’t comply, in a move quicker than she could follow, she found herself flat on her back on the mattress with him atop her, his heavy weight pressing down on her deliciously.
    “I promised myself I would give you time, but,” he said as one of his fingers came up to trace her full bottom lip, “I find myself unable to resist you.”
    Then he kissed her, and Sophia forgot all her good intentions.

* * * *

    Screw waiting ’til she knew and chose him. When Aidan sensed her coming out of the bathroom, and, even better, smelled her desire, he couldn’t feign sleep. And once he’d looked at her, so soft and alluring, her eyes clouded with longing and confusion, he couldn’t help himself. To his surprise she’d obeyed his order to approach even if trepidation had made her hesitate about joining him in bed.
    He would make love to the witch who would be his mate. He’d enjoy it, and so would she. He just wouldn’t mark her as his mate-yet. He could control himself that much. He hoped.
    The first taste of her lips set him afire. Hunger of the carnal kind raced through his body and imbued his kiss with some of his urgency, an urgency she returned as her lips clung to his.
    “We really shouldn’t,” she murmured as her hands roamed over his back.
    “Shh. We both need this,” he replied, settling himself firmly between her legs and grinding himself against her mound.
    She gasped and arched beneath him, her nails digging into his back. Aidan almost bit her then and there.
    Shit. He was in trouble already, his wolf awake and pacing, waiting to take over and mark their woman. Maybe if he made the pleasure all about her, he could hold off biting her.
    His lips slid from hers and made their way down the smooth skin of her neck. He could feel her pulse under her skin, fluttering. With no control over it, he felt his canines descend, the urge to bite almost overcoming his will.
    Oh, fuck. He moved down lower, away from the temptation that beckoned. The fabric of her T-shirt impeded his view of her breasts. With an impatient growl, he tore the cloth apart only realizing at her cry that perhaps he’d been too hasty. A quick look revealed her to be more impassioned than ever, with her eyes heavy lidded with desire. He turned back to look at her breasts, heavy and round. Her big nipples puckered at his view and begged for his mouth. He obliged, tucking one taut peak in his mouth and sucking hard. Frantic hands clutched at his head, tugged at his hair, the pain heightening his desire.
    He bit down lightly on her nub, and she let out a small scream. Once again, his canines tried to descend to the sweet flesh in his mouth that was tempting him.
    No, he had to be stronger. Build her trust. Get her to accept him. Fuck her brains out ’til she’d do anything he wanted.
    With a groan, he moved down her body again, his mouth moving like a heat-seeking missile to find her core. Perhaps if he relieved her of her lust, he’d be able to think more clearly and control himself. Her shorts covered her mound, and his hands tore them apart as well. Her thighs fell to the sides, and she exposed herself to him with a breathy sigh. He moved his face in closer for a taste.
    Bad idea.
    With his face between her thighs, the scent of her was overwhelming and his canines descended again, their sharp points almost nipping his lip. He took several shuddering breaths as he tried to regain control, but all that did was draw her scent deeper into him.
    She noticed his lack of action and with a sound that was part-mewl, part-moan, she said “Please.”
    What could he say? He didn’t have the willpower to refuse his mate. Screw his good intentions. He’d give her what she wanted and deal with the repercussions later. “Your wish is my command, sweetheart.”

* * * *

    Sophia froze at his words, her ardor dampened as if a cold bucket of water had doused it. Damned persuasion spell. This wasn’t right. She couldn’t do this to him. What if he had a wife or girlfriend? How could she know this was what he wanted and not the spell getting mixed-up signals from her desire forcing him to do something he possibly didn’t want?
    “I can’t do this.” She scooted off the bed and streaked to the bathroom, grabbing her purse on the way. Only when she slammed the door shut did the shaking start.
    A second later, a knock sounded. “Sophia? Are you okay? I’m sorry if I was moving too fast. Don’t hide, sweetheart.”
    Sophia didn’t answer, she just shook harder. What was I thinking? Well, she knew what she was thinking: Ride him like a cowgirl ’til the cows come home. Bad witch. It didn’t matter if he seemed a willing participant. Her spell had skewed his normal responses, made him somehow think he also had to fulfill not only her verbal commands but her unspoken bodily ones. I almost took advantage of him. While she could excuse using him as a chauffeur, using his body-that crossed a moral line.
    “Open the door.”
    “No.”
    “I’ll kick it down if you don’t come out here and explain what’s wrong.”
    Sophia laughed hysterically even as tears streamed down her face. How do I explain? By the way I’m a witch and I’ve cast a spell on you, so while you think you’re horny right now, it’s probably actually my hormones you’re feeling. Sorry for messing with your brain.
    She screamed when the door splintered open. Aidan looked huge and angry; his form filled the doorway. At the sight of her huddled on the floor, his face softened.
    “Aw, sweetheart, don’t cry. I’m sorry if things moved so fast. Come back to bed. I promise I won’t touch you.”
    She wanted to tell him he was wrong, that he wasn’t the one at fault. She was the one who couldn’t be trusted-no better than a bloody nymphomaniac. But she said nothing and didn’t protest when he scooped her up to carry her back into the room. He placed her gently on the bed and eased onto the bed behind her. A heavy warm arm came over her waist and spooned her back into the scorching warmth of his body, and she let out a whimper.
    Oh, why does he have to feel so good?
    He misinterpreted the sound and shushed her. “It’s okay, sweetheart. Go to sleep. I promise to behave.”
    Sophia lay stiffly in his embrace and struggled to understand this enigmatic man. To her puzzlement, she still felt the evidence of his arousal against her bottom where she was snuggled into him, and this even without her pawing at him. Is it possible he actually wanted me and not because of the spell? Not that it mattered. She refused to take the chance.
    Besides, it wasn’t just the spell that made her leery, it was her whole reaction to him from the moment she’d met him. While she’d found herself attracted to men in the past, desire had never completely overwhelmed her before. She was acting as if bespelled-or maybe I’m falling in love, she thought-and it scared her.
    Witches aren’t supposed to fall for humans, no matter how sexy. And chanting that rule to herself over and over, she finally slipped into a restless sleep.

Chapter Four

    The next morning, even though he moved cautiously, she woke when he left the bed to closet himself in the bathroom. If she were smart, she’d leave right now. But she still needed to get to the gathering, not to mention make him forget. The sound of the shower galvanized her, and after pulling out clean clothes from her seemingly bottomless purse, she dressed quickly. When he emerged, his hair damp, she’d managed to compose herself, a state of mind she almost lost at the sight of him.
    Why does he have to be so bloody gorgeous?
    All the explanations she’d prepared to justify her hysterical actions of a few hours ago ended up unnecessary, for when he spoke it was only to say, “Ready to go? We’ll grab some food on the way.”
    Then he walked out of the motel room to the truck. After taking a deep breath, she followed, only shivering slightly when he gave her a boost into the passenger seat.
    They traveled in almost virtual silence, although she could see him eye her from time to time, his mouth opening and closing as if he wanted to speak but couldn’t find the words.
    Sophia felt a stupid desire to come clean and explain everything to him. Hi, I’m a witch, and I’ve cast a spell on you. When it wears off, want to go for coffee then some nookie if in fact your desire for me is real? But, oh, just so you know, it can never go any further than great sex. Even in her head it sounded crazy. No, she needed to stick to her original plan, which in just a little while would have him leave her life forever and, with the spell of forgetfulness, never even remember he’d met her. The prospect did not cheer her.
    They pulled into the parking lot for the Covenhouse Inn, and suddenly Sophia, so eager to get here when she’d started her trip what seemed like ages ago, wished they’d never arrived. In a moment she would wipe Aidan’s mind clean and send him on his way. He’d go back to his life and the garage, with no memory of her. And in order to ensure he didn’t remember things she’d accidentally let slip, she couldn’t even visit him and pretend to meet him again for the first time. She lacked the skill to make her spell strong enough to withstand a test like that.
    “So, how long is this convention thing going to last? Should I wait up for you?”
    Sophia swallowed hard as a vision of him half-naked and lounging on white sheets filled her mind. Heat rushed through her, which made her cheeks blossom with color.
    With an almost inaudible growl, he leaned over and kissed her hard.
    Sophia allowed it for a moment, and the fire and urgency his lips imparted made her regret even more keenly what she had to do. She pulled back before she could change her mind. She opened the door, then turned sideways and slid out of the truck, stumbling a little as she hit the pavement. He leaned over the seat and stared down at her, questions in his eyes. This close it was an easy matter for her to mutter the words to the spell, sadness tainting the energy she formed and shaped into a pattern of forgetfulness. She flung the result at him.
    His eyes widened, and in a rush she spoke. “You will forget ever meeting me. Last night after closing up, you felt an urge to go for a drive. You went farther than expected. But now you need to go home, back to your life, and forget you ever met me.” His eyes clouded with hurt, then confusion. She bit her lip in an attempt to not cry, not understanding why this affected her so. She whirled and walked away, her steps heavy and her heart a dead weight in her chest.
    A part of her hoped she’d failed in her spell and that at any moment she would feel his hands on her, spinning her around to tell her magic would never make him forget. Instead, the heavy rumble of his truck engine filled the air, a sound that receded as he drove away from her.
    Blinded by tears, she told herself it was for the best. A human and a witch-it would have never worked. But, oh, how I wish things could have been different.

* * * *

    Aidan slammed the steering wheel and cursed as he drove away from his mate. She’d rejected him. Sent him away as if he meant nothing. Could his senses be wrong? Was she not his mate? His wolf growled in his mind. No, I’m not wrong. She is mine. But what had just happened then? Did she not feel the same magnetic draw?
    Too upset to pay attention to the road, he pulled over a few miles away and thought. She’d never explained why she’d gotten so upset when he’d pleasured her-a pleasure quickly disrupted. What caused her hysterics? She’d wanted his touch, there was no denying it, yet she’d acted guilty. Could she possibly have a boyfriend already back home? Aidan’s wolf side growled menacingly, angry at the thought, but the idea bothered Aidan’s human side even more. She is mine. I will allow no other to touch her.
    As he let his mind work over the few facts he had, it occurred to him that she had to be single. She didn’t have the scent of another man clinging to her, and surely a lover would have kissed her goodbye. He also realized in retrospect, she hadn’t been unaffected by their parting. He’d let his hurt cloud his mind, but when he thought back on their last moment together, he could see her eyes swimming in tears.
    And then he cursed himself for an idiot. Even if she didn’t have a boyfriend, it could be that her reluctance lay in another direction. Sophia didn’t know what he was. She thought him a mere human, while she was a witch. If her coven was anything like his pack, humans, especially those privy to their secrets, were more than rare. It was quite possible she’d felt like she had no choice but to send him away.
    Fat chance of that. Like it or not, she was his. He’d let her have her little witchy celebration for Halloween. However, he’d be nearby, and once the gathering was done, he’d turn the tables and become the one giving the orders-and pleasure.
    And somewhere in there, he’d share the truth of what he was and what she meant to him.

Chapter Five

    Sophia paced her room. Her mind still spun as she waited for evening to fully fall before she descended and joined her coven sisters. She tried to regain her excitement over her first Halloween gathering as a witch. The exhilaration she’d basked in just days ago when the invitation arrived in the mail had vanished. Now, instead all she could think of was Aidan, his last look of pain carving a wound into her heart.
    I knew him for only a day. Not even. How could I have come to care for him so much in such a short time? She kept wondering what she could have done differently. How she could have kept him with her? However, everything revolved back to one simple fact. He’s human, and I’m not anymore.
    Sophia hadn’t even known of her witchy heritage until a few years back. Her parents had adopted her when she was still a baby, found supposedly abandoned. Her parents, her birth ones that is, remained to this day unknown to authorities.
    She’d always know she wasn’t the same as others. Even as a young child, Sophia had wondered if something was wrong with her, because she’d always seen the world differently. This was a fact she learned to keep quiet about when her adopted mother dragged her to countless psychiatrists looking for a cure. She stopped telling people about how she could sometimes see colors swirling around her and touch those invisible streamers. She sealed her lips shut, not mentioning the ghosts she saw, along with other odd creatures like the gremlin that lived in her dad’s garage. Silence was preferable to the strange looks and drugs. At the late age of sixteen when she finally began her menses, her otherworldly sense went into overdrive. Sophia feigned ignorance even as her mother called in the priest to rid the house of the poltergeists-the only ghosts, though, were Sophia’s awakening power, which manifested itself in floating objects and odd incidents.
    Desperate to understand what was wrong with her and reassure herself she wasn’t crazy, she went online, searching for her symptoms. She never found anything, but someone found her. Apparently, witches had embraced the technological age, because her searches sent a red flag to the mother house, and in the dark of night, Sophia suddenly found herself abducted and given a lengthy interrogation followed by a set of tasks where finally her special abilities came into play.
    When they’d told her she was a full-blood witch, one whose special parents had perished, Sophia laughed. Once the shock-and mirth-wore off, she was pleased to know she was normal, for a witch at least.
    Thus had begun her lessons. As an older student, she’d struggled and worked hard to catch up to those who’d grown up in the lore-the varied rules and protocols adopted to keep them safe from humans. The Salem trials, which had seen countless innocents killed, served as an example of intolerance, one which even today served as a brutal reminder that safety lay in secrecy, or so the coven thought. Personally, she thought the modern world could handle the idea of witches, but one junior witch wasn’t about to change hundreds of years of doctrine.
    Along with history, spells, and witch law, another thing they’d taught her was while she could dally sexually with humans, she could never tell them what she was or think of a forever-after with one. Part of being a witch meant a longer lifespan-two hundred years or more wasn’t unheard of. Although it wasn’t exactly forbidden to intermarry, the warning was clear. The most a witch could hope for was 10 to 15 years before she had to disappear, for the lack of aging eventually became noticeable and raised questions. Witches who refused to leave ended up finding their partners and children gone one day. Talk about incentive to look at their kind first.
    Knowing this made Sophia’s painful decision to let Aidan go seem noble, even if she didn’t understand why she wanted him so much. She did know she didn’t want to see Aidan hurt. He deserved a real life with a woman who could give him children and grow old with him. Not someone who would be forced to abandon him and their children within a decade or so.
    But how she wished things were different. If only Aidan were one of the special folk allowed to know their secrets-elf, angel, demon, shifter, merman. So many species were allowed to know about her witch status, and although not approved of for marriage-not that it stopped some-sexual dalliances were not uncommon.
    The time for introspection passed. As the midnight hour approached, Sophia composed herself and left her room in her flowing robe, joining a chattering stream of witches out into the night. Lanterns lit the night sky and hung on branches and poles, illuminating their way to the gathering spot.
    The Covenhouse Inn sat on over a hundred acres, ensuring the witches’ coven privacy for ceremonies such as the one for Halloween. Most of the land was wooded, but as Sophia followed others of her kind through the meandering paths in the shadowy forest, it wasn’t long before they emerged in a clearing with trampled grass. In the center of the huge space a bonfire snapped and crackled, the flames licking up into the sky and popping with colors not usually seen-gold, red, purple, blue, and even some green. This close to the witching hour, power sizzled visibly all around her in a kaleidoscope of color. Excitement hummed in the air.
    The witches stood shoulder widths apart and formed circles radiating outward from the fire. Sophia stood in one of the outer rings, her face tilted up to the sky staring at the fat, bright moon hanging over the assembly.
    As if silenced by a spell, an instant quiet fell upon the clearing, and the chattering and rustling of hundreds of women was gone as expectancy hung heavy in the air.
    Midnight hit unmistakably as the magical energy imbuing the world peaked. All Hallows Day had arrived, with the power of its arrival zipping through her body like a lightning bolt. As if the fire and magic called them, ghostly forms rose in a sinuous trail from the bright flames, weaving and bobbing over the congregation. Like a signal, the dance began.
    Unlike the Wiccans with their earth-based magic, Sophia belonged to a darker sect, one that still worshipped the Lord of Hades-with powerful results. Over the centuries legends and rumors abounded about witches dancing naked around fires for Satan. Although never actually witnessed by human eyes, or at least no people who ever lived after seeing it, it was actually true. Liberating in so many ways, the dance brought them back to a primal time when witches were celebrated instead of persecuted. In a graceful move synchronized without practice, robes went flying off, which bared hundreds of females of all shapes and sizes. Male witches, also called warlocks, celebrated elsewhere in their own fashion.
    Sophia vaguely felt the kiss of the cool night air on her naked skin, however, caught up in the building magic of the dance, she ignored it. Her body moved intuitively, weaving and swaying to an unheard rhythm, which made the gathered coven move in an undulating wave of bare skin and flying hair. Women of all ages and races spun faster and faster, their breath coming short, eyes gleaming, limbs flying.
    Closing her eyes while opening her arms wide, Sophia basked in the power flowing throughout the clearing and felt her cares slip free. She lost herself in the wildness of the dance.

* * * *

    Aidan, in his wolf shape, sat on the edge of the clearing watching with yellow eyes as the witches poured into the open space. His eyes, though, remained trained on one body only-Sophia’s. She looked pensive compared to the other happy, chattering witches, and he wondered-hoped-it was because she thought of him.
    He’d returned, and even though he’d wanted to charge in to find her and divulge the truth of what he was, he held back. The Halloween gathering of the witches was something even he’d heard of. He could wait until she’d completed the celebration, but that didn’t mean that he would leave her alone. A protective instinct forced him to follow her, not that he expected trouble, but he liked to be prepared.
    Oddly enough, Aidan was not the only shifter in the woods. He could sense and smell other shapeshifters. Some wolves like himself, but other beasts as well-bear, panther, and even the rare musty scent of dragon. He didn’t ponder for long the presence of other shifters. His attention was caught by the sudden silence. The fur on his body stood on end as energy churned and boiled in the air, the result of having so many witches in one place and on such a powerful date. With an almost ecstatic burst, the magic overflowed to stroke everyone, including him, and to leave those in its wake feeling more alive than ever.
    Aidan, who’d never heard of such a thing, howled in response, a sound repeated in different cadences all around the gathered women. He howled again when he saw Sophia shed her robe, her beautiful naked body moving sinuously as she and her sisters danced. Aidan in wolf form cried out again, unable to help himself as Sophia twirled faster and faster, perspiration gleaming on her bare skin, her hair twirling in a silken mess. After several revolutions around the clearing, her face finally broke into an exhilarated smile, and with his enhanced hearing he heard her joyous laughter, an emotion and sound repeated all over the place as the witches basked in the heady magic eddying around them.
    The witches didn’t notice, but Aidan did as the fire in the center built up brighter and brighter the faster they danced. He kept one eye on it, the other on his pagan mate, whose enjoyment in the dance stirred his lust.
    A figure arose from the flames, a naked, solidly built man. And at his appearance, the witches, like puppets, suddenly collapsed as if an unseen power had cut the strings that held them up. Kneeling on the ground, the witches swayed and hummed as they faced the man who still floated in the flames.
    “My beautiful harem,” boomed the man Aidan somehow instinctively knew was Lucifer. “Happy Halloween!”
    “Lord of Darkness. Father of Sin. Satan love us. Lucifer bless us.”
    The pagan chant shocked Aidan. Figures my true mate would be a dark witch instead of a Wiccan. Not that he actually cared. Actions meant more than who you owed allegiance to. As a wolf, he and his pack worshipped no deity, even if they were aware and had a healthy respect for the super powers known as God and the Devil.
    Respect or not, Satan’s next words made Aidan’s vision turn red, and he growled.
    “Who will serve their master tonight?” Lucifer dropped his hand to an engorging cock that put every mortal man to shame. “I have a mighty need to bless my flock.”
    Aidan went to lunge forward when he saw Sophia stand, but a firm grasp on his wolf’s nape held him back. He turned his head as he snarled and bit.
    “Quiet wolf,” said a voice low in timbre but resonant with power.
    Aidan inhaled the scent of dragon and quieted. How the hell did he sneak up on me? Surely, I wasn’t that distracted? Evidently not.
    A voice chuckled in the darkness. “A wise decision. Not so smart, though, would be to interrupt what goes on in the field. I take it this is your first All Hallows ceremony with your witch?”
    Unable to reply in beast form, Aidan shifted back, uncaring of his nakedness, a trait common among shifters who often found themselves without clothes. “She’s not my mate yet.”
    “Aah, just found her, did you?” Again a chuckle floated from the darkness, and try as Aidan might with his enhanced eyesight, he could not see the shifter who spoke to him even if his sensitive nose caught whiffs of his scent. “Fear not, your lady has chosen to abstain from the festivities. Most witches who’ve found their mate do.”
    Indeed, Aidan, who’d never completely lost track of Sophia, saw her pick up a robe off the ground and shrug it on before leaving with others. Several handfuls of witches stayed behind in a naked orgy that Aidan found acrobatically impressive. Satan certainly was a skilled lover judging by the blurring motions and moans of the ladies as he managed to pleasure the large group left behind.
    The dragon spoke and drew his attention away from the naked fest in the clearing. “Have you spoken to your pack leader about taking the witch as your mate?”
    “There’s been no time. I know it’s not common, but I don’t see why there would be an issue. She’s my true mate.”
    “True mate or not, acceptance of a witch as your mate really depends on your pack alpha. Some welcome witches as mates. They actually make valuable additions to the pack, but others are obsessed with purity of the line.”
    “Who the fuck are you, and why are you telling me all this? Why do you care?”
    “My name is Dracin, and let’s just say I’ve lived long enough to see the interspecies mating thing be an issue. Take my advice or leave it. I don’t really care. I just thought you might like a head’s-up.”
    Aidan could sense no deception in his words, but he still didn’t completely trust him. He had, however, raised questions. It had never occurred to Aidan to wonder how his alpha would react. He’d found his mate, and, apart from convincing her, he’d never thought farther ahead. “I’m sure everything will be fine.” Aidan couldn’t hide his sudden doubt completely.
    “Fine or not, should you find yourself cast out of the pack, tell your female to contact a witch called Clarabelle. She can give you directions to a pack that welcomes mixed pairings. I’ve more to tell you, but I must rejoin my mate now. I will contact you again shortly.”
    The stranger melted into the forest as mysteriously as he’d arrived, which left Aidan with a mouthful of questions. Would his pack leader, a gruff, no-nonsense man, accept his pairing with a witch? Aidan had never heard of an actual ban on such matings, but, then again, he’d never noticed one in his pack either. Coincidence or intentional?
    His musings would have to wait. He didn’t want to lose Sophia, who’d left the clearing already. There were lots of brooms around here, and although he assumed she’d spend the night before heading out, he just couldn’t be one hundred percent sure. He changed back to his wolf form, then flitted through the trees, coming as close as he dared to the path, his keen nose picking up the unmistakably sweet scent of his soon-to-be mate.
    And, even better, she was alone.
    It occurred to him for a few seconds to keep his shifter side secret for a while longer, but she needed to know, and people always said there was no time like the present. He trotted out onto the path a few paces ahead of her and turned to face her.
    He had a moment to see her eyes widen before she let out a piercing shriek.
    Oops. Maybe not such a good idea.

Chapter Six

    Sophia recovered quickly from her fright when she realized the beast in front of her was only a wolf and not a demon. A wolf she could handle, even if this one was huge with bright green eyes that seemed somehow familiar.
    “Shoo, you overgrown mutt,” she said as she waved her hands. She could have sworn the wolf’s eyes rolled in mirth, and instead of leaving, it sat down.
    Well, that wouldn’t do. She wasn’t stupid enough to try and walk around it and give it an easy target. Her body still thrummed with magic from the ceremony, so it was a simple matter to pull some into her palm to flick at the wolf, intending to sting it on the nose and send it scampering.
    The power, however, when it came in contact with the shaggy beast didn’t even startle it, and now the fear came creeping back. What kind of creature is this that my magic doesn’t affect it?
    The hairy wolf’s form began to shimmer as another shape began pushing through. Not waiting to see what it turned into, she whirled and ran, her only thought to head back to the clearing and hopefully run into some more senior witches with more powerful magic. She didn’t get far before steel band-like arms wrapped around her midsection and lifted her, which left her feet pedaling in midair.
    That didn’t stop her from kicking and thrashing. “Let me go! You don’t know who you are messing with.”
    “Oh, I know exactly who and what you are,” said a velvety and familiar voice.
    Sophia froze. “Aidan?” Impossible. I spelled him and watched him drive away. Then the deeper realization hit. “You’re not human!” she accused.
    His arms loosened, and she whirled around to glare at him. Even her annoyance at his deception couldn’t stop heat from spreading through her limbs. He came back. And without a stitch of clothing! Sophia’s blush warmed her cheeks, and she made sure to keep her eyes trained on his face and not the wickedly tempting expanse of naked flesh standing within reach.
    “No, I’m not human, and you’re a witch.”
    Okay, so we both hid what we are. The more important question is why did he come back? Knowing he was a shapeshifter explained why her spell of forgetfulness hadn’t worked. It didn’t explain, however, why he went along with her commandeering of him as a chauffeur in the first place. “What are you doing here?”
    “Waiting for you.”
    “Why?”
    “For the same reason I drove you. You’re my mate.”
    Sophia could have caught flies, her mouth dropped open so wide. “No way.”
    “Yes way.” He smiled at her again, his teeth flashing white. “Now, do you mind if we go discuss this somewhere more comfortable.”
    She could read his meaning in his eyes, and her cleft moistened in response. As if sensing her arousal, his nostrils flared and his eyes seemed to glow in the darkness. Sophia took a step back and shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I’ve read about shifters and this whole mate thing. You want to get me alone so you can bite me and make me your sex slave. Sorry, but I am so not doing that.”
    “Mmm. My sex slave, eh? You make it sound like such a bad thing.” His wicked grin made her nipples tighten, and it took a lot of willpower not to tackle him and ravish his naked body. Willpower didn’t stop her aroused sex from leaking down her leg, though. Talk about distracting.
    “So, you don’t deny you want to mark me?” She tugged at her anger, her indignation, anything to fight his erotic pull.
    “Oh, I want to mark you all right, sweetheart, and not just with my teeth. But don’t worry, when I do bite you, I promise you’ll enjoy it.”
    “But I don’t want you to.”
    “Your body says differently.”
    Sophia stamped her foot. “Lust has nothing do with this. Sex is something I can walk away from. You forcefully binding me to you isn’t. I won’t allow it.”
    Aidan’s face darkened. “So, I guess it was okay to spell me and force me to take you here?”
    Sophia winced, then straightened as she realized he was trying to make her feel guilty. “That was different. I used you for one day, yes, I admit that. You’re talking about a heck of a lot longer. So, the answer is no. Now go before I call my sisters.”
    He shook his head. “I’ll leave, but you’re coming with me.”
    Sophia opened her mouth to scream and call her sisters for help, but he clamped a hand over her mouth. You’ve got to be kidding me. How dare he!
    She bit him, hard, but he didn’t even flinch. The sound of ripping fabric filled the air as he tore a strip from the sleeve of her robe and a moment later he stuffed his makeshift gag into her mouth and tied it in place. She glared daggers at him, but he just shrugged unapologetically.
    “You’ll thank me later.”
    Then the jerk slung her over his shoulder. Initially when her face brushed the naked-scorchingly lickable-skin of his back, she forgot to breathe. But common sense returned quickly and she pummeled his bare back and kicked her feet. He responded with a firm whack to her bottom.
    He spanked me! Enraged, she went nuts on him, but several more resounding slaps on her ass later, she finally gave up. Not only had she not managed to even come close to escaping his iron grip, her ass now throbbed painfully-even more disturbing, her pussy throbbed too. With pleasure.
    Oh, I am going to make him pay when I get free. Angry words and intentions, and yet her body still betrayed her, pulsing with heat and arousal.

* * * *

    Aidan didn’t know he was going to kidnap her until Sophia flat-out refused to even consider being his mate. Usually a reasonably level-headed man, he went a little crazy-maybe he’d blame it on hormones like the women in the pack did.
    Whatever the reason, he gagged her when she would have screamed her pretty face off and carried her struggling like a hellcat to where he’d parked his truck. He’d be lying if he claimed he hadn’t enjoyed smacking her full bottom, a practice he’d heard of but never partaken of before. He did note for future reference, though, the effectiveness of the punishment. Not only did she end up behaving, but her arousal spun around him in a heavy perfume. If only he dared seduce her like his body clamored to, but so close to her sisters, he didn’t dare. He needed to get her away from here so he could work on convincing her that pairing up with him wouldn’t be as horrible as she thought. Sex slave indeed. She didn’t seem to realize that the crazy desire she felt went two ways.
    With her no longer fighting him, he made quick work of the distance between the woods and his truck. It amazed him actually in retrospect that no other witches had come across them during their disagreement. I wonder if my new friend, the dragon, played a part in that. Although it would have been funny to see what they thought of a naked man kidnapping a witch.
    He arrived at his truck and opened the passenger door, then placed her on the seat. As he rounded the truck to climb in the other side, she used her unbound hands to open the door and she jumped out.
    He sensed more than heard her cry of pain as the little idiot turned her ankle when she hit the ground. In seconds, he was by her side where she sat in the gravel, rubbing her ankle. She tried to shrivel him with a glare, but he shook his head at her.
    “Stubborn witch, aren’t you? Did you really think you were going to escape?”
    “A girl’s got to try,” she said sulkily.
    He chuckled at her spirit then palpated her hurting ankle. His wolf, roused by the pain he could faintly feel emanating from her, paced in his mind unhappily. It stunned him that a mental resonance had already begun between him and Sophia, one that allowed him to sense some of her thoughts and emotions. It was a little disconcerting, especially the knowledge that their eventual mating would amplify it. A benefit or curse, depending on how you looked at it.
    After he’d swung her into his arms, he perched her back on the seat and regarded her sternly. “Do I need to tie you to the dash, or are you going to sit there like a good little girl?”
    She just scowled at him and crossed her arms.
    He arched a brow. “I’m waiting. You haven’t answered my question.”
    “I’ll stay, for now.”
    Inwardly chuckling at her stubborn nature, something he admired-he couldn’t imagine being shackled to a weak-willed lily. He hopped into the driver’s side and started the truck. He locked her door with the master switch on his side, then dressed quickly, used to doing so in confined spaces, a skill all shifters acquired. He loved the way she studiously ignored him. He loved even more the scent of her arousal that, even as angry as she was, she couldn’t control.
    He started the truck and pulled onto the road. Next stop, his cabin, where he’d have his work cut out for him if he wanted to convince her to be his mate.
    Ah, the pleasurable things a man’s got to do for his woman.

* * * *

    Sophia kept her mouth shut and refused to look at him, but in the close confines of the cab, she couldn’t help but feel the heat radiating from him. Her treacherous body replied in turn by moistening her cleft and tightening her nipples. Dressed in only her robes, she felt her thighs rub together slickly and her tight nipples protrude beneath the cloth. She gnashed her teeth. I guess there’s no denying, even with his cave man tactics, that I’m attracted to him. But, dammit, it’s one thing to be attracted, a whole other to be his slave for the rest of my life.
    Or so she’d been taught. As part of her magical studies, she’d learned about other beings, many of whom resembled humans, like shifters and the fey. They’d spent a whole week on shifters, with the different classes divided into lupine, feline, ursine, more commonly known as bears, aquatics, which the merpeople belonged to, and dragon, the rarest and strongest. Unlike what was shown in legends and movies, shapeshifting was not contagious, but rather it was a matter of genetics. One thing the media and other storytellers got correct was the fact that most of the shifters tended to live in packs where an alpha set the rules. All, that is, except dragons, who tended to be loners and few.
    As she looked at Aidan surreptitiously, she wondered if this determined man could possibly be alpha for his pack. He seemed too young. However, considering that the position of pack leader was often based on strength, he definitely fit the bill. That and she had a hard time seeing him kowtow to someone else. Stubborn and determined to do things his own way, she really kicked herself for believing he’d actually fallen for her persuasion spell. All along the signs of his not succumbing had been there. Just look at the way he’d ordered her to bed and…
    While squirming in her seat, she changed the direction of her thoughts-reluctantly, because the few moments they’d kissed on the bed had definitely left their erotic mark-back to what she knew of shifters. Maybe she’d remember something that would help her convince Aidan that mating with her was a bad idea.
    Shifter hierarchy and history had proved interesting, but it didn’t compare to the mating aspect of their kind. Shifters bonded for life. No one was quite sure how the magic of it worked, but once the male marked his chosen one by biting her hard enough to draw blood, something happened. A twining of souls, some opined. Controlling magic, argued feminist others. Whatever the underlying factor, the end result was unanimous-the pair became utterly devoted to each other.
    Not too bad-sounding until you read further and found out that while the men continued to live life as before, the women were kept tied to the hearth popping out babies. Infant mortality rates were high in the packs, which contrasted with how healthy the surviving babies were. Only the strongest children survived, so women, or breeders, as her teacher had sneeringly called them, were guarded closely and not allowed the freedoms of other castes.
    Then there was one other fact. Supposedly although shapeshifters did occasionally breed outside the clans, the offspring in the case of witches tended to all end up being shifters. Or so the textbooks said. The low incidences of this type of mating made information more difficult to come by, because both sides tended to guard the purity of their bloodlines closely. Interspecies breeding was greatly discouraged because of the dwindling witch and warlock population. It was expected and encouraged that when a witch did choose to settle down, she would do so with a warlock and thus continue her magical line. Yet this didn’t make complete sense to Sophia since she’d heard rumors of witches who’d been born of a human and witch and who had more powers than full-blooded witches.
    All the history and background info, good or bad, wouldn’t change the fact she wouldn’t marry a man after knowing him for only a day, hot in the sack or not.
    Now if only she could convince him-and her body.
    The darkness and the drive lulled her, and Sophia lost the struggle with her eyelids, waking hours later to full daylight and to discover her head nestled in his lap.
    She scrambled upright, and her cheeks heated at his low chuckle. After scrubbing at her eyes, she looked around, not recognizing anything, not that this area was familiar to start with, but she didn’t recall a huge forest on the drive to the Covenhouse Inn. She’d obviously slept a while since the sun seemed to have moved past midday.
    “Where are we?”
    “Close.”
    She pursed her lips at his oblique answer. “Close to where, smartass?”
    “You’ll see.” With that enigmatic answer, he started to whistle jauntily while Sophia simmered.
    Her stomach growled, and she wanted to die of embarrassment, but instead she got mad. “So, does your convincing me to be your slave include starvation?”
    “Look behind your seat.”
    Sophia craned around and saw a cooler. Lifting the lid, she found cold water bottles, packaged sandwiches, and fruit. “Nice to know you came prepared for your kidnapping.”
    “Actually, I stopped and bought that and some other supplies.”
    “While I was asleep?” Something was fishy. No way she’d slept through all that. She peered at him suspiciously and was rewarded with color blooming on the tops of his cheeks.
    “I might have had some help with that,” he admitted. “I made a friend, a dragon shifter, while you were dancing naked. When I stopped for gas, he was already there waiting for me, and before you ask me how, I don’t know. Anyways, he wove a sleep spell around you to allow me to make it to our destination.” As he said this the road they were on went from pavement to packed dirt, and Sophia bounced and jiggled on her seat as he drove over the ruts.
    “You mean you weren’t the only one spying on us?” she asked as outrage filled her.
    Aidan shrugged. “Dracin and I weren’t the only ones. Apparently, there are a lot more shifters bonded to witches than I previously thought. Don’t worry, though,” he said with a mischievous smile. “You were by far the hottest witch there. I quite enjoyed the way you shook that luscious ass of yours and the way your tits jiggled. Maybe you can give me a private dance later?”
    Shocked into silence at his words, she turned to look out the window. She wanted to feel angry he’d watched her, but instead she fought two vastly different emotions. Arousal because his words made her picture herself giving him an up-close and personal dance wearing nothing. The other emotion made no sense. It felt like jealousy-the idea he’d laid eyes on other naked women did not please her at all. Yet why should she care?
    The bumpy road finally ended in a clearing wherein a log cabin sat. Rustic didn’t begin to describe the setting. Surrounded by woods, she noticed that the only sound she could hear was the ticking of the hot engine accompanied by bird calls. Sophia, a city girl at heart, didn’t like it one bit.
    Aidan rounded the truck and helped her out, standing her on her two feet. Only when she put pressure on her ankle did she remember her earlier injury, but to her surprise she felt not a twinge. To test it, she walked around a few paces before whirling to eye him questioningly.
    “Dracin healed you after he put you to sleep. He claimed a wounded witch would be harder to convince.”
    Sophia snorted and turned back to face the cabin. She marveled at the actually quite large cabin. It had big, modern windows that faced out into the yard. A screen door hid the solid wood front door, which was unlocked. Aidan carried in the cooler, among other things, after just opening it and walking in. She was left alone outside.
    She twirled to look for an escape and ended up sighing. Welcome to the boonies. Maybe I can hitch a ride with a moose. There would be no escape on foot, and judging by how long they’d driven on the dirt path with no other signs of habitation, she doubted he had any neighbors in proximity she could turn to.
    “The nearest house is about a five-mile hike east, and if you’re looking for the main road, it’s southwest about seventeen clicks.”
    “I hate you.”
    “You just think you do because you’re horny.”
    Sophia gaped at him. “I! Of all… I am not!”
    “Don’t worry, sweetheart, as soon as I get the woodstove ready for the night and the food put away, I’m going to take care of you.”
    Sophia shivered involuntarily at his words, and all her hormones screamed yes as they flooded her pussy with moisture. “You’ll have to force me, because I will not bed you willingly.”
    Aidan’s face tightened, and his words emerged clipped. “I won’t need to force you. You’re going to beg me to take you. Hell, I can smell your body’s desire from here already. So, anytime you’re ready, just say please.”
    “I hate you!” she yelled at his retreating back as he took another load of stuff into the cabin.
    “Love you, too, witchy.”
    Sophia stamped her foot, her frustration over the situation nothing compared with her annoyance at the warmth his words created. She didn’t want his love. She wanted to go home and forget she had ever met him, even if he was more exciting than anyone else she’d ever met. If only he were a warlock, she would have jumped all over him. Heck, if he hadn’t stated his intention to bite her, she would have bedded him. More than once too.
    But forever with a wolf? It would never work. Right?

Chapter Seven

    To drive her absolutely nuts and heighten the sexual tension he sensed building in her, Aidan ignored her. Not as easy as it sounded since the only thing he wanted to do was tear her robe off, bury his prick into her velvety wetness, and bite her as he pumped her fast and hard. It didn’t help that his wolf refused to go to sleep, his furry presence growling and yipping demands in his mind.
    Aidan was determined, though, to make her ask for it. Call it pride, call it preserving his skin, either way he was determined to make her admit she wanted him no matter what she said. He could smell her desire, and while he knew he could seduce her and give her the mark without her willingness, he knew the method of his taking would always be a bone of contention. Not the most auspicious way to start their new life.
    Hence, the plan he hatched on the drive in to his remote cabin where he escaped to when he wanted a place where he could be his furry self. He could smell her desire for him, see it in the way she watched him. If he turned it up a notch, he figured he could get her to cave into her desires. And by not mauling her right away, he’d give her a chance to get to know him, to ask questions, and to realize that her impression of shifter mating wasn’t entirely accurate. She’d equated it with being a slave, and yet like any species, relationships differed from couple to couple. In all races, some men treated their women like chattel whose only purpose was to serve and breed. Others, however, treated them as equal partners and friends. Aidan belonged to the latter half, but convincing her of that would prove interesting.
    For the moment, until she gave him a chance to show his true character, he’d play dirty. Food put away and the windows opened to air the place as he hadn’t been up in a few weeks, he prepared for round one in the seduction plan.He stripped off his shirt and walked out of the cabin, headed for the wood pile. Her gasp and heightened scent of arousal as he walked by her without acknowledging her wasn’t lost on him, and his cock throbbed painfully behind the zipper of his jeans. He’d need a long, cold shower before the day was through unless he managed to drive her mindless with arousal to the point that she jumped him. Please.
    He picked up the ax and started to chop wood he didn’t need, enjoying the pain and pleasure of the task. Pleasurable because with every swing that sent his muscles rippling, her desire ramped up a notch and her pheromones drifted to him in the air, but painful because, much as he wanted to fuck her, he knew she wouldn’t give in to bliss so easily.

* * * *

    Sophia’s mouth went dry even as her cleft became soaked. Aidan didn’t seem to notice her as he chopped wood, shirtless. But, oh, how she noticed him. How could she not with his muscular torso rippling with effort? His naked skin glistening with sweat? Her eyes were riveted on the light trail of chest hair that led down in a V to his…
    With a curse, she turned away, her breath short. Madness! How could just simply looking at him make her want to throw caution to the wind and dive on him to molest his deliciously sinful body? Even now, facing away from him, her channel throbbed, aching for something thick and long and…
    Cursing again, she strode into the cabin, the faint sound of a chuckle following her. Jerk. He knew she wanted him, which frustrated her to no end. If only she could get his promise to not bite her, then maybe they could assuage their lust-several times-and then maybe he’d see they weren’t meant for forever-after.
    The direction of her thoughts made her freeze as she paced inside. She’d not even been in the cabin an hour yet, but already she looked for ways to seduce him with no strings. He’d made it clear he could be ruthless in the pursuit of what he wanted. Look at his abduction of her. Who was to say a promise he wouldn’t bite wouldn’t be broken in the heat of the moment or when she was so consumed with passion she’d agree to anything? No, she needed to fight this attraction she had for him and, even more importantly, find a way to escape. Soon, because I don’t how long I can fight my own body. Even my heart sings when he’s around.
    It was while she roamed his cabin restlessly that she came across her purse. How the heck did he get his hands on it? She’d left it locked in her room back at the inn. Puzzled by its presence but glad she could change out of the ceremonial robe, she armed herself in jeans and a shapeless sweatshirt.
    Eventually he came inside, and with great force of will, she steadfastly refused to look at him. She only trembled slightly when she heard the sound of running water as he showered-don’t think of him standing under the sluicing water, naked. She bit her nails right down for the first time since her teens, when she’d kicked the nervous habit.
    When he finally appeared, fully clothed-unfortunately-he still didn’t speak to her, but he did throw her a grin, which made her scowl. His cabin didn’t seem so roomy with him inside, and she wore a tread in his floor staying out of his reach, warily tracking him as he moved around with ease in the kitchen area.
    Even fully clothed and hiding the too-tempting sight of his upper body, he still caused a mounting arousal in her. She couldn’t help but notice as the material stretched and hugged his hidden muscles, which just served to act as erotic enticement. Now she simply wanted to strip the shirt from him-with her teeth.
    She didn’t understand what game he played. When he’d told her she was his mate and he intended to claim her, she’d expected him to ravish her at the first moment. He hadn’t-the jerk. Instead, he barely paid her any mind, going about his chores and not making any attempts to seduce her at all. It made a girl want to throw a temper tantrum, starting with taking off all her clothes. A naked witch in his living room would probably wipe that serene look off his face and get her the action she craved.
    What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t want to be claimed by a werewolf. Remember the whole interspecies issues? So, why am I so miffed he’s ignoring me?
    She jumped when he finally spoke. “How do you like your sausage?”
    Erect and in my sex were the first words that came to mind, but what she said was, “You pig! I told you I wouldn’t sleep with you.”
    Aidan quirked a brow at her and shook his head. “I was just asking how you liked your breakfast sausage, sweetheart. For tomorrow morning’s breakfast. What a dirty mind you have, though. I like it.”
    Sophia blushed crimson and didn’t reply.
    “Come and have some supper. You must be hungry.”
    She sure was, and the worst part was that she could have exactly what her heart desired if she just said the word. In a refusal to feed that appetite, Sophia slid into a wooden chair at the small table where he’d placed two steaming plates of food. He’d fried some potatoes and steaks on his propane stove, and he’d tossed up a salad. It would figure he’d also know how to cook.
    Sophia concentrated on eating. However, no matter how much food she swallowed, her hunger didn’t abate. She wanted something else to devour, and she knew all she had to do was say the word, and he’d give her dessert.
    The silence stretched between them, taut as a strung wire, and Sophia almost snapped with the tension. “Why are you doing this?”
    “Doing what?”
    Sophia made a frustrated sound. “This! Kidnapping me and keeping me prisoner. It isn’t going to work. I won’t change my mind.”
    “And neither will I,” he said flatly. “I don’t know why you keep choosing to deny the connection between us, the rapport. Have you so quickly forgotten the trip to the inn, before you knew you were my mate? Have you forgotten everything we had in common, how well we got along?”
    Sophia looked down at her plate where she absently twirled her fork in the leftover food. “It was different then.”
    “Why?”
    “Because then you weren’t trying to make me into your slave.”
    Aidan slapped his hands down on the table, and Sophia jumped. “Stop using that word. Mating is not about ownership. It’s about two beings meant to come together. About sharing their life and love.”
    Sophia laughed sarcastically. “Oh, please. You don’t love me. We’ve barely known each other two days.”
    “And? Are you going to deny you didn’t want me from the first moment you saw me? I know I wanted you.”
    “That’s lust,” she retorted, “not love.”
    “Semantics. Most relationships start with lust and evolve into love.”
    “And sometimes after the lust has faded, there’s nothing left, not even like. How can you be so sure that won’t happen?”
    “Because I have faith.”
    Sophia snorted. “That seems awfully risky.”
    “Love is risky, no matter what.”
    “Sorry, but I don’t think I’m ready to make that kind of commitment, especially knowing the repercussions.”
    “Like what? More pleasure than you can imagine?”
    His words made her shiver. She knew he spoke truth when he promised her pleasure, but pleasure was fleeting. “Stop doing that. You know what I’m talking about. The side effects to a witch mating with a shifter.”
    He looked puzzled. “I’ve never heard of any so-called side effects. Then again, I’ve never actually met a witch-and-shifter pairing. Dracin didn’t have time to tell me much about his relationship.”
    “Yeah, well, maybe you should get your facts straight first. I did learn about them, rare as they are, in my witch course. Things like the fact that any children we’d have would be shifters, not witches or warlocks like me.”
    Aidan shrugged. “If you say so. I assume this knowledge is based in fact and not rumor.”
    Sophia frowned at him. “Why would they print it in the course book if it was false? Even if I could accept that any children we’d have wouldn’t take after me, I’m more disturbed with the issue that while pregnant I wouldn’t be able to use magic at all.”
    “And?”
    Sophia growled. “I’d be powerless.”
    Aidan rolled his eyes. “Ooh, for five months you couldn’t use your magic. The calamity, the horror.”
    “Five months?”
    “Shifter babies don’t take as long as human babies to mature.”
    “Oh.” The books hadn’t mentioned that, not that it mattered.
    “What do you need your magic for, might I ask, that you can’t go without for a few months?”
    Sophia’s mind drew a blank. “Well, nothing usually, but you never know. What if someone tried to attack me for being a witch or something?”
    Aidan’s eyes went dark. He got up from his chair, his body taut, and pulled her up into his arms. Sophia, in shock from the multitude of pleasurable sensations racing through her, didn’t protest. She did, however, shiver at his next words.
    “I will never allow anybody or anything to hurt you. I will protect you with my life.”
    Then his mouth came down hard on hers.

Chapter Eight

    He honestly hadn’t intended to kiss her. He’d meant to make her think about some of her arguments and then go to bed, but when she’d talked about needing magic to keep herself from harm, a raging protective instinct took over. Only a fool would dare to lay a finger on her. He would kill to keep her safe.
    He’d only meant to reassure her when he pulled her into his arms, but his libido took over and his mouth claimed hers in a fiery kiss. With an expectation that she’d bite his lip or stomp on his insole, he was surprised when instead he felt her hands reach up to clutch at his head, drawing him down further so that she might return his embrace with an enthusiastic groan.
    She was everything he’d ever dreamed of in a woman-stubborn, intelligent, passionate, and even better, she fit perfectly against him. Her curvy frame tucked into his as if made for size. Her full breasts pushed against his chest, her rounded ass filled the palms of his hands lusciously, and her sex pulsed against the thigh he inserted between her legs.
    Her mouth parted under the pressure of his, and he inserted his tongue into her warm recess, almost losing control when she daringly sent her tongue to twine with his. The heady sensations that swirled through his body were unlike anything he’d ever experienced. And he wanted more.
    As he gripped her buttocks, he slid her up and down on his muscled thigh and was rewarded with a gasp whose sound he swallowed. Even through the thickness of the clothes that separated them-he’d almost chuckled at her attempt to hide her shape under her bulky sweatshirt-she was so wet and ready for him. His lips left hers to taste the soft skin of her neck and here his wolf finally jumped in, forcing his canines down and ramping up his instinct to bite her. Mark her as mine.
    But an ounce of sanity prevailed. She hasn’t agreed yet.
    Cursing himself for an idiot but knowing he’d be stupider to go on without her permission, he pulled away from her and took a step back.
    She swayed on her feet, with her eyes closed dreamily, and her lips swelled with passion. She mewled like a lost kitten, and he took another step back even as his wolf and heart screamed at him to scoop her up and take her now.
    Finally, she opened her eyes, confusion quickly clearing. A red stain bloomed across her cheeks, and a torrent of emotions crossed her face. Before she could speak, Aidan did.
    “There’s blankets in the closet if you want some. I’ll be in the bed if you change your mind about becoming my mate or want to cuddle. Goodnight.”
    Then he walked away from her, his cock and his wolf howling in protest. But Aidan knew he’d done the right thing. It won’t be long before she comes to me.

* * * *

    He walked away. She stared incredulously at his retreating back, not snapping out of her shock until he closed the bedroom door. She should be glad he’d walked away. She certainly hadn’t given it a thought once he touched her. On the contrary, she wanted to stalk across the cabin into the room he’d vanished into and demand he finish what he’d started.
    Her pussy throbbed, her nipples ached, and a frustrated moan broke free. She kicked and stamped at the floor, pissed at the effect he’d so easily wrought. I’m even more angry at the fact that I want him to come back and continue where he left off.
    Even as she’d argued with him why their getting hitched wouldn’t work, she’d heard her explanations for what they were-feeble excuses. The truth was her thoughts were consumed with Aidan. And not just about how great a lover he’d be, but what a future with a man like him would entail. Her argument of becoming his slave didn’t fly in the face of what she’d seen of him. Yes, he has a domineering side, which is ridiculously hot, but he’s also caring and even more amazing, willing to listen to me. How many men could boast that trait? She wasn’t stupid, she knew he could easily force-actually, make that seduce-an acceptance of his mark if he chose to. Only an honorable man would wait for her to agree, or in his words make her ask for it.
    Therein lay the danger. He made it seem so simple, so right, which made it all the scarier. She could see herself giving in and soon if she didn’t find a way to escape.
    As she lay huddled on the couch under a blanket and fought the urge to crawl into his bed, where he’d eagerly welcome her, probably naked, she tried to think of way to escape his cabin. She didn’t, however, come up with the harder solution of how to free herself from the feelings he provoked in her, ones that said take me and make me yours forever.

* * * *

    Aidan lay in bed, hoping against all odds, she’d choose to follow him. She didn’t of course, although he grinned when he heard her mini-tantrum. She wanted him, he had no doubt of that. He could have had her there in the kitchen too, her response to his embraces made that clear. But he wanted more than a simple seduction. I want her to choose me. Come to me of her own free will and not drugged on my kisses.
    He hoped he’d given her food for thought; he knew she certainly had for him. He hadn’t known about some of the things she’d told him. The fact of not having magic during pregnancy on first mention didn’t seem like a big deal, but now that he had time alone to think, it made him wonder how he’d feel if he were told he had to give up his wolf for a length of time. The concept frightened him, and it made him better appreciate her feelings. To have magic, something she’d known all her life, gone, would make her human for a short time. How daunting it would seem. Would he have the courage to say yes if the roles were reversed? He believed her to be worth the price. Now, if only she would come around to thinking the same of him.
    In the meantime, though, she’d left him with a turgid problem that needed to be brought under control. His arousal put him in a precarious position; it weakened his control.
    So, he did the only thing he could since he couldn’t have her. Yet. He wrapped his hand around the throbbing length of his shaft and stroked the velvet-wrapped steel up and down. He wondered as he played with himself if she would touch herself for relief. The thought made semen pearl at the tip of his cock, and he spread the moisture over the head of his shaft even as he imagined her tongue poking out to lap at it.
    Oh, to see Sophia on her knees, her hands wrapped around his prick, her full mouth opening wide to take his rigid length deep. He longed to sink his hands into her luxuriant hair, to feel the warm pressure of her mouth as she sucked him, devouring him like the most delectable of meals.
    Aidan groaned and worked his cock faster, his hand fisted tightly around it and pumping frantically. Would she swallow his thick cream or would she look up at him expectantly, then push her breasts together to receive a personal pearl necklace?
    Biting back a cry, he came, but even before his shaft stopped pulsing, it grew hard again.
    Unfortunately, only the real thing would satisfy him now and as Aidan rolled over trying to find elusive sleep, he wondered what his next step should be. If only he could talk to someone who’d faced the same problem.
    Someone like Dracin.

Chapter Nine

    The smell of cooking sausage and toast woke her. Sophia stretched and yawned to work the kinks out of her body. She couldn’t entirely blame the couch for her poor night’s sleep, the main reason stood shirtless and yummy looking in the kitchen. There should be a law against looking tastier than coffee in the morning, she thought grumpily as she dragged her ass to the bathroom. No amount of hair and teeth brushing would take care of the dark circles under her eyes, though.
    When she came back out again, he smiled at her and immediately her nipples tightened into hard points and moisture creamed her panties. As she took a seat at the table, she tried to avoid looking at him. She was still annoyed at him for walking away from her last night, but even more annoyed at herself. She knew her control was crumbling fast. The list of reasons why she should continue to say no to what he offered paled in comparison to the delights her body-and heart-seemed to think she’d gain.
    I need to get out of here. Unbelievably enough, he gave her the opening she needed.
    “I’ve got to go into town this morning to grab a few things. I’d bring you with me but,” his eyes twinkled at her, “I don’t want you finding a broom and taking off on me.”
    “You’re trusting me to stay alone?”
    He shrugged. “Where are you going to go? I don’t get the impression you’re an experienced woodswoman, and only an idiot would go haring off in the wilderness.”
    Sophia didn’t say a word. Actually, she couldn’t, because the hard kiss he gave her as he walked out the door left her head spinning. Pleasantly so, but the kiss acted as a reminder of why she needed to leave.
    Aidan took off in his monster truck, and even before the sound of his engine disappeared, she was on the move. A quick search of the closet revealed a dust pan, but no broom, not even a mop.
    Shoot. He’d probably hidden it. Sophia glared at the forest around the cabin. Here she was, surrounded by wood. However, the spell to imbue a broom with flight required a straight length with a bristly end. Crooked limbs made for erratic flights and lacked the bristles, which acted as fuel. Not to mention, not having that wider head at the back was like steering a boat without a rudder.
    No problem, she still owned two perfectly good feet. She ignored his statement that civilization resided miles away. He could be lying-even if he didn’t seem the type. And as for danger in the forest, she was a witch. Surely she could handle some woodland critters. Besides, she couldn’t just sit around like a good prisoner. Escape at all cost. It’s what her coven would recommend, and what she needed to do, because she wouldn’t survive another night like the previous one. Heck, she probably wouldn’t last until dinner if he took off his shirt again.
    So after tying a sweater around her waist and pulling out her most comfortable walking shoes from her bottomless purse, she set off on her jaunt through the big, scary woods. Her purse swung at her hip. Following the road would have probably made more sense, but she remembered the way it weaved, so logic dictated if she went in a straight line through the woods, she’d save time, not to mention avoid Aidan when he came back.
    Sophia admittedly wasn’t much of a nature girl. Her idea of communing with Mother Earth usually consisted of visiting the fruits and vegetable section of the grocery store. But people went hiking all the time. Some even-ick!-enjoyed it. How hard could it be?
    An hour or so later, sweating and grime-covered, not to mention scratched from slapping branches and brambles in her hair, she cursed aloud, “Stupid forest. Why couldn’t they have built a path through it?”
    She said a few more choice items under her breath, most of them shockingly unladylike, but she shut up quickly when she heard the snapping of a branch, a noise that she extraordinarily enough hadn’t caused.
    Sophia paused mid-step and listened. The annoying sounds of birds singing accompanied by the constant rustling of tree branches came to her ears. She chided herself for her fear. I’m not a little pig, and the only wolf I need to worry about has gone to town.
    Instead of taking another step, she suddenly stopped, paralyzed with fright, for behind her came a low, rumbling growl.
    Oh, shoot and double shoot. I’m going to get eaten.
    Sophia debated whether to run, but then she reminded herself of something. I’m a witch. Like, hello, a stupid wild animal is no match for my magic. With more confidence than she felt, Sophia whirled around to face the beast stalking her as its next dinner.
    Unlike Little Red Riding Hood, she didn’t trust the very large wolf that faced her with gleaming yellow eyes. It stood higher than a regular wolf would, its fur a mottled russet and brown with large teeth better-suited to a carnivorous dinosaur. She had a feeling the beast she faced was a shifter, but, to make sure, she tried to send a spell of paralysis. Even with the quickly chanted words and clapping hands completed correctly, the spell was to no avail. The wolf took a step forward.
    Sophia swallowed and took a step back, while a drop of fear rolled down her spine to the waistband of her jeans. “Um, Aidan, is that you?” she questioned in a wavering voice. She already knew it wasn’t. Aidan’s wolf was much nicer-looking, with dark hair that glinted blue. But perhaps the mention of Aidan’s name would make the other shifter think twice about having her for lunch. Sophia took another step back, one the wolf mimicked. She held out her hands in an attempt to look benign, and she tried pleading with it. “Listen, I’m here with Aidan. He’s a wolf shifter just like you. Maybe you know him. Big, tall guy, drives a monster truck?” She ended her rushed speech on a hopeful, questioning note, but the mangy beast just growled and bared even more teeth.
    Sophia would have wet her pants if her bladder hadn’t frozen tight in fear like the rest of her. Her voice worked just fine, though. When the wolf finally decided to make its move and leapt with a chilling snarl, she screamed at the top of her lungs.
    Then she was too busy fighting for her life. Somehow, a necklace of puncture marks didn’t sound healthy.

* * * *

    Aidan, who furiously tracked the weaving and circling path of his none-too-bright-at-that-moment mate, heard her shriek of terror come from closer than he would have thought her. With no care for his clothing, he shifted, the cloth tearing in his urgency. His fur was still sprouting even as he leapt toward the terrifying sound of snarls.
    He didn’t bother concealing his arrival, because speed was much more important than stealth. The scent of her fear came to him at the same moment that he caught sight of the perpetrator. Randy-pack beta and now a dead wolf walking.
    Roaring in fury, Aidan charged and distracted the russet wolf that turned its head from its attempt to rip out Sophia’s throat. Without hesitation, Randy braced to meet his charge. Aidan’s momentum barreled him right into the other beast, and they tumbled into the underbrush. In a blood-frenzy-Aidan smelled Sophia’s injury-he snapped and tore at the other shifter. Caught in the grips of a mindless rage, he wanted to kill Randy, too furious to care of his status as second-in-command. A line had been crossed when he’d dared harm Sophia.
    No one hurts my mate!

* * * *

    Sophia gingerly sat up, still alive if scratched up from the mangy wolf’s claws. And speaking of wolves, Aidan had arrived in the nick of time, the darkness of his fur and evident rage easy to recognize. She watched in terror as the two large beasts wrestled viciously a few paces from her. It never even occurred to her to make her escape while Aidan and the other wolf were locked in battle. She couldn’t leave him. What if he was hurt or if the other wolf prevailed and killed him? A racking shudder went through her at the thought. He can’t die. I won’t let him! But there was nothing she could do, only sit there feeling helpless as the violent fight with snapping teeth raged.
    After what seemed like forever, the fight ended. Aidan’s beast held the other pinned by the throat. The wolf that’d attacked her whimpered in submission and Aidan released him with a slight shake. Trotting to her, Aidan turned his back to the cowed and defeated beast. Aidan’s wolf shape blurred. Her eyes widened in surprise and she blushed as he changed back into his man shape, naked as the day he was born. And damned if he wasn’t hot!
    Unlike the first time she’d seen him nude in the woods, it was full daylight out and she got the full impact of his maleness. He definitely packed an erotic punch. From his broad chest, crisscrossed in more muscles than should be legal, down to a tapered waist and below that… Well, let’s just say he put most men to shame. Sophia couldn’t help the heat that suffused her body even amidst the turmoil. Screw logic, she wanted him like she’d never wanted a man before. And she had a feeling if she didn’t take what he offered, she’d never find that feeling with anyone else. He was her one chance at what romance books hinted at: the elusive one and only love of her life.
    She must have stared at him too long, because right before her mesmerized eyes his dormant shaft lifted and grew in interesting ways. Her lips unconsciously parted, and she licked them.
    Aidan growled and dropped to his knees, which hid his most interesting body part. “Show me your injuries.”
    “It’s just scratches,” she said, looking into his face, which had creased with concern.
    “It shouldn’t have happened at all,” he snapped.
    Sophia dropped her head in chagrin, his rebuke stinging even if truthful. “I’m sorry. I should have listened and stayed in the cabin,” she mumbled.
    A calloused finger tilted her chin up to meet his gaze. “While I agree you shouldn’t have left the safety of the cabin, it is also my fault for not informing the pack, and, even worse, leaving you alone at all. Although,” he said with a glare over his shoulder, “my pack brother should have known better than to attack without asking questions first. Especially considering you’re covered in my scent.” Aidan stood up and turned around.
    As she looked around his legs, Sophia saw that the russet wolf had disappeared and in its place now hunched a man, also naked. He was not even close to being as interesting as Aidan.
    “She’s a witch on pack land,” said the other.
    “She’s my mate,” growled Aidan.
    “Who doesn’t wear a mark. And if Jason has anything to say about it, she won’t. He won’t like this.” The other man seemed to gain confidence and stood, unashamed of his nakedness. He really should cover it, thought Sophia given his diminutive size.
    Sophia smothered a giggle. This was not a laughing matter, but the whole thing seemed incongruous.
    “I was planning to speak to Jason today or tomorrow. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep this to yourself. Don’t make me regret letting you live. This is the only warning you’ll get. Come near Sophia again and I will kill you.”
    With a snarl, the other man shifted back to his wolf shape and bounded off through the woods. The danger gone, Sophia stood and placed a hand on Aidan’s bare back.
    He didn’t turn to face her, just muttered a terse “Follow me.”
    Sophia would have argued with his command, but the view of his naked buttocks as he stalked back in the direction, she assumed, of the cabin robbed her of speech, although it did create vividly erotic scenarios in her mind. Her lust, barely in check since she met him, simmered to life, and she was done fighting it. Running away wouldn’t make her feelings for him disappear. Am I nuts? Probably, but face it, what I feel for him is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. How stupid would I be to throw it away?
    As if her acceptance of her fate unlocked a dam, pure arousal flooded her. Her breathing came short and not because of the exertion of the walk either. A blazing heat consumed her, and she wanted to tear off her clothes and let the fresh air of the forest cool her down. Or even better have Aidan lick…
    “Would you stop that?” he said in a strained voice. He turned to face her, and she realized he found himself in the same aroused state. Sophia took a step toward him, then another. Screw it, she threw herself at him and tilted her face up to seek his lips. His arms came around her tightly and lifted her, which helped her find them. She proceeded to devour him hungrily.
    He, however, was stupidly trying to protest. “Your scratches need tending.”
    She sucked his lower lip and muttered, “I’m fine.”
    “This isn’t the place…”
    “Oh, shut up and make love to me already,” she said impatiently.
    But the idiot still hesitated and, untangling her arms from around his neck, he set her back. “I might not be able to control myself. I don’t want to do anything you’ll regret. I can wait.”
    “Well, I can’t.” She sighed when she saw he wouldn’t budge. Funny thing, now that she’d made up her mind, she wanted him to claim her. Now. She wanted to belong to him forever. She rolled her eyes. “You’re going to make me say it out loud, aren’t you?”
    He crossed his arms over his chest, and Sophia almost melted into a puddle. The man owned way too many muscles.
    “Fine. I want to be with you. Are you happy? When I thought you might die back there protecting me, it made me realize I’d probably never find another man who makes me feel the way you do. I’m tired of fighting my own body and heart. Screw what the coven says. I want you. So, bite me, love me, do what you have to. But, please, Aidan, make me yours.”

* * * *

    Aidan couldn’t believe his ears. The words he’d thought to never hear had suddenly spilled from her lips. But still he hesitated. “Don’t say it unless you mean it. Once done, we will be bound together forever.”
    “Do you intend to lock me up and prevent me from continuing my studies as a witch?”
    “What? Of course not,” he replied indignantly.
    With a seductive smile, she closed the space between them and peered up with eyes gone smoky with desire. “Then, in that case, claim me.”
    A man-and wolf-only had so much willpower. He wouldn’t fight her, especially not since he’d wanted this from the first moment he’d met her. He only wished she’d chosen a more comfortable location, but waiting was no longer an option.
    He melded his lips to hers in a searing kiss. She melted in his arms, and he hugged her close to him, her plush frame fitting so perfectly against him. Only one thing marred the occasion-she still wore clothes. Not for long. Impatient and too clumsy to undo the buttons to her blouse and jeans, he simply tore them from her. She gasped, but not in fear. Nay, his naughty witch with heavy lidded eyes cried out in pleasure.
    “Take me,” she panted.
    Aidan wanted to take things slowly. He wanted to explore every inch of her luscious body. Lick the cream he could smell. Suckle her nipples into hard little berries.
    But the moment his fingers touched the slick folds of her sex and flicked across her swollen nubbin, he lost control. And she reveled in it. He turned her around to face a tree and bent her over part-way. Through a growl he said, “Brace yourself.”
    Her slender fingers splayed against the bark while her bottom lifted toward him temptingly. His cock jumped and throbbed, eager to plow her channel, but he retained enough control to know his size needed to be coaxed in. By gripping his rigid shaft in one hand, he was able to guide it between her buttocks and rub it against her cleft, which wet his bulbous head with her sweet juices.
    She mewled and wiggled her bottom at him. “Please, Aidan.”
    He pushed himself between her moist lips, the heat of her core making him throw his head back in pleasure while his canines descended in anticipation. Inch by inch, he eased into her, the tight walls of her sex squeezing him. She keened and trembled at his slow penetration. Finally, he found himself fully seated inside of her, blissfully slow, but he had to pause. The exquisite feel of her all around him, along with her scent and cries, threatened to make him lose control. But he needed her to climax, for only in the moment of her orgasm would he mark her. He pumped her, and the satisfying sound of slapping flesh was punctuated with her moans of pleasure.
    He leaned forward along the curve of her back, her buttocks fitting nicely in his groin. He nuzzled her back, careful to not hurt her with his wolf fangs. As he tasted her soft skin, working his way up to her neck, he groped forward with hands and found her breasts hanging heavily. He cupped them, then rolled her nipples between his fingers.
    She cried out, and her channel quivered around him. The trembling waves that rippled through her body made him suck in a breath.
    “I’m sorry I can’t make this last longer,” he gasped. “I want you too bad.”
    She replied by pushing her bottom back into him, sheathing him deep while clamping down on his cock. Aidan gave up the fight. He’d make it up to her later.
    Wrapping one arm around her waist, he set the pace, increasing his speed as he pistoned his shaft in and out of her. With his other hand, he pulled her partially up from her bent-over position. His lips touched the vulnerable skin of her nape, as his instinct to bite her, mark her, became overwhelming. Tighter and tighter, her channel squeezed him, brought him to the brink, and when she came, screaming and convulsing in shockwaves around his cock, he bit down and tasted her lifeblood.
    Ahh, sweetheart, finally you’re mine, forever.

* * * *

    Sophia, lost in the throes of passion, didn’t feel any pain when he finally marked her. On the contrary, when his teeth penetrated, she rolled right into a second orgasm, even more intense than the first. The pleasure consumed her wholly. So much so, she stopped breathing for a moment and her body shattered blissfully into thousands of pieces. Her orgasm was incredible, and it wouldn’t stop, instead it increased when finally with a cry that closely resembled a howl Aidan spent himself inside her, the hot wetness of his seed filling her over and over as her sex spasmed around his cock, wringing every last drop of pleasure from him.
    Even more fascinating, she felt the moment their souls touched and melted partially together. Through this intimate link, she could feel Aidan and how much her cherished her, loved her. The depths of his emotions awed her, and she swore to herself she’d be worthy of him.
    She might have blacked out for a second, the intensity of the moment too much for her. The next thing she knew, she found herself cradled in Aidan’s naked lap. He used his lips to brush the top of her head, and his arms hugged her tight.
    “Are you okay?” he whispered anxiously against her ear through a curtain of hair.
    “Of course not,” she replied mischievously. His body stiffened. “I’m still horny. You didn’t think one time was going to cure it, did you?” Under her cheek his chest rumbled with laughter, and she smiled, too, before kissing the hollow of his throat.
    “I do have a question, though. Why is it I can read your thoughts? Or at least I assume I can. That or I’m going crazy.”
    “A true mating benefit. We’re joined spiritually as well as physically now.”
    “What’s that mean?”
    “We can read some of each other’s thoughts and feel strong emotions.”
    “Really? Can you read what I’m thinking now?” Sophia imagined him licking his way down her body.
    His chest shook with laughter again. “You are one naughty witch. I think that sounds like a plan, but what do you say we adjourn to a more comfortable location first?”
    “Mmm, you know what I’d really like is a shower. With you in it.”
    The words barely left her mouth when he stood and began jogging through the woods, carrying her like she weighed no more than a feather. The unconscious display of his strength stirred her passion, and she twined her arms around his neck before she kissed her way along his jaw.
    “Sophia,” he pled.
    “Yes?” she said, not pausing in her light caresses.
    “I’d like to make it to a bed before I fuck you again, but, damn it, if you don’t stop it, I’m going to take you like a rutting animal again.”
    “But I liked it,” she replied, giggling when he added a burst of speed.
    Quicker than she would have believed possible, considering how long she’d wandered around lost, they made it to the cabin.
    He let her slide down his body. Both naked, their skin melded together. Her breasts squashed against his chest, but she didn’t care. He kissed her like a starving man, sucking her lower lip before delving into her mouth with his tongue. Their tongues danced together for a while, but an insistent prodding against her lower belly kept distracting her. Pulling back, she reached down to grab him, then wrapped her hand firmly around his thick shaft. Like silk-covered steel, his cock fascinated her, and she wanted to explore its length. But knowing where it had been, she needed to bathe it first. Pulling him as if his dick were a leash, she led him into his bathroom, where he’d rigged a shower stall.
    She wasn’t sure how he got water to the cabin. Maybe he had a well. She didn’t really care. All that mattered was that when she turned on the faucet, warm water poured out.
    There was something about standing in a shower naked with someone that was strangely intimate. Sure, they’d had sex out in the woods. He’d seen her naked, and she’d seen him naked, but in the confined space of the bathtub with the shower curtain drawn, it became more intimate. Not to mention steamy.
    Under the hot spray, their mouths found each other, and a frenzy of kissing ensued. It involved a lot of tongue and stroking of bodies. Even with their recent bout in the woods, his cock still poked at her readily and she gripped him in a wet palm, sliding her hand back and forth, enjoying the hard, thick feel of him. Even naughtier, she wanted to taste him.
    She soaped his body quickly. Through their bond she could feel his amusement at her eagerness, but even more exciting, she could sense his arousal. When she had him clean to her satisfaction, a gesture he’d reciprocated on her body, she positioned him under the spray, which blocked it from hitting her but kept the air hot and steamy. She dropped to her knees in the tub and put herself eye-to-eye with his shaft. As if to say hello, it jerked and a bead formed on the tip. Grasping him tightly around the base, she licked the salty droplet, a move that earned her a groan. Still lapping at him, she looked up and caught her breath. Aidan gazed down at her with smoky eyes. She could see the hunger on his face and, through their link, how much he loved, cherished, and wanted her. A heady sensation, but she had harder things in need of her attention right now.
    Opening her mouth wide, she went to work, sliding her wet orifice down the length of his cock. She moaned around her mouthful when his fingers tangled in her wet hair, pulling at it deliciously, the pain heightening her burgeoning desire. She used one hand to hold his cock steady as she sucked and slurped away, the pleasure indicator easy to follow in how his fingers tightened in her hair and his breath came short or, even better, he let loose a groan.
    But she wanted him wild, losing his mind like he’d done to her since the moment they’d met. Her free hand came up to fondle his heavy sac. She kneaded his balls, squeezing them, but it was when she stroked the soft skin right behind that she finally found what she was looking for. He jerked, and the muscles in his thighs tightened.
    “Stop before you make me lose it,” he growled.
    Her response? Suck harder and stroke with a firm finger the sensitive skin hidden by his sac. His hands tried to pull her away, halfheartedly, and still she suctioned him. She knew the moment of his release had arrived when his whole body went rigid and, with a moaning sigh, he said “Sophia.” The spurting warmth in her mouth made her swallow eagerly even as the throbbing in her pussy intensified; she knew her turn was next. She could read his intent thanks to their bond.
    And she couldn’t wait.

* * * *

    There wasn’t a man-or shifter-alive who wouldn’t agree that getting a BJ was the best thing a girl could give you. Even better when she swallowed. But with his pleasure sated, Aidan needed to step up to the plate. He could clearly smell and sense his mate’s desire. The scent was delicious, and it made him hungry. The shower, however, wasn’t a great place for the type of pleasure he wanted to give her.
    He turned off the water and wrapped a fluffy towel around her, then carried her back to his bed. He tossed her onto the mattress, and she bounced, which caused the towel to fall away and revealed her perfect body-perfect for him at least.
    Heavy breasts with large puckered nipples, an indented waist, flaring hips, and a rounded tummy he wanted to bury his face in. Her creamy round thighs were closed, but he could imagine the pink treasure hidden between them. He’d shortly become well acquainted with that delight.
    First, though, he wanted to worship her breasts. They demanded attention, and he wouldn’t deny them. After crawling up onto the bed, he grabbed her ankles and pulled her legs apart. He loved her soft cry and heavy lidded eyes. He crawled up between her parted legs. As he did so, he tried not to look down. He had a different objective, but, what the hell, he was a man, and he had to look at her pussy. Unlike many modern women, while she kept her bush short, she didn’t shave it bald. The natural presence of hair was something he liked. Perhaps it was because of his wolf side or maybe he just liked his pussy old-style. Whatever the case, he thanked his stars as he ran a finger through her curls to the silken slit of her mound.
    She shuddered, and wetness coated his finger. She was so ready for him. He hated to torture her, but he wanted to make up for their quickie in the woods, show her the heights he could take her to as her man, her mate.
    He moved forward ‘til the crown of his cock just barely touched her nether lips. She sighed and wiggled her hips, but he stayed just out of reach, only teasing her with light touches. Before she could protest-he could see her brow creasing in frustration-he latched onto one of her nipples and almost accidentally sheathed her when she bucked hard under him.
    Her hands came up and grabbed his shoulders, her nails digging in as he sucked and bit at her sensitive peak. She kept bucking under him like a spirited filly, and his recently sated desire came roaring back. How could it not when she moaned so sweetly and her scent filled the air like the most erotic of perfumes?
    As he pushed her mounds together, he lavished attention on her turgid points, drawing her nipples out with hard sucks that made her thrash.
    Only when she mewled his name with a drawn-out please did he stop the torture. He slid his lips down the rounded and soft skin of her tummy. As if she sensed his objective-she probably could read it through their link-she drew her legs up and wide, exposing herself to him in a way that made his breath catch.
    He’d hoped for a lot of things in his mate. A passion to match his own, however, was better than a dream come true. He rubbed his way down over the curve of her belly and nuzzled her soft curls. She twitched and writhed at his touch, her impatience and desire begging for release. He took his time, first tickling with the tip of his tongue the soft skin of her inner thigh. It was only when he transferred his butterfly caresses to the other side that she begged.
    “Aidan, please.”
    He covered her sex with his mouth, and she almost knocked him off her body, she bucked so hard. Chuckling at her passionate response, he wrapped his arms around her thighs and locked her down before opening wide to taste her again.
    Anchored and unable to thrash, she keened at his touch and he lost himself in the pleasure of tasting her. Her channel was thick with her cream, and he stabbed his tongue deep, lapping at her inner core. When he switched tactics and suddenly latched onto her swollen, sensitive clit, she came hard almost instantly. Her scream rang out in the room like the sweetest of music and he flicked at her nub faster. He loosened one hand from where he held her down to delve between her silken folds. Two fingers he plunged into her sex, catching the rippling waves of her orgasm. The clutching wetness of her channel affected him greatly.
    In torturing her, he tortured himself, and he couldn’t take any more. He slid up her body and caught her lips with his as he sheathed himself in one stroke. She fit around him like a tight, moist glove and he angled himself to plunge deeper, seeking her g-spot. He knew he’d found it when her fingers scrabbled at his back, pulling him closer and scratching him in her frenzy.
    “That’s it, sweetheart,” he murmured against her mouth. “Come for me again.”
    He kept up his pounding pace, and, in short order, she cried out, her pussy squeezing and milking him into orgasm. One last mighty heave and he went rigid, his hot seed spurting inside her.
    He had enough presence of mind not to collapse on her and somehow managed to roll without breaking their intimate connection. She snuggled, drowsily on his chest, splayed over him decadently.
    His arms tightened around her when he heard not aloud but through their connection the words I love you, Aidan.

Chapter Ten

    Sophia slept through the brisk knocking that came the morning after a night of loving the likes of which Aidan could never have imagined. He drew on some pants and a shirt as he walked barefoot to the cabin door.
    Opening it, he wasn’t surprised to find Randy wearing only pants and another pack member, Raegen, waiting for him.
    Randy smirked. “Jason wants to see you.”
    “Just couldn’t wait to go running back to him, could you? I told you I’d speak to him, and I meant it.”
    “He’s the pack leader. I owe my allegiance to him, not you. He had a right to know.”
    “Whatever.” Aidan knew there wasn’t any point wasting breath with the sycophant who held beta position in the pack, a post won through ass-kissing and not any real abilities. He pulled out some running shoes and put them over his bare feet.
    Straightening, he saw Randy sniff the air and leer at him. “I see someone’s been busy. Was she good in the sack?”
    Aidan’s face hardened. Around shapeshifters, scent always gave them away, and after the loving he’d shared the previous day with Sophia, the scent of sex hung heavy throughout the cabin and on his skin. A delightful perfume he hoped to wear daily from here on in but Randy spoiled it with his very presence.
    “Do not speak of her disrespectfully or you’ll be going back in pieces.” Aidan gave a mirthless smile at Randy’s blanched face. “Let’s go.” Aidan wanted out of here quickly before Sophia woke up. He didn’t want her getting involved, and knowing what he did of her, she’d insist on going. Not if he could help it. He wanted her safe in case things devolved into a fight, something his gut was telling him seemed more and more likely.
    It was only when they’d reached Aidan’s truck, Randy and Raegen having come in on four feet with their pants in their mouths, that he realized only Randy followed him.
    “What’s Raegen doing?”
    Randy spat on the ground before answering. “Making sure your witch stays put. We wouldn’t want her wandering around the woods again. Never know what might happen.”
    Icy fingers walked down Aidan’s spine at the implied threat and ignoring the smaller beta for a moment he stalked back to Raegen and loomed over him.
    “Let’s get one thing clear. Touch one fucking hair on her head and I will hunt you down and skin you alive.
    If Raegen were in wolf form, he would have rolled over on his back and presented his vulnerable belly. As it was, in man shape he swallowed hard, fear evident in eyes. “I-I won’t touch her.”
    Aidan gave him one last hard look then followed Randy to his truck. Things didn’t bode well, but Aidan refused to give up without a fight. He’d been content until now to allow Randy free reign over the pack, but if it came down to a battle for dominance, Aidan knew he stood a good chance of winning. He couldn’t allow himself to doubt. His future and Sophia’s depended on it.

* * * *

    Sophia woke and stretched, a smile curving her lips. What a night! When she’d decided to give herself to Aidan wholeheartedly, she’d expected pleasure, but not the overwhelming contentedness and connection that imbued every inch of her. I love him.
    The words didn’t shock her. How could they? They were the truth. She couldn’t wait to tell him. She could already imagine his look-fierce, loving, and protective, then turning into smoky desire. Mmm.
    She swung her legs out of bed, slightly surprised he wasn’t there to greet her with a morning kiss. Probably making breakfast.
    However, she didn’t find him in the kitchen, bathroom, or living room. Starting to get concerned, she sat down on the sofa to think where he could have gone at this early hour. And without telling me. After a peek out the window, she frowned. Not only was his truck gone, but she caught a glimpse of movement as a strange man, barely more than a kid really, wearing only jeans, shifted position where he lounged against a tree.
    Fear knotted her stomach. She tentatively reached for the connection she’d formed with Aidan the day before. She got a brief impression of anger, not toward her, then danger and fear for her. Aidan? She sent a tremulous inquiry at him and thought he hadn’t heard, but to her shock, he replied back, loudly.
    “Get out of the cabin. The broom’s in the woodshed. Fly to your brethren. Now!” Abruptly she found her connection to him cut off, but not before the pain. A pain being inflicted on Aidan!
    And he expected her to run. Not freaking likely. He’s mine, and I’ll be damned before I let him face danger alone. Sophia snarled as she stalked to the bedroom and rummaged through her purse for clothing more appropriate to flying and invading a nest of shifters.
    Magic might not work against shifters, but anger focused her mind, and she suddenly saw ways she could use her power as a force to be reckoned with. With no time like the present, she exited the cabin, flinging the front door wide and startling the werewolf set to guard her.
    He recovered quickly and came toward her, hitching his thumbs through his belt loops sucking in his scrawny chest. “Get back in the cabin.”
    “Where’s Aidan?”
    “He’s with our pack alpha. Now get back inside.”
    Sophia ignored his request. “What are they doing to him? Where are they?”
    “Listen, Miss, I don’t know what’s going on. Alls I know is Aidan was supposed to have a talk with Jason, and I’m supposed to make sure you don’t go anywhere ’tils they come to a decision.”
    “Really?” Sophia smiled at him coldly and started drawing on her power. At a time like this, she found herself glad she’d followed the true magic and not the weakly, potion-ridden Wiccan way. Because what she had planned only the dark arts would do. “I’m going after Aidan, so I’m going to give you one chance to get out of my way like a good little boy or else.”
    The young man drew himself up and puffed out his chest with importance. “I know your witchy powers can’t touch me. So, why don’t you go inside like I asked you to. I’m the one in charge here.”
    Sophia rolled her eyes, not surprised at his response. “Fine, have it your way.” Since her encounter with the slobbering Randy, Sophia had been mulling over ways to overcome the nullifying effect shifters had on magic. She never wanted to feel so frightened and helpless again. The answer, when it finally came to her, was so simple she wanted to slap herself for not thinking of it sooner. She need to use her magic indirectly.
    Using her newfound theory, Sophia sent out tendrils of power. She skimmed it along the ground until it touched what she sought. A moment later a large rock came sailing out of nowhere and struck her guard in the back of the head. With eyes rolling back into his head, he slumped to the ground unconscious. She gaped for a second, shocked it had actually worked.
    One down, a whole pack to go. Sophia knew her plan was insane bordering on suicidal, but she couldn’t let Aidan face the wrath of his pack alone. Especially not since she knew the rift was because of her.
    Hurrying, she went to the woodshed and opened the door. At first she didn’t spot the broom; he’d tucked it in the corner with a tarp over it. But once she found it, she immediately began chanting and imbuing it with the magic she needed to get it to fly.
    Spell cast, she sat sidesaddle on the wooden handle and gripped it tight. Catching movement from the corner of her eye, she saw her guard stirring, stupid werewolf blood healing him quicker than a human. With a cackling laugh that did her witchy heritage proud, she swooped into the air. Only once aloft did she open her connection to Aidan, using it as a beacon to locate him.
    Time to save her wolf.

Chapter Eleven

    Aidan spat out a mouthful of blood. “Is that the best you can do? Have you grown so weak you need someone to hold your opponents down so you can beat on them?”
    “Shut up,” snarled Jason, pack leader and at this point enemy number one.
    Aidan quickly learned upon his arrival at the pack house that nothing he could say would make a difference in Jason’s decision. Only purebloods would be accepted as mates, fated or not. And apparently leaving the pack-alive-to be with his witch wasn’t an option.
    At least he’d managed to send Sophia a message before cutting his link to her. The knowledge that she was safe made it easier to concentrate on trying to stay alive.
    “What’s wrong, Jason? Afraid everyone will see what a pussy you are? A real alpha can enforce his laws himself.”
    “Enough!” Jason, only a few years older than Aidan, panted as if actually exerting himself. His eyes glowed, a fanatic wildness lighting them and deepening Aidan’s dread.
    “He’s right,” spoke up an older member of the pack. “This ain’t right. And not just the fact you got two guys holding him down so you can smack him. If he’s found his true mate, who cares what her blood is. Tradition says once found, it’s ’til death do you part. If you wanna banish him, then do it, but don’t beat on him for something he can’t control. Or at least let him go so he can defend himself.”
    A rumbling assent came from the gathered shifters, and the grip on Aidan’s arms loosened with indecision.
    “Let him go,” snapped Jason. “I’ll take care of him myself.”
    Figures. He holds me down to beat the crap out of me, and when he thinks I’m weakened enough he decides to wolf up. Should have beaten me longer, thought Aidan, a feral smile lighting his face. Aidan found himself free, and he flexed his arms to get the blood circulating in them. Jason stepped off the dais and approached him, muscles bulging under the fat that a slovenly lifestyle had graced him with.
    Aidan crouched slightly and held himself ready as he and Jason paced around in a circle, the other wolves forming a circle of spectators.
    However, a distraction called Sophia-I’m here to help, Aidan!-made Jason’s first blow connect and Aidan’s face snapped to the side. The punch dazed him but not enough to miss his mate’s grand entrance.
    The doors to the club blew open with a resounding crash and in the sunlit doorway stood his witch, a light breeze lifting the tendrils of her hair as she stood with one hand on her cocked hip while the other held his ratty broom as a staff.
    He cursed even as he held back a rueful smile. That’s my witch. New strength and adrenaline rushed through him. With her now in danger, nobody in the room stood a chance.

* * * *

    Sophia hid her trepidation with a show of power and intimidation. But she couldn’t help the cry that escaped her when she saw the blood on Aidan’s face. “Aidan!”
    He glowered at her. “I told you to escape.”
    “I couldn’t leave you.” Her words made him smile and shake his head.
    “Get her,” screamed Jason.
    Most in the room didn’t move, but that still left three shifters coming at her, one swapping his human shape for a wolf one. Using the logic she’d acquired from the cabin, she drew on the power and used it to lift. Nothing. Shoot. The room held only bodies, no furniture.
    So, when the first wolf reached her, she used the only weapon in her possession, her broom, and whacked it over the nose, which stunned it into sitting. With a terrifying roar, Aidan tackled the other two men who thought to lay a hand on her. The meaty sound of his fist hitting their faces told her he had them occupied, so she could concentrate on her current problem.
    The wolf in front of her recovered from its surprise and advanced on her. It snarled and showed a lot of teeth. Sophia chanted and drew on some more magic. Her broom thickened in her grasp, turning into a baseball bat, a much easier weapon to swing.
    The wolf didn’t stop. He obviously didn’t know about her trophies back home for most hits on her softball team three years running. She only cringed after she connected with the wolf’s head. Rock-throwing was one thing, swinging a bat and feeling the shock of connecting from her hands right up to her shoulders was another. But with a whimper, the wolf skulked away on unsteady feet.
    Sophia waved the bat menacingly at the still-watching crowd. “Any other takers?” She managed to swallow her sigh of relief when no one stepped forward to her challenge. A short-lived relief, it turned out, when arms wrapped around her from behind to trap her arms. Shoot. Getting caught hadn’t figured in her plans.
    “Drop the bat or you’ll find out how it feels to die with crushed ribs,” growled a voice from behind her.
    Sophia dropped the bat with a thunk. So much for rescuing Aidan. I think I might have made things worse.
    “I’ve got your witch slut, Aidan,” her captor announced triumphantly.
    Aidan untangled himself from the two bodies he’d used as punch test dummies. “Let her go, Jason. Your fight is with me.”
    “Oh, I intend to fight you, right after I take care of your bitch.” Jason removed one of his arms from around her and placed his hand against her throat. A sharp pain pricked at her skin.
    Oh, this really isn’t good.
    Things might have gotten really ugly at that point, if it hadn’t been for the arrival of two new players.
    “You would dare execute one of our own for no other crime than being caught up in the mating bond caused by your kind. I think not,” said a female voice in a how-dare-you tone. “Dracin, darling, if you please.”
    Sophia felt the cold tingle of an alien magic in the room and then Jason’s vise-like arm and clawed hand were gone. A second later-actually more like a millisecond-Aidan’s arms wrapped around her and she clung to him, grateful to find them both alive. But curiosity made her turn to see who had rescued them. At first her attention was caught by a floating Jason, his eyes wide in fright, his mouth working but without any sound. How strange. I thought magic couldn’t affect shifters?
    Behind the bad alpha’s dangling legs Sophia saw a stud-seriously, he almost put Aidan to shame with his well over six-foot lanky frame and wavy blonde hair. His bearing screamed Viking warrior, which made the soft, sappy look he bestowed on a petite woman beside him all the more incongruous. Sophia mentally made the connection based on what Aidan had told her of the dragon who had befriended him. Thus, if the man was Dracin, then the woman by default was Clarabelle, a witch like her. A very pregnant one, too, judging by her bulging belly. It also explained the alien magic feel. Dragon magic. And what do you know, they can use it on werewolves? An interesting fact to take note of.
    “What would you like me to do with this mongrel, Belle?” asked Dracin without any of the fierceness Sophia would have expected of a dragon shifter.
    “I don’t think he has the brain capacity to accept what can’t be changed.”
    “I will kill him then.”
    Aidan spoke up. “If you kill him, much as he deserves it, my pack might take issue, the whole honor thing. Is there not a way we can neutralize him instead and send him on his way?”
    With a curt nod, Dracin raised his hands and once again Sophia felt the cool alien magic tickle along her skin. In the blink of an eye, Jason disappeared and in his place stood a coyote with mangy fur.
    Clarabelle shooed the ugly beast. “Bad guy, begone, and do not return to bother my new friends or I’ll make you into a fur stole.”
    Sophia bit back a giggle at her words as the coyote, formerly known as Jason, took off scurrying and yipping.
    “Now does anybody else want to dispute Aidan and Sophia’s bond?” Clarabelle placed her hands on her hips and gave the rest of the pack a stern look, kind of marred by her round belly and glowing cheeks. However, the impressive Dracin, glowering behind her, appeared quite effective for there were a lot of shaking heads.
    “Well, then, now that we’ve settled this, I’m hungry. Sophia, you come with me while Aidan and his pack choose a new alpha. We have much to discuss.”
    Sophia turned to Aidan with questioning eyes. “Will you be okay? They won’t try to hurt you, will they?”
    Aidan’s eyes crinkled at the corners, and he gave her grin. “I think we’ll be all right from here on. If not, you can come back and beat them with your club.” He hugged her tight and lifted her for a deep kiss, which left her flushed and panting. “I’ll come get you when I’m done here.” Another hard kiss sent her libido spinning wildly, and she wanted to ask why they couldn’t just skip everything and go find a soft bed for sinning-heck, even a wall somewhere would do. But a tug on her arm from Clarabelle and shifters converging on Aidan talking in low voices made her put those plans on hold.
    Besides, she did have to admit to some curiosity about Clarabelle and her shifter husband. Upon seeing her, Sophia realized she’d seen her around and usually in the company of her superiors. Apparently, Clarabelle had retained some sort of status in the coven even though she went against custom and married outside their ranks.
    Dracin led the way, his fierce scowl along with his formidable size making people on the sidewalk give them a wide berth. Bemused, Sophia walked with them to a greasy spoon down the street.
    Their conversation over an obscene amount of food, most of which Clarabelle ate under Dracin’s doting eye, proved more than interesting and answered a lot of questions. Sophia’s eyes got wider and at one part, she even giggled. Oh, I wonder what Aidan will think of that. Their talk did assuage a lot of Sophia’s trepidations, especially knowing she would still be part of the coven, just moved to a special section reserved for those who true mated with special others like shifters and whatnot.
    As they exited the diner, Aidan was coming up the street. Sophia couldn’t help the smile that beamed forth. She was so happy was she to see him, she ran to him, her heart bursting with love when he returned her happy grin and opened his arms wide. He was big, bad-boy putty for a little, round witch. Sappy but true, and she wouldn’t change it.
    “So, what happened?” she asked after he finished planting a whopper of a kiss on her lips, one which made a different set of lips tremble.
    “We chose a new alpha.”
    “That was quick,” said Dracin, who’d come up behind them with Clarabelle.
    “Jason had been pissing the pack off for a while. Problem was the other alphas in the pack didn’t want to step in.”
    “Took the job, did you?” Dracin laughed.
    Sophia gaped up at Aidan. He was an alpha?
    “Nope. I made my brother, who arrived late as usual, take the job. I’ve got a feeling being mated with a witch is going to keep me plenty busy.”
    “You’ve got that right,” chimed in Clarabelle with a tinkling laugh. “Well, now that everything is settled, it’s time for us to leave. Don’t worry; we’ll visit again soon. I’m sure you have a ton more questions, and it’s nice to be able to talk to another witch with a shifter of her own. I’d like to do a survey on sizes.”
    “Belle,” growled Dracin, a forbidding look on his face.
    “What’s wrong with talking about truck sizes?” asked Clarabelle, her innocent look marred by the naughty twinkle in her eye. She turned to Sophia and slipped her a piece of paper. “If you need anything, call me.”
    “I will,” said Sophia. They exchanged goodbyes and watched the other couple walk to a truck that could have been the twin of Aidan’s. Another boy with his toy. Funny, she’d have to revise her assumption that only guys with little dicks bought them, because she now knew first-hand that little did not apply in his case.
    “Let’s go home,” he said, slinging an arm around her shoulders.
    Sophia liked the sound of that. And to make the trip back more interesting, she tested his skills of concentration-in other words how well he could drive while she gave him a hand job.
    She kept expecting him to pull over and have his way with her, but with steely jawed determination he got them to the cabin.
    Only once they got inside did she realize that something was amiss. Of course the fact he yanked her down on his lap-facedown-and yanked down her pants to give her a firm whack was a pretty good clue.
    “Ow!” she yelped. “What did you do that for?”
    “That was for not listening and coming to find me.” His hand came down again on her ass with a resounding thwack, which burnt but also to her surprise made her pussy clench and dampen. “That one was for scaring the hell out of me barging into a room of shifters like that. Do you have any idea how many years I lost off my life? And this,” he said as he slapped her lightly on her red ass and then slid his hand between her fiery cheeks to stroke her, a move she agreed with by moaning, “is for being so goddamn brave and lovable.”
    As quickly as she’d found herself over his knee, she found herself astride him, his cock sheathed inside her ready channel. He placed his hands around her waist, dictating the rhythm which buried his prick deep into her while somehow making her clit rub against him, pleasurably so.
    Sophia looked him in the eye, those blazing orbs that shone with such emotion, she had to reply. “I love you too.”
    At her words, he wrapped his arms around her to hug her tight, and she buried her face in his neck. She was overcome, for through their link she could sense everything he felt: fear, relief, and a love so powerful, he’d die for her.
    I love you, Aidan, she projected to him their mental connection. And, no matter what, we’ll be together, forever.
    Wrapped tight, they still moved together in an erotic pattern, their bodies melded, his rod still pumping her wet sex. At the brink of orgasm, enough of her witchy side came out that she had to say. “And this is for treating me like a girl.” She bit down hard on the soft skin at the base of his neck, then sucked it.
    With a bellow, he reared up under her, his cock plowing deep as he shot his cream in hot spurts inside her. It was enough to send Sophia over the edge with screams of her own pleasure.
    A pleasure they repeated over and over as they tried to outdo each other with sexual antics, attempting to prove who loved the other the most. It ended in a blissful, exhausted draw.

Epilogue

    Sophia knew she was pregnant within hours of making love. It was kind of hard to miss because her magic disappeared as if sucked into a dark hole. Aidan found her in the bathroom sniffling and laughing.
    “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” He dropped to his knees beside her where she sat on the tile floor.
    She said it bluntly. “I’m pregnant.”
    “Are you sure?”
    Sophia answered with a dark look.
    “Oh, yeah, I guess your magic disappeared. It’s all right, though. It’ll only be for a few months. I promise to take very good care of you.” The jerk looked so smugly happy, she wanted to hit him. Although she’d expected this for a while given how often they made love daily.
    “I know you will,” she said as she smiled while leaning over to kiss him. “I didn’t mean to cry. I just didn’t expect it to be so sudden. Can you believe we’re going to be parents?”
    “I can’t wait. I’ll teach the little pup all kinds of stuff.”
    Sophia smiled impishly. “Oh, about the pup thing. Remember that talk I had with Clarabelle at the diner? Well, there’s one thing that the books don’t tell about shifter and witch babies.”
    “What?” Aidan’s face creased in concern.
    “We’ll need to fireproof the house, because it’s not a pup we’ll be having, darling, but a dragon. As it turns out, true mate bonds between shifters and witches is where dragons come from. How cool is that?”
    Apparently, she’d find out his thoughts on the matter later. Her husband had blanched and passed out cold. Sophia giggled. Personally, she liked the fact their child would have not only its daddy’s shifting abilities, but also magic like its mother.
    Waking him up in the only pleasurable way she could think of-naked, of course-she smiled. Life was absolutely perfect. She loved Aidan more and more as she grew to know him, and the love he showered her with in return made all her previous trepidations seem so foolish.
    And to think, she’d found her true mate and true love because of a broomstick breakdown. It only went to show you, you never know when or where love will strike, but when it is meant to be, nothing-not even a stubborn witch-can stop it.

About the Author

    Eve Langlais, who is in her mid thirties, has been married 11 years to a wonderful man who gave her three beautiful, but distracting children aged ten, seven and four. A military brat, she was born in British Columbia but ended up living all across Canada. She now resides with her family, that also includes two cats and a guinea pig, in the historic town of Bowmanville, Ontario. If you want to get to know her better visit her website at http://www.Evelanglais.com or friend her on Facebook.

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