Out of Control
By Emma Hillman
 
 
 

Resplendence Publishing, LLC
http://www.resplendencepublishing.com

 Resplendence Publishing, LLC 2665 S Atlantic Avenue, #349 Daytona Beach, FL 32118 
Out of ControlCopyright © 2011 Emma HillmanEdited by Corrie Blackmon and Veronica Petroelje Cover art by Les Byerley,

www.les3photo8.com
 
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-364-5 
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 
Electronic Release: August 2011 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental. 
  
 

  
 

A big thank you to everyone at RP for making me feel so welcome. It’s been great getting to know you and writing alongside y’all. Anyone up for another #rpwordwar?

This book is dedicated to my WW peeps. Without your friendship and support over the past ten years, I wouldn’t still be writing. Love ya!
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

 
Chapter One
Coming Home
 
 
I dreaded this far more than I’d ever thought possible. After spending so much time away from the Pride, I’d grown accustomed to my human life. My normal life. Eyes hidden by large sunglasses, I ignored the heavy truck traffic on Highway 138 and focused on my surroundings instead. Antelope Valley had been my home for years, ever since my parents had been killed in a freak hiking accident when I was only a teenager. The Pride had adopted me. No, Sara had adopted me.
Sara…
I blinked back tears. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there when she’d passed away. I was too late in coming home, having purposefully delayed my return as I racked up excuse after mumbled excuse. But now, I was too freaking late, and the worst thing was they needed me even more. I’d run away to college and my first job, these five years spent away from them all for nothing. I was the only female of age, and too bad if I wasn’t a lioness. They wouldn’t care. They never had.
I gulped and slowed down, the exit appearing in the rapidly approaching distance. The scenery was eerily familiar as I drove toward my former home. At one point, I’d hoped never to come back here, never to see them again. Them… My mates, as they’d wanted me to call them. I took a deep breath and let it out, forcing my fingers to unclench from the steering wheel. Nothing could force the memories away, however.
I’d run away in my eighteenth year. I might have been young in spirit, but I hadn’t been stupid. They’d waited because Sara had told them I needed to grow up and become an adult before they fell on me, but I’d felt their gazes, those sharp intelligent gazes assessing me wherever I went, whatever I did. It probably hadn’t helped that my teenage hormones had been all over the place, wanting them one minute and hating them the next. And so, I’d stolen Samuel’s car keys and crept away in the middle of the afternoon, when the lions were resting.
I’d never been proud of what I’d done, but now that I would face them in mere minutes, I was slowly starting to panic. What if they were still angry? How were they going to react to my return? Would they really expect me to fall back into the Pride life as if I’d never left? Could I?
I took a sharp turn right, gravel spitting on the rusted sides of my car. I didn’t even wince at the metallic sounds, too shocked by the image that had appeared in front of me. Men were lined up at the end of the path, forming a half-circle and effectively cutting off my entrance into their domain. Five tall and muscled men, all sporting the same grim expression, all staring straight ahead as if to show they were waiting for me only under duress.
What the hell is going on? I pressed on the pedal and ground the car to a halt. They never moved a muscle.
“Shit,” I muttered through clenched teeth as I unsnapped my seat belt.
They still hadn’t moved by the time my sandal-clad foot slapped the disturbed earth. I drew myself up and thanked the stars I wore dark glasses. They couldn’t see my eyes as I made my way slowly, very slowly, toward them, my gaze assessing each and every one. They hadn’t changed much, the passing years only tanning their bodies a little bit more. Brian’s hair was blonder—I remembered it as more strawberry red before, with the emphasis on red. His eyes glittered as he stared at me, and I found myself squaring my shoulders when I didn’t spot the usual gentleness in them. He’d always been the jokester, the one you could rely on to relieve the sometimes heavy atmosphere that hung over the Pride.
My gaze followed the line down to the triplets. Trent, Samuel and Logan stood as one, their arms crossed over their chests as they stared me down. I refused to look intimidated as I walked the last few steps, my head held up high, my gait smooth. I might not be a lioness, but I’d grown up with them. I knew that if I showed just the tiniest hint of weakness, they’d jump on me.
That’s why when I finally slowed to a stop only inches from them, I drew my glasses up so they rested on top of my head and met Leo’s gaze straight on.
Leo the lion. On anyone else, it’d have been silly, a gimmick and nothing more. But not him. Never him. He stood tall and proud, his black hair and green eyes so unexpected amidst a Pride chock full of blue-eyed blondes, it made him seem dangerous. But then, only one look at that face and its bold angles would make you realize your first instinct had been right. The man was dangerous. He was their uncontested leader, the male heading their now female-less Pride.
It was unheard of. Usually, adult males were nomads and only gravitated to the females when it was time to copulate. But the Antelope Valley Pride had lost its last female, Sara, and now, there was only me left…
“Leo,” I finally said when I realized he wouldn’t speak up first.
“Jade,” he replied, his voice harsh.
Ah damn, I thought, he was still mad. Licking lips that were suddenly dry, I forced the uneasiness creeping inside me back to where it came from and asked, “What’s up with the welcoming committee?”
“We need to talk.”
“And we couldn’t do it at home?” Anger met my words. I could feel them bristle, all five of them, even Brian. “What? What did I say?”
“You dare calling it your home after you ran away, leaving us all without even thinking of the consequences!” Trent’s words came out as more of a growl than anything else.
My heartbeat picked up speed when I noticed their eyes had darkened, taking that amber hue that announced the emergence of their lions. “I had to leave. You know that.”
“We don’t know that,” Logan replied through gritted teeth.
“You had a life here. You had family and people who loved you, but you didn’t care enough about us to stay.”
“Oh no, Samuel. You know that’s not true.”
“Isn’t it?” Brian said, the tone of his voice unlike anything I’d ever heard from him before.
“I couldn’t stay here. I had to go live a…a normal life. I had to!”
“Why, Jade?” Leo’s gaze caught mine. “Because you feared us that much?”
“No.” I shook my head. My thoughts were unraveling. I’d known they would interrogate me, but I hadn’t expected it to start so soon. I’d been looking forward to stepping into my old home, the one I’d shared with Sara and was now mine. It held happy memories, bad ones too, sure, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had some good times.
“Then, why?” Leo’s question ended up on a roar.
Our surroundings grew so quiet I could suddenly hear their ragged breathing. No birds calling, no insects muttering, or whatever the hell they did. Not a single sound but them…and me. I exhaled slowly, knowing I owed them the truth after all those years. “I needed to see whether I could live out there like a normal woman. I’d grown up with you, and I knew you were expecting me to become your Mate, but I wasn’t ready. I wanted to know if dating other men would…change the way I felt about you.”
“Did it?”
Gazes still locked, I stared into Leo’s eyes and sighed. “No. No, it didn’t.”
Two seconds later, hands were on me.

 
 

 

 
Chapter Two
Unexpected Words
 

 
“No!” I threw my hands out and kept them at bay.
Growls echoed all around me, and I realized they were now surrounding me. Five men, five lions, meant a lot of testosterone and a serious amount of muscles. Panic started rising inside me, the anxiety I’d so successfully managed to keep on hold until now. One touch from them, and I was a wreck. I’m never going to survive this, I thought as I protected my head with both hands, curling inwardly as if I could hide myself from them.
“What the hell? Jade! Pull back!”
I shuddered at Leo’s order, wondering where he wanted me to go. Was he telling me to go back to my car and leave?
It’s only when I felt the breeze caress my bare arms and legs that I realized he’d told the others to move away from me. I risked a furtive glance to the left, then to the right, and when I was convinced I wouldn’t be accosted again, pulled myself upright. “Thank you,” I managed to mutter.
“What the fuck was that, Jade? Did you really think we were going to hurt you? For pity’s sake, how long have you known us?” Leo’s eyes flashed fire as he stood feet from me. He was still pissed; that much was clear.
I automatically went on the attack, as I always did with him. He just brought the worst out of me. He always had. “You were touching me!”
“We’re your mates! If we want to touch you, we will!”
“Leo.” Samuel came to stand between us, effectively stopping our argument before it escalated into something worse. Things just never changed…
I huffed and crossed my arms, even slid my shades back down over my eyes. I was irate, and yet I knew we were both right. And that’d always been our problem. We both thought we were right, no matter what. He’d decided early on I would be their mate, even though I was human and they weren’t. I hadn’t said no, but had still made it clear I wouldn’t fall for them that easily. I might be weaker, would always be, but I wasn’t without tricks.
And so, as I remembered all that, I turned back to him and said, “You know my terms. They haven’t changed.”
“Ours have.”
I whirled around to face Trent. “What?” What could that possibly mean? They didn’t want me anymore? The thought was so disheartening, I found myself gasping. What would I do without them? I had no family left. Sure, I might have rebelled for a few years, but this Pride was my home.
“You’ll have to choose.”
Huh? I blinked. “Choose what?”
“Not what, who,” Logan said.
“You were right. We’ve talked about it and decided we can’t expect you, a human, to take all of us as your mates. So, we will seduce you, and you will pick one of us.”
“And then what?” I gulped. They’ll seduce me? Oh my God!
“The one you pick will become Pride leader.”
“But…” I let my voice trail as I turned to Leo. He was our leader; he’d always been. “I don’t understand.”
His eyes dark, he inclined his head. “It’s for the best. There are not enough of us left. We can’t handle any more problems or disagreements.”
“Who’s left?” I found myself asking, remembering mated families, even grandparents living on the outskirts of the Pride zone.
What Leo said next turned my blood to ice. “No one. We’re the last ones left.”
* * * *
I stepped into Sara’s cabin, now my own, Leo’s words whirling inside my head. How had it gotten so bad in such a little time? Was it because there were no more females in the Pride now that people had left? Could it be my fault? I bit my lower lip and forced my focus onto my surroundings instead. Her scent hit me first. It spoke of lazy summer days, of cooking bake-offs in the sunny kitchen, of laughter and tears and silences. She’d been my adoptive mom, and I missed her so bad. A choked gasp rang out, but it took a little while to realize it’d come from me. Before I could stop them, tears were pouring down my face, my mouth open on a silent scream.
I hadn’t been there when she needed me!
I’d been so intent on avoiding the men I’d escaped from that I’d only kept a minimal contact with the Pride. A few phone calls here and there to Sara had been the only thing I’d given her. She’d always been upbeat on the phone though, asking about me and my activities, and never sharing the news of the cancer that had slowly been spreading throughout her body. The one that had taken her away from me…from us.
I gasped, sniffed, then rubbed my cheeks. Minutes later, I found myself sitting up against a wall, hiding my face against my knees as I tried to stop crying. To no avail.
I hadn’t told her I loved her…
God, I’d been so stupid. So damn selfish too.
“Jade, you’ve got to let it go,” the rough male voice rang above my head seconds before arms wrapped around me. He pulled me up, and I snuggled against his chest, my tears wetting his T-shirt until it clung to him like a second skin. “Shhh, baby, it’s going to be all right.” His hand started a soothing up-and-down motion on my back, my breathing adapting itself to the slow movements after a short while. “That’s it, sweetheart,” he whispered into my hair.
I finally looked up, and even knowing I probably looked like crap with reddened eyes and a blotchy face, I couldn’t help but shiver at the intensity of his gaze. “Leo… Thanks.”
He nodded and stepped away. “She didn’t want to worry you.”
“She should have told me!”
“No, Jade, it was her decision. My mother wouldn’t want you to cry. She would want you to look to the future and be the woman she’d always thought you’d become.”
Our gazes locked, and I nearly started crying again. Leo wasn’t big on speeches, but when he spoke up, you listened. He was our leader. No, he had been our leader. “What’s going to happen now?” I asked, my voice hesitant.
“We have a month to hold our courtship. If you haven’t picked a mate by that time, we’ll battle it out.”
“Battle it out?” This time, my voice came out as a squeak.
“Yes.” His response was curt. “Now, eat something and go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.”
“Why’s that?” I asked as I watched him turn around and head for the front door.
“It’s Monday.” And with that, he left.
I felt my eyebrows rise in wonder at his parting words. What was wrong with tomorrow being a Monday? Had they instituted a new Pride tradition on Mondays? Was I really that out of touch? “Damn,” I swore before letting out a heavy sigh. I guess I’d just have to wait and see.
The usual then…

 
 

 

 
Chapter Three

Men and Their Plans
 

 
“Say what?”
“You heard me, Jade.”
I blinked in the bright sunlight, regretting not having slid my shades on before stepping outside to meet the men. We were standing in the center yard, a wide green space that divided the females’ area from the males’ cabins. Of course, now that it was only them and me, it didn’t really matter. I avoided looking at the empty houses around me and focused my gaze on Leo once more. “What do you mean, you each get a day?”
“There are five of us. We’ll each have a day to court you. You’ll be with me on Mondays, Logan on Tuesdays, Wednesday will be Samuel, Thursday Trent, and Brian on Fridays. You can have the weekend to yourself.”
“That’s so nice of you.”
He ignored my sarcastic comment and kept on talking, “Like I told you previously, this means we have the next four weeks to make you our mate.”
“How?”
His mouth curved into a smile so dark and dangerous, I felt my heart squeeze inside my chest. “That’s for each of us to decide. We can promise you, however, that we will never hurt you. You can say no to anything, and we will obey.”
“You’re talking about sex, aren’t you?” A few snickers echoed behind me, but I resisted the urge to turn around and glare at them.
Leo shrugged. “If you’re to be our mate, Jade, you’ll have to at one point or another. You know that, right?” I nodded. “However, there are no set rules for this. Like I said, as long as we don’t hurt you or make you cry. We revere females in this Pride, remember?”
I bit my lip, remembering all too well what it was like to be the only one. Why couldn’t they have found a lioness from another Pride? Why did they have to be so damn stubborn? Sure, their race was nearly extinct, but I knew there were still some in Asia and Africa. Why me when I was just a human stray? I guess I’d get the answer to that one soon.
He leaned forward and grabbed my hand, pulling me after him without another word. A menacing growl warned the others to stay away as I stumbled forward in my cheap flip flops, trying to quell the fear rising inside me at the thought of being alone with Leo after so long. I knew what he’d want to discuss, and I wasn’t too sure what scared me the most: his questioning or his kissing. Or maybe, it was both.
It was Leo, after all.
* * * *
“Chill, baby. I’m not gonna bite you,” he said, his voice husky as he lounged back against the floor cushions. “Yet.”
“Very funny,” I snapped back, holding myself very straight as I sat cross-legged opposite him. I decided to ignore him for now and instead focused on my surroundings. I’d always loved his house. Sure, he was what one could call anal-retentive, everything in its place and all that, but the house was still comfortable and inviting. I knew this was thanks to his mother and the way she’d brought him up. Once I’d loved coming here, lying with him on the brightly colored pillows and thin mattresses, watching the fan lazily turn over our heads. I’d been in love, or in lust, I’m still uncertain which. He’d been my everything back then.
I came back to the moment when a bright light suddenly appeared. My eyes wide, I watched him take his lion form, admiring the sleek planes of his body as they transformed into massive paws and a thick black mane that echoed his dark hair. Green pupils glittered as he came to a stand only inches from me, his wet nose touching mine for a second in silent recognition. It was a familiar gesture, a friendly one too. I couldn’t help myself; I reached out and wrapped my arms around him.
Fur caressed my cheek as I pressed my face against his side, my breathing slowing down, my body relaxing too. I no longer held myself like a ramrod soldier. I knew he’d changed so I’d be more at ease, less afraid of what he might want to talk about. To do too… And it had worked, just like he’d probably planned it.
Nevertheless, I let him lie down, his head on his front paws, and I laid beside him, curving my body alongside his. He felt hot, too hot in the furnace that was his house, but right now, I didn’t care. I’d missed this intimacy. I closed my eyes and forgot this was Leo, forgot about our past and what our future would be. My palm immobile on his muscled back, I listened to his purring…and found myself again.
* * * *
I woke up hours later, disoriented at first, my mouth dry and my clothes sticking to my body. I was sweating from every pore, even wearing only a simple tee and cotton shorts. I groaned as I turned around and laid on my back.
“You need a shower.”
I gasped and sat upright, the world tilting for a few dizzying seconds. Leo leaned against the doorjamb, his ankles crossed as he stared down at me. “What?”
“You need a shower,” he repeated. “Guess you need to get used to the Valley again.”
“Hmm, yes, I guess.”
“Here.” He handed me a glass of cold water and watched in silence as I gulped it all down. When I pressed the glass against my cheek and sighed in relief, he snapped, “Shower. Now!”
“I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. You’re getting sunstroke. Don’t you think I know you by now?”
“I’m not even in the sun!”
“Heatstroke, whatever you want to call it! Come on, Jade.” He grabbed my left hand and pulled me up, steadying me with one warm palm on my hip when I teetered. “See?”
I mumbled something in return, but he didn’t pay attention. He pushed me into his bathroom, the white and black tiling too stark for my tired eyes. “I can go home.”
“Not yet. I won’t let you fall sick on my watch.”
“I’m not sick!” I complained, brushing his hands off me. “I can take care of myself. I’ve done so for the past years, remember?”
“But now, you’re back.” The words echoed between us, my gaze slamming upward and locking with his.
“Don’t do this, Leo.”
“Too late,” he whispered as he took a step forward and pulled me into his embrace. I thought he would kiss me, so I purposefully looked down, but he surprised me. He took the hem of my tee into both hands and lifted it up, baring my stomach then my bra.
I squealed. “Leo!”
“I’ve seen you naked before, remember?”
Swearing inwardly, I forced my feet to take a step back and said, “I don’t want to talk about that night.”
“Why not? Don’t you want to know how I felt when I woke up to find you gone?”
“Leo…”
“What happened, Jade? I knew I was your first, and maybe I hurt you a little, but I also know you liked what we did. I made you scream, baby. But no, you got scared instead, didn’t you?”
“Shut up!” I hit his shoulder, but he was so powerfully built it felt as if I’d hit granite instead. Nursing my achy hand, I glared at him instead. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s too fucking bad!” he roared back.
“I didn’t come back for this.” I braced myself against the wall. “I’m not ready for this.”
“Yes, you are. You’re my mate, Jade, and you need to get this through your pretty little head.”
“I can’t be your mate, damn it! I’m not a lioness!”
“Is that why you left? Because you thought you weren’t good enough? Lion enough?”
It was so close to the truth, I felt unbidden tears swim in my eyes. I blinked rapidly, wishing them away, hoping he wouldn’t see this very human show of weakness. I’d already cried in front of him the night before and certainly didn’t want a repeat. Not today. Not ever. “I don’t want to talk about it,” I repeated for what felt like the hundredth time.
“My mother chose you, Jade. Our Pride’s leader chose you. Shouldn’t that tell you everything you need to know?”
“No.” I shook my head. “She loved me. She was biased.”
“You think Sara wasn’t rational? Is that really what you just said?”
I nodded and watched as his face reddened until all I could see was the disturbing green hardness of his eyes.
“Leave,” he finally said.
“What?”
“Leave this house. Now. Before I do something I’ll regret.”
My heart in my throat, I sidestepped him and fled out of the bathroom. I burst out of the house, running as if the devil was at my heels. Ignoring Trent’s questions, I ran past him and up the stairs of my cabin. I slammed the front door shut behind me and slid down it. It was only when I managed to breathe again that I realized what I’d told Leo. What I’d implied.
Oh man, I was so, so screwed.

 

 
 

 

 
Chapter Four
Operation Seduction
 

 
The next day dawned bright and early, complete with a weirdly enthusiastic Logan at my door bearing a Starbucks latte and cinnamon roll. I thought about how far the nearest one was and cringed when I calculated the number of miles he’d logged to get me those. “You shouldn’t have,” I truthfully said as I let him in.
“I wanted to,” he replied, rocking back and forth as if he were tied to an elasticized toy.
“You’re awfully awake this morning.”
“I’ve been up for hours.”
I winced. I’d already guessed that. “Right. Huh, would you like some?”
“Since when do you share coffee?”
“Since you drove such a long way to get it for me?”
“Oh.” He blinked as if flustered. “Sure. If you don’t mind.”
“I don’t.” I opened the cup and took a sip before handing it back to him. I watched as he put his lips right where mine had been, a little flutter coming to life inside me at the image. Turning back to the counter, I quickly snapped the roll in two and offered him half. I hadn’t even taken another sip of coffee before the pastry had vanished inside his mouth. “Hungry?” I commented wryly.
“You know me. I always am.”
I blinked. There had been heat in his voice, almost as if he’d been talking about his hunger…for other things. I deposited the coffee in front of me and mumbled, “Huh. Right.” He chuckled, the sound echoing within me. Damn! “Turn it down, Logan.”
His smile widened. “Or what?” he asked, suddenly crowding me.
I found myself cornered against the counter, the tiles digging into my back as Logan’s arms caged me from the front. “Don’t.”
“Why not, sweetheart? Don’t you know this is what’s supposed to happen?”
“What do you mean?”
He laughed again, the crystal-clear notes of his voice making my flesh rise into goose bumps. “I’m here to seduce you, Jade. I want you as my mate.”
“You do?”
“Of course, I do.” He bent his head and nuzzled the side of my face, his blond hair falling into his eyes at the movement.
“Logan, I…” I realized I had no idea what to say. I put my hands on his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, my fingers squeezed the muscles there.
He groaned and bent a tiny bit more, aligning himself perfectly with my mouth. When his lips met mine a moment later, I was still confused enough I didn’t know how to react. This was Logan, the man, who together with Trent, was probably the one I’d spent the least amount of time with over the years. He’d always been busy doing God knew what. Everyone had jobs within the Pride, jobs that made us self-sufficient. If someone had specific skills, they used them for the greater good. Brian was a hunter. Trent planted and maintained gardens that meant we had enough vegetables and fruits to last us through the year. Sara had cooked and made sure our fridges were full. Logan, though, I still wasn’t sure what he did.
I’d never really asked myself that question before, always taking their presence for granted. Leo and Sam had a consulting company, something that had to do with technology, something that meant they spent an inordinate amount of time online. Maybe Logan helped them with that. All I knew was they made enough money for us to live here, and that had been enough for me at the time. They’d always told me they’d take care of me, that my home was with them.
So, why had I never asked them questions about themselves? Because they’d have taken that as a confirmation, as if my wanting to know more about them meant I was ready for my mates.
But now here I was, and the problem still hadn’t been resolved. It’d worsened, actually. Logan was touching me for the first time, and I didn’t know what to do. I’d been torturing myself with Leo and his reaction, I hadn’t even really thought of the other men.
He took my stillness as acceptance and deepened the kiss, his tongue tangling around mine as if it had every right to be there. His hands moved to rest on my hips, squeezing the soft flesh there, dragging an unrestrained moan from deep inside my chest. He pressed his body further against mine, and when I felt his erection dig into my stomach, I swear blood rushed through every part of my body.
I was on fire, and it wasn’t because of the heat this time, or because I wasn’t feeling good. It was because a man kissed me in a way that told me how much he wanted me. It was because his body felt so good against mine, my breasts were already hardening inside my bra. I hadn’t felt so free in years, and damn but it was good to my parched soul.
Hooking my arms around his neck, I hung on to him and rocked my hips up. He growled something inside my mouth and let his hands wander under my camisole. I’d put a bra on earlier that morning just in case one of them happened to come into my house, but now my breasts felt restricted and were already complaining about it. When Logan’s palms pressed against them, I nearly screamed. Instead, I gasped and pressed myself closer.
Before I knew what was happening, he’d boosted me up onto the counter. I wasn’t thin, but it’d never been a problem for them. I had to stop forgetting they weren’t merely men. They were lions too, and their strength was a fine example of their species. For them, my being 5’7” with a lot of added curves meant nothing, except that they had more skin to play with. Even when I’d battled terrible teenage acne, they’d never made comments about the way I looked. In fact, as far as I could remember, they’d always insinuated they liked my body. I’d never been sure, however, if it was because they’d always seen me as theirs, or because they truly appreciated my curves. I guess I would find out soon…
The cold tiles under my thighs heated up as I widened my legs under the pressure of his torso. He pulled back a little and muttered, “I have to have you.”
“I know,” I replied just before sucking his lower lip inside my mouth.
He growled, the feline sound driving me crazy. I pushed the thoughts of Leo and the others out of my mind and focused on him. Logan’s skin was smooth under my palms as I slipped them up his sides. Enjoying the play of his muscles, I made a point of touching him everywhere I could, from his lightly furred chest to his hard back. When my hands slipped to his front however, he stopped me. “Not now,” he admonished as he grabbed my wrists in one hand.
“Why?” I asked, leaning up to nuzzle the side of his neck. I licked the spot where a thick vein beat a wild tempo. When I lightly nipped it with my teeth, he swore beneath his breath and attacked my camisole. It flew behind us, soon followed by my bra, leaving me naked from the waist up.
I resisted hiding myself behind my hands, instead squaring my shoulders and holding myself straight so I didn’t droop too much.
“Oh, baby,” he said, licking his lips at the sight of my breasts.
They enjoyed the compliment so much they decided to harden even more. He chuckled and, a second later, had his hand weighing one while he kissed his way around the other.
I leaned back on my hands, offering myself to him as if I had every right to. The thought froze inside my head. He seduced me to the best of his ability, kissing me and pleasuring me and… “Oh!” He’d sucked on my nipple, drawing it inside his mouth for an amazing second. What had been I thinking of?
“Stop thinking, Jade. Just enjoy, baby.”
I closed my eyes and did as told, letting him pet me and lick me and squeeze me. Little moans kept escaping my parted lips, and he encouraged me to be even noisier, telling me how hot he thought it was.
That’s when it hit me. He wanted me to be loud so the other four would hear me with him. I didn’t think; I just reacted. I pushed on his shoulders, and it’s only because I’d taken him by surprise that I managed to make him fly backward. He hit the back wall with a thump and blinked several times before focusing on me once more. “What the fuck was that?” he erupted.
I scrambled down from the counter and grabbed my camisole, tugging it on as I forewent the bra, unsure where it’d landed in the first place. “Sorry,” I finally said. My brain buzzed as I tried to think of something to say. “I… It’s just… It was too soon.”
His hands clenched at his sides. I watched as he struggled to get himself back under control, his breathing finally slowing down, his eyes never leaving me. “Okay,” he muttered. “Okay. I get that. Next time though, why don’t you try telling me?”
I blushed. Seriously, I felt my cheeks warm at the tone of his voice. Damn them! “Next time, why don’t you ask me out on a date before petting me?”
He rolled his eyes. “As if you didn’t know what was going to happen. You were enjoying it, Jade. You know you were.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and glared back at him. “I didn’t say to the contrary. A little conversation beforehand would have been nice though. I’m not a slut.”
“I never said you were,” he said in a voice imitating my earlier tone.
“Oh, very mature.”
“You started it.”
My turn to roll my eyes. “Whatever. Thanks for the coffee.”
“Let me guess. You’re throwing me out of here?”
“Yup. Have a nice day.”
“This isn’t over, Jade. You’re gonna have to play the game.”
“Oh, I will. But on my terms.”
He chuckled, as if I’d just told the best joke he’d ever heard. “Sure. Believe what you will.” And with those parting words, he turned around and waved as he made his way to my front door.
I heard it bang shut moments later, but I was too busy craning my neck in search of my elusive bra. I found it tucked into the space between the fridge and the wall, spent a few minutes wondering how on earth it’d gotten there, and stopped ignoring my clamoring mind. I recalled what had just happened with Logan, the good things—nice kissing, heavy petting—and the bad—those final words, how he’d played me—but didn’t really know what to do next. So I just grabbed my coffee cup and downed it instead. Hey, coffee was a girl’s best friend!
 

   
 
 
Chapter Five
It Started with Words
 

 
“I’ve missed you.”
I nearly teared up at Samuel’s admission. He’d always been the calm triplet, the one who came after his two brothers had messed up and tried to repair things. He opened his arms, and I snuggled into his embrace, enjoying the peace and quiet that came with him. “I’ve missed you too,” I admitted against the cotton of his white shirt.
“We’d never have hurt you,” he said, his right hand stroking my back. “You know that, right?”
I found myself shrugging, remembering what his brother had done the day before. “I don’t… I don’t know, Sam.”
“We’re not going to hurt you now either. You’ve always been our mate in our minds, you know. It’s…it’s difficult for lions to lose someone like you. It drove us all a little crazy.”
I drew back at his words and stared into his eyes. “What do you mean?”
He winced as he took a step back too and racked his hand through his honey blond hair. “When you left, it felt like a part of our hearts, our souls, disappeared with you. Our lion souls had already accepted you as mate. To have you gone so suddenly changed them.”
“How?”
“They became more…unruly, I guess. We had difficulties holding onto our control. We got into more fights, with each other but also with the other members of the Pride.”
Oh no. “Is that why they all left?”
He nodded, his face somber. “When Sara…died, they decided they couldn’t trust us with the Pride. Not on our own, not without a female there to keep us together.”
“But now, I’m back.”
“You still haven’t accepted us, Jade.”
I cringed, my thoughts spinning. All this because of me? All this because I’d gotten scared and thought I needed to be more independent? “I’m trying,” I finally said, unable to think of anything else to add.
“I know, baby. I know.” He pulled me back into the safe hold of his arms.
I felt his mouth against my hair and closed my eyes. What the hell had I done?
* * * *
We spent the day talking and cuddling, leaving the safe haven of my sofa only when our stomachs grumbled too loudly for us to hear each other over the noise. I cooked for him, enjoying his compliments over my polished skills. Sara and I used to spend hours in this room, baking and cooking and just hanging out together. Like mother and daughter, I guess. She’d taught me all she’d known, but in the past few years, I’d been able to spread my wings and learn about different types of cuisine, my tastes a lot more varied, my technique too.
I added dill to the egg mixture and quickly stirred it. Opening the fridge, I bent down and took out red bell peppers. When I dropped them onto the counter however, something in the air felt different. I looked up and caught Samuel’s gaze on me, his eyes hot and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. From him, at least. “Sam?”
“Sorry, baby, but I can’t help myself. My lion wants you so very, very badly. He wants me to spread you on the table and take you hard. Now.” His voice becoming growlier by the second, he stepped toward me.
I felt my eyes widen at the sight of his pants tenting in front of him. This was Samuel, little Sam, or rather not-so-little-Sam anymore. I gulped and thought of what to do next, but nothing had hit me by the time he reached for me. He gave me time to pull away. However, after his earlier speech, I couldn’t in all consciousness not give in to him. And so, I stood there and watched as his head lowered.
His lips were soft against mine, the kiss tentative. For all of thirty seconds. Then it was as if a dam had broken, and he was everywhere. His mouth, his tongue, his hands were all over me, forcing me to back away because I just could not keep up. I managed to mutter, “Slow down,” but he didn’t hear, or maybe he chose not to. In any case, he didn’t stop, leaving me panting as his lips slid down my neck. Then his teeth were there. Fangs pierced my skin. Pain hit, and I screamed.
He jerked back and stared down at me with wild eyes. “Jade?”
I slapped a hand over my aching flesh then looked at it, another small scream escaping my parted lips when I saw blood smearing my palm. “Blood,” I whispered. “Blood,” I repeated, this time louder. “You bit me!” I accused him, my dirtied fingers pointing to him.
“I’m sorry. Baby, you’ve gotta believe me. I wasn’t thinking… I didn’t mean… Jade, please.”
“You bit me. After telling me you’d never hurt me, you bit me!”
“Please, Jade,” he repeated. “I wasn’t in control of myself. I apologize. You know I’d never hurt you.”
“You just did!”
“It was an accident!” He drew back a few steps and stared at me, his eyes unblinking. There was something strange in them. I leaned forward for a better look when a roar scattered my thoughts.
“What the fuck happened here?”
We both whirled toward Leo, speaking over one another in our rush to explain the situation. He wasn’t listening however. His gaze focused on my neck, and the ensuing growl made all the hairs on my body lift. “You bloodied her?” He turned to Samuel and grabbed him by the shoulder, slamming him against the kitchen cabinets. “She’s just come back, and you’ve already bitten her?”
“It was an accident,” I said, my eyes wide as I watched them stare at each other. Their faces looked odd, almost as if they were on the verge of shifting, their lion halves apparent in their hardened gazes. “Guys, please.”
“He was so fucking focused on having sex with you, he forgot all about control and hurt you, didn’t he?”
“It was an accident. I… Don’t hurt him, Leo. Please.” I put a tentative hand on his back and felt his breathing slow down. He finally let Sam go, but the other man didn’t move or spring away. Instead, he remained immobile, their lions still assessing each other.
“You can’t beat me, Samuel. You know it, and so does your lion.”
“Try me,” the younger man snapped back, his voice not more than a low growl.
“Don’t give me an excuse. Not now. Not when you bit our mate and I can still smell her blood. Her blood, Sam!”
At that, Samuel seemed to deflate. He rubbed his eyes, and when I tried to go to him, he simply shook his head. “I’m sorry, Jade,” he said before hurrying to the front door.
Leo didn’t wait for him to leave. He grabbed my hand and pulled me to the sink. “Come here.” Two seconds later, I was sitting on the counter. “Sit still,” he ordered as he turned the faucet on and wet a dishtowel. “It’s gonna be cold.”
I hissed when the thick cotton hit my skin. “Ouch!”
“Don’t be a baby,” he said almost absent-mindedly.
I realized he was staring at the mark his cousin had left on me, his face dark, his eyes hot with emotions I dared not discern. “How does it look?” I found myself asking.
He caught my gaze and forced his mouth into a semblance of a smile. “It’s not too bad. Like a very bad hickey.”
“I bled, Leo. Even I’m not that stupid.”
He winced. “I never said that.”
I rolled my eyes and pushed at his shoulders. “Move. I’m gonna look in a mirror.”
“Not yet. I want to put some stuff on it first.”
“After I check it out.”
“No.” His response was stark. But then, I was used to him and his ways.
“You can’t order me around, Leo. You know what happens when you do.”
“I do?” His left eyebrow cocked up.
I hooked my arms around his neck and pulled his head down. I took his mouth and relished his surprised moan when my tongue met his. When I was sure his focus was entirely on me, I kicked with my legs. He stepped back with a groan of pain, but he was so massively built, I knew the hurt would fade in mere seconds. In the meantime, I jumped down from the counter and ran to the nearest mirror.
He was behind me nearly as soon as I reached it, but I’d had enough time to look at my neck. My reflection stared back at me: wide blue eyes, my usually round face looking drawn and pale, and below my chin, red skin. Blood red skin. “Shit.”
“It won’t leave too big a scar.”
“I’m gonna have a scar too?”
“It’ll be okay, baby.” His arms wrapped around me from behind.
I leaned back into him, my eyes still on the mess that was my neck. I could clearly see the teeth marks Samuel had left. “Why isn’t it hurting?”
“You’re in shock. Look at your eyes.”
I did and spotted my dilated pupils. “Ah.”
“Let’s get you upstairs. I’ll swab antiseptic on it and bandage it up. Okay?”
I nodded and let him lead me to my bedroom, my thoughts in disarray. Again.

 

 
 
 

  
 

 
Chapter Six
And Ended in Bed
 

 
I couldn’t help but think it’d been my fault.
Samuel had warned me: their control was slipping. I was now proof of that. Did that mean the next time one of them tried to have sex with me, I’d get other battle scars? I shivered and snuggled deeper under the thin sheet covering me. “I’m cold.”
“You’re in shock, that’s normal,” Leo replied as he stepped into the room. “How does it feel?”
He’d just dressed my wound, the thick plaster already scratching my sensitive skin. “Itchy.”
He rolled his eyes and grabbed the edge of the sheet. “Move over.”
“Why?”
“You’re cold. I’ll warm you up. Come on, babe, scoot.”
He was already sliding beside me by the time I processed his words and inched closer to the edge of the bed. “And now?” I asked.
“Now, you lie down and close your eyes.” He pulled me to him, forcing my head to his chest.
I stilled, only aware of the heat of his body. He wasn’t in his lion form now as he’d been in his house the other day. He was clad in a simple white tee and khaki shorts, his feet bare. I closed my eyes and forced myself to relax. Yeah, good luck with that, I acknowledged to myself.
I might be slightly out of it, thanks to the painkiller he’d given me before putting antiseptic ointment on my neck, but by all means, I wasn’t enough out of it. The last time I’d been that close to him, we’d just had sex. I gulped as the memories assailed my mind. I’d turned eighteen the day before, and he’d spent the day stalking me. Seducing me too, I realized now. He’d cornered me to give me my present—the necklace still my most treasured possession to this day. It was tucked in the bottom of my jewelry box, a reminder of my past and what could have happened. What had happened…?
“Shhh,” Leo whispered as he tucked me closer to him. “I’ve got you.”
Yes, that’s what I am afraid of. “Don’t you have anywhere else to be?”
“No.”
Damn. “Are you sure?”
“Am I making you uncomfortable, Jade?”
I opened my eyes and looked up at his face, expecting him to look gleeful. Instead, his gaze told an entirely different story. There was yearning there. Affection too. Love. “Leo…”
“Don’t look at me like that, baby. I’m not that strong.”
“You’re the strongest of them all.”
He chuckled. “Not that I don’t appreciate the vote of confidence, Jade, but I’m also a man.”
“Half man.”
“Half man, half lion. It doesn’t change the fact you’re my mate. And being in the same bed does have its consequences.” He took my left hand and slid it down his chest until it pressed against the front of his shorts.
Heat pulsed throughout me at the feel of his erection twitching against my open palm. “Oh.”
“I may have more control than the others, but I’m still fallible. We all are. We all reacted to your departure each in different ways, you know; some worse than others. I mean, take Brian for example.”
I looked up at him at the mention of my long-time buddy. “What about Brian?”
Something flashed in Leo’s eyes, and in retrospect, I really should have pushed him to continue. But all he did was shake his head and add, “What happened today with Samuel is proof we’re going to need time.”
“It’s my fault, isn’t it?” I cringed. “I shouldn’t have left.”
“It’s too late to go back on it, Jade.” He took his hand away and left me wondering what to do with mine. Should I keep it there? Act as if nothing had happened and I hadn’t felt him up? What did I want?
Could I really keep on spending my days ignoring what stared me right in the face? I’d messed up. Sure, I’d been young and hadn’t been able to wrap my mind around being the mate of five men. Who could at that age? I wasn’t even sure I could really go through it now, and I was far more experienced!
My fingers squeezed him, making him groan, the sound echoing above our heads. I looked up and noticed he’d closed his eyes. He was handsome in an almost dark way, all stark angles and bristly jaw. When he opened his eyes and stared right at me, I knew then what I would do. I owed it to them, to Sara, to try.
“Make love to me,” I heard myself say.
He stilled for a second. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. Yes.”
“This might change everything, Jade. If you give in to me, the others will react.”
“What if I mate with them too?”
That time, his eyes were feral when he stared back at me. “Is that what you want?”
“I don’t know.” I bit my lip. “Wouldn’t it make it easier? For everyone?”
He seemed to think about it, then shook his head. “I don’t know what to tell you, Jade. I can’t predict the future. I should go.” He made a move to leave, but my fingers didn’t give in an inch.
“No.”
“Jade…”
“No. I want you. I want this.”
“I just explained—”
“I don’t care. I want to see if it’s as good as I remember it.”
His cock twitched under my hand. “It will be.”
“Prove it.” With those words, I knew I’d won. Leo would never back away from a challenge.
 

  

 

 
Chapter Seven
Second Time Around
 

 
“One thing,” Leo said as he rolled over me, my legs widening under the pressure of his torso. “Never tell me who else you fucked while you were away from the Pride. Who, when, how many times? I don’t want to know. Got it?”
“Huh, got it.” I gulped.
“Good. Now kiss me.”
I would tell him off for his rather commanding tone, but then his mouth met mine and I was falling. Feeling him so hard on top of me, something I’d imagined far too many times over the past years, put my body into overdrive. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pushed my heels into his butt, forcing him closer. He responded by rocking his hips into me, his cock hitting just the right spot. I moaned into his mouth and let my hands wander. They slid into the neck of his shirt and played with the too long hair at his nape, drifted down to his biceps, and felt the hard muscle underneath all that smooth skin.
I was on sensory overload, and we’d barely started! His mouth left mine, and I breathed in his scent, musky and oh so very male. I didn’t even complain when he traced the bandage with his lips. I trusted him; I always had. His mouth found my collarbone, nibbled a little before sliding further down. His hands found the hem of my shirt, and he drew it up slowly, a growl rising in his throat as bare skin was revealed. “Where’s your bra?”
“I took it off when you told me to go to bed. I can’t sleep in one. Is that a problem?”
“Are you kidding?” he mumbled, his right hand moving up to cup my breast. His touch was achingly soft. My nipple budded in reaction.
“Leo!”
“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” he whispered as he bent his head and licked at the hardened tip.
I hissed and thrust my hips up, but he didn’t hurry. He took his time relearning me and my body, from my breasts to my belly button to my aching sex. When he finally touched me there, I keened. My back arched like a bow, and I could feel juices seep out of me, wondering if they were staining the sheet underneath me. My insides pulsed, making me realize I really liked that idea.
“So fucking hot,” he said as he parted my inner lips with his thumbs. “So fucking ready, too.”
“Leo, please!”
“Not yet, baby. Not yet.”
I was going to protest, but then his mouth was there. I grabbed hold of his hair and held him to me as he teased and licked and sucked. One finger, then two, slipped inside to test my resistance. I clamped my walls tight around him and smiled when he groaned in response. “Now. Please?”
“Not yet,” he repeated.
“Please!” I begged.
To no avail. He was too busy having fun. He hooked his fingers so they pressed against that spot just inside me and started rubbing it. It was a bit odd at first, but then something happened, and all I could feel was this overwhelming wave of pleasure. My nails dug into his scalp. He laughed, a rough husky sound, then clamped his teeth around my clit, that final caress hurtling me over the edge. I screamed. His name. God’s. I’m not clear on the details, but that pleasure… That pleasure was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. It was all encompassing.
I came back to myself, twitching and moaning, my legs clamped together now that Leo had moved off the bed. “What are you doing?” I finally found the strength to say.
He turned back to me and motioned to the condom now adorning his very impressive erection. “Got myself prepared. Turn around and move onto all fours.”
I blinked. “Huh?”
“You heard me,” he said, leaning down to grab my ankles.
He pulled, and I slid down the sheet with a shriek. “Leo!”
He forced me to turn around, slapping my butt playfully when I found myself in the position he’d requested. “Perfect. What a nice ass, baby.”
“I can’t believe you just slapped me,” I muttered.
“I’m a dominant, Jade. You know that.”
“So what?”
“So my lion likes seeing you in this position. Very much…” He palmed my butt and squeezed, even going as far as spreading my cheeks for a better view. I closed my eyes and hung on for the ride. A fingertip brushed my clit a moment later. It kept on going as I twitched some more, slid inside me for a very hot second, then retreated. “You’re so fucking hot, Jade.”
“Fuck me!”
“Oh, but I intend to,” he whispered just as his cock found my entrance.
I realized I was holding my breath when I started feeling faint. I hastily took a gulp of air, which coincided with him getting to the end of me. I’m full of Leo. The thought slashed through my brain, and I nearly ended up giggling right there and then. Luckily, I managed to rein myself in. Not sure he’d have appreciated this sudden show of hilarity. At such a crucial moment, too.
“I apologize, baby, but I can’t hold back. Not this time. Okay?”
He didn’t give me any time to respond, simply started sliding back out then thrusting back in. His fingers clamped tight on my hips; he controlled it all, from his movements to the way my body was positioned. I’d been so ready, though, that it didn’t matter. I could already feel myself start to spiral toward that deep void, the one that called my name in a deep baritone.
“My mate. Mine. Mine. Mine.”
I blinked at Leo’s mumbled words. He sounded completely out of it, his thrusts becoming more erratic by the second. He was nearly there too. With a smile, I reached for the stars, intent on coming at exactly the same time as my lover.
He gave one final push, the head of his cock hitting my G-spot, and that was all it took. I screamed. Again. He roared. Again. Nails sprung from his fingers and pierced the skin of my hips. I screamed. Again.
Same old, same old really. Bar those two amazing orgasms, of course.

 

 

 
 

 

 
Chapter Eight

My Body, My Rules
 

 
I waved Leo away and shut the bathroom door in front of his worried face. Bending down, I examined the marks his nails had left in my skin and was relieved when I realized he must have retracted them nearly straight away. Only the tips had pierced the epidermis, leaving red spots but no blood. I breathed out a sigh of relief. It didn’t last long however. I’d wanted to take a shower, but could I really with the bandage on my neck? I should be able to twist around so the spray didn’t hit it, but I wasn’t really up to it now. Damn. Never mind then. I cleaned the tiny wounds as best I could before calling it a day.
When I opened the door minutes later however, the bedroom was empty. “Leo?” I called out.
Mumbling my exasperation, I quickly tugged on a long T-shirt and hurried out of there on bare feet. It didn’t take me long to understand why he’d left. I strode into the den and found Leo facing the triplets. “What’s going on in here?” I called out as I stilled to a stop feet away from them all.
Trent was the first one to respond. “You stink of sex and blood. What the fuck, Jade?”
“The blood’s courtesy of your brother.” So there. I crossed my arms for good measure.
“He’s already explained what happened. What did you think we were? Pussies in disguise?”
I nearly growled, and I wasn’t even a lion! “That doesn’t excuse the fact he bit me!”
“Your leaving is the reason why we lost control. Can’t you see what you’ve done? What you’re still doing?”
“Trent, that’s enough.” Leo came to stand in front of me.
“So now that you’ve fucked her, it’s fine? Are you fucking kidding me? What about us?”
Leo replied something, but there was a high-pitched noise inside my head, and I couldn’t hear anything else. Trent might be pissed, and that was entirely understandable, but he was also right. It was my fault. I accepted that now. So, what could I do to make it better? The answer came to me with an unusually simple logic: I had to have sex with them.
But what about Leo? My mind countered straight away. He wouldn’t take it lightly if I jumped into someone else’s bed mere minutes after we’d had sex for the first time in years. I winced, but nothing else came to mind. It was the only solution I could think of that would appease them. As weird as it sounded, I was sure their lion halves needed to feel me so they understood their mate was back. Even if it made me feel like meat, or worse, a slut, I needed to go through it. Right?
Right. Resolute, I looked up at Leo and said, “Leave us, please.”
“What? You don’t understand, Jade.”
“No. I do. I do understand. I need you to leave now, Leo. Please. I promise to call you if something happens or…” I let my voice trail, unsure of what else to say.
“Are you sure you want to do this? You won’t be able to go back on it.”
I looked up, his gaze locking on mine. I nodded, my voice stuck in my throat for the time being. There was sadness in his eyes, such a deep sadness, but there was gratitude too. When I spotted it, I knew I’d made the right decision. He leaned toward me and dropped a soft kiss on my lips. Moments later, the front door slammed shut behind him, and I found myself once more alone…albeit with three hungry lions.
I turned toward them and announced, “This is what we’re going to do.”
* * * *
So, that’s how I ended up on my knees in front of the triplets, all of us naked, all of us in a state of arousal. It was a good thing I’d just had fun with Leo, I thought as I noticed their somewhat angry-looking erections. I was still wet, mostly because I’d anticipated rejoining him in my bed, but hey, beggars couldn’t be choosers. I would have fun with these three too, or die trying anyway.
They were identical bar their hair, from the nearly white blond of Logan’s mane to Samuel’s honey shade to Trent’s darker locks. Even their cocks looked similar, in size and in girth too. I slapped a hand over my mouth, catching a wayward giggle. Shit, what the hell is wrong with me today?
“You okay?” Trent asked. He seemed genuinely worried, but it was difficult to take him seriously when his balls were swaying only inches from my face.
I nodded and rested my palms on my thighs. “You?”
“Yes. Let’s begin.”
I rolled my eyes when they stepped forward and started crowding me. I felt a moment of panic, then forced myself back to the present by sheer will. It wasn’t as if I would be tortured. I would spend the afternoon having sex with three very handsome men. Three very eager and hopefully knowledgeable men. What woman would say no to that? A tiny part of me waved inside my head, but I shut her up, quite decisively at that.
Before they made me fall backward, what with their bobbing cocks and all, I grabbed one with my left hand, a second one with my right and leaned forward to catch the third with my mouth. Triple groans rang in the air. Fingers tangled in my already impossibly messy hair while someone started doing a running commentary, “That’s it, sweetheart. Squeeze me tight. Oh yeah, just like that.”
I grinned inwardly at the dirty talk that was so unlike Trent and decided to switch sides. More groans, more comments. I was getting into a good rhythm here. Sucking and licking and tightening my fingers, all at the same time. When I tasted the third one for the first time, he let out a loud growl and jerked away.
I looked up to find Samuel staring wildly down at me. “What is it?”
“I can’t do this. I can’t. Not after…”
“It needs to be done,” I replied, my voice soft.
“I… I don’t want to hurt you again. Jade, I don’t think—”
I didn’t let him finish. I simply leaned forward, grabbed his cock, and pulled it to my awaiting mouth. I sucked on the head in one long gulp, then started working it slowly down my throat, inch by inch. When I reached what I knew was my limit, I pursed my lips so it was a tighter fit when it slid back out of my mouth. I looked up again then, and Samuel’s face was a riot of mixed emotions. I licked my lips and worked saliva back into my mouth before asking, “Okay?”
“Huh.”
“He means yes,” Logan interjected before pushing in front of his brother and taking his place. “My turn!”
I felt my eyes widen when his cock forced its way past my lips. I nearly bit him, but thought better of it. No bloodshed again, no sirree. I played nice and did it all over again, then a third time when Trent decided to have a go. By the time it was over, all three men looked positively gleeful while my knees ached and I couldn’t feel my jaw anymore. I struggled to stand, and I finally made it up all on my own.
They’d opted to stop so they didn’t come in my mouth. However, if they wanted to take it to the next level, they were going to have to do some work now. Damn right!

 
 

 
 
Chapter Nine
Three for the Price of One

 

 
So, that’s how I ended up on my knees in front of the triplets. Yes, again, I know. But this time, as an added twist, I straddled Logan’s face while Trent kissed me and Samuel pinched my nipples. It was so unreal that I even wondered for a second why I’d left in the first place. Of course, I wasn’t eighteen anymore, and I’d done things in the past years that meant my sexual experience had gone from one to…huh, well, let’s just say a lot more.
Logan’s arms wrapped around my thighs as I rocked back and forth over him, his tongue doing some seriously sinful things to my pussy. I pulled back from Trent and took a deep breath, which ended in a proclaimed, “God!”
Sam took the opportunity offered by my moving away from his brother to bend down and tighten his lips around my right nipple. He tugged on it, the wet warmth of his tongue a soothing caress a moment later. “Mmm,” he murmured against my skin, obviously enjoying himself.
Trent lowered his head too, but only to nuzzle the side of my neck. He traced the edge of the bandage that decorated it and said, his voice husky, “Mmm… Blood.”
“If you’re thinking of biting me, I’m telling you right now: I’ll be out of here so fast you’ll be left alone with your cock and nothing but your hand to finish the job.”
He jerked back upright. “I wasn’t going to bite you.”
“Huh. So, what was that about blood?”
“You smell of it, and my lion likes it a lot. You know, we being predators and all that.”
Great. That’s all I need! “I see. Can’t you switch it off or something?”
He chuckled. “No. But don’t worry. Now that you’re in our bed, he’s happy.”
I could have countered that, in fact, they were in my bed, but deemed it wasn’t worth it. Instead, I closed my eyes and focused on what they were doing to me. This was only the beginning after all. The bed shifted, but it’s only when Trent told me to lean down that I realized he was now behind me. I did as ordered and found myself still straddling Logan’s face, but with my ass high in the air and my hands holding me up as best I could.
Samuel slid down so he was lying underneath my upper half, grinning when he noticed the way my breasts were hanging right over his face. “Hello there,” he said, palming them greedily as if he hadn’t just been playing with them.
“Oh damn,” I couldn’t help but say. I’d suddenly realized why Trent had wanted me to move. He now had access to everything!
“One sec, Logan,” I heard him whisper, just before a finger slid along my wet folds. He gathered moisture there, then pressed the tip against my rose. The tentative thrusts did the trick. The pressure started as soon as his finger passed the rim of muscles.
“Ah!” My head snapped up. “Trent!”
“Ever been taken there?”
“Yes,” I replied through gritted teeth. He was already working a second finger inside me, damn it!
“Did you like it?”
“It was okay.”
“Just okay?”
“Yes, just okay. It wasn’t amazing, if that was your question.”
“I see. Hear that, guys?”
Logan pulled back from my clit he’d been so lovingly teasing and said, “Don’t worry, hon. We know what we’re doing. When we take you, you’ll love it.”
“All three of you?” I hazarded.
“Of course,” came their response.
Oh God. They were going to fuck me at the same time? All three of them? Were they nuts? I thought of the logistics involved and realized it was indeed possible. I had three, hmm, holes available, after all.
I should have realized that this would be what they’d aim for. Damn those triplets! “You have condoms, right?”
“We do. Now, close your eyes, baby, and enjoy.”
Someone palmed my waist and lifted me up, long enough for Logan to move into position. When I was on him once more, his cock right against where it felt good, I knew I was in for a lesson in sex with lions.
* * * *
“Ohhhhh.” The breathy moan escaped my parted lips just before Sam slid his cock past them. Again.
I was so out of it, I didn’t care, however. My body felt overly stretched. Trent was a solid presence in my ass, so solid in fact I could barely feel Logan, even though I was sitting on him!
“Can we start moving, Jade?” Trent’s whisper echoed in my right ear, the one he promptly started nipping. Sharp teeth played with my lobe, and when he bit me, I focused on that fleeting pain.
He slid back out of me then thrust back in, slowly enough I didn’t immediately complain. Considering Logan had started moving at the same time, I thought that was pretty good of me. Of course, it wasn’t as if I could say anything, not with Sam’s cock doing its best impression of Let’s-fuck-Jade’s-mouth.
All these thoughts were going through my head while I should have instead been in the moment. I guessed they realized I wasn’t with them, so to speak, as they suddenly upped the ante.
Their movements became timed to the millisecond. One slid further inside while the other retreated, that thin membrane inside me the only thing separating their two erections. I gulped, earning myself a strangled groan from Sam. I rolled my eyes up and realized he was nearly there. It was evident in the way he gritted his teeth, his face hard as he kept on pumping. Deciding to help him along, I sucked on his head and felt semen trickle down my throat.
He growled, the sound so feline it raised goose bumps all over my body. Please, don’t let him lose control again! I’d bled enough for the day, thank you very much.
His hands cupped the back of my head as he muttered, “I’m gonna come, baby.”
I let my teeth brush the sides of his cock, and that was all it took. He roared as he threw his head back and spurted all he had deep inside my mouth. I drank him dry. Yup, I’m good like that.
He staggered back, plopping himself down onto a chair in a corner of the room. His eyes on us, he looked relaxed for the first time in days. Meanwhile…I was far from over. After all, I still had two men inside me. At the same freaking time!

 
 

 
Chapter Ten
Ouch
 

 
Arms slid around me, lifting me up against a hard chest. Trent slid even further into me, my rose already stretched wide around his thick cock. He turned my head so he could kiss me, the angle awkward, but neither of us giving a damn. Probably because his hands had found my breasts, weighing and squeezing and pinching until I started gyrating over them.
Both men emitted happy grunts. I could feel Logan’s fingers slip between my widened legs, knew where he was going even before he touched it. One rough fingertip pressed against my clit. I keened, the sound echoing throughout the room and probably even outside too.
The pressure of their two cocks became too much all of a sudden, as if I’d become tighter or smaller or something. Their steady tempo didn’t change for a second or two, and they were off. It was as if they were competing, racing toward the finish line as only men could.
I was in the middle, unable to move except from some small hip movements. “Guys? Oh God!”
“Come for us, Jade.”
“Come for us,” the other man repeated. I couldn’t tell you who it was. I had no idea. I couldn’t feel anything but them. Their cocks, their hands, their bodies. Surrounding me. Invading me. Making me theirs. The pressure became too much, and I exploded. I think I screamed. I nearly blacked out, too.
When I came back down to earth, I was lying on my stomach on the disturbed sheet. The three men lounged on the floor, looking indolent and so very, very pleased with themselves. I gazed down at them and promptly bit back a comment. I wouldn’t ruin the moment, even if the smugness clearly displayed on their faces irked me a bit. After all, they’d been waiting for this for years, while I’d been the one to flee and destroy their precious control.
When the roar rang behind me, I didn’t react straight away. I was tired and achy in strange places. I’d had sex for hours, and dude, I needed a break!
Two seconds later, I was jerked off the bed. I shrieked, but nothing could have stopped him. I gasped as Brian grabbed me and flung me over his shoulder. I’ve never seen him so mad, I thought as he took me outside. I couldn’t see much, but considering how much I screamed and hit his muscled backside, I was pretty sure the others would join us soon.
Brian, happy-go-lucky Brian, threw me to the ground in the middle of the main yard. I landed with a groan, feeling dirt and tiny evil rocks start digging into my bare skin.
I heard another roar, and a lion appeared in the distance. The black mane gave him away, so it wasn’t with a great shock when a light burst and Leo stopped in front of us. He was followed by the triplets, all wearing jeans and nothing else, all looking pissed-off.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Trent snapped, beating even Leo to the punch. Guess he didn’t like his post-glow rest to be interrupted.
“With me? With me?” Brian’s face reddened so much I thought the top of his head might explode. “Are you fucking kidding me? She reeks of sex and blood! You took our mate, knowing full well I would be away today!”
“It didn’t happen like that—”
Brian whirled to face Leo. “Oh, it didn’t, did it? Do I look like I care? Do I?”
“Bri,” Logan started. “It just happened, okay?”
“No, it’s not fucking okay! You made Jade your mate! Without me.”
“We hadn’t planned on it happening today, okay? Things happened and—”
“I don’t fucking care!” Brian’s eyes glowed, his lion so close to the surface, even I could see him.
I squealed when he suddenly appeared in front of me, but he didn’t give me any time to talk.
“You! You let them fuck you! You smell of all of them, and why? You suddenly grew a conscience? You wanted some, and they were available? What?”
I gulped. “Huh. No. I mean, yes. No!”
“Oh, that’s very clear,” he snapped back.
Leo tried to intervene. “Stop it, Brian. It’s not her fault…”
The rest of his sentence got lost in another roar so loud, I covered my ears with my hands and hid my face against my knees.
“Oh no, you don’t!” Harsh hands forced me upright once again.
I stumbled behind Brian as he led me to a wooden pole. Cables ran from it, and he grabbed them, looping them around my wrists before I could understand what he was doing. I found myself tied to the post, my back facing them, my arms outstretched over my head. “Brian!” I called out, but he ignored me. What the fuck!
“Brian, come on.”
“I need to do this.”
“Don’t hurt her. Brian, you know she doesn’t know this side of you. Not yet. Why don’t you—”
“Leave if you don’t want to see it. Just…leave. Fuck, I can smell her on you.”
“She’s our mate, cousin.”
“No, she’s yours. She’s not mine yet.”
“She will be.”
“I will be,” I agreed, my voice small and shaky. “I… I’ll do anything. I… Don’t hurt me.”
“Too late,” came his instant response. Just as swiftly, his hand rose and fell.
The slap was so unexpected, so damn out there, that I didn’t know how to react at first. This was Brian. My friend. My teenage buddy. And now, he was…he was punishing me? And for what? Because I’d had sex with his Pride mates before him? What the hell was wrong with the guy?
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against the rough wood, jerking each time his palm connected with my soft flesh. It hurt. It hurt real bad. But I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I was stronger than that, damn it! So, when I felt my eyes start to leak, I pinched my palms, rubbed my body against the pole, did anything I possibly could to stop feeling that slow-going torture.
It stopped as suddenly as it’d started. One second Brian was spanking me, the next his chest was pressed against my back.
“Jade…” he whispered, his voice once more the one I knew so well. “Couldn’t you have waited for me? Do I matter so little to you?”
“It wasn’t… It just happened.”
“But you didn’t think of me, did you?”
I didn’t reply anything to that one. Mostly because he was right. I hadn’t thought of him once all day, and what did that say about me? “I’m sorry,” I finally heard myself responding.
“I’m sorry, too.” His palms found the curves of my ass once again, but this time his touch was soft. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but seeing you naked, smelling you on them, it just… My lion lost it.”
Shit. My head hung down. Another case of snapping control. What had I done? Couldn’t they have told me it was getting this bad? “I’m sorry,” I repeated, unable to think of anything else.
He untied me then took a step back. I winced when I turned around, winced some more when I spotted his outstretched hand. “Come. We’ll go to my house. I need to put some salve on you.”
Yeah! Another injury. What’s a little pain amongst friends after all?

 
 

 
 

 

 
Chapter Eleven

Taut Lines
 

 
I should have stayed with Brian. Even as I stepped out of his house, I knew it was a mistake. And yet, nothing could make me turn back around. Dusk had fallen while I was in there with him, wincing while he applied cold goop to my aching bottom. It’d felt weird to have him touch me so intimately when he’d just hurt me. I’d felt stupid for a little while there, wondering whether I shouldn’t have left with the others instead. But no, I’d accepted his offer, and…I’d chickened out. I knew he wanted more. His gaze had been hot on my bare curves, his touch becoming more like a caress on my skin.
I should have stayed. His control was fraying; he’d told me that himself. And what did I do? Leave him there on his own. I stopped short only inches away from my front porch and closed my eyes. My hands tightened into fists at my sides, the soft breeze playing with my naked body as if it was another one of my lovers. Another one of my mates…
“Jade.”
I didn’t even gasp. Maybe I’d felt him there, or maybe I’d known he would find me. Whatever the case, I remained still as he embraced me from behind, his chin digging into the top of my head. I sighed and leaned back against him. “Leo, I…” I realized I had no idea what to say. Too much had happened that day, and I think I was still in shock over it all.
“You need to rest.”
I nodded, but didn’t move. I heard him breathe in, knowing he smelled his cousins on me, knowing he’d soon realize I hadn’t done anything with Brian. Unable to face his disappointment, I took a step forward and broke away from him. “I should go,” I muttered over my shoulder.
I could feel his gaze on me as I walked up my front steps, so it wasn’t a big surprise when I heard him call out for me. “Jade, don’t…”
“Don’t what?” I asked the door.
“Just…” A sigh, then, “Never mind. Sleep tight, baby.”
I blinked back tears and nodded. Locking the door behind me, I made my way through the darkened house. It’s only when I stumbled into my bedroom that I realized I hadn’t changed the sheets earlier. The room still smelled of them…
* * * *
“Are you all right?”
The day had started out normal. I’d washed some clothes and now hung them out to dry on the line that bisected my tiny garden. It’d been too peaceful to remain like that. I should have expected Brian to show up. I really should have.
“I’m fine,” I said as I straightened the hem of the shirt I’d just hung. “You?”
“Jade…”
I took a deep breath and turned to face him. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry.”
“I know.”
He grabbed my hands in his. “I need to tell you something.”
“Shoot.” I tried to pull my hands free of his clasp, but he was too strong for me. “Brian!”
“Listen to me.”
“I could listen and finish the laundry, you know. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“Jade, please. This is important.”
“What? My laundry’s not important now?” He stared steadily at me, clearly not interested in my attempt to relieve the mood. I sighed my defeat. “Fine. What is it?”
“I’ve changed.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “Was that supposed to be a newsflash? Did you think I’d find it normal to have you spank me in front of everyone? Did you?”
“Jade,” he hissed through gritted teeth. “Stop with the fucking irony. I’m trying to tell you something here!”
I should have heard the warning in his voice. Retrospectively, I can see now what I did wrong. But at the time, even with what’d happened the previous day, he was still Brian to me. Sweet, nice Brian. When I deftly pulled away from him and gave him my back, intent on finishing my chore, he took it…well, let’s just say he took it quite badly. Two seconds later, I was flung over his shoulder.
“Damn it! Bri!”
“You should have listened to me, but no, you had to make comments,” I heard him mutter under his breath.
“Brian, put me down, damn it!”
“No.”
He slapped my ass, just to prove his point, I’m sure. It was a good thing the salve had worked its magic and my butt barely ached this morning. I was dressed too, in denim cut-offs and a yellow tank top. I even wore underwear. I know: crazy, right? “Come on, you can’t do this to me again.”
“Should have listened to me.”
“Argh!” I beat on his back with both fists. He didn’t even flinch. Damn shifters from hell! I ended up sprawled on his sofa, glaring at him as best I could. Of course, he wasn’t even aware as he’d started pacing the room as soon as he’d dropped me down. “Brian?”
He jerked toward me so fast, I nearly fell off of the cushions. Pasting a wide and very fake smile on my face, I said, “I’m all ears.”
He growled.
* * * *
“Well, damn.” I blinked. “Really?”
He swore. “What do you think?”
“But you were so…so nice!” I couldn’t believe he’d turned to BDSM as a way to counteract his ever-increasing aggressive tendencies. Seriously. I could have believed it of any of the others, but certainly not him. Not the Brian I once knew and loved like a brother… He was the kind one, damn it! I remember as a child thinking he looked like a red-haired angel, all wide smile and dimples. But now, he got a kick out of dominating people. What the hell?
“I’m still nice!”
I tilted my head to the side and looked him over. “Are you really?”
“I just have a preference for kinky sex. I like being a Dom; it’s not that big a deal.”
“Bri, you tied me up to the telephone pole and spanked me!”
He shrugged. “You asked for it.”
I felt my eyes widen at his words. “Are you freaking kidding me?” His eyes darkened, and this time I did realize I’d gone too far. Time to backtrack. “Okay, okay, so what now? You want me to…to what?”
“I want to mate with you. I want to have sex with you. I want to tie you up and spank you and make you mine in every possible way.”
Oh hell. “I’m not sure I’d like to be spanked again. It hurt, you know.”
“I’ll be careful.”
“Brian… I love you, but really, no.”
“Please?” He knelt at my feet, his palms heavy on my bare knees. “I want to show you how good it can be.”
Chewing on my lower lip, I thought about it. He was the last one standing. Could I really him tell him no when I’d agreed to the triplets’ foursome idea without even batting an eyelash? What would that make me? “No pain.”
“Nothing that won’t be pleasurable.”
I knew he skirted the edge once again, but I nodded anyway. I could go back to normal once this was done, right? Before I could finish that thought, he was on me. Lips found mine, lips that had only previously brushed against my lips or forehead were now tasting my mouth as if there was no tomorrow. I slid my fingers into his thick hair and opened under his assault. He laid on top of me, pushing me back against the cushions until I hung halfway off the sofa. His lips left mine to trace a path down my neck. Like his cousins the day before, he inhaled at the bandage covering my marked skin. “Who did this to you?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” I grabbed him by the neck and pulled him up for another kiss. If I could just lose myself in him, I’d be fine. He moved onto his knees and grabbed the hem of my tank. Slowly, oh so slowly, he tugged it up, past my shoulders, past my head, past my…
“Hey!” He only laughed. He’d tied the soft cotton around my wrists so my arms were now stuck in this position. “Brian, come on.”
“Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.”
That was easy to say! But it’s true, the more he caressed me, the more I started enjoying being tied up. He opened the front clasp of my bra and tweaked my nipples into submission. I gasped, but he didn’t relent. Twisting, pulling, sucking, he did it all, and by the time I could think again, my orgasm wasn’t far away either. “God!”
He chuckled again, the sound so familiar, I had to blink. We weren’t teenagers anymore. We were both adults, both half-naked and sweaty and… “I want to eat you up,” he murmured then as he drew my shorts and panties down my legs. “You smell so fucking good.”
“Oh.” Wow. Yes!

 
 

 
 
Chapter Twelve
And Even Harder Cocks
 
 
I writhed under him, my breasts tight and achy, my pussy yearning for something to fill it. “Brian! Please. Pleaaase.”
“What do you want?”
“Um… Um…”
“No, that’s not it. I’m listening.”
I shook my head, unable to come up with an answer. My thoughts were too jumbled, my breathing erratic. I’d never been so aroused in my life, or at least, I couldn’t remember it. “Fuck me?” Yeah, that sounded good.
“Not good enough,” came his sharp response.
What? I frowned but didn’t have the time to comment. He lifted me up with ease and turned me so my face was mashed against a cushion. It was a good thing he’d untied my wrists minutes earlier, otherwise this would be seriously uncomfortable. One arm under my stomach, he pulled me up so I was on my hands and knees. Again? “Bri…” I started but never finished.
His right palm found my right butt cheek, the sound of the slap reverberating through the small room. I shrieked, but it was only when I stopped that I realized it hadn’t hurt. A pleasant tingling had spread through my ass. I jiggled experimentally, from left to right, then in circles. Nope, still quite nice. He picked that moment to spank me again, this time my left cheek. It smarted but oh damn it was good too. Juices trickled down my thighs, and I was so focused on them that I nearly yelled when his tongue found them too.
“Oh God.” I hung my head down, closed my eyes to better concentrate on the amazing feeling of Brian’s raspy tongue on my clit. “Oh, yes. Just like that.”
He drew back, and after a final pat on my pussy, moved into position. His cock pressed against my entrance, his girth enough to make my mouth form an “O” as he started pushing. He was unrelenting. He pushed and pushed some more until all of him was inside me. I felt full—sure, not as full as when the triplets had taken me, but still incredibly full. He felt amazing too.
“Yes,” he growled behind me when he touched my cervix. “Yes! Finally.”
I arched my back, and he took the opportunity offered. His hand snaked around my hair, pulling my head back, forcing me higher on my hands. I squealed, but he was already sliding out of me. He thrust back in. No, he rammed himself back in.
It hurt, but like the spanking, it was a weird sort of good hurt. I could feel how aroused I was, how close to the edge I was. A few more thrusts, erratic as they’d become, and that was all it took. I focused on the feel of him so deep inside me, of his harsh breathing in my ear, his fingers clasped tight around my hair, and I let go. I opened myself up to that sweet passion and screamed.
Oh God, did I scream…
* * * *
I’m happy to report that, for once, one of the lions came and did not hurt me or maim me in the process. Result!
I stumbled out of Brian’s house and blinked at the bright sunlight. It’d felt as if hours had passed since he’d carried me away from my laundry, but it looked like it was still mid-afternoon. My stomach rumbled, reminding me I’d missed lunch. I stopped in the middle of the path and considered my options. My fridge looked a bit depleted, so I could either go to Wal-Mart and buy some more food, or I could go to the nearest diner and grab a burger. Decisions, decisions… Ten minutes later, I walked to my car, purse and keys in hand.
“Jade?”
I whirled to the left and waved at Logan in the distance. “Yeah?”
“Where you going?”
I rolled my eyes at his not-so-well-hidden protectiveness. “Diner. I’m hungry!”
“Oh. Hold up, I’ll come with!”
Watching him run toward me, I fought the urge to roll my eyes once again. I mean, really! By the time he reached me, I was sliding into the driver seat of my rusted car. He made a face at the sight of it but slid dutifully beside me.
I was closing my door when footsteps echoed on the gravelly path. “Where are you guys going?”
“Sam? We’re going to the diner to get something to eat. Wanna come?” I asked, already knowing his answer.
“Sure. Good idea. I’m famished.”
“You ate two rabbits earlier.”
“That was a snack, bro,” he said as he jumped into the backseat. “Let’s roll!”
We rolled.
* * * *
I felt a lot better already. We’d had our burgers. Or rather, I’d had one burger and some ’slaw, and they’d had three each. With fries. And shakes. Let’s just say I seriously hated eating out with them. I gained inches just by looking at an ice cream sundae, and they could eat five in a row and not worry. Shifters’ metabolism, me wants it.
I loved our local diner, though. It was really the only place that was always open when you needed something to eat, a wide space covered in wood beams and huge signs advertising what was on the menu. Ribs, burgers, tacos. The usual all-American fare. But damn, that grease felt good. It’d felt even better today. I wasn’t entirely sure why. Maybe having so much sex over the past few days had increased my appetite. I’d burnt too many calories and now needed to replenish my body’s energy levels? Who knew!
I’d even managed to share small talk with the town’s police officers. I’d forgotten the chief always ate there. He’d seen me with Sam and Logan and had asked way too many nosy questions. How long had I been back? How long was I staying? How was Leo? It was the questions I’d seen in his eyes, the ones he hadn’t asked, that had left me rattled. I knew the locals were aware something was odd with the way we lived. They all thought we were some sort of hippie commune, people coming and going all the time. But now that Sara was gone, now that so many members had left, they’d probably realized I was the only woman left. I saw him watch me from the corner of his eye as we made our way toward the exit. The chief nodded at me, and I nodded back. I could still feel his gaze on my back as I opened the car and slid inside. Yes, I thought, I’m a slut and everyone knows it. I shivered and forced myself to ignore them all. They didn’t know about us after all. They didn’t know how I’d become my lions’ mate. No one did.
* * * *
My parents hadn’t been aware their long-time friend Sara had been a lioness. They probably wouldn’t have asked her to become my guardian if anything ever happened to them if they’d known I would then become a member of one of the last American Prides.
I still remember that first day as if it was only yesterday. I’d been a shy teenager, burying myself in books, making sure no one really noticed me sitting there in the corner. But the domain wasn’t like my very proper and air-conditioned house in the Santa Monica Mountains. Everyone knew each other. Everyone knew what the other was doing. I could feel gazes on me everywhere I went, and it soon drove me crazy. I was too used to being anonymous; I couldn’t deal with all that staring!
I’d run away my third night there.
I later learned I’d picked the wrong moment. Lions rest during the hot afternoon, not at night. Leo had followed me, sent by a worried Sara. She hadn’t known how to approach me then, our relationship only in its first awkward stages. I’d been walking in the tundra, my torchlight shaking in my hand. I was mad. I was afraid. I was so goddamn tired of it all.
I’d stumbled and would have fallen flat on my face but for the arm that had suddenly wrapped around my waist. I’d been pulled back against a hard chest, a voice whispering in my ear, telling me everything would be all right. That the pain would go away after a while. I hadn’t even noticed I was crying until Leo had turned me around and wiped the tears from my face. Thinking back on it, I think I fell in love with him that night.
When the other four men had appeared behind us, I remember jumping in fright. They’d been crowding us, asking Leo what’d happened, if I was all right. The worry in their eyes, the genuine affection in their voices, had made me realize something. I’d thought I was on my own, but clearly I hadn’t been.
They’d walked me back to the domain and had started talking, I guess to make me think of something other than my parents. When they’d mentioned their lion selves, I’d made a cutting remark. Doubted them. Made fun of them. Then Brian had shifted and become this huge lion. Right in front of me. I’d freaked out, but he’d bumped my hand with his head, acting so much like my old cat had that I’d stopped short. They’d surrounded me then, their furs brushing every part of my body almost as if they were hiding me from the rest of the world. From that night on, I’d become theirs to take care of.
I hadn’t known then, but that’s when they’d decided to make me their mate. They’d waited for me to grow older to make me theirs in truth, but our lives had been entwined ever since.

 
 
 
 
Chapter Thirteen
Fun by the Wayside
 

 
We were on our way back to the Pride domain when sudden tension rose inside the car. At first, I couldn’t say what started it. When my breasts started budding inside my bra, though, I knew I was in trouble. “Stop it,” I hissed, focusing on the road ahead.
“I can’t.”
“We can’t,” added Logan behind me. They’d switched positions on the ride back, and I suddenly wondered if they hadn’t planned it.
“Why not?”
“You’re our mate. We want you. It’s just… It just is.”
I gasped, my skin breaking into goose bumps. Something slithered around my body, an alluring scent that made my pussy twitch and my insides feel achingly empty. “We’re in the car!” I tried.
“So?” Sam slid closer to me. My car was a very old model with a bench in front and a bench in the back. Nothing separated us soon but the thin layers of clothes we both wore.
“Sam, come on. Can’t you just wait until we get home?”
“Why?” He leaned down and started nuzzling my neck. “You smell good.”
I reached with my right hand, intent on pinching his thigh, but my palm brushed against his cock instead. He was rock hard underneath the cotton of his board shorts. My fingers clenched around the rigid length all on their own. No, really. He groaned and nipped the side of my neck.
I kept my eyes open, hoping no one would spot us through the dirty windshield. No cops, no neighbors, no one. And as I kept on driving, the two brothers turned up the heat.
I’d had to break and signal to the right. Parking erratically, I widened my legs as far as I could and focused, finally, on the feel of Sam’s fingers. His thumb pressing hard on my clit, two fingers slid down and pressed inward. I inhaled sharply, but they weren’t finished.
Logan’s hands found my breasts from behind, pinching my nipples through my shirt and bra combined. I keened, the sound so damn loud inside the car, I should have felt ashamed. And yet, I couldn’t care less. It was as if there were a fire inside me that only they could extinguish.
I rocked my hips in time with Sam’s caresses, my mouth open, my words begging. “Make me come. I need to come!”
“Just a ’lil bit more, honey,” he drawled back.
I knew he was watching me come undone. I could feel his gaze on me, heavy and heady all at the same time. I spread my legs some more and pushed down, making his fingers bump into that one amazing spot inside me. I groaned out loud and did it all over again. He twisted his fingers so they rubbed against it even more. His thumb caressed my clit in tiny concentric circles.
By the time Logan’s palms slid under my clothes and palmed my breasts, I was a goner. I lit up like fireworks and screamed, the sound echoing inside my car for long minutes.
* * * *
I’d managed to drive us back, but we had yet to move from the parking lot. They’d taken my clothes off and had made me lie on the hood, the sun setting on the horizon.
I shivered a little as I waited for them to make the next move. I felt a bit like an offering to an unknown deity, lying there naked for all eyes to see. My breasts pointed to the sky, my arms and legs wide open.
A tongue started lapping at my slit. I closed my eyes and reveled in the sensation. It was soft but insistent, eager but targeted. It was only when it slid slowly over my rose that I moved. “What…”
“Shhh.” Hands pushed me back down. “Let us love you.”
“But—”
“Don’t worry, Jade. We just want to please you.”
I wasn’t too sure how the two things were related, but I decided to stay put for the moment. It’d felt odd but nice too, the caress soft. When he did it again and again, I finally understood what they wanted. It was Sam’s turn, wasn’t it? I imagined being taken by the two men right here, right now, and grew faint. “Guys?”
A mouth landed on mine, effectively shutting me up. I lost myself in the kiss, trying to forget how the other man steadfastly prepared me down there. It is a good thing I already came once, I thought when they moved into position minutes later. I ignored how my car had suddenly become the place du jour, too intent on not crying out as Sam’s cock breached that tight rim of muscles. My thighs cramped as I lowered myself over him. The position was slightly awkward, with him lying down and me facing away from him, but at least I could take it slow… And God, he was big like that. His hands on my hips, he controlled my movements, his breathy murmurs encouraging me to take it all.
“That’s it, baby. Just a ’lil bit more.”
I finally leaned back against his chest, and we both lay on the hood of my car, panting as we stared at the stars appearing above our heads. It was a strangely peaceful moment. It didn’t last long however.
Logan made his presence known by widening our legs. He moved between them and patted my clit approvingly. “Looking good, hon. Looking good.”
I rolled my eyes. What did he want me to say? Thank you?
“Do your thing, bro,” Sam said from beneath me as his hands slid over my chest. He cupped my breasts, pinching my nipples between hard fingers. “Then, we’ll have some fun.”
“You don’t say.” Logan’s face appeared in my line of vision, and I realized he was aligning himself with us. With me. Fingers opened me up seconds before his cock pushed inside me.
My walls stretched around his invasion, my breath hitching in my throat at the feel of them both. So tight, so tight, I thought with a shudder. “Guys…”
“Oh yeah, baby. Oh-fucking-yeah.”
“Fuck, Log, I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like it.”
“My turn next time. I want to feel that ass too.”
“I’m still here,” I said through gritted teeth. I may be sandwiched between the two men, but I was still an important participant in this game of theirs!
“Sorry, Jade.” Logan grinned before dropping a quick kiss on my lips. “You okay?”
I nodded, a jerky movement that didn’t really say anything. I wasn’t sure if I was okay, to be truthful. I felt stretched in all directions, the sounds of the tundra ringing around us making it all seem so weird. We were having a threesome in the middle of the parking lot. On top of my car, of all things! “Next time, could we at least try to find a bed first?” I finally said.
They laughed, but then they’d already started thrusting, so it became a moot point. Perfectly in sync, they slid in and out of me, one after the other. I’m sure they looked amazing from a distance, all sinuous movements and golden limbs. From my point of view, they felt very…male.
I opened my eyes to find Logan’s eyes on me. He smiled and lowered his head to brush his lips against mine. I touched his tongue accidentally on purpose, making him growl. He attacked my mouth, and I fell into his kiss, only coming back up to breathe when Sam started nipping at the skin of my neck. “No biting!” I yelped.
“No biting,” he agreed, but still didn’t move away from it.
“Sam!”
“You smell so damn good, Jade. I want to taste you.”
“You mean my blood, don’t you?”
“Yeah…” His voice was soft and breathy, almost as if he was imagining what it’d be like. Help!
“Don’t.” The growl came from behind us. Trent appeared on our left, and as he sat on the hood only inches from us, I couldn’t help but blink. “So, you decided not to wait for me?”
Oh shit! Had they agreed only to have sex with me while being the three of them together? “Sorry?” I said, even though it had nothing to do with me. Well, nearly nothing.
“I wasn’t talking to you, Jade.” He smiled down at me. “Having fun?” I nodded. “You’re not close to coming, are you?” I shook my head. “That’s what I thought. Need more stimulation, I’m sure.”
“We know what we’re doing,” Sam growled, raising his head so I had to move up, too. Logan had leaned back so he was standing upright, his cock still embedded in me.
I shivered at the sparks that flew between them all. “Should we move elsewhere?”
“No!” came from two different mouths.
“We’re not finished.”
“She’s not aroused, assholes.” That was Trent for ya. Always to the point. The three of them might be identical in looks, but personality-wise, he’d always been the one in charge. Even the rest of the Pride went to Trent if they had a question. Easier all around, I guess.
“She was! She came in the car earlier.”
“But she’s not going to come again if you keep this up. You know it.”
Logan sighed and pulled back, making me gasp at the feel of his cock sliding out of me. “No!” I sat up, I guess I was going to pull him back, but the movement made me fall deeper onto Sam’s erection and my, did I feel that. “Ah!”
“Shhh.” Sam laid back down and forced me to move with him. “Careful, hon. We don’t want to hurt you.”
I blinked, unsure of what to do next. “Now what?”
Logan’s voice rang in the semi-darkness. “Now I get you off.”
Ohhhh.

   
 
 
Chapter Fourteen
Revelations
 
 
I ached everywhere.
From my thighs to my butt to my abs, my body was a never-ending array of little pains. It’d been a week now since I’d finally given in and had mated with the five lions that made up our Pride. I’d known what it would be like, having seen mated couples before, but five lovers meant five times the amount of work. Make that five times the amount of sex. ’Lil old me couldn’t cope anymore; there was just no way around it. I had to take a break from the loving parade or I’d be out of commission for longer than they’d like.
I’d told them the night before over a BBQ dinner that had started nicely enough. When I’d tried to make my point though, they’d turned into animals. I’d seen the lions in their eyes, known it was only a matter of time before they shifted. Considering lions have spines on their penises, that was the one thing I couldn’t let them get away with. So, I’d fled and locked myself in my house.
Now it was the morning after, and I knew they were waiting for me outside. I stepped out into the bright sunlight and shaded my eyes with my open palm. “Guys? Can we talk?”
They walked toward me and stopped at the bottom of my front porch. “We would like to apologize,” Leo said as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Our lions reacted badly last night, but our aim wasn’t to scare you.”
“I… Okay. That’s fine.”
“No, it’s not fine,” Logan said, shaking his head. “You shouldn’t be afraid of us. You’re our mate, and we would never hurt you.”
“Then you should have understood what I was saying. I’m the only one here. There are five of you! There’s only so much my body can take before it starts to hurt!”
They all winced at that. “It’s just we want you so much,” Brian tried to explain.
I cut him off, “I know that! I want you too; that’s not the issue here. You know why I left last time, don’t you? I couldn’t cope with the idea of being too human for you guys.”
My announcement was met with complete silence. They looked shocked, more shocked than I’d ever seen them, and that included the time I’d started my period for the first time. Sara had been gone, so I’d had to go to them for advice about sanitary products. Not one of my nicer moments that.
“What do you mean by that, Jade?” Leo said moments later.
“You know what I mean!” I exploded. “I’m human, you’re not. You’re shifters. You’re strong as hell; you’ll outlive me by dozens of years. You’re… You want me to be your mate, and now I am, but don’t you see how completely wrong this can go?”
“We love you,” Sam added, as if that would change everything.
“I love you too. I love all of you. It still doesn’t change the fact that I’m human and you’re not. I can’t be a lioness. I shouldn’t even be part of this Pride!”
At that, they all growled. Great! “Please, understand where I’m coming from…” I pleaded, my fingers tensing as I waited for their response.
“What do you want from us, Jade? We’re lions, true. We’re shifters, also true. We’re not human and never will be. Does that mean you don’t want to be our mate anymore? You want to quit already?” Trust Trent to get right to the heart of the problem.
“No.” I shook my head, almost violently. “I don’t want to leave again. I love being here. I love this Pride, even if there are only us left. It’s just…” I bit my lip and sighed, suddenly feeling defeated. “I don’t know. I just feel sometimes as if you’d be far better off if you had a lioness here instead of me.”
“You want us to get another mate?”
I refused to answer and took the coward way out. I turned around and stepped back inside, closing the door behind me without a noise. Blinking back tears, I thought about Brian’s question and realized I didn’t know the answer. No, of course not. I didn’t want them to get someone else. I loved them, as silly as it was. I’d grown up with them. They were my family. My Pride. But nothing would change the fact I wasn’t a lioness and would never truly be part of their world. And that, that hurt. A whole lot more than whatever they could do to my body…
* * * *
I’d hid in my bed all day long, alternately watching the fan circling over my head or reading an old Harlequin Sara had left in the bathroom. She used to run herself a bath at night, always taking a book with her so she could have an hour of me-time and forget about the Pride’s problems. I remember being jealous of that time she spent by herself, wondering why she kept the door locked, wondering why she didn’t want to spend it with me. I’d been eager for her affection and time, never wanting to leave her side at times. But today, I could easily understand why she’d needed that moment of peace. Even now, with the Pride so depleted, I could understand wanting to disappear away from it all.
But, as I shuffled downstairs only wearing a thin nightshirt, a leftover of my “prairie” teenage fashion, I knew I couldn’t disappear. Not now that everything hung in the balance. They had to see we needed to come up with a Pride structure if we wanted to live together. Surely, they knew they wouldn’t be able to let their cocks rule for much longer?
As the question rang in my mind, I stumbled a little over the last step and gasped.
A voice rang in the semi-darkness, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I finally managed to respond. I turned the lights on and blinked in shock. They were all sitting in my lounge, taking over the two sofas that formed an L in front of the widescreen TV. “What are you doing here?”
“We need to talk.”
Ah, crap! “I see.” Remembering my state of undress, I added, “I should go get dressed then.”
“No need,” Leo said, motioning with his head for me to sit on the lone armchair. “Please, Jade.”
I could have gone upstairs anyway and gotten dressed, but who knows if I’d have the guts to come back down afterward. To make it easier on everyone involved, I decided to follow his order and sat down.
Leaning back against the armchair, I tucked my feet under me and tugged the nightie down. “All right then. Talk away.”
“We… We understand why you’re worried. We understood it before too.”
I couldn’t help but snort at that. “Is that right?”
“Jade!” Brian snapped. “Can’t you just listen for once?”
“Fine.” I crossed my arms over my chest and fought the pouting look that was sure to have taken over my face.
I watched as Leo leaned forward, his face tense. His eyes found mine, and he said, “You don’t think you should be our mate because you’re not a lioness. That…makes sense. It does. But you see, you are becoming one, so the point is moot.”
I blinked. “Say what?”
“You’re turning into a lioness, Jade. Haven’t you felt how your body is slowly beginning to react to ours? Logan and Samuel told me it happened in the car the other day. I know I felt it yesterday when we were in the garden.”
I blinked some more. “What do you mean? I can’t become a lioness. I’m human!” Hello?
“You were human. You’ll be a shifter. Like us.”
“Like you?”
He nodded. My thoughts in disarray, I took the time to look at the five of them. They appeared to think this was normal, as if I should have expected it too. But of course! Sara had never mentioned this when she’d talked about my becoming their mate. I’d just assumed I’d stay human. What the hell was going on? And why the hell had no one ever warned me? Anger sparked inside me, and my head snapped up.
“Are you freaking kidding me? Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“We weren’t sure it’d work,” Trent said, as if that was excuse enough.
I saw red. “And you didn’t think to warn me anyway? Did I ever say I wanted to become a shifter?” My voice rose along my temper. “Did I?”
“You’re our mate, Jade. We would never want to grow old without you.”
They appeared serious. I am going to kill them! “How is this happening?” I said through gritted teeth, more for form than anything else.
They took it literally, however. Leo cleared his throat and said, “We’ve all bloodied you over the past week. In lion form, I mean.”
“No, you haven’t. I mean, yes, you and Samuel, but not the others.”
“We have, baby,” Brian interjected from the opposite corner. “Our cocks have spines, remember?”
“Only when you’ve shifted!” They all stared at me, and that’s when I finally understood. I’d bled a few times those past days, just a smear or two after a particularly energetic bout of sex with one or two of them. I’d thought it was just from, well, wear and tear I guess, but no, they’d actually shifted so they could make me bleed. The bastards! “I can’t believe you did this to me.”
Trent shifted in his seat. “We did it for you, Jade.”
I gasped. “What?”
“We didn’t want to hurt you,” Leo added, but by now I’d heard this motto so often I knew it for what it was: empty air. It was nothing but something they said to ease their conscience. But it wasn’t true. Oh no, it wasn’t.
“I… You should leave.”
“Baby, come on. Think about it. You’re one of ours now. What you’ve always wanted… Remember?”
I stared back at Logan and felt my control slip. To have my dream handed back to me like that, as if I should be pleased they’d never asked me what I wanted, as if I should just trust them with my life because I was their mate, God damn it! “Get out. All of you!” I stood up, almost vibrating from anger and pain.
“Jade, please, listen to us.”
“Get out!”
At a sign from Leo, they stood up and walked past me. I watched them leave, my heart heavy, my head pounding. When he turned back on the threshold and stared back at me, I nearly cracked. What he said next, however, made the tears start. “We love you, Jade. We’ve always loved you. We couldn’t live without you, not anymore. We lost you once; we couldn’t lose you again. Please understand. We needed to make you ours, and we have. I apologize if we hurt you, albeit unintentionally. Think about it, baby. Please.” And with that, he turned and stepped outside, closing the front door behind him without a sound.
I choked and fell back down on the armchair, wrapping my arms around me as if to protect myself. But I was too late.
As always, I was too late…

 

 

 
 

 

 
Chapter Fifteen
The Easy Way Out…or Not
 

 
I hadn’t been able to sleep, their words and explanations echoing inside my head like a relentless litany. And so, I’d slipped my feet into my trusted flip-flops and had gone outside. My wandering led me to the Pride cemetery, and here I was, looking down at Sara’s grave, missing her so much, my heart cried at the thought of never seeing her again. “I need you,” I whispered into the night. “I miss you so much.”
What would she tell me if she was here now? Why hadn’t she told me I would need to become a lioness to become their mate in truth? Would I have accepted it better if she had? I recalled how I had been at eighteen and frowned. Probably not.
I had so many questions, I realized. What would I become? Did shifting hurt? What if I became pregnant? Between finding out who the dad was out of the five of them and wondering if it’d be born as a baby or a cub, I couldn’t even imagine going through all that without going crazy. Damn it, why did I come back here? I hugged myself and brushed away the tears that snaked down my cheeks.
A branch snapped behind me, and I whirled around. “Who’s there?” I squinted but couldn’t spot anyone, just black on black as trees and shrubs danced in the wind. Guessing it was one of the men spying on me to make sure I was okay, I decided to go back home and lock myself in. Again. I didn’t want to talk to any of them. I felt so jittery, I was bound to say something I shouldn’t.
But when I drew close to my cabin, something had been deposited against my front door. I took a deep breath and leaned down, grabbing the old-fashioned notepad between shaky fingers. As soon as I was once more safe inside, I turned the lights on and opened the front cover.
Sara O’Clare. 1975.
I reared back. This was Sara’s diary? “Leo…” I whispered. He was the only one who could have given it to me, but why?
I guess there was only one way to find out. Snuggling on the sofa, covered with one of her crocheted throws, I began reading.
* * * *
Dawn peaked on the horizon, but I hadn’t noticed. I was looking unseeingly at the wall behind the TV, the implications of what I’d read taking huge proportions in my head. Sara had been turned. I’d always thought she’d been a lioness by birth, probably because of how regal she was, how everyone treated her too. But no, she’d been bitten by her mate, Leo’s dad. I’d never met him; he’d died after a fight with another American Pride when Leo had been young. I had heard, however, that his son resembled him in everything, so I could easily imagine what happened to Sara.
She hadn’t had a chance. She’d lived not far from the Pride and had met him at the local gas station, falling head over heels for his dark good looks. He’d fallen too, but never told her what he was. Well, not until he’d bitten her one day, marking her, making her his mate.
Days later, she shifted for the first time and moved into the Pride, the wife of their Leader when she’d just been an innocent young girl before. What a shock it must have been. What a hellish transition too. At least I’d known what to expect. Not all of it, sure, but I’d grown up with these men. I knew them. I trusted them, even when it appeared I shouldn’t always.
Everything made sense now. She’d always acted as if I was part of the Pride, as if it was entirely natural if I, one day, became their mate. I’d never understood that. After all, I’d been human, so it would never have worked. But she’d been human too, and that hadn’t stopped her from leading us.
I understood Leo’s actions a lot better now too. After that awful argument when I’d implied his mother hadn’t been rational when she’d chosen me, he hadn’t spoken to me for a couple days. Knowing him, it must have irked him greatly not to be able to explain it all to me. Of course, if he’d told me then I’d soon become a shifter, I wouldn’t have believed him.
I’d been too young before to understand, but before they could tell me what would happen, I’d fled the Pride. I only had myself to blame, it appeared. If I’d trusted them, Sara included, I would never have left. I’d already be their mate, and maybe she’d still be here with us…
Sadness clung to me as I untangled myself from the throw. I pushed myself upright and stretched. Joints creaked, making me gasp, the sudden pain fainting just as it’d started. “Damn it,” I croaked. Not now, I added inwardly. I didn’t want to shift yet. I wasn’t ready!
Fear spiked inside me. I found myself fleeing from my house, running as fast as I could. I stumbled, my sandals just not made for this. I cried out, kicked them off, and was off again. I ran and ran until sweat poured down my face and back, until I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, until I could barely breathe. But I kept going, unable to stop myself.
I was fleeing from my future, just like I’d done all those years ago. I thought I’d grown up, matured. I thought I could endure it all. I thought love would be enough. But all that had shattered when they’d told me they’d turned me without my consent. Instead of fighting them, though, I’d taken the easy way out. “Damn it!” This time, I shouted it.
And stilled to a stop.
I was in the middle of the tundra, miles from the Pride domain. The sun had risen and already beat relentlessly over my unprotected self. I wore only a tank top and shorts, my feet now sporting myriad cuts and bruises. “Shit.” My head hung down, my surroundings suddenly spinning. “No!” I looked up again, my nails biting into the soft flesh of my palms as a way to wake me up. I couldn’t stay here. Not in this state, I couldn’t. I needed to go back to the domain. Yes, I had to walk back.
I looked up at the sun and tried to orient myself. Sweat glided into my eyes. “Ouch.” I wiped at them, but I still blinked when someone stepped behind me.
I heard them move. Maybe it was the way their clothes rustled as they crept silently toward me. Maybe my lioness was slowly beginning to emerge. All I knew was that I whirled around seconds before they pounced.
I jerked myself backward and landed hard on my ass, the man shifting into a coyote as he flew above my head. His acolyte simply smirked at me as he came to a stand only feet away. “Well, well, well,” he crooned. “Looks like we found what we were looking for. You make it so easy, dear.”
“What do you want?” I snapped back, keeping my eyes on the coyote who slowly circled back to me. I sat up, ready to pounce. Ready to flee. Again.
“You, dear. You’re the one they want to mate with, aren’t you? The Antelope Valley has no more Pride, thanks to you. But now that you’re back, we can’t just let them get back up. No, that just won’t do. The Valley is ours now, isn’t it, brother?”
The coyote growled his assent, intelligence mingling with pure hatred in his gaze.
Shit. Coyote shifters. Just what I needed! Panic slithered inside me. “What do you want from me?” I asked, trying to buy time. I just hoped they wouldn’t be able to scent the lioness in me. I had no idea how coyotes operated, and I sure as hell didn’t want to start learning now. Maybe if they thought nothing had happened yet, that they hadn’t mated with me yet, I could get out of this alive. Yeah, right. I shivered, making the man laugh.
“We were going to kill you, dear, but now that I’ve actually seen you, I think we might take you for a spin first. What do you think, brother?”
The coyote’s tongue popped out in an ugly parody of what was to come. I scrambled backward, laughter ringing loudly in the air surrounding us.
Something popped inside me. I struggled not to cry out, pressing my face against my knees to hide my reaction. Hurt them first, a growl echoed somewhere within me. Bleed them. Hurt them.
Crap! My lioness was on a rampage, and I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t stupid enough to think I would be able to get out of this alive without reinforcement. But could I shift? Would I even know how to?
Let me do it, she answered. I nearly screamed at the sound of her voice inside me. It was so weird.
Trust me, she added. I’ll keep you safe until our mates arrive.
I let go.
 

 
 
 
 
Chapter Sixteen
Blood and Pain
 

 
My joints creaked. Muscles stretched until I thought I would pass out. I could feel bones move inside me, snapping and doing things I wasn’t sure I wanted to contemplate. When I opened my eyes again, I was on all fours.
“Ahhhh!” I screamed, but it came out as a growl instead.
The man and the coyote were staring at me as if I’d grown a second head. I shook my mane and took a shaky step forward. They immediately took two steps back. That’s when I realized something else: as a lioness, I was taller than the coyote. I was also far stronger. I grinned, showing my lovely white fangs.
Blood, she said as she settled inside me. I want blood. Hurt them. Eat them.
I guess they saw the intent in my eyes as they suddenly turned tail and ran back from where they came from. I shifted on my paws, intent on pounding after them and eating them for breakfast when something slammed into my left flank.
I yelped, the movement flattening me against the warm earth. Eager to fight, I snapped my teeth at the intruder until his scent hit me. Leo. Our mate.
As if he’d realized I’d recognized him, he started shifting, ending up in a naked sprawl beside me. “Shift, Jade. Come on, baby, you need to shift before the need for blood overwhelms you.”
I blinked back at him. He looked so succulent like this, bare limbs and golden skin everywhere. I lowered my head and sniffed him, reassuring myself and the lioness that he hadn’t mated with anyone else. He still smelled like us. Me. Us.
I shook my head, trying to stop the dizzying thoughts that were going through it. This duality was more complex than I’d expected. Mmm, eat him instead. Smell that blood. Fuck him, mark him, bloody him. What had Leo said again?
“Shift, Jade. Please, baby, I love you. We love you. Shift!”
Oh yes. Shift. But…huh, how did I do that again?
No, don’t shift. Stay with me, the lioness cried out inside me.
I focused inward, trying to push past the lioness, remembering my human body, remembering also how much I used to hate it during my teenage years. I’d been pudgy, still was for that matter, but the men had always loved me no matter what. For them, I was just Jade, their mate. I thought of the five of them and felt my body start to break apart. Again.
Nooooooooooooo!
I ignored her and forced myself to endure the shift. When I opened my eyes, I was naked in Leo’s arms.
“Hold on, sweetheart. Let me take you home.”
I hung on to him, my arms wrapped around his neck, as he stood up and hurried toward the domain. He did it in a lot less time than I’d done earlier, bellowing everyone’s name, telling them to get their asses into his house. Pronto!
By the time he laid me down on a floor pillow, I was shivering. Logan was the first one to arrive. He gasped when he saw me and asked, “What happened?”
“She shifted. Get her some food. Fast!”
“Shit!” Logan ran to the kitchen.
I watched in silence, half in shock, as they all appeared within seconds. I could hear Leo tell them what had happened. Brian wanted to go out and kill the coyotes, but Leo stopped him. That made me pause. Why didn’t he want to avenge me? They were a threat. They needed to be hurt. Killed. Bloodied.
I blinked at my own thoughts. Since when had I become so bloodthirsty?
“Don’t shift again. Jade, look at me.”
I turned my head to face Leo. “What?”
“Don’t shift. Stay with us, darling, okay?”
I nodded, but I had no idea what was going on. “What?” I repeated, unable to articulate anything else.
He seemed to understand however. “You need to eat, Jade. The hunger is worse the first time you shift.”
“Blood,” I managed to mutter.
“I know. I know.” His hand brushed my hair, soothing me.
Logan dropped a tray piled high with barely cooked hamburgers in front of me. “Eat.”
He’d barely finished speaking before I gobbled one up. And another one. And another one. It was only when the need for blood lessened inside me that I slowed down. “Water?” I asked.
A glass appeared in front of my face. I gulped it down. I closed my eyes, breathed in and out, and tried to focus once more. I couldn’t hear the lioness anymore, but I knew she was there. She’d always be there, I added inwardly. God, no wonder they’d gone crazy when I’d been away. If that was how it was all the time, it was amazing they hadn’t snapped years ago! “I’m sorry,” I finally said when I opened my eyes.
“No, we’re sorry,” Leo answered, kneeling in front of me, the triplets and Brian standing behind him. “We should have been there. We wanted to give you time to get used to your new self. We just never expected the coyotes to find you.”
“They wanted to kill me. They thought we hadn’t mated yet. They want to take over the Valley.”
“In their dreams,” Brian growled, sending a frisson throughout me.
“Oh.”
“What is it? Are you okay?”
“Yes. Yes.” I frowned, wondering what was wrong with me now. A buzzing had started inside my body, making me want to jump and run and… “Oh,” I said again.
“She’s aroused,” Sam commented, lust in his gaze. “Aren’t you, honey?”
“Yes,” I breathed out. “But…why?”
“If you feed your body, through food or sex, it’s easier to control your lioness. You just have to listen to your instincts so she doesn’t take over. You’ll get used to it, Jade.”
“Right.” I couldn’t have this conversation now. Not when desire made my blood pulse, my walls ache to be stretched and my pussy wet for them. I listened to his advice and let my newfound instinct take over. “Fuck me,” I growled, lying back down and widening my legs so they could see how ready I was.
Hands reached for me. I smiled for the first time that day.

 
 

 

 
Chapter Seventeen
Five is the Way to Go
 

 
I couldn’t get enough of them. Sprawled on my back, bare skin brushing every part of my body, I moaned and growled and called out for them to take me. The lioness stalked deep inside me, wanting her share of sex and blood. She taunted me too, reminding me I was here because of her. I tried to shut her up, but she was stronger than me.
“Focus on us, Jade.” Samuel’s fingers bit into the soft skin of my cheeks, forcing my face to his. “Look at me. Look at us.”
“I… I don’t…” I mumbled, not sure I could follow his injunction.
“You can. We believe in you. We always have.” The whisper was in my other ear, Trent’s growl pushing aside my doubts for a brilliant second.
I turned to him and pulled his head down, kissing him with all I had in me. I wasn’t sure how it happened, but I found myself straddling him, anonymous hands reaching for my breasts from behind. I leaned back into the unknown man, heard his intake of breath when my engorged nipples slipped between his fingers.
“You’re so damn hot, baby.” Logan, that was Logan, I was almost sure of it.
Trent broke the kiss, but before I could tell him off, he was already pulling me up. Fingers digging into my hips, he held me over his cock for long seconds, reminding me too of how much stronger he was. A pure shot of adrenaline ran through me at that thought. They could beat the lioness if needed. Even if my control slipped, they would be there. They wouldn’t hurt me if they could avoid it, but they’d stop her.
I found myself gradually relaxing. At the same time, my walls widened to take him in. When he finally let me go, he was so deep inside me, the head of his cock nudged my womb.
“Jade?”
I looked into his eyes. “Yes?”
“Take me.”
I blinked, realizing he offered himself. “Oh.” Shivers ran up my spine. “Yes.” I bent down and nipped his lower lip, earning myself an aroused growl. I was grinning when I moved back. My smile widened when Logan’s hands tightened around my breasts.
I rode Trent, losing myself in the way I moved, in the way they were making me feel. And yet, something inside me was growing. Pleasure, sure, but there was something else too. When I lowered my head and nuzzled his neck, my fangs came out. I bit back a scream and pulled back. “No!”
He took one look at me and shouted, “More! She needs more. Come on!”
Suddenly there were five men around me. Logan moved so Trent could push me onto my back, his cock never sliding out of me as he moved on top. I blinked at the sight of his face suddenly above mine. “What’s going on?” I whispered.
“She’s trying to take over, but we won’t let her. We’ve got you, Jade.” He bent down and kissed his way to my mouth, forcing my attention on him. I fought the rising panic inside me. I needed to control her. I had to be in charge, damn it!
He pulled back, and someone else’s lips found mine. I could feel Trent slide out of me and wondered whether he would slip out and give his place to someone else. But no, it was only to ram back into me, the harsh thrust making me groan.
And so, it began. Every time the lioness tried to force herself to the surface, yelling for blood, one of my mates kissed me or caressed me or fucked me past oblivion. They took turns, as crazy as that was. It lasted for hours, and they only stopped when they thought I needed to eat some more.
The longer it went on, the bloodier the steaks came out of the kitchen. It’s only now that I understand they were building up my taste for blood. Animal blood. Preparing me for my first hunt with them. Back then, however, even though I’d liked my steaks rare before, there came a point when I couldn’t even look at them. But I still craved them. Craved the sweet, sweet taste of blood trickling down my throat. My fangs came down every damn time too. I snarled at them, hating them for making me become this half-person. I was an animal in heat, I remember thinking at one point, my nails lengthening to dangerous proportions as I struggled to stay myself.
If I gave in to anger, I knew all this would have been for nothing. I’d shift. I knew it. A hand fisted into my hair, bringing me unto my knees in front of an impressive erection. “Suck,” Brian said, his voice bellowing an order I couldn’t disobey.
I was still pleasuring him when Leo slapped my ass, forcing me up long enough for him to slide deep inside me. I moaned around Brian’s length, my nails digging into the soft mattress underneath me. Wool popped out of the tears I’d made in the thick material. No one noticed. I realized I was surrounded when two different hands palmed my breasts, one from each side.
“My turn.” Samuel pushed his cousin aside and brushed his cock over my parted lips. “You’re going to deep-throat me, aren’t you, baby? Just as I like it.”
I came for the umpteenth time that night—or day?—soon after. They kept on going, though, and I did too.
When the sun set again, the darkness found me lying on my back, in a room that no longer resembled Leo’s lounge. Shreds of cotton and wool decorated my sweaty limbs. Pools of blood from the leftover meat congealed near my head, the scent alluring but no longer driving me straight to Crazytown. I was panting, my pussy hurting, my breasts aching, my jaw sore. And yet, as I opened my eyes, I started to laugh.
All five men turned to me, wonder in their eyes. Leo was the first one to speak however. “What’s wrong, Jade?”
I sat up and beamed at him. “Nothing! Don’t you see? Nothing’s wrong! I can’t feel her!”
Their breaths whooshed out. “Shit, don’t scare us like that.”
I stood up in one move, wondering at my sudden flexibility. Oh yes, I remembered. I was a lioness now. Half, I corrected inwardly. “Oh!” I grinned. “Can we go to the diner? I want a cheeseburger.”
They were shaking their heads at me now, but I didn’t care. I felt good!
Trent sighed. “Babe, we love you, but we need a break.”
I rolled my eyes and shot back a word he’d used before, just for kicks, “Pussies.”
They were on me in a second. I laughed and batted at them, but in the end, I got what I wanted. We showered, dressed, then…they drove me to the diner where I had three burgers, one malt shake, and fries. Yum.
Welcome back, I toasted myself, as I sat there, surrounded by my mates. My lions.
Mine, I told the lioness, warning her away from them. She might come out soon, but she’d never own me. Not with them by my side. Not when I’d taken over, finally.
I was in control. Yeah, baby.

 

 
 

 

 
Chapter Eighteen
It’s On
 

 
“So gorgeous.”
I shook my head and pranced in front of my mates, happily showing off my new slinky form. They hadn’t shifted yet, wanting to make sure my lioness was under control before they followed suit, and I could see from my lower vantage point that they really liked my shiny golden fur.
Leo’s fingers kneaded that spot just behind my ears, and I closed my eyes in bliss, purring my joy to the world. Damn, but I was really starting to like this new body!
He chuckled and dropped to his knees, bringing his face to mine. “I love you, little one.” I growled, snapping my jaws in a mock attempt to hurt him. “Not so little anymore, is that it?” he commented.
I licked his nose playfully, regretting the fact I couldn’t talk back to him. I had lots of things to say all of a sudden!
He smiled. “I love you too.”
Before I could acknowledge his words, he started shifting. Moments later, he towered above me, his black mane obscuring my view of the sun. He pressed himself against my flank, our furs rubbing until I was sure I now smelled of him. It didn’t come as a huge surprise when the four others shifted and took turns marking me with their scents. My lioness rejoiced in the mating ritual, purring inside me as if I hadn’t denied her just the day before.
I shrugged inwardly and decided to focus on more important things, like the hare I saw running in the distance. Instinct took over, and I pounded after him, ignoring the lions’ growls behind me. I led the chase, knowing they were letting me, and yet not caring one bit. It felt amazing to run like this, all your troubles forgotten as you concentrated on the hunt and nothing else. God, it was great!
There! The lioness yelled, bringing my attention to our prey.

I forced myself to go faster and pounced, capturing the small creature between my front paws. I stared down at it and stilled to a stop.
Poor little rabbit, the human me remarked. It appeared petrified.
Eat it! I’m hungry! the lioness roared, wanting blood.
I hesitated, my jaws open, my fangs only inches from the hare’s neck. I could feel its pulse, smell its fear and the blood beneath it all that called to me like a siren’s song. I knew what I had to do. I wanted it too, but something held me back.
Someone bumped into my shoulder, pushing me aside. I stepped back, but didn’t let go of the animal. It started squirming in my grasp, trying to escape, but unable to detach itself from my claws.
Leo growled beside me, his gaze trapping mine as if he could just order me to do it. Kill it. I growled back. The others became impatient behind us, but I still didn’t make a move.
Kill it, kill it, kill it. The lioness’s chant took over my brain. And yet, I still couldn’t do it.
In the end, I let it go and watched as the hare fled in the opposite direction, probably unaware it’d come so close to being killed. I sighed and dropped down onto the warm earth, my head between my paws.
A tongue swiped my neck, flattening my fur. I understood this was Leo’s way of telling me it was okay. Guess I would have to get used to being this mean machine. It felt good being in this form, but I was too connected to my human self to forget who I was. Which was a good thing. After all, I didn’t want the lioness to take over.
It was a balancing act, they explained to me that evening as we ate dinner under the stars. You had to give yourself to it but not too much, otherwise the equilibrium was shot and you were doomed to behave like an animal. But then, they’d had years to learn it while I was a newbie.
I fell asleep that night, wondering how long it would take me to get it right. Impatience roared its head, but I shushed it. I was in this for the long haul after all.
* * * *
I woke up to the sound of animals fighting. I jerked upright, shouting their names when I heard a lion roar in pain somewhere in the dark. Stumbling out of my cabin, I stilled to a stop. The coyotes were back, and they’d brought reinforcements. Roughly ten of them stood in the middle of the main yard, my mates facing them, already in lion form.
I gulped and grabbed the doorjamb to keep myself from falling over. This was war. They were in our territory. They wanted to take over, just like they’d warned me last time. Brian had gone on a hunting trip only two days ago, trying to locate their hiding place, wanting to hurt them for what they’d done to me. He hadn’t found them, though, and had been mad as hell when he’d come back empty-handed. Guess they’d gone to the next pack and had manipulated them into joining their ranks. They’d known the Pride was even stronger now that the lions were mated. But could the five of them be strong enough to fight against ten fully shifted coyotes? I had no idea.
I bit my lip and swayed on my feet, the lioness screaming for blood inside me. If I joined them, would I hinder them? Help them? Would their protective instincts force them to take care of me and not fight? “Shit,” I whispered under my breath.
Heads turned as soon as the word left my lips.
I took a step back when I realized they were all staring at me, lions and coyotes alike. The urge to flee back into my house and lock myself in surged, but I fought it. Instead, I squared my shoulders and walked down the front steps, my gaze finding my mates, counting them, making sure they were okay. Blood dripped from a cut on Logan’s side; my heartbeat accelerating at the sight. He growled at me when I neared him, but I didn’t take heed. I stepped amidst my Pride members and stood tall, staring back at the intruders facing us.
“This is our domain,” I spoke loud enough to be heard above the assorted grunts and growls. “Our Valley.”
The coyote in the middle snapped its jaws toward me, the gesture clear in its violence.
I forced myself to stay put. I couldn’t let them see my fear, couldn’t let them smell it either. Taking a deep breath, I added, “We are stronger than you, and you know it, so why don’t you run back to where you came from?”
The coyotes shifted forward, their beady eyes on me and no one else. I felt Leo and Trent behind me, knowing they were moving into position, even though I couldn’t see them. A tactical maneuver it was called, and God knew why I was thinking about that now. I cleared my throat. “You will die here today if you don’t leave. You know that, right?”
Angry growls responded to my taunting words. Fur slid against my bare legs, a tail wrapping around my wrist as if to tug me back. I got the message. With a last, “Die then if you’re that stupid!” meant to anger them even more, I lunged backwards and forced my body to shift. It hurt. My surprised yip ended on a prolonged growl when I found myself covered by a heavy body. I sniffed and relaxed when I understood Brian was the one protecting me.
His fur tickled my nose, but it didn’t last long. A short moment later, when I concentrated on listening to the sounds erupting around us, trying to discern what was going on, his body moved. Or rather, he was flung away.
I didn’t have time to react. Two coyotes were on me, one grabbing hold of my front left paw, the other my tail. Teeth slid past my fur, into my skin, the scent of blood immediate.
No! the lioness roared.
Then, she took over.
 
 

  
 
 

Chapter Nineteen

The Aftermath
 
 
I opened my eyes and blinked at the bright sky above me. Long, white clouds slowly drifted past, the sun playing peek-a-boo with me. I found myself smiling at the utter peacefulness of it all. That is, until the scent of blood hit me.
I jerked upright. I was sitting in the middle of our yard, or rather what was left of it. Bodies were scattered around me, coyotes and humans alike. I scrambled to my knees, my body starting to shake. “Leo?” I called out, my voice faint. “Guys?”
No one answered.
I pushed to a stand and whirled around. I couldn’t see them. I leaned over a body and bit back a sob. The man’s sightless eyes stared back at me. He’d died with his mouth in a sneer. I could see his intestines from where I was.
“Shit!” I took two steps back and forced myself to breathe through my nose. I would not be sick. Not now when I needed to look for my mates. They couldn’t be dead!
I circled the yard and counted the bodies. Ten of them. There were ten dead men. I exhaled. Loudly. That was good. We’d done it. We’d fought and won. But where the hell were my mates?
That’s when I heard it. The sound of sirens in the distance. “Oh no!” I sprinted toward the entrance of the domain, only stopping when I noticed I was still naked. Cursing under my breath, I veered directions, stopped in the nearest cabin—Samuel’s—for all of two seconds, and came back out wearing one of his shirts. It was a good thing he wasn’t the most organized person in the world and it’d been easy to find. His kitchen looked like my bedroom: plates and clothes piled high on the table. Mind you, considering I was the only one who cooked these days, it didn’t really matter how he decorated his house.
I forced myself to think of unrelated things, but when I came into view of our parking lot and saw the three police cars parked there, I nearly had a heart attack. The shock lessened a little when I spotted my mates facing the local chief. They were only wearing jeans, their hair uncombed, their jaws unshaven, making them look all the more disreputable. My heart beat a little faster, my insides pulsing. They were alive…and they looked good enough to eat. If it wasn’t for the police, I’d have jumped on them the next second.
They scented me first. I could see the tension making their shoulders rise, their postures straightening as I walked toward them. They didn’t turn around, but they knew I was here. I pasted a fake—and very bright—smile on my face and shook my hair down my back.
“Hi! What’s going on?” I pushed past Logan and leaned against Leo’s side, my red toenail polish glittering in the sun.
Silence met my words. I knew how I must look. Disheveled, tanned, nearly naked. My breasts were heavy enough they swung under the shirt, my nipples puckering at the sudden male attention. The lions bristled, I could feel them, but they stayed quiet as I went on with my plan.
I played the part of the ingénue, smiling and giggling and leaning forward so the chief and his aides could appreciate the way my body moved. By the time I understood what they were doing here—someone had called about animal noises coming from our compound— I had them wrapped around my little finger. It helped sometimes being a blonde with big boobs, I thought as I watched the dust rising behind their departing cars.
When I could no longer see them in the distance, growls erupted. Arms snaked around me, bringing me against a hard chest. Leo stared down at me, a frown marring his face. “Don’t ever do that again,” he snapped.
“It worked, didn’t it?”
He opened his mouth to say something else, then seemed to reconsider. Two seconds later, his lips were crushing mine, his tongue slipping inside to play. His hands slid down to my butt and he boosted me up, my legs encircling his waist. I ground against his hardening cock, earning myself a groan.
“Guys? Can we do the fucking part after we’ve cleaned up? We have work to do.”
Trent was right. I pulled back and rested my forehead against Leo’s. “You’re alive,” I whispered.
“We are. Thanks to you, baby.”
I blinked. “What?”
“Your lioness killed quite a few of them. She was… You were…mesmerizing.”
“I was? I can’t remember anything!”
“It’ll come to you,” Logan advised as he walked past us. He smiled, a soft gentle smile, and bent down to brush his lips against mine. “Don’t rush it. You used a lot of energy last night, Jade. Why don’t you go rest up?”
“I want to help.”
“No” was their unequivocal answer. They pushed me inside my house and closed the door behind them. I thought about assisting them anyway, then realized I actually didn’t want to deal with corpses. I might be becoming more used to being part animal, but that would be just wrong. I shivered and turned the shower on. I had to clean up first and rid myself of the blood and sweat that clung to my skin.
* * * *
“So, it’s over?”
Leo nodded. “I’m not sure where they got they could rule this Valley. It’s been ours since the beginning of time.”
“When everyone else left, they probably thought you wouldn’t be strong enough to fight.”
“Ha!” Sam snorted from his lounging position on one of the sofas.
“What he said.” Logan popped a peanut in the air and caught it with his mouth. He chewed before adding, “Are you okay, Jade?”
I started. “Sure. You’re the ones who were hurt.” I distinctly remembered seeing blood on his fur last night.
“We shifted a couple more times this morning, and we’re good to go. Don’t worry about us.”
“That’s my job though. I’m your mate. I worry.” They all smiled at that. I rolled my eyes and sent a cushion flying toward their heads. They easily avoided it, and when they looked back at me, lust had taken over on their faces. “You’re gonna make me run, aren’t you?”
“What a good idea.” Brian was the one to reply. “Why don’t you start now, sweetheart?”
I stood up and stretched, taking my time, feeling their hungry gazes on me. Taking off Samuel’s shirt, the one I’d put back on after my shower, I dropped it at my feet with a flourish. “It’s a good thing I love you,” I commented as I took a step forward.
“We love you too,” Leo answered for them all. He smirked and started counting.
I was out of the door in two seconds flat. They were on me the next. I squealed when a man pounced on me, hands dragging me against a hard body. The next time I breathed again, I was laughing so hard I nearly dislocated something. “Stop it! Stop it!” I said, trying to dislodge them.
Then I was on the floor in the front hall, my mind spinning as mouths found me. Hands too. Tongues. I closed my eyes and arched my back.
I was home.
We’re home, the lioness agreed.
I widened my legs and opened myself to the pleasure sure to come…

  About the Author
 
Emma Hillman never plans her stories. She just lets the characters have fun and hopes the ending will make sense. It usually does.
Besides being a multi-published author of erotic romances, she works full-time and lives in Paris with a (nice) husband, a (cute) little girl, and two sweet but (very) loud pets. She also reads far too much as the postman (and her banker) could attest, but shhhh.
For more information on her current and future releases, you can visit her blog at http://emmahillmanbooks.blogspot.com/ or chat with her on Twitter (@droptheglasses). She’d love to hear from you!

 
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Troy Landry was just out for a vacation, and maybe a fling, on Devlin Island. What he didn’t bargain for was crashing his boat on the beach, finding a hot naked man who claims to be a witch, and getting possessed by a demon who takes over his body when he falls asleep. The demon can’t be driven out until dawn – so Troy and Sully have to stay awake all night long. Lots of sex helps. But when they start falling for each other, incredible sex might not be enough to overcome Troy’s insecurities, Sully’s past trauma, and a demon bent on releasing its brethren and killing any mortal who stands in its way.
 
Moon Princess by Suzanne Graham
As Celina Maddock left the office on a Friday evening, her coworker jumped into her car and demanded she get on the highway and drive fast after their sizzling kiss in the parking lot. She never imagined she’d get the gorgeous Barrett Osborn ordering her around; however, when he starts talking about Shadows, werewolves, and werebears, she becomes a little worried about his mental health.
When Barrett’s lover, Stan Varka, offers his assistance in escaping the Shadows, Celina goes along with their strange story about shapeshifters, because finding herself the center of their attention becomes extremely erotic.
Once they’ve finished their night of playacting, Celina doesn’t think she could possibly have a future with these two amazing lovers¼until they convince her that she really is the Moon Princess and the only hope for establishing peace between the wolves and the bears.
 
Ryland’s Sacrifice by Kim Dare
Principles don’t pay tuition fees. When Ryland’s math scholarship disappears overnight, he has two choices. He can borrow money from fellow student Jason Burrows, who has very interesting ways of collecting debts. Or, he can volunteer to be thrown to the werelions.
One night spent playing the part of a willing human sacrifice will give him enough money to finish his PhD. It seems like a good deal-right up until the moment he finds himself naked, blindfolded, bound and surrounded by lions.
 
Mind F*cked by Mia Watts
Sage has the ability to read minds, but only in high passion moments when thoughts transmit at a higher frequency. But the gift is double-edged. Sage is inordinately handsome. Some might even say he’s a walking orgasm. So what’s a half-breed to do when every person he meets seems intent on seducing him, and how will he know if the man he chooses will love him for more than his looks?
Joe has never been the object of anyone’s lust before. Now Sage, the hottest guy he’s ever laid eyes on, has Joe starring in his sexual fantasies. It would be perfect if only Sage could shut up for one minute, and quit talking about his own hotness—or about how he can read minds.
Meanwhile, Joe and Sage must secure the last three Zodiac Stones and prevent their theft while they wait for exhibition. Can they put their sexual tension aside long enough to stop a clever thief? And even if they do, will Joe’s heart be a casualty of their inevitable fling, or could Sage really be looking for more than a one-night stand?
 
 

  

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