Jane rolled to her side, stretching slowly. Her arm rose above her head, sliding over the smooth, velvety surface of leather, and her eyes opened.
He wasn’t watching her, a good thing. If she’d opened her eyes and found Aidan staring back at her while she slept, that probably would have scared the shit out of her. Serial killer style.
He was close, though, sitting near her, and Aidan had his laptop open on his lap. She studied him a moment as full wakefulness slid through her. He had a sexy stubble growth lining his hard jaw, his hair was tousled, his gaze narrowed in thought and—
“You didn’t scream.”
He seemed totally focused on the laptop—but now she realized he was actually focused on her.
“You didn’t scream while you slept.”
Jane swallowed. “I didn’t? That’s good.” She sat up, her fingers automatically moving to stroke over her quilt.
“You did say something, though.”
Oh, crap. “What?”
“You asked not to be burned.”
Her fingers stilled.
Deliberately, Aidan shut the laptop and put it on his desk. Then he came back and focused that laser-like stare on her. “Want to talk about that, sweetheart?”
She licked her dry lips.
His gaze fell, followed the movement, and heated.
“Not really,” she said and was surprised that her voice came out so breathy. She hadn’t meant that, had she?
“Too bad.” He leaned toward her. “I want to know who the fuck marked you.”
“I’ve been sitting here, trying to get some pack work done, but I keep thinking about you. How young you must have been when some bastard gave you that mark, when he hurt you.” Fury flashed on his face. “He’s a dead man walking.”
“I-isn’t that what all vampires are?”
He blinked. “Jane…” Aidan growled.
“I don’t remember a lot about that night.” Her words tumbled out. “When I tried to tell the people at the hospital, they said I was delusional. Too much stress.” A child psychiatrist had been called in to talk with her, though she hadn’t realized that was the lady’s job, not back then. The woman had talked to her for hours, telling her that Jane was “trying to make a terrible, terrible tragedy into something that was a nightmare.”
Only it hadn’t been a nightmare. It had been real.
That had been Jane’s first run-in with a shrink, and it hadn’t ended well. Instead of being helped, the woman had sent a kid off to a psych ward.
And she’d told me the only way out was to stop talking about monsters.
“I won’t think you’re delusional.”
No, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. After all, he was a werewolf. “The man who—who burned me was tall. Blond. He had a perfectly normal face.” A good-looking killer. “What I remember most though—I remember his teeth.” She swallowed and confessed, “They were fangs. He was a vampire.” There, I said it. Finally.
Aidan absorbed that revelation in silence. “No wonder you didn’t have a full-on flip out when I told you about monsters.”
“I’ve known about monsters for a long time.” Since one killed my parents. “I just thought it was smarter to stop talking about them, until I had more proof.” That was something else the shrink had told her. If you keep telling these stories, I’ll have to make them lock you up again. You don’t want that, do you, dear?
She’d hated that shrink.
“Tell me about him.”
“I already told you what I know. He was tall with blond hair. And…and he had green eyes.” She remembered his eyes. “I can’t forget him because I keep seeing his face when I close my eyes.”
Aidan glanced away from her. Had he stiffened when she described the vamp? “It will be easy enough to forget the dead,” he said.
“No.” She rose and carefully folded her quilt. “Forgetting them isn’t easy.” Life might be simpler if it were. “And right now, I have a dead woman who needs justice. I have to go out and see just which vamp decided to end Melanie Wagner’s life.”
He rose, too, and blocked her path. “What about the attack on your life last night?”
“Well, I’m sure guessing that attack and the vamp who turned Melanie…I’m thinking they’re related.” Everything had spiraled after she found Melanie on Bourbon Street. “So I start with her, and I work my way back. I’ll find the link to the vampire through her. I’ll get him.”
His gaze became hooded. “Turning him over to your cop friends isn’t an option. Prisons weren’t made to hold vampires.”
“Finding him is priority one. Stopping him from hurting anyone else? That’s number two. Jailing him…” She ran a hand over her face. “I’ll figure that one out along the way.” Jane sidestepped around him.
“I made arrangements for new clothing and shoes to be brought to you.” He gestured toward his desk and she finally took note of the bags there. Fancy bags from stores that she normally avoided because she’d rather spend all of that cash on, like, food. A week’s worth of food—two weeks—equaled one shirt from some of those places. Jane knew that for certain because she’d gone in some of those shops before, just to look.
A woman could always look, right?
“You can use my bathroom, too,” Aidan murmured as he pointed to a door on his right. “Shower is in there. In case you want to freshen up before you go out to question witnesses and fight for the dead. You know, your deal.”
She slanted a narrow-eyed glance his way. Was he making fun of her? Then she thought about the shower and tried to casually smell her shirt. Okay, so she maybe smelled like fire. And probably looked like hell. A shower and a change of clothes wouldn’t be the worst thing ever before she hit the streets. Hesitant, she inched her way toward the bags on his desk. “How did you know my size?”
“I touched you. I know your body.”
That was so cocky. And, oddly, sexy. Maybe it was the way his voice had dipped when he said he knew her body. Kind of made her feel a little melty. She scooped up the bags. “I’ll try them on, after I shower. And I’ll definitely be paying you back for everything.”
“More bags are coming.”
She gaped at him.
“The fire took your belongings. I’m giving them back to you.”
Insurance would cover that, right? “I’ll pay you—”
A muscle flexed along his jaw. “You have trouble with gifts.”
“I have trouble with strings.”
“I don’t see strings.” He lifted his hands. Big, powerful hands. He looked at them, then her. “I just see you.”
His gaze had heated and that melting she felt was getting worse. He wanted her, she knew it, and she wanted him. She could admit that. The guy wasn’t some heartless jerk—he was so much more and he was getting to her. Sinking beneath her guard and she was nervous.
His nostrils flared a bit. “You don’t have to be.”
She backed toward his bathroom, holding the bags tightly. “I don’t have to be what?”
“Afraid. Not of me.”
The door was just inches away. “What makes you think I’m afraid?”
“Because I can smell your fear. I can smell when you’re happy. When you’re mad. When you’re…turned on.”
So embarrassing. Her cheeks burned. She was hitting on fear, anger, and arousal right then, all at the same time. And the wolf would know it. “Guess I don’t get any secrets, huh? Hardly seems fair.”
“When you want to know how I feel, just ask.” He paused a beat. “Like right now, I want you.”
Her gaze jerked to his.
“I stayed next to you for three hours. I thought about how fucking furious I was that someone had hurt you.”
Her heart was beating faster.
“And I thought about how much I’d like to take all of your pain away. How I’d like to only give you pleasure.” His eyes were so bright. “Wouldn’t you like that pleasure, sweetheart?”
She opened the bathroom door and pretty much fled inside. Her shaking hands dropped the bags and then those hands slapped against the sink. A big, marble-top sink. Get a grip, woman. Jane stared at herself in the mirror. She had to stop letting the wolf get to her.
But his voice rolled through her head.
How I’d like to only give you pleasure.
Jane stripped. She tossed her ashy smelling clothes to the floor and then hurried toward the shower. She yanked the faucet and had water streaming out—from two different locations in the shower. A very massive shower. Easily big enough for two…
Wouldn’t you like that pleasure, sweetheart?
She hadn’t been with a lover in a very long time. Her job had been her goal—she’d busted ass to move up the ranks, and so, yeah, okay, maybe she sucked at the dating scene. Small talk and flirtations weren’t her thing. Busting perps and solving crimes—that was what she lived for. Trying to interact with someone on a romantic level, oh, jeez, but that was beyond her scope.
She got too nervous. She found men who wanted commitment—and she wasn’t ready for that—or she found men who only wanted fast hook-ups, and she didn’t want that, either.
I don’t know what I want.
Jane stepped into the shower. Steam rose around her.
You’re a liar, Jane. A sly voice seemed to whisper to her. You know exactly what you want. And he does, too. He just told you…he can smell what you feel.
The water slid over her skin. Her eyes closed. Then she just whispered… “Aidan.”
Could he hear her? Was werewolf hearing that good, that strong? That he could hear her over the pounding of the water? Through the door?
“Aidan, I want you.”
The door banged open, hard enough to have her head snapping up. She saw him through the glass door of the shower. He stood in the doorway, his eyes locked on hers.
“Don’t fucking tease, sweetheart. Teasing a werewolf is a very bad idea.”
The big, bad beast had heard her whisper.
I won’t back down this time.
She opened the shower door. Cold air slid against her skin, making her nipples harden.
One of his hands grabbed the sink and clenched around its edge. “Mary Jane…”
“Sometimes,” she confessed as she stared at him, totally nude and vulnerable as she bared her darkest truth, “what I fear most is myself.” Trusting the wrong man. Not going for what she wanted. Letting life pass her by.
The dead are all I know.
She lifted her hand toward him. “I don’t remember ever wanting someone the way I want you.”
With his eyes on her, he took a step forward. One, another. His feet were bare as he approached her. Then, stopping right in front of the open shower, he stripped off his shirt and dropped it onto the tiled floor. His hands went to his jeans and the button at the top. He unhooked the button and slid down the zipper. Her gaze fell and when those jeans dropped—
Aidan doesn’t believe in wearing underwear. Check. I’ll remember that.
His hand reached for hers.
“Will it hurt?” Jane blurted.
His gaze widened.
“Being with—with a werewolf. I mean, are you different from a man?” No, no, she was screwing this up and sounding like a complete idiot. He looked like a man. A man with a seriously big dick. Big and long and wide and she really wanted to touch that long length, but…what if werewolves had sex differently? What if there was biting involved or, hell, something else? She wasn’t a biter.
“I’m very different from any man you’ve ever been with before.” His voice roughened. “And I don’t want to ever hear about those fucking bastards again, okay?”
“As far as hurting you…” He lifted her hand to his mouth and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. “Never.”
Unless I become a vamp. Then he’d have to kill me. Worry slid through her. He’d said—
“I don’t like the smell of your fear,” Aidan murmured. “So why don’t we focus on desire?”
She gave a quick nod and he stepped into the shower with her. Immediately, that huge space seemed way, way too small. The water poured down on them from the left and the right, the twin jets sending warm water and steam out as Aidan brought his body against hers. Her hands lifted and curled around his shoulders.
Jane could think of a million reasons why she should not be doing this.
He was a werewolf.
They’d just met.
She wasn’t a risk taker, not when it came to relationships.
Aidan kissed her. Her mouth was open, her lips lightly parted, and his tongue swept right inside. And all the reasons not to do this, not to be with him, faded away. Because all that really mattered was that she wanted him. Wanted him more than she could ever remember wanting anyone else.
The kiss started easily enough. He was sampling. Seducing. She rose onto her toes so that she could get closer to him. Their bodies were slick now, and the long length of his cock pressed against her.
What will he feel like inside of me?
Soon enough, she’d be finding out.
A low growl built in his throat and the kiss became harder. More demanding. She could practically taste his desire, and she loved that wild flavor. Her hands slid down his arms. Down, down…she pushed them between their bodies because she wanted to touch his cock. And as soon as her fingers curled around that broad length, he gave another groan. Rougher. Wilder.
Yes, please, more of that. Was it so wrong that the sound of his lusty growl turned her on?
But he pulled back. No, he pushed her back. Her shoulders brushed against the tiled wall of the shower. Steam was all around them. “Touch me too much…” Aidan warned. “And I won’t get to savor you.”
She wasn’t really about savoring right then. Passion and need were churning inside of her, and she wanted to act—right then—before the feelings stopped. Before sanity came back.
But he bent before her. She felt the light rasp of his breath and then he’d taken her nipple into his mouth. A surge of pure fire raced through Jane and her sex clenched because that licking he was doing—it felt so good. His tongue laved her nipple and, a moment later, she felt the light edge of his teeth. The sensual tug had her arching toward him even as his fingers slid down her stomach. Down and between the spread vee of her thighs.
No fair. I’d wanted to touch him. I’d wanted—
His fingers didn’t push into her. Instead, he stroked over her clit. Touching with sensual skill, a man who knew exactly what he was doing. She was on her toes, biting her lip, her body shuddering, just with a few strokes over her clit. “Aidan!” So close to an orgasm. So incredibly close.
His strokes turned more demanding. Faster. She was going to come like that, Jane knew it. Come just from a few touches of his fingers right over her clit. Never had she done that, not so fast, but she was already on the razor’s edge, and she just wanted, “More!”
His mouth kissed a trail to her other breast. He licked her nipple. His fingers kept strumming her clit.
“Aidan…” It was hard to talk. Her eyes had squeezed closed.
He pushed a finger into her, drove it in deep, then pulled back, his fingers swiping over her once more, rougher, harder.
Her breath caught in her throat.
That finger pushed into her again. Fast. One finger, two, then he pulled back, going toward her clit, spreading the cream from her sex over her as she climaxed on a quick scream, her whole body becoming bow tight in an instant as the wave of release hit her and surged through Jane, rocking her core. Her eyes flew open and she saw him watching her, a faint glow lighting his gaze.
His fingers were still sliding over her, making that orgasm last and last, wringing every last bit of pleasure from her.
“So beautiful,” Aidan whispered.
He made her feel that way.
The pleasure faded and his fingers slid away from her. Her heartbeat drummed in her ears and little aftershocks had her sex contracting every few moments. She felt the delicate inner muscles give a little shiver.
That was good. Better than good. Way better.
He put his fingers to his lips. With his eyes on her, he licked those long fingers, tasting her.
“Delicious,” he told her. A muscle flexed in his jaw. “I think I need more.”
She didn’t know—
He picked her up. Moved so fast that the world seemed to spin. His hands were tight around her waist as he knelt before her—and put his mouth on her sex. She was still sensitive from her release and the feel of his mouth on her was almost too much—in a really, really good way. Her fingers sank into his wet hair and she pushed her hips against his mouth. What a wicked, wonderful mouth. She could feel the swirl of his tongue against her. In her. And another climax bore down on her. It should have been impossible to need again that quickly, to have her body aching already, but it was happening.
Actually, if she didn’t stop him, she would be climaxing again any moment. But this time… “I want you, in me,” she said.
He licked her again.
She bit her lip so hard she nearly drew blood. Jane was trying to hold off her second climax because when she came again, she wanted to be riding him. She wanted that hard cock in her as she went insane with her release.
Her fingers tightened on his hair. “Aidan, please.”
He moved again—that way too fast movement that she couldn’t quite follow. A werewolf thing. Then he was in front of her, still holding her against the wall, still lifting her up and acting as if she didn’t weigh a thing.
“My kind…we don’t carry human diseases.”
It took a lust-filled moment for his words to sink in.
“You’re safe…” Aidan added, voice so rough and dark. “With me.”
No condom. She knew exactly what he meant. She’d never gone without a condom before. Never been flesh to flesh with a lover. But Aidan wasn’t like her other lovers. “I’m…ah…on birth control.” It was hard to get those words out. He couldn’t carry diseases, she didn’t have any diseases, and there was no risk of pregnancy.
Do it. Take him in. Skin to skin.
Her head moved in a small nod. His eyes locked on hers. He held her with one hand as he moved to position his cock with the other.
Jane circled his hips with her legs. The broad head of his shaft pushed against her. She sucked in a quick breath.
He drove into her, sinking deep with one strong thrust. He stretched her. He controlled her. He pretty much wrecked her with pleasure. Because when he withdrew and thrust back into her, Jane came. There was no more holding back, she just erupted. Pleasure hit her, and she squeezed the full length of his cock as she rode out that wild wave.
He kept thrusting. “So good, love the way you feel…perfect…Perfect for me.”
In and out.
And then he was coming.
She was still coming. The pleasure just wouldn’t stop. It kept hitting and hitting and every movement of his body inside of her just heightened the intensity of her feelings. Pleasure, pain—they were almost the same. It was just so strong. Incredible.
Her nails raked over his back. And she kissed his shoulder, hard, trying to muffle her cries. Her mouth opened and she bit him.
“Fuck, yes. I like that.” He was still coming, too. Thrusting hard inside of her and she felt the rush of his release filling her.
For a minute, the pleasure was so strong that she thought she might pass out. And that would be way embarrassing.
So she bit him again.
He gave that sexy growl and held her even tighter. Jane could hear the frantic pounding of his heartbeat. It was oddly reassuring.
For a time, she just listened to that heartbeat and she let the pleasure course through her.
Never like this. Never.
Then another thought followed…
I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this.
His heartbeat slowed. She became aware of the water then, still hitting them. She blinked groggily as he pulled out of her. Her body protested a bit, clamping down harder because she had enjoyed the hell out of him, but she made herself settle down.
Get your control. One fantastic time in a shower wouldn’t turn her into a sex fiend. Maybe.
Her legs slid down his body. He took a step back. For a moment, her legs nearly buckled as her knees did a little jiggle, but he wrapped a hand around her waist, steadying her. “I’ve got you.” His words were a deep rumble.
She looked up at him.
His touch seemed to scorch her. He was touching her on her right side. His fingers were on her scar, the scar she’d hated for so long. His gaze was on the scar, too, and she followed his stare. His fingers traced over the lines, white lines now—not the angry red they’d been before—yet still so distinct after all of this time. His touch was so careful, as if he feared hurting her, but the mark didn’t hurt anymore.
Only in her dreams.
The mark was almost shaped like a horseshoe. The top was circular, a wide circle, but at the bottom, the circle didn’t close. Instead, a leg seemed to go out from each side of the circle, one toward the left, another toward the right.
“Omega,” he said, voice rough.
She frowned. “What?”
But he gave a grim shake of his head. Aidan turned from her and opened the shower door. A flick of his hand had the water turning off and cold air slid inside of the door. Her body still hummed with pleasure but something was different now. A new tension had entered his body, only that tension had nothing to do with desire.
He left her a moment and came back with a big, fluffy white towel. When she slipped from the shower, he wrapped that towel around her, then dried her gently. She could’ve dried herself. Could’ve pulled away, but she didn’t. She rather enjoyed having someone take care of her because it didn’t happen that often.
Aidan was much rougher as he dried his own body, jerking the towel over his abs—seriously amazing abs. The guy had a twelve pack, at least. And she didn’t think that hot bod was a werewolf thing. Aidan was just…Aidan.
And his gaze kept straying to the scar on her side. “What did you say before?” Jane asked as she wrapped that towel around her body and tucked an end between her breasts, securing it in place—and covering her scar. “When you saw the mark, you said…”
He waved it away. “Nothing. I just hate that anyone ever hurt you.”
She hated it, too. She also hated it when people lied to her. “Liar.”
He turned toward the door. He hadn’t dried his broad back very well, and water drops slid over his tanned skin.
“You said something,” Jane persisted. “Do you know what that mark is?”
His shoulders stiffened. “What do you think it is?”
Now that he wasn’t looking at her, Jane stepped toward the mirror. She lifted up the towel so that she could see the curving lines of the mark. After great sex, this is what we talk about? No cuddle time? “I think it’s some kind of hack job. The guy was coming back to add more, but…I got away.” The mark was glaring to her. Nearly as big as her hand, and the raised flesh was even whiter than normal right then—probably because her body had pinkened in the warm shower.
She looked up in the mirror and found that Aidan was staring at her reflection.
Jane let the towel fall back into place.
“You’re sure the guy was going to add more?”
“He left his…pen…next to me.” The thing had looked like a pen, but it had been fire hot. No, it had been hot. “He said we’d take a little break.” Her laughter was bitter. “I’d screamed until my voice broke. I think he wasn’t giving me a break. He was giving himself one.” The scent of burning flesh would haunt her forever. Her fingers moved over the towel, over the spot that covered her scar. “One lover told me it was a lucky horseshoe.” After that lame line, she hadn’t ever seen that guy again. Lucky? She’d been savagely burned while her parents were murdered. There had been nothing lucky about the mark.
“Fucking idiot,” Aidan snarled. “And…sweetheart…”
In the mirror, she saw that his hand had clenched around the doorknob. No, not just clenched around it—the doorknob had broken off in his hand.
She whirled around to face him, her jaw dropping in surprise.
“Don’t tell me about your other lovers,” he added as he tossed the doorknob toward the garbage can. “I really can’t handle that shit.”
She forced her gaping mouth to close.
“Not a horseshoe,” Aidan rasped.
“I-I didn’t think—”
“Omega,” he gritted out. “It looks like the Greek letter Omega.”
She knew nothing about Greek letters, but she’d be finding out everything possible about them immediately.
His gaze slid to the bags she’d dropped in the corner of the bathroom. The faint lines near his mouth tightened. “You should get dressed. We have witnesses to interview.”
And was he still not going to talk about the sex? Or maybe it hadn’t been so mind-blowing on his end. Maybe it had been normal, run-of-the-mill pleasure for a werewolf.
But for her…
I think I may be totally ruined for other guys.
She swallowed, took a deep breath, and as he walked out of the bathroom, Jane called out, “What does Omega mean?” It had to stand for something, right?
He glanced over his shoulder at her. There was no expression on his face. No desire. No anger. No emotion at all. “Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet.”
She nodded. For some reason, breathing was a little hard. Her fingers skimmed over her scar, as if she could feel it through the towel.
“It means…the end.”