Rhage’s voice thundered out of him, exploding so loudly, it nearly shook the house: “Lizabitte! You will not address your mahmen in that tone of voice!”

Hellllllllllllllo, inner father, he thought numbly.


And yup, that shut everyone up. Froze the females where they were, too.

Even made some poor doggen outside of Wrath’s study drop her duster and duck for cover.

And apparently, he wasn’t done laying down the hammer.

He took the steps two at a time until he was on Bitty’s stair, and leaned down so that they were eye to eye. “I understand you’re upset. We’re upset, too. This was not part of the plan we had for any of our lives—but this is where all four of us are at. He seems like a nice male and he is your blood and you should meet him. I don’t blame you for being emotional, and Mary and I are going to support you through all of this. But I will not have you ever thinking that we don’t love you like you were our own. You are not defective. You are perfect and smart and a blessing to everyone who knows you. And we will love you forever.”

There were so many other things he could say: You’re the only child we’ll ever have. I am dying on these steps just like my Mary is. We are going to be nothing without you.

But that was grown-up stuff. Things that he and Mary were going to have to work through.

They were not Bitty’s problem and he was not going to make them her concern.

Abruptly, the little girl burst into tears. “I don’t want to leave you guys.…”

Mary wrapped her arms around Bitty. And Rhage wrapped his arms around both of his females.

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As a unit, they sat down in the middle of the grand staircase … and cried.


Axe ended up leaving Novo at The Keys after she found a likely candidate—in fact, it was that human woman Axe had been with a number of times, the one with the nipple piercings and the Cruella de Vil hair. Knowing that his fellow trainee was in good hands—namely, her own—he nodded at her, pointed to the exit, and got a nod in return.

For the first time in recorded history, it was a relief to get home—and damn, he was in a hurry to get clean. The second he walked in the front door, he dumped his black cloak on the back of a chair, and went directly to the shower.

Even though he hadn’t had sex or even touched anyone, he wanted to scrub every inch of his body before he saw Elise.

The hot water and all the soap was a godsend, and he spent a lot of time with his head back under the spray, the delicious rush pouring down over his face and his chest. He was just about to step out when he sensed he was no longer alone in the cottage. Sure enough, a soft knock sounded out.

He started to smile. “You’re early.”

“I’m sorry,” she said through the closed panels. “I’ll wait for you downstairs—”

“I can’t reach my back.” He pushed the shower curtain aside. “Can you help me?”

The door opened little by little, and then there she was, her lovely face peeking around the corner, her blond hair down, her cheeks flushed from the cold … or maybe she was thinking about the same kinds of things he was.

Axe’s erection was instantaneous, and he kept himself facing her as it rose.

Even though there was hardly any light, he could tell where her eyes went—and stayed.

“Do you like what you see?” he growled.


“Then come in here. The water is warm.”

Elise stepped in and shut things closed behind herself. In the cramped, steamy space, she took off her sweater and her shirt. Peeled those jeans down her long legs. Lost her bra … then her panties.

As he moved back for her to join him, she lifted her lips so he could kiss them at the same time she put her hands on him.

And not as in on his shoulders or his biceps, his stomach or even his ass.

Axe arched so hard, he threw his head into the back wall of the shower. “Fuck—”

“Oh, God, I’m sorry—”

“Like I care?”

With a guttural sound, he kissed her, his hips jerking as her grip restrengthened, the sex surging between them, going from a low-level burn to a solar flare in a split second. And he was not gentle with her. Desperation made his hands rough as he yanked her against him, and his mouth was brutal on hers, and his need went out of control.

But dearest Virgin Scribe, she matched his desperation with a starvation of her own.

“I want you so bad,” he groaned against her lips.

“So take me now.”

Even though her thighs were slick from the warm water, he grabbed them and popped her up, fitting her around his hips. Then he found her core with his fingers—she was so ready for him—and oh, yeah, she took charge, reaching between their bodies, taking his erection and—

He cursed again as he found home. She gasped his name.

And then he pumped furiously into her, banging her against the shower wall, going in deep. She took everything he had to give her, holding on to his shoulders and squeezing her legs around his pelvis as tightly as she could.

Axe gritted his teeth as the smooth, hot hold of her got to him on all his levels. But he wasn’t orgasming first. He wasn’t going to go before she did, because how she felt was more important than what was going on for him. And soon enough, she started bucking against him, her head kicking back, her arms clenching.

Her sex tightening against him.

Holy hell, she was milking him so well that he let himself go flying, too, releasing into her, filling her up, her wet hair whipping him in the face, his body feeling like she was surrounding him all over even though they were connected in only one place.

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