Not this time.


She locked his hands against the wall. His eyes widened. But then he flashed her that grin, that wicked grin that made her sex melt and her heart kick-start too fast. “Take your best shot at me.”

She would.

Erin rose up on her toes and pressed her mouth against his throat. Right there. Where the pulse raced, where she could taste the beat of his heart. She touched him once with her lips closed. Then her mouth opened and she tasted him with her tongue.

And let him feel the edge of her teeth.

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“Oh, fuck.”

“Not yet,” she whispered, and her mouth moved to his shoulder. He’d played with her before, an almost exact reversal of this position.

Only she wasn’t playing.

For shifters—this spot, oh, yeah, it could sure be very sensitive.

She bit.

Jude shuddered against her.

Erin’s hands released their hold and her fingers skated down his chest. And her mouth followed them. Lips and tongue. She touched the small, brown nipples. Then her mouth closed over one nubbin, and she sucked.

“Erin…” His hands clenched around her hips and he tried to yank her closer.

Not yet.

She used her grip to hold him back against the wall. “Just getting started.” There was more of him that she wanted to see, to touch, and most definitely to taste.

Her eyes dropped to the buckle of his belt. Her hands skated down his body and she lightly raked his skin.

Her fingers were steady when she unhooked the belt. The button popped free, and his zipper slid down with a nearly soundless hiss.

No underwear.

His cock bobbed toward her, the thick head glistening.

She just had to touch.

Her fingers curled around his shaft and he jerked, choking out a breath. Oh, she liked that. Erin squeezed, then stroked, a root to tip pump that had Jude tensing.

Erin lowered before him, her knees hitting the hardwood floor and her skirt fluttering around her. Just a taste. A quick sample.

Her lips closed over him.

“Erin.” Gravelly, barely human.

She took more of his length. Licked him. Sucked.

Enjoyed the hell out of the moment.

Her hand cradled the base of his cock, controlling the depth and motion as she tasted and took and licked.

His hands clamped down on her shoulders. He didn’t push her away. Didn’t pull her closer.

She looked up at him. Saw that his jaw was clenched. Those burning blue eyes were locked on her. Red stained his cheeks. And his expression—

Erin swallowed.

A ragged groan broke from his lips. “Enough.”

One more swipe of her tongue then she rocked back on her haunches. “Not yet.”

He jerked her up. “Now.” A table was beside them. A big, sturdy wooden table with a lamp sitting back on the far edge.

He dropped her on top of the table. Pushed her legs apart. “Now.”

He grabbed her panties. One slice of his claws and they fell away.

Erin knocked the lamp out of her way. She heard the thud when it hit the floor. At least it hadn’t bro—

Long, strong fingers pushed between her thighs. Her head fell back against the table.

“Hot and wet.” His voice was pure sex. So low and deep and rumbling.

Her legs dangled over the edge of the table.

“You’re driving me crazy, ” he charged.

Yeah, like she was feeling all sane and in control right then. Erin squirmed beneath him. “Jude!”

One finger thrust inside. He lowered over her. His left hand caught her shirt, wrenched it open. Then he shoved her bra out of the way.

When his mouth closed over her nipple, she gasped because dammit, she’d wanted this. Erin arched toward him, riding his finger and twisting as she fought for her pleasure.

“Aw, damn, sweetheart.”

The eyes she couldn’t remember shutting flew open. “Now.” This time, the demand was hers.

A grim nod. Then he pulled her closer to the table’s edge. Fitted himself to her opening as he positioned the head of his cock. She loved that first brush of flesh on flesh. No condom for them. Just sex to sex and—

His cock drove into her. No tentative thrust. Just a hard plunge. Balls-deep and so thick.

Her legs locked around his hips, and she slammed up to meet him. Again and again. Her body tightened.

His mouth took her breast again. Licking and sucking, scoring her lightly with his teeth while he kept thrusting. Driving as far into her as he could go. Hard and fast.

Just the way she wanted him.

His cock withdrew, then slid right back inside her, the length rubbing along her sensitive flesh. Her sex clenched as her climax approached. So close, so close.

He kissed her when she came, drinking in the sounds of her pleasure even as his hips pumped faster, faster, against her.

Her fingers dug into his back. She wanted to feel his release inside her, the hot splash of his climax.

Jude raised his head and stared down at her.

An aftershock, warm and sweet, rippled through her sex and he erupted. Her name broke from his lips as she saw the wave of pleasure sweep over his face.

She held him, with arms and legs, as tightly as she could. Held him and tried to make the pleasure last. Tried to memorize every feeling, tried to imprint the feel of his body on hers.

Because moments like this didn’t last. Especially not for her.

After a time, he sagged against her, sweat slick on his body. Erin didn’t loosen her hold. Not yet.

Not yet.

A squeak sounded beneath her. Then a weird little creak. Then—

They fell to the floor as the table gave way beneath them.

Her breath was knocked from her and the wood bit into her back and arms.

“Dammit!” Jude’s flushed face. “Erin? Sweetheart, are you all right?” He pulled her up, cradling her in his arms as his gaze darted over her body.

They’d broken the table.

He was still lodged inside her. Spikes of pleasure still trembled through her body.

And they’d broken the table.

Erin laughed, a helpless, rusty bubble of sound that lifted her lips.

Jude shook his head. “I didn’t mean—”

She kissed him. And laughed again.

A deep rumble burst from him. Small lines appeared around his eyes and his mouth curved. She’d never seen him smile so fully before.

And she couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed. Laughed, and meant it. Not the fake crap that so often slipped out.

But really laughed.

She stared up at Jude. The man really was gorgeous. She should have noticed it from the beginning. How had she ever thought that he looked cruel or cold?

She traced his scar with a fingertip.


And—damn it all—she was very afraid that she was falling for him.

Erin hadn’t come home.

He stared up at the dark house, his body taut as a slow anger pumped through him.

He’d expected her to run home. Expected her guard to be there, standing watch again. He’d planned for the asshole.

He’d been more than ready to rip the hunter wide open.

But she wasn’t there. Neither was he.

A growl built in his throat. Not part of the plan.

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go, dammit. Why couldn’t she ever show her appreciation? Why the hell did she keep jerking him around?

And if she’d let that cat touch her…

His teeth snapped together.

The tiger shifter would be dying soon. And it would be a long, painful death.

This time, he’d let Erin watch—every moment. She’d understand then. She’d realize how much he loved her. She’d see that he would do anything for her.

When he offered her the blood, she’d smile that slow smile, and be his.


Chapter 10

Jude’s fingers trailed over her breast, skimming the nipple gently, then sliding under the round globe. Slowly, softly, then he touched her scar.

Erin didn’t flinch and she didn’t even pull away— pretty impressive, she thought. Swallowing, she stared up at the ceiling of Jude’s bedroom. He was all around her, surrounding her with his scent and his body. A dangerous shifter. A man who could rip apart his enemies.

But she’d never felt safer.

His thumb brushed over the raised flesh. “Tell me.”

No more running. She’d decided that. No more running, no more hiding. Better start now. “He caught me once, broke into my home, reached my bedroom.” She’d woken to his touch. Cold claws sliding down her face.

Jude tensed against her, but he didn’t speak and his hands didn’t fall away from her.

Not yet.

“I don’t really know how he does it but, he can hide his scent.” Tricky bastard. “Maybe herbs or something. Hell, maybe he can just control it at will. I don’t know.” A light chill seemed to cover her flesh. “Today, I caught his scent because he wanted me to. That’s the way he plays his games.”

“He was luring you out, and you walked right to the bastard.” Anger there, vibrating in his voice.

“I’m tired of running,” she said simply. “I can’t keep doing this. He’s not going to stop. He’ll just keep killing and hunting me, and I can’t keep running.” The rules in this twisted game were changing. One way or another.

She wanted the warmth of Jude’s flesh against her, but she couldn’t just lay there anymore. She rose, pushing from the bed, pushing away from him, and tugged a sheet with her. Erin wrapped it around her body and stared down at him. “You know I can’t shift.”

A nod. He sat up, the bed covers draped over his naked groin.

She licked her lips. “I don’t—I don’t have all of a shifter’s enhanced senses either.” Flawed. “My sense of smell—yeah, it’s strong.” Actually, she’d learned it was stronger than most shifter’s. “But my hearing is just like a human’s, so that bastard was able to sneak right up to me, and I didn’t even know he was there until it was too late.”

Blue eyes held hers. “Too late?” No emotion there. Flat and cold.

Her gaze dropped to the bed and she saw that his claws were out.

Not really so cold after all.

“I never saw his face.” Now she was the one without emotion. “As soon as I woke up, he shoved some kind of hood over me.”


Razor sharp claws.


How many nights had she stayed awake in her bed? Too scared to sleep because she’d been afraid he’d come back?

“What did he do?”

“Used his claws to…cut away my clothes.” She paced away from him. The guy had been so fast. She’d been stunned, terrified. “I knew what he was going to do.” Her chin rose. “But he didn’t know how strong I could be. I fought the bastard.” The stupid scar. In one way, she was like other wolves. Her wounds always left a mark on her body. Her flesh healed, but it didn’t forget. Her hand dropped to hover over the rough ridge. “I got my own swipes in, but he got his, too.”

Jude jumped from the bed, caught her shoulders and hauled her close. “Erin…did he—”

“I got away.” Run, run. The words had been driving her for so long. “Ran naked and bloody down the street. I was afraid he’d chase after me, but”—her lip curved in a smile she knew wasn’t pretty—“he had his own wounds.”

She’d snagged a pair of sweats and a T-shirt off a clothesline down the street. Sweet Mrs. Sara Copeland—still doing her laundry the old fashioned way.

“I had already planned to leave Lillian before that night. After the attack, I never went back to my house.” A different hotel every night. Always looking over her shoulder. “The cops there couldn’t help me. What were they going to do against a shifter?”

“I can help you,” he told her, his fingers tight around her.

“I know.” She didn’t doubt his strength. “Night Watch was made for hunting guys like him.”

“Made for putting ’em down.”

Oh, but his eyes were bright and he was still holding her, staring at her with need and worry in that gaze.

Tell it all. “He’s after me because he thinks I’m his mate.” Shifters and their mates. For some of their kind, a primal, instinctual thing.

“He’s fucking wrong.”

Was he? “He’s like me, Jude. A hybrid.”

“We’re the same. Not weaker, stronger. They don’t have a fucking clue.” The voice from her nightmares.

“So? There are thousands of hybrids in the world. He can go pick one of them for his mate.”

“Knew we were meant for each other, from the first moment I saw you.” His weight had shoved her into the mattress.

A light shake from Jude. “Erin.”

It was hard to swallow over the fist in her throat. “He’s a hybrid, but-but he can still shift. I know, because I saw him change once.” Deliberate. Everything with that asshole was deliberate.

“Yeah?” He shook his head. “So what’d the freak turn into? A bear? Coyote? A—”

“He’s a wolf.”

She caught the slight widening of his eyes.

A wolf shifter. One of the strongest and the most dangerous of the shifters. And, unfortunately, one known to sometimes cross the line that led into the realm of the psychotic.

But Jude shook his head. “Doesn’t change a thing for me. You really think I’m afraid of some mangy wolf?”

No. She didn’t think he feared much. Perhaps he should. “You know what they say about wolf shifters. They can recognize their mates—”

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