The last light flashed on. They’d hit the ground floor. The doors opened with a whisper. Erin stepped forward, but hesitated. “I don’t want to go home tonight. Not there, just…not tonight.”

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And he wouldn’t take her back to his cabin. The police were still combing that road. She didn’t need to see the death scene again so soon.

“Don’t worry,” he told her, catching her fingers and bringing them to his lips. Alive. She was alive. He kept having to remind himself of that very important fact because the image of the wolf with his fangs bared over her throat wouldn’t stop playing in his mind. “Got it covered, sweetheart.” He stared into her golden eyes. “I’ve got it covered.”

When he shoved open the hotel’s front door, Jude caught sight of the same punk kid he’d seen before at the front desk.

Hell.

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The kid’s eyes widened and Jude knew he’d been recognized, too. Blue eyes darted to Erin’s face, lingered for a bit.

“Two rooms again?”

Smart-ass. Jude slapped the money down on the countertop. “One—with a king-size bed.”

The acne hadn’t cleared up a bit for the punk. “You sure you only want one room?” The question was directed at Erin.

Why did he have to put up with this ass? Hadn’t his night been hard enough?

“One room.” Her voice was husky and soft and sounded like pure sex.

The kid gulped and shoved a key card across the countertop.

Jude kept his hand around her lush curves and guided her toward the stairs.

“Lucky bastard.” The kid probably thought he wouldn’t hear that, and if he’d been human, maybe he wouldn’t have caught the whisper.

Jude glanced back at him. “Yeah, I am.” He was hoping like hell that his luck continued to hold. Because now that the danger was past, he didn’t want to lose his lady.

The silence stretched between them as they traveled to the room. Erin’s steps were slow and heavy on the carpet. She had to be close to collapse after a night like this one.

He shoved the keycard into the lock. The light flashed green, and Erin grabbed the handle and opened the door.

Different room. Same layout.

Jude swallowed and tried to ignore the fact that his cock was fully erect, twitching with hunger, and that he was more than desperate for Erin.

Considerate. He could do that bit. For her. “You should…get some rest.” The door clicked closed behind him.

Erin gave a nod and jerked the garish green shirt over her head. Her white bra was striped with red. So was her chest.

“Shower first,” she said, and turned away from him. He watched her, his eyes on the sleek line of her back. Then his stare dropped to the soft sway of her hips and her truly phenomenal ass.

He’d loved that ass from the beginning. When he’d watched her walk away from him on that hot, stinking street, he hadn’t been able to look away from that sweet ass.

She paused at the bathroom door. Erin kicked off her shoes and shimmied out of her pants. “The shower’s big enough for two, you know.”

Not like he had to be told twice. He toed off the shoes Zane had dug up— from hell knew where—and stripped as he stalked to the bathroom.

The rush of water poured into the tub. Erin had already turned on the shower. Wisps of steam began to appear in the air.

He hesitated as he watched her. She’d climbed into the small space, and a clear pane of glass separated them. The water hit her, pouring over her flesh, soaking her hair and sliding in rivulets down her body.

Erin.

She soaped her skin. Lathered her stomach. Smoothed her hands over her breasts.

His mouth went bone dry.

Considerate. He could do it. Maybe.

The glass began to fog and when he lost his million dollar view, Jude jerked to action.

He grabbed the shower door and wrenched it open.

The blood was gone from her body. She was all soft, smooth flesh now.

Naked woman.

He eased in behind her. No way was she going to miss the raging hard-on, but if she didn’t mind it poking her in that gorgeous ass—

Erin turned toward him. The water beat down on them both. “Kiss me.”

His lips took hers. Her tongue thrust into his mouth and stroked over his. Fuck considerate.

The vision of her on the ground, the wolf above her, flashed before his closed eyes, and he growled. His hands locked around her hips and he yanked her even closer.

His cock pressed against her. The feel of that smooth, wet skin was a stimulant that had him shaking.

Her nipples stabbed against his chest. He had to taste the tight, hard tips. Wanted them against his tongue. Jude ripped his mouth from hers. Lowering his head, he craned down and caught one sweet pink tip.

Her moan filled his ears even as his tongue stroked the peak. He’d never get enough of her rich taste. The scent of her cream filled his nostrils.

She wanted him. He was dying for her.

His fingers pushed between them. Erin parted her thighs for him and Jude found her creamy heat. He drove one finger into her. Ready. She was more than ready.

So was he.

The water was too hot. No, maybe that was him.

Screw it.

Another finger plunged inside her and she moaned, a deep, guttural sound.

His cock jerked. Inside.

He backed her up against the side of the shower. He freed her breast, after one more greedy suckle, and his head rose as he stared down at her. Such golden eyes—filled with lust and hunger.

His fingers pumped in her. Once. Twice. His thumb stroked her clit, just the way he knew she liked and when her breath panted, when her eyes flared, when he knew she was just about to come—

Jude dragged his hand away from her.

“Jude!”

Ah, that was what he liked. The sound of his name on her lips, grated with hunger, whispered with demand.

He lifted her up, positioning her so that he could see that perfect pink flesh.

Her back pressed against the tile. Her wet hair stuck to her face and neck.

Beautiful.

He drove his cock inside as deep as he could go—and she came at that first plunge, her sex squeezing him and milking his erection as her delicate muscles convulsed. Her eyes seemed to go blind for a moment and her mouth opened wide.

He kissed her and kept plunging. Ignoring the pounding drive of the water, he sank into the warmth of her sex. Over and over. Thrusting hard and plunging deep.

Like nothing else. Nothing. Else.

Her sex held him tight, the flesh a greedy squeeze on his cock. Tight. So tight.

In. Out.

His groans filled the air. Mixed with her moans. The driving water caught them both.

She’d come again, he knew she would, and he’d be with her.

Her fingers latched onto his shoulders. Her claws bit into the skin.

Deeper. Harder.

Her legs were clamped around his hips, her heels digging into his ass.

“Again, Jude, again!”

His thrusts were wild now as he shoved into that slick paradise. Again, again.

She bit him. Erin caught him at the curve of his shoulder and sank those sharp teeth into his flesh.

Jude erupted inside of her, coming on a wave of white-hot release that gutted him. His knees trembled, his spine prickled and his semen poured inside her.

Mate.

Her cry filled his ears and she came again, squeezing him so tightly with her legs and arms and sex. He loved that—loved the way she held him, loved the sounds of her pleasure, the hot clasp of her body.

Loved her.

And he didn’t even realize he’d whispered the words until Erin’s head snapped up and she clipped him in the chin. “What?”

Ben Greer stared up at the antebellum house on St. Charles Avenue. Erin wasn’t there. He shouldn’t have been surprised, really, but he’d thought he might be able to catch her.

And apologize for being an ass.

He exhaled and turned away from the house. She was probably with that other asshole, the one with the icy blue eyes.

Eyes that only warmed when they were on her.

That guy—Jude—wasn’t going to be letting Erin out of his life. And he wasn’t going to be too keen on an ex-lover paying her a visit.

Too bad. Because he would see Erin again. The news she’d told him and the things he’d seen since then, yeah, they’d made his head spin and ache like a bitch, but he was trying to play catch-up, fast.

And trying to figure out just what else he’d been missing in this world.

His cell phone rang. He glanced at the number. Officer Langley. He answered the call even as he climbed into his car. “You got the clear on the Harper house?” He’d called his captain as soon as he’d gotten the go-ahead from Antonio. They’d needed to search the judge’s house and see just what surprises were waiting for them.

“Captain Henderson’s already inside.” Disgust there, anger. “He didn’t want to wait for you to get back.”

No, Henderson wouldn’t. The guy would want as much glory as he could get.

“You wouldn’t believe this place!” Her voice rose with excitement. “The guy kept freaking diaries, journals of his kills.”

Kills. The fingers of his left hand tightened around the steering wheel. “How many are we looking at?”

“Henderson says maybe ten, could be fifteen. The guys aren’t even halfway through his place.”

He exhaled. How had they missed this? For all these years?

The judge had been good at pretending, and, apparently, killing.

“When are you coming back? Henderson thinks we can close some old cases—”

Yeah, they’d probably be closing almost all of Lillian’s unsolved crimes going back for the last twenty years, right to the date when good old Harper had first appeared in the city. “I’m on my way.”

He’d have to pay a visit to Katherine. Let her know that she and the boys were safe.

Then there would be other families to visit. Explanations to be made.

Explanations that wouldn’t include a story about a man who could shift into a wolf. Not that anyone would believe that, anyway, not without proof.

Those dog hairs. They’d been all over some of the vics. He’d never even suspected the truth about them.

“I’m on my way,” he said again and ended the call.

His eyes darted once more to Erin’s dark house. He’d be back. Erin had meant too much for him to just walk away with things shot to hell between them. They wouldn’t be together again. Donovan would see to that. And so would Erin. The way she’d watched the hunter— never looked at me like that.

The car’s engine purred to life.

Maybe, maybe after this case, it would be time for his life to take a change. Maybe a new start. A new city.

Hell, maybe Antonio needed a new detective—one who was learning the real score.

Werewolves. Who the hell would have thought those bastards were real? And sitting on court benches?

She’d wrapped a towel around her body. After Jude’s big confession, Erin had finally managed to snap her jaw back into place and now she paced next to the bed, trying to figure out what to say.

“Erin?”

Her gaze flew to him. He hadn’t dressed. Ah, damn but he was sexy. Those broad shoulders. That chest with the rippling muscles and light covering of golden hair. Erin gulped as she stared helplessly at that flat stomach—and that huge cock. Already fully erect again and so close. Hers for the taking if she just would reach out and touch—

Focus!

She sucked in a deep breath. Okay, she’d killed the wolf shifter tonight. She could handle this. Right? Right. “Did you mean it?”

His hands were on his hips. His narrowed stare never left her face.

Okay. The knot she’d hooked between her breasts seemed to dig into her flesh. “You said you loved me.” Sure, lots of men were known to get a little wild and chatty during sex, but Jude wasn’t most men. “Did you mean it?”

He took one long, gliding step toward her. Another.

She didn’t retreat, and in seconds, he was right before her. “Hell, yeah, sweetheart, I meant it.”

And that lump in her throat—the one that appeared pretty often when he was near—came back with a vengeance.

“I think I’ve loved you since that first hellish night at your place.” Since then? “You were standing there, with the blood on your walls, and your chin was up and you were holding onto your control as tight as you could with both your hands.”

She swallowed so she could speak. “My first instinct was to call you that night.”

“You knew you could count on me.”

Should have been impossible. She wasn’t the trusting sort, never had been, but, yes, she’d known he’d help her.

And he had.

Erin wet her lips. “There’s something you…need to know about the judge.”

He waited. Just waited with that steady gaze.

“He was my mother’s lover. The man she left my father to be with.” The man who’d nearly killed them both. “I didn’t know, not until tonight.” Because the surprises just kept coming for her. But she’d been trying to make sense of things and maybe…“Maybe I wasn’t his mate, maybe he just got everything twisted in his mind because we look alike, maybe—”

He pressed a fingertip against her lips. “He was a fucked up bastard, sweetheart. I don’t give a shit what he thought. You were never his.”

His finger lifted, and her breath left her lungs on a soft sigh.

His blue stare held her gaze. “Something you need to know. This stopped being a case for me a long time ago.” He shook his head. “I’m never supposed to get personal with the clients, but with you, I didn’t have a choice.” His fingers lifted and skimmed the edge of her jaw. “You were the case, and I would have fucking killed to keep you safe.”

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