He stood, would have stumbled, but Jordan was there. Watching his back now, the way Lucas had once watched his brother’s.

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Lucas didn’t let go of Sarah. He didn’t look back at the house or at the torn body of his nemesis. It was over.

“Another part of the legend,” Sarah murmured.

Lucas frowned down at her.

“You took out Rafe, his pack is destroyed, and you walk away, cheating death again.”

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Not cheating death. Telling the bastard to wait. Wait—I’m living with her. And that cold asshole wasn’t getting either one of them for a long time.

He planned for them both to have very, very long lives. “Tell Josette I’m coming for her!” Piers yelled, turning back once. “I waited . . . years, but I’ll be coming for her now.”

“You won’t hurt her.” From Brody. Always so protective of Maya and those close to her.

“No, but I’ll have her.”

Did Piers understand just what he’d be getting? Because Lucas suspected that Josette wasn’t the same woman she’d been before. He knew power when he smelled it.

A new mambo seemed to have taken over.

Dane had hot-wired a truck. Jordan leapt on his bike. The other vehicles couldn’t be traced to them.

Lucas eased Sarah inside the truck. Her eyes had closed again. Fear pumped through him. “Sarah?”

Her eyes didn’t open. “Relax, Lucas . . . can’t go anywhere . . . without you.” The faintest of smiles curved her lips.

He climbed in and pulled her close. “No, babe, you can’t.” From here on out, they’d be together.

And if anyone tried to come between them, he’d slaughter the dumbass.

Because Sarah King was his. He’d bled for her, killed for her, nearly died for her . . . and he’d never give her up. Never.

When Sarah opened her eyes, she was in a bedroom. Lucas’s bedroom. The window’s broken glass had been repaired. The room was cleaned up and no signs of the old battle remained.

The mattress was soft beneath her, and Lucas’s hand was a warm weight on her stomach. She stared up at the ceiling, not daring to look at him yet.

Last night they’d almost died. Somehow, they’d made it through. Rafe hadn’t. One less crazy jerk in the world. One less nightmare to haunt her.

They’d made it, and she’d told Lucas—I love you.

But he hadn’t said a word back to her. If she hadn’t been barely clinging to consciousness, that would probably have hurt her more then.

Since she was fully awake and aware now, it hurt like a bitch.

She tried to ease away from him, but his hand slipped down and curled around her waist, holding her in place. “Thought we covered this,” his voice rumbled. “You don’t get away from me.”

Yes, she vaguely remembered something about that. But, what was crystal clear in her head . . . He didn’t say he loved me. We almost died and he never said . . . She swallowed. “I just . . . I—” Great. She didn’t know what to say. What to do.

“While you were sleeping, you called my name.”

That wasn’t going to embarrass her. She’d already said she loved the guy. So she whispered his name in her sleep. So what?

“I don’t know if anyone has ever dreamed about me before.” His lips pressed against the curve of her shoulder. “Had nightmares, yeah, but not dreamed about me.”

“Well, if you want the truth . . .” She turned her head and met his bright stare. “I’ve been dreaming about you for months.”

He blinked.

What did she have to lose? “I wasn’t out of my head last night. It wasn’t pain talking. I meant what I said.” Did you mean what you didn’t say? “I’m in love with you, Lucas.”

No more blinks. His gaze bored into hers. “What do you want from me?”

Not that response. “I want everything that you can give me. You said we’re mates. Okay, I don’t know what makes someone a mate or—”

“You can have my children. Your genetics balance with mine. I knew the first time we had sex that we were compatible.”

Compatible? She didn’t want compatible. Sarah rolled away from him.

He caught her arm and rolled her right back. “Dammit, I’m messing this up!”

“Yes, you are.” Gritted.

His eyes blazed down at her. “I’m not sure I know what love is.”

Her lips parted.

He kissed her. Hard and deep and his taste was right, just what she wanted, and her sex began to moisten. For him. Only him. The guy had ruined her for other men. And not because they were compatible or had a good genetic match.

His head lifted. “In case you haven’t noticed, my life hasn’t exactly been easy.”

She’d noticed.

“Women in my life have been around for a few days. I just took the pleasure and walked away. No attachments.”

She didn’t want to hear about his pleasure with other women. The guy was really lucky she didn’t have claws.

“Jordan’s my only family. The pack—hell, we don’t know about love. None of us. Obsession. Need. Hunger. Lust. Yeah, we got that.”

Wolves always understood the darker drives. Animal instinct.

But it was the man who could love. Didn’t he realize that? “I want you, Sarah. I need you. Hell, sometimes I feel like I need you more than I need my next breath.”

That was . . . oh.

“I knew you were dying last night. I could see it, and I just wanted—”

“I wanted to touch you,” she whispered, cutting across his words. “Just one more time.”

“That was some powerful touch.” His lips skimmed hers.

“I think you pushed death back for us again.”

How many more chances would they have?

“You know how it works now, don’t you? Whatever magic Marie wove, it can’t be broken,” he said. “Our lives are linked, everything tied together. When one of us dies . . .”

“I—I know.”

His gaze dropped to her mouth. “You could do better than me.” Said gruffly. “We’re bound, but you don’t have to spend your days with—”

“Watch it, wolf,” she warned, her own voice sharp. “You’re talking about my mate.”

His jaw clenched. “Mating doesn’t equal love.”

Okay, why didn’t he just claw her heart out? “With you, for me, it does.”

Lucas stared at her, then his eyelids squeezed shut. “I’m going to fuck this up. I’m not easy to live with, hell, nothing about pack is easy.”

Her fingers curled over his broad shoulders. “What makes you think life with me is easy?” She paused. “What makes you think I want easy?” Maybe she should have been trying to spare her pride and pull back from him, but her confession was out there, and she wasn’t going to slink away in shame.

His eyes open. Burned with so much intensity. “I’m a possessive bastard. I’m wild. The animal inside is too strong. I can’t always control him.”

Bull. “You have more control than anyone I’ve ever met.”

His legs eased between hers. She could feel his arousal, thick and hard and so long. Aroused, but . . . he wasn’t pushing his flesh against her.

Sex wasn’t going to solve this. They both seemed to understand that.

“I’ll lie for you, Sarah. Kill for you.”

He already had.

“I’d turn my back on the pack for you . . .”

Now he had her tensing because that was more of a sacrifice than she’d ever ask of him.

“And I will never want anyone as much as I want you.” He shook his head. “But I don’t know that I can give you what you need.”

And he was breaking her heart. Her hand slid down his chest. Pressed once more over the heart that raced so fast. “What do you want for me?”

His brows furrowed.

“What do you want my life to be like?”

A muscle flexed in his jaw. “I want you . . . happy.” Promising. Maybe he really didn’t know. “When you’re with me, how do you feel?”

His breath hissed out. “Like I’ve finally found home.”

The wolf was going to make her cry. “That’s how I feel when I’m with you. Like I belong. Like I found a part of myself that was missing . . . I didn’t even know it was missing. . . .” Not until she’d walked into a jail and peered at a wolf caged behind the bars. Mine. “I love you, Lucas, and I’m not going to walk away. I won’t give up on us.” Whatever came their way—wolves, wars, pack—she’d stay by his side.

“Love.” He said the word as if he were tasting it. “You’re the first thing I think about when I open my eyes. The last damn thing at night. And when I dream . . .” He swallowed. “It’s of you. Sarah, is that close to love?”

So lost. Her big, bad wolf was strong in so many ways. She’d teach him this. Show him the way. “Yes, Lucas, it’s close.” No, better than close.

“I’d rip apart anyone who hurt you, and damn, woman, I feel like I’d give my soul—or whatever the hell is left of it—just to see you smile.”

Better than close. “That’s love,” she whispered.

His brows smoothed. His lips began to curl. “Then Sarah King . . . I love you.”

She was pretty sure her fast heartbeat shook her chest. Maybe even the whole bed.

“I won’t let you go,” he told her, his mouth so close to hers that she could taste him. Would taste him, very soon.

“Good. Because I’d hate to hunt you down.” She nipped at his lip and felt the tightening of his body.

“Forever, Sarah?”

“Forever, Lucas,” she promised.

Bound, linked, always—with her big, bad wolf.

Epilogue

“Caleb’s gone.” Dane spun around as soon as he made the announcement. Shit, okay, he should not have busted into the alpha’s room. But, wow, Sarah had one fine ass.

Lucas’s growl filled the bedroom. “Don’t look back, Dane.”

Yeah, he knew a death threat when he heard one. Dane stared into the hallway. “He slipped away while we were fighting Rafe.” His gut tightened. “Do we hunt him?”

“Lucas . . .” Sarah’s soft voice. Husky. Sounded like pleasure and sex.

Lucky bastard.

But maybe, just maybe, he could have the devil’s luck, too. Karen had survived the attack. He’d already checked the hospital. Had to check. She’d survived.

Now what would he do with her? To her?

If Caleb hadn’t pulled this vanishing crap, he’d be at Karen’s side right then.

“He didn’t kill when he had the chance. He never went for your throat,” Sarah told Lucas.

Sheets rustled. Dane still didn’t look back as he asked, “Is he Lone?” Cast out. Left to fight and struggle on his own.

“No.”

Dane’s head jerked but he managed—barely—not to glance over his shoulder.

“Not yet. The pack will judge. All of the pack. Once we find him.”

Dane stepped into the hallway. “Do we start the hunt now?”

“No need.” More sheets rustled. Dane heard Sarah sigh softly. “I know where he’s going,” Lucas said. “There’s only one person in town that might be able to help him, and she’s already being watched by pack.”

“Then what are the orders?”

“Stand down—and wait. Our lost wolf will be back. One way or another . . .”

Josette slipped the ruby ring onto her finger. A perfect fit. Her mother’s ring. Taken when Carline was slaughtered in a dirty alley by a vamp.

Taken, but then retrieved by another. Maya had recovered the ring when she’d killed the vampire who’d drained Josette’s mother.

We’re not all monsters. Maya’s words, spoken years ago. Josette just hadn’t wanted to believe her then.

Now, she knew the truth.

“What’s happened to you, Josie?” Maya asked quietly. They’d washed away the blood. Bandaged the wounds. Now Josette stood, waiting.

Because she knew what was coming.

Thanks to her grand-mère, she wasn’t weak anymore. Wouldn’t ever be weak again, and now, she knew everything.

Not all monsters. No, some paranormals were good, some were bad. Just like humans.

And they would be coming to her. Over and over. Seeking help. Seeking power. Seeking life.

Perhaps finding death.

“I didn’t want this,” she whispered to the vampire who’d once been her only friend. In another life . . . so long ago.

Maya’s hand brushed her shoulder. “Let me help you.”

Josette shook her head. “You can’t.” No one could.

She lifted her chin when she heard the creak of the floorboard. The first. Far from the last.

Not the wolf she’d wanted to see, though, not him. Not yet.

Caleb McKenzie paused just outside of her doorway. “I-I need your help.”

She’d seen grand-mère do this so many times. “And what will you give me?”

“Anything.”

So desperate. That would make him dangerous. The world began to fog around Josette as power fueled her blood. Anything.

If he wasn’t careful, the wolf would end up trading everything.

After all, magic demanded a high price.

It was a lesson Sarah King had learned. She’d paid, she’d loved, and by a trick of fate, she’d lived.

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