Kim’s body grew pliant. “Liam, about this friend I want to invite…”

“What about him? He wasn’t your lover, was he?”


“No. Really, he’s just a friend. I’ve known him since college. I didn’t want to say this in front of all the others, but Silas is a journalist. A very good one. He wants to do some pieces on Shifters and make a documentary. Kind of show how they’re mistreated, that kind of angle.”

Liam straightened up, eyes wary. “Let another human uncover Shifter secrets?”

“No, I mean show Shifter life in its reality—the kids playing in the yards, like that Michael in his pool I saw the first day I was here. He’s cute, and he’d have great appeal. Humans can watch Shifter moms planting gardens, dads coming home from their working-class jobs. Teenagers like Connor playing soccer or holding hands with their girlfriends. Let people see how peaceful you are, how normal.”

“Is that all? You know Fergus would never let that happen,”

“That’s why I’m asking you.” Kim smiled up at him, trying to look impossibly sweet.

Liam’s gaze softened. “You’re a crafty lass, Kim. You want these stories to switch public opinion to Brian’s side, don’t you now?”

“It couldn’t hurt.”

Liam laughed softly and kissed the top of her head. “And you know if I say yes, I won’t tell Fergus.”

“Something like that. Or your father?”

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“Or my father, who would feel obligated to pass on the information. Bring this Silas to the party and let me meet him. No cameras, no notebooks. Strictly off the record until I get to know him.”

“Of course. He’s fair, Liam, which is why I thought of him.”

“But if I don’t like him…”

“I tell him no. Promise.”

“All right then.” Liam leaned down, resumed nibbling her earlobe. “But enough talking. I’m thinking about the fact that we’re alone in this house.”

“Having someone in the house didn’t stop you yesterday,” she pointed out in a shaky voice.

“That was mating frenzy. Today I want to take it slow. To give you everything I want, in my own time.” Liam ran his fingers down her spine, trailing fire. “I want to see if you’re wearing garters under that sexy skirt.”

Kim leaned against the kitchen counter and slid her skirt up a few inches. “I am.”

Liam’s warm hands covered her thighs, his thumbs hooking into the tops of her stockings. “That’s my girl.”

Chapter Seventeen

Kim found herself seated on the counter with Liam standing between her legs. Liam’s warm lips played on hers while he slid his hands to the insides of her thighs. “Could this be a thong?” he murmured, touching it. “The thing you said you couldn’t be wearing?”

“Could be.”

“Did you wear it for me, Kim?”


Liam nuzzled her cheek. “I like that.” He licked where he nuzzled. “It’s easy to move aside.”

“That’s the point of it.”

“You’re wet for me,” he said.

“I am.” Kim drew her hand along his zipper. “You’re ready too, I see. Either that or you shoved a baseball bat down there.”

“I’m thinking that would be painful.”

“I’m thinking you’re in pain now,” Kim whispered in his ear. “I would be, if I had something that big in my pants.”

“Want to find out what it’s like?”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

She’d never done it leaning back on a counter, her skirt up, her panties shoved aside, and her lover letting his jeans drop around his ankles. But then, she’d never had a lover like Liam, a large, raw-muscled Irishman with beautiful eyes.

She found herself with her legs locked around him, his hands cradling her head while she felt the burn of them joining. His lips were all over her, face, throat, hair, mouth.

“You feel so good, Kim. You feel so f**king good.”

Kim didn’t answer. She sensed desperation in him, the need to bury himself in sex and forget the strange argument he’d had with his dad as well as Fergus’s ultimatum. Liam seemed the most unnerved of all of them, even Dylan.

The untamed joy of what they did made Kim want to shout out loud, and so did the danger that someone could walk in and catch them. Her partners had always practiced safe sex—not only in the sense of using condoms, but in ensuring the lights were out, the doors locked, and the windows shaded, so no one would ever know what they were doing.

Liam wanted Kim and didn’t care who knew. He’d broadcast the fact far and wide, proudly. Instead of being embarrassed, Kim’s heart swelled with joy.

Another part of her did too. She rocked her hips, loving the sensation of him deep inside her.

“Liam,” she groaned. “I want you to do dirty things to me.”

“Happy to, love,” he said, his face against hers. “You name them, I’ll do them.”

She moved faster, and he did, and she did again. “I’m loving this right now.”

“I love what you make me feel,” he whispered.

Kim tried to think of something sexy to say, but words fled her brain. “Just shut up and do me.”

Liam laughed. He rocked into her swiftly, until they were both breathless with it. Liam held her tightly as he came, his seed scalding, his mouth hard on hers. His kisses were still unpracticed, but Kim didn’t care. She caught his tongue, his lips, his teeth with hers, kissing him back with joyous abandon.

Liam smiled into her mouth, and Kim laughed with him. Sex didn’t get better than this.

Her heart beat wildly when she thought that maybe it did—with Liam. The idea triggered her orgasm. She gyrated against him, unsure how much noise she was making and not really caring.

When she wound down, Liam backed out of her, still hard, pulled up his pants, and carried her to the sagging living room sofa. He collapsed onto it, Kim on top of him, both of them panting.

“Oh, man, that was good.” Kim lay against his shoulder trying to get her breath. Laughter didn’t help.

Liam ran his fingers through her hair. “Not what I had in mind, but not bad.”

“What do you mean, not bad?”

Liam regarded her with half-closed predator’s eyes. “I told you, I wanted to take it slow. Love you like you deserve. Not screwing you quick-time on a kitchen counter.”

Kim kissed the tip of his nose. “I didn’t mind. Not at all. Maybe you noticed?”

“I want to give you so much.” Liam’s hold tightened into a hard embrace. “So much, Kim. Everything I once had, everything I lost. I want it back—for you.”

She heard Liam’s heart beating rapidly beneath her ear, and her own heart squeezed. His declarations scared her. She could dismiss his words as those of a man happy he’d just gotten into a woman’s pants, words that would evaporate as soon as he was sated. Except the throbbing of his heart was from more than physical exertion. His voice held uncertainty, a longing he feared he couldn’t fulfill.

Kim ran her fingers along the hard plane of his chest. “You don’t need to do anything for me.”

“Don’t be daft, woman. I take care of you now. I want to do everything for you.”

She shook her head. “I take care of myself. I have a decent job and a nice house. That’s more than a lot of people have.”

“Before we took the Collar, a man took his mate home to his family and sequestered her. He did everything for her, hunted for her, kept her warm and fed and comfortable, pampered her in every way.”

“Really? I guess you hadn’t ever heard of women’s rights.”

“Not in the nineteenth century, love.” Liam smiled. “Not sequestered as in kept in prison. Sequestered as in protected from all others. Female Shifters have always been in short supply, and we had to keep them from being stolen by other Shifters. The mate bond is sacrosanct, but when times were bad, other males stopped caring about sacrosanct.” He cradled Kim closer. “So I have to fight my instincts not to lock you somewhere safe and beat off everyone from even looking at you.”

Kim had never considered herself a precious object before. Certainly Abel had never treated her as more than a convenience, and men she’d dated earlier in life hadn’t been much better. Her relationships had been the “friends with benefits” kind. No true, undying love, no I want to take care of you and protect you for the rest of our lives.

Kim had spent enough time taking care of herself that having someone want to relieve her of the burden felt strange, though nice. She wasn’t going to let Liam do it, but the feeling was still nice.

Liam swung her into his arms and rolled to his feet at the same time. Kim found herself against his chest with her head on his shoulder, Liam striding toward the stairs.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Taking you upstairs where we belong. I’m tired of fighting my instincts.”

A pleasant shiver went through her. “What does that mean?”

His eyes were white-blue when he looked down at her, his pupils changing. “I’m going to love you all night, my mate. On a bed. I’m going to love you until we can’t stand up.”

If Abel had said that, Kim would have rolled her eyes or thought about what unsatisfying work that would be. When Liam said it, her whole body came alive.

To tease him, she said, “I really should look at my case files.”

The look Liam gave her was savage. “Screw your case files.”

Kim laughed. Liam growled and sprinted up the last of the stairs, slammed into the bedroom and tossed her on the bed. As her clothes came off, then his, Kim gave in. For one night of her life, she was going to enjoy making wild, crazy love with a man who promised to make it unforgettable, no matter what might come in the morning.

It was Sean’s turn to cook breakfast, and Liam grabbed a plateful of pancakes from him as the sun poured through the eastern windows. “Kim will be down in a minute.”

Sean sent him an annoyed look with bloodshot eyes. “I’m thinking of soundproofing your room.”

“The sounds of loving bother you that much, do they?” Liam asked him.

“It does when you’re shouting all night.”

Connor grinned from his place at the table. “I had to wear headphones with the music cranked up. It barely drowned you out.”

“You gobshites are just jealous. Where’s Dad?”

Sean slammed the spatula to the counter. “Where do you think?”

Next door. With Glory. Good. “Do you begrudge your old dad getting some?” Liam asked Sean in a light voice. “A grateful son you are.”

“Sean’s pissed because he’s not getting any,” Connor said. “I don’t mind because I’m still too young and innocent to know what it all means.”

“Bullshit,” Sean growled.

Connor laughed at him. Liam clapped Sean on the shoulder and turned away with his breakfast. “You’ll find a mate someday, Sean. Then we’ll make fun of the noise from your room.”

Sean gave him a dark look and went back to his batter. His bad mood was about more than Liam keeping him awake. Sean had been ready to lay down his life for them yesterday, and that hadn’t been an easy thing for him to do.

Liam started to sit down, then felt the unmistakable presence of Kim coming down the stairs. Smelled her as well, all fresh from her shower. She wore a casual skirt and sleeveless shirt, her legs bare, feet in strappy, high-heeled sandals.

“Are those pancakes?” she asked. “I’m starving.”

Liam drew her into his arms. He’d woken with her in his arms not an hour ago, and hadn’t that been the best feeling in the world? Liam nuzzled her cheek, then kissed her lips.

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