Brand wanted Dagny—not in the shallow way he’d wanted other females, but in a desperate, possessive way he’d never before experienced. In truth, he’d thought himself incapable of that kind of attachment. The emotional depth scared him as much as it thrilled him.
Her emotions tumbled in a confusing tangle that enraged the wolf within him. He struggled for control, but the fear she emitted threatened to undo him. Every protective instinct he had screamed that she was in trouble, and all he wanted to do was rip apart whatever was scaring her. Unfortunately, at the moment, he was the one frightening her.
“Dagny,” he said, his voice rougher than he’d meant it to be. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Her eyes focused on his face, gray irises searching. The color shifted toward iridescent silver as her wolf fought for the surface. When she didn’t answer, his rage soared even higher. He grabbed her arm, and she started as if he’d hit her. He moved her out of the way gently, jumped down from the counter, and stalked toward the door.
“Don’t go.” Her voice stopped him mid-stride.
He didn’t trust himself to turn around. “I can’t be in the room with you right now. You’re terrified, and it’s making me crazy.”
“Just tell me why you’re doing this.”
He couldn’t blame her for not trusting him. She’d been given reason to doubt males all her life. “You protected me when you didn’t have to.”
“I don’t want your gratitude.” Anger roughened her voice.
“Good, because I’m not offering you that.” He looked over his shoulder. She stood with poise, courage evident in the lines of her body, though he felt the fear and uncertainty inside her. So much about her confused him, but he knew he couldn’t let her go. “I want you. It’s as simple as that.”
“You’ve barely touched me.”
The revelation hit him like a fist to the gut. She really believed he didn’t want her. He lifted his hand to rub his jaw. “Let me clarify. I want you to be mine.”
She blinked several times. After a long delay she said, “I can’t.” Her voice was soft.
“Does someone else have you?” His lips pulled back from his teeth. “I’ll eat him alive.”
Her mouth dropped open. The attraction coming from her was so overwhelming that he had to shake his head to clear it. So close to her with the moon peaking, her longing tumbled over him.
She barreled forward until she hit his chest hard enough to make him grunt. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her against him until she relaxed a bit. He pulled away so he could look down into her face. “Dagny, tell me what’s wrong.”
Two spots of pink appeared high on her cheeks. He wanted to kiss those spots and feel the warmth of the surging blood beneath.
Suddenly, she looked on the verge of crying. She hesitated, mouth compressing to a thin line as she tried to restrain her emotions.
After waiting for almost a minute, he said, “Tell me what this is about.”
Her lips trembling, she stared up at him. “I can’t give you what you want. It’s not in me.”
The list of things he wanted to beat Ansvarr for grew. Number one on that list was whatever he’d done to give her the mind-fuck that caused her to doubt herself.
Brand raised his hand and held her chin. “All I need right now is for you not to leave.”
“I…” Her voice cracked, and she swallowed. “I can agree to that.”
“Good.” He smiled and felt better when she smiled back.
The phone rang, and he bit back a curse. The last thing he wanted was to let her go. He hugged her tighter before he loosened his hold. “Just a second.”
He felt her eyes on him as he walked into the kitchen. Leaning against the archway, he picked up the phone on the other side of the wall. Aside from Alice, only one other had his home number. “Yes, Erik?”
“What are you doing up so soon?”
“Quick healer. I assume you want to talk to Alice to make sure I haven’t eaten her?”
“That would be nice.”
“I don’t suppose you’ll take my word for it?”
He felt Alice creeping up behind him. She must have made the same assumption about who had called.
He held out the receiver. “Your earl would like to know you’re still alive.”
She took the phone. “Hello, Erik.” She paused. “I’m fine. You don’t have to come get me.” With a small smile, she handed the phone back to him.
“Stay here, I’ll be done soon.” Then, into the phone, Brand said, “You need something else from me?”
Erik hesitated for a few seconds. Brand thought he heard his friend’s teeth grinding. “When are you releasing your hold on Alice?”
Brand flicked a glance at Alice. “Never said I was going to. She and I haven’t discussed it yet.” He ignored the growl coming through the line. “Oh, if Ansvarr calls, you can give him my cell number.”
“Why would your brother be calling me?”
“I appropriated one of his females.”
“What the fuck, Brand?”
“Not going into it right now. If he wants to know why, tell him he can take it up with me.” Brand hung up before Erik could nag him about the consequences of what he’d done. He knew taking Dagny into his brood was a risk; he didn’t need to be reminded.
He turned, putting his back against the doorjamb and narrowed his eyes at Alice. “So, what’s your decision?”
Alice’s gaze slid over to where Dagny sat. Brand avoided looking that way. A riot of prickly emotions came from Dagny, and he was enjoying the idea that she might be jealous.
Alice cleared her throat. “You said it was my choice if I wanted to go back to Erik’s brood.”
Brand nodded. “You don’t want to go back, do you?”
“I want to stay with you.”
That brought Dagny to her feet. Alice turned her head, but no hint of fear emanated from her as she looked at Dagny.
He ignored the outburst. “Why?”
Alice faced Brand again. “I can help you more this way.”
He shook his head. “That’s a shit reason. I’ve told you before, I don’t need help.”
Alice closed her eyes and squeezed her small hands into fists. “You do need help.” Her eyes popped open, and he was shocked to see they were lighter, almost pearly white.
“All right, I agree to let you stay, but only because I’ve never seen your wolf fight to surface before. I must be a good influence on you.”
Her laugh was cheerful and bright. Brand couldn’t remember when he’d last heard her laugh. The connection between them helped her, and that made his decision a simple one. He reached for Alice’s arm, his fingers enormous around her slight wrist.
Dagny took two steps toward them but stopped when Brand fixed her with a stare. He waited for her to object, but she didn’t say anything.
Brand pulled Alice closer, lifting her arm to his mouth. Alice turned her head away. He made a shallow bite halfway between her elbow and wrist. Shifting his eyes toward Dagny, he extricated his teeth from the wound. He swallowed a mouthful of blood, then licked the wound closed. Alice tasted like she smelled, of spring flowers.
With his power and Alice’s blood, he forged a new link between them, twisting it around the old thread in a complex pattern. He wove Alice and Dagny’s link in a similar way; he refused to consider that Dagny would leave his brood. Her strength would put her in danger anywhere else. Even if she wouldn’t be with him as he wanted, their connection wasn’t going anywhere so long as he lived.
He unfurled his power and drew some of Alice’s energy into the collective of his brood. She gasped as he ripped her away from Erik’s brood, the dozens of connections she shared with those wolves torn free in an instant of violence.
He lifted his head and looked into Alice’s eyes. “Your blood is my blood. To the last drop, you are mine.”
Her head tipped back, and she fainted. Brand moved forward to catch her before she fell. He lowered her into a nearby chair, keeping one hand on her back until he was sure she wouldn’t fall out of it.
“That was different than it was for me,” Dagny said.
Brand turned to her. “You’re orders of magnitude stronger. Your wolf fights to get what it wants.”
“Didn’t feel like much of a fight to me. I couldn’t stop the wolf from going to you.”
He smiled. “I never said it fought to escape.” The woman might be unsure what she wanted, but her wolf held no doubts. The wolf’s insistence had been the reason he changed the bond at the last second to bring her in as a partner.
Her forehead creased, but she didn’t speak.
Comments (0)See all