Without the warmth of his body, she felt cold and alone. Scared.

"Sometimes it doesn't happen that way," he told the wall. "Let it rest there, for now, Anna. You have been through enough without this."

"I am so tired of being ignorant," she spat, suddenly hugely angry. "You've changed all the rules on me  -  so you can damned well tell me what the new rules are." As abruptly as the anger had come, it was gone, leaving her shaky and on the verge of tears.

He turned and his eyes had gone gold, reflecting the dim light of the room until they glowed. "Fine. You should have let it be, but you want truth." His voice rambled like thunder, though it wasn't very loud. "My brother wolf has taken you for his mate. If you were nothing to me, I would have never allowed such abuse as you have suffered since your Change. But you are mine, and the thought of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe."

Well, she thought, stunned. She'd known he was interested in her, but she'd assumed it had been a casual thing. Leo was the only mated wolf she knew. She didn't know any of the rules. What did it mean that he said his wolf had decided she was his mate? Did she have a choice in the matter? Did the way he aroused her without trying, the way he made her feel  -  as if she'd known him forever and wanted to wake up next to him for the rest of her life, though she'd known him only hours, really  -  was that his fault?

"If you had let me," he said, "I'd have courted you gently and won your heart." He closed his eyes. "I didn't mean to frighten you."

She should have been frightened. Instead, suddenly, she felt very, very calm, like the eye in a hurricane of emotion.

"I don't like sex," she told him, because it seemed like something he ought to know under the circumstances.

He choked and opened his eyes, their bright color giving way to human dark as she watched.

"I wasn't enthusiastic before the Change," she told him plainly. "And after being passed around like a whore for a year, until Isabelle put a stop to it, I like it even less."

His mouth tightened, but he didn't say anything, so she continued. "And I won't be forced. Never again." She pulled up the sleeves of her shirt to show him the long scars on the underside of her arm, wrist to elbow. She'd made them with a silver knife, and if Isabelle hadn't found her, she'd have killed herself. "This is why Isabelle made Leo stop making me sleep with whatever male pleased him enough. She found me and kept me alive. After that I bought a gun and silver bullets."


He growled softly, but not at her, she was pretty sure.

"I'm not threatening to kill myself. But you need to know this about me because  -  if you want to be my mate  -  I won't be like Leo. I won't let you sleep around with anyone else. I won't be forced either. I've had enough. If that makes me a dog in the manger, so be it. But if I am yours, then you damned well are going to be mine."

"A dog in the manger?" He let out a gusty breath of air that might have been a half-laugh. He closed his eyes again and said in a reasonable tone, "If Leo survives tonight, I shall be very surprised. If I survive you, I'll be equally surprised." He looked at her. "And very little surprises me anymore."

He strode across the floor, picking up his chair and setting it where it belonged as he passed it. He stopped just in front of her and touched her raised chin gently, then laughed. Still smiling he tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. "I promise you will enjoy sex with me," he murmured.

Somehow she managed to keep her spine straight. She wasn't ready to fall into a puddle at his feet quite yet. "Isabelle said you were a good lover."

He laughed again. "You have no need for jealousy. Sex with Isabelle meant no more to me than a good belly scratch and rather less to her, I think. Nothing worth repeating for either of us." There was a whisper of sound outside the room and he took her hand. "Time for us to go."

He paid polite compliments to the meal as he handed over a credit card to a young-looking man who called him "sir" and smelled of werewolf. The owner of the restaurant, Anna supposed.

"So where would you like to go next?" she asked as she stepped out onto the busy sidewalk.

He pulled his jacket on the rest of the way and dodged a woman in high heels who carried a leather briefcase. "Somewhere with fewer people."

"We could go to the zoo," she suggested. "This time of year it's pretty deserted, even with the kids out of school for Thanksgiving."

He turned his head and started to speak when something in a window caught his attention. He grabbed her and threw her on the ground, falling on top of her. There was a loud bang, like a backfiring car, and he jerked once, then lay still on top of her.

Chapter 3

It had been a long time since he'd been shot, but the sizzling burn of the silver bullet was still familiar. He hadn't been quite fast enough  -  and the crowd of people made sure that he couldn't go after the car that had taken off as soon as the gun had fired. He hadn't even gotten a good look at the shooter, just an impression.

"Charles?" Beneath him, Anna's eyes were black with shock and she patted his shoulders. "Was someone shooting at us? Are you all right?"

"Yes," he said, though he couldn't really assess the damage until he moved, which he didn't want to much.

"Stay where you are until I can get a look," said a firm voice. "I'm an EMT."

The command in the EMT's voice forced Charles to move  -  he didn't take orders from anyone except his father. He pushed himself off of Anna and got to his feet, then leaned down and grabbed her hand to pull her up from the frozen sidewalk.

"Damn it, man, you're bleeding. Don't be stupid," snapped the stranger. "Sit down."

Being shot had enraged the wolf in him, and Charles turned to snarl at the EMT, a competent-looking middle-aged man with sandy hair and a graying red moustache.

Then Anna squeezed his hand, which she still held, and said, "Thank you," to the EMT and then to Charles "Let him take a look"  -  and he was able to hold back the snarl.

He did growl low in his throat, though, when the stranger looked at his wound: never show weakness to a possible enemy. He felt too exposed on the sidewalk, too many people were looking at him  -  they had acquired quite an audience.

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