Her expression was beseeching, her eyes wide and so filled with confidence. This time in him. She watched him as though he could solve this problem by his will alone. He wanted to curse her innocence, but found himself desperate to believe in it as well. Surely, it couldn’t be so simple. After years of running, decades of doubt and hopelessness, could it really be so easy? Of course it couldn’t, but what choice did he have left?

“We will wait one more day,” he finally sighed, glancing back at the computer, the emails he had received bothering him more than he wanted to admit. Tanner and Taber had done a copy of theirs to each of the others of the Pride. Sherra had not. The email had come singly and carefully coded. She trusted no one now, except Kane Tyler and himself.

“I believe Dayan has betrayed me,” he finally told her softly. “His scent was in the cave and on the soldiers within it. He knew of the mating and has been furious over it. His instability may have driven him

over the edge.”

He hid his rage, his pain. If Dayan had betrayed the Pride, then it would fall to Callan to kill him. Dayan would become the hunted, something Callan swore the others would never be again.

“Callan.” Merinus came to her feet, her expression bleak, filled with pain for him. He shook his head, moving away from her. He didn’t want her tenderness right now, not while he was filled with this rage.

“I took them out and covered their escapes with the deaths of scientists, soldiers and doctors,” he whispered. “The screams of the dying still echo in my ears, the deaths of the babes incubating in their tubes still tear at my conscience.” He dragged his hands through his hair, fighting the years-old horror and regret.

“You did what you had to do, Callan.” She gave him total acceptance, when he didn’t even have that for himself.

“I swore they would never be hunted again,” he whispered, fighting the ragged wound opening up in his soul. “I would not like to hunt my brother, Merinus. To know that the beast overcame him does not give hope for the rest of us.”

“Are you serious?” Incredulous anger colored her tone. He turned to her in surprise. Her hands were propped on her hips, her brows drawn into a frown as she stared at him as though he had lost his mind.


“In what way?” he asked her carefully. Damn, she could be mercurial.

“The beast overcoming him?” She snorted in a less than ladylike fashion. He could likely blame Kane for that habit. “More likely his human nature coming out. Dammit, Callan, animals do not betray each other. Check out the Discovery Channel a little more often. You need to research, hon. Only humans sell each other out, only humans kill for no reason. It would say that perhaps Dayan got a little more human coding than the rest of you did.”

She crossed her arms over her breasts, staring him down as though he were a child in need of a lecture. Where was this woman’s fear? Her respect? Even the scientists had shown him greater fear. He lifted a brow at her. She didn’t understand what the scientists had created, how they had attempted to train them. He could forgive her the ignorance, he decided.

“Oh, look at that brow arching,” she said mockingly. “Lion-O thinks he knows better.”

Callan clenched his teeth.

Merinus threw her hands up in defeat.

“Fine, believe what you want to,” she bit out. “Just like a man, you will anyway. But I’m telling you right now, and you’ll find out I’m right, Callan Lyons, Dayan is a typical psychopath. It’s there in those beady little eyes of his. I never did trust him.”

“There is such a thing as a typical psychopath? Did you see this on the Discovery Channel as well, darling?”

Her eyes widened at the little dig, her head tilting, considering.

“I’m sure it aired and I’m certain I’m right. I have a brother that’s into pop psychology, he would know all about it and I’m sure he would agree with me.”

Figured. Was there anything those brothers of hers didn’t do? And did they ever disagree with the little imp standing across from him? It occurred to him that she might be just a bit spoiled by those brothers of hers.

“So what are you going to do?” There went those hands on those slender hips again. Her breasts pushed out against the T-shirt, the hard nipples like a beacon to his eyes. How was a man supposed to think when confronted with such a sight?

“I told you, I will decide by tomorrow,” he growled, fighting a lust that had nothing to do with any scent of need coming from her body. For a change, the lava hot scent was barely present. What he detected now though, was much more destructive. A woman irritated, angry, and just plain, pure aroused. His cock throbbed.

“Well, you know what I think. Now I’m going to go take a bath and you can sit here and brood all you want to. Then I’ll fix dinner. I make a great pasta salad.”

She swept from the room before he could snarl. Pasta salad? He didn’t think so.


Merinus made her pasta salad to accompany Callan’s steaks and baked potatoes. They ate silently, then cleaned the kitchen together. Pouring her a glass of wine, Callan led her back to the living room. His silence wasn’t nerve wracking. Merinus could tell he was thinking, weighing the options they had. Not that she saw many options. Kane was going to have to be called, whether he liked it or not. Her family was their only hope.

She sat on the couch while he paced the room and ignored the heat building between her thighs. She more than admitted that the normal desire she felt for him was bad enough, but this building tension, this wildness that seemed to get worse with each fucking was making her crazy.

“Take off the shirt.” His voice was strained, rough with his demanding sexuality. Merinus glanced up in surprise as he stalked toward her. His movements slow and graceful, the jeans hugging the bulge between his thighs that seemed to grow larger as he came closer. His expression was intent, almost feral. His eyes were bright, glowing in the deep tan of his face. Merinus felt her heart beat quickly, her breathing becoming deep and rough as she licked her lips in anticipation. This would be a mating. The times before had been sheer lust, an easing of the burning fire that raged between them. But this time would be different, she could feel it. She crossed her arms over her chest, drawing the shirt over her head with a languid movement as she lifted her legs to the couch, leaving them slightly bent, closed. She wouldn’t submit to him easily. For a moment, it worried her, the feeling that rushed over her body. She felt almost animalistic, the need for him going beyond simple desire, her determination to hold her own with him rising as hot as her lust. He stopped at her feet, his eyes narrowing as his hand went to the snaps of his jeans. Merinus’ hands went to her breasts; she cupped them slowly, her fingers teasing her nipples as she arched her breasts towards him. A move meant to tease, to entice. He growled low and deep, his lip lifting in a mild snarl. Merinus smiled at him, her eyelids lowering as she licked her lips with her damp tongue, watching as the thick, proud length of his cock emerged from the opening of his jeans.

“Open your thighs,” he ordered her, the grumble of his voice a sensual rasp over her nerve endings. Merinus rose to her feet instead. She wouldn’t give him anything willingly this time. If he wanted her, if he wanted to take her, make her his, then he would have to fight for it. Where the wildness came from, she didn’t know. What made it rise like a demand in her body, she wasn’t certain. But it was there and refused to be denied.

“You aren’t undressed yet,” she said a bit coyly. “Would you take me still dressed, with your cock the only bare skin touching me?”

His eyes followed her movements carefully.

“I’m on the edge, Merinus,” he warned her, his voice dark. “This demon has risen too quickly, too hard inside me. Lie down and don’t fight me. I don’t want to hurt you.”

She tossed him a look over her shoulder as she skirted a wide path around him.

“Perhaps you’re the one who will end up hurt,” she suggested, her voice low, pulsing with the arousal of this new and intriguing desire rising inside her. “Why should I submit? You lie down, and allow me to have my way with you.”

Her hand smoothed over her buttock as she passed by him, well out of arm’s reach. The sensation of her own hand against her buttocks sent a tingle of pure heat rushing over her body. As she watched him over her shoulder, she drew her nails across her skin, knowing she left the soft blush of the abrasion.

His face flushed, his eyes glittered. He moved without rushing, stripping his jeans from his body, the powerful muscles of his legs and thighs tense and hard as he tossed the material to the couch.

“I won’t be easy, Merinus,” he promised her, moving around behind her, stalking her, his intent clear in his expression.

“Neither will I,” she promised him.

She knew before he pounced. She watched the muscles of his chest bunch. An instant before he moved she was streaking for the stairs. She felt her heart pounding harsh and loud in her chest, her blood raging through her body, desire wrapping around them, urging them into a desperate game of domination. He caught her halfway up the stairs. The heat of his body blanketed hers as he snagged her around the waist, bringing her to a stop, bending her to her knees. Merinus bucked against him. She felt his erection slide between the cheeks of her ass, heating the narrow crevice with his incredible heat. He was thick and hard, and it would be so tempting to tilt her hips and allow him to thrust into the wet, needy channel he sought.

She allowed him to believe that was her intention. She relaxed, moving against him, and when his arms lifted to clasp her hips, she scrambled up the steps. Of course, he only let her go, she wasn’t fool enough to believe she had actually escaped.

Merinus glanced back from the landing, watching as he came up the steps behind her. He was moving fast, his expression savage. She sprinted for the bedroom, intent on slamming the door behind her, locking him from her, leaving him only the scent of her incredible lust to beckon him. She made it as far as pushing the door halfway closed, then he was there, pushing past it, slamming it closed behind them.

“Would you like to try hiding under the bed?” he suggested silkily as she backed up from him.

“Would you like to try my knee in your nuts again?” She smiled, watching him almost wince. His face definitely tightened.

“You want me,” he accused her with no heat. “I can see your juices gleaming on your cunt.”

She licked her lips, running her tongue over them slow and easy as his eyes flared at the action.

“So take it.” She shrugged. “If you can.”

He smiled.

“You think it will be easy again, Merinus?” he asked her, his voice low and dangerous. “You think it will merely be another hard, fast fuck before my barb anchors me inside you?”

Her vagina clenched in anticipation. But he only shook his head at her.

“Not this time,” he warned her. “This time, I will make you submit.”

“And just how do you intend to do this?” she questioned him archly. His hand went to the thrusting flesh of his cock. He stroked it slowly, his movements unhurried.

“When I am done, Merinus, there is not an entrance in that sweet body of yours that I will not have taken.” He edged closer as she backed away from him, watching him warily now.

“I will have you on your knees, your lips wrapped around my cock until I cum inside your hot mouth. I’ll fuck your lips like I’ve dreamed of doing since the other night when you stole my control. And when I’ve given you my first load there, I’ll lay you on your stomach, stretch your ass and fuck it until I’m anchored there, filling you with more of my seed. And we both know I’ll still be hard when I’m finished.” He ignored her widening eyes. She couldn’t even imagine him fitting there. “Then, I’ll raise your hips and I’ll fuck that hot little pussy until you’re hoarse from screaming, your body pulsing with so many orgasms you’ll beg me to stop.”

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