She was too weak to open her eyes to see where he was going, but moments later she heard water running in the bathroom. When he returned, he turned her to her stomach gently. She couldn’t protest, whatever he wanted he could have. She was boneless, mindless with satiation. But it was the warm roughness of a cloth between her thighs that she felt. First over the saturated lips of her cunt, then through the narrow cleft of her ass.

He cleaned her gently, his hands slow, the strokes thorough.

“Are you okay?” he asked her finally, his voice soft, hesitant.

“Mm.” She didn’t want to use breathing energy on actually speaking. He was quiet behind her then. His hand was warm on her buttocks; his silence though, was filled with tension.

“I’m sorry.” She could barely hear the apology.

Merinus took a deep, strengthening breath. Damn, men and their phobias. She turned on her back staring up at him drowsily.

“Why?” she mumbled.

Callan frowned.

“I lost control—”

“So?” She yawned. Damn, she was tired now. “I wanted you too. Now lay down here and cuddle me, dammit. A woman is supposed to be cuddled after mind blowing sex, not attempting to make sense of some man’s psyche.”


Uh oh. She watched that expression of male offense cross his face. Now, how the hell had she managed to wound his poor little ego?

“My psyche is not the problem,” he informed her with an overload of pride. Merinus rolled her eyes.

‘Then what is?” She pulled weakly at the other side of the comforter as a chill began to replace the warmth of her body.

“I lost control,” he said again.

“And I said: So?”

“I hurt you.”

Merinus looked up at him. He was perfectly in control again, if still a little horny. He sat beside her, his amber eyes glittering with regret.

“You didn’t hurt me,” she argued. “I liked everything you did.”

“Dammit, Merinus, I smacked you,” he bit out, dragging his hand roughly through his hair. “I do not hit women.”

Merinus smiled. She remembered well the pleasure of that particular little spanking.

“Yeah, I know,” she sighed in contentment. “Cuddle me for a while and you can do it again.”

The shock on his face would have been comical if she had the energy to laugh.

“You wanted that?” He seemed confused by it.

Merinus sighed. “Callan, I want all of you. I want you wild and growling, purring and contented, and even roaring in release. I don’t just want a small part of you. I love you. The whole package.”

He shook his head as though to deny her claim.

“But you are mine, too,” she told him firmly. “Remember that. Or I really will neuter you. Or I’ll have Kane do it. And I bet he won’t use anesthesia.”

He winced. Good. Then he brought his hand to her face, his expression filling with tenderness. Damn, he better not make her cry. She really didn’t have the energy.

“You humble me,” he told her roughly.

“And if you make me cry, I’ll smack you.” She kissed his palm though, and sighed peacefully before whining. “Now please get me warm and comfy so I can sleep. I’m killed here.”

Callan moved hesitantly, pulling the blankets from beneath her and getting in beside her. Merinus moved against him instantly, his extra body heat a balm to her cooling body. His arms went around her, holding her close to his chest, his chin resting atop her head. He was thinking, she could tell. She didn’t consider that a good thing, considering it was the incredible sex of moments before that he was thinking so hard about.

“I did it deliberately, you know,” she finally said in exasperation as he reached over to switch the lamp out.

“I know you did.” He wrapped his arms around her once again.

“So why are you so damned put out over it?” She frowned.

“I could have hurt you, Merinus,” he bit out. “I know how. I was beyond all control with you. That’s dangerous.”

“Evidently not.” She shrugged. “Callan, I’m not your enemy, nor am I threatening your life. Get over it. You did an amazing job of making me submit and I’ll be eternally grateful. Maybe later we can even play again.”

“You will drive me insane.” His voice was resigned.

Merinus was quiet for long moments. Funny, her father and brothers used the same tone of voice and the same words often. What the hell did she do?

“I’m going to sleep.” She would figure it out later. “Men are just too confusing for me to figure out right now.”

She thought she heard him chuckle, but it could have just been the vibrations of the soft purr she could hear beneath her cheek. Definitely more soothing than snoring.


Callan held Merinus for a long while after she fell into a deep sleep. Her body curved close to his, soft and tempting. His hands smoothed over the curve of her back, his eyes closing in pain. He should have walked away from her the moment she came into town. He should have packed and disappeared as he meant to do. Instead, he had given into the temptation of brown eyes filled with laughter, and a temptingly curved body that hardened his cock in seconds. And then, he had thrown her life into chaos. He grimaced, knowing the past week had been more than hard on her. The demands her body was making on her had to be confusing, frightening, but she never gave into it. She had still laughed, she had still fought with him, tempted him. She had given him her body willingly, even during moments when the

‘frenzy’ was not upon her. Her passion burned him alive then. What had happened less than an hour before terrified him.

He couldn’t find a reason why he had suddenly demanded her submission. The scent of her lust had struck him like a bat to heat, triggering some primal instinct inside him. It had become imperative that she submit and accept that she was his, and she had refused. He had to hear her admit she belonged to him, and she had refused. For a while. And her refusal had broken his control. He grimaced, remembering the exhilaration, the pleasure of releasing the beast inside him. It pounded through his blood, his cock, his heart and soul. The climax had been so intense he thought his head would explode as well as his cock. And she had loved every minute of it. There was no mistaking the mask of ecstasy that had covered her face. Her pleas for more. Her desperate, strangled screams of release. Damn her. She had bound him to her. Taken his will to walk away from her. He was tied to her now, with no hope of escape, and no hope of safety. He couldn’t run far enough, or hide long enough now to keep the Council from taking her eventually. There was only one choice, one chance to save what he had found with her.

He moved away from Merinus carefully, tucking the blankets around her, touching her hair regretfully. It would never be as easy as she wanted it to be. He could never give her peace, or true safety. Pulling on a pair of shorts, Callan left the bedroom and returned downstairs. The computer was still running, his mail program logging his messages in. He saw he had the reply from Sherra that he had been expecting. She was still with Kane and his family. An army themselves, she assured him. She trusted them. But she didn’t trust Dayan. Callan rubbed his hands over his face. The truth was finally sinking in and he hated it. Sherra was waiting with Kane for a call from him. As Merinus had said, the cells were secured and Kane would know if they were being hacked.

He had slipped the phone out of his pack earlier. It lay on his desk now. He glanced at it, sighing wearily. Picking up, he keyed a secured number in, watching the indicator at the back. It stayed green, positive for a secure line.

“Merinus?” The line was answered quickly by a very irate brother.

“She’s sleeping.” Callan wanted this first conversation just between the two of them. “Where is Sherra?”

“Right here,” Kane answered. “Tell us where to meet you, Callan. The shit is getting deep now, we have to get you to D.C. fast.”

“Let me talk to Sherra first. Then I’ll talk with you.” Callan would know by her voice if the man was to be trusted.

There was a pause, the sound of a low feminine voice.

“Callan,” she spoke quietly. “Kane isn’t lying to you. We have major problems here.”

Callan breathed roughly, both in relief and in aggravation. At least she was safe.

“Where’s Dayan?” Callan asked her coldly.

There was silence.

“Sherra?” he asked her carefully.

“He’s disappeared, Callan. Taber and Tanner are tracking him, but he’s staying just out of reach.”

“What happened?” Something had, Callan knew, or the others wouldn’t be after him.

“He attacked Dawn.”

Callan was silent, feeling rage work through him, over him. After the horrors Sherra and Dawn had both faced, he had dared to hurt her.

“How bad is she?” he asked her carefully, fighting his fury.

“Bad enough. But she’ll live through it,” Sherra sighed. “We have her in the safe house with Doc now. He’ll take care of her. Taber and Tanner will take care of Dayan. We have to get you and Merinus to New York. Kane’s setup is as secure as it gets, Callan. He has all the evidence in place, all we have to do is get you to the Senate meetings this week on genetic engineering in D.C.”

Callan grimaced. He would have to stand before the world and claim he wasn’t quite human, not quite animal. Sickness burned in his stomach. The only thing worse would be what would happen to Merinus if they got hold of her.

“Are you at the location I gave you?” he asked her, referring to his coded directions in the email he sent.

“I’m here, as are Merinus’ brothers and her father. Tell us what to do, Callan.”

“Put Kane on.”

“How do you want to do this, Lyons?” Kane’s voice was set and determined.

“There’s an airfield about four miles from you. A small one. Very private and deserted. Have a private plane there at noon tomorrow. Merinus and I will meet with you where you are now, and go to the airport together. When we get there, your pilot will vacate the craft and I’ll fly us to an undisclosed location outside D.C. If I can still trust you that far, then we’ll go ahead with your plans.”

“Trusting bastard, aren’t you?” Kane bit out.

“Kane, if the Council gets your sister, they will destroy her, painfully. There will be nothing left of her, alive or dead when they are finished. I refuse to take a chance on that. And don’t think the Council isn’t watching you, too. They know about Merinus and they know who she is, and if Dayan has betrayed us, the plans your family has made as well. There’s no safety for us, or for you and your family until this is finished.”

“I know what the Council is, Callan, and I have my own safeguards in place,” Kane assured him. “My sister is everything to myself and the rest of her family. You can count on that.”

“As long as I can. Remember, noon tomorrow.” Callan disconnected, then flipped the phone to the desk.

He breathed in roughly. Terrified to trust even someone Sherra was backing. He trusted no one but himself and Merinus now. Especially now when the danger was so much closer. He rose to his feet and paced the room slowly. The motel Kane and Sherra were staying in was one of the best and he knew she would have taken precautions in checking in and disguising herself. They would be aware that the Council had been watching them, their soldiers trying to track them. That was no guarantee they had taken enough measures, though. There was no foolproof answer. His muscles bunched with the tension that knowledge sent through him. The roads between here and D.C weren’t any safer. There would be hidden Council operatives all along the line, if there weren’t already. Son of a bitch. He snarled with anger. He could have escaped on his own, but not with Merinus—

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