Shared for Love Copyright © 2016 by Nancy Corrigan All Rights Are Reserved.
Did you miss Chapter 1? Read it HERE.
The woman was trouble. Ethan had sensed that the moment he’d looked into her dark blue eyes six months ago. Every damn night since, thoughts of her tormented him. Teased him. Tempted him. If that wasn’t enough, it was clear she wanted to make him crazed, to see him snap, to act like the animal he housed.
She wanted to break him in freaking half and keep a piece of him for herself.
The worst part? He wanted to tear his heart out and give it to her, along with his body. Too damn bad it didn’t belong to her.
A low growl rumbled in his chest, and the tips of his fingers burned. He curled his fists and stepped forward.
“Ethan, wait.” Maria grasped his wrist.
Another deep sound escaped him. He shrugged off her hold and strode forward. His wolf had risen, and it wanted the human’s blood on its tongue.
She grabbed his waistband and tugged. He spun, ready to put Maria in her place. Friend or not, she stopped him from going to Hannah. Stopped him from ripping her away from the worthless male who dared touch her. Nobody could, not even him.
“Rein it in.” Maria lowered her voice but not her gaze, proving she was his equal. “Do not forget where you are.”
A human club, of course. It was why he’d insisted on coming with Maria. Humans flocked to her wherever she went. Too nice, she refused to blow them off. He hated knowing she had to deal with their unwanted advances, so he accompanied her when he could. At the moment, he was glad he’d rearranged his schedule, even if it left him wrestling with his wolf’s instincts to claim and possess.
“I’ll take it outside, but that fucker is going to bleed for touching her.”
Maria fisted his shirt and tugged him closer. “That fucker is my lover. Hurt him, and I’ll hurt you.”
“Alex?” He stared at the human. “That’s your Alex?” In his woman’s arms. He couldn’t believe it. Maria had told him how much the male cared for her.
“Yes.” She sighed. “And it’s obvious he’ll do anything to win my love, even throw away his already too short life.”
The pain in her voice dimmed some of his anger. He cupped her cheek. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, taking the comfort he offered. “I’m sorry.”
Two worthless words. They didn’t do anything to make her situation better. It was all he had to offer her, however. If he’d been a stronger man, he could’ve given her the means to embrace her happiness years ago. He wasn’t. He was fucked-up. Torn. And goddamn pathetic on top of it.
“Thanks.” She choked on a sob. “At least I know why he wanted me to meet him here. He thought to play on my instincts.”
“And did it work? Will you—”
A sultry moan drifted to him, stopping his words and reigniting his anger. Ruse or not, Alex’s attention triggered Hannah’s lusts. A few days away from her first fertile cycle, she was on edge.
Her needs had almost broken Ethan the last time she’d decided to tempt him. With the unfamiliar drives beating at her, she’d welcome any relief. No way did he want her to find ecstasy in another male’s arms. Only his instincts stopped him from offering up his cock for her to ride. Well, the fact he wasn’t free to touch her did too.
He still had a few nights to figure out how to say good-bye to Noah, his longtime lover and fellow pack member, before Hannah took his place in Ethan’s bed. He pushed away the thought before sadness gripped him and focused on the problem at hand—another male had Hannah in his arms. Ethan refused to allow her to remain there.
He motioned behind him. “Get him away from Hannah before—”
Hannah whimpered, a sound he’d fantasized about hearing while they were tangled in passion. The small sign of her submission given to Alex broke Ethan’s control. He pivoted and rushed forward.
He heard Maria’s bellow. It didn’t stop him. He grabbed Alex’s shoulder and flung him away from Hannah. She stumbled. He caught her before she fell and yanked her close. A crash and Maria’s cry followed. He ignored both. His gaze locked on to Hannah’s dilated eyes. The scent of arousal on the air added to the hazed quality of her expression. He’d guessed right. No matter what she felt for him, she’d reached the point where her body’s needs ruled her.
If he allowed her to walk away from him, she’d seek out a lover. Take from that male what Ethan refused to give.
No. Fucking. Way.
She was his. He’d known it for six months, just as he’d known he’d mate her the night she matured. Nothing would stop him. It didn’t mean he looked forward to it.
No matter how much he wanted her, mating her would break his damn heart, but losing her to another male would destroy him. Seeing her with Alex drove home that stark truth, and the time to come to terms with his shitty fate had passed.
There was only one thing left to do. He slid his hand up her spine to the back of her neck. Holding her at his mercy, he leaned over her, forcing her to arch into him.
The moment her soft curves touched him, his dick thickened. He groaned, both hating the response and loving that he had one. She was the only woman who’d ever gotten a rise out of him.
She skimmed her hand over his ass, exactly as she had Alex’s. The reminder stirred his resentment. He snuffed out the emotion before it ruined the moment. He had no one to blame for their situation except himself.
He brushed his nose along her jaw to her ear. “Why were you kissing another male?”
“Why?” She moved her hand to his neck and held him close. “Well, you see, I’m horny, and since you keep turning me away, I—”
“I told you why.”
“Because you’re more than twice my age.” She snorted. “Yeah, well, your excuse is getting old. There is no reason not to touch me. I’m days away from maturing, and I lost my virginity years ago.”
He tightened his hold on her and fought his insane jealousy. Had he met her earlier, he would’ve ensured no male, human or shifter, touched her or took what rightfully belonged to him. The first dick she would’ve come around would’ve been his.
Eyes squeezed shut, he groaned. Stop. Fucking stop. He hadn’t been free to be with her then either.
The reminder left him as bitter as ever, but he knew one thing: He wouldn’t let her walk away from him tonight without bringing her to release. He needed it. Needed her. The crack in his soul hurt. She could soothe him, though. Heal him. Ease the sting of losing Noah. He had to believe that.
The alternative worried him. Jealousy could destroy a shifter, and the thought of Noah in another lover’s arms, male or female, enraged him.
He dropped his head to her shoulder. “Why did you do this to me? Why now? Couldn’t you have waited until you matured?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know damn well what seeing you in Alex’s arms would do to me.”
“What does it do to you?”
Her whispered question held hope. He doubted she meant to give him the insight into her emotions. She’d made a point of holding herself aloof, as if she didn’t care if he wanted her or not. It had only intrigued him more, not that it had taken more than her smile directed at him.
He pressed his lips to her neck, not a kiss exactly, but the most he dared in a roomful of humans. He was strung too tight for more. Six months of chaste touches and sinful glances had left him both unfulfilled and eager. His self-induced celibacy didn’t help matters. He was ready to explode.
“Do you have to ask, my beautiful Hannah?”
“Yes.” She lowered her voice to a mere whisper. “I do.”
A warm feeling spread in his chest. His beautiful Hannah had been wrestling with her primal side for months waiting on him to get his shit together. Her patience impressed him. It was damn hard sharing a soul with an animal. Her wolf had a right for its needs to be met too, but she’d kept it at bay. For him.
Amazing. That was what she was. And his.
He skimmed his nose across her cheek to her ear, breathing in her scent. “It makes me crazed.”
He caught her earlobe between his teeth and tugged on it. She drew in a deep breath but didn’t offer up a shaky exhale or a whimper. Not good enough. He nibbled on her tender flesh, the most erotic thing he’d ever done with her. A slight tremor ran through her. He savored it, then dragged his tongue over her lobe, soothing any discomfort his teasing had caused.
“And angry. You’re days away from reaching maturity and feeling the effects of your first fertile cycle. Alex would know that, and he took advantage of you. Human or not, he grew up among wolves. He would’ve seen how our females are affected by their hormones.”
“Our males are too, don’t forget. It’s why evolution allowed females to shift early, so we can protect ourselves.”
The idea of a male forcing himself on Hannah stirred every protective and aggressive instinct he had. He jerked back and caught her slumberous gaze. “And have you had to fight off any males? Tell me who. Because I swear to you, they will wish they had never laid a hand on you once I’m done with them.”
A pleased smile graced her lips. She stood on her tiptoes and slid her fingers to the back of his neck. With a small tug, she drew him to her. He tensed, anticipating her kiss, their first. He wanted it. Craved it. He also knew he couldn’t give in to it, not with an audience. He wouldn’t be able to stop until she was begging him to fuck her.
He locked his muscles, preventing her from closing the last scant inch separating them. Her nails digging into his skin spoke of her frustration, but she eased her grip a moment later. She read his every move well, and never pushed for more.
“No male has taken anything from me I wasn’t willing to give.”
“But you’re not stro—”
She leaned back. Cold, hard, blue eyes locked on to his. “Do you think I’m too weak to protect myself?” Her eyes narrowed more. “Or those more vulnerable members of my pack?”
The second part of her statement spoke of her true drive, one of a dominant. She’d defend her pack mates with everything she had. At five-foot-one and a little over a hundred pounds, her strength was limited. Even with the power her wolf lent her, she should never have been able to gain the top female role in her pack. Her heritage demanded she find a way, though. A child of the pack alpha, she was conditioned to be what her pack needed.
He understood what drove her. The same needs rode him. The obstacles in his way had made success impossible before. No longer. Hannah could open up a new world for him, giving him the means to liberate his pack mates and heal their pack’s spirit.
And all he needed to do was throw away one lover for another.
He squeezed his eyes shut, hating whatever damn mystical force put him in the situation he faced.
“Well? Do you think I’m weak?”
Her question drew his attention back to her. “No, not in the least.”
And he didn’t. He’d never seen her fight, but he’d heard stories. She used speed and intimidation to fill the gaps where shifter genetics had shorthanded her. It only made his respect for her greater.
“Then why did it bother you to see me with Alex?”
“Because you’re horny, and he’s male.” His reasoning was lame, but it was all he could come up with.
“Yeah? And what? It’s not like either of us are in a committed relationship. If we want to use each to get off, then we can.”
He slid his fingers through her silky hair. Black as night, her thick locks contrasted with his nearly white ones. He let the soft strands slide over his fingers, then cupped the back of her head. “Your human friend is going to get himself hurt if the other males in your pack find out he was touching you.”
“Since I won’t be mating someone from my pack, I’m free to seek pleasure from anyone I choose. If my pack mates question me, they’ll suffer my temper.”
“What about other males? You’re not on pack lands. Any shifter could’ve walked into this bar as I had.”
“True, but only those who want to mate me have any reason to care who I fuck.” She glared at him. A challenge hovered in her eyes. “And if I remember correctly, you have no interest in taking a mate.”
The reminder irritated him. He’d needed some reason to keep her at arm’s length. The truth wasn’t something he could give her. How was he supposed to admit he loved someone else but still wanted to fuck her? Mate her. Tie her soul to his for all time.
“I do remember saying that. I also remember saying how beautiful you are. How much I enjoy spending time with you. How you’re the only female I’ve met who’s tempted me to reconsider my stance.” He swept his hands down her back to her tight ass and drew her against him, letting her feel what she did to him.
“I desire you, Hannah. I want to lay you on the nearest table and devour you. Make you moan my name so everyone watching us knows who has the right to touch you.” Public sex didn’t bother shifters. Actually, they embraced it for the reason he gave her. Both sexes were driven to stake their claim.
Her eyelashes fluttered, and her lips parted. No breathy sigh accompanied the sign of her approval, however. She held herself in check. Damn if he didn’t respect her control.
“Aren’t you afraid I won’t be able to separate the act of fucking from what a potential mate would offer me? I am young and naïve.”
He frowned. “I never said you were naïve, but yes, there’s a connection. A promise. You might not recognize it. It’s easy to mistake it for lust, and maturity is the time when we’re most driven by it.”
She dropped her gaze to his mouth. “Making love feels different.”
Memories of the first time he’d given in to his desire for Noah choked him. Had he misread the connection between them? Maybe he’d been the one confused. Naïve. He had been young, only a few years past maturity.
No, dammit. He couldn’t have. Fifteen years later, he still felt it every time they touched. He shoved out thoughts of Noah. It wasn’t right thinking about sleeping in his arms while he held Hannah close.
He pushed away from her and ran a hand over his skull. “Yes. It’s different.”
“The elders say you can feel it even without sex. That sometimes a bond is formed with only a glance.”
Her soulful eyes drew him. He gazed into them, amazed by the depth of passion reflected in her blue orbs. She held a wealth of love, enough for a whole pack. She’d make a wonderful alpha female—strong and compassionate.
Unable to resist, he cupped her face and brushed his thumbs over the corners of her plump mouth. “You’re talking about true mates?”
A slight nod answered him.
Extremely rare, true mates were a blessing from the gods. The touch of one bridged both sides of a shifter—man and animal. It offered peace, something few shifters ever experienced. He’d sworn he’d found it already. Unconventional or not, Noah fit him, better than he thought anyone could.
Then a petite spitfire smiled at him.
He pressed his open mouth to her forehead. “Many of our kind say true mates are a myth.”
“Nic and Riley prove it’s not. They wouldn’t have been able to mate otherwise.”
“If they even have. They might be faking it.”
She jerked back and glared at him. “Don’t tell me you’re one of those assholes who—”
His chuckle stopped her words. She narrowed her eyes, but a smile tugged at her lips. He slipped his arm around her waist and urged her back into his embrace. “Settle down, my little protector. I was only repeating what I’ve heard others say.”
“Little?” She raised a brow.
“Yes. Little.” He grinned, while a tic developed by her eye. “By shifter standards, you’re short, Hannah. You can’t deny it.”
She shoved against him. “You can stay away from me, then, if that’s what you think. I—”
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s just a fact.”
She turned her head, breaking their gaze. “I was born too early. Nobody thought I’d live. Some who still believe in the old ways said my father should’ve let me die, that it was nature’s way of ridding the pack of its flawed members.” She laughed but no humor accompanied the sound. “A few elders even warned our males to stay clear of me. They didn’t want their family trees weakened by my genes.”
Guilt landed hard in his gut for upsetting her, but the small sign of her vulnerability she’d shown by looking away wasn’t something he suspected many people saw. Neither was knowing about the heartache she’d experienced. No doubt, her pack mates’ opinions had hurt her. Yet she showed him. Trusted him enough to share her pain.
“Hannah?” He tipped up her chin and waited until she met his gaze. “It’s a person’s soul I respect, not their body, and yours is strong. Bright and pure.”
His whispered name held longing. Need. Desire.
He couldn’t help but give her what she asked for. He bent and pressed his parted lips to hers, sharing air with her—a shifter’s kiss. It was the intimate exchange only close lovers indulged in. It felt right to share it with her, just as it was to hold her.
“I’m drawn to you, Hannah.” He ran the tip of his tongue over her lips, the top first, then the bottom. Her flavor hit him, sending a wave of raw lust through him. “Like a moth to a flame. Isn’t that how the expression goes?”
“Yes, and I feel the same.” She undid one of the buttons on his shirt, then slipped her hand under the cotton and caressed him, enflaming him more. “I haven’t been able to touch another man since I met you. Tonight with Alex…”
“Was an attempt to trigger my instincts.” He finished her statement. “How did you know I’d come?”
“I didn’t. I was trying to…”
Again, she trailed off. He could guess why too.
“You were trying to get Maria to act on hers.” A nod answered him. He eased back. “Don’t do it again. I might’ve hurt him if we hadn’t been around humans.”
She mapped his face with her gaze before settling on his mouth. “What are you saying? Are you feeling possessive of me?”
A male’s curse carried over the noise in the bar, one he knew well. He glanced over his shoulder and his gaze collided with Quinn’s gray eyes. Noah’s distant cousin didn’t know about Noah’s relationship with Ethan, but Quinn and Noah had grown close over the past year. They talked, and Ethan couldn’t risk Noah finding out about Hannah. Not yet.
Not until he said good-bye to him.
“I’ve got to go.” He stepped away from her. The loss of her chilled his skin. “Call me if you need me. I’ll come to you.”
He only hoped the wealth of love and passion he sensed in Hannah would be enough to fill the hole in his heart after he cut Noah out of it.
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