When she pushed at him, he frowned but released her. Seeing she needed to gasp in a breath, he allowed her a moment, then took her mouth again. No wonder changelings and humans were so greedy with this act. It created the most decadent sensations, especially with Lara’s fine-boned jaw under his fingertips, the little sounds she made in her throat humming over his skin.
She pushed again, and he would’ve stopped only long enough to allow her to draw in air again except that she put her fingers over his mouth. “Walker, stop.”
He went motionless. “No?”
“No, I mean, yes. Wait.” Shoving her hands through her hair, Lara took several rough breaths in an effort to get her mind back into gear. “I need to know exactly what you’re asking for, what you’re offering,” she said. “No blurred lines.”
“A permanent, exclusive relationship,” he said without an instant’s pause, his eyes locked on her. “Me and you.”
“You have to be sure.” She was so vulnerable to him that he could destroy her. “This isn’t something we can come back from.”
“I’m certain.” An implacable look. “Do you need time to come to a decision?”
It would’ve been smarter to say yes, to allow them both to cool off. But she was a predatory changeling wolf with a man she’d craved for so long, a man who was offering himself to her in a way dominant men rarely did. She tugged him down with her hands in his shirt.
His mouth took control within seconds.
There was no knowing how long he might have kept on tasting her if there hadn’t been a knock at the door, a yelled-out request for assistance. Her lips were wet when they parted, her breath coming in jerky gasps, his eyes translucent green in the low light inside the storeroom.
“What kind of flowers do you like?”
“Amaryllis,” Lara had said in response to that out-of-the-blue question, and now, only hours later, what did she have on her desk but a vase of glorious blooms red as velvet cake and as luxuriant.
Swinging past the office, Lucy backtracked, whistled. “The quiet ones always have the best surprises up their sleeves.”
Quiet. Yes, Walker was quiet. He was also a very fast learner. Her fingers lifted to her lips, dropped guiltily when she saw the clock and figured out she’d been mooning over the flowers for ten minutes. But she couldn’t resist one last touch.
Walker had kissed her.
Walker had sent her flowers.
Walker was courting her.
She jumped as his voice came to life behind her, and knocked a crystal paperweight to the floor. The green and blue spiral, which Ava had brought back from New Zealand, smashed into at least five different pieces. “Damn.”
“I startled you. I apologize.” Hunkering down, he began to pick up the fragments.
Her hand went to his shoulder without her conscious volition, spreading on the flex of muscle. “I should’ve scented you but”—his head lifting, the look in his eyes stealing her breath—“the flowers are so beautiful. I was distracted.”
All the pieces in his hand, he rose. “I can fix this for you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, her wolf quivering with impatience to know why he’d come. “Once broken, some things can’t be fixed. I’d rather you spend that time with me.”
It was only later, after he’d left her with a slow, deliberate kiss that curled her toes that Lara wondered if she’d prophesied her own heartbreak. Because Walker Lauren might’ve kissed her, might’ve given her flowers, might even be courting her, but there remained a deep reserve to him. The distance was a solemn reminder that strong, steady Walker’s capacity to trust had been broken into far more pieces than her crystal paperweight.
HAWKE asked Sienna to move into his quarters that night, but she needed a little more time to accustom herself to . . . everything. To what she’d gained, what she’d never have, what the future held. So she asked him to sleep in her bed.
Emotions chaotic, her muscles tensed as he curled himself around her. But he kissed her pulse, said, “Sleep. I just want to hold you.”
It took her an hour to obey, but when she did, she fell into a deep, dreamless slumber. She woke to find him gone, but he’d left a note commanding her to meet him for dinner at seven. Honestly, she thought with a smile, he couldn’t help with the orders.
It was that smile she carried into the day, rather than a heart heavy with the echo of loss. The decision had been made and accepted. To rail against it would only poison the beauty of what existed between her and her wolf. After showering, she dressed and grabbed some breakfast before going to stand her shift on the watch rotation. The pack was on high alert, and Sienna never once dropped her guard, but except for the short period when Evie came down to join her for lunch, the day passed about as fast as the average tortoise.
Returning to the den at last, she helped Toby and Marlee with their homework, then went to her room to clean up and ready herself for dinner. Wrapped in a robe, she was staring into her closet when there was a knock on her door. “Indigo,” she said, letting the lieutenant inside. “Did you need me for something?”
“Evie said you had a date with Hawke.” At Sienna’s nod, Indigo passed her a flat box she’d carried into the room. “A woman needs to pull out the big guns when dealing with a man like him.”
Sienna opened the box after the other woman had left with a grin and a hug, to find a simple black dress with spaghetti straps and a hemline that would come to a couple of inches above her knees. Then she put it on. Lusciously soft and silky, the material skimmed over her body with such faithfulness, it appeared as if she’d been poured into it. Not only did it shape her behind, the bodice cupped and plumped up her br**sts in the most sensual of offerings. All of it done with flawless elegance.