Sprawled in the armchair he’d added to the cabin a couple of weeks ago, he tried to figure out why he was so damn happy when by rights, he should’ve been feeling a little surly.
Because she’s here. My mate is here with me, safe, doing something utterly ordinary.
It was a gift he couldn’t have anticipated a few months ago, and one he’d let no one tarnish with fear.
Sienna looked up at that instant. “You’re not working.” Touching her finger to the screen of her datapad, she primly turned a page.
“And you’ve been on the same page for ten minutes.”
“Drat.” Laughing, she put the datapad on the comforter and threw her arms apart. “As Ben would say, ‘Hi! Want to play?’”
Always. “Not outside.” It was raining, and while his wolf could function fine through snow and sleet itself, both parts of him liked being warm and dry.
“Some tough guy.”
“Come here and say that.” Putting down the report, he crooked a finger.
Instead of obeying, Sienna gave him a secretive, slightly guilty look. He’d seen that same look more times than he could count while she’d been a juvenile. Tempted to pounce on her, he said, “Do I want to know?”
“I want to make cookies.”
He grinned. “Is that what they’re calling it now?”
She threw a pillow at him. “I brought the ingredients in my backpack. So, can we?”
Lobbing it back, he cocked his head. “We have the night to ourselves”—a mission to accomplish even with the current relative peace—“and you want to make cookies?”
She was suddenly very interested in the pillow. “Lara does it and it looks fun. Marlee and Toby like it.” She picked at the stitching of the pillowcase. “I’d like to know how … for the future.”
In case we have children one day.
She could’ve asked Lara, Evie, Tarah, but she’d waited to ask him. It made him her slave all over again. “Another memory for your box?”
Her smile was the sun coming out of the clouds. “I have chocolate chips.”
“Then I guess”—getting up, he held out a hand—“we’re making cookies.”
Determined to succeed, they pulled up recipes on the Internet, watched demonstration videos, and substituted cranberries for raisins, because neither one of them was a fan of “shriveled grapes.”
The best thing that could be said about their maiden effort was that it was edible—and that Sienna had melted chocolate on the tip of her nose he had to lick off.
They managed to burn the second batch—in a no-burn oven.
The third batch, however … “These are mine.” He made an imaginary line down the tray that put ninety percent of the cookies on his side.
Throwing her arms around his neck, Sienna kissed him, smiling all the while. “Fine,” he murmured. “I’ll give you two.”
“Are you saying my kiss only rates a two?”
“I could be persuaded to reconsider.”
Later, after he’d fed her warm cookies while she promised him all sorts of favors, they drank milk and brushed their teeth to make up for the sugar currently swimming through their bloodstreams, and got into bed facing one another. Rain continued to pound on the roof, a transient shield around their own private world that made the cabin seem even more snug.
“I had fun.” It was a sighing comment from his mate.
Running a fingertip around the shell of her ear, he said, “I think we should try muffins next. I like banana bran.” Because he’d had fun, too, the long-forgotten boy in him rising to the surface. He’d made cookies with his mom long ago, had lost the memory under the weight of the pain that had come later, but it was once again a radiant jewel in his mind.
“I was thinking marble cake,” Sienna said, expression sparkling with excitement.
He whistled. “Ambitious.”
Rubbing her nose against his, she whispered, “No one will ever know if we end up with a vaguely mud-colored cake instead.”
He chuckled, grabbing her and turning onto his back so that she ended up lying along his body. “Look at us, we’re talking about something so domestic.” No guns. No enemies. No tension.
She beamed. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is.” Danger stalked his mate, but this moment, it was theirs, private and safe and with the scent of cranberries and melted chocolate in the air.
ADRIA woke up feeling better than she had in years. She’d spent the night tangled around a sexy, gorgeous man who’d laughed with her in the midnight hours, his voice a delicious rasp over her skin, and who’d made love to her again sometime before morning. He’d been more demanding the second time, but no less tender. She was feeling terribly petted and spoiled.
When she poked her head up from the sheets to see him walking into the room dressed in nothing but a towel hitched around his hips, a cup of coffee in hand, she simply stopped breathing for a second. “Come here,” she murmured once she could speak again. He smelled of soap and man and coffee, and she wanted only to rub her face against his chest, indulge the deep sensory need he both created and filled in her.
Taking a seat on the bed, he put the coffee on the little side table with pretty curved legs. Her eyes locked on a droplet of water making its way down his chest, the dusky hue of his skin broken by a sprinkling of dark hair. “You missed a drop,” she said, catching it on her finger.
No laughter, his expression reserved.
Fingers curling into her palm, she allowed her hand to fall to the sheet. “This changes things, doesn’t it?” She’d known the night had been too beautiful not to, had been trying to ignore the inevitable truth, because this feeling inside of her, it was a fizzy joy she hadn’t felt for so long it wasn’t even a memory.