My body healed slower than my heart. Rafe treated me like an absolute princess for the first time in my life. I knew I’d made the right decision when he turned up at my small apartment in jeans and a black tee, holding a posy of daisies I suspected he’d picked himself.
Better yet, he managed to lift all five of my boys, dangling from each limb on introduction, and held an entire conversation with me while tickling the lot. That protector streak of his suited children better than it did adults. A handful of homemade dinners later, and I knew he fit into our lives to perfection.
His form of romance changed, becoming the vanilla version I might have expected before I knew him, but now I missed that other side of him. He never brought up the issue of taking me on as his sub again, and for the next few weeks, he limited our activities to actual dates outside his club.
Until I had to ask, or burst, and hoped I wouldn’t ruin everything. I waited until the boys were down, and he k!ssed me goodnight at my door.
I wound my fingers around his wrist and tugged him back to me. “Rafe, wait.” I took a deep breath. He’d handed my attacker to the shifter community police, but I’d heard the man sported a few bruises that resembled Rafe’s handiwork. And he’d discovered that the girl who gave me the key that day slipped into the club when Killian wasn’t around. She shared Martin Lansdown’s fate. That made me more determined to beg him now, if that was what he wanted. “My body is healed now. And I’m not scared of you. Please. I’d like to be your sub, if you still want me?”
The breath I’d taken ran out. I stood in limbo, my ears ringing in the silence that fell between us.
Rafe stared at me, his eyes aglow with a dark light. He leaned forward and brushed his l!ps against my temple. “Tomorrow night. My office at seven.”
I nodded, my eyes wide as he stepped into the night and disappeared, the whump of large wings in a quiet night the single indication he’d left.
I knelt in Rafe’s empty office. He greeted me outside the entrance to Fray, k!ssing me soundly the moment I arrived. His hand wrapped tight around mine, he drew me through his club, marking me as his with touch and k!ss as he greeted people and spoke to his staff.
He planted me in his office, slid my dress to the floor, and asked me to wait.
So I did.
I knelt in the place he left me, my back straight, hair brushing my shoulders. Every minute alone tortured my mind. I wanted him back, and I craved his touch. My imagination wandered, recalling every date, each k!ss he gave me in the last week, each hotter and harder than the next. We’d abstained from se*x since the incident.
The club didn’t scare me, or the empty room. Not even waiting.
What scared me was the possibility of his rejection.
I wanted to think his touches meant he claimed me in front of his community, but maybe I’d misread the situation. I hadn’t dated for so long I’d forgotten how it all worked.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
A slim strip of leather dangled before my eyes, swaying in a mesmerizing movement. My gaze drifted up to the manicured nails to his inked, muscled forearms and the rolled shirtsleeves.
He intended to get sweaty.
I’d learned what those rolled sleeves meant the fun way.
“Willow.” His breath brushed my temple. He placed a tender k!ss there, then another. Unable to resist him, I tilted my head back and stared into the maelstrom inside his yellow and jet gaze where his eagle razed against his human form for dominance. Despite the storm roiling inside him, he kept his voice soft, seductive. “Read it.”
“Read what?” My mouth snapped shut at a tiny tinkle near my ear. I focused on the leather, the black stripe decorated with an elegant silver trim. In the center dangled a tiny infinity charm that wound its way in an endless dance between our names.
Rafewas engraved on one side of the figure eight, Willow on the other.
“We belong to each other, Willow. Will you be mine?”
I blinked, and my brain stepped it up a gear time alone in his office. A collar. He held a collar. Our collar. “Yes.”
The word slipped out, but there was no way I’d take that one back. Ever.
Rafe smiled, his predator emerging in his blackening nails that grazed my skin in a se*xy-as-hell touch. He buckled the collar around my throat, drawing me back into his body. The intimacy of the moment brought me to the verge of tears. His talons rested there as he k!ssed my l!ps, and I couldn’t hold back my moan. “Mine.”
I smiled and rose into his embrace. My sighs echoed around us as his talons curved over my bared breast in a gentle, possessive touch. Everything he did was designed to tease me to the edge of pleasure, returning his frantic k!sses until he broke the connection, his chest heaving. I smiled because I knew how to repay that favor. And I smiled with the knowledge he wouldn’t leave me. The uncertainty in my life was gone, replaced with a man I adored. Loved.