After I refused to shift, we walked side by side through the remote wilderness. Beside us, the river flowed in a swish of water, a raging tempo to our steps as though urging us to hurry. The rising wind blew the golden leaves around our feet as though nature was leaving a trail for us to follow home. Above, the sky darkened with heavy gray clouds, an ominous portent to the storm brewing on the horizon.
“Kara,” Titus said after an hour’s walk. “If we don’t shift, we’ll never make it home before the storm. I don’t want my mate harmed.”
He strode beside me at complete ease in his nakedness. I tugged my denim jacket closer around my body to protect myself from the increasing iciness and the thought of stripping in front of Titus. This was ridiculous. As a wolf shifter, I’d stripped and changed forms many times in front of other shifters. But it had been so long. Would I even remember how?
I flattened my l!ps together and kept marching. He hadn’t even let me carry my backpack. How he wasn’t even shivering was beyond me.
“It’s too cold,” I said, darting a glance at his naked chest with the stunning tattoos for the millionth time.
“I’ll keep you warm.” He threw me a sultry smile.
I dropped my gaze to the uneven ground. One k!ss and I was ready to find out exactly how he’d keep me warm.
He chuckled as though he’d read my thoughts. “Kara, your wolf’s coat is warmer than the jacket you’re wearing.”
“Perhaps,” I mumbled.
“Enough.” He placed his hand on my shoulder and halted my marching. “You will shift now, and we will run home. I’ve been patient so far, but you’re my mate, and I will take care of you.”
“Fine.” I unbuttoned my jacket and threw it at him.
He caught the garment effortlessly before it hit him in the face and opened my backpack to stuff the material inside. I continued stripping, cursing him under my breath the entire time. His stupid l!ps held an amused smile. It made him even more appealing.
D*mn the man.
“Do you have to watch?” I lifted an eyebrow.
I narrowed my eyes.
He shrugged. “Mates, remember? No apologies.”
I unclipped my br*a, tossed it at him, and then yanked off my panties. His gaze never left me. I didn’t expect it to. I assumed he’d pounce on me, but he didn’t. He met my glare. I found nothing but approval in his gaze.
A curious warmth filled my chest. I embraced the wolf I’d hidden inside myself for way too many years.
The change happened quickly, as though I’d performed the shift yesterday. I raised my chin to stare at Titus. From this position, he looked even more impressive. Bigger. Stronger. More capable of taking care of me.
He kneeled before me and held out a hand. I padded closer, inquisitiveness getting the better of me. My nostrils quivered as I sniffed his outstretched hand. His scent was even stronger in my wolf form. Even more arousing. He stroked his firm hand over the top of my head.
“You’re a beautiful wolf, Kara. White wolves are rare around here.” He ran his hand down my back. “And your blue eyes are just as spectacular in wolf form.”
A rumble of pleasure filled my throat from his words and his touch.
His hand stopped petting me, and I wanted to snap at him to never stop. He stuffed the rest of my clothes into the backpack and placed it on the ground. In a burst of fur, he shifted into his wolf form. A silver-gray wolf stood before me with eyes of liquid gold. He was beautiful as a wolf too. And large. Much bulkier than me.
And his scent. In our wolf forms, I couldn’t deny he was my fated mate. I dropped to the ground in a submissive pose. If a wolf could smile, his face would be smiling. I detected his pride in his posture. His acceptance as he stepped over the top of me and nuzzled my neck with his nose.
Titus turned away and gripped my backpack in his mouth. He looked at me once and then bound off over the lush grass. I scrambled to my feet and chased him. Luna help me, it was exhilarating being in wolf form again. Even more so loping behind Titus. His wolf was so fast, I found it hard to keep up. Plus, I was unfit in this form. Sure, I’d been running for years in human form, but my wolf form required different muscles. Ones I hadn’t used for a long time.
As our strides ate the ground, the trees whizzed by in a blur. An icy flake of snow landed on my nose. I shook my head and picked up my speed. The storm was almost on us, and I didn’t want to be stuck out in the snow. Garth had chased me into the snow twice, and it hadn’t been pleasant.
Frozen fingers and toes hurt. I wouldn’t get frostbite as a shifter, but in human form, the cold could be debilitating. Freezing was something I’d rather avoid. Above all, the memories of my family that blended with the notion of freezing to death sent panic through my limbs.
More flakes of snow fell on our pelts, but we didn’t suffer them through the thick fur. Titus was right, I was warm in wolf form. Before long, the sky was a curtain of white and the ground was blanketed with white flakes.
Then a house appeared through the white veil. Titus bounded up the steps of the cabin. He shifted mid-stride and opened the door. I dashed inside and shook the damp snow from my body before the ice melted through my fur coat.
Titus laughed, having already shifted, my bag at his feet, and kicked the door shut against the whooshing gale whipping against the windows. He methodically shut all the curtains and lit the prepared stack of wood in the stone fireplace. Flames flared to life, making shadows dance over the walls of the cabin.
“Welcome home, love.”
I inched closer to the fire, glad for the warmth already blazing from the freshly lit timber.
“You can shift now.”
I plonked myself on the rug in front of the fire and stared at the flames.
“Kara, Kara,” he tsked. “You can’t hide from me.”
I laid my head on my paws.
Titus sat next to me. Still naked. Still glorious. He ran a hand over my slightly damp fur repeatedly until I drifted off to sleep.
My mate was stubborn. And magnificent in both forms. I couldn’t wait to claim her, but she’d fallen asleep. The run had been hasty, but from the way she’d fallen asleep, it was like she hadn’t slept properly in years. I lay next to her and gathered her in my arms. She’d shift. I’d make sure of that. And then we’d talk.
The clock on the wall ticked as I stared at the gift of my mate.
How long we lay there, I wasn’t sure.
Her body shifted in her slumber, and instead of her soft fur, her even softer skin snuggled up against mine. I stifled a groan as my c0ck j3rked to attention. She sighed faintly in her sleep and rolled over, nestling her head against my chest. Her sleepy eyes peeled open and gazed up into my face.
So much emotion in those icy blue eyes. Her longing blazed at me.
I lowered my mouth to her scarlet l!ps, tasting the sweetness that was all my mate’s. Her mouth drew me to worship her, to sample her even more. I ran my mouth down her neck, and she whimpered with need. No words were required right now. This was pure instinct. Mating in the way we were destined to come together.
Her skin was like silk under my tongue as I licked and svcked her neck, then lower still to her breasts. I svckled her n!pple into my mouth. Her back arched while her hands fisted into my hair, holding me tight and urging me to keep my mouth on her. But I wanted a taste of the lvscious aroma I scented from between her legs. I shifted lower, k!ssing my way down her body. My mouth watered.
I parted her legs and sat back to take in the sight of my mate for the first time.
“Titus,” she whispered.
“Shh, my love. I’ll take care of you.”
She squirmed under my gaze, but all that did was make her juices gleam more in the firelight. I lowered my head with a half-feral hunger. As my tongue swiped her damp folds, she gasped and j3rked back. I grabbed her hips, tugged her to my mouth, and feasted on her flavor. She was even sweeter down here. Tastier. So ripe and lush. I speared her with my tongue until she whimpered and her legs shook. Then I svckled her hard nub into my mouth.
She screamed her orgasm with her back arching off the floor, her legs twitching around my ears, and her juices flooding my face.
“Fvck, you taste good.” I half growled the words as I sat back, taking in her satiated state.
She wouldn’t stay that way for long. I planned to give her many orgasms. I flipped her over and ran my tongue up her spine. Goose bumps broke out over her flesh. She shoved up onto her knees and dropped her forehead to the rug on the floor.
I tongued her again, just for the hell of it. She thrust back into my mouth as I knew she would. I waited until she gasped for breath before removing my mouth and lining my c0ck up with her dripping entrance.
“You want my c0ck, don’t you?” I asked as I teased her with my flared head.
“Yes.” She moaned the word.
“Hold on to the chair in front of you.”
She lifted her head and grabbed the armchair. She was so perfect. I filled her with my c0ck, and her body shook.
“I’m going to fill you up, make you mine. Claim you.”
A shuddering breath filled her lungs.
I pumped into her, making sure each slide of my c0ck hit her pleasure spot deep inside. She moaned each time I rammed into her. The chair skidded across the floor with how hard I took her, but she didn’t complain. Her moans grew more frantic, and her nails dug into the chair cushions as my c0ck swelled.
I sensed the first flutter of her inner muscles contract as her orgasm started. I exploded deep inside her, but this was more than s*x. This was a fated mating.
My c0ck swelled. Pulsated. Kara screamed with pleasure as her body quivered in a release. Around the base of my c0ck, the knot formed, trapping me inside her. This was more picture-perfect than I’d imagined.