Authors: Belinda Meyers
The pain in Mike’s eyes tore at Jess. Her mind still
churned, and her loins screamed to continue doing what they’d been doing. It
was all she could do to remove her palm from his rock-hard abs and step away.
“I guess I’ll go to bed, then,” she
said, hearing the misery in her voice.
He didn’t say anything, so she
turned back toward the bedroom Mike had shown her. It had come complete with
sheets and pillow, though they all had to share a bathroom at the end of the
hall. Jess had been worried about that bathroom—she couldn’t imagine what a
clan of bear shifters would have done to it—but she’d taken a peek at it
earlier, and it was spotless.
She reached her room and turned
back to Mike, but he still stood there, as if stricken, staring off into space.
Again she ached to go back to him. Instead she entered the room, closed the
door, and threw herself on the bed. She felt sadness well up in her, and
frustration. She would just let it take her, have a crying fit, but silently,
because she knew he could hear her, and then she’d feel better afterwards.
She’d get it out of her system and move on. Maybe in six months or a year she’d
look Mike up. Maybe.
Someone knocked on the door before
she could issue her first sob.
The door opened, and he stood
framed in the doorway, huge and handsome and holding some fierce emotion in
“Jess,” he said, twisting his giant
hands together. “I …”
She made herself firm. “I haven’t
changed my mind.”
“I know. That’s not why I came.
It’s only, you said you weren’t tired. I’m not, either. And there’s something
I’d like to show you.”
She blinked slowly. “Show me?”
“It’s not ….” Her gaze traveled to
his crotch, which was still engorged, but not as much as it had been. “Not
that, is it?” She almost smiled, but didn’t.
“No,” he said, not smiling. “It’s
outside.” He paused. “I think it will answer a lot of your questions.”
She frowned, having to recall what
she’d even had questions about in the first place. “You mean, about why your
crew took over the resort?”
He nodded. “Now will you come with
me? You’ll need your jacket.”
Five minutes later they were
walking through the snow-shrouded forest. Glimmering white trees stretched
toward the heavens all around. The snow muted sound and leant everything a
magical, enchanted quality. It was like a different world. Mike was oddly
silent, and Jess cast him frequent looks.
“When we were meeting with your
alpha, you were keeping some things back,” she said, to get him started. “You
said you’d tell me later. Well, now’s later.” When he hesitated, she said, “I’m
not pushing. If you don’t want to tell me, you don’t have to.”
“No, it’s not that. I’m just trying
to think of how to say it.”
“It had something to do with Bryce
choosing me, I think.”
Mike nodded his square-jawed head.
He wasn’t wearing a cap, and flakes of snow settled in his wavy black hair,
then began to melt. Jess had to fight the urge to reach up and brush them away.
chose you because
chose you,” Mike said.
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“My bear. It chose you.”
She blinked up at him, feeling
snowflakes gather in her lashes. “It ‘chose’ me?”
He stopped and turned to her, and
she looked up into his face. It was the most serious she’d ever seen him.
“As soon as I saw you, Jess, my
bear knew you were my mate. It reached out to me and let me know.” He grinned,
just a bit. “It wasn’t real subtle about it.” Then he got kind of sheepish.
“That’s why I positioned myself by the ladies’ restroom at the bar.”
She couldn’t help it. She laughed.
“That’s right. I wanted you to
notice me when you came out. You hadn’t even looked at me before. My bear
demanded that we meet. And, er … well, mate.”
She stared at him. It was funny,
but it also put a lump in her throat. “Mate … for life?”
He nodded again. “That’s right.”
She reached up and ran her fingers
over his stubble-lined cheek. She could still feel the burr of the stubble
against her cheek from earlier. It burned, but she liked it. Slowly, she
started to draw her hand away, but he reached up and gently held it in place.
He seemed to grow hotter, and the snow didn’t just melt on him now. It
off of him.
At last, though, she took her hand
“What does this have to do with
Bryce?” she said.
“I think he sensed that my bear
chose you,” Mike said. “He wanted to take you away from me. Take my mate away
That hit her like a blow to the
stomach. Feeling weak, she said, “So he … he wanted you to never have a mate?”
“I think so. Yes.”
“But that means he would be stuck
with someone who didn’t love him and was fated to be the mate of another. He
was willing to have an unloving wife, or mate, or whatever, just to take
true mate away.” She placed a hand
over her heart, feeling its rapid beat. “The hate that that would take … I
can’t believe it, Mike.”
“Believe it. Like I said, lion
shifters and bear shifters are enemies from way back. And some clans are raised
steeped in the old ways. The old hates. Rivalries, feuds, wars. Some young
shifters are brainwashed from birth to hate whoever their parents or clans
hated most. Bryce must come from a clan that hates bear shifters … a lot.”
of a lot.”
“Likely,” Mike said.
“But that means he
want to rape me. He actually
wanted me for a mate.”
“To keep me from having you.
“Was it to keep you from having
kids? Or cubs, I guess? Is he trying to do his part to stop bear shifters from
“I don’t know. I guess.”
She sank down on a stump. “But how
could he have hoped to keep me? As a mate? I mean, if I wasn’t a prisoner, how
could he have thought I’d stay?”
“He would have taken you far away
where you couldn’t leave, and over time you would have been forced to get to
know him and his people. He probably would have Turned you.”
“Made me … a lion shifter?” When
Mike nodded again, she said, “Wow.” She studied him. “Can you make me a bear
“If I laid the claiming mark on
She felt the back of her neck.
“That’s usually done during, uh, while making love, right?”
He squatted before her, and she was
impressed that he could maintain that position, and that he would do it just so
that they could be at the same eye level. “Only if you want it,” he said, and
his voice was surprisingly soft.
She stared into his blazing blue
eyes, and flakes of snow fell between them. He started to reach toward her, but
she hopped off the stump and moved a few feet away. Stamping her feet—it was
cold—she said, “So what did you want to show me?”
“What?” she said, then appraised
him suspiciously. “There is something, right? That wasn’t just a ruse to get me
out here, was it?”
Amusement passed across his face.
“No.” He stood. “Right this way, ma’am.”
She wasn’t sure if she liked him
. He’s just trying to needle me,
If so, though, it was
sounded so cold coming
from him. She couldn’t stand him being cold to her, even if just in jest. She
wanted … well … she wanted something more. A lot more.
They continued on through the forest, and slowly the snow
began to stop, then recede from the trees and ground around them. Jess looked
around in amazement as the winter wonderland retreated, replaced by green trees
“How is this possible?” she said.
Mike only smiled.
“It’s almost like summer,” she
She’d been shivering, but now she
quit. Sunlight poured down on her through the trees, warming her, and soon she
felt beads of sweat pop out on her cheeks and forehead, and under her arms,
too. If she didn’t watch out, she’d start to smell. Soon she’d have to take
this jacket off. But that made
“This makes no sense,” she said.
“It makes all the sense in the
world,” Mike said. “Well, one world, anyway. A different world.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember when Connor talked about the
“Well, the Fae Lands connect to our
world through various gateways. Humans can’t see them, but they’re there.”
She glanced around in wonder. “You
mean … there’s a gateway to some fairy world around here?”
Something shone in his eyes—awe,
amusement? She couldn’t tell. Maybe some of both.
“That’s right,” he said.
She looked all around, more
critically this time. Then she gasped and pointed. What looked like fireflies
danced and spun in a clearing not far away, maybe twenty yards through the
trees. The light of the fireflies, or whatever they were, bathed the trees and
bushes around them with glowing, swaying illumination. But the creatures didn’t
move like fireflies. They danced and spun, flew and swept in intricate
patterns. Sometimes their lights flashed in strange colors: purple, red, green,
“Those are not fireflies,” she
said, putting one hand to her mouth.
Mike came to stand beside her, one
of his huge hands going around her shoulders. “No,” he said softly. “They’re
“Some of them. There are many
kinds. Some look human, or at least can pass for human.”
She swallowed, suddenly dizzy. She
felt like she were walking among the clouds. “Have you ever been over there? I
mean, through the gateway?”
“I’ve never been to the Fae Lands.
Some say that’s where the magic that makes shifters comes from. I’m not sure.
But now you see why it’s so important that goodly shifters control this
She thought about it. “You don’t
want humans to find the gateway?”
“Or shifters with evil motives. As
for humans, they can’t see it directly, but they can notice its effects: the
lack of snow, the ‘fireflies’ and other things. Before we shifters came out of
the den, they probably would have dismissed it, thought it was some random
phenomenon. But now they would study it, probe it, maybe even find a way
across. And the Fae wouldn’t like that.”
“What would happen?”
“I don’t know. Maybe war between
this world and the other. Or maybe the Fae would seal access from one realm to
the other. Cut off the flow of magic to this world.” He grimaced. “If that
happened, it might affect shifters everywhere. Might even make us
Again she looked around in
amazement, and maybe even a little fear.
she thought. Still, she could feel a charge in the air, like little crackles of
electricity all along her skin, filling her up with an ethereal glow.
, she thought.
I’m feeling magic.
It made her so giddy she wanted to throw her
head back and laugh.
Sudden movement ahead made her
pause. She saw something large moving through the forest ahead. Strangely,
though, it didn’t fill her with fear. Curious, she moved forward, Mike at her
Ahead a shaft of sunlight shone
down through the trees and illuminated the animal, if that’s what it was, in
the brightest white. It entered a glade, and the sunbeams stroked white fur
over long clean limbs and muscular shoulders. It was huge, and its fur was
thicker and downier than Jess would have imagined. And the horn … it gleamed
like lightning …
Jess gasped and clutched a hand
over her mouth.
“Is that … is that … ?”
The unicorn, if that’s what it was,
paused in the forest and turned to glance back at her and Mike. Their eyes
locked, just for a moment, hers and the creature’s, and she felt something wash
across her soul like the purest crest of sea foam. The creature dipped its
head, as if acknowledging their presence, then turned and continued on,
vanishing back into the forest.
Jess wheeled in astonishment to
Mike. He looked as awed as she felt.
“That was a unicorn!” she said.
He passed a hand across his face.
“There are plenty of strange things here. I think … I think we just saw the
Guardian. I’ve heard legends of the being that guards the gateway. I’ve never
seen it, but I think that was it.”
“Amazing …” She stepped forward
cautiously, entering the treeless glade where the unicorn had just been
standing. The air felt even more charged here, even more electric. The unicorn
had been a being of power.
Mike came with her, moving like one
in a dream.
She took a few deep breaths,
letting her heartbeat slow. Softly, more under control now, she said, “So … just
why did you bring me out here?”
One of his eyebrows half-rose, and
the corner of his lip twisted up wryly. “Why do you think?”
He met her gaze firmly. “You wanted
“Is that all?”
“I …” His brows drew together, and
he glanced away, then back to her, but when he looked back his eyes were sober.
“I thought maybe …”
A shiver of nervousness ran through
her. He was so serious. “Yes?”
“I thought maybe it was the secrets
holding you back. Maybe if I shared them, opened my world to you, maybe it
would, you know, break whatever barrier was reining you in.”
Now it was her turn to look away.
She ran a hand over the top of her other arm in a nervous habit of hers. “It
wasn’t the secrets, Mike. It was ... well, you know.”
“Yeah.” She craned her head again,
looking up into his ruggedly handsome face with those piercing blue eyes that
seemed to penetrate right to her core. She wanted to melt and dissolve in the
light of those eyes. He really had opened himself up to her, showing her
secrets forbidden to outsiders. Had he incurred any risk in bringing her here?
Would the other bear shifters in his crew punish him? Suddenly she felt worry
“They won’t go hard on you for
bringing me here, will they?” she said.
He snorted. “Connor might bleed me,
but I’ll bleed him back, you’d better be sure. He’ll have to think long and
hard about that if that’s the way he wants to go. I challenged him once a few
years ago. I lost, but it was close. I might could take him now.”
“But it would come to blood, if
they found out.”
Mike didn’t deny it. “You don’t
need to worry for me, Jess.” He reached out and traced a finger below her jaw,
then cupped her face tenderly. His flesh was so warm that she shuddered.
Instantly she felt herself grow wet.
His nostrils flared. “You want me.”
Damn his shifter nose. “Yes.”
“I want you, too.”
She could see his enormous shaft
straining against his pants.
“I know,” she said, biting her lip.
Apparently thinking she was going
to refuse him again, he started to draw his hand away from her face, but she
reached up quickly and held it in place, just like he’d done with her. She also
pressed herself against him, pushing her breasts against his lower chest. She
could feel his cock shove against her belly. At the contact, it throbbed, she
could feel it even through the denim, and her panties grew even wetter.
“Don’t toy with me,” he said, his
“I’m not,” she said. “But this is
just a one-time thing, okay? That’s the only way I can do this. It’s too soon
for me to be with somebody, in a relationship, but … a fling … that would be
His face was unreadable. “I’m not
signing any contract, Jess.” His voice was low and growly. “I’m not making any
agreements. But I won’t press you to do anything you don’t want.”
She could feel his chest vibrate
with a sort of purring, growling noise as he spoke. She thought he’d probably
had to concentrate very hard to get those words out. Passion had taken him. His
eyes glimmered, shifting hues of silver winking in them. His bear had risen
She thrust her hand underneath his
shirt and felt his abs. His skin burned with an inner fire. The hardness of his
eight-pack astonished her, and she ran her other hand under his shirt and
spread her fingers across his stomach, feeling his thick slabs of muscle roll
under her touch, quivering as she moved. She was doing that, driving him wild.
At the sudden power she had over him, a tingle of joy sang through her.
His head bent to hers again, and
his lips found hers and kissed her passionately, slowly. As he kissed her, he
unzipped her jeans. He did this slowly, too, and she could feel his grin
against her lips. He was making her wait for him. Damn him! She wanted him bad.
Her jeans fell around her ankles
and she kicked them away. He yanked her sodden panties down part-way next and
explored her sex with his thick, warm fingers. She moaned against him.
“You’re so hot,” she said.
“Bullshit,” he grumbled. “You’re
burning me up.”
He rubbed a circle around her opening,
then thrummed her clit with his finger. She gasped and twisted, so turned on
she could barely concentrate on returning his kisses. His lips touched the
corners of hers, then her cheek, then trailed down her jaw and the soft skin on
“Now,” she demanded, wriggling out
of her panties completely and kicking them away.
“Now what?” he said, playing with
He paused, then softly growled in
her ear, “I’ll make love to you, woman. No less, or no deal.”
There was no time to argue about
it. “Do it!”
He shoved a finger inside her, and
she clutched at his bulging arms to steady herself. She had never felt like
this with Andrew. The fire Mike lit inside her was all-consuming. The outside
world faded away. There was only him, and her, and this enchanted, secret glade,
the gateway to a magical world. Dimly she was aware of fireflies, or what
looked like fireflies, buzzing around the periphery of their little clearing,
casting their rainbow hues on tree and shrub and grass.
“They’re not … watching, are they?”
she said, although at that point she wasn’t sure it even mattered. The pleasure
was too intense, her need too great.
“No,” he said. He kissed a breast
and sucked on her nipple until it stood so rigid she shuddered. The finger that
was still inside her plunged deeper, and she could feel his thick knuckle as if
it were a ridge on his cock. Moving slowly, he inserted another finger. She
moaned again and writhed against him.
She leaned backwards, and he
wrapped an arm around the small of her back, supporting her weight while she
gave in to his touch. Her head rolled back, allowing him to kiss her neck and
breasts at his will. Fire radiated up from her core.
“I want to touch you,” she said,
and began unbuttoning his shirt. It took effort to concentrate enough to do
this, but she was determined and soon she tugged his shirt over his head and
tossed it to the grass where the unicorn had been standing just moments before.
She kissed his sweaty abs, running
her tongue over each of his ribbed muscles. She noticed scars there, and on his
shoulders, maybe earned during the fight with the lion shifters or one of the
countless battles bear shifters engaged in, and she grew even wetter. Sexy
beast of a dominant warrior man, confident and badass and protective. When she
moved to kiss his abs, his fingers slid out of her, and she groaned in longing.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes …”
She sank to her knees before him
and unsnapped his jeans, then helped him step out of them. His cock popped up,
huge and hard. She ran a hand down its length, cupped the balls gently and
kissed the head, slurping up the single bead of cum that had welled up from
He quivered and let out a sound
that was half moan, half growl. She smiled in delight, tracing one of the veins
in his shaft from the base to the tip, which was now growing another beautiful
She reached for Mike’s hand and
pulled him down with her to the ground, and he knelt on the soft grass of the
sacred glade before her.
His cock looked awesome. Like,
She slid her fingers down his abs
toward his groin, loving the feel of that gently curved, firm angle between his
navel and his downy pubic hair. She ran her fingers through the soft fluffy
hair there, then made a circle around his hard, huge, ridged shaft. He groaned,
and she smiled in delight. Bending forward, she took him into her mouth,
tasting his salty sweetness. She relished the meaty feeling of him in her
mouth, so huge and hard and ready to burst.
yet, big boy
, she thought. But that didn’t mean she was going to make it
easy for him.
One of her hands found his balls
again, taking her time now. They were huge and full of cum, and pressed tight
up against him, and she squeezed him gently. He let out another growly sound,
and his cock throbbed in her mouth. Another squirt of pre-cum oozed out, and
she swallowed it around him. He seemed to love the feel of her swallowing, as
his cock gave another titanic pulse. She slid her lips slowly down his shaft,
then up, then up and down rapidly.