Avengers heat, p.10
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       Avenger's Heat, p.10

         Part #4 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
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  Coming back around, Noah kicked out, his boot slamming into the guy’s stomach with so much force the shifter flew across the concrete, only stopping when he smashed into another beam. As he took a step toward him, Noah scented another shifter nearby. Not lupine though.


  His survival instinct took over as he whirled around. He froze when he saw Hector, the bartender from the Full Moon Bar running across the floor.

  The feline shifter raised his hands in the universal symbol for “I come in peace.” No weapons and his posture didn’t scream aggression or tension. Still unsure about why he was there, Noah half turned at the sound of shuffling. The blond was on his feet and running full speed toward an open window frame.

  For a moment Noah contemplated going after him but held off. He needed to return to Erin. He’d been gone too long as it was and they had a hell of a lot to discuss. Chasing after some crazy lupine and creating havoc in the city wasn’t the smart move right now. Especially if that wolf wanted to lead him into a trap. Taking a deep breath to get his body under control, his canines and claws retracted as he fully faced Hector. “Why are you here? Don’t even think about lying to me.”

  The bartender’s jaw clenched. “I saw you leaving Angus’s property and you looked rabid. I just wanted to make sure you were okay, but then I realized that lupine was following you and didn’t want to be seen so I followed him.”

  Lies had a distinctive metallic scent and while some could cover their lies Noah believed Hector. His own sister was missing and the agony he’d witnessed from him earlier had been real and haunting. “You know that guy?”

  Hector’s face darkened as he shook his head. “No, but I didn’t like his scent.”

  Noah nodded, understanding what he meant. It had been subtle, but his nostrils still tingled from the acidic smell. There had been something wrong with the male. He’d seen it in his eyes for a brief flash, as if he had a darkness inside him, but Noah hadn’t been paying that much attention to the guy’s face in his attempt to stay alive. “Me neither.”

  Frowning, he looked down at his ripped shirt and bloody side. The skin covering his ribs was already knitting together but after being so injured that morning it might take a little longer for him to heal. Shifter bodies could take only so much abuse.

  “You drive here?” Noah asked.

  Hector nodded. “And I’ve got some extra clothes. Might be tight but it’s better than you running around the city all bloody in the middle of the afternoon.”

  Afternoon? Shit, how long had he been gone? As they headed toward one of the doors, another thought hit Noah. “Why were you on your way to Angus’s?” Hector had been working when he and Erin had left him earlier.

  “Heard about Meli. Wanted to check on Evan. We bonded when his mate and my . . . sister were taken.” There was a catch in Hector’s voice so Noah remained silent.

  He was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Erin had once been pregnant and lost her baby. It was clearer now why this case was so important to her. Why she seemed so personally invested in it. While she might want to keep him out he’d be damned if she didn’t open up to him. They were a team and he wanted to help and comfort her any way he could. Whether she wanted it or not.

  Chapter 7

  Erin opened her eyes, blinking in the dim room. She was still on the bed with Meli, her arm around the long-legged shifter’s shoulders. She’d cried right along with Meli until they were both exhausted and must have dozed for a moment. They’d been talking for hours—well, crying and talking. It was clear Meli needed to express her anger and bitterness and Erin figured it was easier to do so with her because she’d been through something similar and because she was a relative stranger.

  Sometimes telling your life’s problems to a stranger was easier than confiding in those you knew and loved. “You awake?” she asked quietly.

  “Unfortunately. I keep thinking this is all a nightmare I’ll wake up from.” Meli’s voice had lost that bitter edge and now she sounded sad and tired.

  Erin cleared her throat and hoped she didn’t cross a boundary with her next words. “You’re lucky to have a mate who loves and cares about you. He’s hurting too and while he’ll never fully understand what you went through, he’s trying. Keeping him out will only hurt your relationship and make things worse. Let him grieve with you. If not he’s going to feel like he lost both of you.” God, it was so much easier to give advice than to do the things she knew would be beneficial for her own healing.

  Noah might not be her mate but Erin knew she could open up to him. Too bad she was too terrified at the prospect of completely laying herself bare like that. The thought of him feeling sorry for her, pitying her, was something she didn’t want to deal with.

  Meli sniffled and picked up one of her fallen tissues. She dabbed at her red-rimmed eyes. “I know. Will you send him in?”

  Erin nodded and slowly slid from the bed.

  As she headed toward the door, Meli stopped her. “Thank you for staying in here with me and I’m sorry for everything you lost.”

  Erin couldn’t find any words and before she’d even opened the door it flew open and Evan strode in. His face was drawn and haggard, his gaze sweeping over his mate. “I was listening outside,” he said to Meli. “I . . . can come in?”

  On a sob, Meli nodded and started murmuring apologies about kicking him out. Wanting to give them privacy and needing to put more distance between Meli’s fresh agony and herself, Erin hurried out and shut the door behind her. If she wanted to keep it together for this case she’d have to be stronger and a little more detached.

  Of course she knew the latter wasn’t going to happen. She was already invested. So much so that she’d gone and admitted her darkest secret in front of Noah and his parents. But she hadn’t been able to stand idly by with another female suffering through something similar to what she’d gone through and not try to help.

  Erin wrapped her arms around herself as she descended the stairs. She wasn’t sure where Noah was and she’d turned her phone to silent while she’d been in with Meli. She’d figured if any emergencies had come up, Noah or Angus would have retrieved her. Right now she missed him so much her arms ached to hold him. At the same time she was scared of a confrontation.

  She passed a couple of female shifters in the foyer and nodded politely, but didn’t attempt to make any conversation as she left. The second she stepped onto the porch she scented Noah.

  His spicy scent tickled her senses and ripped open whatever control she thought she’d had on herself. He was either going to be pissed at her or look at her with pity. Or maybe a combination of both. She couldn’t handle any of that now.

  As she stepped down the few stairs onto the walkway, Noah appeared as if out of nowhere. He strode across the expansive yard, his walk steady and sure as he stared at her with those dark, smoldering eyes. His handsome face was expressionless. Well, hell. Normally she could get a read on him, but his jet-black hair was pushed back and damp as if he’d just had a shower. The sharp planes of his face and full mouth just begged her eyes to trace over him. He was wearing a different sweater than he had been earlier. Frowning, she started to ask him what had happened when he let out a growl.

  Standing on the driveway a foot in front of her, his expression was soft, almost pitying. The sight was a jolt to her system. She didn’t want anyone’s pity.

  He swallowed hard. “I get one question right now; then I’ll leave this alone for today only. Did you lose . . . your baby the day I found you?” His voice was hoarse.

  The words shattered through her like shards of glass, cutting and slicing. He certainly wasn’t pulling his punches. “Yes.” And that was all she would say. All she could say without having a breakdown. Her throat tightened with emotions threatening to spill over as unshed tears burned her eyes. She blinked rapidly, refusing to let them fall.

  His eyes narrowed with some emotion she couldn’t define. Noah was so hard to read right
now yet she felt as if he was ripping open old wounds. “Who hurt you?”

  She wasn’t ready to talk about that yet. It was too damn hard. “You said one question,” she whispered.

  Even the thought of admitting what she’d been through was flaying her alive. She simply couldn’t tell him the truth. Not yet.

  His jaw clenched, his fury potent, but eventually his expression softened as he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Underneath the anger she could feel rolling off him, was a whole lot of pain.

  She’d hurt him by keeping something so huge from him. She knew that and wanted to reconcile it but didn’t know how. Didn’t know if she could. But she wanted to try because Noah meant so much to her. While she wasn’t ready to tell him the whole truth, she stepped forward and opened her arms. Before she’d fully embraced him, he crushed her body to his.

  Noah buried his face against the top of her head, the feel of his hold almost brutal with its intensity. She could feel his heart beating out of control, the tempo matching her own. She always felt that way when he was touching her.

  “I want to tell you everything Noah, I just . . . can’t. Not yet. Okay?” Her voice cracked on the last word and his grip finally loosened.

  Sighing, he dropped a soft kiss on her forehead but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She felt too exposed.

  “If you want to hold back stuff from me, fine. Okay, it’s not fucking fine but I’ll deal with it for now. But you will eventually tell me everything. You need to get this off your chest and I deserve to know. I’m not walking away from us, Erin. Not until you make me. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon.” There was a challenge in his last words.

  Damn. Yeah, he definitely wasn’t pulling his punches. She wasn’t pushing him out of her life and he knew it. It didn’t matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t force him. Doing so would be like ripping out her own heart and trying to function without it. He deserved better. Even though it was instinctive for her to hold anyone’s gaze, she dropped her eyes and looked down at the ground. Shame overwhelmed her. She hated that he’d just called her on her bullshit. She wanted to tell him everything, to explain how he was too good for someone so broken, but the stupid words wouldn’t come.

  Maybe he sensed her inability to communicate because finally he spoke, cutting through the tension. “While you were in with Meli I went for a run and was attacked by a lupine shifter. I didn’t recognize him, but I’m going to send a description to Ryan, see what he can come up with.”

  Her head snapped up. “Are you okay?”

  He nodded. “Yeah, I would have followed him, but Hector showed up and took me off guard. Without much backup I didn’t want to follow someone into a trap. Now . . . I wish I’d gone after the fucker. He said something along the lines that he wanted you and me to leave town, which leads me to believe he doesn’t want an enforcer around. That could be for any number of reasons but this guy might be involved in the kidnappings.”

  “What did the guy look like?”

  He shrugged, but the tension rolling off him was palpable, taking away the casual action. “Blond hair, blue eyes—dead, like he had no soul. He smelled wrong too.”

  She frowned. That wasn’t exactly a detailed description, but if he’d been fighting for his life, there was no way Noah would have noticed much more. She hated that some unknown shifter had attacked him, especially if the male was involved with the kidnappings. If someone thought they could run her out of town, they were out of their mind. “I want to hit up that warehouse and see if I can pick up any scents.” She was still waiting for that vampire from earlier to call her and she needed to check in with Brianna and Angelo. But first, she hoped she might be able to pick up a lead with a scent. It was a long shot, but one she had to try.

  Twenty minutes later she fought her disappointment as she and Noah left the warehouse. There had been too many damn scents inside the building—many of them gross—to pick up on anything solid, let alone a scent trail.

  “We need to grab some food.” Even if the thought wasn’t exactly appealing she had to eat. They both did. As a shifter her metabolism was off the charts and she needed to be in prime fighting form at all times.

  Noah just nodded and fell in step with her. He was silent as they got in her car. For a moment she contemplated opening up to him, but shoved that fantasy away. After today she was too raw and would give in to almost anything Noah demanded. She scrubbed a hand over her face as if that could somehow wipe away her memories. When she went to put on her seat belt, she found herself being tugged across the center console.

  Yelping in surprise, she tried to find balance as Noah firmly pulled her into his lap. He twisted her so that she had no choice but to straddle him. Not that she actually fought him. Her knees slid around his outer thighs, the tight confines of the car pushing her even closer to him. “What are you doing?” Her windows might be tinted but if anyone walked by they’d be able to see them and she’d never thought Noah was an exhibitionist. He was much too possessive for that.

  Noah didn’t respond. Just grasped the front of her pants, unsnapped the button, then tugged her zipper down. The spicy scent rolling off him was potent and delicious.

  A very small part of her wondered what he was doing. Okay, not what, but what had brought this on. He’d told her he wouldn’t do anything with her unless she gave him everything. Yet he’d initiated this and she hadn’t indicated things had changed between them. She couldn’t find the energy to stop him. There was no way she wanted to either. She was so damn needy for his touch it scared her.

  “Noah . . . things haven’t changed between us.” Or had they and she was just too stubborn to admit it?

  He surprised her when he just slid his large hand down the front of her panties and cupped her mound possessively. “They have, but that’s not what this is about. You need this right now.”

  Heat flooded between her legs, but he didn’t enter her even though her inner walls clenched convulsively, desperate to be filled by him. As he just sat there, watching her with that heated gaze, her nipples tightened as she imagined what it would feel like when he finally pushed into her.

  A slight tremble rolled through him and she felt it only because of how close they were. His wolf flared in his eyes for a second, letting her know how little control he had at the moment.

  She felt light-headed as she inhaled his scent. The man smelled like the earth. All spicy and masculine and all hers. At least for the moment. Whatever the scent was, it surrounded her. If she could bottle it up, she would. He leaned forward, brushing his lips softly against her cheek. His hot breath only added to the spreading heat in her belly and her tightening nipples. She couldn’t seem to find her voice.

  “You’re going to come for me,” he ordered, his deep growl making her shiver.

  With his hand remaining still, he repositioned his head and sucked her earlobe between his teeth. He gently tugged and another tremor raced through her.

  Every instinct she possessed told her to push him away. Told her to shove at his chest and make him let her go. But she couldn’t find the energy. Hell, she didn’t want to. Right now she was terrified she’d screw up this case, that she wouldn’t be able to bring the missing females home safely. All she wanted to do was not think for just a little while. It would be so easy to let go and do everything with Noah that she’d fantasized about on a nightly basis.

  From the moment she’d met him, even broken and bloody, she’d intrinsically known he was a decent, good man. The kind of man she wished she’d met when she was younger. He’d have never taken advantage of her naïveté.

  Erin clutched his broad shoulders, digging her fingers into his unforgiving muscles. As soon as she did it, she realized it was a mistake. Or maybe not, considering he took it as an invitation.

  Before she could blink, his mouth was no longer on her earlobe, but directly on hers. His lips were warm and demanding and his tongue was probing her mouth with insistency. There was a hunger raging ins
ide him. But he was restraining himself. She could feel it as sure as she could her own heartbeat.

  For some reason, the knowledge touched her. Though he was demanding she give in, he was holding himself back for her.

  His tongue stroked over hers in erotic little flicks that sent waves of pleasure curling through her. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but couldn’t stop herself. It had been so long since she’d let a man touch her and she was tired of getting herself off to fantasies of Noah. She wanted to experience the real thing.

  Almost as if he read her mind, he slid one of his fingers inside her wet sheath. The action was so unexpected and abrupt that she froze for a moment. She thought he might work up to it, tease her a little.

  Unable to stop herself, she rolled her hips against him, wanting more.

  Wanting everything.

  Letting her head fall back, she let out a low moan as he plunged another finger into her. She sucked in a breath at the intrusion.

  “Let go, Erin.” He nipped her jaw. “Let me give this to you.”

  God, the way he said her name was enough to make her come. His deep voice rolled over her as her inner walls clenched around his thick fingers. She tried to move, to grind herself against him, but he grabbed her hip and held her firmly in place.

  It was maddening, yet hot as hell.

  As he continued kissing and nipping her jaw, trailing a path of hot kisses in his wake, she buried her face against his neck and inhaled his scent.

  She knew it wouldn’t take her long to climax and that scared her. Her entire body was primed for him and had been for far too long. Her inner wolf instinctively trusted him.

  Pressing a thumb to her clit, he began rubbing her sensitive bundle of nerves as he moved his fingers in and out of her in an almost frantic rhythm. She tried once again to move against him but he just flexed his hand against her hip.

  His show of dominance pushed her over the edge. She didn’t like to be restrained but she was on top and he still held all the power. It was an erotic sensation. As her climax ripped through her, she bit his shoulder, not wanting to scream out his name. The second she did it, she realized her mistake. Pure instinct took over and she let her canines descend to pierce his skin. She screamed at herself to stop but the most selfish part of her didn’t care. She wanted to mark him because she wanted the entire world to know he belonged to her. It wasn’t like his cock was inside her while she was doing it. If it had been then she’d have been marking him as her mate.

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