When a Marine and a shifter-on-the-run collide, beware! Sparks will fly. This human isn’t all to sure of the mating and the bear… Well, bears will be bears and she wants him NOW!
Jaeda is all alone, desperate to find safety, and there’s only one place she can go. She’ll have to run for the Holloway land and hope they’ll help her and not force her into a mating she doesn’t want. With hunters hot on her tail, she isn’t sure she’ll make it. Until something carries to her across the breeze, and she meets the bluest eyes she’s ever seen.
Holt never planned to stay with the Holloways. He was only there to offer temporary help. Then a dream ran to him and threw herself into his arms. Her fear was palpable, and when she begged him to protect her, he knew he wasn’t leaving.
He’d protect her, see to all her needs, and keep her right by his side. From the moment she sought his help, she became his to bear.
“The ceremony is done. He agreed.” Jaeda pulled her head up long enough to declare then ducked it back into Holt at the look of fury on the eldest Holloway’s face.
She felt it the moment Laramie took a step toward them, heard the deep inhale and knew exactly what he was taking note of. Her scent more than covered Holt. The constant rubbing, especially around his neck where the skin was thin and blood flowed so close to the surface, allowed the oil she secreted to absorb deep within him and start making subtle changes to him. He didn’t just smell like her. Soon, they would be difficult to distinguish between. There was only one other place that allowed such easy markability—his groin. She was looking forward to rubbing against him there.
“You mated her without permission?” Laramie roared the question at Holt, and Jaeda was ashamed that she shook a bit.
She glanced up at her Holt’s face. He didn’t even flinch, though he did drop a pointed glance at her before replying.
“I haven’t mated anyone.”
“Yes, you have,” she corrected him. She told herself he wasn’t rejecting her. He was human, therefore, he didn’t understand the bond he’d accepted. Yet.
He started to speak but trailed off as she nodded against his neck.
“Jaeda, stop hiding in my neck and sit up,” he ordered, and she hurried to obey. There was no anger toward her on his face. As if he already felt their connection and had picked up on her anxiety, he lifted his hand and caressed her cheek. “You think we’re mated?”
He shook his head. “We’re not mated.”
“We are,” she argued, throwing a fretful look over her shoulder at Laramie and Murphy. There were other faces there, as well, but she didn’t pay them any attention. “You said the words,” she whispered.
“My agreeing to protect you and see to your needs?” he asked.
She nodded. “And you agreed to let me stay at your side.”
Yells filled the air, and she disappeared into his neck again, rubbing her cheek against him.
“Silence!” Laramie ordered, and everyone obeyed. “You agreed to her questions.”
“Of course, I agreed to protect her and make sure she was okay. What kind of man do you think I am?”
“Did you agree to keep her by your side?” Laramie probed.
“Yes, until the time she felt safe.”
“No, he said yes,” Jaeda interjected then felt guilty about her deception. “I forced him to say yes or no.”
She glanced up at Holt, gauging his reaction. She’d known from the beginning he was meant to be hers. Obviously, it was a bit different for him since he wasn’t a bear shifter. She would have given him time, but she’d been afraid they wouldn’t be allowed that time once the Holloways arrived. By the behavior displayed, she felt her actions justified. She wanted Holt. She’d claimed Holt, and she’d done it before the Holloways could interfere and try to force her to choose one of them instead of the one her bear had already chosen.
Holt didn’t seem upset with her. Instead of yelling, he nodded. His lips even tilted up in a brief grin before he spoke directly to her. “You didn’t force me, darling. You asked, and I agreed.”
She caught her breath. He’d just finished their vows without even knowing. She dared a glance toward Laramie and saw his eyes close briefly before he nodded.
“You’re mated. Welcome to the pack, Holt.”
“Wait a minute,” Holt said. “No offense, but we’re not mated. I’ve been around shifters enough to know what happens when they mate. Jaeda never bit me.”
“I asked her that when I came in and found her rubbing on you,” Murphy said. “I don’t think bear shifters bite.”
“No,” Jaeda said, sitting up again to search her mate’s face. “But I can bite you if you need it to feel mated.” She went to cuddle against him, but her Holt leaned away, hands on her shoulders.
“Let’s hold off on that,” he said and turned her in his lap so her back pressed against his chest.
She felt the rebuke but tried not to take offense since he still held her to him. He was human, and she’d tricked him. She couldn’t expect him to be happy about it.
“Someone’s going to need to explain all of this to me. Hell, maybe I’m still asleep,” he muttered. “I should pinch myself.”
She pinched his arm and jumped when he jerked it out of her reach.
“You said you were going to pinch yourself,” she told him, reaching out for his arm and bringing it back to her. She wrapped it around her shoulder and ran her cheek over the place she’d gripped. “I was trying to help.”
He sighed behind her. “Look at me, Jaeda.”
She reluctantly turned her head to meet his gaze over her shoulder.
“Yes or no,” he said, using the same words she had.
“Yes,” she whispered.
His glance lifted from her, and she knew he was looking at Laramie again. “This is binding?”
She gasped in outrage and flung her elbow hard into her Holt’s stomach before standing and facing him.
“Yes, it’s binding. You can’t back out of it.”
“Whoa,” he grunted, rubbing his belly as he stood up to face her. “Calm down, kitten.”
She growled in frustration, stomping her foot. “I’m not a kitten!”
He looked uncomfortable for a second, and something flashed in his eyes that had her hackles rising. His friend Murphy was a cat shifter. Had her Holt been living with their pride? Was there a kitten he’d planned to claim as his own? Fury filled her at the mere thought of another touching her mate.
“There will be no kittens!” she all but screamed at him.
“How does she know about Kenzie?”
She glared at the door where another red-haired male stood, a bit younger but closely resembling Murphy. They had to be related. As she watched, Murphy reached out to smack the other man in a way that made her think of siblings. It also reaffirmed Jaeda’s thought that the new man had been the one speaking.
“Who’s Kenzie?” she demanded, facing her Holt again.
“Ahh, hell,” Holt muttered, dropping his head down to his chest and rolling it back and forth.
Jaeda crossed her arms over her chest and glared at her mate. She wasn’t moving until she knew exactly who this kitten named Kenzie was.