Excerpt for Branches for Cover

I crossed my arms under my breasts and faced him fully, meeting his eyes. His chin was pointed to his chest, his dark hair curling over his forehead, his eyes glinting with a sheen of copper from the fire.

I licked my lips. “Ask me anything.”

He set his empty glass down next to his own feet just as I had, and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. “Tell me about your kind. Why would a Skinwalker curse a pack of Bears on the other side of the continent?”

I snorted, and started braiding my loose hair again, my scalp smarting with the leftover pains from when Ren had tugged on it. “Good question. Wrong question, though, since neither my mother nor I have ever cursed anyone.” I knotted the braid at the end with my own hair, having lost my hair tie, then flipped it over my shoulder.

“This is going to become very monotonous if you don’t start cooperating,” Ren said softly. “I’ll have to start thinking of ways to make it fun.” He enunciated the word ‘fun,’ so that his canines peeked out, glinting in the firelight. “How many times can I bite you before the wounds no longer heal?”

The memory of his bite assaulted me, filling me with phantom pain and…something darker, stirring me thickly like the alcohol had done. Heat bloomed between my legs, the sure sign of arousal, and I grit my teeth, leaning back. I eyed the long length of Ren, his tense, broad shoulders packed in a dark t-shirt, large hands resting between jean-clad legs, hard eyes on me. He was a picture of shadow and gold–hard muscles, silk hair, power, and darkness.

My inner Wolf, quiet since the moment the Bear had made himself known in the woods, whined loudly. Drinking that whiskey had been a mistake.

“Fuck,” I whispered bitterly.

My nipples tightened painfully against my bloodied sweater as I continued to look at him. I closed my eyes, tightly, the swollen area between my legs throbbing now with need. “Fuck this fucking Blood Moon. Barbaric, sexist, horribly unfair,” I muttered to myself.

My eyes popped open at the weight of Ren’s body next to mine on the couch, of his scent that swept over me, the heat from his body warming mine. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you,” he purred, though I highly doubted that. A flash of canine made my sex twitch.

I closed my eyes again, tightly, to tune him out. I could only hear my own breathing, heavy, like I’d run several miles. My clothes were nonsensically itchy and my skin was now damp. In fact, I was wet all over, especially between my legs. So wet, in fact, that when I discreetly touched the rip in my jeans on my inner thigh, my fingers came away damp with arousal.

“Tell me when you cursed my pack,” Ren growled in my ear, his voice thick and cold.

His lips brushing against my ear, bristle of his five o’clock shadow tickling and sending vibrations through the side of my neck, straight to my nipples as if rubbed, made me suck in a sharp breath.

“I didn’t–!” I choked out, keeping my eyes closed. I wished I could cut of my sense of smell as well, because I could smell such a delectable musk, something I wanted to bathe in. It was coming from the tightly-coiled package of raw danger next to me.

I needed him–no, anyone else, not him–touching me. I thought of Simon, how he’d made me come this morning. The thought of coming sent another warm trickle of wetness. My womb cramped painfully, the need so violent.

Then, a finger was on the side of my neck, trailing down to my collar bone in a barely-there touch, and back up to the place he’d bitten me. He leaned in as I held my breath, and he set his teeth there. I shuddered at the memory of his teeth sliding in, my sex quivering as if it were right, needed even. His arm snaked around my waist, keeping me pinned to the couch. “Tell me, or I will bite you again.”

Yes, yes, yesss bite me.

“Don’t,” I said out loud.

“Tell me, Miss Blaine, what you did to my pack.” The sandpapery rasp of his bristle against my skin there, a scrape of pain, of smooth lips following, made me whimper.

“I didn’t–Ah, god!”

He’d licked me, wide, hot tongue against my skin, and I felt it like it was between my legs. He latched his lips and sucked, massaging the muscle there.

My hand slipped between my legs, rubbing with slow, even pressure.

He stilled.

I gasped, and removed my hand from between my legs. What was I doing?!

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