– “You handled that well.” Asher chuckled, his laugh deep and rich like liquid amber. His
breath was hot and curled in the air between us. The cold metal of the car chilled my back, easily
seeping through Asher’s sweatshirt. His hand rested on the roof of the car and his eyes were
devastatingly serious as he said, “I was going to tell him to take his questions and f**k off.”
I always took the chance to toy with my hot-headed mate, especially when he made it so incredibly easy.
I gave him a petulant look and tried to push past him, “you never did have any manners.”
My back hit the side of the car with a little more force this time. Rather than hurting me, it brought a
twisted smile to my face. My head swam with his earthy scent as he leaned in close, always hovering
over me. I could feel his fingers tangling in my hair where they hadn’t been before.
“You’re wrong, I have some manners.” He lowered his head and breathed in my scent. The stubble on
his cheek grazed my neck, sending goosebumps pebbling my skin. He noticed every reaction my body
had to his and chuckled in my ear. “If I didn’t, this entire hospital would hear me f**k you on the hood of
the car, and don’t bother lying, Lola. You wouldn’t lift a finger to stop me.”
I got my revenge an hour into our drive home. The sun had vanished, darkening the sky as the moon’s
silvery light took hold. The glittering forest, sprawling with light and life turned dark and mysterious at
night. You could fully appreciate how dense it was when day turned to night and the slivers of shadow
began gather and pulse.
I had been ignoring them for a while now and hadn’t even allowed myself to glance their way. They were
always there, just out of sight-constantly reminding me what they could do. What they could offer. No
matter how tempting tapping into that power was, the price was rarely ever worth it.
The darkness paired with the curvy highway was lulling me back to sleep, but there was something I
wanted even more than another long nap something Asher had knowingly put into my head.
Letting the image form in my mind, I pictured the two of us parked in a secluded dirt lot. The freezing
metal of the car hood on my back was nothing compared to the heat of Asher’s c**k filling me, or the
warmth his hand provided as it wrapped around my throat, his thumb stroking my cheek as he told me
how good I was-how well I took everything he gave. I sent the mental image down the mate-bond,
always underestimating his reaction.
I grabbed onto what my dad called the ‘oh s**t’ handle as Asher’s head snapped to where I sat, sending
the car veering into the other lane. The tones of bright honey had been sucked from his eyes within half
a second. Blinking rapidly, he sent us back into the right lane. Thankfully, we were the only car on the
road, which is what finally made me giggle.
“What the h**l, Lola.” His snarl was angry, but he couldn’t stop glancing my way.
Toying with Asher, letting him evoke these feelings and emotions, it was a distraction from everything
else going on, one I needed if I were going to survive the upcoming weeks. I was determined to savor
every uninterrupted moment alone with him.
Even though he was now expecting the next few clips I sent his way, he clearly underestimated my
creativity. His knuckles turned white on the steering wheel, and his hair was now a mess from the
number of times he ran his fingers through it. I had always been a fan of Asher in sweatpants, especially
now that the material was stretched taut against his e******n.
The moment the scent of my arousal permeated the car, Asher jerked us to the side of the road. A small
stretch of gravel provided even more coverage, not that it mattered with how quickly he tore the clothes
from my body and pressed me against the hood. The husky sounds he made as he cursed me for being
so tempting, for constantly wanting a rise out of him, they’d forever be seared into my memory.
I was riding a post-s*x high until we reached his parent’s house and I remembered I was going to dredge
up some unpleasant memories, Dad still loved her in a way and remembering that the woman he knew
had a life full of secrets only brought him pain.
It was around ten o’clock at night when we strolled into Asher’s parents house. The scent of grandma’s
lavender cookies was within every corner of the house, and even trickled outside as we walked through
the front door.
Standing by the large entertainment center in the living room was Killian, a glass of amber liquor in his
hand. Dad sat back in the leather recliner attached to the sectional. His eyes flitted up from the football
game on tv as he greeted us.
“If you’re lookin’ for Sean he’s not here, took up a part-time patrol shift. What’s got you two smelling like
that?”‘ Dad grunted, scrunching his nose as he took a long drink of the beer in his hand.
For a moment embarrassment flooded my cheeks, but the scent of what Asher and I had done was long
gone. What did cling to our our clothes and skin was the sterile scent of the hospital.
“Definitely a hospital.” Claire’s soprano came from the kitchen, followed by a head of chocolate-brown
hair. She held one of grandma’s cookies in her hand, and judging from the jumbo size, I’d say grandma
in for a long night. “Only been to one a handful of times. I’m definitely not fond of them.”
“I never could stand the smell of those places.” He shook his head, his mind most likely flitting back to his
injury and the physical therapy appointments he absolutely loathed going to.
Grandma flitted out of the kitchen a couple seconds later, her soft-black hair twisted into a bun on her
head. The plate clinked against the glass-top table, turning it smoky from the steam. Tiny buds of
lavender dotted the tops of the cookies, coupling with the specks of vanilla bean to form a beautiful
“Claire’s asked me to bake a few things for the University’s bake-sale fundraiser.” Grandma smiled
proudly, her apron speckled with hints of brown sugar and flour.
“Begged was more like it. My cooking skills are sub-par and haven’t improved much over the years.”
Claire sighed and shook her head. Killian looked her way, his eyes glazing over for just a few seconds
before the forlorn look was wiped from her face, replaced with an intimate smile. She cleared her throat,
blushing as she continued without pause. “Still, I could get used to this if I’m not careful. Your grandma is
going to have the whole town hooked on these things. I might have to buy her a shop in town.”
Dad chuckled, his chest rumbling from the gravely sound. “It’s worse when you’re raised on it.”
“You hire someone else to run the place and give me free reigns of the kitchen and you got yourself a
deal.” Grandma said with a nod, darting back into the kitchen when the oven timer sounded.
Asher gave me a single look that made my stomach drop, and for once, I wished I hadn’t developed the
ability to see past his expressionless façade. I knew he had sent Claire a quick mind-link when she
snatched up another cookie and stood from the couch.
“I think we should go look into that cookie shop.” Claire stepped into Killian’s side, molding herself to the
previous Alpha’s torso.
“But the game?” Killian frowned as Claire led him down the hall, his eyebrows gnashing together in an
expression nearly identical to Asher’s.
A strange flutter wormed its way into my heart as I tried to picture Asher and I like that-twenty years older
with children of our own, looking around at all the hard work we had done over the years, and how our
family and people could relax and reap the rewards. It was the future e worked towards, one where all
people, werewolf or vampire, could safely have families of their own.
Dad’s low chuckle startled me, “now that you’ve gone and chased everyone off, what’s it you wanted to
talk to me about? I might not be as useful as I once was, but I still got some of your grandma’s genes.
Mean’s it’s a little harder to pull the wool over my eyes.”
I took half a second to calm my nerves before jumping right in. Subtlety wasn’t my strong suit, and I had
spent the better half of the day gnawing over scenario after scenario. Rather than pull up a picture of the
sigil on my chest, I lowered my shirt to show where my heart rested within my ribcage. Inches below my
collar bone sat the sigil, it’s dark ink just as bright as Asher’s cobalt mark on my skin.
“This thing on my chest, it’s a mark from a binding spell-to bind my magic. Mom was the closest person
to me who knew the full truth about everything. Binding my magic sounds like something she would do,
trying to keep me safe while also making things more complicated…but I need to know for sure so we
can find a way to remove it.” I sighed, guilt swirling within the depths of my stomach when an echo of
pain flashed across his eyes- eyes I once thought held my same shade of blue. Father and daughter in
every sense except for blood. “I need you to think back, as far back as you can. Did anything-anything at
all stand out as strange to you? Was there ever a time where you didn’t know where she was or what
she was doing? I hate bringing this up, but I wouldn’t if I weren’t sure she had something to do with it.”
“Other than when she came home with you bundled in her arms, crying that she had made a mistake,
there’s only one other time I can remember. When you were five, your mom and I were going through a
rough patch. Sean was getting into his pre-teen years, and he was nearing his first shift so his hormones
were all over the place. Things were getting bad with him in school. A few kids, they could tell he wasn’t
going to have a she-wolf for a mate. For a long while, your mom and I argued on how to approach it. She
wanted to storm the school with her claws drawn and raise h**l. I didn’t want the kid to feel like it was
something abnormal or strange…so I disagreed.” Dad cleared his throat. Regret flashed in his eyes,
mingling with the wisdom and experience he accumulated over the years. “I thought we were close to
divorce, so I told her I understood when she took you and went to mom’s cottage.”
“I’m sorry-she said what?” Grandma’s head popped out from the kitchen, and as though she could see it
through the clothes I wore, her eyes latched onto the binding spell sigil. “That woman never brought Lola
to my house-certainly not by herself.”