Leaving them to sleep, Riley gently closed their bedroom door and headed to her own room. God, she was tired. Dog tired. But for her there was a super-big difference between tired and sleepy. She could be absolutely exhausted and in serious need of rest, but that didn't mean she'd feel sleepy. Often she lay there for hours, staring at the ceiling and praying that sleep would take her, but she'd be wide awake.
She'd had idiopathic insomnia since childhood, so she was kind of used to it. That didn't make it any less of a pain in her ass. Since she felt far from sleepy now, she didn't bother hopping into bed. Instead she stripped naked and went out onto the balcony. Opening her arms wide, she shifted. Bones cracked and popped while her body shrank and her raven surfaced.
The avian shook, settling into her feathers. Then she opened her wings wide and flew.
Friday afternoon Tao slung his bag over his shoulder and stalked out of his room to find Dante waiting. Locking his door behind him, Tao tipped his chin. "Hey."
"I'm driving you to the airport," said Dante.
Tao nodded in thanks. Nick's friend was presently using the private jet, which meant Tao and Riley would be taking a commercial flight. "I'll get Riley and meet you downstairs."
"You know . . . maybe you could use this weekend to smash down her barriers. Don't try to tell me you don't want her, that would be a damn lie. You might argue over everything and nothing, but it's part of the chemistry between you. Like some weird kind of foreplay. It's been hilarious watching the two of you circle each other like wary predators. If you want the truth, I think she would be good for you, and I think you would be good for her."
Given that the Beta was big on control and demanded respect, it truly did surprise Tao that Dante had warmed to her. Riley lived by her own rules and resisted all attempts at control. "I didn't expect you to like her."
"She's impulsive, unimpressed by authority, and her raven keeps shitting on Greta."
Amusement lit Dante's eyes. "Ravens have a vengeful streak, and Greta does enjoy giving Riley shit. I guess her raven's just returning the favor."
Tao snorted. "Whatever. I'll meet you in the lot." Clutching the strap of his duffel, Tao stalked through the tunnels.
He hadn't actually seen all that much of Riley over the past few days. He'd been working the late shifts, guarding the territory's perimeter, so they'd only really seen each other at the evening meals. He'd deliberately sat beside her every time, keeping his thigh pressed to hers and occasionally toying with her hair-a subtle possessive gesture that didn't go unnoticed by anyone.
Reaching Riley's room, he rapped his knuckles on the door. She opened it, looking tired. He wasn't surprised, having once overheard her telling Makenna that she suffered from insomnia. "All packed?"
"Yeah," she replied. "I just need to get my bag and-what are you doing?" She frowned as he pushed his way into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.
"We need to get a couple of things straight. First of all, I know you'd rather do this alone, but you know that going anywhere alone is not a good idea. You wouldn't want me out there without protection any more than I want you to be."
"Don't bet on it."
"So let's drop that, shove aside the issue, and concentrate on making sure this visit goes well for you and your uncles."
She poked her tongue into the inside of her cheek. "All right."
"Good. Now on to the next thing: where's my watch, Riley? I had it yesterday morning."
She raised an imperious brow. "Oh, I see, because ravens like to collect shiny things, you think I took it?"
"No, I think you took it because you took it. You always steal my shit." He pointed to the iPad on the dresser, proving his point
"Borrow, I borrow your stuff."
"Without my permission, which makes it stealing."
"Only if you want to get technical about it."
Looming over her, he growled, "Do you have to be such a pain in my ass?"
"You really should learn to control your anger better. Eighty-eight percent of men with bad tempers end up with high blood pressure and die an early death."
"They do not."
"They could do."
He closed his eyes for a moment, seeking patience. She made up statistics all the freaking time. He did not know why, just like he didn't know why she stole his shit. It was just something Riley did. "I can't do this. The conversation needs to end now." Opening his eyes, he found them drifting to the mark he'd left on her neck. "That sure faded fast." His wolf didn't like that at all. Honestly, Tao didn't like it much either.
"I'm a fast healer."
The hint of smugness in her tone made his wolf growl. "Oh, you are?" Tao backed her into the wall. "Then we'll have to do something about it."
Knowing exactly what he intended to do, Riley grabbed his arms. "Don't you-" He closed his mouth over hers and licked the seam of her lips. She resisted. For all of three seconds. Then lust bloomed deep in her core, shocking her with its intensity, and her body took over.
Tao plunged his tongue inside her mouth, groaning as the exotic taste of her burst on his tongue and raced through his system. It was as addictive as any drug; he couldn't get enough of it. Couldn't stop. He kissed her hard, feasting and gorging himself on her.
He shoved his hands into all that glorious, silky-smooth hair and pulled. She moaned, gripping his arms so hard he felt the prick of her talons. He wanted to lick and bite her neck, wanted to taste her skin, but he couldn't bring himself to release her mouth. His cock was thick and heavy, needing more. Needing her. And as he shoved his cock against her and she moaned, he thought he might just fucking explode.
Somewhere at the back of her mind, Riley panicked. He'd done exactly what he'd done the night they were drunk-done the very thing she'd always suspected he'd do if they ever acted on the sexual tension that throbbed between them. He'd taken control, taken her as if it were his right.
There was possessiveness in every stroke of his tongue, every tug on her hair, every nip of his teeth. It scared her, but the fear was drowned out by the lust that was heating her blood and ignoring rational thought. His mouth was sheer fucking magic as it consumed and dominated. She arched into him, rubbing against him like a cat in heat and grinding against his cock.
With a growl he tore open her fly, shoved his hand inside her panties, and thrust one finger into her pussy. He groaned. "Ah, baby, you're soaking. Stay still."
He drove his finger into her pussy hard and fast, keeping his mouth pressed to hers so he could taste every moan. When her pussy began to quiver and tighten, he plunged yet another finger inside her and sank his teeth over her pulse. She came hard, rippling around his fingers. His cock twitched in envy, and it was a struggle not to lift her and bury himself inside her.
A little embarrassed by how easily and shamelessly she'd responded to him, Riley kept her eyes closed. "You can move your hand now."
He could, but the feel of her inner muscles fluttering around his fingers as she came down from her orgasm was just too good to give up. Instead Tao licked over his mark. Masculine satisfaction fired through him, heightening the need that scorched him just as her hot pussy scorched his fingers. The possessiveness he'd already felt seemed to swell inside Tao until it filled every part of him. He figured he should probably worry about that, but it was hard to care while the scent of her need was playing with his senses.