Fierce Obsessions

Page 36

"You honestly think all this happened because she came here on a Friday?"
Makenna lifted her chin. "I don't care for your tone."
"I don't have a tone."
Smiling, Riley drained her cup and stood. "I need a refill."
Tao wasn't surprised when Makenna and Jaime trailed after her into the kitchen. Or when the sound of a scuffle was quickly followed by the swish of the patio door's opening and closing. The girls had no doubt dragged Riley outside to interrogate her in private about what was going on between her and Tao. After all, the cabin smelled of sex and he and Riley wore each other's scents, so there was really no way to hide it.
Dante sank deeper into the sofa. "It's about damn time you two stopped dancing around each other. Are you going to pretend that it's just sex?"
"Good." Dante pointed at him. "Don't mess this one up, Tao."
"I'm not sure I could if I tried. She mostly just rolls her eyes when I piss her off."
"Consider yourself lucky. Jaime puts all my CDs in the wrong cases when I annoy her." And since Dante had an OCD streak, that was akin to a nightmare for him.
"Kenna makes me go shopping," grumbled Ryan. "Have you ever been shopping with a devout bargain hunter? It's painful."
"She took Jaime with her the other day, so I went along," said Dante. "They kept going all day. Searched every shelf and rack, and had the shop assistants searching the stockrooms for stuff. Once they found what they wanted, they compared prices on websites, found out where the items were cheaper, and then hauled ass there."
Tao smiled a little smugly. "Riley doesn't like the mall, she only shops online."
Dante gaped. "Dude, do not let her go. Like ever. Seriously, a woman who doesn't like the mall is a gift from God-accept that gift with gratitude and grace."
Ryan grunted. "Let's hope Riley will rub off on Kenna."
Thinking of the times he'd seen Makenna come back from shopping with dozens of bags and a euphoric smile on her face, Tao twisted his mouth. "Yeah, I really don't see that happening."
Ryan sighed, grim. "Yeah, neither do I."
Out on the deck, Makenna slid the patio door closed. "Well? Is Tao good in bed? I have to know." She held up a hand. "Don't say nothing happened. You reek of each other."
"I wasn't going to deny it," said Riley. "And, yes, he knows his way around the bedroom."
Jaime joined her hands. "Is it just sex between you, or . . . ?"
Honestly, it was starting to feel like more than that for Riley, but she simply said, "We agreed to a fling."
Jaime dropped her hands. "No, this has to be more than a fling. If you mate with Tao, you won't leave the pack. I like that idea."
Riley rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to leave the pack and we all know it."
"Yeah, but mating with Tao would provide me with extra insurance."
"Do you think it's possible that you're true mates?" asked Makenna.
Was she kidding?
"Tao and I don't suit each other."
Jaime waved a hand. "Sure you do. Tao's never had a good relationship. He's very intense and stubborn, and he can't hold in his emotions or opinions. It rubs a lot of dominant females the wrong way and leads to argument after argument. But you roll your eyes at his mood swings. You ignore his tantrums. You smile at his insults. You say what you think and give him no choice but to accept it. That's what he needs-someone who isn't threatened or challenged by his need to vent . If anything, you find it funny."
Yeah, she did. "I've just never known anyone so easily riled."
"Although you aren't an obvious couple, you work."
Makenna nodded in agreement. "Let's face it, Riley: you don't like people getting too close. He won't stand for that shit, and only someone as determined and hardheaded as Tao could truly cope with that and get through to you. You need someone who isn't controlling. Tao might be a pain in the ass who shoves his way into your business, but he isn't controlling-which is rare for a dominant male. He's also complex enough to hold your attention. Be honest; you have a short concentration span and get bored pretty easily. He'll keep things interesting."
Blowing out a breath, Riley sat on the porch swing.
Head tilted, Jaime looked down at her. "You've never looked at things that way before, have you?"
"No. Like you said, we're not an obvious couple."
"Neither are me and Ryan," said Makenna. "He doesn't believe in fate, and I'm as superstitious as they come. I like working with people and helping them. Ryan doesn't like people, period. But we work."
"Dante loves control," said Jaime. "I love doing whatever I want. He's a total neat freak, and I find order in chaos. But we're happy."
Riley leaned back. "But if Tao was my true mate, wouldn't I sense it on some level?"
"Not necessarily," said Jaime. "I had no idea Dante was my true mate. I'd known him for years, but I hadn't sensed it. We both had too many issues jamming the frequency of the mating bond. If you and Tao build something, you might just resolve your own issues. Maybe a mating bond will snap into place, maybe it won't. It might take imprinting to-" She cut off as the patio door slid open and the males stepped out.
"You girls done gossiping yet?" asked Dante.
Jaime lifted her chin, looking affronted. "We don't gossip."
Her mate snickered. "Sure you don't."
"So, what now?" Riley asked him.
"You and Tao will stay here while the rest of us question the other people who should have been at the party that night," Dante replied. "We need to know why they weren't there, because it's possible someone didn't go because they knew what was going to happen."
"You think that one of them could have put Wade up to it and they're now finishing the job?" Riley asked.
"Possibly," said Dante. "We have a few theories that we need to explore."
"What Wade did was totally out of character for him, but he wasn't himself back then," said Riley. "People do strange and even awful things when they're depressed like that. I honestly don't think anyone was behind it."
Dante leaned against the porch post. "You're probably right, but I'd still like to speak with them. There is still the possibility that one of them is responsible for the recent shootings."
"They may not talk to us," said Makenna.
"Sage assured me that he'd tell his flock mates to cooperate with you," said Tao. "Hopefully, that will be enough to make them do so."
"Don't come across as accusatory, or it will put them on the defensive," Riley told Dante.
The Beta gave her a shark's grin. "Don't worry, this isn't my first round of interrogations."
"Oh yeah, I know all about your version of interrogations." He was quite the merciless master at them. "That's what's worrying me."

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