Fierce Obsessions


Page 51




"She recently joined the pack," Taryn put in.
"I see." Avery studied Riley closely. "A raven, right?"
Riley nodded. "That's right."
Avery moved toward her. "It's the hair, it will always-" Her nostrils flared and she came to an abrupt halt. Her warm smile vanished. She turned to Taryn. "Where is he? Where's Tao?" The flat tone got the attention of Lennon, who, with a frown, then crossed the room to his mate.
"He's on his way," said Taryn.
Turning back to Riley, Avery folded her arms. "Just how long have you been sleeping with my son?"
Riley blinked. "Wow, that's really not your business."
"Not my business? I'm his mother."
Riley gave her a wan smile. "Greta might disagree with you on that."
Avery's attention snapped to Greta, who'd returned to her seat at the table.
Greta lifted her chin. "I've raised him all these years while you've been living with your daughter-in-law's pack."
"Raised him?" echoed Avery. "He was fifteen when he left."
"A fifteen-year-old boy still needs a mother," Greta insisted. "You weren't there for him. I was. She might be a raven with a big mouth, but he could do worse."
Riley's brows flew up. Coming from Greta, that was a compliment.
Makenna leaned into Riley and whispered, "Siccing them two on each other was a truly brilliant idea."
"It's not about how well Tao can do for himself," Avery told Greta. "He knows better than to sleep with females from his pack."
Greta raised an imperious brow. "You didn't sleep with any males from yours before you mated into Lennon's pack?"
Avery's back snapped straight and her eyes flickered. "Of course not."
Greta huffed. "You were never a good liar, Avery."
"How dare you!"
"How dare you come in here, causing a fuss when you have no right to interfere-you lost that right when you left him to fend for himself."
"I didn't throw him out on the streets, Greta. I let him leave with Trey and the rest of you because I had to respect his decision."
"But you didn't come with us. Oh no. Not Avery the free spirit, who makes decisions based on tarot cards," Greta mocked.
"Will you ever be anything but vile, Greta?" Avery abruptly whirled back to face Riley and began to advance on her. "You and I need to-" She froze, and Riley truly couldn't blame her. While Avery had been preoccupied arguing with Greta, she hadn't noticed the two children who'd slunk into the room and were now crouched on either side of Riley-not until they'd let out a cautioning hiss the moment Avery took a threatening step toward Riley.
"Snake?" asked Lennon, eyeing Savannah with curiosity. He didn't seem the least bit upset on his mate's behalf. Riley got the feeling it wasn't uncommon for Avery to offload her anger and that he'd long ago decided to simply stand back and let her get on with it.
"Viper," said Riley.
Lennon's eyes gleamed as they studied Dexter. "He can partially shift?"
"Yes," Riley replied. The little cheetah was currently tapping his claws on the floor. She cut her gaze back to Avery. "So I really wouldn't push them right now." Both kids were superfast. They'd launch themselves at the woman before Riley even had the chance to stop them. Honestly, she wasn't sure if she'd bother to stop them.
"How about we all just calm down?" proposed Taryn, her voice soothing .
Avery's eyes flared. "Calm down?"
Trick's head tilted. "Sounds like Tao's coming. I think it would be best all around if you weren't ranting at his female when he walked in."
Lennon cast his mate a "He's right" look. Avery straightened her flowery top, chin jutted out. It would seem that she wasn't done.
Taryn exchanged an exasperated look with Trey. "Avery, I'm asking you as Tao's Alpha to let this alone. Lecturing him on it won't get you anywhere."
"I respect that you're his Alpha, but this isn't pack business; this is between mother and son."
As Tao stalked inside the kitchen, the tension in the air sliced through him. He briefly halted, taking in the situation. Riley looked calm, but the children crouched on either side of her, snarling at his mother, were far from it. It didn't take a fucking genius to work out that Avery had let loose on Riley, and that seriously pissed him off. Knowing his mother, he could guess what her issue was.
Crossing to Riley, he turned to face his parents. "Mom, Dad."
Lennon nodded, mouth curved. "Good to see you, Son. Why don't you introduce me to the raven here?"
Avery frowned at her mate. "You have no problem with him ignoring your advice?" Her mate just shrugged. Avery sighed at Tao. "I would have thought you'd learned from your father's mistakes."
Tao exhaled heavily. "Mom-"
"You saw what it was like for me with those women," Avery clipped. "It didn't just affect me, it affected you and your father."
"Mom-"
"She's pretty, I'll give you that, but since when did you start thinking with your-?"
"Mom. Enough. You've made your fucking point."
"Don't you fucking swear at me. And I'm not fucking done." Avery's nose wrinkled. "God, her scent is all over you."
"Good. That's where it should be."
"You're a smart wolf, Tao. You know better than to have a fling with a female from your pack."
"It's not a fling."
Avery's brows snapped together. "Excuse me?"
"It's not a fling. It started out as one, I won't lie about that. But it's far from one now. That's all I'm prepared to say on the matter. I don't owe you explanations. I'm a grown fucking man."
Mouth tight, Avery cut her gaze to Riley. "Don't you have anything to say?"
Riley pursed her lips. "About what?"
"Mom, don't," Tao advised, because Riley would toy with her like a cat with a mouse.
Avery lifted her chin. "I want to hear her speak."
"Mom, really, don't."
"What, she can't stand up for herself?" Keeping a wary eye on the kids now coiled around Riley's legs, Avery said to her, "You're very dominant. I can sense it. And yet you haven't once spoken in your defense or tried to state your right to be with my son. That tells me you don't want him as much as he appears to want you."
Riley twisted her mouth. "Huh."
"Huh? That's all you have to say? You don't deserve him. Only his true mate-the other half of his soul-will ever really deserve him. That's clearly not you, and, regardless of what Greta seems to think, he can do better than you."
"Huh."
"Huh? Are you capable of saying anything else?"
"Um-hm."
Avery turned to Tao, who had a hand over his face. "What, is she possessed by a mentally defective spirit?"





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