Tao stroked his thumb over the bite on her throat. "The bond is fully formed, that's why."
Riley blinked, still a little in shock to discover they were true mates. Her raven was high on happiness. "Doesn't it usually take certain steps to make it fully form?"
"Sometimes, but not for us. Maybe it's because we made those vows before we claimed each other-there was nothing to mess with the frequency of the bond." He'd always worried the bond would make him feel trapped, but he felt far from trapped. He felt whole and calm and happy, a little like in his dream, but better. And to think he might never have known this because he could be a dumb shit. "I can't believe I tried to have you thrown off our territory."
Her mouth curled. "I'll never let you forget it."
Tao was sure that Trick would never let him live it down either. "Our kids will enjoy the story."
"You want kids, right? I know we technically already have two-"
"I want kids." She'd just been a little surprised by the enthusiasm in his voice.
"Good." Threading his fingers through her hair, he kissed her. "It would be better if our little girl wasn't a raven. She'd have all the boys chasing her just to play with her hair." He found it mesmerizing and suspected other males would too.
Riley just rolled her eyes. "Think the pack will be surprised we're true mates?"
"I doubt it. I doubt your uncles will be either." Maybe Ethan and Max had been right and Tao had sensed on some level that Riley was his. He'd feared finding his true mate for so long that he supposed it was natural he'd feel threatened by her. Yet again, he'd been a dumb shit. "I guess we'll find out in the morning. I want tonight with you."
"Sounds good to-" She frowned as he flipped her onto her stomach. "Well, that was a little abrupt." One finger sank inside her, swirled around, and then trailed up to the puckered hole at the back. She froze. "Tao . . ."
"I need this. I can't explain why I need it so badly, I just do." As if then he'd have claimed every single part of her. "You'll love it, baby, I promise you. Trust me."
Riley kept her forehead pressed to the bed as he slowly and gently prepared her, using first one wet finger, then two. It burned, though not in a bad way. But when she finally felt the head of his cock start pressing inside her a little while later, she wondered if it would be much fun after all. "Tao, I really don't think this is going to work."
He rubbed her back. "Your body's made to take mine anywhere and everywhere, Riley. You know that. Just relax."
Relax? She snorted. "I'd like to see you relax while you can feel a freaking barrel pushing into your rectum."
He chuckled. "Push out as I push in; that'll make it easier. Good girl."
As his cock slowly sank into her ass, she held her breath. The pressure of his size and thickness burned, but he rubbed against all kinds of nerves that made her clit tingle.
Buried to the hilt, he slapped her ass. "Breathe." When that ass clamped around his cock, he realized that hadn't been the best idea. "Sorry, baby, but I can't wait." He pumped his cock in and out of her, claiming it just as he'd claimed her mouth and pussy. He could feel her pleasure through the mating bond-a pleasure that amplified his own and made his cock swell, ready to burst.
As she began to throw her hips back at him, Tao knew he wouldn't last much longer. He reached around and rubbed her clit with his thumb and finger the way she liked it. Moments later her head fell back and her mouth opened in a silent scream
. Tao slammed into her once, twice, and then exploded again.
She sank into the mattress. "Happy now?"
"Fucking ecstatic," Tao slurred. "And drained. Shower, then sleep, then more fucking."
"I can work with that."
It was rare for Tao to wake before Riley did, and waking to the feel of her breast filling his hand was guaranteed to make him smile. That smile widened as he felt the mating bond pulsing with life between them.
She belonged to him now. Utterly and completely. And he knew he'd kill, lie, steal-whatever it took-to keep it that way.
Feeling the wonder and vibrancy of the mating bond, Tao could appreciate just how difficult it could be for a shifter to survive the loss of it. It wasn't as if Riley were linked to him; it was like she was part of him, something he could feel inside him and around him. Something that warmed, anchored, and strengthened him. If anything took Riley from him, it would destroy him on every level.
He kissed her shoulder, but she didn't stir. He wasn't surprised. He'd woken her a few times through the night and he'd taken her hard each and every time. She hadn't once turned away from him or demanded he let her sleep, which was a true wonder to him. But then, Riley was a true wonder to him.
Ordinarily he wouldn't disturb her, but a quick glance at the clock showed they had about an hour before breakfast was over. He gently squeezed her breast and spoke into her ear. "Time to wake up." She mumbled something into the pillow. "You'll miss breakfast if you don't."
"I can feel your hunger through the bond," she griped. "That could get annoying." Riley didn't want to be craving food when it was actually he who was hungry. She hadn't imagined that the bond would be so . . . alive with emotion. It was a little overwhelming. "Do you think we'll always sense each other's feelings so strongly?"
"My mom and dad's bond snapped fully into place, like ours did," said Tao. "I remember they once said that because they hadn't eased into it, every single feeling and emotion seemed magnified at first until they got used to the bond."
Riley frowned as something occurred to her. "That could be bad for you. If I'm lying in bed wide awake, there's a chance that I'll wake you up."
He shrugged. "I usually wake up when you do anyway. I'm a light sleeper, and you fidget when you can't sleep."
"That should be a complaint." But he didn't sound like he was complaining at all.
"Why would I complain? It's not your fault. You didn't ask to suffer from insomnia."
For a guy with very little tolerance, he could be very understanding at times, she thought. Those times were few and far between, but still. Tugging on the hand gripping her breast, she said, "Let me go and I'll get ready."
Instead Tao hiked up her leg and drove inside her. "It's not often I get to indulge in morning sex with you." He fucked her hard and fast, drowning in the feelings and sensations that vibrated up and down the bond. Afterward he kissed a bite he'd left on the back of her shoulder. "Shower, then breakfast."
"You go on ahead, I'll follow you." In about an hour or so.
"Come on, I'm hungry, you're hungry." And he wanted to share the news with the pack that he and Riley were mated.
She gave a long-suffering sigh. "Fine."
After a quick shower, they both began pulling on some clothes. As Tao grabbed his socks, he turned away from the dresser with a rough sigh. "Okay, what did you do with it?"