Fierce Obsessions

Page 72

Greta hadn't made many disparaging comments at the ceremony, though-that was probably because her boyfriend, Allen, had been there. She didn't seem to like exercising her bitchy muscle when the guy was around, which meant the females were all hoping Greta and Allen imprinted on each other at some point; maybe then they'd all get a damn rest from Greta's bullshit.
Tao frowned as he heard the crunch of twigs and pine needles. Whoever was walking around these parts better head the other way; he wanted time alone with his mate. "Do you realize something?"
She propped her chin up on his chest. "What?"
"Three times this week"-a leaf fluttered down from a branch and landed in her hair, so he plucked it out and put it on the grass-"you slept the entire night through."
"Sort of."
He frowned. "Sort of?"
"Well, I did wake up, but I managed to get back asleep using the mating bond."
He blinked. "I don't understand."
"The first time I woke up, I was totally wired and decided to just get up, but I was afraid of waking you. So I tapped into the bond, into you, to check how deeply you were sleeping. I felt how tired you were, how at peace your mind was, and how relaxed your body was. The next thing I knew, my eyelids were heavy and my mind had calmed down a little. It had to have been less than a minute before I fell back asleep."
Hope shimmered through him. "And it worked three times?"
"Yeah. I thought the first time was a fluke, but apparently not."
"This is fucking great news; why didn't you tell me?"
She touched his face. "You have to understand that I've had insomnia for a long time. I've tried pretty much every supposed 'remedy' you can think of, and none of them worked. The idea that I might have found a way to fall back asleep that didn't involve disturbing your sleep . . . I didn't want to jinx it."
"I get it." He kissed her. "Let's hope it keeps working . . . although I really have no issues with fucking you back to sleep."
She smiled against his mouth. "Well, I have issues with you having too much broken sleep, so I truly hope this continues to work." He kissed her again, deeper this time. She moaned as his fingers sank into her hair, holding her close as he took and tasted. Her insides melted even as her body flared to life.
A twig snapped close by, and then there was a loud hmph. "Here I am going for a walk, minding my own business, and I come across this. Must you do it out in the open where all and sundry can see you?"
With a sigh Riley glanced over her shoulder and squinted as shards of sunlight danced off the river, framing the old witch standing over her in judgment. "You say that like you caught us having sex."
"Look at you, lounging all over him. This wouldn't have happened in my day. Nooooooo. People were more reserved and believed in keeping certain things in the privacy of their own home. You have no self-respect at all."
Riley rubbed her forehead. "I'm not saying you don't have the God-given right to be neurotic, but must you really exploit the privilege?"
"If I were you, Tao, I'd be railing at fate for letting me down so dramatically."
Riley closed her eyes. "I'm getting that déjà poo feeling."
"Déjà poo?" Tao echoed.
"The feeling that I've heard all this bullshit before."
Greta gasped. "How dare you!"
"Look, Gretchen-"
"It's Greta."
"I don't care."
At that moment, Dominic and Trick came traipsing out of the woods. Tao ground his teeth. What the fuck happened to having alone time with his mate? He scowled . "What are you doing out here?"
Grinning, Dominic kicked a pinecone into a bush. "Searching for treasure. Can I look around your chest, Riley?"
Stifling a smile, Riley sighed and patted her growling mate. "Dominic, please find the will to live."
Trick cast them an apologetic look. "We didn't mean to interrupt. We were just looking for Zac-he's out here somewhere in his wolf form."
"We haven't seen him," said Riley.
Dominic gave her another grin. "You know . . . you have a really sexy voice. It would sound even better if it was muffled by my co-"
"Dominic." Tao looked at Trick. "If you don't kill him, I will."
Trick shoved a laughing Dominic ahead of him. "Let's just go before you get yourself killed. Come on, Greta."
Once the three wolves disappeared into the trees, Riley felt Tao relax beneath her. "Peace again."
He let out a long breath. "Yeah. Peace." She rested her head on his chest again, so he closed his eyes. The cool breeze fluttered over his skin, easing the prickling heat of the sun and carrying the scents of pine, sun-warmed rock, and wild herbs. Branches creaked, leaves rustled . . . and someone laughed somewhere in the near distance.
Tao hissed through his teeth. All he wanted was to be alone with his mate for a while. He didn't think it was such a big thing to ask of the universe. But mere moments later, Makenna stumbled into the clearing.
Her eyes widened. "Sorry, I didn't know you guys would be out here. We'll get out of your way." Ryan stepped into the clearing with Kye on his shoulders, Lilah clinging to his chest, Dexter wrapped around his left leg, and Savannah coiled around his right leg. He grunted at Tao in what could have been a greeting or a plea for help.
Spotting Riley and Tao, Dexter jumped down and bellowed, "Incomin'!" The cub flung himself at Tao, who caught him around the waist and held him high above his body while tickling his sides.
Knowing what was coming, Riley sat up just in time to catch Savannah as she leaped. "Hey, sweetheart."
The little viper grinned. "You kissing again?"
Riley chuckled. "Yep."
"Ew." Savannah playfully hissed at Tao and then scrambled up a tree.
Tao sighed. "Let's just go inside, we're not going to have any peace out here." He got to his feet, grabbed Dexter by the ankle, and dangled him upside down, making the cub laugh hysterically. Lots of bits of food fell out of Dexter's pockets, unsurprisingly.
Makenna grabbed the little boy and righted him. "You two go off and be alone. The kids are fine with us."
Riley blew a kiss at the kids and waved. She and Tao walked into the woods, leaving Savannah hanging upside down from a tree while the other kids climbed Ryan like he was a tree. Riley skimmed her hand over a weathered oak, feeling the rough edges of the bark. The woods really were beautiful and . . . and Tao was no longer beside her. Looking over her shoulder, she lifted a brow at him. He was wearing his "I'm thinking about sex" smile. "What?"
"You know watching you walk makes me want to throw you on the nearest surface and take you hard."
"What's stopping you?"
Tao was about to say nothing, but then he heard a wolf padding toward them. He halted, cursing. "I can't take any more. I just can't."
She clamped her lips together, battling the urge to laugh. Then he suddenly swung her around and began dragging her deeper into the woods. "Where are we going?"
"To get some damn privacy."

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