“Who did it?” Gray stood at the edge of the pool, arms folded tight across his chest. “Which one of you mutts committed suicide last night?”
Lynn raised her head to turn to the other cheek, one eye squinting at Gray. She was on her belly, topless, tanning in the late-afternoon sun. “What are you grumbling about?”
“Who sank teeth?” His hands fisted tight under his arms, thoughts of them squeezing around one of their necks flashing through his mind. Dammit, this wasn’t like him, but when it came to Maizie his priorities changed.
Rick shrugged from the back end of the diving board. “What difference does it make? It’s what you wanted. What we all needed.” He took three long strides, bounced once then angled headfirst into the pool.
“What’s done is done.” Joy sipped her iced tea then set it on the table between her and Lynn before finding her place in the romance novel she held. “I’m sure it was an accident, sweetheart. There’s nothing to be done about it now.”
“An accident? She fall into someone’s open mouth?” Gray didn’t need to be told. He was positive he knew which one of them would dare touch her.
He dropped his arms, striding along the pool to loom over Lynn. “Where is he?”
Lynn lifted her head again, squinting. “Who?”
“Your dead mate,” Gray said. “At least he will be once I get my hands on him.”
“It wasn’t Shawn.”
“Bullshit.” He’d had to pry the mutt’s jaws off Maizie. Being new, Shawn had the least control and the least respect for the pack. Gray looked to the house, saw the curtains in Lynn’s bedroom window flutter closed. Coward. Without a word he headed for the glass doors, murder in his mind.
“Gray, no. No! He didn’t do it. I swear,” Lynn screamed behind him. He knew she’d gotten up, was chasing after him. “Rick! Rick, stop him. He’ll kill him.”
Rick scaled the metal ladder at the end of the pool just as Gray neared. He foolishly stepped in front of him, hands up, as though that would even slow him down.
The newcomer would die. Someone had to pay for turning Maizie, for forcing him to face a fact he’d been working twenty-one years to avoid. Maizie was his mate. She’d always been his mate. His marriage to Donna should never have been. She’d deserved better. By the time Rick pushed against his chest, Gray’s whirling thoughts, his heavy guilt had weakened the foundation of his rage.
“Uncle Gray, it wasn’t Shawn,” Rick said. “He got excited and chased after her when she ran. He’s a new wolf, still learning control. But we stopped him. We had him back under control. He wasn’t the one who bit her.”
“Then who?” He was yelling now, his voice so close to a roar his throat protested, growing sore. “Who did it?”
Rick shook his head, looked away then back, chin high, eyes defiant. “It was me. Okay? I did it. I turned her. I told you I would if you didn’t.”
Anger, pain, guilt and remorse churned into a furious storm inside him. Gray exploded, shoving at Rick’s chest, sending him backward several feet. The younger man caught himself, landing on the balls of his feet, ready to fight if he had to.
“C’mon, boy.” Gray spoke through his teeth. “We end this today. Take the pack or get out.”
His body tight, Rick snarled at Gray, edging forward a little, but not attacking. Rick was born a werewolf and stronger because of it, but Gray was older and turned by his late wife, the strongest among them. She’d chosen him to be alpha, sensing the natural strength within him. It would be a battle, but Gray had rage on his side.
“No. Stop it.” Shelly scrambled out of the sunken hot tub and raced to the other side of the pool. “Ricky, if you lose you’ll have to leave. You can’t fight for alpha and then go back to subordinate.”
“Stay out of this, Shelly. I didn’t challenge him. He challenged me. I can’t be cast out for defending myself. I’ll handle this.”
“Uncle Gray, please. It wasn’t Ricky.”
The hairs at the scruff of Gray’s neck bristled, his muscles tight, instinct pumping a heady mix of adrenaline through his body. “Disobeying my order is a challenge. And I accept.”
“That’s how you’re going to play it?” Rick asked, disgust thickening his tone.
“I did it.” Shelly jumped between them and shoved Gray’s shoulders. “You hear me? I did it. I disobeyed. I turned her. Not Ricky. Not Shawn. Me.”
“Shut up, Shelly.”
Gray blinked, the fast shift of emotion fogging his brain. “You? Why?”
Shelly huffed, tears glistening in her bluer-than-blue eyes. She stepped back, dropping her gaze. For a minute she looked every bit the teenager she appeared to be, despite her true age and the way her curves filled her brown and pink string bikini. “I wanted things to be normal. I wanted us to be a normal family. Like it was before Aunt Donna…”
Gray stroked her cheek. “How does turning Maizie make us normal, honey?”
“It was an accident,” Lynn said, walking up beside them, her black bikini top now tied in place. Joy followed close behind. “Okay, I admit Shawn got a little out of control, but when Maizie started to run he just couldn’t keep a hold on his instinct. Well you know how it is. The chase, the prey’s fear flavoring the air. With him losing it, Shelly got a little overexcited.”
Joy joined them, slipped an arm around her granddaughter. “The twins are still young, Gray. Their wolf instincts get the better of them sometimes.”
“I didn’t lose control, Gram.” Shelly shrugged out of the one-arm embrace. “And it wasn’t an accident. I wanted to turn her.”
Gray’s muscles knotted across his shoulders, a dull throb thumping in his head. He loved his niece, but she was becoming every bit as complicated as all the other females he’d known. “Shelly, honey, explain to me exactly why you wanted to turn Maizie Hood into one of us.”
“Because I love my family and I want my pack to stay together. You know she’s the one, but you love your precious guilt so much you couldn’t let it go and take her. And I’m too young to marry some stupid old dog because you couldn’t take a mate and keep this pack alive.”
“Never would’ve happened,” Gray said, his anger simmering.
“It would. You can’t disobey the laws of wolves, Uncle Gray. They won’t let you,” Shelly said. “Either some self-appointed stud would eventually come sniffin’ around and challenge you, or Rick would take a mate and they’d see him as the strongest mated pair and challenge him. Neither worked for me, so I did what I thought would be best for everyone. Including you, Uncle Gray.”
Gray snorted, shook his head, looking from one set of eyes to the next. “That’s what you’ve all been thinking? You’re worried some asshole’s going to come in here and fight me for all of you?”
They didn’t answer. Finally Joy spoke up. “You’re family, Gray. I know you and Donna weren’t natural mates, but she truly cared for you. You were so strong. A born leader.” She stepped in front of him, cupped his face, loving, maternal.
“You made your marriage work even when it was clear the bond wasn’t there. But since we lost her, you haven’t even tried to find your true mate. And when you pushed the Hood girl away too, we worried you’d never take a mate.” Her hands dropped to his chest. “We don’t want to lose you. Losing Donna was hard enough.”
“No one is losing anyone.” They’d have to kill him before he let someone separate him from Donna’s family-from his family.
“Right. Thanks to me,” Shelly said. All eyes riveted on her. “I did what you couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Maizie Hood’s your true mate. We all know it. You’re just squeamish about turning her because of some twisted loyalty to Aunt Donna. She shouldn’t have turned you. You weren’t meant for her, but her death led you to the person you were meant for. Now you have her.”
“I don’t have anything.” Rather than admit his guilt, he’d allowed Maizie to believe he blamed her for the accident. Now she was out there alone, her body changing. She was too angry with him to let him help. He didn’t deserve her.
“She’ll be back,” Joy said. “She’s pack now. Pack always finds their way home.”
“Only if they want to.” Gray turned and stormed back to the house, Maizie’s sad, wounded eyes flashing through his thoughts. Jeezus, he’d been an ass to let her leave like that.
He could fix this. He’d grab a quick shower, throw on some fresh clothes and go find her. He could explain why he’d spent the past twenty-one years blaming his loneliness and domestic imprisonment on a child.
Yeah. Then I’ll tell her it was my fault Donna ran off that night. Gray set the water temperature for the shower. Hell, if it weren’t for me her parents would still be alive. And last night never would’ve happened.
No. No matter how hard he tried or how much he thought he should, he couldn’t regret last night. It had been too perfect.
The warning beep sounded. A half second later the front, sides and top showerheads burst with steaming water. He stepped in, bent his head back and let the water cascade over his head and body.
Images of Maizie bombarded his thoughts, those pretty green eyes, the way they wrinkled at the corners when she smiled at him and turned a shade darker when she was angry. He could almost feel the soft touch of her kiss and her cloak of red hair slipping through his fingers.
The feel of her firm round breasts squeezing in his palms, the fast pucker of her nipples. His hand smoothing over her belly, slipping between her thighs to her hot wet sex.
Jeezus, she was amazing in bed. She didn’t just show up, she joined in, giving as good as she got.
His thoughts shifted, purposely remembering her eyes peering up at him with her pink lips wrapped around his cock. Her mouth was so hot and moist, his cock sliding through those soft lips, sucking him back in again and again.
Gray put his hand where her mouth had been, stroking his shaft. He was hard as stone with just the memory of her mouth on him. His balls tight, he brought his free hand to fondle them. A steady thrum of pleasure rippled through his body, his balls rolling through his fingers, muscles pulling the sac tighter. He gripped his shaft harder, pumping over the head and back, rocking his hips.
Thoughts and memories slipped through his mind, coming to the forefront then receding while another image took its place. Maizie, her ripe body pinned beneath him, his hard shaft slamming into her pussy, so tight and wet, rocking up to meet him. The walls of her sex squeezed around him, the sensitive head of his cock pushing through the muscles the same way it pushed through his hand now.
No. Not the same. His imagination wasn’t that good. He looked at his hand gripping his cock, water pattering over his fingers, keeping the taut flesh slick as he stroked. But what he felt was Maizie’s pussy squeezing him, her hot cream wetting his balls, her ass slamming into him as he pumped.
“What the fuck?” He stopped, his hands dropping, leaving his cock to wag in front of him. A heartbeat passed, and when the invisible muscles suddenly squeezed around him, he nearly came.
“Jeezus…” He pushed his hips forward, just as he would if Maizie’s pussy was there to beg him in. Hot moist walls hugged around his cock, stroking him, holding tight as he pulled back. He braced his hands on the shower walls, watching his hard penis as he drove his hips into thin air, but felt the unmistakable sensation of a woman’s pussy-Maizie’s sex-give way.
He pumped again, and then again. He couldn’t help it. The sensation was too good. Waves of pleasure rippled through his body with each thrust, humming over his skin, building in the tightening sac of his balls.
Gray didn’t have a clue how this was happening, what was happening, but then he didn’t really care. He rocked his hips, thrust his cock into nothing, but felt the welcoming squeeze of Maizie’s pussy. He held tight to the showerheads on either wall, braced his feet and let the strange phenomenon take him over.
His head lolled back, the warm water of the shower enveloping him as he fucked his invisible Maizie harder, faster. Thoughts of her supple breasts pressed into his palms filled his mind, her nipples squeezed between his fingers. The feel of her lips on his, the sweet taste of her mouth, her skin, as he drove himself deeper inside her.
“Gray…” She wanted him-now. The gentle thrum of shower water was a poor substitute. It massaged along her body, trickling over her nipples and wetting between her thighs, but it was little more than a tease.
Gawd, he’d crushed her earlier with those accusing pale blue eyes and that cold heartless silence. How dare he blame her? Losing his wife was clearly difficult, but she’d lost her parents. Did he have a clue how hard that was for a seven-year-old girl?
She’d blamed that wolf, all wolves, for years. Now she knew it was his wife who’d raced out in front of their car. It was an accident, and she suspected Gray understood that too, but the randomness of it all was so hard to accept. She’d spent so many years pointing a finger, needing to blame someone for the injustice. Would it have been any different for Gray?
The realization left her numb. His cold eyes left her aching. She didn’t want to want him, to feel his warm arms around her, his mouth on her breast, the teasing draw on her nipple. She wanted to stay mad at him, but she’d seen the guilt in his eyes and knew the power of it. She’d felt the same kind of gnawing guilt-that Granny had wasted her golden years raising her. She’d do anything to escape that feeling. Even blame someone else for it if she could.
Gray was caught in the same heartbreaking trap of guilt and blame as she was. But at least in his arms Maizie had found relief. A sense that there was a reason behind it all, a reason her parents died on that forest road-his forest. It linked them forever and always. She wanted that feeling now. She wanted him.
Maizie closed her eyes, imagined his hand tracing over her skin. She mimicked the picture in her mind with her own hand, feathering over her collarbone, down her chest to her breast. She cupped herself, her fingers finding the hard pucker of her nipples, squeezing as she slid her other hand between her thighs.
The thought of him had her pussy hot and wet. He looked older than her, but only by a few years. She knew now it was probably much more. His shoulder-length hair with its distinguished silvery gray color, his face showing the light creases of wisdom and age, made his virile body all the more surprising. He had the endurance and flexibility of a man half his age, but the control of a seasoned pro.
The memory of him standing naked before her flashed through her mind. His fit body like a soccer player, thick muscled legs, ripped stomach, defined pecs and arms like cannons. He was built for speed, endurance and power. And he’d used it all to fuck her senseless, make her scream his name.
Maizie leaned against the wall, the shower curtain molding over her back and down her legs to the tub. She dipped her fingers into her sex, curling inside, trying to find the spot Gray had found again and again.
She caught her bottom lip between her teeth, pumping her fingers in and out of her pussy, imagining the feel of his fat cock ramming deep inside her, filling her. Maizie pinched her nipple, the nub hard and sensitive between her fingers.
“Damn it, Gray. I want you.”
Maizie gasped, pushing to her tiptoes with a sudden hard thrust between her thighs. All at once her pussy was filled to the brim, her fingers still buried deep inside her. She pulled her hand away but the sensation didn’t change. Staring wide eyed at the dark red thatch of hair between her legs, her brain dizzied with the first rush of panic. But then a slow withdrawal pulled a toe-curling tingle through her body and panic gave way to desire.
Her hands fisted the shower curtain as the invisible shaft plowed deep into her again. “Oh God…” Just the way Gray’s thick cock had pounded into her last night, stretching her muscles, an exquisitely tight fit.
The thrusts jarred her body an instant before the warm moist feel of a mouth covered her breasts. One for each breast, suckling them, firm tongues flicking the hardened nipples, teeth scraping, teasing, sending electric jolts tingling along her skin.
Maizie closed her eyes, her head leaned back against the wall. She bucked her hips, riding the rhythm of Gray’s invisible cock, pressure building deep inside her, a need winding tighter and tighter.
How was it happening? It felt so real. Was it? Could he really do this? She should be scared, but it felt too good, imagining his kiss, his firm lips on hers, the quick dart of his tongue into her mouth, the gentle scrape of his teeth. She could feel it and she wanted more. She remembered how he’d gasped when she teased his nipple and wished she could do it again.
She licked her lips and felt the firm wrinkled skin of his nipple, the little hardened nub. She bit, gentle, then drew it into her mouth.
Gray gasped, the draw on his nipple pulling the muscles in his groin tight. Damn, he’d liked it when she’d done that last night and liked it even more as he imagined it now. It felt real.
He thrust his hips, keeping the rhythm, his balls slapping against his thighs, imagining himself slapping against her ass. He’d come like this, fucking thin air, feeling he was fucking Maizie. He could feel her breast in his palm, squeezing the supple flesh, loving the way it molded in his grip. He felt her lips on his, her tongue teasing his mouth even as another zing of pleasure shot from his nipple to his cock.
Her pussy muscles squeezed and pulsed around him, building the pressure in his balls, driving him fast toward the ragged edge of release. Jeezus, he wanted to fuck her inside and out, everywhere, every way. Gray thought of the firm round of her ass and instantly felt the smooth skin on his palm. He squeezed, the muscles taut, he imagined his fingers slipping around to the crease between her cheeks, sliding further to the tight hole of her anus.
Would she want this? Would she allow it? Screw it, this was his fantasy and he wanted it so bad he could actually feel his finger slip through the tight barrier.
“No…yesss…” The strange mix of pain and pleasure rolled her eyes back. Maizie panted, the overfull sensation in her ass melding with the fullness of her pussy. She rocked her hips, her anus slicked, and the rhythm suddenly came easy. Uncomfortable tightness gave way to luscious dueling strokes, muscles tingling with sensations she’d never known possible.
She reached for the curtain rod, desperate to ground herself against the fast whirl of need building inside her, shaking her thighs, flexing her pussy, slicking her ass. She would come this way. Nothing touching her, but feeling utterly consumed with sensation.
“Oh God…” Her mouth gaped, hips bucking, legs wide. The promise of release was coming hard and fast.
Gray’s jaw clenched, his hands gripped tight on the showerheads, his cock pumping hard. Hot wet pussy muscles hugged around him, pulsed against his cock teasing him closer and closer to the edge. His finger pushed deep in her ass, feeling the virgin muscles give way to him.
She was close. He could feel it.
And so was he.
But she was just a figment of his mind.
This was all in her mind, wasn’t it? The feel of him, the undeniable pleasure, the coming release.
She didn’t care.
He didn’t care. He’d lasted as long as he could, longer than he needed since he had no one to please but himself. But those invisible muscles squeezed, begged him to hold on. His phantom Maizie demanding he last just a little longer. Every instinct inside him promised her pleasure, her release, would make his all the more mind-blowing.
Muscles coaxed him faster and faster. She was coming.
Maizie’s breath seized, her body froze, allowing the invisible cock’s frantic pace to pound her over the edge. Sweet release, coming hard and fast, rolled through her muscles, the force of it trembling through her knees. Her body hummed, skin hot, heart hammering in her ears.
“Yes. Yes!” Alone in the house she screamed the words with abandon, reeling in the uninhibited orgasm. She was panting, trying to catch her breath, but her phantom Gray’s pace never faltered, his thrusts coming harder and harder.
His cock thickened. He was coming.
Not a second longer. The needy pussy milked his last thread of control and Gray let go. The hard rush of pleasure, of pent-up denial, nearly swept him away. A wash of heat stormed through his body, rocked through his mind. His hips pumped his cock, shooting his creamy white come on the back wall of the shower.
“Oh, yeah. Fuck. Me. Yeah!” He rammed his cock again and again, bucking his hips until every last drop of his load emptied out of him. Then he slumped between the showerheads-boneless, exhausted, satiated.
“Wow.” Maizie stumbled under the spray of water turned cold, doing her best to stand on rubbery legs while she washed away the sticky results of her orgasm. Her breasts were tender, her pussy sore, as though she’d actually just been fucked-and good.
It didn’t make sense, wasn’t possible, but then again neither were werewolves. Gawd, what was wrong with her? How much time had she wasted masturbating in the shower, fantasizing about Gray? All the while, poor Granny struggled through the trauma of a near-death experience alone.
Was she worried, wondering why her Little Red wasn’t at her side? How would Maizie explain about the strange allure she felt for Gray Lupo despite their macabre connection? How would she explain about the attack, the sex, the werewolves? What would she say?