Authors: Elizabeth Kelly
“Why are you here?” She asked as Nicky looked from her to Kaden.
“You’re late.” Nicholas replied.
“Sorry. Evan was teasing Leta and I needed to intervene.”
“Late for what?” Kaden asked curiously.
“Jeffrey is waiting for you. We thought you had forgotten.” Nicky scowled at her.
“I said I was sorry Nicky, and I’ll apologize to Jeffrey.” Sophia retorted.
She was walking towards the door when Kaden caught her by the wrist. “What are you doing with Jeffrey?”
She wondered briefly if it was jealousy she was hearing in his voice.
“Take your hand off my sister.” Nicky growled.
Kaden’s hand tightened around her wrist. “And if I don’t?”
Nicholas growled again, his eyes going from blue to yellow, and Kaden stiffened behind her. “What are you going to do, Lycan? Hmm? Do you believe that you can – “
“Stop it!” Sophia hissed at him. She turned to her brother. “Calm down, Nicky.”
He ignored her and she gave James a pleading look. He took Nicky’s arm. “She can take care of herself, Nicky. You know that.”
Deciding the best course of action was to distract the two of them, Sophia turned to Kaden. “We’ve been keeping watch for Draken. It’s my turn.”
He frowned. “How long have you been keeping watch?”
“Since we returned. We’ve been keeping guard in the trees just beyond our home at all times.”
“Why wasn’t I told? I want to be involved in this.” Kaden snapped.
“You’re useless at keeping watch.” Nicholas replied. “Unless you have suddenly developed the ability to smell the Lycans like we can?”
Kaden glared at him and Nicky laughed. “I didn’t think so. C’mon Sophia. Jeffrey is waiting.”
“Just wait.” James interrupted. “Kaden would be helpful. We guard in pairs. As long as he’s with a Lycan he can take his turn on watch.”
“Really? And which Lycan would we put him with? He avoids all of us like we have the sickness.” Nicholas said through gritted teeth.
“I’ll go on watch with whoever you put me with.” Kaden said immediately.
James clapped Nicholas on the back. “See? Kaden is willing to help and so we’ll let him. It’ll take the strain off the rest of us to have an extra person.”
Nicholas snorted and Sophia tugged at Kaden’s hand until he released her.
“I can take my turn right now.” Kaden said suddenly. “I could – I mean I don’t mind taking a shift if Jeffrey has something else to do.”
“Oh, um – “ Sophia could feel herself starting to blush as James stared at them silently.
“He’s already there, waiting for her.” Nicholas said impatiently. “Don’t worry, human. You’ll get your turn.”
He took Sophia’s hand and led her from the barn as James stared at Kaden. “Thank you for staying for the wedding. It means a lot to Bree.” He said gruffly.
“Aye.” Kaden replied.
They stood in uncomfortable silence for a few moments until James cleared his throat. “I was just about to join Bree in the house for a bite to eat. Would you uh – care to join us?”
Kaden nodded. He had promised his sister he would make an attempt to get to know the Lycans, and her soon-to-be-husband was probably the best one to start with.
* * *
“Your brother likes my sister.”
Bree, sitting on the bed and brushing her long hair, paused and stared at James. “What? How do you know?”
“I can smell it on him.” James pulled his boots off with a soft grunt. “And Nicholas and I walked into the barn this afternoon to see him with his hands on her ass.”
Bree gaped at him. “No! Does Sophia like him?”
James shrugged. “I don’t know if she
him but she’s attracted to him.” He made a face. “I can smell that on her.”
“It must be so weird to smell your sister’s attraction to someone.” Bree replied thoughtfully.
“More gross than weird. Although honestly, most of the time we can just block it out.” James said. He shrugged out of his shirt, dropping it to the floor, before sitting behind Bree on the bed.
“Poor Sophia. I couldn’t imagine growing up with brothers who could smell when I liked someone.”
“You get used to it.”
He kissed the back of her shoulder. “Anyway, it’s why Nicky’s having such a hard time warming up to your brother. He’s always been protective of Sophia.”
“Well I hope those crazy kids get together.” Bree smiled at him as he took the brush from her hand. He ran it through her soft hair as she clasped her arms around her knees and stared into the fire.
“They would make a cute couple don’t you think?” She said softly. He grunted in reply and she craned her neck to look at him.
“And their children would be adorable.” She wiggled her eyebrows at him, and he laughed and kissed her nose.
“You just want them to get together so that Kaden will stay.”
She sighed. “A little, I suppose. But mostly, I just want him to be happy.”
“And you think Sophia would make him happy?”
She nodded immediately. “I do. Kaden needs a woman who’s strong and can handle his occasional bad behaviour. Sophia wouldn’t put up with his bullshit.”
He blinked. “Did you just say bullshit?”
She giggled and covered her mouth. “It seemed appropriate for the situation.”
He kissed her throat. “And here I thought I was marrying a lady.”
She smacked him lightly on the arm. “My bad language doesn’t seem to bother you when we’re in bed.”
He nipped her neck. “I do like it when you beg me to fuck you.”
She blushed and he slipped his hand inside of her nightshirt to cup one small breast. He kneaded it softly, rubbing his thumb over her nipple, as she stared thoughtfully into the fire.
“I think we should have Sophia come with us when we go into town to look for wedding stuff. Kaden will be going with us to pick up some clothes, and it would be a good opportunity for them to get to know each other.”
He pinched her nipple lightly. “Can we talk about this later, little one? I’m trying to make love to you.”
“Don’t you mean fuck me?” She whispered before pressing her ass against him.
He grinned. “Aye, that’s exactly what I mean.”
“Any trouble in the night?” Sophia asked.
Martine shook her head no and yawned as Leo stretched tiredly.
“It was quiet all night.” Martine answered. “Gods, it’s cold out.” She shivered prettily.
“Thank you for helping us, Martine.” Sophia suddenly said. “I know that you have a crush on my brother and – “
Martine held up her hand and gave her a dry look. “It was only a crush, Sophia. I’m happy for James, truly. Although I still don’t understand what he sees in humans. Is it because he’s half-human himself, do you think?”
Sophia shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She didn’t believe it had anything to do with that. She was a full Lycan and she wanted a human desperately. And he wanted her. He could deny it, but she could smell it on him every time they were close to each other. It made it harder for her to control her own need for him.
She scoffed to herself. Kaden may want her, but he neither liked her nor trusted her. She would be smart to remember that. Sleeping together might lessen their need, but she wasn’t going to degrade herself by sleeping with someone who hated her. Regardless of how long it had been since she had mated, or how much she wanted the human.
Leo stretched again, groaning as he placed his hand in the small of his back, before smiling at her. “Who are you on watch with this morning, Sophia?”
“Ian. He’s not here yet?” Sophia asked.
“No.” Leo looked in the direction of the house, obviously anxious to get to its warmth, and Sophia smiled at him.
“You and Martine go on. I’m sure Ian will be here soon.”
“Nope.” Martine shook her head. “We’ll wait until he arrives. You know your father’s rules as well as I do, Sophia. No one is out here alone.”
Sophia opened her mouth to protest and then stiffened. She inhaled deeply, and Martine watched as an odd combination of anxiety and anticipation crossed her face.
Kaden appeared behind her. “Good morning.”
“Hello.” Martine gave him a hesitant smile. “How are you today?”
“Fine, thanks.” He nodded to her and Leo as he stopped next to Sophia.
“Why are you here?” Sophia asked rudely.
“I’m on watch with you this morning.”
“It’s supposed to be Ian. Where is he?”
Before he could reply, Leo and Martine said their goodbyes and disappeared in the direction of the house.
“Where is he?” She repeated herself.
“He wasn’t feeling well this morning.”
“Not feeling well? What’s wrong with him?” Sophia frowned. “Did he go to see mama?”
“He said it was just a headache. He didn’t sleep well and wanted to rest a while longer. I’m sure he’ll be fine by this afternoon.” Kaden didn’t share his sneaking suspicion that Ian had been faking his headache. Ever since the old man had walked in on them in the barn, he had been making all sorts of less-than-subtle hints to Kaden about how wonderful Sophia was. It seemed that he had gone from gentle hints to outright matchmaking.
They stood in awkward silence for a moment. Kaden glanced around the woods. “So, what do we do?”
Sophia shrugged. “We stand here and keep watch.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“If you don’t want to do it, just say so. We’ve been doing it for weeks without you.”
He scowled at her. “Only because you didn’t tell me.”
She didn’t reply and he gave her a hard look. “What’s your problem with me today, Lycan?”
“I don’t have a problem with you.” She snapped.
“Could have fooled me.” He muttered.
She rolled her eyes. “Are all humans this sensitive or just you?”
“Are all Lycans this rude or just you?” He replied.
Sophia sighed harshly and stared into the trees. She
being rude, but at least it had stopped the smell of need coming from Kaden. She didn’t think she could stand out here for an entire four hours, smelling how much he wanted her, without trying to have sex with him.
* * *
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Sophia jerked and looked at the ground. It had been two hours, and she hadn’t realized she was staring at Kaden until he had looked over at her with barely-concealed irritation.
“I wasn’t looking at you.” She scowled at the ground.
“You’ve been staring at me for ten minutes. Why?”
“Fine!” She glared at him. “I was just thinking that for siblings, you and Bree are oddly different looking.”
“Nicholas doesn’t look anything like you or your other siblings.” He countered.
“Nicky is my half-brother.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “He’s not Tristan’s son?”
She shook her head. “No, he is not.”
“Does he know?”
“Of course. Papa and mama sat him down when he was ten and told him.”
He gave her a questioning look and she scuffed at the frozen ground with her boot for a moment. “When I was two, my mother left my father and went to the city. She had grown up there, and I guess she hated living in the country. Papa went after us and spent weeks searching, but the city is large and my mother had hidden us well. I did not see my father again until I was seven years old.”
“Why did the leeches take your mother?”
She gave him an odd look. “You remember me telling you that?”
She stared into the trees. “I – I don’t really know. Papa said that she made friends with the wrong people, and that eventually she was given to the leeches as payment for something those people did.”
He frowned. “That’s all you know? Tristan hasn’t told you more?”
“I don’t think he knows more. My mother had a cousin in the city and after she died, the cousin sent word to Tristan. He immediately left for the city, and took both Nicholas and I home with him.”
“Where was Nicholas’ father?”
“I have no idea. My mother had many,” she paused, “friends. I don’t even know which of them might have been Nicky’s father. If he was one of them, he certainly didn’t stick around after the leeches killed my mother.”
“I’m surprised that Tristan took in a child who was not his.” Kaden said.
She smiled a little. “I like to believe that he took Nicky because of me. That he knew how much I loved him. But the truth is - Nicky was a very sick baby. I think papa believed that he wouldn’t last much longer anyway.”
“What was wrong with him?”
“I don’t know. Papa was right though. He would have died if it had not been for Avery.”
“Did she heal him?”
“Aye. On our way home, papa stopped at a slave house to purchase some house staff and a nanny for Nicky and I. Avery convinced him to take her sister Maya as our nanny.”
“How did Avery end up with you?”
“I wanted her. I was fascinated by her hair, and I begged papa to buy her as well.” She smiled to herself. She could still remember the way Avery’s hair had glowed in the light from the window. She studied her index finger for a moment.
“I had cut my finger and it wasn’t healing. Avery healed it right there in the slave house, just by kissing the wound. That, and the combination of her red hair, made me determined to take her with us.”
“So your father bought himself a slave and ended up with a wife?” Kaden said quietly. She frowned at the disgust in his voice.
“My father may have had slaves at one time but he treated them all very well. I know it doesn’t make it right, but he didn’t realize how wrong it was to keep slaves.”
“Why did he stop then?”
She smiled. “Avery feels very passionate about all people having the same rights and freedom. She convinced papa that he shouldn’t have slaves.”
“Do you ever miss your real mother?” He asked quietly.
She shook her head immediately. “No. I barely remember her.”
She was lying. She remembered her mother very well. Her mother’s wild mood swings, her childish outbursts and her habit of slapping first and asking questions later, had made her impossible to forget.