The Awakening Page 23

Brandt caught her hips as she rose up on her knees and dragged her back against him, his body bending dominantly over hers as he took her from behind, plunging deep to follow the ice-cold trail through her hot, tight sheath.

“You can’t possibly,” Maggie objected, grinding her buttocks hard against him as flames spread through her and hunger shot up fast and strong.

“Did you know that a male leopard was once observed mating with his female over a hundred times in a two-day period? I can live with that; can you?”

At that moment, Maggie thought she could.

Chapter 7

Brandt answered the knock on the door, waved Drake inside. “It’s late,” he greeted, knowing there was trouble. Drake would never have interrupted them unless it was an emergency. He and Maggie had had only one night and one day alone together, not nearly enough time for him to feel secure in Maggie’s commitment.

“I know.” Drake glanced at Maggie. “I’m sorry, Maggie, really. I wouldn’t have come if we didn’t need Brandt.”

“Poachers?” Brandt guessed.

“We’ve been checking the area you were so worried about and sure enough, one of the bears is missing. We spotted another trap.” Drake paced across the gleaming floor. “I know this is a bad time, Brandt, but there’s too much activity. We think they’ll come tonight to try for more. We have a breeding pair we can’t afford to lose.”

Brandt shook his head. “Maggie is too close to the Han Vol Dan. I won’t leave her alone. You know how frightening it can be, Drake.”

“It could happen anytime,” Drake protested, shifting his gaze away from Maggie. “You know we’ll need you tonight if we’re right. They’ll be in force, Brandt. And they’re too close to our people. If we’re discovered, if one person was careless and left a trail… Those men read signs almost as well as we do.” He glanced at Maggie uneasily. “And James’s scent was all over the poachers’ camp. He’s nowhere to be found.”

“Of course he’ll go.” Maggie put a hand on Brandt’s forearm, rubbed her palm gently over his tense muscles. “Just go and get it over with. I’ll be fine.”

Brandt shook his head, his sculpted lips frowning, his golden eyes moody. “It isn’t safe, Maggie.”

“You have to go,” Maggie said quickly sensing Brandt’s hesitancy. “You can’t worry about me. I’m a grown woman; I can handle things here.” She said it with complete confidence. Maggie had been handling the details of her life a long while before Brandt Talbot had come into it.

“Maggie, you’re very close to the change. I feel it. I need to be with you when you go through it for the first time,” Brandt protested, clearly torn at having to choose between his duty and his mate. He raked a hand through his dark hair, his gaze dwelling on her serene face.

Maggie produced a self-assured smile. “Go. I’ll be right here when you get back.” She slipped her arms around his neck and leaned into his hard frame. “I’m not afraid, Brandt. This is important, what you do is important.”

Brandt hesitated, then locked her to him, his mouth finding hers in a hard, apologetic kiss. “You’re my everything, Maggie,” he whispered fiercely, “you remember that. My everything. For you it’s all happened too fast and you’re unsure. For me, I’ve known for all of my life that you were my other half. You hold my heart and my soul. Don’t destroy me. I’m trusting you not to destroy me.”

Maggie feathered a series of teasing kisses along his shadowed jaw. “You need to have a little more faith. Go now.” She was glowing at his words and she knew it. Secretly she had been afraid of falling for his dark good looks and the highly charged chemistry between them, his poet’s heart and his hunter’s eyes. Afraid after hot sex and coming together with such fire, he would simply walk away like the male leopards they so closely resembled at times.

Brandt kissed her again. Hard. Possessively. Thoroughly. His molten eyes burned over her. “You be here when I get back. Don’t you leave this house and go exploring or trying to save some creature you’ve heard bleating. I mean it, Maggie. Poachers are dangerous. I don’t want you anywhere near them. And while I’m gone, don’t open the door to anyone, even if you know he’s one of ours.”

She walked with him to the door, her fingers tangling with his. “I have no intention of allowing anything to happen to me, Brandt.”

He turned to follow Drake into the night, hesitated, swore softly, and framed her face with both hands. “Maggie, be here. I can’t tell you what it’s been like searching the world for you, feeling so alone. Afraid for you, alone, without the knowledge of your people to protect you. Don’t leave me.”

Her vivid green eyes searched his golden ones. “What is it? Tell me.”

He shook his head. “I have a feeling, a premonition if you want to call it that.”

She went up on her toes to press a single, lingering kiss to his frown. “Then you be extra careful, Brandt. I’ll be sitting safe in the house while you’re off chasing poachers. Maybe I should be worried about you.”

“Brandt.” There was urgency in Drake’s voice and this time Brandt responded, hurrying down the steps after his friend.

Maggie watched from the verandah until they were out of sight; and then she returned to the house, closing and locking the front door. Deliberately she flicked off every light so that there was no telltale glow to lead anyone to the house. Her night vision was extremely acute, much more so than ever before. She wondered at the changes taking place in her body. It seemed as if every hour she discovered something new, her senses enhanced a hundredfold.

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