This title is no longer available as of June 2018.
©2006 Jet Mykles, all rights reserved
“Do you think that Roland was the only one of his kind?” The mild anger faded from Michael’s voice, and he dropped back further on the mattress, leaning on his elbows. The vivid green of the top sheet, the only covering on the bed, framed him beautifully. The position made his broad chest look even bigger. It also presented his nice fat cock to advantage. I knew it’d be warm, fragrant, and delicious if I let myself go to him to touch it.
I avoided looking at him.
“Think again, sweetheart. There are plenty of witches out there who’ll want you once they find out about you.”
“No one knows about me!”
“No? How did Roland find out?”
“I don’t know.”
“And that is cause enough for concern. He found you and had enough skill to tame you.”
Forgetting that I didn’t want to look at him, I rounded, hands on hips. “He didn’t tame –!”
He raised his voice, barreling over my protest. “He was damn near close! If you hadn’t called Rudy and me, even with your instinctive power, you’d be toast. Even with us, it was a close thing, and you know it. If I had been like most shifters and not known the first thing about magic, you’d be Roland’s right now.”
Just because it was true didn’t make it any easier for me to swallow. I avoided the matter of his unusual knowledge of magic. That was a topic for another time. I went back to pacing.
“Gwen can’t handle the store by herself anymore,” I grumbled. “There are bills to pay, and she’s hopeless at it.”
“You’ve mentioned that about a dozen times.”
“But you don’t seem to be understanding what I’m saying.”
“I understand just fine,” he snapped.
“Can you do any of it remotely?” Rudy suggested helpfully.
I turned and stopped, eyeing him from across the room. “No. Not all of it. I need the actual pieces of paper.”
He shrugged. “Maybe she can bring them to you after work tomorrow?”
“Good idea. What’s more important?” Michael asked. “The shop or your life?”
I glared at Michael, doing, I think, a good imitation of his snarl. “Damn it!” Fully aware I was being petulant, I stormed in to the bathroom and shut the door. I didn’t bother running water. They knew I was giving myself time to think. Or, if they didn’t, it didn’t matter.
I leaned on the sink, staring at myself. Big brown eyes glared back at me. I tried to see what attracted them. It couldn’t just be physical. I don’t think that I’m bad-looking, but I’m no raving beauty. Thanks to a very pale-skinned mother and a very dark-skinned father, I have skin that’s a rather nice shade of cocoa. My hair is long, straight, and on a good day, glossy almost-black. On a less-than-good day, a dull dark brown. My face is round, my eyes wide-spaced, and I think that my nose is a tad too broad and flat, although that’s not really overstated.
Nope, it wasn’t just physical. There was something about me. Something in my power that attracted them. Whether they were actually conscious of it, who knew? They probably weren’t. But whatever it was, they were willing to protect me. Willing to put their lives on the line. They’d already done so, once. They’d already shown a willingness to share the weight of unnatural power on my shoulders. They were the first in my life to offer such support. It felt good. It felt warm. It felt scary as hell.
My life was trickling away, becoming something I’d left New York to avoid. I came from one of the top families of witches; my mother was the grand dame of Northeast United States. I’d run from the dubious prestige of being the sixth daughter of a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, etcetera, back to the 1200s. I craved a life of anonymity. I didn’t want to be a mundane, but I’d love a life where magic was an aid rather than a ruling principle. Keeping Michael and Rudy didn’t ensure that I’d live that kind of life.
I finally turned on the water and used it to wash the tears from my face and brush my teeth. Grimly, I ran a brush through my hair, then headed out.
They sat on the bed, talking quietly. Michael was propped up on pillows piled against the headboard, legs spread before him. Rudy sat cross-legged in the middle of the mattress, between Michael’s feet. As I entered, he immediately rolled onto his knees, facing me. Disheveled, golden-brown hair covered one of his clear blue, concerned eyes. The fact that he wasn’t aroused meant that they really had been talking and not just amusing themselves while they waited. Michael turned, directing a sullen stare at me from beneath silky black bangs.
I stared at them. Two gorgeous men with whom I’d slept repeatedly in the last few days. With whom I now shared frighteningly strong metaphysical bonds. If I skewed my vision just a bit, I’d be able to see the orange glow of the leashes I’d put on them, circling their necks and the bases of their cocks. Those leashes were magically bound to me, rooted deep in my heart and in my womb. Despite the visual feast, despite the fact that the magic made them mine, my unenviable stubborn streak rose with a vengeance. I turned and stalked toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Michael’s mild voice reached my ears.
“I’m not sleeping in here tonight.”
I heard the bed creak as Rudy bounded off it. “What?”
I turned at the door, my hand out, palm facing him.
He stopped, a look of total confusion twisting his adorable face. He spread his hands. “Meg, come on …”
“No.” I looked at Michael, knowing if I gazed too long into Rudy’s pleading eyes, I’d give.
Michael remained where he was, arms crossed, watching us. He cocked his head, his lips a line of disgust. “Stop being childish.”
Which just pissed me off more. “I’m not being childish!” Oh, yeah, that proved my point.
He rolled his eyes and turned, scooting to the edge of the bed.
“Stay where you are.”
He stood. “No.”
All six-foot-five of brawny, muscular maleness sauntered toward me. My skin tingled, anticipating his touch. I knew it so well now, craved it almost. Those green eyes fastened on me, and damned if my belly didn’t flip. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his cock start to twitch to life. The tingle between my legs told me that my pussy noticed.
I pointed at him, ignoring my body’s response. Just because it was there didn’t mean I had to give in. “I mean it, Michael. I’m not sleeping with you two tonight.”
“Why not?” Goddess, that purr!
I backed a step into the hallway.
An uncertain look in his eye, Rudy glanced back as Michael advanced. “Mike …”
Michael paid him no heed, his attention on me. He reached for my arm as he passed Rudy’s shoulder. “Come here, Meg. We’ll make you forget all about work.”
It was childish and petty, but I did it anyway. I reached inside and yanked at the leash around his neck.
His eyes went big as he staggered backwards. His legs actually gave out, and he toppled to the carpet, arms out to catch himself. It was amazingly ungraceful, especially for him. Evidently, I’d tugged a little harder than intended. I had less control over my magic when I was pissed.
I backed to the far wall of the hallway, but Rudy dashed out the door and caught my arm. “Meg, wait.”
I dropped my gaze and concentrated on the black tribal tattoo that banded his right bicep, rather than look into those beautiful blue eyes. Even if they were in shadow, I knew them too well now, and the hurt in them would be my undoing. “Let go.” I jerked my head toward the guest bedroom. “I’m sleeping in there tonight.”
“But, Meg — Hey!” Rudy stumbled back, hand falling from my arm.
I looked up.
Michael was on his feet and stood behind Rudy, hands on his shoulders. The tension in Michael’s fingers showed me he was holding Rudy back.
Rudy frowned over his shoulder, up at Michael.
Michael stared at me, nostrils flaring only slightly. His face was blank as he slid one hand down Rudy’s shoulder, spanning his palm and fingers over one of Rudy’s pecs. “Stay.” It wasn’t exactly a command, more of a heavy request.
I shook my head. Even though my body creamed in a natural reaction to all the delicious manflesh available to me, my mind wouldn’t let me enjoy it. It was the principle of the thing. I wouldn’t allow him to command me.
Rudy reached out a hand. “Meg …”
I tore my gaze from him and entered the guest room. Neither of them followed me.