Authors: R.G. Alexander
For Cookie, love is the reason. For Robin L. Rotham, who stayed up until all hours for days, brainstorming, holding my hand and giving her red pen a workout—and my other Smutketeer and bunny wife, Eden Bradley, who held my hand and reminded me to take my medicine—I love you both. For my family, all of those who’ve been neglected as I’ve lingered in my writing cave—thank you for understanding my crazy and loving me anyway.
A special thank-you to my editor, Christa, who bent over backwards and sideways for me in a way that I will never be able to repay. You believed in this series and guided me through the rocky parts of the road with grace and patience and wit. “Thank you” doesn’t seem big enough.
And to all of the readers who emailed me after
Burn With Me
to adamantly declare themselves as Team Brandon, Team Ram or Team All Three…you’re welcome. *G* Thank you for loving Aziza Jane, flaws and all. For all of your support and friendship, I’ll never be able to thank you enough.
Aziza Jane Stewart had two beasts between her legs—one was a motorcycle and the other was pissing her off. The machine’s engine roared as it came to a stop in front of the Greenwich movie theater, and she swung her leg over the seat, taking her hands from the hot, hard body that had given her so much pleasure when she’d snuck into his bed this morning.
Brandon Nash—werewolf Enforcer, undeniably passionate lover and general pain in her ass. They’d only been an item for five weeks and already they were running into problems.
“Aziza.” Brandon turned off the engine and reached for her hand. “Don’t go like this.”
She stepped back, out of his reach. “Like what, Brandon? Like I’m being stood up for the third time since we’ve been back in London? Like every time we’re alone together, we only have time to slip in a quickie and a little pillow talk before you get a call for some new, conveniently timed wolfy emergency that you won’t tell me about?” She lowered her voice, glancing around the busy square. “Like you aren’t dropping me off for a play date with Greg that you set up at the last minute so you won’t feel guilty and I won’t get into any trouble on my own?”
Brandon ran a hand through his hair and Aziza bit the inside of her cheek hard enough to hurt. It would be easier to get mad and
mad at him if she could ever get over how irresistible he was. Brandon might be the best and brightest of the “them” police, but he still looked every inch her sexy, giant stalker. Everything about him heated her blood and turned her on. The way his muscular, broad-shouldered body dwarfed the large machine he straddled, that thick sable hair shimmering like silk in the late afternoon sun, his strong, tight jaw and the dark, trimmed beard framing full, sensual lips… God, she loved to bite and lick those lips. Seeing the pleasure she gave him in those piercing, golden brown eyes never failed to make her heart race—only now it was pounding with a frustration that matched the emotion in his gaze.
What the hell did
have to be frustrated about?
“Damn it, Aziza, I did that for
. You’ve mentioned Greg’s busy work schedule and I know you wanted to visit this cinema—”
“I wanted to do it with you! I don’t give a shit about the movie. Werewolves know about romance, right? Or is it all, ‘You’re mine, fuck the flowers and get on your knees’?” she asked, mocking his raspy growl.
His eyes flashed. “That’s not fair, Aziza. I—”
“Never mind. It doesn’t even matter.” She crossed her arms. “Fuck the flowers and violins, they aren’t my style either. But you
tell me why you’re bugging out on me again. Does it have to do with the Jiniyr this time? Razia? Isn’t the Enforcers being on high alert for the last few weeks something their ‘Vessel of Fire’ should know about? Or am I still not allowed in the club until I bow to the Big Bad Wolf boss and he gives me the secret handshake?”
“No, it’s not Razia, and you don’t need to know about this.” His tone was adamant, his shoulders stiff. “
, the Alpha has told the others to wait for his approval before interacting with you, but this isn’t about you and my father. As I’ve told you many times…this is my job, Aziza. Something I’ve trained for. Why do you insist on pushing me for details? You’ll notice I haven’t asked questions about what you spent the night doing at that damn fetish club besides looking after your stray—
—or exactly what had you knocking on my door to satisfy your needs before dawn.”
“I noticed you managed to resist until about two seconds ago,” she replied archly. “You know I didn’t do anything without you because I told you I wouldn’t. You also know that if you came with me once in a while, you’d never have to wonder. And don’t pretend I was the only one enjoying myself this morning. Your broken bed tells a different story.”
He closed his eyes and took a breath before opening them again. “Aziza, I know you’re angry, but about the club—I want you to stay away from Underbridge for now. I think you should know—”
The pocket of his leather jacket started to ring and Aziza shook her head. “
think you should answer that. It’s important, right? It always is. Don’t let me stop you, Enforcer.”
Damn it all, Greg said he would be here.” Brandon pulled out his cell to check the number and swore again before shoving it back into his pocket. He looked beyond her, studying the crowd. “I don’t see him.”
She laughed derisively. “Waiting to pass me off like a hot potato? I’m a grown woman, Brandon. I don’t need anyone to take care of me and I don’t need or want you to tell me what to do unless we have whipped cream and a safe word. Greg will be here.
a man I can always count on.” She shooed him away with her hands. “You should run along before that leash gets any tighter.”
His face tightened. “You’re
woman, Aziza Jane Stewart. Mine. You have been from the moment I first saw you and nothing you say or do is going to change that. Stay with Greg. I’ll call you as soon as I can and we’ll finish this conversation. There are things I need to tell you.”
“You’re going to
me something? That would be a nice change. If you can fit me into your schedule for more than a good fuck.”
His shoulders slumped in defeat at her words, and then he started his engine and headed back into traffic.
Aziza watched him weave his motorcycle through the cars and resisted the urge to stomp her feet like a two-year-old who wasn’t getting her way. She didn’t think it was wrong of her to want to keep
date they’d planned days ago, one scheduled date that wasn’t a meal grabbed at midnight or a booty call. And she hated being kept in the dark about what the Enforcers were up to.
More than anything she hated fighting with him. Was this what being in a long-term relationship felt like? What her mother had spent her life crying over the loss of?
“Well, it fucking sucks,” she muttered.
She’d never been with someone exclusively before. Never dated like a normal person. Her overprotective family had seen to that. Hell, Greg was her longest relationship with someone who wasn’t a relative, but he may as well have been a fourth brother, so it wasn’t the same.
Maybe this was normal and she should be flattered by Brandon’s desire to keep her safe and his attempts to placate her with gifts and play dates. But to be honest, there were times when his domineering behavior made her want to break something over his head.
Unless they were in his bedroom. Or her bedroom. Or in the middle of the street bent over the hood of a stranger’s car with her jeans around her ankles and her recently acquired ability to temporarily stop time being misused in the kinkiest possible way. Brandon’s dominant nature in those cases had her screaming and quivering and begging for more.
But those cases weren’t happening with enough frequency in the last few weeks to stop her from feeling…restless. And the passion between them—off the charts as it was—wasn’t enough to ease her doubts about the kind of future they could have together.
“Hey, Aziza Jane.” Greg’s voice made her jump. “Am I late for the movie? I got turned around on the Tube.” When she faced him and he noticed her expression, he whistled. “I must be late, or Brandon must have really stepped in it this time, because my badass superfriend looks like she wants to burn the city down.”
She could. He knew it and so did Brandon. They all knew what she could do now. “You’re fine, babe. And I don’t even want to see the movie,” she added resentfully. “I hate movies. Right now all I want to do is punch that British Dudley Do-Right in his perfect nose. You could film that and I’ll eat Milk Duds and watch it until I feel better.”
Greg’s hazel eyes sparkled with suppressed laughter as he pulled her into his arms. “Oh, poor baby. Is tall, dark and hairy too dedicated to saving humanity to cuddle over popcorn and romance clichés?”
She elbowed him lightly. “Don’t defend him. He pawned me off on you so he could go on a hunt. I could be helping. I’m supposed to be helping, right? But he won’t even tell me what he keeps riding off into the sunset to do. If it’s a basic stop, frisk and bully, or something more serious. And it’s not like I can eavesdrop on his phone calls to find out. Damn werewolf language sounds like a cross between German and Pig Latin. There’s no Rosetta Stone to translate that guttural gibberish.”
a different species,” Greg reminded her. “But you’re right. Not letting you jump into random fights with the criminal elements of the supernatural world is thoughtless of him. You should break up with the unforgivable bastard. That’ll show him who’s the boss of you.”
“Thanks for pretending to be on my side.” Aziza squeezed his waist affectionately and looked up at him. “I’m a bad play date, aren’t I? I haven’t seen you in days and right away all I’m doing is whining about my love life.”
“Days?” He frowned. “We are crammed into one small flat with your aunt and—on a regular basis—your aunt’s sexy werewolf girlfriend. Not that I’ll ever complain about
particular fantasy come partially true, but other than the nights you spend at Brandon’s, we see each other every day.”
“Seeing isn’t the same as talking. You’ve been neglecting me for your laptop since we got back to London.”
“I’m sorry, Aziza. I didn’t mean to. My work is relaxing for me, I’m useful, and it keeps us in fish and chips and those rolls shaped like hedgehogs you like so much.”
She sighed. Greg was right—kind of. All told, she had enough inheritance money in the bank to keep them both in French fries and buttered rolls for life, but he loved his job with the corporate think tank, and he’d been neglecting it for over a year to be with her. His bosses were so excited to have their resident genius back that they express-mailed over everything he needed to telecommute from London within hours of his call.
sorry. I do understand. But you aren’t the only one. Penn has a backlog of books she needs to edit, and when she isn’t working, she’s taking the ‘snog’ train to Hillary town. I’m kind of going crazy doing nothing but working out, reading about angels, Jinn and shifters, and waiting around the flat for Adam’s box to get here.”
“You spend time with Brandon,” he pointed out.
“Yes, and look how that always turns out,” she muttered morosely. “We’re either fighting, making up or avoiding any conversations that might lead to the other two by staying in bed. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground lately. I feel cheated. I think the honeymoon period people are always going on about is one whopper of a lie.”
“That’s what you get for dating an Enforcer,” he said with a wry smile. “Zero blissful ignorance and very little honeymooning. Although you did turn down the opportunity to spend more time with him when you nixed the option of meeting his father and training with his team as soon as we got back.”
“I didn’t need werewolf boot camp, especially when saying yes to it meant they’d be able to make decisions about what I did with my free time. I’d rather work out at the Hangar. And, if I recall, that was a choice you and Brandon both supported at the time.”
“Circus folk versus grumpy werewolves. Hell of a choice.” Greg chuckled.
“At least they’re human.” Aziza looked around and spotted a sign for a Greek restaurant. “
the reason we came all the way to Greenwich to see a movie. One of the ‘circus folk’ suggested it might have spotty cell phone service so my date wouldn’t get a work call. Obviously it wasn’t spotty enough.” She didn’t want to think about what Brandon was doing right now. “Let’s skip the theater and get something to eat instead. I’m in desperate need of comfort hummus. Possibly some ouzo.”