Apache County Shifters, Book Two
Copyright © 2018 by TL Reeve & Michele Ryan
Caden Raferty messed up—big time. He's turned his back on his family and friends, but most of all his mate, Danielle Blueriver.
Danielle is done with love and done with Caden. After two near death experiences, she's regressed into herself, not wanting to be seen or heard. Her life is crumbling down around her and the only thing giving her the will to live are her boys, Aiden and Nicolas.
But, an old foe isn't done with either of them and once again, they are thrust together in a situation neither can get out of.
Can Danielle and Caden find their path to happiness this time, or will the sins of their past destroy their future?
Eight months ago…
“I’m not so sure about this…” Danielle nibbled on her bottom lip as Caden drew near. The anxiety she’d experienced earlier doubled. She’d done a pretty good job of hiding it, but soon, he’d figure it out and their whole evening would be ruined.
Keeley and she didn’t speak about their time while being held by Simon and Hazel. She didn’t tell anyone, not even a doctor, about the way Simon touched her. The way his fingers clawed at her flesh. The way he did it hard, until she cried out in pain. She didn’t talk about how he inspected her, while trying to force Keeley to comply with Hazel’s wishes.
Danielle shivered and took a step back from Caden. As much as she wanted him, she didn’t think her body would comply with her desires. A part of her wished Aiden would interrupt them again. The little boy had saved her butt twice yesterday, and she’d fed him extra for his efforts. She shouldn’t have felt the wave of relief when she sat down in Aiden’s room to feed him either. But, she did.
“What’s wrong, pumpkin?” Caden’s soft voice made it almost impossible to resist him.
“It’s nothing.” She glanced away. “Really.”
“Oh, it’s something,” he said, closing the distance between them. “I think you don’t want to tell me.”
“What? No, not at all.” She sighed. “It’s nothing. Nerves or something.”
He wrapped his arm around her, tucking her close to his body. The clean scent of pine, soap, and a hint of wilderness enveloped her. “Baby, have you ever done this before?” He tipped her chin up so he could gaze down at her with his expressive blue eyes. They could see all the way down to her soul, she knew it.
He’d see the taint. The used bits of her. The dirty parts. The marks. Because she had to have liked it—what Simon did. She got off on it. Wanted more of Simon’s torture. Isn’t that what Simon told her sister? What he whispered in her ear while wrapping her palm around his length forcing her to stroke him to completion?
Danielle whimpered and pulled back. Tonight, it would seem Aiden wouldn’t be coming to her rescue. “I…guess.”
Caden stood there for a moment. His eyes narrowed as he crossed his arms, flexing his bicep muscles. “Dani, I smell something is off. What is it?”
She couldn’t tell him. If she did, he wouldn’t want her. She was used and abused. Soiled by a vile, angry man who never gave a shit about her or her sister. If Caden found out the truth, he’d throw her away like Simon promised her every man who tried to touch her would do.
“Can we go slow?” Maybe if she held it all in, buried the torment and abuse. Tried to experience some kind of happiness for once—a bit of joy—she could finally live. She liked Caden and he was, after all, throwing around words like mate, and his and marking her. Perhaps if he never found out the truth, they could be what he wanted and one day all the fears and bad memories would go away.
“Yes,” Caden answered. “Anything for you, pumpkin. You’re in control here.”
A niggle of relief wormed through her and the knots in her stomach eased. “Thank you.”
“You never have to thank me,” he murmured, closing the distance between them. “What would you like to try first?”
Danielle allowed her gaze to travel the length of him before settling on his face. Kalkin and Caden claimed they were identical, but she saw the subtle differences. When Caden grinned, he had a slight dimple in his left cheek. Kalkin’s was in his right. Where Kal had grey in his beard, Caden’s had less. “Can I see you without your shirt, maybe?” She grimaced as the words came out. She sounded so inexperienced. So…immature.
Caden grinned, and there it was, that dimple. A flash of gold filled his eyes before they went back to their crystal blue. A glimpse of his wolf, she realized, and the thrill of it chased away the cold.
“Anything for you.” He yanked the button-down shirt from his pants, then began the task of releasing each button from its mooring. When he finished, he crooked his finger at her. “C’mer.”
She stood in front of him before it even registered she’d moved. Danielle licked her bottom lip. “Yes?”
“Take it off for me.” He stood perfectly still as she stared at him.
Undress him?Did she have the nerve to? A hint of his tattoos peeked out from between the lapels of his shirt. The same Celtic designs Kalkin had, Caden did as well only, again, with subtle differences. “Sure. Can do.”
She slid her hands over his shoulders and gave the material a push with her fingertips. The warmth of his skin seeped into her, killing some of the coldness deep within her soul. She could stand there forever, taking the bit of gentleness he offered. A soft growl passed his lips, as he wrapped his arm around her once more. This time when he tucked her into his body, she could feel the distinct hard outline of his erection.
I will not think of Simon. I will not think of Simon. Caden is nothing like him. Caden would never hurt me or use me.She repeated the chant several times, allowing her rapidly beating heart to slow. Danielle pressed her cheek to his chest, and the steady beat of his heart added to her self-calming.
“Now what?” He ran his thumb up and down the small of her back, adding to her ability to relax with him.
“Can we make out?”Oh God, so corny. But, she’d never allowed herself the smallest pleasures, afraid of what a guy might think if she happened to siphon off some of his energy, which she had a tendency to do when put into an excitable situation.
He walked her over to the bed. “Of course. But, can you do one thing for me?”
She nodded, unable to meet his gaze.
“Look at me, Danielle.”
It took all of her will power to lift her eyes to meet his.
“You’re beautiful, pumpkin. A fucking work of art. Don’t keep me out.”
She sucked in a breath. She could never let him in. The last time she tried the same, Simon almost killed her. “Caden…I…”
“Shh, together. Always together.” He reached for the hem of her shirt. “Ready?”
“You should know I…uh…”
“It’s okay.” He removed her shirt, and she closed her eyes. No. It would never be okay. She knew he’d see the scars. How many times Simon had put cigars out on her flesh. How many times he cut her, just to see if she’d heal herself in front of him. Danielle never did. She wouldn’t give him the benefit of seeing her true nature.
“You’re perfect, Danielle.” He brushed his knuckle over one of the particularly deep scars near her lower abdomen. “We all have scars.”
Not like hers. “You don’t have to be kind. They’re ugly.” She sniffed, trying desperately not to cry.
“They tell me a story of survival,” he murmured, cupping her cheek.
She supposed the clichéd line of ‘time stood still’ encompassed how it felt to be standing there as Caden lowered his mouth to hers. The first kiss sizzled across her lips. The second pulled a moan from her. By the third, they were on the bed, both half naked, grinding against each other.
Her body had a mind of its own as she fumbled with his belt and he pulled down the zipper of her jeans. She drew on part of his strength to help push away the negative thoughts. Caden grunted, then grinned. He didn’t withdrawal from her, instead, allowed her to take what she needed, and she’d been grateful.
He ripped away her bra, exposing her sensitive flesh to the cool air of the room. Her nipples hardened to the point of pain, and as if Caden understood exactly what she needed, his mouth covered the hard point and sucked. She arched to him and cried out. The intense pleasure and pain ripped through her, blowing past all of her cares and worries.
Danielle threaded her fingers through his hair, holding him in place while he continued to yank off her pants. When he sat back, letting the abused nipple rest, she whimpered, needing more of his attention. A deep, dark chuckle emanated from him, as he shucked his pants, and the long, thick stalk of his erection curled up toward his belly. Her mouth watered, while she also worried whether or not she’d be ready for anything that might happen next.
“You’re still in control, Dani. Trust me?”
“I do,” she said.
“Good.” He covered her once more. This time, he latched onto the neglected peak and began to suck on it, adding pressure. He growled, rubbing against her. Though he’d been completely naked, he allowed her to keep her panties on. A piece of control. She held onto that bit of herself, using it as strength to enjoy these moments with him.
“Caden,” she moaned, wrapping her legs around him.
“I’m right here,” he answered. “You’re beautiful. So fucking perfect.” He kissed her again, while continuing to rock with her. The friction of his cock rubbing her panties over her clit drove her insane.
She shuddered in his arms. An amazing sensation took root deep within her, spreading its fingers outward, as the feeling intensified. She couldn’t explain it, other than adrenaline mixed with happiness, and she wanted more. She clung to it. Grasped for it.
“Let go, Dani,” Caden whispered in her ear as he nuzzled her neck. “You need to come. God, it feels so good.” He moaned with a shiver. “Will it always be like this for us?”
She swallowed hard. “I don’t…I don’t know. I’ve never…”
He took her hand in his and lowered it to his dick. “Touch me, pumpkin. I fucking hurt for you.”
She sensed his desperation. Tasted it on the air, and understood for the first time, nothing Simon had done to her had been pleasurable. This, with Caden, was stratospheric. Blew her mind with bliss and yet, she knew there was more to this than just fooling around. Danielle didn’t care though. She wrapped her hand around the thickest part of his erection and stroked.
Caden shouted. His hips pumped into her fist, as he continued to groan. “Shit. I didn’t think.” He chuckled. “You’re going to make it hard to control myself when we finally get there.”
He placed a kiss on the tip of her nose, before ripping away her panties. He inhaled deeply and grunted. “You smell like the sweetest treat. Ready for more?”
“Y-yes.” She squeezed him, when his fingers caressed the top of her sex. “Oh…”
“You can tell me to stop, whenever you become uncomfortable,” he reminded her.
“I know,” she answered. “I don’t want you to yet.”
Caden traced the shape of her sex, without touching her where she ached for him. Over and over he followed the outline, then on the third pass, he ran his middle finger along her slit. She’d been surprised by how wet she’d been. However, when he opened her and pressed down on her clit, she thought she’d come out of her skin.
Danielle cried out, bucking against his hand as he continued to swirl his finger around and around the tight bundle of nerves. Everything inside of her exploded and she shattered. It reminded her of snow, the quiet rightness of the situation washed over her. She blinked several times before being able to stare up at him.
“Fucking beautiful.” He tightened her hand, lowering it slightly. “Right there. Keep stroking me, Danielle, and don’t stop.”
Waves of his excitement washed over her, and she sucked it up, amplifying it back to him. She did as he instructed, only adding her thumb to the mix, rubbing the underside of his tip. He hissed out a curse. His features tensed. A sheen of sweat covered his body as he leaned over her. Caden planted his fist into the bed next to her shoulder, and she watched in fascination as he trembled.
“Tell me you want it, pumpkin, or else I’ll finish in my hand,” he gritted out.
She didn’t completely understand, but the more she lay there stroking him, he seemingly grew in her hand. The words tumbled out of her. “Yes, please.”
“Thank fuck.” He lowered himself to her. He placed his hand over hers again and guided his dick to her entrance.
“Shh, remember I’m right here,” he murmured. His grip tightened. “Nothing more than you can take, right?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“It’s about to get intense,” he said. He pushed forward slightly then a low groan passed his lips.
He throbbed in her hand, and the warmth of his release filled her. She gasped, as something inside of her shifted. A part of her soul she thought died when she’d been held against her will, awoke. Yet it was more than that. It was him too. She glanced down at their hands, where a knot had formed…like his wolf counterpart.
“Told you.” He gave her a lopsided grin as he continued to pump the still hard flesh. “Talk to me, Dani…”
What did she say? “I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Did you like it?”
Well, duh. “Yes…you surprised me is all. I didn’t think. I mean I thought, but it’s uh…”
The moment came to an unceremonious end when a squawk of hunger came through the baby monitor on the dresser across from them. Caden pressed his forehead to hers then eased back, taking all of his warmth with him. Before she could say anything, the squawk became a demanding wail of attention needed at the moment.
Danielle slid from the bed and grabbed her robe off the chair she kept by her closet. She didn’t know what else to say, other than it was one of the best, most terrifying moments of her life and she didn’t think saying thank you would be the right thing to do. So, she left it, instead, taking the coward’s way out once more.