Xander Barnes lifted his wineglass to his lips and looked through the restaurant’s windows to the bistro patio across the street. There, Max Westin was hand-feeding tempting morsels to his beautiful Familiar. “We’ll have to vanquish her,” he thought aloud. “She’s making him too strong. We’ll never take him out while he has her.”
“Hmm.” Sirius Powell cut into his steak. “Before I saw them together, I would’ve agreed. But I’ve changed my mind. See the way he looks at her? He loves her. It would be a waste to excise such a weakness with a single strike.”
Xander crossed his arms. A soft afternoon breeze rifled through his copper hair like a lover’s fingers. “We’ll have to use her against him, then. ”
“Yes. I think so.”
“She has Darius Whitacre’s power.”
Sirius smiled and set down his utensils. The Familiar was unique, thanks to her previous warlock who’d bequeathed her his power. That magic made her strong, which made Max Westin stronger, but it also created a novel vulnerability. “Whitacre’s power makes her susceptible to black magic. We just need to give her the incentive to use it.”
“Westin is already dabbling in it to lure us out. If she hasn’t had a taste of it yet, she will soon enough.”
“Which will give her a taste for more,” Sirius finished. “Darius’s magic isn’t her only weakness. Westin is, too. Considering how territorial Familiars are, she won’t want to be reminded about how many witches Westin has enjoyed.”
Xander laughed softly. “You want to make a Familiar jealous? You are evil.”
Sirius toyed with the long blond braid hanging over his shoulder. “And we’ll get a great show. Who should we tap to get things rolling?”
“Jezebel Patridge,” Xander said without hesitation. “She and Westin were hot and heavy for a while. When he was hunting me, I considered using her as leverage, but it didn’t pan out.”
“How do you propose getting her involved?”
Grinning, Xander leaned back in his chair and sipped his wine. “With a note from Westin himself. Easy enough to counterfeit.”
Sirius lifted his own glass in toast. “This should be fun.”
Something was wrong.
Victoria leaned into the threshold of the kitchen and watched as Max prepared dinner. From the first night he’d walked into her life with the High Council’s order to either tame her or kill her, he’d been taking care of her. She’d never been so pampered and spoiled in her long life. In return Max expected nothing but her love, trust, and submission, all of which she gave him, despite her alpha female disposition.
Her adoring gaze took in every mouthwatering inch of him, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. His inky-black hair hung to his shoulders in a thick luxurious mane, framing a face so savagely masculine it made her shiver just to look at him. His eyes were the gray of a summer storm and his lips were simply divine, so firm and beautifully sculpted.
His powerful arms and back flexed as he worked at the stove, his body unadorned except for a loose pair of silk pajama pants. His bare feet were a wicked enticement for her feline sensibilities, luring her to shift forms and twine around his ankles. His skin was the color of the richest caramel, the texture firm and satin soft. His taut ass made her mouth water, and when he turned toward the sink, she eyed the unmistakable sway of his heavy cock, her pu**y clenching hungrily for the feel of him thrusting inside her.
The two days she’d spent without him had been torture enough, but the hours since lunch had been worse. A wall had gone up between them since they’d left her office. Knowing he was home but still distant was both physically and emotionally painful. He’d shut her out in a way he never had before. Although he was still affectionate and attentive, there was no doubt that he was shielding her from the truth of where he’d been the last two days and what he’d done. During lunch he’d talked about everything except what he had decided to do about the Council’s summons.
Max had always been one to use gray magic. But what she’d felt today was much more dangerous. And far more seductive.
Even now she could feel the darkness shrouding his soul and the iron control he was exerting to contain it. The hunt for sorcerers of Sirius Powell and Xander Barnes’s power would push him to the very edge. The assignment would tax his strength in myriad ways and it was up to her to support him through it. But she couldn’t do that if he wouldn’t let her in.
Untying her black silk robe, Victoria went to him and pressed her bared torso to his back, her arms wrapping around his chest. Her palms slid over his washboard abs and firm pectorals, squeezing the hot, hard flesh with greedy hands.
“I love you, Max,” she murmured with her lips to his shoulder blade.
“I know, kitten.”
She reached lower, cupping him through the silk of his pants, then loosening the drawstring to fist his thickening c**k skin to skin. “I need you.”
He swelled in her grasp, eliciting a purr of delight from her. Her ni**les stiffened, her pu**y softening in readiness. She stroked him from root to tip, making him longer and harder, priming him to pleasure her.
Abruptly, he turned off the burner and spun fluidly. He took control with breathtaking ease, catching her hands behind her with one of his own. Excitement flushed her skin.
Max loomed over her, his eyes stormy and hot. His free hand ran down the center of her body from throat to sex, possessively cupping the pulsing flesh between her legs. “What do you want, Victoria?”
“You.” She spread her legs, inviting his touch. “I’ve always wanted you, from the moment you walked into my life.”
Parting her, he gently rubbed her clit. “You’ve had me from the beginning.”
Her entire body softened, her heart pounding at being restrained and pleasured. “I don’t feel like I have you now.”
He circled the clenching entrance to her body with skillful fingertips. “You own me.”
She gasped as he lowered his head to lick across one peaked nipple, his tongue a velvet lash. “Why won’t you talk to me about what’s happened the last couple of days?”
His silky hair brushed over the curves of her br**sts. His lips surrounded the aching point, his cheeks hollowing as he suckled her. Two fingers pushed inside her. “I missed you,” he murmured against her damp skin. “I’d f**k you endlessly if I could, stay inside you forever. When I’m not in you, I’m thinking about it. Craving it. I don’t feel whole when I’m not a part of you.”