"What're you talking about?" she said, the devil in her taking over. Seeing that bloody, broken body had been the final straw - she needed to decompress. And what better way than by teasing Riley?
"You," he said, his voice dropping as she stopped and turned to face him, "and me."
Her ni**les hardened to aching points, but she made her expression dismissive. "Don't flatter yourself." She shoved her hands into the back pockets of her jeans and rocked back on her heels, decision made. Excitement was a taut bow inside her as she said, "I had an itch. You scratched it. End of story."
A low growl that made her thighs clench. But she smiled and wiggled her fingers. "See ya later, wolfie."
Riley was about to stalk after her when he belatedly realized he was no longer alone. Scenting the air, he found out how the intruder had snuck in under his defenses. His wolf didn't consider his younger sister any kind of a threat. "Bren, don't say a word."
Brenna took one look at Riley's face and bit back a laugh. Not fast enough. Her oldest brother turned to her with that look. The one that made everyone behave. But this time, she was laughing too hard to hold it in any longer.
Riley just waited until she'd gotten it out of her system before raising an eyebrow.
"You and Mercy. I love it!"
She sniggered. "You wanted Little Miss Submissive and you got a DarkRiver sentinel." Her giggles started again, deep in her throat.
"Brenna, I'm still your eldest brother."
"And I'm mated to a big, bad Psy." She put on her best annoying little-sister voice. "Plus you know you love me."
"I know that right now, I wish I had some duct tape to put over your mouth."
Oooh, that was interesting. Nobody really ever got to Riley. She knew he loved her to pieces, but even she had to prod and poke at him for a really long time before she got a reaction. "Mercy and Riley sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i - " She shrieked as he picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and strode toward her quarters.
Her laughter came unbidden. She was giddy with delight. Riley had always been mature, contained, but he'd also had a sense of quiet humor. He was the kind of man children loved because he was both patient and open. But he'd changed after her abduction, withdrawn all that warmth, become so hard that nothing seemed to reach him. She hated that. And she loved Mercy for refusing to allow Riley to be this stranger he'd turned into.
Her nostrils flared at the familiar scent of ice laced with something that was uniquely Judd.
"I assume you have a reason for manhandling my mate?" Cool words but his amusement was apparent.
"Riley likes Mercy," she stage-whispered, trying to twist around to look at her mate. "But she told him that h - oomph." Riley set her on her feet without warning.
She swayed, but Judd's hands on her h*ps kept her upright. Pushing her hair off her face, she leaned into her sexy Psy mate and smirked at Riley. "Sooo . . ."
"Judd." Riley ignored her. "You're obviously not interesting enough for my sister - she's got way too much time to poke her nose into other people's business."
Judd wrapped his arms around her from behind, his chin on her hair. "I'm more interested in you and Mercy."
Growling - Riley actually growled - her big brother turned on his heel and left. Brenna waited until he was out of hearing distance to say, "I hope Mercy puts him through the wringer and brings him out whole on the other side."
"He was changed by your abduction. He'll never be who he was before."
"I know." She rubbed her cheek against his arm. "But I want him to learn to be happy again."
She waited, knowing her mate well enough to understand he was thinking things through. He was so logical that it delighted her each time he let go. And he had a habit of doing that in bed. Which reminded her, she needed to replace the iron headboard that had buckled under the force of his telekinesis last night. At least it had held up better than the wooden stuff. Hmm, maybe she should start thinking about futons.
"Your brother is used to being in charge," Judd said at last. "So is Mercy."
God but she loved his honesty, his willingness to show her everything he was. "Riley," she said, turning to nuzzle at his throat, "has this image of a submissive female he'll be able to pamper and protect, but he'd never be able to truly be who he is with that woman." She shook her head. "He needs someone strong enough, tough enough, to refuse to put up with those walls he uses to keep everyone at a distance."
Even if he was too stubborn to see it.
After waving at Riley, Mercy took off at the speed of light. It didn't matter that Brenna had distracted him. She knew he'd come after her - she'd read the intent loud and clear on his face, in his scent.
It was why she'd pushed at him that way, picking at his possessive, territorial instincts - instincts she'd known would be running high after the events of the previous forty-eight hours. This time, he wouldn't be satisfied by anything other than a hard, sweaty bout of either raw sex or violence. And she knew very well which he'd choose. Her leopard smiled at the challenge, even as the feminine core of her tightened, readying itself in expectation.
Part of her wondered what the hell she was doing.
The rest of her didn't care.
Smile edged with excitement, she stayed in human form as she headed out of the White Zone, the safe area around the SnowDancer den, and into the huge tract of land beyond. This area wasn't patrolled, being pincered between the White Zone and the heavily guarded perimeter. It was the zone where the juvenile and adult wolves felt free to hunt, run . . . play.