Of course he hadn't known and hidden the truth from her. Riley wasn't a liar. He'd never have held back something this important, not when he'd given her his word that he'd try. For her. For a cat who had hurt him so much today.
I guess that's going to make this mating hell for both of us.
Her leopard didn't want that. But neither did it want to face the inevitable repercussion of mating with him. However, one thing was certain - Riley would come after her again. He wouldn't be able to help himself. She was his mate, and given the fever of the mating dance, the depth of his hunger had to be driving him half-insane. So he'd bury his pride and he'd return - probably to shake some sense into her.
Her lips quirked, but she removed her hands from the steering wheel and got out of the car. The SnowDancer den was an easy fifteen-minute run from this point. It was tempting to call and ask him to meet her outside, but that would be cowardly. And Mercy was no coward. Taking a deep breath, and paying no overt attention to the scents that told her she was being watched by an invisible screen of guards, she headed in.
Andrew was waiting for her by the open door. His eyes were twinkling. "Hello, future sister-in-law."
"Out of my way, shrimp."
"My heart bleeds." He put a hand to said heart, melodramatic in the way only younger brothers could be. "Are you the reason Riley almost ripped off my head a few minutes ago?"
"None of your business." She pushed past him. "Show me the way to his quarters."
"Shouldn't you talk to Hawke, make sure it's alright for you to be up here?"
"Drew, today is really not a good day to mess with me."
Andrew walked beside her, pointing left when they reached a fork in the tunnels that made up the den. "In that case, rest assured I'll take care of the formalities."
"Thanks." She shot him a suspicious look. "Why are you being so helpful?"
He shrugged. "I like my brother. And I especially like watching him off balance." An evil grin. "You and he are the best entertainment I've had in years."
"Why hasn't Riley killed you yet?"
"I keep bouncing back." A shrug, wide-eyed innocence.
Charmed despite herself, she came to a stop in front of the door he'd led her to. "Now, listen carefully," she said, leaning close, "if you dare come back here tonight, be prepared to sing soprano the rest of your life. Capisce?"
Andrew's eyes widened. "Man, you're scary. Lucky Riley." And she could tell he meant it, too. "I'm outa here." But he paused. "Be gentle with him, Mercy. He's got a heart as big as Texas - he'll die for you without blinking. But he doesn't expect anyone to do the same for him."
Knot in her throat at the unexpected burst of seriousness, she nodded and watched him walk away. Then, straightening her shoulders - and ignoring the large number of wolves who seemed to have something to do in this corridor all of a sudden - she knocked. Riley had to have scented her by now, so the fact that the door had remained closed didn't bode well.
Several seconds passed.
Frowning because such pettiness wasn't like him, she went to knock again when the door was wrenched open and she was pulled inside. Against a warm, wet, very na**d male chest. "Oh," she whispered, leaning back against the door he'd shoved shut, "you were in the shower."
Pushing damp hair out of his eyes, he put his hands on either side of her shoulders and said, "What are you doing here?"
She was too interested in the view to reply. He'd hitched a towel around his waist, but it looked precarious. She bit her lip in an effort to fight the urge to accidentally-on-purpose nudge it out of the way. 'Cause Riley all wet and smoldering got her motor running in a serious way. His body was pure muscle, muscle she'd touched more than once, and yet she found her mouth watering as if she'd never seen him before. Mine, part of her purred, even as another part threw the solemn ramifications of that thought into her face.
Right then, she didn't care. Because this was her mate. How could she not touch him when he was in front of her? How could she not give him what she knew he needed, the simple skin-to-skin contact they both craved?
"Mercy." The snarl in his voice said the wolf was very much in control.
She went to speak, then decided to hell with it. Framing his face in her hands, she took his mouth in a slow, possessive kiss that made her toes curl. He kissed her back, but his arms remained planted on either side of her body. Still mad. That was okay, she thought, nibbling at his lower lip. Coaxing Riley sounded like a fun night to her. Especially if it involved getting that towel off his body.
His eyes were wolf-amber when she drew back, his cheekbones drawn sharply against his skin. "Come by for an 'okay' time in the sack?"
Not mad. Seriously angry. "Maybe I came to apologize," she said, linking her arms around his neck. "And maybe you'll hear it if you stop snarling at me."
"What, you're going to tell me I'm a better than okay lay?"
Oh, man, but he was pissed. In his defense, she thought, men had a way of becoming that way if you insulted their sexual prowess. And coming from the woman meant to be his mate . . . damn, how was she going to fix this? "Of all the things I've said to you, that's the one you decided to take to heart?"
An unwavering amber stare.
"Damn it, Riley, you know you make me crazy in bed," she said, consigning any attempt at subtlety to Hades.
"I'm ready for you right now and you know it. My panties are so damp it's embarrassing."
"Oh?" And then he was unsnapping her jeans and one big hand was sliding into said panties, parting her liquid-soft flesh with a single smooth move.