"What are you doing here?" Caleb took a step back as soon as he spotted Jess in the bathroom. Of course, he was in the shower so he didn't go very far.
"I can feel your pain. It started hours ago but it's still there, isn't it?"
She snorted. "Sure, you're fine. That's why you're standing completely dressed in the shower. Look at you!"
He gazed down at himself and winced at the sight of his drenched clothes. "I'm okay, baby. Stop worrying about me. You should leave. We're not supposed to be together until tomorrow, and if someone sees us..."
She cut him off. "I can't leave you here like this."
"Sure, you can."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "I can't. You're hurting."
He sighed and brushed his hand through his wet hair. "You know how I get when it's so close to the full moon. I just have to hold on until tomorrow and I'll be fine. Let me handle this, okay?"
Jess sighed. One day before their wedding and he was already reverting to his old ways. "Haven't we talked about this, Caleb? We're a team now. If you have a problem, I can help." She watched as he frowned, clearly undecided. He really was too used to being on his own. He'd been his Leap's Alpha for a decade before she'd even met him; but now, he had her, and he really needed to remember it. "Please, Cal, let me help you. What can I do?"
A full-body shudder racked him, and he held on to the tiled wall for purchase. His fingers elongated, sharp claws popping out with a wicked sound. He grunted, held himself still and they disappeared, but it'd clearly cost him. Unable to see him hurting and not do something, she stepped into the shower and wrapped her arms around his waist.
He hid his face in the crook of her neck, his breath making her shiver. He was wet, but soon, so was she. I should have taken my clothes off beforehand, she thought as she suddenly remembered the linen pants she wore. They were undoubtedly ruined now. Never mind. He was more important.
"Better?" she murmured, sliding her hands underneath his T-shirt and up the smooth skin of his back.
"Yes," he grudgingly replied. "I guess."
"You guess?" She pulled back and put her hands on her hips. "What does that mean?"
He looked down at her with a strange expression on his face.
That's when it hit her. A sharp spike of arousal rushed through her, straight from the link that had grown between them. They might be getting married tomorrow, but they were already mated, had been since he'd rescued her from a mountain lion months ago. They were irrevocably tied together. Her breasts budded; her pussy clenched around an imaginary cock. That could only mean one thing...
"You want to counteract the urge to go hunting with sex?" Was his control over his animal strong enough to attempt this? He'd been fighting his leopard for hours now, and of course, he looked more or less okay... She still didn't want him to hurt even more because of her.
"It would please my leopard." He cupped her face in both hands, his gaze locking on hers.
"Are you sure? I thought your animal craved blood more than anything this close to the full moon."
"Sex is just as good, baby."
"But you love going hunting." He wasn't their Alpha for nothing.
His voice was solemn when he said, "You know I'd trade the hunt for you any day. You're more important to me than anything else."
"Oh." Her eyes watered, but she pushed the tears back. He really had to stop springing surprise declarations on her like that. She was already weak just remembering his proposal from the week before. "I love you," she said, her heart feeling too small for what she was experiencing.
He lowered his head and whispered against her mouth, "I love you, too. So much." He kissed her then, the caress starting soft but growing unruly fast. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall, away from the spray of water. And then, he started stripping.
He struggled with his white tee, the thin cotton covering his face for a moment. She had an encumbered view of his magnificent chest, the dark freckles covering his skin reminiscent of his leopard's rosettes. God, he was so damn beautiful.
He was tall, much taller than she was. He also had the usual shifter body: thickly muscled, with big thighs and a face that bore the brunt of the numerous fights he'd been in. She didn't even want to know how many times his nose had been broken. So what if it was a little crooked? It gave his face character. Not that he needed any more of that. He was so damn dominant it was a wonder he ever let her out of the house.
Her gaze stopped on the perfect globes of his ass as he wrenched his damp jeans down his legs. He threw them out of the shower, and they landed with a thump on the bathroom rug. He turned back toward her and caught her staring. His eyes flashed, and she knew his control was slipping. "Like what you see?" he growled.
She forced herself not to move, not wanting to agitate his animal. She might be the only human in the Leap, but she'd learned a lot over the past few months.
"You know I do," she finally answered as she moved her arms to her sides.
He automatically looked down at her now transparent shirt, his groan echoing throughout the bathroom. She guessed he'd seen the way her nipples had puckered up underneath the wet material. Her bra was sheer, making it look as if she wasn't wearing one. When he dropped onto his knees in front of her and sucked one hardened nub into his warm mouth, she keened. Fisting her hands into his hair, she clasped his head to her and fought to stay upright.
He just tightened his teeth around her nipple. A heady mix of pain and pleasure spread through her.
He chuckled against her and switched sides, quickly bringing her other breast to the same state. "I love your tits," he murmured as his hands drew up her shirt. He helped her remove it, his gaze intent on her barely there bra. "New lingerie?"
"It was supposed to be a surprise for tomorrow."
"Mmm, what a nice surprise." He kissed her rounded stomach and nodded to her pants. "Are you wearing the panties that go with it?"
She grinned. "Guess."
He groaned once more and hurriedly unsnapped her trousers. Seconds later, they met the same fate than his, plopping wetly onto the floor. "Turn around," Caleb asked, or to be more accurate, ordered.
His voice had taken that harsh quality she adored, the one he used on the Leap's teenagers when they misbehaved. He was known for the rigorous way he ruled his people, yet he was always fair. Even as she thought that, she found herself obeying him, giving him a view of her butt covered in ultra-fine white net. It wasn't the most comfortable underwear, but who cared?
Teeth clamped around the panties' waistband, dragging them down until they stretched around her thighs.
"So soft," she heard him murmur just before he kissed her right butt cheek.
"Cal?" she called out, wondering what he was going to do. She shouldn't have worried. This was the man she trusted with her life, after all. He knew just how far to go to make her cry out, and the link between them expanded until she could nearly hear him think inside her head. She realized he was barely hanging on to his control and started to turn around, wanting to please him instead.
A heavy palm landed on the small of her back, holding her into place. "Don't move."
"No, Jess, I have to do this."
This? Hands spread her legs wider. She nearly slipped on the wet tiles, but luckily, he stopped her fall and pushed her body further against the wall. Her breasts, still clad in that flimsy bra, ached, but she wasn't sure if it was because they were squashed or because they missed his touch. Something soft brushed against her pussy, and she stilled.
"Oh God!" she moaned when she understood what it was. His tongue! It was his tongue slowly tracing her left inner lip, that one spot he'd discovered one incredibly hot night. It was hypersensitive, and she could only take a light touch on it, otherwise it became too much. It intrigued him, she knew. She'd always thought it was because the predator in him saw it as a weakness, but he denied that. He said it was just that he loved knowing what made her tick. She still thought he liked having more ammunition against her. Of course, if it was to make her scream louder, that was fine with her.
His fingertips forced her to open wider, his mouth devouring her. He bit her right on that spot, his teeth clamping tight around the lip of sensitive flesh.
She cried out, "No!"