Then again, he didn’t seem to be particularly involved with the two women and one man who were trying to please him. Rather, he looked bored and preoccupied.
"Excuse me," Satara called. All of them froze at the sound of her voice. "I really hate to interrupt this, but I have a situation I think Stryker will be very interested in and I don’t have time to wait until you’re through."
Stryker pushed the woman on top of him off and sat up. "Leave us."
Without a single word, they quickly gathered their clothes and walked past Satara, out the door.
Stryker was a bit more leisurely as he pulled on a robe but let it hang open as he moved from the bed.
Fine. If his nudity didn’t bother him, it certainly didn’t bother her.
Facing her, he wiped away the bit of blood at the corner of his mouth with his finger before he licked the digit clean. "Since you interrupted my dinner and I’m still hungry, could you make this quick?"
Satara was amazed by his words. "That was dinner?"
He gave her a bored stare as he closed the distance between them. "Yes. I like to play with my food before I eat it."
That sounded more like the vicious Daimon she knew. But that wasn’t what had her here.
"Acheron is free of Olympus and I’ve been recalled to Artemis’s temple. I thought you’d want to know that he’s in Seattle with his Dark-Hunters now."
Stryker let out a long, aggravated breath. "I guess it was too much to hope that she’d actually keep him this time." He paused before he looked back at her. "Is that all?"
"No. I was at the Serengeti a few minutes ago and learned something very intriguing."
Susan winced as Ravyn held an ice pack to her eye.
"For a woman who can handle herself so well in a fight, I can’t believe you got taken out by a defenseless doorjamb."
She narrowed her eyes on him. "Given the size of my goose egg, I would argue the defenseless part. That doorjamb has a mean left hook. Besides, it’s not my fault. I was distracted."
His butt, if the truth were told, but she wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of knowing she’d been so preoccupied by his body that she wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. "I don’t remember."
He brushed her hair back from her forehead with a gentle touch while he kept the ice over her brow. "You were amazing tonight by the way. "
"Thanks, but not half as much as you guys were." Her heart clenched as she inadvertently thought about Belle and right behind that thought was another, even more disturbing one. It was an image of Ravyn down on the ground… being executed in the same way.
Looking up at him now, she couldn’t get that out of her mind. Belle’s death had been way too easy to accomplish. To be so powerful, the Dark-Hunters had an awful Achilles’ heel.
Then again, most beings, supernatural or otherwise, usually died once their head was removed. There really was no way back from that unless you were a character on a soap opera or in a horror movie.
Suddenly, someone screamed from upstairs, causing Susan to jump and scrape her brow against the ice bag. It was followed by running feet and something very heavy hitting the floor.
"What now?" she breathed, tired of the constant fighting for their lives. Honestly, she just wanted a few minutes of quiet.
"I don’t know." Ravyn handed her the ice bag before he went to check it out.
Susan left the bag on the mattress before she followed after him. They rushed up the stairs to the hallway.
All of Ravyn’s family was there, along with a couple of other Weres and the doctor she’d seen on their arrival.
But it was Jack who held her attention. He sat on the floor, crying with his arms wrapped around his legs, rocking.
"What happened?" Ravyn asked Terra, who stood off to the side, looking perplexed by Jack.
Terra’s eyes were deeply sad. "Patricia died a few minutes ago from her injuries."
Susan felt ill from the news.
"It’s not right," Jack wailed as he pulled at his hair. "She never hurt anyone. Why is she dead? Why!"
The doctor patted him on the back as she looked up at Dorian. "I think you guys should go back to work. I’ll take care of Jack."
They nodded before they complied.
Ravyn’s father took a moment to narrow his eyes on his son and curl his lip in disgust. "Why are you still here?"
Ravyn didn’t give him the satisfaction of showing any emotion whatsoever. "Love you, too, Dad."
His face was so contorted by rage that Susan expected him to lash out at Ravyn. And he probably would have had Dorian not pulled him away.
Ravyn’s face didn’t betray anything, but his eyes spoke a tome about how much his father’s rejection hurt him. And in that moment, she hated his father for the pain he caused Ravyn.
Her heart breaking for both Jack and Ravyn, Susan started to return downstairs until she realized that Ravyn wasn’t behind her. Instead, he went to Jack and knelt on the floor beside him. The doctor looked a bit surprised but didn’t say anything while Jack sobbed.
"Why couldn’t she have at least woken up for a few minutes?" Jack whispered. "I just wanted to talk to her one last time. I wanted her to know how much I loved her. How much she meant to me."
Ravyn reached out and touched his forearm to comfort him. "She knew, Jack."
He shook his head. "No, she didn’t. I was always complaining whenever she asked me to do something. Why did I complain all the time? I should have done something, just once, without lipping off. Oh God, I just want her back. I’m so sorry, Mom."
Susan’s eyes teared as she listened to him and remembered her own pain when she’d learned about her mother’s death. It’d been the worst moment of her life.
It still was. And like Jack, all she could think about was how many things she wanted to change. How many things she wanted to say, that she couldn’t.
She watched silently while Ravyn sat on the floor beside him. The two of them sat shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the wall as the doctor pulled back to give them space.
Ravyn let out a tired sigh. "You know what I miss most about my mother? She used to sing to herself every night while she knitted by the firelight."
Jack looked up with a frown. "Your mother didn’t knit. She was a Were."
"Yeah, I know. It was such a strange hobby for her to have, but she loved it. She’d make all kinds of things, but her gloves were my favorite. I could always feel her when I wore them. Smell her scent. For some reason, I could never keep up with them. So she’d make a new one to match the one I still had, kiss it, put it on my hand, and then say to me, ‘My poor little kitten had better keep up with his mittens or I’ll skin ‘im.’ I’d laugh, go off with them, and lose one again every time."
"My mom liked to read," Jack whispered. "When I was a kid, I subscribed her to one of those book clubs where you get a bunch for free, not realizing that you had to pay postage for them. She acted so excited, but I felt like a complete ass**le when my sister Brynna told me Mom had to pay for the books. So I hired myself out to Erika to carry her books home from school for two months to pay Mom back."
Ravyn looked aghast at that. "And you survived?"
Jack actually managed a tentative smile. "Well, let’s just say I earned every cent and then some." Sniffing, he looked up at Ravyn. "Does the pain ever stop?"
There was nothing but raw agony in that dark gaze as Ravyn stared at the floor in front of them. "Not really. There will always be a part of you that misses her. You’ll see something that reminds you of her and want to tell her about it, only to realize she’s not there anymore. Then you’ll feel her loss all over again."
Another tear fell down Jack’s cheek. "You’re not helping me, Ravyn."
"I know, buddy." He turned to lock sincere gazes with Jack. "But you will eventually make peace with yourself, and that’s the most important thing. Eventually, you’ll even be able to smile again when you think about her. "
Jack wiped the tears from his cheeks and drew a ragged breath. "Thanks for talking to me."
"No problem. There’s nothing worse than being left alone to grieve. You want to talk, you know where I am."
Ravyn nodded. "You going to be okay?"
"Yeah. Tad and Jessica are handling everything. I just have to pick up Brynna when she gets here in a few hours."
Ravyn patted him on the arm before he got up and realized that she was still there, watching them. He actually blushed before he walked past her, back down the stairs.
Susan stood there for a moment, completely overwhelmed by the tenderness she felt for him, and as it surged, she realized how easy it would be to fall in love with Ravyn. In fact, a tiny part of her was already there. Most men who’d been so callously thrown aside wouldn’t have any compassion at all for someone else.
And then she realized something else. That was why he tolerated Erika. She might make him crazy, but in his mind she was the closest thing he had to a family.
It was probably why he even tolerated her, a stranger, being with him. He knew how much she was hurting from the loss of Angie and Jimmy.
Feeling strangely weepy, she followed him down to the basement, where he was going over Jimmy’s notes. He had his back to her while he stood with the light falling down on his hair. Susan closed her eyes and inhaled the warm scent of him. Needing to be near him, she crossed the room and pressed herself against his back, then wrapped her arms around his waist.
Ravyn actually trembled at the unbounded wave of tenderness that swept through him over her actions. His emotions were roiling through him. Anger and hate over Belle’s death. Pain and compassion for Jack. And something he couldn’t even begin to fathom for Susan.
He turned in her arms to capture her lips with his. He cupped her face in his hands as he explored every inch of her decadent mouth. She tasted like honey and heaven.
Susan’s head swam as she literally ripped the shirt from Ravyn’s back. She didn’t know why, but she had to have him. Right now. Right here.
He looked down with the cutest stunned expression as she pulled his shirt down his arms. He gave her a wicked grin. "If you’re in that big of a hurry…"
Their clothes vanished.
Susan laughed even as the cold air chilled her. At least until he pulled her to him and pinned her up against the wall. Giddy with the sensation of his hard body against hers, she wrapped her legs around his waist and buried her lips against his neck to suckle his prickly skin even while her sinuses clogged.
Ravyn pressed his cheek against hers while he savored how soft and warm her body was. He loved the feeling of her legs around him, of her tiny hairs teasing his stomach while her br**sts were pressed flat against his chest. It was the sweetest sensation he’d ever known.
Unable to stand it, he thrust himself deep into her body. She cried out as she dug her nails into his shoulders. He leaned his head against the wall until she started sneezing. Her body tightened around his, enhancing just how good she felt.
Until she sneezed again.
He groaned as he realized his hair was in her face. "This really sucks." He pulled back to see her twitching her nose. "Are you okay?"
She answered with another sneeze.
Aggravated and really wanting to shave his entire body, he pulled out of her and stepped back to give her room so that she could recover.
Susan felt awful as she sniffed. Not to mention, he reminded her of a little kid who’d had all of his candy stolen. It wrung her heart. Poor Puss in Boots.
But she wasn’t going to let something so petty rob them of this moment.
Looking up at him, she pressed the back of her hand to her nose to help open the passageway so that she could breathe better.
Ravyn was just about to summon their clothes back when Susan knelt down in front of him. Before he could move, she cupped him gently in her hand.
A chill went straight up his spine at the sensation of her fingers massaging his sac. "What are doing, Susan? You’re allergic."
She looked up at him, licked her lips, and gave him the hottest seductive stare he’d ever seen on a woman’s face. "Some things are worth suffering for."
And the next thing he knew, she dipped her head to gently lave the tip of him. His c**k jerked in response to her warm, sweet tongue. He growled deep in his throat as she took more of him into her mouth.
His heart pounding, he buried his hand gently in her hair and leaned forward with one arm against the wall so that he could watch her. Every so often, she’d pull back to sneeze, but then she’d return to him.
In all his life, he’d never had anything touch him more. God, how he admired her, even though he knew he had no right being with her. He destroyed everything he touched, and yet he desperately wanted to stay with her. If only he could…
Susan licked her lips before she returned to him again. She loved the way he tasted. But most of all, she loved the gentle expression on his face while he watched. The feel of his hand tenderly caressing her while she pleasured him.
And when he came, she didn’t pull away. Instead, she continued until there was nothing left. She pulled back to lean against the wall so that she could look up at him. A slow, loving smile spread across his face as he stared down at her.