The other day on Twitter, I asked folks to tell me which of all my heroes was the most alpha. I’m going to talk about this more next week, but it was a tie actually – between Shane Chase and Todd Keenan. Today I thought I’d give y’all a little taste of Shane and Cassie from Taking Chase. To me, it’s the way he can be big and strong and in charge and still get weak for her. It’s the way he’s loyal and protective. I love those moments when the alpha gentles himself because she makes him know she’s worth it.
CHASE BROTHERS: TAKING CHASE by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2007, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
“Do you miss it? Your house?”
She shook her head. “No. It was never mine anyway. He bought it. He decorated it. It was his. I was just another one of the things he owned.”
Shane’s jaw clenched and unclenched. “I hate hearing you talk that way.”
“It’s the truth, Shane. For years I was a thing. An accessory and at times, not even a very good one according to him. I know he was wrong. But that’s what I was.” She shrugged. “I’m working to be more than that now.”
“You’re not an accessory to me. I just can’t wrap my head around it. How any man wouldn’t cherish you with every fiber of his being.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I hate that it’s this constant thing in my life.” She turned her body away from him and looked out at the water. “Damn it, I’m more than the poor battered wife. Fuck, I feel like I should wear a nametag or something. It’s why I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. That’s all you see. That’s all anyone sees.”
He moved to stand behind her, encircling her with his arms. “That’s not true, Cassie. It’s not all I see. It’s part of your past, yes. It goes into making you who you are now—a strong woman. A survivor. You’re smart, and competent and the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Inside and out, I like you, Cassie. You. Not your past, not your zip code, but you. But I can’t deny, and neither can you, that what happened to you shaped who you are now. Just like the things that happened to me shaped me. We don’t have to talk about it any more tonight. There are far better things to do with our time.”
He brushed his lips over her neck where it met her shoulder and she lost the rigidity in her spine, relaxing into him. He felt good behind her. The water from the lake lapped against her toes over and over with the beat of her heart.
Silence stretched as he held her, kissed her neck and shoulders with soft heat. She asked herself if she could have sex with this man and her body agreed right off and soon enough, her mind agreed. It was something she’d been thinking over a lot. But she wasn’t afraid of him. She trusted him to take care with her and if she was going to live beyond those years with Terry, she had to move on with her life. Build a future and that included sex.
Or she hoped it would.
“Stay right here. I’ll be back in a minute.” Her back felt cool when he moved away and jogged up to the house, disappearing inside.
She wandered up a path lined with sweet smelling flowers and bushes. His steps sounded against the decking and down onto the grass. He hesitated and she called out softly, “I’m here on the path.”
“Ah.” He showed up around the corner and held up a blanket. “I thought we could lay under the stars. What do you think?”
“Lay?” One corner of her mouth quirked up.
“Well, uh, if you wanted to just lay, that would be fine. I’d be happy to hold you in my arms as we looked up at the stars. On the other hand, I’d be even happier to see your skin bathed in moonlight as I made love to you. I want you, Cassie. But I want you to be okay with that. I don’t want you to feel rushed or pressured.”
“Hmm. Well, why don’t you spread it out in this little area here, it’s totally walled off by the plants and no one could see us. You know, if we got up to something no one should see.”
Moving around her body, he spread the blanket out and held his hand out to her.
Taking a deep breath, her brain and her body in accord, she grabbed his hand and let him draw her down onto the blanket.
On her back, she looked up into his face and smiled. A lock of his hair slid forward rakishly. She could tell he was being very careful but she was sick of it.
She put her hands on his shoulders. “Shane, don’t be so careful with me. I won’t break. I can’t guarantee something weird won’t trigger something but I don’t want this thing between us to be so fragile. I wasn’t always this fucked up.”
A look so tender slid across his face it made her draw breath quickly. His mouth covered hers in an intense kiss. The kind of kiss that makes a woman forget to breathe.
Cassie’s hands pulled at his shirt, as she gave in to her sudden need to feel his bare skin. Breaking the kiss quickly, he sat up and pulled the shirt off over his head and she put a hand on his chest to stay him.
Impossibly broad shoulders led to a wide chest, covered with just the right amount of the same brown-blond hair on his head. The hand that had stayed him slid over the hard muscle of his pecs down to his flat, hard nipple and he sucked in a breath but remained still as she looked her fill and explored him with her hands.
Muscled arms held his upper body away from her as she traced down from his nipple to each ridge of his abdomen. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Dear sweet heaven, the man had a real six pack.
A trembling fingertip traced around his navel and south along the trail of hair that she was sure led to his cock but his jeans were in the way. She tapped the button. “This is a problem.”
“I want to look at you, too.” His voice was strangled. In it she heard how much control it took to hold himself still for her inspection.
She licked suddenly dry lips. “I…”
He watched her as he slid off the skirt and looked at her long legs and panties. Boy was she glad she wore the pair of pretty ones she’d bought a few weeks back on a whim.
“Your pants.” She tipped her chin in his direction.
What should have been awkward for any regular person, he made graceful as he shimmied out of his jeans while still sitting. One eyebrow rose as he touched the waistband of his boxers, asking how far she wanted to go. At her nod he pulled them off and she widened her eyes and blinked a few times.
He stopped for a moment and then laughed. “Oh, Cassie, you’re so good for me.”
“Shane, you’re beautiful. So big and muscled and, damn, I’m drowning in testosterone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a naked man who was more masculine and handsome. Hell, any man more masculine and handsome.”
“Thank you. Now, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here, Cassie. I’m buck naked and you are not.”
Oh how she wished she didn’t have fourteen scars on her upper back and neck from where Terry had stabbed her with the broken handle from the hammer he’d used to break her fingers. Wished she had a body she could show him without reservation. But her breasts weren’t as high as they’d been when she was in her twenties and Terry always complained about the roundness of her thighs and the swell of her belly. She already felt overexposed with her skirt off, she really didn’t know how she’d hide the scars if she didn’t have her shirt on.
“That’s some internal dialog you’ve got going on in there, darlin’.” He tapped her forehead. “You want to stop?”
“No.” She shook her head vehemently and to underline that, she took his cock in her fist and pumped. He was so hard she felt him throb in her palm.
He hissed. “Holy shit!”
“Do you have condoms?”
“Condoms? Plural? My, you’re ambitious. I like that.” He leaned over and pulled three foil packets out of the pocket of his pants and held them up for her to see. “Three. I know, it’s very hopeful of me.”
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