She was right, there was no threat outside. Still, Max shadowed her as she moved, giving her the space to work, but keeping close enough to protect her if it was necessary. He didn’t hide his smile. He messed with her concentration? Every breath Kendra Kellogg took messed with his concentration. Even now as she did her magick mojo thing, moving around the yard efficiently, spilling that vibrant red-golden, warm magick in her wake, she took up every bit of his imagination and attention.
She was spirited, a huge turn-on for him. He loved women with an attitude, smart, strong women who didn’t take any shit. He liked her sense of humor and the way she stood up to him.
His cat loved her strength. She was fierce, the kind of woman a man could trust.
It probably wouldn’t have been as bad if he hadn’t scented her. Twice. That was more intimate than the brief kiss of a few nights ago. Now her scent lived in him. God in heaven she smelled like sex. Like sex and comfort, like strong, sexy witch, and his cat practically kneaded his insides to get to her.
No one had affected him the way she did and he didn’t quite know what to do with it. What he did know was the idea of her being in danger had set his cat so close to the surface he paced, on guard, just to keep his human skin. He supposed it was simply another piece of proof that she was indeed meant to be his.
“What do you sense?” he asked when she got near enough to hear.
“Nothing. Not even a smear of the dark energy. Maybe I was wrong.” She frowned, shivering. He stepped closer, giving her some of his body heat, satisfied when she stopped shivering.
He doubted very much that she’d been wrong about the attack, though. He’d watched her from day one. She seemed to have a good grasp of her abilities. “Do you really think so?”
She thought for long moments before shaking her head no. “I don’t think I was wrong at all.”
“Me either. I think you felt it and I think your father has something to do with it.”
Her eyes lost their warmth at the mention of her father, not that Max blamed her. He’d be right in line behind Jack and Galen when they finally got hold of Andrew Parcell, or whatever the fuck the man was really named.
“Now that we know he had some involvement in my mother’s death, I have every reason to believe he’s connected to these other attacks. I don’t like that. At all. I don’t know what they have of Renee’s. That bitch most likely kept her hair or other physical links. I think I found a way to nullify that. When I find them they’re going have to deal with me. I will find them. And they’ll pay. For what they did to our mother, and for what they did to my sister.”
Christ, when she got bloodthirsty it only made him want her more. He cocked his head and spoke before he meant to. “You enchant me.”
That startled her. “I do? Is that a good thing?”
He laughed. “Yes. No. Hell I don’t know, but I like it. I plan to explore that. With you. Just so you know.”
She pursed her lips. “Oh.” She licked her lips, as if she tasted the words before saying them. “All right.”
He shook his head at her when she grinned his way.
She’d hit him like a bus, knocked into his consciousness when he had least expected it. Kendra Kellogg left him dazed and wanting more. Earlier that afternoon when she’d come out of Renee’s office he’d just watched her. Fascinated that she looked like Renee, and yet totally different. Her chic curtain of super straight hair, short enough to leave her neck exposed, those eyes, far more green than brown, thickly lashed and God, the dimples at each corner of that fucking delicious mouth—she was the loveliest thing he’d ever seen.
He’d been deep in a naughty fantasy about a hunt to see if she had any more freckles than the ones he’d seen on her forearms, when her entire demeanor had changed, became serious.
His cat had gone on instant alert, dragging all the cats in the room into hypervigilance with him. Jack had as well, the wolves cued to his moods in much the same way. Max had stood, looking her. Taking his cues from her.
It had been the way she braced her feet apart and took on an onslaught of dark magics that had really pushed him into acting at long last. The kiss had been impulsive, but now he was decisive. He wanted her and she needed to know it. Her ferocity had pushed every last one of his defenses away.
That and the look of fear and panic when Galen had touched her and he’d blocked the door, the recoil she was able to get control of fairly quickly. Someone had done that to her, hurt her so that despite her strength, her first instinct was to try to make herself smaller and get out of arm’s reach. Like prey.
Every male on the landing and in the hallway had felt it, seen it, and went into overdrive, wanting to protect her. Max did what he always did, he acted decisively and in doing so, found himself totally off balance and unsure for the first time since he was a teenage boy.
“Whatever it was or whoever sent it, it’s gone.” She looked around the yard, pretending he hadn’t just told her he’d set his cap for her. “It’s fine out here,” she said quietly.
“Are they safe?” He jerked a thumb toward the house.
“None of us are safe until this is dealt with. But this house and yard will hold safely. I’ll go out to Cambridge tomorrow and talk with Mary.”
“She’s a powerful practitioner, a friend of my aunt’s. Mary’s been away for a month, but left a note that she’d be back this week and told me to stop in.” Kendra reached for the gate, and in her full view, slowly but firmly, Max put his hand over hers.
“You look shaken. I’m taking you to dinner.”
She opened her mouth, most likely to argue, these sisters were quite alike on that front.
“You can tell me about Mary and your plans. Fill me in on just how safe you are at your apartment too. Gibson will only ask me about it tomorrow anyway.”
“So everyone tells me. It’s my job to be bossy. But you’re no doormat, I know it and so do you.” He reached out and ran a fingertip over the tips of her hair. “No matter who tries to make you feel otherwise.”
“Why do you want to take me to dinner? Really?”
Oh she had no idea. He smiled at her, slow and assessing. Her eyes widened and then slid a quarter down, sexy and slumberous and all sorts of buttons and levers got pushed at the sight.
“I want to take care of you. You look pale. Got a heavy scare. And I like you.”
“Even if I’m feeling like steak and lobster?” She smirked, teasing. He liked it. Only his family teased him. It was intimate and showed she trusted him.
“Mmm, sounds very good.” He held out an arm and she sighed before taking it. “What? You thought I’d be scared off by an expensive dinner? I know just the place and you can have the biggest lobster in the tank if you want.”
“Two slices, if that’s what you desire. Though they make a mean crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e you might want to try instead.”
“If you’re sure you wouldn’t you rather be inside watching sports and eating pizza with your friends.”
“I’m sure. I can get into a fight over football with Galen any day of the week. My office is only two doors down from his. If I need trash talk, I know where to go for it.”
He opened her car door and helped her inside, looking up and down the block before he got in on the driver’s side.
Her scent rose between them, warm, sharp and vibrant. He breathed deep before pulling away from the curb. Yeah, that’s the ticket, he thought. He could easily get used to her there in his car.
“Seems to me you two do more than talk trash. Renee and I tease each other, but I’ve never broken her nose.”
He burst out laughing as he navigated through traffic. “You aren’t shifters.”
“Is that why your sister Beth has been such a bitch to Renee?”
He sobered with a heavy sigh. “Beth has issues. Not because she’s a shifter.”
“She’s a bitch either way,” Kendra murmured and he laughed again.
“She is. But something tells me when you come into the family you won’t take any guff from her.”
“Come into the family?”
“I don’t believe in pretending not to see the inevitable. You and I are inevitable.”
She made a snorting sound. “You’re pretty sure of yourself.”
At a red light he turned to face her. “Comes with the alpha territory. I’m a confident man and you, gorgeous witch, are an intelligent woman. There’s something between us. You and I are going somewhere, and I think it’s silly to pretend otherwise.”
She bit her lip, consternation on her face. “Light’s green.”
Max grinned and kept driving.