Monday Again!

Jeebus, already again? The weekend went by really fast but I wrote on my secret project and also on Hunted, the follow up to Trinity so I feel pretty accomplished!

Since Trinity is out tomorrow, I thought I’d post some excerpts of the books that came before – starting with Enforcer!

Copyright 2006, Lauren Dane
All rights reserved, Ellora’s Cave

As dawn broke, Nina’s internal alarm clock woke her for the first time since she’d moved into werewolf mansion. She got out of bed and jumped into the shower quietly. She had to get back to work. She’d managed to get out of Lex that they’d at least called the shop and arranged for her manager to take over while she was gone, but enough was enough. It had been a week and that was too damned long.

She did enjoy the fact that the master closet was off the bathroom and got dressed, dabbed on a bit of makeup and twisted her hair up. She decided to forego the glasses and the prim clothes. They’d burned anyway. What was the point now that she not only had a man but a big bad werewolf who carried a .357 Magnum?

She left Lex sleeping and headed down and thankfully smelled coffee and saw Dave and Megan there in the kitchen, reading the paper.

The truth was, she understood better than Lex thought she would. She understood the importance of sticking to rules to be safe. Understood the cost of taking care of a larger goal—sometimes at the expense of the weakest person.

At the same time, she wasn’t sure how she felt about the rest of the wolves who stood there and watched while she was nearly killed. Her logical mind understood it—certainly understood the compulsion of Pack now that it coursed through her veins. It was like an odd sort of hive-mind, or was that Pack-mind? connection. Still, the feelings of betrayal were still there like a bitter taste on her tongue and weighed heavy on her heart.

But she lived there and now she was one of them in more than just marriage. And she couldn’t avoid them all forever.

Sighing, she walked into the kitchen and headed for the cabinet to grab a mug.

Dave jumped up and opened the door, pulling a cup out and handing it to her. “Here, let me help you with that.”

Nina took it from him. “Thanks.” She turned and got milk from the fridge and made her cup of coffee.
She popped a bagel in the toaster, rustled through the refrigerator and pulled out a tomato and some cheese and set to slicing them.

“Nina, I’m sorry. I know you probably can’t understand why no one helped you and I…I’m so terribly sorry,” Megan said softly.

Nina turned and looked into her sister-in-law’s eyes and she felt the pain there. Felt the conflict between her loyalty to the Pack, to her Alpha and to doing the right thing and protecting Nina.

But as Nina stood there, remembering that night she had a flash of something. The guards all carried weapons, yes. But they also carried them strapped in thigh holsters, at the small of their backs or underarm holsters. Nina looked down and saw that Megan’s gun was not on her thigh.

“Megan, where do you carry?”

Her sister-in-law moved her jacket back and showed Nina the underarm rig. “Here. Sometimes on the thigh but not most of the time.”

“Not most of the time.” Nina said this quietly and Megan made a barely perceptible nod. Nina closed her eyes for a moment. Certainly not that night at the Pack house. Nina remembered Megan adjusting herself as they got out of the cars before they’d walked into the house.

Megan had handed her that gun. Had used that moment of confusion when Nina had been thrown into her to get that gun into her hand.

Nina reached up and touched Megan’s face gently. “Thank you.” Understanding passed between them.

“I wish you’d gotten my gun. I was carrying silver ammo and you would have killed that bastard, Carter.” Dave’s voice was vehement.

Nina turned to Dave with a shrug. Dave looked miserable, guilty and red-faced.

“I’m sorry, too. I’m glad you shot his ass. I hope it hurt like a motherfucker to get those slugs out of him. I hope Doc Molinari dug in extra hard to get them all. Can you forgive us all?”

“I’m working on it. It’ll be a while before I’ll be ready to deal with the Pack as a whole again.”

Her bagel popped up and she turned, piled it with tomato slices and cheese and took it to the table.

“You’re going to need some more protein to go with it,” Cade said as he came into the room and went to the fridge. He pulled out some roast beef, put it on the table in front of her and went to get himself some coffee.

Suddenly Megan and Dave found that they had things to do in the other room as Cade sat at the table across from Nina.

She said nothing as she put meat on the bagel but she could feel his anguish. And his irritation and confusion at wanting her approval and forgiveness. She softened a bit, but not much. She’d wager that he’d never actually had to work for anyone’s approval before as he’d been groomed to be Alpha from the womb and all.

“So. Am I still Mr. Warden?” Cade asked, watching her as she sipped her coffee.

“I don’t know. Are you?”

“What kind of woman answer is that?”

“What kind of stupid-assed question is that?”

“Did you just call me stupid?”

“No, I called your question stupid. But upon reflection, I should have included you, too. But, as you’re the supreme poobah, you can be the most stupid.”

“Look, I don’t apologize for doing what was necessary to keep Pack order.”

“How furry of you to say so.” She got up and went back to the fridge. Annoyed, she pulled out eggs and milk, placing them on the counter.

Nina could feel Cade glaring at her back as she pulled out a bowl and a whisk and set about making scrambled eggs. She took her time just to fuck with him.

“We can’t just keep being mad at each other, Nina. You’re my sister-in-law and I’m your anchor bond as well as your Alpha.”

She turned on the gas below the skillet and put a pat of butter in to melt. “Hmm. Is that an official pronouncement?”

She tipped the bowl, pouring the mixture into the skillet, and put it in the sink before moving back to the stove where she stirred the eggs.

He fumed as the food cooked. Finally she pulled out two plates and halved the eggs and put one plate in front of Cade and sat down with hers.

“Oh. Thanks.”

Nina hid a smirk at his confusion. Cade Warden might be her Alpha and the big cheese, but he and his tool of a brother had to be properly trained as to how to treat a woman. This He-Man routine of theirs had to stop. If she was going to live there, it would be on her terms, too, or not at all.

They ate in silence until she stood up and put her plate in the sink.

“So are we okay or what?” Cade asked.

She turned to him. “Eventually I think we will be. On one level, I trust you. As a member of your Pack, I trust you’ll enforce the rules that keep werewolves safe. But that doesn’t mean I trust you, Cade, to protect me, Nina. I would have given my life for you or Lex. But you don’t feel the same and that’s taking some getting used to.”

He stood and went to her. Taking her hands in his, he searched her face as he tried to think of the words to say. “Nina, you can trust me. There is no one more important to me in the world than you and Lex. I love my family but you two are my tri-bond. In many ways, you’re my mate too. It nearly killed me to watch you being attacked. I tried to find you a way out. And no, I don’t think it was your fault. But I also knew that a werewolf could easily kill a human. I had to make the choice that was best for the Pack. But that doesn’t mean you can’t trust me.”

“You can’t have it both ways, Cade.” She gently took her hands back and kissed his cheek. “I’ll get over it in time. But I don’t think things between us will ever be the same and maybe that’s a good thing anyway.”

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