Jag shut his eyes as the pain in his head intensified. For most of his adult life he had been fighting the demonic voices in his head. They were experts at finding his weaknesses and twisting them for their own gain. He hated how seductive they were, or how, in moments of weakness, he found himself seriously considering their suggestions.
“Georgia wanted the bonding just as much as we did.” Tori’s voice filtered over him as she came up from behind. “She thought that she could handle the infusion of magic.” Her light, floral scent filled his nose and breathed calm into his soul.
Jag bowed his head as Tori put her hand on his shoulder and crouched down next to him. Her touch soothed the pain in his head, but it could never take away his guilt.
“I should have known,” he whispered as he tightened his fingers into his palm.
“You need to stop beating yourself up over this.” Tori nodded to the grave. “She wouldn’t want us to mourn her for the rest of our lives. She’d want us to move on.”
“I should have died with her.”
Tori pressed her lips to his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his torso, but it was a small comfort. “I know. We all should have died, but the earth mother chose to keep us alive.”
“Why?” He unclenched his fists and glanced to Tori. Like him, she wore jeans, a T-shirt, matching leather belt, and boots. Unlike him, she was scrubbed clean and her cheeks had a healthy glow. Her jet-black hair curled around her shoulders and kissed the tops of her breasts. She seemed so…alive. She was the complete opposite of the turmoil and despair raging inside of him. Then again, there had always been a black spot on his soul, even before Georgia’s death. Jag’s father had made sure of that.
“We completed the ritual,” he said. “Our souls were bound. We should have felt her pain and known something was wrong.” He turned back toward the grave. “We should’ve been able to do something.”
“You were away at a convention.”
“I shouldn’t have gone.”
“You didn’t know.” Tori slipped her arms away from his body and turned toward the makeshift grave site. “None of us knew.”
“It makes no sense. Why would she hide the fact she was dying from us?”
Tori stared at the grave marker for a long moment before responding. “I ask myself the same question every day. Georgia had some magical abilities, but she wasn’t a witch. She wasn’t strong enough to survive a mating with two other magical beings.” Tori turned back and met his gaze. “I don’t know how she hid it. Perhaps the binding ritual didn’t work as well as we thought and she was able to shield her emotions from us. Or…”
“Or what?” he asked.
Tori sighed. “Empaths who are able to project emotions onto others are so rare. Not much is known about them. Perhaps Georgia was able to project feelings of calm and health onto us so that we didn’t know she was suffering.”
Jag’s heart ached as he watched tears fill his mate’s eyes. “Why didn’t she tell us?”
“There was nothing we could do. Our magic was already in her bloodstream and eating her from the inside out.”
“We could have found someone to help.” Jag blinked back his stubborn tears.
“Your brother kicked you out of the Coven, remember?” She shook her head. “Everyone who has ever tried to break the mating bond has died.” She turned back to the grave and ran her fingers over the small stone. “Georgia knew that she was dying. She sacrificed her life so that we could have ours.”
“Stupid woman,” Jag turned away from Tori and wiped the tears on his cheeks away with disgust.
Kill her. Kill them all.
Jag squeezed his eyes shut.Shut up.
Tori let out a long breath and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I know. More than anything, I’d love for her to come back just so I could wring her dainty little neck.”
Jag snorted. “Yeah.” He relaxed his features as the voices in his head began to recede.
“Hey.” Tori placed her delicate fingers on his jaw and turned his head to meet her gaze. “Stop dwelling on the past. There’s nothing we can do to change it. The only thing we can do is look to our future.”
And what kind of future is that, Tori? Jag stared into his mate’s beautiful golden eyes and knew she was right. The problem was, he didn’t know if there was a future for him and Tori. Without Georgia’s submissive nature appeasing their dominant personalities, Tori and Jag had started butting heads. They argued over silly things, each one trying to take charge of the relationship. Both of them had tried to be submissive in the bedroom without success. With each passing day, he and Tori were growing further and further apart. If things continued along this path, their relationship would never survive.
Tori features wrinkled with concern. “Jag, don’t look at me like that. You’re scaring me.”
Tori’s words jerked him back to the present. Jag forced his features to soften. “I’m sorry. My demons just get the better of me sometimes.” He had to stay in control. If he let his emotions lead him, then the dark spot on his soul would gain the advantage, and bad things would start to happen.
Jag had only let the darkness take control once in his life, and the result had left him scarred to this very day.
“I wish you’d share your thoughts with me more.” She turned away, but not before he could see the hurt in her eyes.
“I can’t, Tori.” He wished he could, but some secrets were too dark to share, even with his mate.
Was it her imagination, or did Jag’s cock become harder at the thought? “Oh yes.” She leaned down and brushed her lips against his. “But I’d love having him in the middle, more.” She rubbed her tight nipples against his chest. “Can you picture it? Me lying on the bed with him inside of me, and you entering from behind?” A mental image of the three of them together flashed through her mind, fueling her need.
“Or we could try the dungeon downstairs.”
Tori could tell that the thought of being with Lars aroused Jag as much as it did her. She straightened and wrapped her hand around his shaft. “Imagine thrusting into his body, pushing him into me.” She ran her fingers up and down his erection as she spoke. “There would be nothing between us, nothing to keep us apart.” When Georgia was alive, Tori didn’t mind Jag’s aloofness, because Georgia’s openness more than made up for his stand-offish behavior. This time, things would be different. She’d make both men open up to her and reveal their secrets. Only then could the three of them heal.
“He’d be ours,” Jag said. “All ours.” He placed his hand over hers, stopping her movements. He lifted his hips, edging the thick head of his cock just inside her opening. “We’d be in control once more.”
“Yes.” She flattened her palms on his chest as desire swirled through her body. “God, Jag, I need you.”
He reached up and cupped her cheek with his palm. “I’m not going anywhere, baby.”
She leaned into his hand and met his gaze. She believed his words—for now. But what if things went bad with Lars? What if they couldn’t convince him to bare his soul? They were hanging onto each other by a thread as it was. It was quite possible that their relationship would never survive such a failure. Tears filled her eyes at the thought of losing Jag.
“Baby—” Jag tightened his grip on her cheek.
Jag always saw too much, knew too much. Tori didn’t want to talk anymore. She wanted action. She sank down on his cock and groaned as he filled her pussy.
He grabbed her hips and lifted his hips, driving himself deeper. “God, Tori. You feel so good.”
She slid her body up and down his cock, enjoying how his thick shaft stretched her inner walls. This was what she needed, to feel close to her mate once more. Tori sensed her magic building within her with each press of the hips. It awakened like a hungry animal and reached out toward her mate.
“Fuck.” Jag started to move beneath her, meeting her halfway. “God, Tori. I can feel your magic. It makes everything so much more intense.”
Tori closed her eyes and gave herself over to her desire, letting it blanket her body and push her depressing thoughts from her head. In moments like these, there were no secrets, no pain, there was just love and intimacy. Desire.
Their bodies moved faster and Tori blanked her mind to everything but the moment. The primal sound of flesh on flesh filled the room and added to Jag’s grunts of pleasure. Tori moaned his name, as if by calling out to him she could somehow lock him to her for eternity. Her need swept through her with a primal force and she quickened her movements. Magic built up inside her chest and reached for her lover on the bed.
Tori opened her eyes and saw Jag’s red aura surrounding his body, encasing him in a regal glow. God, she loved this man. She needed him more than air. Yet even in the throes of passion, she felt that he held a part of himself back. Somehow, she was going to convince him to share his secrets with her. She was going to get him to open up and trust her as much as she trusted him.
Jag strained beneath her as he raised his hips and plunged deep inside her body. His magic reached for her and she let it in. His presence filled her mind and strengthened her desire. She unleashed her own magic in response, and the room was cast in a reddish glow. Need pulsed through Tori, driving her faster, higher.