“You’re my mates.” Her expression remained neutral.
“Sorry, we didn’t mean to dump it on you.” John stood up and offered her his hand. “We threw you for a loop, huh?”
She took his hand. Ford watched his friend’s face and saw a flicker of surprise.
John’s not feeling the connection, either.
Was it the circumstances? Were they too tired? He stood up and studied her expression. If she felt the bond pulling them together, she wasn’t letting on.
“I’m Ford Hiller and this is my friend, John McCaffrey.” He tried to make her feel more at ease. Maybe then, they’d get the right feeling. “And you’re Eden Provost.”
Her mouth parted and a strange look came to her eyes. “Right. I’m Eden Provost.”
He laughed. That had to be it. They’d given her a surprise that had zapped not only the connection, but her ability to think straight. “Yes, you are.”
“Come on, darlin’, give me a hug.” John took her arms and pulled her against him.
Ford half expected her to push him away, but she didn’t. At least that was something. She just needed more time. Once she got over the initial shock, the connection would roar between the three of them.
Part of him, however, didn’t believe it.
John’s gaze came to him again. And again, he could see his friend was as confused as he was.
When they finally ended the hug, Ford opened his arms, giving her the option of hugging him. She shot him a sexy big smile and wrapped her arms around him.
He closed his eyes and searched.
Not a damn thing.
At least not anything more than the normal reaction any man would have hugging a great-looking woman. By the time, he released her, he was ready to ask her point blank if she felt anything.
“It’s great meeting you. Both of you.” She tossed her golden hair over her shoulders and gave them a smile any man would’ve killed for.
Still, she sounded like she’d just met a friend of a friend. Not at all the way a mate should’ve sounded after meeting her mates.
“Would you like to place an order?” She went back into waitress mode, her pad and pencil at the ready.
He and John exchanged yet another questioning look. Why was she treating them like they were just any other two guys ordering lunch?
“Maybe this is a bad time.” John shook his head at her. “We’re not really hungry. We just couldn’t wait to meet you.”
“Oh. Of course.” Suddenly, as though what they’d been trying to tell her had finally sunk in, her demeanor changed. She visibly relaxed and put a hand on John’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. Everything’s not really hit me yet.”
“Sure, we understand,” answered Ford.
Had they been as shell-shocked when they’d first seen her photo and realized she existed? He didn’t think so, but who knew? They had to make up for the awkward meeting. “How about we take you out tonight? You’ll have to name the place since we just got into town, but wherever you want to go is fine with us.”
“Yeah.” John seemed relieved and ready to go for any idea that might help. “What about it, Eden? Where would you like to go?”
She lifted her nose and sniffed. Until then, he hadn’t though it polite to do so. But if she could sniff, then so could he.
Yep. She’s a tigress.
She was different now. More accepting? Definitely more confident. Had she finally found her footing?
“Instead of going to dinner—” she shrugged—“because this place is the only place in town, why don’t we go for run? I love running under a bright moon, don’t you?”
She’d only just met them and she was willing to strip off her clothes, shift, and go running with them. Her offer had to mean she felt drawn to them.
“Sure. Where should we meet you?”
“Are you staying at Lena’s place?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?” Ford felt more at ease with her now. The connection would come back once they got used to each other.
She laughed and the sound of it was musical. “Unless you’re staying in Crosston or another town, then Lena’s the only place in Twisted.”
“Then it’ll make it easy for you to find us,” added John.
“It would, but I’d rather meet you farther out. Besides, if Lena see us together, she’ll talk our ears off.”
She leaned closer to Ford, giving him a good whiff of her perfume. It reminded him of the roses his mother used to grow.
“Just to be sure, you are weretigers, aren’t you? Like me?”
“Good. Anyway, I’ll see you around nine, okay?”
Ford wanted to hug her again, to see if he’d picked up any other sensation, but saw what had to be the manager giving her a hard stare. “We’ll let you get back to work.”
“See you later, Eden.” John slid his hand along her waist as he eased past her.
Ford was outside before he turned to his friend. “Did you get anything?”
John took his passenger seat again. “Not a damn thing.”
“Me neither. I’ve never heard of it happening before. I thought once a shifter meets his mate, the bond between them is supposed to get stronger.”
“Yeah. But then again, we’ve never had the feeling before and there are a whole lot of myths out there. Who knows what’s true?”
“Could it be a woman thing? Like maybe her hormones are throwing it off?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell not going to be the one who asks her.”
“You’re so fucking beautiful.” Ford’s smile made her even weaker. “But then, you know it, don’t you?”
“Hey, baby, it’s okay. I like a girl with confidence.”
They kept moving closer. She kept stepping back, even though all she really wanted to do was to beg them to take her as their mate.
Realization struck her.
Is this the connection? Are these my mates?
Excitement burst free inside her. She’d dreamed of finding her mates and of experiencing the connection, but she’d kept the dreams at bay, fearful that her dreams would never come true. If she didn’t find them, the dreams would eventually turn into waking nightmares that would tear her apart.
Is this real? Or am I dreaming?
If she was dreaming, she didn’t want anyone to wake her.
She let out a small yelp when her back bumped against the side of Buster’s Computers and Gadgets. John and Ford had cornered her as surely as any cat would corner a mouse.
Ford inched closer, his mouth coming toward hers. At the last moment, just as she’d parted her lips to ready herself for his kiss, he eased past toward her ear. His fingers grazed her arm to raise goosebumps along the way.
“I want you so bad my balls hurt.”
Granted, what he’d said wasn’t the most romantic thing she’d ever heard, but it was sexy as hell. Her pussy clenched then throbbed. He had her hurting for a release.
John took hold of her chin and pulled her attention to him. “We want you. You’re ours. You feel it, don’t you? You’re ours and we’re yours. No doubt in my mind now.”
Now? As though there’d been doubt before? But how could that be?
“Why so shy, baby?”
Shy? She’d never been called shy before except whenever Mariah was around. She’d always taken a back seat to her exuberant and lively sister. Compared to her sister, then, yes, she could be called shy.
And yet, the sensation storming through her emboldened her. “I’m not shy. Not really.”
“Prove it,” whispered Ford.
She worked her lower lip, but then shoved the hesitation away. “Fine.” Taking hold of Ford’s hair, she yanked hard, met his gaze, then brought his mouth to her shoulder. She barely resisted the urge to demand that he bite her.
Taking John in the same way, she pulled his mouth to hers. Urgent need raked her, demanding she do more than simply kiss him. Her tongue plunged into his mouth, daring him to kiss her back with equal fervor.
She should’ve known her dare would be answered.
With a low growl that flowed into her mouth, John kissed her back hard. His tongue wrestled with hers then swept around her mouth, tasting her flavors. In and around he went, then pulled out just enough to slick his tongue into the corner of her mouth. She sucked at his lower lip and added some teeth. Another growl told her how much he liked the pain she’d given him.
Pain of her own came from Ford as he bit her neck. Not enough to break skin, certainly not enough to claim her, but enough to send delightful zings of pain racing into her neck. She turned her face more to John, exposing more of her neck.
Footsteps hurrying past them and giggles told her they weren’t alone on the street, but she didn’t care. She’d heard of public displays happening in Twisted, especially in Roar. Even if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have stopped them anyway.
Both men took a breast, pushing against her, and massaging her nipples. She’d already been firm, but the pressure of their hands made the already taut buds even harder. Moaning, she pushed her hips forward, urging one of them to shove his crotch against her. Instead, they caught her legs between theirs. Cocks, hard and long, rubbed against her bare legs. The heat from them warmed her skin.
Nothing had prepared her. Not all the talks about the special bond between mates. Not her girlfriends or her family. She’d heard hundreds of stories of how mates had met each other and she’d seen the love between her parents, but she’d never thought of them as being any different than simply love stories. Were shifters making it a bigger deal than the same kind of love humans found? Falling in love at first sight happened, but it was a rarity and not a necessity as it was with shifters.
Now she knew it was different. So much more. So much better.
She’d only believed she was living before she’d met them. Life for her had really started ten minutes ago when they’d pulled their truck to the curb and strode over to her.
She clung to them, uncaring if the entire town was watching them. Uncaring that she was ready to strip off her clothes and offer herself to them.
“Eden.” John was breathless when he finally broke the kiss. His eyes flamed with amber. The tips of his fangs peeked from between his lips. “Now. We’re going to claim you now.”