Fiona Hurton was too young when we first met. 
Too naive. 
Too innocent.
Too tempting.
I vowed to protect her, to keep her safe, and I have, for five long years.
Even when keeping her safe meant keeping my distance.
Even when the greatest threat to her innocence was me.
But Fiona’s not a girl anymore. 
When danger’s at her door and we’re forced together, I won’t back down.
I’ll defend her. I’ll shield her. I’ll comfort and keep her.
Because Fiona Hurton is all grown up now.
And it’s time she realized… she’s mine.

He traces his fingers down the side of my face, his eyes intent on mine. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m lifting my face toward his, like a flower seeking sunlight. I want him to kiss me. I need him to kiss me.

My eyes flutter closed when his lips brush mine. My pulse races and my arms encircle his neck. We’re entwined together, holding onto one another. Our spat forgotten, the punishing lashes of his belt stoking a deep, abiding desire for him low in my belly.

My head bends back when he deepens our kiss. My lips part as his do, and my moans are swallowed by his. He maneuvers me onto the bed and cages me in, his large body framing mine as he kisses me. He presses his body against mine, the hard ridge of his cock at my pussy.

He pulls his mouth off mine and whispers in my ear. “I want you, Fiona. I want you so badly I can hardly think of anything else. The effort it takes to hold myself back makes me ache.”

“Lachlan —”

His mouth’s at my neck, kissing down the length to my collarbone. “Hush,” he whispers. “And listen.”

I hold my breath. I close my eyes. I don’t just listen.

I feel.

His chest pressed up against mine, his heartbeat racing. His fingers laced through mine above my head, my arm stretched upward, welcoming him in. His kiss on my cheek, my chin, my neck, and lower still to the fullest swell of my breast.

He braces himself above me so he can look at me. “I need to claim you, Fiona Hurston.”

I think my heart actually comes to a stuttering halt.

This… this is not what I expected tonight.

Claim you.

I know what that means. I may not know the intricate details of Clan life, but I’m good friends with the women, and we know what claiming means. Still, I want to hear him say it. I need to hear him explain exactly what he means.

“Tell me,” I whisper. “What you mean when you say you want to claim me.”

He runs his fingers through my hair and brushes it off my face. “Like burnt gold,” he says in admiration. He holds a lock between his thumb and forefinger and inhales deeply, then releases a sigh. But he doesn’t answer the question, not at first. His brow furrows. I want to kiss him there and ease that worry.

“Tell me, Lachlan. Please. I want to hear you say it.”

“Claiming you makes you mine, to anyone outside the walls of this room. It grants you Clan protection, for anyone who touches a hair on the head of a claimed woman pays dearly. It will grant you protection and guidance, financial and physical security all the days of your life. It means… it means I’ll wed you. Put my ring on your finger and a baby in your belly. It means that my sun rises with your needs and sets with your dreams.” He kisses my cheek. “It means you finally become my everything, as I’ve wanted.”

I blink, so overcome with emotion, I can’t speak at first. He looks at me hopefully, an almost boyish expression written across his features.

“I suppose it’s a bit more than dating, isn’t it?” I ask, unable to prevent myself from teasing him.

He narrows his gaze and growls at me, and I melt beneath him.

USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily-ever-afters. She writes what she loves to read: kink with a tender touch. Jane is a hopeless romantic who lives on the East Coast with a houseful of children and her very own Prince Charming.
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