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.She’d tried to fix that over time, but she wasn’t sure she was worth it.Others worried so much for her and her safety, she knew they weren’t taking care of themselves like they should.She needed to stop acting so self-centered, so hurt and broken when it was her own doing.When her father, the Alpha of the Redwood Pack, put his hand on North’s shoulder then did the same to Lexi’s, solidifying their bond and mating in front of the Pack, Cailin sucked in a breath and pasted on a smile.She was happy for them, she really was.She hated herself for wanting what they had and what they were just beginning.North cupped Lexi’s face, kissing her so softly it looked as if it was barely a whisper.Their gazes never left each other, though Cailin knew North couldn’t see Lexi.He’d been blinded in their last battle with the Centrals, but that didn’t stop him from living his life to the fullest.Cailin swallowed hard, burying her own pain.Her brother looked so in love, so whole after being alone for decades, hiding his own darkness until Lexi came along and found what Cailin and her family had missed.North had needed his mate, his Lexi.Had needed her more than anything in the world.He needed their son, Parker, and the bonds that came with mating and fatherhood.Those grounded him and kept his wolf calm.Cailin would never allow the love and connections to settle her.She vowed she wouldn’t.At least, that’s what she’d told herself over and over, what she said to herself the moment she’d laid eyes on Lexi’s brother.Her gaze met that of the other man at Lexi’s side, and she raised her chin.She wouldn’t have him.Couldn’t have him.She just needed to remind her wolf that.Remind everyone who thought so much of her of that fact.He gave her a small nod, and her wolf brushed against her skin, a soft caress.A plea for submission, dominance, mating, and everything in between.Logan.Lexi’s brother.Cailin’s potential mate.No, she wouldn’t be mating with him.She’d lived her life with seven dominant men—not even counting the others in the Pack who’d watched her grow up—telling her what to do, how to act, how to behave.She’d vowed to herself long ago she wouldn’t be following the same routine for eternity tied to a man she felt was even stronger than her brothers.Even darker than her brothers.The wolf wouldn’t be able to stop himself from dominating her, and that wasn’t what she craved, what she needed in order to survive whole.Logan narrowed his eyes, but Cailin didn’t miss the promise in his gaze.Promise of something far greater than the anticipation and trepidation she’d been burying deep inside since she’d met him.Damn it, she’d run out of time.She’d been dancing on the fine line of temptation and playing hide and seek for far too long when it came to the wolf standing across the aisle.The wolf wouldn’t wait for Cailin’s cue anymore.No, he’d take what he thought was his.What he thought the Pack and she herself wanted.Cailin’s wolf, though she panted as well, sneered.Well, he’d just have to wait an eternity for that, wouldn’t he?Cailin wasn’t some weak-kneed little girl.She’d fight for her freedom—just like she’d always done.“Stop growling, little sister.You’re scaring the children.”Cailin winced at her brother Maddox’s words and tried to smile again.It came out more like a grimace, but at least it was something.“Sorry,” she whispered.She’d let her emotions get the best of her and let others know what was going on inside her mind when she hadn’t wanted them to know too much.Not the best way to observe a mating ceremony while trying to remain stoic and happy at the same time.Maddox put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.Her wolf calmed down from the storm Cailin wasn’t even aware was brewing.She didn’t sigh or relax, even if her wolf was ready to bare her belly for her brother who seemed to know just how to make her feel loved and cared for.This was why wolves were such tactile creatures.The barest touch and her wolf felt cemented, loved.Her brother bushed his lips over her temple.“The ceremony is over, Cai.You can go stand in a corner and hide from the big bad wolf if you’d like.No one would fault you.” Though his words were teasing, the meaning behind them held the hints of truth she wasn’t ready to face.And having her brother call her meekness out filled her with a rage she knew wasn’t fully on his shoulders.He would bear the brunt of it anyway.Cailin turned and faced him, her claws scraping along the insides of her fingertips at the taunt.She lifted her lip and bared a fang.Maddox only laughed, the scar on his face tightening as he did so.Her heart tugged at the sight.She despised that damn scar and all it represented.The now-dead Central Alpha, Corbin, had carved him up years go.The bastard had tortured her brother because of a prophecy that hadn’t even been about Maddox to begin with.No, it had been about North.The same North that had killed Corbin anyway.The prophecy had been correct, and Corbin had scarred the wrong brother.The fact that she couldn’t kill Corbin again enraged her and she had to push that familiar feeling back.No good would come from what-ifs.Her brother bopped her on the nose, that smile on his face infectious.God, she loved this Maddox—the Maddox that smiled, laughed, and looked happy.His mate, Ellie, had done that, and Cailin would always be grateful.Taking a deep breath, she forced her hands to relax.Instead of beating her annoyingly astute brother up, she patted the scarred side of his cheek, something she hadn’t done in the past because of her fear of hurting him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]