“He’s irrational, Callan.” She fought to sit back and relax as she glanced at the head of the table where Callan watched them both with a frown. “The man is so damned paranoid you’ll be out there pounding nails instead of making decisions for the Pride soon.”
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Sherra turned back to him, incredulous at the accusation. Suddenly she had gone from coddling the exhausted Breeds to being unable to protect Merinus?
“Me?” she snarled, gripping the table in fury. “I wasn’t the one who took her out on the motorcycle the other day. That was you. All I did was help her clean the stupid closet out.”
“She almost fell on her head, dammit. I told you to keep that woman out of closed spaces. She’s a hazard in them, didn’t you pay attention?”
“I am not your sister’s keeper!” she yelled. “How am I supposed to make sense of the crazy things she wants to do? She’s your damned sister.”
She was on her feet now, her finger pointing across the table in accusation as she faced him. She was sick of playing babysitter to an eight-year-old who knew more than she should, as well as a woman who didn’t seem to know how to move her feet in a closet.
“Well, hell, excuse me, I thought you two should have enough in common to at least be able to walk and talk at the same damned time together,” he drawled mockingly. “You should take lessons from her, Sherra. Being in heat the way you are, you should have the sense to at least pay attention when she messes up. You might want to learn from it.”
She felt the blood drain from her face. Reality became limited to the dark, knowing depths of his eyes and the challenge sparkling there.
“You’re insane.” She tried to find the fury of moments before, but could barely manage to breathe past the shock instead.
He laughed, though the sound was mocking, filled with anger as he came to his feet and faced her with a tight smile.
“Am I?” he said. “Or do you think you can hide something else from me? Sorry, baby, I’m not nearly as stupid as you seem to think I am. And you want to know what else I’m aware of?” He leaned closer, his hands flattening on the table as he came almost nose-to-nose with her. Her senses were filled with the scent of him. The smell of hot, furious male wrapped around her, nearly strangling her with hunger.
“What do you think you know?” she tried to snarl back, but her voice was weak, wary. Now she understood the warning glimmer of anger that had burned in his eyes when she first entered the kitchen. Kane was flat pissed. And that was not a good thing.
“What I know,” he said with brutal clarity, “is that you’re in heat, Sherra. And I know who your mate is. I know, because it’s me.” He straightened then, staring back at her, seeming angrier at the knowledge than anything else. “Just like I know about the baby, the sterilization and your f**king stubbornness for the last few months. I know it all, and I’ll be damned if you’ll get away with any of it for even one day longer.”
You could have heard a pin drop was so clichéd, but it was the first thing that hit Sherra’s mind seconds after Kane’s furious announcement. She stood face to face with him, watching the muscle tic in his jaw, the flames that blazed in his eyes, and listened to the complete silence of the room. There were six others there besides them. Shocked, silent, watching her complete humiliation in stunned surprise. Breathing harshly, she faced the man who had ripped her heart from her chest so many years ago, the man she had sworn to kill, only to learn her brother had nearly done the deed for her. She pulled her strength around her quickly, pride and pain and the determination that had helped her survive the years. Her head rose until she could stare back at him regally, making certain her expression was one of arrogant unconcern.
“Evidently, I didn’t feel it was any of your business, Kane,” she said shortly, pushing the words past her lips as she watched his anger grow. “Had I felt you needed to know any part of it, I would have informed you myself.” She glanced meaningfully at Merinus before her gaze returned to Kane. “It would appear I didn’t think you were on a need-to-know basis.”
She was very well aware of who had most likely spilled the secrets she had fought to keep. Merinus loved her family more than anyone, with the exception of Callan and their unborn child. Kane’s lips curled back from his teeth in a silent snarl that would have done a Feline breed proud.
“Guess again, kitten,” he snapped. “I don’t give a damn what you think I should or should not know. I gave you a chance to come to me, a month’s worth of chances, and you hid instead. Now you can face the consequences.”
Her laughter was mocking and brief. “Face the consequences? Sorry, Kane, I’ve made that trip already. It was a lousy one. I won’t pay again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do. Callan can let me know what you decide about Farside Construction. I really don’t give a damn how you handle it.”
“Walk away from me and you’ll regret it.” His low warning had her halting the turn that would have allowed her to do just that.
She glanced over at him, seeing the determined cast of his hard expression, the raging fury in his dark blue eyes. She allowed her lips to lift in a bitter smile, let her gaze rake him coldly. “Regret it, Kane? I only wish I had done so the first time. I would have been so much better off.”
She let her gaze encompass her family then. Those she had been raised with, the two who had come into it through their matings with her brothers. She saw their disbelief, their sympathy and shock.
“Goodnight, guys. My portion of the entertainment for the night is over. Maybe I can do better tomorrow.”
Anger burned in her, warming her cheeks, trembling through her body as she let them look their fill.
“Do you think it will be that easy, Sherra?” Kane’s voice was rough, the fight for control throbbing in his voice. “Do you think for one damned minute I’ll let you get away with this?”
“I really don’t think you have a choice.” She stalked from the room, head held high. She really didn’t give a damn what he thought she could or couldn’t do. She had endured eleven years of physical hell, of emotional pain, of fighting to make sense of why her body was betraying her, why she needed so desperately yet her flesh rebelled at any other man’s touch. Learning the reason why hadn’t helped her emotional strength. To know it was a mating rather than a hunger, a bond that, so far, remained unbroken hadn’t helped. Callan was already furious that she hadn’t told him about the physical problems she had experienced earlier, that she had dared to attempt sterilization to ease the pain. His disappointment in her had shamed her more than she expected. As she left the kitchen, she heard her brother’s voice arguing with Kane, Merinus pleading. The others, of course, were commenting. She didn’t care. They hadn’t lived the past eleven years in her skin. Hadn’t hungered with no idea of why, needed and ached for a touch that was never there. She grabbed the banister of the stairs and began to race up the steps. The need for escape throbbed in her veins, pounded in her heart.