Into the lair, p.16
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       Into the Lair, p.16

         Part #2 of Falcon Mercenary Group series by Maya Banks
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  She shot Braden a quick questioning look, and he shrugged and headed back toward the kitchen. And then she shook her head, pissed that she’d spare any guilt over Ian’s feelings. It was sex. Good sex but just sex all the same.

  “What are you frowning about?” Ian asked as he carefully applied a strip of gauze to her stitched wound.

  “I don’t care if you’re pissed that I had sex with Braden.”

  He raised one eyebrow and cast her a sideways glance. “Who says I’m pissed?”

  “You’re not?”

  “Should I be?”

  She frowned again as he finished taping the gauze. “So you’re not?”

  “Do you want me to be?”

  She growled in frustration. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to beat him or fuck him senseless. Both held a certain appeal at the moment.

  A small smile quirked one corner of his mouth. “No, Katie, I’m not pissed. I was the one who asked my brother to watch while I had sex with you, for Christ’s sake.”

  “Anyone ever tell you how weird you are?”

  He shrugged. “Plenty of times.”

  “I see how bothered you are by that,” she said with a grin.

  He pulled her to an upright position and then moved her to his side. She leaned back against the couch, content to absorb his warmth.

  A few minutes later, Braden brought two plates and thrust them at her and Ian. He returned shortly with his own plate and plopped down in a threadbare armchair close to the fireplace.

  Breakfast food. Not her favorite, but she was so hungry, she’d eat shoe leather.

  For several minutes, she contented herself with stuffing food into her mouth. Then she became aware that both men were staring at her, their own food forgotten.

  “What?” she asked around a full mouth.

  Braden shook his head. “God almighty, I thought the first time we fed you was merely an aberration. I’ve never seen a woman put away food like that. It’s sorta scary and sexy all at the same time.”

  She choked on a laugh and then coughed when part of her food went down the wrong way. “Sorry,” she mumbled as she finally managed to get her breath. “It’s been a long time since I got a chance to eat good food.”

  Ian gave her a look of horror. “Hell, you must really have fallen on desperate times if you consider Braden’s cooking good food.”

  “Hey, fuck off,” Braden said good-naturedly.

  She grinned. It was amazing to her that she was so relaxed. Sex and a full belly certainly helped. More than that, though, she felt safe with Ian and Braden despite their less-than-stellar beginning.

  She trusted them.

  It was easy to forget what was at stake. That they were in the wilds of Austria because supposedly some goon was after her.

  And then it hit her. Truly hit her with the force of an avalanche. Ricardo would never be a threat to her again.

  Sure, she knew he was dead. She’d even taken a moment, albeit a brief one, to contemplate what his death meant. But things had moved so quickly. It was all such a blur that she hadn’t really had time to think about what her life might be like without Ricardo breathing down her neck.

  She put the fork down when it became obvious that her hand was shaking like the last leaf on a tree facing winter.

  “What’s wrong?” Ian asked sharply. He touched her cheek, and she slowly looked up to meet his gaze.

  “Nothing. I was just thinking. Realizing, I guess.”

  “Realizing what?” Braden asked.

  She glanced over to see him studying her as intently as Ian was.

  “Just that I don’t have to worry about Ricardo anymore,” she said with a nonchalant shrug that belied just how much she wanted to shout her joy and relief. “It hadn’t really sunk in until now. I’ve been running from him for so long. I mean he’s been the entire focus of my life in a twisted sort of way. My every waking moment has been spent staying a step ahead of him and trying to determine his next move.”

  Ian’s hand curled around the back of her neck, cupping it possessively. He stared hard at her, his green eyes flashing with anger and determination.

  “You don’t ever have to worry about anything again, Katie. Braden and I are going to see to that.”

  Her brow instantly furrowed at the oddity and finality of his statement. How could he make that kind of guarantee? They were nothing to each other. There was no permanence, no relationship. Until a week ago, she’d never known they existed.

  “I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m afraid I’m the only person who can make sure I don’t have men like Ricardo to worry about.” She added a reassuring smile for emphasis. “It was sweet of you to say, though.”

  “Sweet, my ass,” Braden bit out. “You aren’t alone anymore, Katie. You may not be used to it, but you damn well better get that way. We aren’t going away.”

  She blinked at his ferocity. His entire body was taut like a bowstring, and determination was locked into his face. She let her gaze flicker to Ian only to see the same steely resolve reflected in his eyes.

  Not knowing how to respond to that little outburst, she calmly picked her fork back up and resumed eating. After several long, awkward minutes, she gripped her now-empty plate and started to get off the couch.

  Ian circled her wrist and tugged her back down. “I’ll get it, Katie. You sit.”

  No escape. It nearly made her giggle. It seemed her life revolved around escape and capture. Granted she was convinced that Ian and Braden were the good guys here, but still, she’d exchanged an unsavory prison for a much better one. But still a prison all the same. Freedom was an elusive creature indeed.

  But was freedom really what she wanted? Did she want to be away from these two men? She could lie to herself—she’d certainly been less than honest with herself in the past—but the truth was she trusted these two men as much as it galled her to admit, and more than that, she wanted them. Wanted to be close to them, wanted intimacy, and it went beyond just sex, no matter that she’d damn near beaten herself over the head trying to convince herself otherwise.

  The fire had warmed the room or at least taken the bitter chill. She awkwardly positioned herself so she could curl her feet underneath her as she turned in the direction of the fireplace.

  Braden watched her, and she peeked at him from underneath her lashes.

  “What now, Braden?” she asked. “Do we stay here forever? Wait for the boogeyman to come get us? What are we doing, exactly?”

  To her surprise he looked briefly away. She was used to his bluntness, counted on it. While Ian usually tried to couch things and be more diplomatic, Braden tended to say it like it was without deference to her feelings. She liked that.

  There was a hint of unease in his expression when he turned his eyes back to her. “Eli and Tits along with the Falcon secondary are hunting Esteban. We stay here until it’s safe to leave.”

  “And?” Surely there had to be more to their plan than that.

  “And nothing. When we get word that Esteban is no longer a threat to you then we take things from there.”

  She continued to stare at him in silence. He probably didn’t understand her worries or concerns. He had a place in the world. He and Ian were part of this Falcon team. They had friends, jobs, each other. She had no one. No home to return to, no life to get on with.

  It was a daunting thought and something she had to do a lot of thinking about, because when it was all over with, she would be solidly on her own again. And for the first time in a long time, that scared the hell out of her.

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Katie stood at the window watching the snow drift steadily downward. She raised the cup of cocoa framed in her palms and took a cautious sip. A flood of sweet, warm chocolate filled her mouth and trailed down her throat.

  A few days of rest and plenty to eat had damn near made a new woman out of her. She felt stronger. And she wasn’t afraid. Despite the unknown danger, a danger that only Ian and Braden seemed awa
re of, she still felt safe. It had been so long since she’d known anything but the paralyzing fear that gripped her every time she went out, walked down the street or tried to sleep at night.

  She liked the quiet of the snow. The peace. It was clean and beautiful. A clean slate. She’d like one of those. Redemption. Freedom from mistakes.


  No. She didn’t want forgiveness. Forgiveness implied a guilty conscience in need of soothing. She only regretted her own personal choices.

  For the first time in so long, she was…happy. It sounded ludicrous, that here, on the run, shacked up in a remote cabin with men determined to protect her, she could be so content. She’d relaxed her guard willingly and allowed herself to become immersed in the fantasy of being taken care of by two men who took her breath away.

  She didn’t want it to end. Esteban was a world away, not a reality to her, and she wanted it to remain so. No intrusions, no awakening to the real world.

  Never before had she felt cherished, like she mattered. Here in Braden and Ian’s arms, she’d found… She swallowed, refusing to say it, to think it. Home. Even she couldn’t become that delusional.

  She bowed her head, tearing her gaze from the snow-blanketed ground to stare into the mug she held. Firm hands gripped her shoulders, squeezing lightly as lips nuzzled her neck. She smiled and closed her eyes, leaning into Braden’s strong chest.

  “Hi,” he murmured.

  She set the mug on the windowsill and then turned to face him. His hands settled on her hips, and he pulled her to his body until she was flush against him.

  “Hey yourself.”

  He knuckled her chin up and kissed her lingeringly. “Want breakfast?”

  “Mmm, does this mean I have to go wake Ian up?”

  Braden chuckled. “Yeah, you drew short straw. I’d rather have KP duty.”

  “Give me twenty minutes,” she murmured as she reached up on tiptoe to give him another quick kiss.

  She stepped around him and headed for the bedroom. She paused inside the doorway and took in Ian’s sprawled body. He was lying on his stomach, one arm tucked underneath his pillow and the other flung over the other pillow at his head.

  Quietly, she walked further, not wanting to disturb him even though she’d come to wake him. She eased onto the bed, her gaze sliding up his muscular form.

  The past days had been satisfying even if odd. The three had formed an easy camaraderie, and both men took every opportunity to make love to her. Separately. It was as though she enjoyed a relationship with both men simultaneously, and they were okay with it.

  She caught the looks they exchanged, usually about the time one of them put the moves on her. There was an understanding between them. She was an understanding between them. And yet they hadn’t attempted to have a threesome with her.

  Based on previous conversations, she knew they’d gone that road in the past, and she also knew from innuendo laced into their flirting that they were certainly open to fucking her at the same time. Which begged the question: Why hadn’t they?

  Unless…they were waiting for her to make the move.

  Considering she’d made the first move the first time with both men, it wasn’t too hard to believe that they could very well be letting her call the shots.

  She placed her hand at the small of Ian’s back and slid it upward, enjoying the feel of his skin, the roll of his muscles under her palm. She leaned in and put her lips to his shoulder.

  He tensed against her lips, and she heard the change of his breathing, signaling his break from sleep. And then he rolled, snagging her with his arm and hauling her against his chest.

  She came willingly, landing against him with a slight jolt. Her mouth was inches from his lips, and she didn’t shy away. She took them in a hungry movement, sucking his bottom lip between her teeth. She nipped and then licked and swallowed his growl.

  He was usually slow to awaken, and when he did, he was surly and grumpy. She and Braden spent the first hour of Ian’s day avoiding him and the rest of the time giving him a hard time about what a grouch he was. This morning, however, he went from a dead sleep to instant alert.

  His cock bulged in his underwear. It was rigid against her side, hot and thick as his body worked against hers. He was aroused and ready, and a dark thrill singed through her veins when his hands tore impatiently at her shirt.

  “Good morning,” she murmured.

  “Shut up,” he growled as his lips slammed against hers in a kiss that drove the breath from her chest.

  Oh hell yeah, she liked waking the beast.

  She tried to get her hands into his underwear, but he yanked her arms back, pinning them behind her. Then he rolled her over so that he straddled her body and stared down at her with glittering eyes.

  She was at a distinct disadvantage, and while it would usually irritate the living hell out of her, she found herself liking it. Liking it very much.

  As soon as his hands touched her breasts, a shudder worked through her body. He cupped them roughly, massaging and kneading the plump mounds. Then he pulled at both nipples, elongating them. He gave each a sharp pinch. A long hiss escaped her clenched teeth.

  His engorged cock, still encased in his underwear, rested on her belly. His knees dug into the bed at her sides, and then he rubbed his groin up and down her pelvis until she moaned and twisted restlessly.

  “You know what they say about not starting something unless you can finish it,” he said in a voice thick with desire.

  She spread her hands in a gesture of helpless innocence. “All I did was wake you for breakfast.”

  “And if I plan on having you for breakfast?”

  “I try never to interfere with a man and his appetite,” she murmured.

  “I guess neither of you will be making it to the table,” Braden said dryly.

  Katie turned her head to see Braden leaning against the door, his gaze raking up and down her naked body. She stared boldly in return and then looked back up at Ian to gauge his mood. Would it be as simple as telling them both she wanted them? Together?

  She glanced back at Braden. For a moment, indecision wavered in her mind. She didn’t want to screw up what she had. Sex with both men was fantastic. Even as good as she knew it would be with both of them together, she could certainly live with their current arrangement. For as long as it lasted.

  “Say what’s on your mind, Katie,” Braden drawled.

  “We’re not mind readers,” Ian said.

  “I want you…both,” she said simply.

  Braden shoved off the doorframe and stalked toward her, all sense of easygoing teasing gone. There was a hint of darkness to his face that sent prickles of excitement dancing over her skin.

  She peeked back up at Ian who had the same smoldering intensity lurking in his eyes. What the hell had she just done?

  Braden leaned down, his fingers caressing her cheek. “Be sure about this, Katie. Be damn sure. We’ve played things your way, but if you want us both, it’s going to be our way. Can you handle giving up that kind of control?”

  Holy hell. It was suddenly all sorts of hard to breathe.

  “In bed,” she said coolly. As coolly as she could under the circumstances. “It doesn’t go any further than in bed. As long as we’re clear on that.”

  Ian chuckled. “We don’t expect you to undergo a complete lobotomy.” He twisted her nipple between his fingers, sharply enough to send a spark of pain racing through her breast.

  She closed her eyes. She craved the darkness she saw lurking in their eyes. Wanted it, needed it with a dangerous appetite. The bite of pain, the heat of raw, uncontrolled passion.

  They knew her secrets, and now they were going to wrest control from her hands and give her everything she most desired.

  She emitted a low growl. A primal sound of a woman greeting her mate. Her submission and her acquiescence. It wasn’t the sound of a weak, helpless female.

  Ian tensed, and then he swung away from her, his fee
t hitting the floor with a thud. He tore his underwear off while Braden’s clothing flew in the other direction. And then two hulking, naked men faced her down with the promise of everything she’d ever desired flashing in their eyes.

  She swallowed and lay still, waiting and wanting.

  “On your knees,” Braden said in a low, silky voice.

  Slowly she rolled, and then she pushed herself to her knees until they were planted in the soft mattress.

  “Turn to me,” he said.

  She turned, her fingers dug into the edge of the bed. The bed dipped behind her, and she glanced back to see Ian positioning himself at her ass. His hands gripped her hips, and there was nothing gentle about his grasp.

  Braden’s hand slid into her hair, and then he fisted the strands and pulled her head slightly to the side. He grasped his cock with his other hand and pumped a few times as he guided it toward her mouth.

  “Open,” he said.

  Adrenaline-laced desire centered in her belly and fanned outward, tightening every nerve ending in its path. Her pussy fisted and tingled, and then she felt Ian nudging impatiently at her opening. There was no finesse, no gentle coaxing. He lined up and thrust deep.

  She gasped, and Braden took advantage by sliding to the back of her throat. She was simultaneously filled by both men, and she’d never felt anything like it in her life.

  “That’s it,” Braden said approvingly. “You’re ours, Katie. Take it deep. Just like that.”

  Her body shook and rocked with the force of their motion. Neither man gave her any reprieve, and God, she loved it. She wanted to mount them both, take them hard and hungry. Her need was feral and demanding.

  Braden’s musky scent filled her nostrils. His taste invaded her mouth and exploded over her tongue. She sucked hungrily, matching his thrusts with the bob of her head.

  Ian rocked against her ass with enough force that each stab into her pussy was an exotic mix of intense pleasure and sweet pain. His swollen cock dragged over her entrance, stretching her mercilessly. He felt bigger than before, as if only now had she plumbed the depths of his desire.

  And then she realized that she wasn’t feeling the sleek latex of a condom-covered cock. Every ridge, every swollen vein slid over the walls of her pussy. Flesh to flesh.

  She ripped her head from Braden’s cock only to have his hand tighten in her hair, his displeasure over her action evident as he shoved his cock back to her lips.

  “Condom,” she said hoarsely. “Ian. Condom.”

  Ian stilled against her and then cursed vividly. Then he pressed a gentle kiss to her spine. “Sorry, baby.”

  He left her, and cool air brushed over her behind, chilling her as she lost his comforting warmth. Braden’s hand softened in her hair and he stroked, caressing the strands between his fingers.

  She looked up, an invitation. He touched her cheek with his other hand and then shifted his hips so that his cock brushed across her lips. She tongued the head, lapping in a circle as she tested the contour of the flared tip.

  He plunged, taking her breath in one forceful thrust. He lodged in the back of her throat, and she swallowed to accept him. His hand tightened again in her hair, all softness gone.

  He fucked her mouth with rapid, hard strokes. For several long seconds, she didn’t breathe. She just felt. Absorbed. And then he tore himself away, and both their ragged breaths filled the room.

  “Come here,” he rasped.

  She got off the bed, her legs shaking. He yanked her to his chest and kissed her fiercely. Then he walked her back until she met the bed.

  “Lay down.”

  She sat first, her palms going down to brace her fall. Slowly she reclined until her head was pillowed in the tangle of sheets. He hooked her legs over his arms and pulled until her ass was aligned with the edge of the mattress. And then he let her down and stepped back.

  Ian loomed over her, picking her legs up as Braden had done. He spread her wide and moved in, his cock brushing her clit. He let one leg go long enough to grasp his erection and position it at her entrance. Then he reclaimed her leg and surged forward.

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