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Claiming Syler

A Shifter Novel : Book Two

By: Jaden Sinclair
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Copyright: Copyright  2009-2015 by Jaden Sinclair
Eleven Chapters / 52,000 Words
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She had watched him from afar, thinking of him as her knight in shining armor, but when her heart gets broken, Skyler Draeger discovers there isn't much to her fairy tale.

Adrian Laswell made a big mistake one night, and it seems an even bigger one when he makes his claim on Skyler. He lets a few months go by before he shows back up into her life only to discover that claiming Skyler isn't going to be as easy as what he had hoped.

An old saying goes that there is nothing worse than a woman scorned; only man has no concept of that until he comes face to face with a shifter female. Now the battle of wills is on and a shadow lurks over their shoulders. Can Adrian mend her broken heart, or will his mistake prevent Skyler from loving him forever?

Chapter One

Adrian Laswell drove down the long, gravel driveway toward the Draeger home with a grin on his face and flutters in his stomach. Six months had gone by since he was here last, and in those six months, Adrian had had a lot to think about and plan. His beat-up truck was packed with everything he owned. Since the day his father had died, when he was in his teens, his only family had been the Draegers. His status as a member of the family was going to become official and permanent. Adrian was now a mated man, the same as married, and he couldn’t wait to get started with his new life. The only drawback—he knew it was going to be an uphill battle.

Adrian’s hair was medium brown, tending to turn blond in the summer months, hence he was often referred to as a golden shifter, and his eyes were baby blue. Most male shifters were dark in personality, but Adrian was different—carefree and lighthearted. Adrian stood at six-two. His hair was cut short at the back of his neck, but long on top. At times, the girls used to say he was a Brad Pitt look alike with an Orlando Bloom smile. His nose was straight and his lips full. He’d been told he was very kissable, and he had a body like a pro athlete. The only thing missing in his life was his mate, Skyler. The past six months without her had been torture for him.

Adrian smiled when he saw a brand new yard decoration in front of the house. The driveway he knew so well had changed, now a circle drive with a large water fountain in the middle and grass around it, with a very nice-looking arrangement of roses around the fountain. The one thing that came to mind was Sidney, Stefan’s new wife, was making some major changes to the household. Adrian wondered how well Natasha, Stefan’s mother, was taking it all. For years, that woman had single-handedly run this household, so Adrian wasn’t so sure how it was going.

He stopped his truck on the left side of the fountain and put it into park, but he didn’t get out. He sat back and gawked up at the house and thought about the last time he was here. Stefan had just gotten married, and Adrian had made a huge mistake that night, just before he went to talk to Stefan, and Dedrick—the head of the family—about placing his claim.

He knew that mistake was hanging over his head, and he began to have some doubt as to what he could do to fix it, thus making things right between him and Skyler. So far, he still had no clue how to make any changes. He hoped like hell Dedrick had Skyler at a point of understanding. After all, six months had gone by, plenty of time for her to cool off and work things out about him.

Sidney Draeger popped her head into the passenger side window with a bright smile on her face. “You do realize sitting out in the truck watching the house isn’t going to work?”

It had been a long time since he had seen her, and he had to admit one thing, married life agreed with her. Her face was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the smile spread across her lips was one that could melt any man’s heart. As far as Adrian was concerned, Stefan was one lucky bastard to have found a mate like Sidney. She was the perfect match for him, one who had Adrian dreaming and wishing. He wanted nothing more in his life than to get the same from Skyler.

“Well, you know…” Adrian smiled as he rested his right arm over the back of the truck seat and acted like he was thinking hard “…not quite sure what I’m about to get myself into once I go up those steps.”

Sidney snorted, opened the door, and hopped inside. “I know what you mean. Let’s run away.”

“That bad?”

Sidney took a deep breath and brushed a few strands of her brown hair from her eyes. The rest was in a ponytail at the back of her head. Her hands were nearly as dirty as her jeans and blue T-shirt. Adrian clearly knew she had been digging in the dirt.

“Let’s just say, I don’t think I was quite that bad when Stefan brought me here.” Adrian frowned at her, which got him a smile. “In the six months I’ve been here, I have never ever seen Skyler so pissed. What did you do?”

Adrian opened his mouth, but closed it. How much to tell, he thought. “” He cleared his throat. “Um...”

Sidney laughed. “That bad, huh.”

Adrian took a deep breath. “It could be better.” He let out a deep sigh mixed with a groan.

Sidney nodded and looked back at the house. “You know, Dedrick just told her this morning.”

Adrian, his jaw dropping, turned his head to the right. “What?” he growled. “He was supposed to have that conversation six months ago.”

She shrugged. “Well, he didn’t.”

“Son of a bitch,” he moaned and dropped his head against the back of the seat.

Sidney patted his arm before opening the door. “Hope you have a cup back there,” she smiled when he glanced at her. “She might go for your nuts.”

“You’re just Ms. Sunshine, aren’t you?” He frowned as he slid from the truck, slamming his own door closed with extra force.

“Hey, when it comes to you guys,” she said, walking around the truck to hook her arm through his and tug him to the front entrance, “I have zero sympathy.”

Together, they walked up the stairs to the front door. Almost shoving Adrian inside, Sidney opened it, and when it closed, he started to feel like a cage was closing on him. He imagined the tension could be felt from everyone in the house. He stood in the foyer and peeked to the left to the huge dining room and then to the right where he knew the path led to Natasha’s sitting room, which was also one of the ways to the family room in the back. When he saw no one, he finally glanced up the wide, wooden stairs in front of him. Up at the top, Stefan was leaning against the top railing with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Dedrick must still be in her room,” Sidney told him while letting his arm go. “I’m going to wash up. “You,” she pointed her finger at him, “stay put and deal with your mess.”

Adrian growled.

“And don’t growl at me,” she said over her shoulder. “It doesn’t work for Stefan, either.”

Adrian shook his head and looked back up. Stefan was still focused on the closed door of Skyler’s bedroom. Adrian felt something stir inside him. She was up there, so close all he had to do was run up there and take her. His woman. His!

“I know that look.” Natasha strolled from the dining room without the friendly grin on her lovely face he knew so well. She was still a delicate-looking woman and the heart of the family. “Drake used to have it on his face when he became possessive. Drove me crazy.” She walked up to him and took his face into her cool hands to bring him down to her height. Adrian was somewhat surprised when she kissed him on the cheek. “It’s good to see you again, Adrian.”

“Ms. Draeger,” he acknowledged.

Natasha smiled and shoved him away gently. “No more of that crap.” She patted him on the chest. “You will call me Natasha, young man, like I tell you every time you come here.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He grinned.

“Now.” Natasha took a deep breath and, taking a step back from him, brushed at her blue slacks and silk top. A deep, serious expression furrowed her brow. “You want to explain all this to me?”

The look she gave him had Adrian feeling like he was a little boy once again. “’m not really sure where to begin.”

“How about—”

“Get out of my room!” Skyler Draeger screamed.

“Damn it, Skyler,” Dedrick barked, clearly pissed off. “You’re pushing it here.”

“No, I’m standing my ground,” she yelled. “I refuse to listen to you, him, or anyone for that matter.”

On memory only, Adrian knew she had green eyes, and he would place all his money on the suspicion that right now, they were sparkling like emeralds with her anger. He couldn’t stop the desire raging inside him.

“It doesn’t work that way, Skyler.” Adrian knew Dedrick was on the edge from the updates Stefan had given him. He just didn’t think it had gotten to this point. “You know the rules. He has the right to make this claim.”

“You have the right to refuse him,” she screeched. “I don’t want him or anyone else!”

“Well, too damn bad,” Dedrick shot back. “I accepted it.”

“You can’t!” she growled out.

“As the head of the family, I can,” he told her.

“Yeah, it’s going well,” Adrian remarked quietly.

“He should have prepared her earlier,” Natasha said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t like how he’s handling things. Dedrick’s angry a lot and on edge.”

“You need to get off your goddamn high horse and get that ass of yours downstairs to greet your mate properly,” Dedrick barked, sounding dangerous to Adrian’s ears.

“He isn’t my mate!” She sounded just as pissed off as her brother. “What I should do is kick him in the balls for what he did to me.”

Adrian moved to the stairs and stopped when he heard Dedrick yell, “He didn’t do anything to you, yet, so don’t try to pull any bullshit on me, young lady.”

“Don’t you ‘young lady’ me!” she yelled. “You are not my father.”

“Excuse me, Adrian,” Natasha said, walking past him to the stairs. “I think it’s time I go up there and calm things down. See you at dinner.”

Adrian knew Dedrick was beyond pissed off. Adrian had never heard him in a rage like this in all the years he had spent in the house growing up. Natasha stopped to speak to Stefan, who peered down at Adrian with a brief grin.

Stefan rushed down the stairs. “Man, it’s about time you showed up.” Stefan extended his arm, shaking Adrian’s hand with a smile. “Was starting to think you were going to stay down there and hide.”

“I see Dedrick waited until the last moment to tell her,” Adrian said.

“Oh, you know Dedrick.” Stefan took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Waits until the last second to deliver news he knows isn’t going to be taken well.” Stefan looked up the stairs. Natasha had disappeared into Skyler’s room. “Come on. Let’s go into the office and wait for the bear to come.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

Not even ten minutes went by before Dedrick barged into the office and slammed the door closed. “I knew this was going to give me another headache.” Dedrick groaned.

“I’m sorry about this, Dedrick,” Adrian said, feeling some guilt about how he had placed everything on the other man’s shoulders. “Guess I handled this all wrong.”

“No, doing it at a Gathering would have been wrong,” Stefan said. He chuckled but quickly stopped when Dedrick gave him a dirty look.

“Well this is going to be very interesting.” Dedrick rubbed his eyes and slumped into his chair behind the desk. “Who the hell told Mom?”

“Dedrick, come on.” Stefan extended his arms. “It’s Mom. She finds out everything.”

“So what’s the game plan now?” Adrian sighed.

Dedrick took many deep breaths while rubbing his temple as if he had a headache. “I have no idea. I told you this wasn’t going to be easy, that she’d fight it all the way.” He pointed his finger at Adrian and gave him a hard stare. “You’re all on your own.”

“Would have helped some to have told her before now,” Adrian mumbled under his breath. When he peeked up at Dedrick, he saw his dark expression. “Come on,” he cried. “You kind of left me here to walk into the lion’s den alone.”

Dedrick groaned, but it sounded more like a growl. “Why do you two dipshits always put this crap on my shoulders? Look, I told her. You didn’t state when, only that I had to. I’ve done my part, be happy with that.”

“Well, like you said, big brother.” Stefan smiled, looking Dedrick in the eye. “You’re the head of the house.”

“I have half a mind to beat you to a bloody pulp,” Dedrick said in a deadly voice. “Wipe that damn smile off your face.” Stefan jumped back when Dedrick stood, pointing a finger at him, which caused Stefan to quickly lose the smile. “You are just damn lucky I don’t kick your ass just for spite, but knowing your wife, she would get that friend of hers on my ass.” He shook his head.

“Come on, Dedrick.” Stefan sighed. “Jaclyn has only been around twice since the wedding, and I never saw her stalking you. Drooling maybe, but not stalking.”

“Piss off, Stefan. And you.” He pointed to Adrian. “You…you…well, you just…oh fuck! I give up.”

Adrian shook his head when he saw Stefan chuckle at Dedrick as he walked away. Even Adrian knew he was on thin ice with Dedrick, and to laugh or push him further would be like taking his own life in his hands.

“You know, I’m starting to think he doesn’t like me after all,” Adrian remarked. “I think you have a death wish, too.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry so much about him.” Stefan grinned. “It’s your own nuts you should worry about. Skyler’s out for your blood, my man. I have never seen her so pissed off before. What did you do?”

“Got me. Not a thing—yet.” Adrian replied.

“He has no right to do this to me.” Once again, Adrian heard Skyler yelling. This time, the sound was closer, like she had just rushed past the door.

“Here we go again.” Stefan rolled his eyes.

* * * *

Adrian heard the stomping and quickly rose. He walked past a joyous-looking Stefan as he rushed out of the office and almost into Skyler. She stopped short and backed away from him as if he were some horrible creature.

Adrian cocked his head to one side, the corner of his lip going up. “Why?”

Skyler gaped at Adrian like he had lost his mind. “What?”

“I asked you why,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Why do you think I don’t have the right to do this?”

“You have a lot of nerve showing up here,” she growled, pointing her finger at him but not making a move to come any closer. “After what you did.”

“After what I’ve done?” Adrian tried like hell to keep a straight face. He knew if he smiled, her rage would boil over to a new and more dangerous level, and he really didn’t want to have it out with her about what he had done with her entire family standing around watching. So, instead of making more of a scene, Adrian took two steps closer to her so only she would hear what he had to say. “Would you have preferred it was you that night?”

The question seemed to be all it took for her to snap. Skyler’s face turned about two shades brighter red, but Adrian couldn’t tell if it was embarrassment or anger. She lunged at him, and Adrian was ready. He bent over, quickly picked her up, and slung her over his shoulder. Skyler screamed and started to kick and hit at him with all her might.

Adrian didn’t look at Natasha and Dedrick, when he walked past them and toward the stairs with Skyler on his shoulder. He took the steps two at a time. He ignored the insults and dirty names Skyler flung at him as they went. He even managed to push away the urge to pop her one on her tight little ass that wiggled in the air with each step. Clearly, Skyler needed to understand a few things. She needed to listen to him, let him explain himself. Somehow, there had to be a way to get her to listen. In all the years he had known Skyler, Adrian had never seen her so pissed off. Yes, he did deserve her anger and hate, but he couldn’t allow her to dish out the problem lingering between them in front of everyone. Adrian didn’t need her family to find out what was going on, not yet, not until he knew how he was going to make it up to her.

Being the baby in the family and without a father, Skyler got away with just about everything. If she wanted something, both Stefan and Dedrick gave it to her, and if a boyfriend hurt her, they would always want to go out and hurt him. Natasha was always there to help mend Skyler’s broken heart. So, when Adrian discovered his best friend’s little sister had a crush on him, he had stayed the hell away. He knew how Skyler got when she wanted something, and he didn’t want his friendship with Stefan broken up over her broken heart.

At the time, he couldn’t and wouldn’t give her what she wanted or what she thought she needed. If he had known then she would end up his mate, he would never have done what he had or put a claim on her the way he had. Sure, he knew all of this was going to be hard—coming back after six months to finish his claim, seeing the hurt and pain in her eyes when she looked at him, killed him, but he hadn’t imagined it was going to be quite this hard or that she was going to have murder in her eyes.

Yet, at the same time, he couldn’t risk having another male mark her. Once a mark was made on a female’s shoulder that was it or was supposed to be it. Few males in their right mind, if they valued their lives, would pursue a marked female. Adrian was dying to mark Skyler, to show every male around that she was his.

Adrian walked to her bedroom, opened the door, and then kicked it closed. Skyler’s bedroom was very large, and, to Adrian, very girly. She had a queen-size bed with a soft pink and white lace comforter. Nightstands were on each side of the bed. Next to the door on his left was a large dresser and at the foot of the bed, a vanity table and chair. She also had two window seats, her own bathroom, and a walk-in closet, which was open.

He walked up to the bed and tossed Skyler none too gently onto it. He grinned when she bounced and glared up at him. Adrian looked down at her, and he felt as if his heart landed in his throat. She was beautiful. Built just like her mother, Skyler had delicate hands and perfect hips that smoothed out to long legs he was dying to feel wrapped around his waist. Just gazing at her from his current angle, Adrian could tell her breasts were full and would fit into his hands as if molded for them alone. Her long dishwater-blonde hair tumbled carelessly down her back and swayed gently to her every movement with thin bangs on her forehead.

“You’re an ass,” she said, moving to the other side of the mattress away from him.

“No, I’m determined,” he told her with his finger raised in the air. “There’s a difference.”

“Where you’re concerned,” she snapped, “I doubt it.”

Adrian couldn’t help himself and laughed. “You really think acting like this is going to make me just pack up my shit and leave? Boy, you’re more deluded than I first thought.”

“Well, what gave that away, Einstein?” she smarted back.

“So, what pisses you off the most?” Adrian dropped down on the mattress, lounging back at the foot of the bed on his side with a smile. “The claiming or the sex in the woods?”

“Adrian, get off my bed and get the fuck out of my room!”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk.” He shook his head. “Such language from a lady.”

Skyler scooted from the bed, walked to the door, and yanked it open. “Get out, Adrian.”

Adrian closed his eyes and inhaled the sweet scent swirling around the room. It had been a long time since he had taken Skyler’s scent into his lungs and let her essence fill him. For the long months he had been away, all he could do was think about her, dream about her, and crave her. He wondered if her skin was as soft as it looked, if she would feel like heaven once his arms wrapped around her.

Okay, looking at her now in her anger, she didn’t seem all warm and fuzzy, but that didn’t stop the desire or his dominant side from suffering. Control—that was what he needed at the moment. If he didn’t pull it together, right now, he was going to make even more of an ass out of himself than he already had. With her glaring at him from the door of her bedroom, he found some of his control slipping.

She was so pissed off right now it caused her scent to become stronger, shooting right down to his cock, and as usual, the damn thing had a mind of its own. It came to life behind his jeans, thick and heavy, crying out for a claim, for freedom and pleasure. Adrian pictured Skyler laid out on the bed, spread, with arms out inviting him. The image had Adrian biting his lower lip to suppress a moan and the sudden throbbing that had formed between his legs. Shit, my dick is what got me into trouble in the first place. 

“Adrian, I mean it,” Skyler said. “Get out of my room!”

“I don’t want to,” he told her matter-of-factly. He stood up from the bed and walked to her.

“What are you doing?” she asked, uncertainty in her voice.

“What do you think I’m doing?” he asked, leaning against the door.

“I think you’re being an ass,” Skyler snapped at him and made a move to brush past him and out of the bedroom. Adrian grabbed her, and in one fluid motion, she turned on him and hit him with her fist. “You son of a bitch! What gives you the fucking right to lay claim on me? Go back to your goddamn whores and leave me the hell alone.”

Skyler’s nostrils flared in her anger as she jerked her arm from his hold to cross them over her chest. She lifted her head to glare up at him.

“I don’t have whores, Skyler,” Adrian, defeated, informed her. He rubbed his jaw where she’d hit him. “Nice punch.”

“Oh, so you just fuck anyone then!” She snorted and jammed her hands on her narrow hips. “I understand now.”

Adrian felt his patience slipping. He narrowed his eyes, watching her walk away from him, acting as if she were better than he was. It was a Skyler he never saw, not even years ago when she didn’t get her way. She had never had this high-and-mighty attitude, but this wasn’t a little girl any longer. This was a woman scorned. “And just what do you think you understand?” He slammed the door closed and enjoyed for a brief moment the way she jumped at the noise before he leaned against it.

“I understand you will fuck anyone who will spread their legs for you!” She turned, smiling all sweet and nice at him, but her eyes told him she was anything but sweet and nice at the moment. In fact, her expression told him that winning her forgiveness wasn’t going to be easy like he had hoped it would be. “Then, when you want a mate, you go looking for the nice girls. I’m not your nice girl.”

“You’re being a bit childish,” he told her. “For your information, I don’t go out fucking every girl who opens for me. If I did, I would have done your girlfriend, years ago—in your bed.” He smirked.

Skyler charged at him. “Go to hell, Adrian!” She made to hit him in the gut, but Adrian was ready for it.

He took the punch, pushed himself off the door, and walked toward her, forcing Skyler to back away. “Do you really think if I knew the outcome of all this, I would have done what I did?” Backing her up against a wall, he placed his hands next to her head, boxing her in. “Do you for one moment think I’d intentionally cause you pain or hurt you?” Anger vibrated in his voice.

“Yes, I do,” she answered, with not one ounce of fear visible. She held her head high, almost daring him to do something.

Adrian raised one of his eyebrows. “Okay, I’ll admit I fucked up royally.” Feeling mischievous, he grinned. “If you’ll admit you’ve had a crush on me all these years.”

Her face paled. “Wh—wh…are you out of your damned mind?” she screeched, pushing against his chest. “I’ve never had a crush on you.” Skyler flailed her arms. “I don’t even like you, so why the hell would you think I had a crush on you?”

“Do you want me to prove it to you then?” Adrian worked damn hard at keeping his tone level and his body under control when all he felt was a raging need to claim. It was in a shifter’s nature, once a claim was known, to take what was his. For Adrian to stand there with his mate and not touch or take what was rightfully his was damned difficult.

“There’s nothing to prove,” Skyler whispered.

He saw her swallow hard, could smell the nervousness in her. “Really?” He cocked his head to one side and grinned down at her. Adrian leaned into her, bringing his face as close to hers as he could without touching her. “Let’s find out, shall we?” Quickly, he claimed her lips in a heated kiss. He moved one hand from the wall and cupped her ass.

Adrian brought Skyler nearer, and he deepened the kiss, forcing her to take his tongue. He moaned into her mouth while her arms went around his neck. He wasn’t sure she realized she’d drawn him closer, but he took advantage of it. Adrian picked her up, wrapped her legs around his waist, and pushed her back against the wall. He groaned at the sweet, tortuous pleasure he felt.

Grinding into her, he kneaded her ass. He kissed her so deeply, he thought he might drown in the pleasure. The strongest thought at the moment was of stripping her bare, kissing her entire body, and leaving not one inch untouched. The thought was so strong it had his cock raging hard and painfully heavy in his jeans.

He wanted to feel her skin against his own, felt like he needed it and wouldn’t be able to breathe without it. “God, you feel so good,” he whispered against her lips just before he sucked her lower lip into his mouth. “This is meant to be, Skyler. Don’t you know that? Can’t you feel it?” He kissed her again, plunging his tongue into her mouth to mate with her own.

Skyler broke the kiss and pushed Adrian back. “No. I can’t do this.”

Adrian had his hands on her ass while she tried to push away from him. He relented and allowed her feet to fall back to the ground. “Skyler—”

“No!” Skyler pulled his hands from her ass, turned her back to him, and walked back to the door. “I can’t trust you, Adrian, not after what you’ve done.”

Adrian didn’t say anything. He let her go, for now, and rested his forehead on the wall to get his body under control. “Fuck,” he groaned, as he adjusted his hard cock. “This is not going to be easy at all.”

* * * *

Skyler stood at the window overlooking the huge backyard. She was watching not only the cookout that was going on, but also the pool basketball game. Stefan and Adrian were in the pool, Sidney lounged in a chair next to the pool, and Dedrick cooked burgers on the grill. Everyone was having a good time but her.

“You know, you can come down and enjoy dinner with us,” Natasha said from the doorway of Skyler’s room. “It would be the polite thing to do since we have a new member in our home.”

“He’s not a new member.” Skyler snorted, crossing her arms over her chest, keeping her eyes on the game below. “He’s nothing more than an intruder. He doesn’t belong here.”

Skyler could feel her mother’s eyes on her, and it unnerved her. In all her years, she’d never known her mother to take someone else’s side, and having her take Adrian’s side was heartbreaking. Hell, what Adrian did was tearing her apart inside. Of all the things he could have done, putting a claim on her mere seconds after she caught him in the arms of another woman was unforgivable. What she saw the night of her brother’s wedding would stay with her forever, just like her broken heart would always stay broken where Adrian was concerned. In her mind, she couldn’t forgive him or trust him. Then again, he’d made it very clear a long time ago that he only cared for her as a sister. It had taken a very long time for Skyler to heal, and she thought she was over the hurt and had moved on. Given the way she was feeling at that moment, she wasn’t as over it as she had thought.

Sweet sixteen was supposed to be the time of her life. Instead, she had spent it crying in her pillow. She had hoped that on her birthday she would get a kiss from the one she thought she loved, yet all she got was rejection. Adrian didn’t want her. His friendship with her brother had meant more to him.

“Honey, I’m sure whatever it is you think he’s done it isn’t as bad as what you’re making it out to be.” Natasha placed her hands on Skyler’s shoulders before pulling her back into her arms. Being held this way reminded Skyler of just how vulnerable she really was. “You should really work this thing out. He isn’t going to go anywhere.”

“You should make him go.” Skyler shrugged off her mother’s arms and turned from the window. “I’m going to fix a sandwich.”

“Why don’t you just come down and have dinner with us?” Natasha sighed.

“Because right now, I can’t stand the sight of Adrian Laswell.”

She walked past her mother with her head lowered so she wouldn’t be able to see the untruth of her words. She didn’t hate the sight of Adrian. She still loved looking at him, even though it brought her pain, and she quickly made her way out of the room, leaving her mother there alone. Skyler shook her head. She didn’t understand how a man could go from wanting nothing to do with her to suddenly placing a claim.

She headed down to the kitchen sure she would be alone since it seemed everyone was outside. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, was big. Dark oak cabinets lined the walls in a U-shape with an island in the middle. Natasha Draeger had skimped on nothing with the building of the house after the original burned down before Skyler was born. Skyler headed straight for the stainless steel refrigerator to make herself a sandwich. She didn’t even look up or stop her search when she heard the back door open.

“Steak or hamburger?” A plate was lowered over the refrigerator door and in front of her face, but Skyler didn’t need to glance up to know who held the plate. Once a girl got her first taste of what Adrian sounded like, she never forgot.

“Neither,” she answered coldly. Skyler straightened and looked at him with contempt. When her eyes traveled lower to the green towel wrapped around his waist, she felt as if she had been hit with a longing she had thought was long forgotten. “Suddenly, I’ve lost my appetite.”

He sighed, tossing the plate on the island when she closed the door and turned away from him. “Skyler,” Adrian called out and then sighed again loudly. “How long do I get to expect this?”

Skyler turned on her heels a few inches away from him. “Expect what?”

One hand went to his hip, the other rubbed at his jaw before he took one step closer to her. The hand that had rubbed his jaw made a motion around the room. “This, us, the attitude you seem to have screaming you’re so much better than me.”

“I never thought I was better than you,” she whispered, frowning at him.

“Well, you sure as hell could have fooled me.” He snorted and rubbed his face in an irritated manner. “Come on, Skyler.” He sighed. “This fighting isn’t going to solve anything or make it go away like you want. We need to talk about it.”

“Oh, and I don’t care for the way you put a claim on me after you did what you did,” she barked at him. “I have a life, Adrian, and it doesn’t involve you.” Stepping closer to him, she jabbed her finger in his chest. “Did you even stop to think that I might have a boyfriend or another guy I’m thinking about mating with, or did you just not give a damn?”

“If you’re talking about Thomas Fallen, I know all about him,” he told her with such calm that she wanted to rip out his hair and scratch his eyes out. “He isn’t the kind of guy that can handle you.”

“Handle! Handle, me!” she screeched, seeing red. “No one handles me.”

Amusement crossed his face. “I think I am starting to see that.”

“Argh!” Skyler charged him and realized it was a mistake. When she swung at him, Adrian grabbed a hold of her, picked her up, and set her down on the island with him standing between her legs, holding her wrists behind her back.

“Where did you get that temper?” he asked her sweetly. “And while we’re on the subject, who taught you how to hit like that?”

“None of your damn business.” She struggled against him until she got her hands free to push at his chest, kicking her legs. “Now get your fucking hands off me.”

“You know I’m going to get what I want.” Adrian’s voice thickened, and his blue eyes darkened in what Skyler suspected was desire. “If I have to play dirty, Skyler, I will. I’ll do anything I have to do in order to have you.”

“In your dreams,” she taunted, grinning at him. “I’m not yours to have, Adrian. Get used to it.” She tried to push against him, but it was like pushing a brick wall.

Adrian smiled, showing his even white teeth. “Oh, baby, if you knew what I dreamed about, you would be blushing for weeks.” He moved her hands so he could hold them with one of his. With his free hand, he took hold of her chin and forced her to look at him.

Skyler stared into the blue of his eyes and slowly started to feel herself drawn in. Her mouth went dry, palms turned sweaty.

“Fuck it,” he whispered. Adrian kissed her. His hands left her wrists to cup her head, and he kissed her deeply. Slowly, she felt as if she was falling into the kiss, drowning in sensations she had never experienced. She was so lost that she didn’t know when her eyes closed, but she felt as if she couldn’t open them.

She couldn’t speak when his lips left hers to trail down her jaw to her left shoulder. Adrian kept kissing her neck as he pulled her shirt over, exposing her shoulder.

“You’re mine, Skyler,” he murmured against her shoulder. He licked and sucked at the flesh. “You just have no clue what I’ll do to have you.” His teeth scraped her shoulder in the same spot that would one day hold the mark of her mate. “So keep one thing in mind. All bets are off.” His voice rumbled in what she took as a warning growl. “Let the games begin.”

Biting her gently, he sucked hard on her shoulder. Skyler moaned at the light pain, and then her eyes snapped open when it went through her system to pool between her legs in an intense throbbing need.

Laughter by the back door broke them apart. Adrian let go of her shoulders to look up in the direction of the door. Skyler felt as if she was ready to strip and let him have whatever he wanted.

“There’s more beer in the fridge,” Stefan called.

Hearing her brother’s voice was like ice water to her face. Skyler pushed Adrian away from her as hard as she could. She glared, straightened her shirt, and hopped down from the counter. When the door opened and Stefan walked in, Skyler slapped Adrian across the face hard, leaving a red mark across his cheek. “I’m not playing games,” she said in a tight voice. “Stay the hell away from me!”

* * * *

They were entwined on her bed, legs rubbing against legs. Skyler felt the passion rise in her body just as she felt his desire for her in the stiffness of his cock pressing against her stomach. Adrian’s hands roamed over her body with his hot lips following. She was on fire for him, and it seemed the temperature only increased with each caress. 

He moved between her legs, his stiff cock pressing against the core of her sex. They danced in an erotic tale of passion, his kiss molten on her neck, and his hands were teasing and tender when they brushed her breasts. 

“No one else is going to make you feel like this,” he told her smoothly. He spoke directly in her ear. “No other will ever touch you, but me.” 

Skyler sat up in bed with a start. She was breathing hard. Sweat beaded her forehead, face, and even the tank-top she slept in was wet. She knew how Stefan had seduced Sidney with his mind, but not in her wildest dreams or nightmares did she think Adrian was capable of doing the same thing to her.

“You shit,” she grumbled, wiping her face. Skyler frowned when she heard a faint laughing in her head. “I’ll get you for this,” she mumbled under her breath, turning over in her bed and beating the pillow. “Oh, I will get even with you.”

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