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I ache.

His broad shoulders moved up as he inhaled, his barrel chest shuddering as he exhaled.

He took a step closer, and I lifted a hand, palm out, to stop him although it felt wrong on every level. I wanted to crook my finger for him to come closer, this instinctual part of me telling me his body needed to be pressed to mine, rubbing against me, easing the desperation I felt in my body.

“Wait. Stop.” The words were so light, so soft I didn’t know if he heard me. But then he instantly stilled.

His chest pumped up and down as he panted, his eyes flashing blue as his wolf showed me a glimpse of how wild and primal it was.

A Lycan. A fierce and protective… a possessive creature in the Otherworld. They were known for their brutality, for their insurmountable strength.

And he was my mate.

A flush of intense heat moved through me at the intrusive thoughts and images that slammed into my mind. They were so filthy, so graphic I felt my body light on fire. I felt my nipples tighten even more, felt myself become drenched between my thighs.

I fluttered my eyes, trying to keep them open as I thought about what a male like him would be like in bed.

His massive body hovering over mine.

His thick arms braced on either side of my head, his muscles bulging as he caged me.

How he’d lower himself against me, forcing me to part my thighs even more so he could fit his huge body between them.

And then… I shuddered again as I thought about him pushing into me, stretching my body to the point I was so full of him I couldn’t breathe.

He’d take my innocence, claim my virginity as his, and I’d gladly give it to him because it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

But then reality slammed back into me painfully, and I told myself I didn’t know him. Fated mates or not, giving myself irrevocably and without question was insane, no matter what destiny implied.

I clenched my thighs together and gritted my teeth as my body didn’t want to listen to reason, as it became a stranger. Arousal kept thrumming through me. I grew even wetter, wetness sliding down my inner thighs. I was thankful for the shift and water surrounding me to hide the fact. To hide my smell.

Or so I thought.

His nostrils flared, and he got this wild look in his eyes as he stepped closer.

“Aw, sweet lass,” he rumbled out. “Ye smell so good.” His voice was low and deep, distorted from his animal.

Oh gods, I couldn’t stop looking at his body, at how he was all brute strength and cut muscles. At how his biceps were bigger than my thighs, his legs as wide and strong as tree trunks. His tunic molded to his broad shoulders and wide chest, outlining all that… maleness.

And despite telling myself not to look down, I found myself doing exactly that, then felt my eyes widen at the huge bulge he had. The long, girthy length of his manhood pressed against his dark trews and was obscenely thick.

“Lass,” he growled. “If ye keep looking at me like that, I’m no’ going tae be able tae keep my control.”

I snapped my focus to his face and licked my lips. He watched the act of me drawing my tongue along the bottom swell and groaned anew. “Look at you like what?” My voice cracked at the end, and I kept a hand over my racing heart. I felt like my eyes were as wide as saucers as I stared into his still glowing blue eyes.

“Look at me like ye are starving, lass, like ye want me tae devour ye.”

Everything in me said to go closer, to feel his body heat moving along my flesh, to take his scent into my lungs. And to my disappointment, I couldn't smell the latter. I was too frantic, the rushing water, the musky earth mineral-laden rocks clouding my senses.

It made knowing what he truly smelled like impossible. But I could imagine. I bet it was spicy, woodsy. Feral. I bet he smelled like moss and fresh rain, and a hell of a lot of sexuality.

“But even if I did devour ye, it would no’ be enough, lass. I’ll forever be starved for ye. I’m so hard, feeling this ache in my groin for the first time in my life.” He took another step closer, and I strained my shoulders, feeling indignation and frustration move through me.

This was just going so fast, a whirlwind that made me dizzy and confused.

“Don’t be obscene,” I said with a voice stronger than I’d thought I could muster.

He froze, his body going rigid, his muscles becoming taut. His nostrils flared once more, and he exhaled slowly. “Aye. My apologies. Ye deserve respect, and here I am being a shite mate right off the bat.” He curled his hands into fists as his sides, and in that moment I realized something profound.