She was agreeing to allow her daughter to be taken from her. To place her under the protection of strangers. To trust men and women she didn't know. But, she also knew the hell those men and women had lived. They had been hunted, betrayed. They would care for Cassie, protect her with their lives, just as they had each other. But her baby would be without her. For a while. She drew in a deep breath and swallowed tightly. "Agreed."
Oh Lord. If his eyes could have gotten hotter, they just did. The golden-brown was nearly amber now, glittering with lust. His nostrils flared, his expression becoming heavy with sensuality.
"Do you know I can smell your arousal?" he asked her softly. "I know when your sweet heat is flowing for me, Elizabeth. When your pretty pussy is coated with that slick dew, preparing for me. Like it is now. It turns you on to think about fighting me, doesn't it? Makes you wet and hot to imagine pitting your mind against my strength. Just like it makes me hard. So hard walking could become a problem."
Her face flamed with mortification, because she was wet now and only growing wetter by the second. She should be thinking about Cassie. Thinking about the separation, but all she could think about was Dash and the hunger building between them both.
Her gaze flickered to his jeans, then quickly back to his face. That zipper was going to burst soon. And he was right. It did turn her on. He intended to take her, to make her submit. She could see it in his expression, hear it in his voice. She had never submitted to anyone. She didn't intend to start with Dash. Elizabeth licked her lips, relieving the painful dryness, then swallowing tightly as he followed the movement.
"Go to Cassie," he finally growled. "Get away from me before I take you now. Kane and his brothers, as well as several of the main Feline Pride, will be here tonight. Get ready, Elizabeth, because when they leave, you'll see what it means to be my woman."
She backed up slowly. She wasn't running, she assured herself, she was exercising extreme caution instead. He wasn't joking. He was ready to take her, here and now, and she didn't know if she could honestly deny him right now.
The Feline Breeds were just as intense and gorgeous in real life as they had been on the television screen. They arrived after midnight in a large stealth helicopter, landing in the back pasture of Mike Toler's ranch.
Kane Tyler and three of his brothers were there. Callan Lyons, Taber Williams, Tanner, Dawn and Sherra had accompanied them. Each was armed and looked just as dangerous as they had been trained to be. Elizabeth sat in the living room with Cassie, holding her against her chest, rocking her. Despite her dream of actually meeting the Felines, Cassie hadn't taken the news of her separation from her mother very well.
She had cried for hours. It broke Elizabeth's heart listening to her daughter sob and wail, begging her not to send her away.
Elizabeth had cried with her. Emotionally, they were both wrecks by the time the large force entered the house.
Elizabeth could only stare at them in shock. They were as big and muscular as Dash, but their eyes were harder, their expressions carved in stone, until they caught sight of Cassie. Elizabeth watched, amazed, as the two women turned away, their eyes shining with moisture. The three male Felines' gazes darkened painfully.
"Callan?" Kane asked softly, as though for confirmation.
Callan stepped closer, his eyes so golden-brown they were amber, his long, tawny brown hair flowing around the harsh features of his face. As he stepped to the couch, Elizabeth was aware of Dash moving behind her protectively, possessively. The other Breed noticed the movement as well, if the amused quirk of his lips was any indication.
"Cassidy." He sat on his haunches, staring at the little girl gently. "What a lovely little girl you are. I hear you might need our help for a bit of time."
His voice was deep, sandpapery, but exquisitely gentle as he watched the little girl.
"I wanna stay with my momma," Cassie hiccupped tearfully as Elizabeth fought the need to demand that her daughter be given exactly what she wanted.
Pain flashed in Callan's eyes. They were amazingly expressive as they watched Cassie, showing his sympathy, his need to comfort her.
"You know Grange is a very bad man, Cassie," Callan said softly. "I've been checking into him. You know he'll hurt you and your momma if he can get hold of you." He held his hand up as Elizabeth began to protest. "I won't lie to you, Cassie. I won't tell you any of this is going to be easy, for you or your momma. Facts are facts. Dash and your momma can't deal with Grange if you aren't hidden first. If they try, something could happen, and Grange could end up hurting you all."
Cassie trembled. "But the fairy can't help momma if I'm gone," she protested tearfully. Callan never looked away from the little girl. "But Dash can, Cassie. He and your momma can move faster and trick Grange easier if they know you're hidden and protected. And you'll both be hidden and protected at my home. I promise you this."
"I want my momma," Cassie whimpered, her arms tightening around Elizabeth's waist. "I'm staying with my momma."
"Callan." The woman that moved behind him was much smaller than the others. Her soft golden-brown hair and eyes were immeasurably gentle. Dawn was a Cougar Breed and Elizabeth could clearly see the influence of the animal's DNA in her. Her high cheekbones, slanted golden eyes and finely arched brows gave her a very feline appearance.
Cassie seemed to jerk in surprise when the woman approached her. She leaned forward, then back, then stared up at Elizabeth with rounded eyes.
Cassie cupped her fingers over her mouth and whispered up to Elizabeth. "She has a fairy, Momma.
Right beside her. Just like mine."
Elizabeth wasn't certain what to say at this point. She had thought Cassie's fairy was no more than an excuse for the knowledge she picked up through her more advanced senses.
"She does?" she whispered back.
Cassie nodded. "But she's sad." Then she turned to Dawn. "Why is your fairy sad?"
Dawn blinked then glanced at Elizabeth.
"Cassie has her own fairy," Elizabeth explained. "She…comforts her." She didn't know what else to say.
Dawn finally smiled in understanding. "Perhaps my fairy gets tired of being alone." She sighed. "There aren't many fairies left in the world, Cassie."
Cassie tilted her head, considering. "No. She's sad because you don't hear her," she finally said. "You should listen to your fairy."
"You're right." Dawn nodded. "But I don't know how. Maybe I need someone to teach me how to listen to her."
Cassie was silent for long moments. "I don't wanna leave my momma." Her voice trembled tearfully. Callan moved back as Dawn sat down on the couch beside Elizabeth and Cassie and watched the little girl with tender, though wary, eyes.
"I don't blame you, Cassie," she finally said sadly. "If I had a momma like yours, I wouldn't want to leave her, either. But you and your momma will be safer if you are protected. And isn't that what's important right now, Cassie? That you and your momma are safe?"
Cassie's fingers plucked at Elizabeth's shirtsleeve for long moments. Finally she raised her eyes, the blue depths glittering with tears.
"I'm scared without you, Momma," she finally whispered.
"I know, baby." Elizabeth swallowed tightly. "And I'm scared without you, too. But I can't make Grange leave us alone if he knows where you are. It's very important that he can't find you so that Momma can make him go away." Far away, Elizabeth thought coldly. Cassie's head lowered again. "Will you come back?" she finally asked faintly.
"Cassie." Elizabeth lifted her daughter's face until she could stare into her eyes. "You couldn't keep me away. You're my baby. You know I'll come back for you. Right?"
Cassie swallowed tightly. "Even though I'm a Breed?" she asked her roughly. Fury engulfed Elizabeth, though she fought to contain it. "Cassidy, being a Breed doesn't make you any different to me. If you want the truth, I'm so damned happy Dane isn't your daddy that I could kiss that doctor that thought he tricked us. Because he gave me the most special baby in the world. Do you understand me?"
Cassie grinned faintly, though her eyes still swam with tears.
"Dash could be my daddy," she whispered. "Maybe I wouldn't be so scared away if I knew he was my daddy."
"Cassie." Elizabeth wasn't shocked, but she hadn't expected Cassie to strike so soon.
"Cassie." Dash broke in on her protest. "Do you know any other Wolf Breeds, young lady?"
Cassie raised her eyes and shook her head no.
"Then it looks like you're stuck with me. But I can't convince your momma until Grange has been punished. To do that, you need to go with Dawn and Callan. We'll discuss the rest of it later."
Cassie's eyes narrowed. Elizabeth had never known her daughter could be such a little schemer.
"You gonna take his chocolate, Dash?" she asked him, suddenly more than interested.
"Oh yeah, all of it," Dash promised her. "And he doesn't know the secret to get it back. Remember that."
Cassie's grin was wider now. "Can I have his chocolate, Dash?" she asked innocently. "Chocolate should be for good girls."
"A whole boxful, Cassie. But you have to go with Callan so your momma and me can take care of this. Okay?"
Cassie sighed and glanced up at Elizabeth again.
"One day, I can buy my own chocolate," she finally sighed. "You better bring me chocolate back, Dash, or I might have to tell Momma how you bargain for ways to stay out of trouble."
Elizabeth was watching Dash, saw his eyes narrow, though his lips tipped into a grin.
"We might have to see about an allowance when we get back," he finally said as though she had won.
"Little girls need their chocolate money."
Cassie turned back to her mother, her smile sweetly innocent. "He will make a good daddy, Momma. I told you he would."
Elizabeth snorted. "Why? Because you can twist him around your little finger?"
Cassie sighed. "That's where all good daddies live, Momma. The fairy said so. We need to talk when you come get me. I could tell you all about it."
She looked so serious. Elizabeth blinked down at her daughter, not for the first time, amazed at the little girl's insights.
"We definitely will," she promised. "Does this mean you'll go?"
"Fine." She pouted. "But they better hope they have chocolate. And they better remember, wolfs eat cats for dinner. They better not mess with me."
Before Elizabeth could get past her shock her daughter was off her lap and stalking to the stairs. She turned back at the first step. "And I want to take my pretty clothes, too. And my gown. And my bear Dash bought me. And you better come back for me, Momma, or I'll hunt you like the big wolfs and when I catch you, I'll bite you."
She stomped off, in full temper, as Elizabeth sighed roughly. "Well, at least she isn't crying." She sighed.
"But I really don't envy any of you. Cassie in a temper is not always a pretty sight to see."
"I love her," Kane suddenly remarked from the other side of the room. "God bless her heart. I love her."
He was chuckling wickedly as he looked back at the Felines staring at him. "Wolves eat cats for dinner. By God, I wanna be a wolf." He looked at Sherra and growled. Elizabeth looked at Dash. "Good God. This man is going to be watching my daughter?" A flash of pure motherly fear rushed through her. Cassie and Kane Tyler together would be a catastrophe.