She was technically supposed to be keeping an eye on Ray until Jules and Brady could get there, but just staring at him would have drawn too much attention. At least, that was what she was going to tell Klaus if he happened to show up while she was on the phone with Elena. Werewolf hunting trip or no, she wasn't going to go without wishing her friend a happy birthday – it was bad enough that she hadn't really done anything for her friend's birthdays over the past year because of the whole Klaus and Silas situation going on.
When Elena picked up she skipped over hello, ignored any pleasantries and went straight into crisis mode.
"Caroline, are you okay? Do you need us to come get you?"
While part of her was very touched that her friend was worried about her, she was also kind of offended that she would assume Caroline would only be calling for help. Before she could get really worked up over it though, Bonnie's voice interrupted.
"I'm sure if there was something wrong Caroline would have said something in one of the daily texts she's been sending us for the past two weeks. Right, Caroline?"
While she was still very aware of Ray sitting at the bar making friendly conversation with the bartender, Caroline let herself be pulled into the easy and familiar rhythm of the conversation between her and her friends back home. She could almost pretend she was back in Mystic Falls instead of a bar in Tennessee.
"Do you have me on speaker? Is the whole town listening in and waiting to hear how my summer vacation is going so far?"
Allowing the subject to change, Elena's voice turned pouty as she replied, "No, it's just me and Bonnie. She's keeping me here and distracted while Stefan's putting together the birthday party I never agreed to."
"You were never going to agree to a big party, Elena. That's why I had to ask Stefan to put it together. It's not every year you turn eighteen, so you should make it memorable. Oh, speaking of which…"
Bonnie's laughing voice cut her off, "He's following your plans down to the last detail. He's been texting me whenever he has questions about what you mean."
She could feel herself getting ready to defend her need to micromanage nearly everything in her life. Bonnie apparently knew her well enough though, to step in and calm her defensiveness. She couldn't remember Bonnie knowing her this well before but she really appreciated it now.
"I'm pretty sure we would be an absolute mess without you, Caroline."
"You'd make it through. Everything would be a lot less fun, but you'd still make it through."
Her response got the laugh she was after and Caroline enjoyed the warm feeling that spread through her at the sound. The two quickly took the time to let her in on all that she had been missing in the couple of weeks she'd been gone. Bonnie, in particular, seemed like she needed to vent.
"And let me tell you, I've never been happier that Pearl and Anna are here. They've been basically acting as a buffer between the Mikaelsons and the rest of us. Finn is alright. He's basically not around much and when he is he's just kind of… there. Kol and Rebekah are absolute nightmares. I can't count the number of times I've had to use my magic to stop Kol from, well, being Kol. I'm also pretty sure that Elena is ready to try and rip out Rebekah's hair the next time she makes some innuendo while talking with Stefan."
Elena spluttered at that while Caroline complained about the fact that she would have the luxury of a buffer with both Rebekah and Kol. She pouted at first as Bonnie and Elena laughed at that, but soon she was joining in. Too soon, the laughter faded and she could almost feel the tension from the other side as both of her friends held back something they were obviously wanting to say.
"Okay, you two. Out with it. What's ruining the happy moment?"
Surprisingly, it was Elena who spoke up.
"We don't want to worry you, Caroline. Lord knows you've got a lot to deal with right now, but Elijah has been spending a lot of time over at your house the past week or so. Like, every day."
Caroline hadn't realized how much she had tensed up until she felt her whole body relax. Her mother had already let her know that Elijah had been coming around and reassured her that it wasn't anything she couldn't handle. While she knew her friends were worried about her mother, she still couldn't resist teasing them a bit.
"I don't know if I should be touched or disturbed that you two are spying on my mom so closely, Elena."
She had delivered the statement in a serious tone of voice but quickly lost the fight against a giggle when she heard Elena and Bonnie floundering to explain themselves. Still aware that she wasn't exactly in a private setting, Caroline made explanation as vague as she could.
"It's okay, you guys. I already knew about it. Apparently, his family hasn't been very good with communication, so my mom's been keeping him up to date. Nothing to worry about."
That explanation would have to do because, just as she could hear Elena and Bonnie begin to ask more questions, she caught sight of Jules and Brady walking into the bar. The latter quickly caught sight of her and Caroline couldn't stop herself from rolling her eyes at the scowl he directed at her. Yeah, she had a feeling they were never going to be friends and only part of that was because she couldn't forget that he was capable of torturing her and enjoying it.
"Okay, girls, break time's over. I've got to get back to work."
As they said their goodbyes and ended the call, Caroline watched the scene unfolding across the bar. Jules and Brady approached Ray and sat next to him on either side. Almost immediately she could see his body stiffen. She had warned Klaus that this wasn't the right way to start things off and that he'd be able to tell that they weren't regular werewolves. She was already halfway to them when Ray practically launched himself from the bar stool and started walking away from the pair. Abandoning any pretense, she sped forward to stand in front of him with her hands held up in what she hoped would be a calming manner.
"Please don't leave yet."
She could see the building panic as he looked between her and the two hybrids joining them. "You're vampires."
She couldn't tell if he was expecting help from the people in the bar or if he was thinking of trying to warn them to run, but she needed to calm him down quickly. She knew she had a limited time before Klaus lost what little patience he had and came barging in.
"Yes, I'm a vampire, and I've compelled everyone in here not to interfere. I realize how shady that sounds, but we're not here to hurt you. We just want to sit down and talk."
When he continued to side eye Jules and Brady, Caroline quickly realized that he could sense their hostility. Although he appeared to assume it was directed at him, she knew better. Dropping her hands, she gave a huff of frustration over the hybrids interference.
"Okay, that aggression thing you're getting from them is not because they're going to hurt you. It's because they want to hurt me. It's a gut reaction to millennia of hatred across the species divide that we're still trying to overcome."
The latter seemed to catch his attention and he looked at her confused as he asked, "You guys aren't vampires?"
Caroline could now see a way to steer the conversation the way she wanted it to go. With a calming breath and a smile that she hoped was friendly, she shook her head.
"I am. They were werewolves until very recently. Now they're something else. That's actually why I'm here to talk to you."
Caroline gestured to the table and, after Ray reluctantly walked over to sit down, turned to Jules and Brady. She smiled at them both and then looked to the bar in what she felt was an obvious hint. Jules, for her part, simply rolled her eyes and went to sit back down. Brady crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her. Refusing to let him bait her or intimidate her, she stared back at him silently, smile still in place. Finally, with one final low growl, he turned around and went to join his alpha. The pleasant expression dropping from her face, Caroline then made her way over to join Ray at the table.
"Sorry about that. They really don't like me very much."
While he still looked nervous, Ray shot her a confused and disbelieving look.
"If they don't like you, then why are they here with you?"
Doing her best to turn on the charm and put him at ease, Caroline answered "I'm a means to an end. Kind of a middleman, really. They want their pack and their kind protected, and I can help them do that."
At this, Caroline paused and flagged down a passing waitress. When she asked her for two beers and didn't get carded, Ray's eyebrows shot up. His tone was slightly accusing when he said, "I've never known Jessie to not card someone who she didn't know."
Caroline fought down a small twinge of guilt and tried for nonchalant.
"Compelling her to not feel the need to ask for ID was shady but not evil."
As much as Caroline hated being laughed at, she did feel a small thrill of victory at the small smile that Ray apparently couldn't stop. She took a moment to gather her thoughts as the waitress, who she totally didn't feel guilty for compelling, left two bottles and took the money that Caroline handed her.
She pretended not to hear him ruefully murmur, "At least you didn't steal the beer."
"Werewolves, as I'm sure I don't need to tell you, are an endangered species. I'm convinced that the only reason they aren't extinct is because most vampires don't think you're real. Which, in my opinion, is extremely stupid. Hello, we're vampires! Who knows what else is out there." At this, Caroline paused and couldn't help but voice her next thought out loud. "When I get a chance to take a vacation, I should try and find out if mermaids are real."
She was brought out of her off-topic ramblings by Ray's contemptuous snort.
"Mermaids are just myths."
A part of Caroline wanted to engage in a long debate with him about myths usually having some basis in truth and about how there were still so many undiscovered creatures in the world. However, she just settled for a bland stare as she replied "Said the werewolf to the vampire in a bar in Tennessee."
Caroline took a drink of her beer as Ray seemed to struggle with a comeback. When he finally appeared to give up, she continued.
"Jules and Brady were regular werewolves when I first met them. Now they're hybrids. Specifically, they're werewolf vampire hybrids. They're harder to kill than werewolves, their bites kills vampires quicker without having to transform fully, they have the potential to live forever and are super strong like vampires, and they don't have any pesky issues with the sun. More importantly to them and you I think, they have complete control over their transformation."
Ray sat in stunned silence for a moment and then stuttered out, "How?"
With a small, rueful smile Caroline answered, "There's only one way, and it comes with strings."
As if summoned by her answer, the door opened and Klaus came strutting in with Maddox following closely behind. His grin told her he was unrepentant when he spotted them and then made his way toward their table. Caroline had to quell the urge to snap at him. For what seemed the millionth time, she had to remind herself that this wasn't the same Klaus who was in love with her and would take all her controlling ways with an indulgent smile.
"You were supposed to wait until I called you."
Some of her frustration may have leaked into her voice. However, he just smiled in a way she was convinced he thought was charming. It wasn't.
"I got bored, sweetheart. You know I don't do well with boredom."
He then took a seat at the table with them, lounging carelessly as if he didn't have a worry in the world. Maddox did a fair impersonation of him in the seat to the other side of her. After flagging down the waitress, Klaus gestured for her to continue. Caroline again barely managed not to snap at him as he asked Jessie for a drink. When she looked back at Ray, she could see he was eyeing Klaus warily. This was why she wanted to get everything out in the open before Klaus ever showed up.
"As I was saying, there's only one way," at this, she gestured to Klaus. "And it comes with strings."
Klaus made as if to join the conversation, but Caroline's none-too-subtle cough had him leaning back with a mockingly apologetic expression on his face. His attention was quickly caught by the arrival of his drink, and Caroline continued her explanation to Ray.
"We only need a small number of your pack, perhaps six. Half of them will stay with you, the other half will leave with us." When Ray looked about to angrily object, Caroline continued over him. "We're not doing this out of the goodness of our hearts because we feel so bad that your species is essentially dying out. Nothing comes for free in this world, but we're asking for volunteers, not slaves."
Ray didn't look all that convinced and Caroline had to fight against the knot of panic forming in her stomach. Taking a deep breath and leaning in, she brought out her most convincing argument.
"Imagine it. You and your pack will no longer have to fear being discovered by vampires. You won't have to wait until the full moon comes around to strike back at them, hoping they're still around and haven't killed off too many of your friends and family. You'll have protectors that you can trust with the life of your pack because they are pack."
He seemed torn. It was obvious he was reluctant to trust Caroline, but she could also see how tempting the thought of safety for his pack was.
"I can't make this decision. All I can do is talk to my alpha. If she even considers it, she'll want to talk to you herself."
Klaus looked less than pleased but kept silent as Ray wrote down Caroline's number and promised to plead their case and get back to them as soon as possible. As soon as Ray walked out of the bar, however, he broke that silence.
"What's to keep good old Ray from simply hiding out until he believes we've left the area and he's safe?"
Something in his expression told Caroline that he already suspected the answer and was only waiting on her to confirm it. Maddox looked curious but unconcerned, which only confirmed a suspicion she had.
"You of all people know what it's like to have to hide from something when, by all rights, you should be powerful enough to not have to hide from anything. Freedom from the fear and secrecy will make sure he talks to his alpha. Besides, it's not like you didn't have Maddox put a magical lo-jack on him."
Klaus looked as if she'd done something he had completely expected and yet still made him proud. Sometimes he made it hard to separate him in her mind from the Klaus she once knew.
Over the next eight days that became a bit of an issue as they waited to hear if Paige, Ray's alpha, would talk to them. Caroline was convinced that the only reason Klaus didn't try to hunt down the pack in that time was because Ray called them daily to keep them updated. Maybe he had caught wind of Klaus' reputation as an impatient creature with a ruthless temper.
It was also possible that his new hobby of harassing her kept him from getting too bored with waiting. He didn't consider it harassment and went overboard pretending to be offended when she confronted him. He said he was simply getting to know her.
It became something other than mere harassment, however, during the most recent of his 'getting to know you' sessions when she had told him that a dead witch had bonded part of her soul to Caroline and that that was the reason for the witchy feeling Maddox sensed from her. He didn't look very surprised and Caroline asked why. That's when he said that even he was drawn to her light and he could understand someone who loved her wanting to protect her even after death.
And suddenly Caroline had been reminded that, for all his strength, ruthlessness, and iron will, this was the most dangerous part of Klaus for her. He could make her feel like she was something truly amazing, like the world ceased to exist for him when they talked. For a young woman who, she could admit, if only to herself, was insecure and starved for validation, that could become something very addicting. That was why she had to fight the pull she felt toward him; because if she ever let herself fully experience being the center of his attention, she was afraid of what she would do to stay there.
Caroline was close to giving into that pull after a few days of Klaus 'testing' out her ability to sense other supernatural creatures. In all honesty, he barely bothered to hide the fact that it was a series of excuses to have as much physical contact with her as possible and she didn't bother to hide the fact that she saw right through him. It was a dangerous sort of flirtation that could have led to something she might have regretted had Ray not finally called to let them know that Paige would talk to them.
The negotiation went rather smoothly –they already had pack members who were willing to turn and stay as well as members that were willing to turn and leave with Klaus. Caroline would have dearly loved to know what Ray said to convince them because he didn't strike her as a very persuasive person. Not to mention that everyone was eying Klaus, Jules, and Brady with more than a bit of wariness. Before Paige could hand off members of her pack to be turned, however, there was one more thing they needed to talk about.
"Klaus and I need to talk to you. Alone."
It was obvious by the low growls and spike in tension throughout the room that the pack did not like that one bit. Having expected that –and even talked about it beforehand with Klaus –Caroline quickly said it could just be she and Paige. While the pack members still didn't seem to like it, their alpha agreed. They made to follow, but it only took a quick word from Paige to stop them in their tracks. Caroline could see there was a reason she was the alpha.
"There's something we haven't told you about becoming a hybrid. When they're turned, there will be a sire-bond in place." Caroline could see rage quickly building in Paige's eyes –she obviously knew what a sire-bond meant – and rushed to reassure her. "We're going to help them break it before we even leave here. But no one else, including the rest of your pack, can know about them breaking it.
"There's a... cult, that's going to want to use them for a sacrifice. They're going to try and get the hybrids to turn on Klaus so that he will slaughter them all. If everyone who could know about the sire-bond believes the hybrids are still bound, then they'll use that to try and get them killed. Klaus is aware of this, and we can use it to trap the members of this cult while not actually risking the hybrids."
Apparently, whatever good will Ray had planted with his alpha was not exhausted because she looked pacified by Caroline's words. She did ask, though, "Why are you bothering to tell me this now?"
The grin Caroline sent her way was just a little bit guilty. "I'm hoping that you'll get in touch with other alphas, let them know about the deal you've made, see if they're willing to make the same one to protect their packs. Of course, I'm asking that you only tell them about breaking the bond if you trust them to tell no one else. We're not even planning on telling the chosen werewolves until after they've turned."
Paige was silent for a moment, but agreed to see what she could do. She also promised to tell no one about what had been said. They joined the others as plans were made for both turning the chosen werewolves into hybrids – it seemed the pack had decided it deserved a bit of pomp and circumstance – as well as for the 'training' Klaus had said they'd all need to undergo in order to fully control their transformations. Of course, Paige was now aware this would, in reality, be them breaking their bonds and would be done away from the rest of the pack.
That night, back at the surprisingly upscale hotel Klaus had found for them, she told him and Maddox that she wouldn't be sticking around while they unbound the hybrids. Klaus, who still looked less than pleased about helping his hybrids break the sire-bond, argued heatedly against it. She held firm.
"I have a life that I plan on living as much as possible. I'm not going to be like Stefan and repeat high school again and again for all eternity. It's a onetime thing for me, and I want to milk it for all it's worth. That includes summer cheer practice. I will be back by mid-month and you're going to be so busy that you won't even notice I've been gone. Besides, hanging around here probably won't be all that safe for me."
Klaus was quickly in front of her, his hand a barely-there caress against her hair.
"I would protect you from any danger the hybrids could pose to you, Caroline." He seemed reassured by her small smile and murmured acknowledgement.
As she packed the next morning, Klaus teasingly pouted at her as he threw out wilder and wilder arguments for her to stay. He appeared to be resigned to her leaving and seemed to trust that she would return. After all, they did have more packs to find once they were done here.
She zipped the last suitcase and repeated that, they were ready to leave before she got back, they were under no circumstances allowed to leave her stuff behind. His response was to sigh dramatically and huff, "Fine, go off and play human during this monumental step. We will endure without you."
While Caroline was returning to Virginia for her practice, she didn't have enough time to return to Mystic Falls itself. Had she made it home for the July Fourth celebration like she'd wanted to, she would have been dismayed to see that her mother was accompanied by Elijah.
For about three weeks Liz had been juggling time between both Finn and Elijah. Neither one came out and said they had no wish to encounter each other; still, they both had settled into a schedule that ensured just that. As much as part of her wanted to get the two of them talking about their issues, she forcefully reminded herself that she was not getting involved in Mikaelson family dynamics. Her visits from Finn were spent mostly in silence with occasional conversations about modern technology and culture. Mostly so that he could try and get by in this day and age.
A simple business arrangement – that's how those visits from Elijah had started out – and, at first, they were almost boring. Time spent talking about what his brother was currently up to and where he was. Towards the end of that first week, however, they had quickly evolved into what Liz would almost call a friendship. If your definition of friendship came with a healthy dose of flirting. Liz tried to remind herself not to make too much of it; he was probably just a natural flirt. Unfortunately, that reminder didn't stop the flutter in her stomach or the flush in her face that would occasionally occur with his more suggestive remarks.
As his flirting increased, his questions about what his brother was up to and where he might be decreased. As it was, by the time he escorted her – his words, not hers, and she really tried not to read into it – to the town's Fourth of July celebration, it had been nearly a week since he'd even mentioned Klaus. As they walked by various food stands set up for the occasion, the wind gently blowing the skirt of a rarely-worn dress she'd pulled from the back of her closet, she let herself forget that her vampire daughter was on a summer road trip with his hybrid brother and just enjoy the early evening breeze.
She had just managed to focus on the here and now when she and Elijah were approached by one of her deputies. Given that he was in uniform, it was obvious that it was about work and Liz could feel disappointment settle low in her stomach.
"Sheriff Forbes, I didn't realize you had today off."
The combination of his stutter and the blush he was sporting let Liz know that this had nothing to do with police business. Remembering that he had specifically requested to work the celebration, an awkward and uncomfortable feeling took the place of her previous disappointment. She had been trying to encourage his work ambitions while subtly trying to discourage his obvious blossoming crush on her. It didn't appear to be working.
"Well, Adams, once you get to a certain age, you need a break every now and again." She took pity on him when he started to splutter, obviously looking for an appropriate way to deny she was that much older than him. "I'm pretty sure the pyrotechnics could use another once over. I'll see you Tuesday morning, Adams."
The last was said in a kind but firm tone. With any luck, he would be reminded that she was his boss, not a potential bed partner, and in no way interested in making small talk with him. Adams walked off with a slightly disappointed expression and as he did, she caught a smirk on Elijah's face from the corner of her eye.
Turning to him with a challenging brow raised, she asked, "What?"
He didn't reply immediately, instead tucking her hand into his elbow as he led them once again forward through the cheery crowds before answering.
"You always seem to deflect by referencing your age as if you were far older than you actually are. One begins to question why," he finally said.
Ignoring the knowing gleam in his eye, she answered frankly.
"I'm trying to remind him that there is no romance in the cards for us. When bringing up the fact that I'm the boss doesn't deter them, I find reminding them that I'm near old enough to be their mother dampens small flares of infatuation in the more persistent young bucks."
While he looked as if she confirmed something important for him, he didn't comment any further. Watching the fireworks later, though, she couldn't help but get the feeling that they weren't finished with that particular conversation. Perhaps he had figured out the part of her reasoning she hadn't voiced that only applied to him; that she was trying to remind herself that when dealing with someone who was eternally young and beautiful, she really shouldn't set herself up for rejection.
Elijah made pleasant conversation as he drove her home, managing to put her at ease even as he continued with his habit of flirting semi-outrageously. When he turned off the ignition and asked if he could come in for a drink, even though she knew it was dangerously close to giving her libido the wrong idea, she couldn't resist saying yes.
They had just their beers -she got a bit of a kick essentially forcing Elijah to drink something so common- when she heard a knock at the door. Knowing no one was likely to visit her this late at night and worried it could be Finn with a problem, Liz stood up, setting her empty bottle on the coffee table and went to answer the door.
As she turned into the hallway, she felt a frisson of annoyance when she saw Deputy Adams through the window of her front door. Seeing him now dressed in civvies, she quickly realized that she was going to have to stop playing nice and just shoot him down quickly and cleanly. Still, as she opened the door expecting things to get awkward, a part of her did hope he wasn't here hoping she would suddenly fall into his waiting arms.
"What can I do for you, Adams?"
Honestly, considering how often she has had to walk the line between nice and hostile with him, she should take up diplomacy.
"Hey, Liz, I thought I'd stop by and see how your night went."
It wasn't the piss poor excuse that let her know she'd be playing hard-ass tonight, it was the fact that he'd used her first name. This was the first time she'd ever even gotten a hint he knew her first name wasn't Sheriff. Just as she took a breath to let him down none too gently she saw his posture straighten and his jaw tighten. Stiffly, he said, "I can see you have company, though. I'll see you Tuesday, Sheriff."
Liz watched him stride away down her porch steps and back to his car parked along the curb, preparing herself for whatever she would see when she turned around. Nothing, however, could have prepared her. Leaning against the doorjamb of the open French doors in her hallway, his feet bare, shirt untucked and halfway unbuttoned, and his hair noticeably disheveled for lack of a better word, Elijah presented the very image of someone interrupted mid-make-out.
Liz almost didn't recognize the full-on belly laugh that came out of her. Still amused, she couldn't help but channel her daughter more than a bit when she asked "Seriously?"
Eyes opened wide in comical faux innocence, Elijah spread his arms out slightly, palms up, as if to ask what she could possibly be referring to.
"I don't know why Deputy Adams didn't stay. He looked like he spent a good amount of time getting his hair to flop just so in his face. It really gave him an air of boyish charm."
Liz was chuckling as she walked past Elijah to collect their bottles. She was halfway to the kitchen before it dawned on her what he had said. Turning around she nearly jumped when she found he had followed her and closely at that. Deciding to ignore his closeness, she grinned up at him.
"Elijah, is that why you cut your hair?" She turned back toward the kitchen and began walking again and continued the conversation.
"You really didn't need to be insulted when I told you that your haircut made you look twelve." Liz quickly rinsed out the bottles and threw them in the recycle bin before turning to deliver the final, and in her mind witty, blow. "It was really... cute."
She wouldn't describe the look he leveled at her then as cute. It made her breath shudder and something deep inside her clench as he began closing in on her.
"I was not insulted, dear Lizbet, nor was it vanity that led me to cut my hair. I simply sought to ensure you had one less excuse to use and remind you that, while I may look... marginally younger than you, I have been alive a millennium longer. So, unlike the way things went with your young deputy tonight, I would like you to be completely upfront and honest with me."
Elijah was well within her personal space at this point, his closeness leaving her unable to even point out that her name wasn't Lizbet. He ran the fingertips of his left hand up along her right arm and across her shoulder until his wrist rested against her neck and he could lightly tug at the hair at her nape. Leaning forward, he continued to speak, his breath ghosting across her temple.
"If I let us continue along the path you have set for us, we will be left with nothing save frustrated flirting. However, I believe we can have something so much more pleasurable."
Another tug to her hair sent her head back slightly and Liz was left trying to hold back a moan as he pulled her against his body with his other hand and placed an open-mouthed kiss just under her ear. A small, sharp nip at that very ear and then he was talking again.
"Tell me to stop, and we will return to the way things were, as if this never happened. But what I really want to do, my Lizbet, is kneel down in front of you in this kitchen, reach up under your dress to pull down your underwear. I want to bury my head between your pretty thighs as you ride my tongue. Then I want to take you to your bedroom and see how many ways I can bring you to orgasm in one night before you pass out."
Pulling back he looked in her eyes and Liz felt like he was trying to devour her with just that look.
"In order to do that, in order to do all that I want to, I need you to say 'yes, Elijah' and mean it. Please, Lizbet, let me have what I want."
Though his words could have sounded as if he were begging, his tone was all demand. Part of her felt she should say no on principle given that tone, but why should she deny herself something she wanted? Reaching up, she buried her left hand in his hair and pulled his mouth toward her. He came easily enough, but quickly took the lead in their kiss. It was wide open and dominating, leaving her feeling as though he had claimed part of her. That feeling only left her eager to see what else she could feel with him.
When he pulled away from her mouth, it was only to drag his lips and tongue down her throat and growl against her pulse, "Say it, Lizbet."
Taking a shuddering breath, Liz let go of her doubts and insecurities.