That would come later, if the couple failed to return.

Part of him hoped they didn’t return for a while. Currently he had Mary Ann all to himself. Tucker the Flaming Engorged Rectum was missing and had been since the café. Where the demon spawn had gone, Riley didn’t know and didn’t care.

Right now, Riley was sitting at the living room window, peering through the crinkled blinds. Yes, he’d broken into the place. The locks had been crap, and so had the doors they’d been nailed to, so it had just been a matter of busting the already chipped glass pane, reaching inside and turning the knob.

When would people learn? Glass next to a door was like begging every thief in the neighborhood to come inside.

Mary Ann was sitting beside him. They weren’t touching. Yet. But they would be. Soon. By warding her back at the motel, he’d taken care of the witch and fairy problem. The two races couldn’t watch her with their magic and intrinsic abilities anymore, couldn’t track her except through human means. A skill they most likely lacked, considering they’d never had reason to use it. Meaning, the danger level was now close to nil.

That meant one soul-rocking thing. There’d be no interruptions. And that meant one more soul-rocking thing. Riley was through being Mr. Nice Wolf. He had experience. He knew how to charm a girl. And had. Often. He knew how to tease and taunt to heighten curiosity and awareness. Now, he would charm Mary Ann.

Since nearly feeding on him, she’d been distant, quiet. He had to do something to convince her she wouldn’t hurt him. She wouldn’t. He wouldn’t let her.

Because Riley and Victoria shared such a deep mind connection, allowing him to do more than simply read her aura, and because he was so in tune to everything concerning Mary Ann, he’d inadvertently culled Vic’s thoughts about the girl possibly being related to the fae. Something he was ashamed to admit he hadn’t considered. Fairies were drainers, too, and yet they could control their feedings. So, if there was a connection, there was hope for Mary Ann.

Not that she would search. Not yet. She was determined to save Aden. Riley was, too, but he wouldn’t put Mary Ann’s life on the back burner, even for his king. Therefore, tomorrow his digging into her history would begin.

Right now he had to ease her worries about hurting him. Otherwise, she’d continue to resist everything he suggested. For the mission and for their relationship.

He scanned their surroundings. The way the neighborhood was laid out, they had a clear view of both the street and Aden’s (possible) parents’ place. There were no cars, no one out and about.

“Victoria texted me,” he said, starting casually. Cold wind blew through the crack in the bottom of the window, causing strands of her dark hair to dance in every direction, even in his face. “Her brother came home, challenged Aden, and Aden kicked his ass in front of everyone.”

“We need to tell him what you’ve found.”

“What have I found?” The frown she tossed him said the rest for her: you gotta think before you speak. “I’ve got nothing concrete, so there’s no reason to get his hopes up.”

“Not true. He should know you think you found Julian.” For all Riley knew, Victoria had already told him. “He should know you think you found his parents.”

“And crush him when we learn I’m wrong?”

“And you could be right.”

“When did you become such a Debbie Downer?” Her aura was a dark blue, sadness practically radiating off her. Mixed with the blue, however, were specks of brown that were soon to darken to black. Not a color that represented death—not all the time. But with her, that brown represented hunger, her need to feed, to draw energy into herself.

Those specks had grown in the last few hours. Not enough to concern him. Maybe because he also saw specks of red and pink. Red for anger—or passion—and pink for hope. He wanted to nurture both.

Her mouth fell open. “I’m not Debbie Downer.” The red bloomed a little brighter.

“Honey, you’re the textbook version of Doomsday. You expect the worst, always.”

“I do no—” There at the end, she caught herself. “Fine. I do.” She leaned forward and rested her elbows on the edge of the pane. “Better safe than sorry, though.”

“Actually, no, it’s not. But if we’re going to cliché this conversation to death, here’s one you need to memorize—better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.”

“You’re coasting, and you need to lighten up.” Way to charm her, you idiot. All he was doing was pissing her off. He could have apologized for taking the harsh road, but he didn’t. What he’d said was true. However, he did flash her a quick smile when he nudged her shoulder with his. “Let me help you.”

They’d switched roles, he realized. Once upon a time, she had charged full-speed ahead, and he had been the one to press on the brakes. Now he wondered what would she have done if the situation were reversed. “Tell me a secret. Something you’ve never told anyone else.” Excellent. Something the old Mary Ann would have suggested—and enjoyed.

Her tongue glided over her lips. “We’re kinda in the middle of breaking and entering and spying. Now isn’t the time to share.”

Oh, yeah. Their roles had totally switched. “Now’s the perfect time. Hasn’t anyone told you it’s prudent to multitask?”

“I don’t know…” A hint of the old Mary Ann.

“Come on. Live a little. Add one more chore to our ever-growing list.” Not that talking to him was a chore. He hoped.

A pause, then, “Fine. You go first.”

He had her and tried not to smile. “All right. Here goes. I’ve regretted not sleeping with you.” Straight to the heart of the matter.

The red halo around her brightened so much, it was almost blinding. Passion, definitely. His body reacted, heating from head to toe.

“I don’t think that’s a secret,” she said softly. “But… I’ve regretted that you didn’t sleep with me, too.”

He froze. Forget charming and convincing her. He liked this. The raw honesty of her tone, the longing she cast his way. “Mary Ann,” he said.

“I—I—” She had to know what he wanted. To kiss her, to hold her. To finally be with her.

She turned away from the window, watching him through wide eyes. In the haze of light, he could see flecks of green mixed with the brown. “We shouldn’t,” she said, but she was wavering, he could tell. “Not here.”

“We should.” He didn’t want to regret anymore, didn’t want to wait. As Aden could attest, no one was guaranteed a tomorrow.

Her fingers moved to the hem of her shirt, twisting the buttons. Did she realize what that action did to him? How it tantalized him? “What if the owner of this house comes home? What if Aden’s parents come home?”

Still wavering, so close to the edge. Fall, sweetheart. I’ll catch you. “Then we get dressed. Quickly.”

“You have an answer for everything,” she said dryly. “I might have become a Debbie Downer, but you’ve become a pain the butt. You know that, right?”

“I just realized we need to work on your perception, too, because it’s kinda skewed.”

“Hardly.” He loved the sound of her laugh. Husky, wine-rich. And that he had caused it, well, he felt like he was king of the world. “I’m a little slice of heaven and you know it.”

Smiling, Riley moved closer to her, making sure some part of them touched. Forearms, hips. Breath hitched in her throat, even as his own hissed through his teeth.

Before he could swoop in to claim a kiss, a car snaked the far corner of the road before speeding along, closing in on the house they were watching. Mary Ann noticed and stiffened. Riley did, too, zeroing in on the driver. Male, early-twenties. Not Joe Stone. The car bypassed the houses, and they both relaxed.

“I wonder where Tucker is,” she said with a tremble.

“You want to talk about him now? Seriously?”

“Safer for us, don’t you think?”

Not really. “Tucker’s probably in the process of a human sacrifice.”

She pushed at his shoulder. At this second contact, he sizzled. She must have, too, because she didn’t withdraw her hand right away. In fact, she flattened her palms on him and spread her fingers, touching as much of his biceps as she could.

As her aura flared with all that luscious red, she licked her lips. “All right. We don’t have to talk about Tucker.” There at the end, her voice dipped, going low with need.

The heat returned, wrapping around him. “What do you want to talk about?” His own voice had lowered.

All the encouragement he needed. He gripped her by the waist, lifted and turned her, until she was poised over him, then he set her on his lap. “Straddle me.”

She did, and he drew her closer. Not all the way but just enough. Her arms wound around his neck and back. “What about the cars—”

“I can still see out the window.” Truth. He could. When he looked. At the moment, all he could see, all he cared about, was Mary Ann. “Now kiss me. I need you so much.”

“I need you, too,” she said, leaning down and meshing their lips together.

He kissed her deep and sure, his hands sliding to her back, under her shirt, gliding up the ridges of her spine, then down, then tracing the waistband of her pants.