The Lady or the Wolf

Orithain and Rina

February 2004

June 2003

"Remind me again why Iím going to this party?" Eric Tate sighed, taking a sip of scotch from a cut crystal glass and turning his gaze from the window of the limousine to his assistant, who was sitting across from him.

Alexander was a ferret, not in looks but in his shifted form, and he certainly had the mind of one: sharp as a tack and quick on the uptake. He also had an eye for details and somehow managed to stay one step ahead of even Eric at times, a fact which both amused and astounded him.

Ericís whole staff was shifters, from his chauffeur to the security people at both his penthouse in the city and his country house in Connecticut. Heíd chosen them because of that ability as well as because of their qualifications in their fields. He wanted the best, and he got it; his wealth and his abilities assured him of that.

"Because youíre a major stockholder, and this is the launch of Geneyaís new product," Alexander answered calmly as he worked on the rest of the weekís schedule on his PDA without breaking the flow of information he was memorizing.

"And why donít I have a date?"

"Because Serena had to go out of town and Marcia got married."

"Lovely." Eric sighed and closed his eyes. No date meant an evening being pawed over by the various young socialites whoíd managed to wrangle an invitation in hopes of snaring a rich husband. Well, rich, he was, but husband material... not for a normal.

"Itíll probably be an early night then."

"Are you going to the sticks tomorrow?" Alexanderís tone conveyed just what he thought of the country.

"If I get the consolidation with Wagnerís finalized to my liking." The limo pulled up in front of the Geneya headquarters, and the avian shifter who drove for him got out and opened the door. "Thank you, Gina. Iíll have Alexander call when I need you back."

"Yes, sir," she said, smiling and winking before regaining her serious demeanor.

The company was releasing a new line of cosmetics and perfumes, and as a backer, Eric was expected to be here. It wasnít quite how he wanted to spend the evening, but then heíd learned to make it appear that he was enjoying himself even when his thoughts were far away in the woods.

A security guard checked their names off the list, and another led them to the private elevator. "Cheer up, Boss," Alexander chuckled, "maybe youíll get lucky tonight."

Looking down at the shorter man, Eric studied him for a long moment before giving in and smiling. "If not, youíre always welcome to join me."

"As great as it would be, Boss, I told you when you hired me: work and friendship mix; work and sex donít."

"And Iíd rather have a friend, considering this town," Eric allowed, putting on his business face when the elevator doors opened, filling the small space with the noise of a party in full swing.

Standing near the elevator, Traci Lorimer glanced over curiously when she felt the dull tingling that told her another shifter of her type was nearby. Her younger brother Mike had once compared the feeling to the Immortals on Highlander sensing each other, and while she and their other brother Jesse had laughed at him, he wasnít far wrong. She was starting to think half the shifters in New York were at this launch.

Pushing her trademark red hair behind her shoulders, she finally got a glimpse of the latest arrivals, and her blue eyes widened slightly. Even if the dark-haired, olive-skinned newcomer had developed those muscles in a gym like so many of the city dwellers, he still looked gorgeous. "What a hunk," she breathed, softly enough that not even the people standing next to her could hear her since they didnít have a shifterís acute senses.

"Go on, have fun," Eric murmured, watching Alexander start to work the room in his own way before stepping forward, greeting the host and exchanging small talk about the launch and the product line.

"Let me introduce you to our spokesmodel, Traci Lorimer," Charles Genrs, Geneyaís CEO, offered. "Sheís going to sell a lot of product for us."

"I hope the quality sells more," Eric answered, watching as the older man beckoned a beautiful redhead toward them. Watching her approach, Eric felt a bit of surprise; she was a shifter tooóinteresting.

"Mr. Tate," she said with a smile, offering her hand as Charles introduced them. "Itís a pleasure to finally meet you. Iíve heard a great deal about you." Though no one told me you were a shifter and absolutely gorgeous.

"Ms. Lorimer," he answered politely, taking her hand and, on an impulsive whim, raising it to his lips. "I have to concur, but the pleasure is mine."

"And more polite than Iíd heard," she laughed huskily, feeling her pulse race at the touch of his lips on her skin. "I thought you considered models pointless leeches?" she teased merrily.

"Would I say such a thing?" he asked, amused, knowing full well he had been quoted saying that in the past. "Perhaps it depends if they have brains or not, itís a quality I admire in a partner."

"A partner?" Coppery brows rose, and neither noticed as Charles murmured his excuses and left them. "Moving a little fast there, donít you think?"

Eric chuckled, accepting glasses of champagne for them both. "I was speaking in the abstract, not the concrete, forgive me."

"I donít know whether to be relieved or insulted." Traci laughed lightly as she took the glass he offered her, sipping it. "Youíre not quite what I expected either, Mr. Tate."

"Now itís my turn not to know whether I should be relieved or insulted," Eric smiled. "Though I gather neither of us was aware of exactly what the other was. Iíll have to speak to my staff about that; I like to keep up with whoís who in this town."

"Spoken like someone who considers himself the alpha," Traci murmured, eyeing him curiously. Sheíd expected someone a lot more... manicured, but he seemed more of a real person and less like a polished image. He might be interesting after all.

"Not of the town, but certainly of my area anyway." Eric shrugged easily, not denying that was what he was. "Though my pack is very eclectic to say the least. What about you, Ms. Lorimer; who do you keep company with?"

"No one," she replied coolly. "When I first came to New York, I met some of the local shifters and was less than impressed. I visit home frequently to enjoy the freedom of being a wolf. Fortunately I can now afford to choose my assignments, which is one of the reasons I signed the exclusive contract with Geneya; it will give me more time to myself to spend with my family."

He nodded, finishing his drink and setting the empty flute on a passing waiterís tray. "Understandable; thatís why I have my place in Connecticut, for when I need somewhere to run. As for the local shifters... well, I canít say I was too impressed with them myself when I arrived, but Iíve managed to find some good ones once I looked outside of species boundaries."

She cocked her head to one side, watching him curiously. "So youíre the one Iíve heard about, who keeps all kinds of shifters with him. Interesting. But if youíre waiting for me to be shocked, youíre talking to the wrong woman, Mr. Tate. One of my brotherís mates is a lynx."

"Itís Eric, and if youíre looking for me to be shocked about that fact, I wonít be either." He gave a small smile. "As for Ďkeepingí all kinds of shifters with me, I want my closest staff to be shifters too; it simplifies matters immensely. I pay them well and trust them implicitly, but I donít Ďkeepí them."

"Forgive me, I didnít mean any insult. I just wasnít sure how to... phrase it. I wasnít implying anything wrong. Actually, I think itís a wonderful idea. Weíre much too segregated."

"I have to agree with that. Itís a shame our groups are so exclusionist, even within the clans. You mentioned home and your brother who apparently likes cats; where exactly is home for you, Ms. Lorimer?"

"Superior, Wisconsin," she replied, holding back a grin. Sheíd known that heíd recognize the name, since it was probably the largest enclave of canine shifters in North America, but her amusement was caused by his surprise at finding out she wasnít the big-city girl heíd thought. "Oh, and my brother more than Ďapparently likesí cats. At least one of them, though heís not so sure about her brothers. Jesse mated with one of the San Gabriels."

"Hmmm, so you play with the big guns both at work and at home, interesting." Eric was well aware of the fact that Superior was basically the lupine shifter center of the United States and that was where the power within shifter society lay, but he wasnít really interested in alpha battles in that arena. As for the San Gabriels, they were the feline powerhouses out west, not that heíd ever met them.

"How exactly did you end up here in New York?"

Traci shrugged elegantly. "Lindsay saw a picture of me in an ad for my parentsí business and convinced me to give modeling a try. Since I wasnít quite sure what I wanted to do with my life, I thought this would give me the time to figure it out."

"And have you figured it out yet?" he asked, curious as to what made this woman tick.

"Well, Iíve discovered that I like playing the market and Iím good at it. So when I decide that Iíve had enough of modeling, Iíll be able to go home and just enjoy life. And keep playing with stocks," she added with a grin. "Itís fun."

Eric nodded, impressed that she had enough savvy to play the market and enough interest to want to keep doing it. "Hmmm, got any hot tips for me?"

Eyes sparkling with merriment, she leaned close to whisper, "Iíve heard that Geneyaís a hot commodity right now."

Laughing, he nodded. "I definitely owe you for that piece of information. Say dinner? Tomorrow?"

Her head cocked slightly, she considered it. She usually avoided the New York shifters, but there was something about Eric... "All right." She reached into her tiny evening bag for a piece of paper and a pen and scribbled something on it before handing it to him. "My address. Just let me know if I should be dressy or casual."

Glancing down at the address and memorizing it, Eric then tucked the small slip of paper in his jacket pocket. "Casual, I think. Thereís a bistro I like near Broadway. Great food, good music and an excellent wine cellar, all without the pretense."

"It sounds wonderful, exactly the kind of place I like, though I donít think Iíve found this one yet. Iíll look forward to seeing it with you." She smiled at him as she took a sip of her champagne, blue eyes admiring the picture he made in his formal wear.

"And I look forward to showing it to you." He held her gaze and felt something inside of him clench with a desperate longing. "And other things as well."

"Traci, can I borrow you for a moment?" Charles Genrs joined them again, smiling and resting a hand on the modelís arm, causing Eric to bite back a snarl, shocking himself at how possessive he felt of her already.

"Of course, Charles. Eric, it was a pleasure meeting you, and I look forward to tomorrow evening." She gave him a social smile, but the warmth in her blue eyes was entirely for him.

"So am I," he replied, ruthlessly pushing down the sudden urge to take her arm and get her out of this place, to take her somewhere private and lay claim to her.

Forcing himself to look away when Charles drew her into a conversation with other backers, Eric schooled his expression and went to work, dealing with his burning desire by ignoring it.

Eric was due to pick her up in half an hour and Traci was still standing in bra and panties with half her wardrobe thrown on the bed. "God, Iím worse than a teenager," she muttered, eyeing the chaos around her. Casual was actually harder than dressy. She didnít want to be too casual since it was their first date, but she didnít want to overdress either.

Growling, she kicked the skirts that had fallen to the floor, finally dressing quickly in a breezy, long Indian cotton skirt and peasant blouse, adding dangly earrings and leather sandals that laced up her calves. A bit of makeup and she was done, heading into the living room for a drink while she waited, shutting the door to hide the mess in her room.

Closing his cell phone after getting the last of the information he needed from Alexander, Eric shut it off, a rarity for him. He didnít want any interruptions tonight, and if something desperately needing his attention came up, his staff could contact Gina in the car.

Slipping the phone into the pocket of his weathered brown leather jacket, he took a deep breath, somewhat amused by the quivering of his stomach as he exited the elevator and walked toward Traciís apartment. This wasnít normal for him, but then again, nothing about Traci was normal either. From the wildflowers heíd had sent over this morning to the reservations for a quiet table at Angelinaís, he wanted the date to go perfectly, and what Eric Tate wanted, he got.

Raising a hand, he knocked on Traciís door.

"Oh God, heís here," she whispered, staring wide-eyed at the door and swallowing the last of her drink. Finally remembering that she had to let him in, she strode over and opened it, her smile slowly fading to be replaced with a look of heat as she took him in.

Dazed blue eyes rose to meet velvety dark brown, and she licked her lips before whispering, "Hi."

"Hi," Eric rumbled in response, his voice low and rough with the rush of desire that raced through him at the sight of her. Not thinking, just acting, he stepped forward, sliding his hands around Traciís trim waist, feeling the silky slide of her blouse under his palms. Leaning in, he caught her mouth, feeling her lips fall open under his as he drank in her sweet taste.

At the first taste of Eric, Traciís mind simply shut down. Moaning, she wrapped her arms around his neck, one leg gliding sensually up the outside of his to curl around his waist, completely indifferent to the fact that they were standing in the open doorway of her apartment and anyone who happened to walk down the hall could see them.

In the back of his mind, Eric knew what this meant, what it would lead to, but he didnít care; all that mattered was the feel of the woman in his arms and the taste of her in his mouth. When she slid her leg around his thigh, he pulled her closer, his erection pressing against the taut flesh of her belly.

Growling low in his chest, he lifted her up, feeling her other leg wind around his waist as well, and slammed the door behind them, drawing his mouth away from hers to look down into dazed blue eyes. "Mine," he rasped, carrying her toward where intuition told him was the bedroom, pushing open the door and lowering them both to lie on top of the mound of clothes covering her bed.

"Mine," she growled back, one hand tugging his long hair free of its restraint and tangling into the dark silk as she arched up beneath him, legs still around his waist. "I want you," she rasped, biting his shoulder.

Growling deep in his throat, Eric reached between them, pushing Traciís skirt up and out of the way. A sudden tug snapped the lace of her panties, and he tossed them to the side. That done, he unzipped his jeans, shoving them out of the way so that he could bury himself in the wet heat that had become his only goal.

"Yes," she gasped throatily, nails clawing at his shirt-clad back as her legs tightened around his waist, pulling him into down into her. She arched up beneath him, her mouth reaching for his, hungry for him in every way.

Fighting the urge to throw back his head and howl, Eric instead threaded the fingers of one hand through Traciís long red hair, holding her into a voracious kiss while his hips snapped back and forth, driving into her and being met by her at every thrust.

Traci arched up beneath his weight, trying to force him deeper inside her, biting and clawing at him before returning to his mouth for another kiss. "Harder, damn you," she demanded, fiery blue eyes fixed on him, her body spasming around him.

Tangling his hands in her hair and pulling her head back, Eric lowered his head to feast on Traciís neck, biting at the soft, smooth skin as he powered into her, losing what little restraint heíd managed to hold on to in the face of their coupling.

Crying out when Ericís teeth grazed her throat, Traci tore at his shirt, buttons flying as she ripped it open and pulled it down off his shoulders, her nails now digging into bare skin as she clung to him. She screamed his name as her climax overtook her suddenly, making her arch beneath him and try to drag him closer.

Not giving an inch, Eric shuddered as he felt the burn of fingernails dragging down his back and the sweet clench of Traciís channel around his engorged cock. The scent of musk filled his nostrils, and he howled, the sound muffled by his mateís flesh as he poured himself into her, claiming her for all time as his own.

Traci lay panting beneath her lover, arms and legs still around him, and she laughed breathlessly. "I only wanted dinner, not a lifetime mating," she chuckled. "You donít do anything by half measures, do you?"

Lifting his head, Eric chuckled quietly, leaning on one elbow while he brushed a tendril of red-blonde hair out of Traciís face. "Is there a point?"

"Well, not that Iíve ever found," she agreed with amusement. "But most people manage more than exchanging greetings before making a lifetime commitment. Still, introducing you to my family is going to be interesting. Mom and Dad were starting to wonder if Iíd ever find anyone." She smiled slowly as she looked at him. "I think I was just being choosy."

Still laughing softly, Eric rolled over, bringing Traci with him so that she was lying on his chest. "At least we managed not to do this last night, though my staff probably wishes otherwise. I almost took my security chiefís head off last night, and I had my assistant on the phone at five this morning rousing florists to send you the wildflowers."

"Which I love, by the way," Traci smiled. "And Iíll have to see if I can keep you in a good mood so no more heads roll. Iíd hate to get off on the wrong foot with your staff."

"Trust me, theyíll love you, or heads will roll." He smiled wolfishly at the last. "And speaking of that, Ginaís going to have mine because I left her outside with the car and told her weíd be down in five minutes."

"I think you might want to tell her to go have dinner... and come back around lunchtime tomorrow."

"An excellent idea, love." Eric pulled her in for a kiss then dug in his jacket pocket for his cell phone. "Take the night off, Gina," he ordered when the chauffeur answered. "Get yourself a good dinner and enjoy yourself, on me."

Shaking his head at the avian shifterís laughter, he tossed the phone on the bedside table. "Hmmm, so, should we try this again without our clothes?"

"Yes," Traci chuckled, eyeing the remains of their clothes. "And without my entire wardrobe under us." She shook her head. "As you can see, I was a little nervous about what to wear tonight. Apparently I could have saved myself a lot of time and tension and just gone naked." She bent down to kiss him after standing up. "And unless you like the topless look, you may want to have Gina bring you some clothes tomorrow," she teased.

Rolling off the bed to stand as well, Eric unselfconsciously shed his clothes before walking up behind Traci and helping her with the rest of hers. "Personally, I like the topless look on you better," he murmured, cupping her now bare breasts in his hands and nuzzling the side of her neck. "And I have to say that hearing you were nervous about this is a relief; I thought I was the only one."

She turned in his arms to face him, her own rising to loop around his neck. "More nervous than Iíve been since Tommy Landers asked me out in fifth grade," she admitted with a grin.

"I hope that date didnít turn out like this as well," he chuckled before kissing her. "And not to push, but you do realize Iím not letting you go? Iíve found my mate, and I intend to keep her."

"Good thing or youíd find out just how possessive and rabidly jealous I can be," Traci half growled. "Youíre all mine now. And no, Tommy tried to kiss me, and I gave him a black eye," she added with a mischievous grin.

"Poor guy." Eric shook his head sadly. "Canít say I blame him for trying though; you are irresistible, and mine, which makes me want to give him considerably more than a black eye for daring to try to touch you."

"Nut. Heís happily married with a baby on the way now. Not at all my type. I like dark, dangerous corporate raider types who sweep me off my feet now. Know anyone like that?"

"It just so happens I do." Scooping Traci into his arms, Eric walked her back to the bed, pushing aside the clothes to lay her down on the comforter. "Witness the sweeping you off your feet."

"Ohhh, my hero." She faked a swoon, then peered up at him through her lashes. "What, youíre not going to ravish my fainting, helpless self?"

Eric started to laugh. "Fainting? Helpless? Sweetness, youíre the least helpless person I know." He waggled his eyebrows and leaned in to flick his tongue over one rose-colored nipple. "That doesnít mean I wonít ravish you though."

"Oh goody. I was getting worried. Can I help?" she purred, stretching sensually against the geometric patterns in various shades of green, knowing how it made her skin gleam in contrast.

"Itís always better with two," he murmured, lowering his mouth to her breast again and suckling on the pebbled nipple.

"Mmm, I really do like the way you think. Glad I decided to keep you." Her fingers delved into the heavy silk of his hair, combing through it restlessly as she arched beneath him, her legs shifting and spreading apart to urge him to settle atop her.

"Convenient, wasnít it?" he chuckled, shifting to lie fully over her, his mouth never leaving her breast except to switch to the unattended peak.

"Perfect," she gasped. Deciding that she wanted to touch him as well, one hand left his hair to trail down his body, exploring the taut muscles until she reached the nest of hair at his groin. Teasingly, she paused, stroking it lightly but not going any lower.

A low growl escaped Ericís lips, and he arched his hips toward her teasing fingers, nipping at the sensitive skin of her breasts when she continued to evade him.

"Want something, lover?" she purred, letting her fingertips edge slightly lower, just brushing his shaft before moving to the side and gliding over his upper thigh.

"Like to play, do you?" he asked, raising his head to give her a wicked smile before moving backwards on the bed until his hands cupped her hips. Leaning in, he nuzzled her mound, smelling the combined scents of his pleasure and hers. Raising his eyes, he met her gaze as he continued to rub his cheek and chin against her cleft.

Traci bit her lip, her hands clenched into fists at her sides as he played with her, promising but not delivering incredible pleasure. "Looks like Iím not the only one," she moaned, her legs spreading wider. "Damn it, do something."

"Hmmm, Iíll do something all right." Backing completely off the bed, Eric held out a hand to Traci. "On the floor, sweetness. I want this time to be like the animals we can be. My wolf wants yours."

She all but fell off the bed, she moved so fast. "Yes," she rasped, already shifting. A moment later, a female red wolf stood before him, legs braced and tail raised as she waited for her mate.

Taking only a moment to admire the lupine beauty before him, Eric shifted as well, rising on his back legs and clasping his mate behind her forelegs, thrusting home at the same time he bit down on the nape of her neck, catching hold of flesh beneath her thick fur.

The wolf bitch howled, claimed by her mate. Her body accepted him eagerly, and she thrust back demandingly, wanting more. For the first time, even considering other shifter lovers sheíd had, Traci felt every part of herself taken and pleasured, and she reveled in it.

Eric let the animal part of his brain take over, wanting, needing to claim his mate in every way possible, to mark her flesh and scent with his musk so that all would know she was claimed. He thrust faster and harder, his soft growls muted even more by the fur between his jaws.

Traci whined softly, her pleasure only increased by his dominance in this form, and she howled again as she came, claimed by her mate for all time.

Feeling the relaxation that only came with submission go through Traciís body just before she came, Eric raised his voice in chorus with hers, rocking into her several more times before his own climax overcame him. They stayed locked together for a short time, then he twisted away, changing even as he dropped to the floor and gathering into his arms a body that started out lupine but ended up human. "Love you," he murmured, kissing the side of Traciís neck.

"Likewise, wolfman," she replied, curling into him trustingly. "Iím glad we finally found each other."

He chuckled quietly. "I suppose I should give Charles some more funding to thank him."

"Iím sure heíd appreciate that," she agreed, kissing him lightly. "And maybe you could show up for some of my shoots if youíre not busy. Iím sure Iíd find looking at you instead of the photographer inspirational."

"Hmm, can you live with me wanting to rip out the photographerís throat if he dresses you in something as revealing as what you wore in the first shoot? No, wait, I wonít do that. I rather enjoy the fact that the whole world can look, but Iím the only one who can touch."

"Chauvinist," she laughed. "I think I like it, within reason. Just no killing anyone. Now that Iíve found you, I donít want to be limited to conjugal visits."

"You donít think I could buy off the jury?" he chuckled, settling her in his lap and leaning back against the bed.

"Iíd prefer that you not have to, fool," she laughed at him. "Or should I start calling you OJ?"

"Gina would kill me before she drove a white Ford Bronco," he chuckled, kissing her.

Bursting into laughter, Traci collapsed against him. "Well, we canít have that since then Iíd have to kill her. It would turn into some weird murder cult, and weíd be splashed over all the tabloids. My brothers and sister would never let me live it down."

"And just how many of those are there?"

"Two brothers, one older and one younger, and a sister whoís the baby of the family and has been lording it over me that she found her mate first. And the regulation mom and dad, all of whom are going to want to meet you."

Eric groaned. "Why do I think Alexander will be planning a trip for us to Superior in the near future?"

"Because I wouldnít pick an unintelligent man for my mate," Traci laughed, curling closer. "When can you get away?"

"Hmm, good question. Iíll ask Alexander to check my schedule and clear it if necessary. I think the priorities in my life have just been rearranged, beautiful. My staff is going to love you for this."

Traci tilted her head inquisitively, not sure how to take that. "Is that good or bad? Am I saving them from the ogre who was their boss, or am I making their lives more chaotic by forcing sudden changes of plans?" Either way, she knew Eric was only doing what he chose to, but she was curious.

He chuckled at that. "A bit of both, though they thrive on chaos at times. As for me being an ogre, normally itís not the case, though Ace might not agree with that, considering I almost took his head off last night for talking about mating season."

Traci tried very hard not to laugh, but it was a losing battle. "Got you hot and bothered, did I? I like the sound of that, mate of mine," she chuckled, stroking a possessive hand over his chest.

Chuckling softly, Eric took Traciís hand in his and nibbled at her palm. "Love, you get any man in the room hot and bothered by just looking at them and probably most of the women too. You had me ready to do murder."

"Ohh, Iíll have to remember that. There are any number of people I know that would make wonderful centerpieces at a funeral," Traci chuckled. "But since we already established that being limited to conjugal visits would be frustrating, maybe weíll skip that. Iíd much rather have you in me than in jail."

"If you think Iím going to argue with that, Iíll have to prove you wrong," Eric murmured, content to hold Traci against him, feeling a peace he had never known settle over him.

"I knew you were more than just a pretty face," Traci chuckled, rubbing her cheek against his chest. "By the way, are we going to spend the whole night on the floor, or am I ever going to make it into your bed?"

"Well, technically itís your bed, but if youíre willing to share..." Eric smirked and gathered Traci into his arms, moving them both to the bed.

"Details," she replied airily, arms tightening around his neck as he lifted her. "Mmmm, itís not very politically correct, but I think I love it when you do that."

"Thatís a good thing, because I intend on doing it every chance I get."

"Well, we may get some fairly odd looks if you insist on carrying me everywhere we go. Though just imagine the photo ops."

Eric chuckled. "It might bring gallantry back into vogue, you know."

"Considering that a lot of men couldnít manage it and a lot of women would sock them in the nose if they tried, I rather doubt it. But it works for us, and thatís all I care about." Traci shrugged, indifferent to what anyone else thought.

"I have to agree." Eric leaned in and kissed her on the nose. "The rest of the world can go take a flying leap, except your family, of course, as you seem to like them."

"And I suppose weíd better include your staff as well since you seem to like them," Traci retorted, settling herself comfortably with several pillows behind her. "So how bigís your place? Big enough for me, or do we need to go house hunting? This place is way too small for both of us plus your entourage," she teased.

"How about I let you decide tomorrow? We can go over to the building, and you can vet the place. If we need more room and want the convenience of being here in Manhattan, I can always buy out the rest of the floor and expand the place."

"Has there ever been anything you wanted and couldnít buy?" Traci asked curiously, head slightly cocked to one side, indifferent to her nudity framed by warm olive cotton bedding.

Eric shrugged, pushing up on one elbow to look down at his beautiful mate. "There were plenty of things I wanted that I couldnít afford to buy, and then thereís you. Why do I think you gave me your number in spite of rather than because of who I was?"

"Because weíve already established that youíre not a fool. Your money means nothing to me. I have plenty of my own, in case you havenít noticed. Supermodels make a ridiculous amount of money, and Iíve done very well in the market. But I think I knew the moment I saw you that you were the one for me." She chuckled suddenly. "Mom and Dad will be relieved. I donít think they were ever too happy about me being alone in New York."

"Well, between your new mate and his staff, I donít think youíll ever have to worry about that again. You wonít have a problem with the fact that some of them are women, will you?" Eric didnít want to have to clean house, especially since Gina and Lea were both top notch employees, but he would if it made Traci uncomfortableóheíd just be sure to set the other women up comfortably as part of their severance packages.

Traci stared at him blankly. "Why on earth would it? Oh, you mean jealousy?" She started to laugh. "Lover, if I were worried about that, I think Iíd be as nervous about Ace as any of the woman. That manís pretty enough to tempt me into thinking of birds as more than a meal," she chuckled.

Feeling relieved, Eric laughed aloud. "Donít tell him that, love. Ace is a fox; itís Cale whoís the falcon. I donít know who would be more insulted if you mixed them up."

She laughed again. "Whoops. Iíll get Ďem all straight eventually. So... Ace the fox is the one who wants to jump your assistant, and Cale the bird drools on your driver?" She tried to remember the various people sheíd briefly encountered the night before.

"Exactly," Eric nodded. "Then thereís Lea, my cook, sheís ursine. Thatís the limits of Ďmyí shifters, so far anyway."

"Good thing Iíve always thought the habit of keeping to your own type was silly," Traci observed. "Sounds like weíre our own menagerie. My brother and his mates will fit right in if they visit."

"As long as his lynx doesnít try to eat my birds."

"Sheís usually more worried about being chased up a tree by wolves. Of course, Jesse and Mom did do that," she added with a chuckle. "Life is interesting in the Lorimer family, and guess what? Youíre part of it now."

"If youíre trying to scare me, be warned; it isnít easy." Eric grinned and kissed Traci again. "Plus Iíd say youíre worth a few nips from protective siblings."

"My siblings can keep their nips for their own mates," Traci retorted possessively, sliding down to rest against him. She raised her head suddenly. "Call Alexander, please? I want you to meet my family. I want to know when we can go." The blue eyes regarded him pleadingly.

Eric smiled wryly. "If he and Ace are in the middle of anything, we might be flying to Wisconsin with chickens." As he spoke, he reached for the phone and dialed his assistantís private number.

"Yes, I know Iím calling from a blocked number. Yes, it is the lady in questionís. No, you donít get details so you can share them with Ace. No, what I want is to know how easy my schedule is to clear this week."

"Lots of room for foxes, ferrets, birds and whatever in Wisconsin," Traci added loudly enough for Alexander and probably Ace as well to hear. "And I intend to distract you so you donít bother any of them, Eric."

"Yes, she is a smart lady. No, Iím not getting off the phone until you answer; I donít care what Ace is doing with his tail." Eric smiled wickedly, holding the phone away from his ear so that Traci could hear the indignant yell. "Tuesday? And the rest of the week is clear. Good, make sure it stays that way. Oh, and schedule the jet for a flight to Superior, Wisconsin that afternoon."

"And tell Ace to do a good job with that tail," Traci said loudly, grinning. They could hear laughter from the other end of the phone before Eric hung up, and she swung around to straddle him, kneeling over him on the bed.

"I can hardly wait. Iím glad Iím between shoots at the moment. If you donít mind, Iím not going to tell them weíre coming. I want to surprise everyone."

"You so like to live dangerously," he murmured, sliding his hands up her arms. "So, do you have any plans for tomorrow, Ms. Lorimer?"

"Yup, I intend to see where you live and meet every one of your staff and find out every secret they know about you."

"Well, aside from those, I mean."

"Hmm, lots of sex? Think you could help me with that? I need to get used to this whole mated business, after all."

Eric laughed. "I was taking that as a given as well. What Iím suggesting is a bit of shopping. After all, you canít take your intended home to meet the parents without a proper engagement ring, can you?"

"Oh, good point." She kissed him lightly in approval of his plan. "We can find something we both like. I do like your style, Mr. Tate."

"Considering that it seems my style for the rest of my life is you, my soon to be Mrs. Tate, I have to agree."

"Nice sentiment." About to say more, she was interrupted by her stomach, which emitted a long, loud, rumbling growl. "I think itís time to see what I have in the kitchen," she laughed. "Can I interest you in potluck?"

"Ahh, so you plan on being the domesticated type, meeting me at the door every evening, drink in hand, dinner waiting on the table..." Before Traci could attack him, Eric broke into laughter. "I have to warn you, Lea would have a fit if you tried to kick her out of her kitchen, and I much prefer you meeting me in the elevator so we can stop it between floors."

"I think I can keep the cooking for special occasions, when we kick everyone out and want the place to ourselves. Like, oh, celebrating our engagement or the first time I tell you Iím pregnant."

"Which wonít be too far in the future if I have my way."

"Good thing I happen to want children soon," Traci observed dryly.

"Considering you brought it up, I thought it might be the case. Do you have any nieces or nephews yet?"

She started to laugh. "Not yet," she finally sputtered, "but both Jesseís mates are pregnant, and weíre all betting they both have twins. Both mothers are a twin," she explained. "And Jen would like to have kids, but fortunately Jer put his foot down and refuses to get married or start a family at least till they both graduate from high school. I think Kelly feels the same, and whatever she wants is fine with Mike." She snickered. "He was oblivious to her for years, then one day he opened his eyes to his baby sisterís best friend and fell like a ton of bricks."

"Quite the family you have there, Red," Eric chucked. "Iím looking forward to meeting them all."

"Theyíll all love you. Well, okay, my brothers will probably be brother-like, but theyíll like you. What about you? No family at all?"

Eric shook his head sadly. "No, not to speak of. I was an only child, and my parents were killed when I was in college. It was hard, but Iíve managed to build a family here, one that just grew."

"Iím sorry." Traci caught his hand in hers and interlaced their fingers. "But at least you have this family, and youíll have mine, and soon weíll have ours too. It canít make up for what you lost, but youíre not alone. Ever."

"I know." He reached up and ran his fingers through Traciís soft red hair. "You... I never thought about being alone before I met you, but last night, I definitely was aware of it." Her stomach growled again, and he smiled. "But enough serious discussion, you need to eat."

"If you expect me to do more than lie back and think of England later, yes!" Traci laughed, rolling out of bed and grabbing his shirt. She shrugged into it and fastened the couple remaining buttons, then stood there eyeing him. "Hang on, I think Mike may have left a robe here when he visited last fall. Let me check the closet in the guest room."

"Donít want the neighbors seeing all there is to see of me?" Eric asked, looking down at the shredded buttonholes and chuckling.

"Just afraid Iíll never get anything to eat if Iím distracted by your studliness," Traci shot back.

Giving a look of pure male pride, Eric pulled Traci in for a deep kiss. "Then get yourself a robe as well, or weíll both starve to death."

"What, you donít think I look good in your shirt?"

"Considering it shows off more than it covers, you look much too good in it."

Her smile was definitely smug. "Iíll have to remember that. But since I really need to get something to eat..." She shrugged it off and padded over to her closet, reaching in to pull out a midnight blue silk robe that she wrapped around herself. "Better, darling?"

"I may die young, but Iíll be exceedingly happy," Eric murmured, giving in and moving closer to run his hands over her silk-covered curves.

Laughing, Traci loosely wrapped her arms around his neck. "Oh, youíre not going to die. Iím already planning our diamond anniversary party, lover."

"When we get to it, Iíll cover you in them," he promised.

"At that age, Iíll probably enjoy some nice gruel more, but youíre on. But I think that means you have to let go so I can feed us tonight."

"As do you," Eric reminded her, taking his hands from her hips and stepping back.

"Damn, I was hoping youíd forget that part." She smiled at him even as she stepped away. "Be right back with that robe. Then we can go see what I can scrape up for dinner."

"Iím glad to hear you donít live on lettuce and mineral water," Eric called, picking up the clothes theyíd pushed from the bed earlier and setting them on a chair in an approximation of neatness.

"Yuck! Wolf here, remember? Red meat and lots of it. Nice and rare preferably. Salad is fine for the occasional lunch, but thatís about it." Traci reappeared with a white terry robe and handed it to him, watching him appreciatively as he put it on.

Eric laughed as he pulled on the robe. "I had hoped as much, but it never pays to take things for granted. And if your cupboard is bare, we can always order take-out."

"If you like, but I should have something around, and Mom and Dad made sure I could cook. I usually help out at the B&B when Iím home."

"Hey, I never said I was turning down a home-cooked meal. I eat out enough as it is. I think Lea despairs over her skills getting rusty."

"Well, thatís going to change. However, tonight youíre all mine. Hmmm, I think I froze a lasagna last monthódid I mention that I cook when I get homesick? That should be easy enough to defrost and heat up. You up to making the salad while I do some garlic bread?"

"I think even my woeful skills can handle that." Leaning in to kiss Traciís temple, Eric went to scavenge in the fridge, searching for salad fixings.

"There are some freshly made bacon bits in the meat keeper and croutons in the bread box," she informed him as she pulled the tightly wrapped lasagna out of the freezer and set it in a microwave-safe dish to defrost it.

"Yes, maíam," Eric answered, saluting smartly as he gathered the items up, setting them down on a counter. "Whereís your salad bowl?"

"Right above you." Traci pointed at a cupboard with a knife as she started slicing a crusty loaf of bread, chopping garlic, melting butter, and shaving cheese. "Wineís in the rack in the corner. Find a bottle of red and open it so it can breathe, please?"

"Corkscrew?" Eric asked, examining bottles until he found one he thought would suit the meal.

"Second drawer." Done with her preparations and unable to do anything else till the lasagna finished thawing, Traci leaned on the counter and enjoyed watching him. He looked right here in her kitchen, but she was already looking forward to a place that was theirs.

Finding the utensil, Eric expertly opened the wine before going back to making the salad. Once everything was chopped and tossed together, he turned, smiling back at Traci. "So, do I pass muster in the kitchen?"

"You get a gold star." Hearing the microwave ding, she swallowed whatever else sheíd been about to say and checked the lasagna, deciding it was thawed enough to switch to the oven. "There, now however will we amuse ourselves till thatís ready?" she purred, moving toward him.

"Hmmm, we could listen to some music, or watch a show, or... do more of what built up our appetites in the first place," Eric suggested.

"Think youíre up to a quickie?" she teased, one fingernail lightly tracing the v-shaped opening of his robe. "Iíve always had a fantasy about this island..."

"If Iím not, Iím sure youíll never let me live it down." Eric leaned in to nibble at the side of Traciís neck, his hands sliding up her legs under her robe and between her thighs, finding her hot and wet.

"Surprised?" she murmured. "You shouldnít be. You do that to me." She arched into his touch, moaning when his fingers slipped inside her.

"Iím glad to hear it." Raising his other hand to cup her breast through the blue silk, Eric closed his mouth over Traciís, rubbing his thumb over her clit while he moved two fingers within her.

Traci gasped into his mouth, her own fingers busy unfastening his robe and delving beneath the thick terry cotton in search of him. Finding what she sought, she curled her fingers around him, stroking him eagerly as she pressed closer. "Make love to me," she panted.

Groaning as she aroused him even more, Eric lifted his head to look his mate fully in the eyes. "For the rest of our lives," he promised, shifting his hands to raise her up to the edge of the island and pushing her robe open. Unable to resist, he bent to lick at her nipples, then, when Traci whimpered, caught her by the hips and slid into her welcoming body.

"Oh yes," she whispered, arms and legs clutching him to her. "Now take me, hard," she demanded, the hunger blazing in her blue eyes as she arched up from the surface, pale body framed by the midnight silk, fiery hair a stark contrast.

"No," Eric murmured, forcing himself to slow down. "This time is going to lastóat least until the lasagna is done." The last was said with a truly evil grin.

Traci gaped at him, then sputtered a laugh. "You are a sadistic son of a bitch, and I think I just fell even more in love with you. So..." She let herself fall back to the countertop, arms over her head. "Have your wicked way with me."

"Mmm, I intend to." Eric leaned forward, continuing his slow paced thrusting, and suckled on one erect nipple, feeling the tremors race through Traciís lithe body.

Not letting him have it all his own way, Traci sat up, gasping at the sensation as he shifted inside her, and she reached over his flexing his buttocks, fingertips stroking his balls as he drove her crazy.

"Ahh, so perfect," Eric rasped, his whole body tensing as Traci teased him, then he nipped the soft flesh under his mouth and moved to the other side.

"Yes, you are," Traci gasped, legs tight around his waist and her back arched as she thrust her chest forward, never wanting his mouth to stop pleasuring her.

Eric wasnít sure how long they moved together, but he was gasping for breath when the timer finally dinged. He lifted his head and managed a smirk. "Dinnerís ready."

"So am I! And if you stop now, Iíll rip your balls off!"

"Donít want to be neutered," he panted, driving home and feeling his orgasm gathering.

"It would be a waste," Traci agreed breathlessly, meeting his thrusts eagerly, her inner muscles beginning to spasm around him as her climax began.

Not bothering to answer at this point, Eric rode out the waves of Traciís orgasm before giving into his own pleasure, finally collapsing against her, knowing he was smiling stupidly.

"Mmmm, nice," she murmured, enjoying the feel of him on top of her. "Much as I hate to say it, we need to get dinner before it burns," she said.

"Very true," he sighed regretfully, kissing her a final time before pulling out of her warm body and setting both their robes to rights. "And if you tell me where the plates are, Iíll even set the table."

"Ohh, I knew I was right to keep you!" She grinned at him, even forgiving him the smug smile when she had to clutch his arm for balance as her legs wobbled when she stood up. "Plates are in the second cabinet on the right and silverware is in the drawer below it."

"Want me to get the lasagna out too?" Eric asked, steadying Traci until her balance came back. "Donít want you to burn anything."

"Funny guy." Traci shooed him away while she made sure her robe was securely fastened, then slid the oven mitts onto her hands to get the lasagna out. Moments later she had it on a hot plate and was setting it on the table, her stomach again growling loudly as she smelled the food.

"Could you bring the salad and bread in?" she called without turning.

"Got them," Eric called back, carrying in the food and setting it on the table, flanking the main course. Catching hold of the chair before Traci sat, he held it out for her. "Iíll get the wine, you relax."

"I think I could get used to this pampering," she said, watching the truly spectacular view as he went back into the kitchen for the wine. Only when he disappeared from sight did she start to dish up the salad.

"Iím glad to hear it, because Iím finding Iím enjoying doing it for you." After pouring the wine, Eric took the seat next to Traciís and squeezed her hand before slicing the lasagna.

"You realize my brothers are going to tease us till we have to kill them and dispose of the bodies in shallow graves somewhere, donít you?"

Eric smiled wolfishly. "I hope you wonít miss them too much."

"Iím sure youíll be able to raise my spirits if I do."

"Iíll do my best, though I might be in mourning because weíll have to do the same to my staff. I suppose Iím not much of a magnate, canít even terrorize my own entourage."

Traci put her fork down as she started to laugh. "Aw, the big bad wolf got domesticated? Want me to terrorize Ďem for you?"

"Naw, too much trouble to train new ones if they quit," Eric laughed, dishing up generous slices for both of them.

"Damn, then I guess we canít kill my brothers either. Have to be fair," she sighed. "I guess weíll just have to console each other whenever possible."

"Horrible thing, that."

"Devastating. Do you think weíll be up to the challenge?"

"If not, thereís always Viagra," Eric replied, straight-faced.

Coppery eyebrows shot up, nearly disappearing into Traciís hairline. "Are you insinuating that Iím not enough to pique your interest?"

"Never!" Eric said quickly, looking slightly frantic. "Who needs drugs when thereís you?"

She eyed him for a moment before giving in to the grin sheíd been fighting. "Good recovery," she praised, blue eyes sparkling with merriment. "You wonít need to find out how comfortable the bed in the guestroom is tonight."

"Thank god," Eric said prayerfully. "Iím not intending to sleep anywhere but with you for the rest of my life."

"And comments like that will make sure you never have to," she replied with a smile, leaning over the table to kiss him lightly.

"I think Alexander is traumatized," Eric laughed as he escorted Traci from his private jet to the waiting car while his staff headed for a second vehicle. "Want to drive or give directions?"

"Iíd better drive this time; itíll be quicker. You can watch and drive next time once you know the way." Traci slid into the driverís seat, impatiently pushing coppery bangs off her forehead. "As for your staff, for shifters theyíre such a bunch of city mice," she laughed. "Will we have to coax them into the woods?"

Eric chuckled and shook his head. "Not Ace, and Iím sure heíll talk Alexander into a run. Just tell your relatives not to eat any ferrets they happen to see." He winked as he spoke.

"Oh, I donít know. Could you imagine the look on Alexanderís face if a wolf and lynx started playing with him?" Traci snickered. "Iíll bet I could talk Eva into it."

"Hey, no terrorizing my assistant," Eric laughed. "He runs my life."

"Weíll let Jen do that for us. Sheís terrifying enough without shifting, especially before coffee." Traci expertly wove through the traffic, checking the rearview to make sure Alexander and Ace were keeping up.

"You know, youíre really trying to make me nervous here, arenít you?"

Tracey laughed and patted his knee consolingly. "Donít worry, theyíre all going to love you. My momís probably been cooking since dawnóyesterday! I probably should have stuck with my original idea and just surprised them with our arrival."

Eric chuckled. "That more than makes up for the chance of being terrorized; just donít tell Lea if I drool over the food."

"I wouldnít dream of taunting a bear!" Tracey grinned over at him. "Just donít drool over Jesseís mates, or he wonít be the one you have to worry about."

"You saying youíd take it out of my hide if I did?" he asked. "And isnít it your other brother who drools over them?"

"Actually, no, but itís fun to bug him about it." Her lips quirked mischievously. "But he has his own mate, and heís crazy about her. Iím sure youíll meet them all by dinner time."

He nodded. "You are providing name tags, right?"

"Only if Micky and Mandy, Jenís friends and her mateís sisters, show up. You can handle a business function, you can keep track of my family. I have confidence in you." Traci pulled into the driveway, and a sea of redheads and blonds immediately began spilling out the front door.

Eric shook his head and glanced over at Traci one more time. "This is more important than business," he murmured before opening the door and climbing out, making it around to the other side quickly enough to get Traciís before she could.

"Youíre sweet," Traci murmured, stepping out into his arms and kissing him, arms going around his neck.

"I think itís safe to say thatís Eric and not Alexander or Alan," Jesse observed to Mike, who nodded sagely.

"I certainly hope so, anyway."

"Cute guys," Traci griped, moving out of Ericís arms and into her brothersí embrace. Then she caught his hand and drew him toward her parents.

"Eric, these are my mom and dad, Paul and Rachel Lorimer. Mom, Dad, my mate, Eric Tate."

"A pleasure to met you," Eric smiled, greeting each of the Lorimers in turn before introducing Alexander and Ace, whoíd pulled up right behind them. "Iíve been looking forward to meeting all of you."

"The pleasureís all ours," Mike said with a slight grin. "Trace ought to be in a better mood with you around." He looked over at the two men standing quietly in the background, amusement sparkling in his eyes as he took in the way the slighter man was dressed. "The forestís just out back of the house," he offered.

Ace rolled his eyes. "Letís not scare my city ferret just yet, if you donít mind." He and Mike grinned at each other, making Traci groan.

"Oh no, we never should have let them meet."

"Iím afraid itís too late for that, dear," Rachel Lorimer replied, hugging her daughter tightly. "Iím so glad for you, Traci," she whispered.

"Me too, Mom. Heís the one." Traci met her parentsí gazes, and she was relieved to see nothing but understanding and approval.

"Welcome, Eric," Paul said warmly, extending his hand.

"Forests, bah," Alexander muttered, glaring balefully at the woods and elbowing Ace when he snickered.

Eric chuckled as well as he shook Paulís hand. "Next time Iíll leave the ferret home."

"Ohh, promise?" Ace jumped in quickly, sliding an arm around Sandyís waist.

"This could go on forever. Why donít we go inside?" Traci suggested, eager for something to drink.

"Of course. Mike, Jesse, give our guests a hand with their bags," Rachel called, turning to lead the way inside.

Eric, Ace and Alexander all grabbed bags, leaving a few for the Lorimers, and they followed the others into the house. "Nice place," Eric murmured as he walked behind Traci. "We could have the wedding here if youíd like."

"I would love it," Traci replied instantly, her smile widening. "I always dreamed of coming down those stairs on my way to get married," she confided, a dreamy look in her eyes. "Have I told you yet today that I love you?"

"This morning, but I never mind hearing it," he smiled, kissing her. "See, this way we can put Alexander to work while weíre here and keep him out of trouble."

"I heard that!" the short man called from up the stairs.

"Hey, donít be giving Sandy so much to do that I never get time with him! Weíre newlyweds too," Ace protested. "Traci, distract my tyrant of a boss!"

"With pleasure." She pressed close and brushed a kiss over Ericís lips. "Play nice."

"Once weíve visited and can go run, I will," he promised.

"I meant with the daffy duo, but I like your idea better."

"Take your time getting settled in," Rachel told them as she opened the door to their room, Traciís old room, now a lovely pale blue with a queen size bed. "And you gentlemen are over here." She directed Ace and Alexander to the bedroom the farthest from Traci and Ericís.

Chuckling as Alexander and Ace almost scuttled into the other room, Eric smiled and leaned in to kiss Rachelís cheek. "I feel like part of the family already."

Glancing at her daughter, Rachel smiled. "I think you are."

She left, closing the door behind her, and Traci moved into Ericís arms. "I love having you here with me."

He smiled and kissed her lingeringly. "While I just love you."

Her smile widened. "Me too." She pulled him toward the bed, yanking the hand-quilted cover down. "Show me how much," she invited in a sultry purr, blue eyes sparkling.

"With your family no doubt listening at the door?" he asked before grinning wickedly. "Well, I suppose weíll have to be loud to drown out Alexander and Ace."

She sputtered with laughter. "Iím sure my family is off spending time with their own mates. All three of my brothers and sister are fairly recently mated, you know. Though Jess might be hiding from Eva and Rayne," she added with a snicker.

"Considering all your siblings were here and their mates werenít, that might not be quite the case." As he spoke, Eric eased the blouse off of Traciís shoulders, kissing the newly bared skin.

"They could have been out back enjoying some time in the forest," Traci argued breathlessly, shivering as he touched her. Needing to reciprocate, she started unbuttoning Ericís shirt, lightly raking her long nails over his chest as she bared it.

"If you say so," he murmured, closing his eyes as she scratched his newly bared skin and pushing the light linen of her blouse off her shoulders before reaching for the clasp to her brassiere.

"I really donít care what any of them are doing," she admitted breathlessly, arching her back to display her breasts to him. "I love your hands on me," she groaned, staring down at the contrast of his olive skin against her fairness.

He nodded and bent to take Traciís nipple into his mouth, suckling at it until it was peaked and rosy. "I love my hands and mouth on you," he answered, lifting her and carrying her to the bed and crawling to kneel over her.

"Love you," she replied huskily, staring up at him. She pulled his hair free of its restraint, gasping when it fell forward over her, brushing her sensitized nipples. "Want you."

"Always," he whispered, tugging her skirt up and her panties down while she worked at his belt and pants. When she released him, he drew her legs around his hips and thrust forward, sheathing himself in her wet heat and groaning at the rightness.

Traci cried out, not caring who might hear her, and she thrust upward to meet Eric. "Perfect," she rasped, biting at his shoulder.

"Yes, you are." Eric arched to meet Traciís every move, filling his hands with her breasts and rubbing his cock against her clit.

"We are," she corrected the instant before her lips found his in a hungry kiss. Her hands ran over him caressingly, exploring the hard muscles of his back and ass. She smiled wickedly as she reached down, feeling where he was driving in and out of her, then moved her hand back to his ass and pressed a finger inside him.

"Wicked mate of mine," Eric breathed, tightening his ass around Traciís finger as he slowly stroked into her, loving the feeling of her trembling beneath him.

She only laughed throatily, pulling him closer as she tensed, trembling on the brink of her climax.

"Come for me, sweet wolf," he rasped, sliding a hand under her hips and raising her up to meet him.

Lust-dazed blue eyes met brown, and Traci whimpered, the soft sound rising to a near shriek as she came, wrapped around him. Even through her climax, she could feel him continuing to thrust into her, and she murmured words of encouragement, wanting to feel him come inside her.

Eric came with a low shout, kissing Traci hungrily as he filled her, continuing to rock into her even as he softened. "Are your modeling contracts going to have a problem when you show up pregnant?"

She smiled. "I donít care. Iím not going to live my life for modeling. Besides, Iím exclusive with Geneya right now, and I donít think Paulís going to complain. And even if he did, I enjoy it, but I want you and our children more."

"Iím not going to argue with that in the least." He leaned in and kissed her.

"At least we donít have to worry about Ace and Sandy having kids together. I mean Alexander," she laughed, correcting herself. "Aceís nickname for him kind of sneaks in. But what I meant was could you imagine their children?"

Eric shuddered. "The thought of that terrifies me. Thank God theyíll never have kids."

Traci laughed. "At least not with each other. Though I donít really think either of them is the paternal type."

"The thought of it is just... wrong." Eric kissed Traci again, then pushed up onto his elbows. "So, should we clean up and see what your family thought of the show?"

"Sounds good to me. Are we taking bets on whether Ace and Alexander make it down for dinner?"

"I didnít make my fortune on taking sucker bets, love."

She laughed. "Good point. Weíll make sure to save something for them for when they surface."

"If they surface."

"Hunger alone will force them to. You canít be that energetic for long without refueling."

Eric chuckled. "Good point. So, shower, then parental grilling?"

She nodded. "By the time we get downstairs, everyone should be here. You can meet the rest of the family over drinks."

Eric groaned. "I should have stayed in New York."

"Love me, love my family." Traci smirked up at him.

Eric just sighed and shook his head.


  since 02-03-07

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