My lips curved, and I told the truth. “For the first time in a long time, I slept like a baby.” I tapped his straight nose softly. “And speaking of which, I need to go check on ours.” And give us both time to cope with what we had done together last night.

His lips twitched. “Are you sure you’re up for the walk of shame?”

Yeah, I knew I would be seeing a few Mysticals out at this pre-dawn hour heading back into their own tents, some with heads raised and grinning while others stared at the ground, wondering what the hell they had been thinking the night before. “I can do it, if they can.”

His wide lips straightened as he stared me in the eyes for a long moment. “We’re good?”

I bit my lip, watching him as closely as he was me. “I think so.”

“I think so, too.” His eyebrows furrowed. “I mean, it was only sex between a married couple.”

Yeah, we both sounded as if we were trying to convince ourselves of this…and we were. “I’d better go. I want to be there before Isa wakes up.” It had definitely been more intense than your everyday, simple sex between a married couple.

We had — if this was a way to explain it — met each other in a flawless unification of connecting bliss, the give and take between us perfectly matched. So no, it hadn’t been your everyday, run of the mill sex.

And we obviously needed time to process this as he nodded once quickly. “I understand.”

I felt my lips twitch with humor as he continued staring. “You’ll have to get off me then.”

He sucked in a quick breath, rolling off me to sit on the edge of the bed, his strong, muscled back to me. “This is a little weird.”

Yeah, I got that too, so I threw him a line. “No weirder than the fact that I would love to sink my teeth into each of your mocha hot-as-fuck ass cheeks.”

There was a beat of silence, then he chuckled quietly, shoulders slightly shaking as he glanced over one to me. “That is a bit weird.”

I shrugged, keeping the blanket over my chest, oddly shy even after last night. “But that still doesn’t stop me wanting to do it.”

His eyes skimmed down my face, a small smile lifting his lips as he murmured deeply, “Yeah, definitely.” Then he raised a cocky eyebrow, speaking plainly instead of in code as we had been. “Perhaps next time?”

I waggled my eyebrows playfully, knowing he was seriously offering as I lifted on one arm and kept myself covered with the other. “Most definitely.” And yes, I would be having many helpings of this man, no matter the obvious cost to my soul…because it was already beginning to feel like he completed it.

It was after reminding Ezra to make sure he showered — and to not allow a Shifter into his bedroom until he washed his sheets so no one knew he’d had sex with a wolf Shifter, since the sexual fluids of a Shifter gave away their animal — and after he had called off his guard, that I left his tent unseen. I picked up Isa at Antonio’s tent and spent a few mommy-withdrawal early hours with my daughter before handing her over to Bindi. Eventually I walked into the conference room of headquarters, surprised at what I saw.

I stopped directly inside the tent’s flap and quickly assessed the additional occupants to the room. Apart from the usual Elders, the room also contained Elder Fergus, Elder Kincaid, Elder Nelson, and Elder Venclaire. Eyes widening, I smiled instantly — a real one — as Elder Kincaid rose from a leather chair, stalked toward me, and wrapped me in a huge bear hug, crushing me. I barely wheezed, “I missed you, too.”

Pounding on my back, he stated gruffly, his wolf riding his voice, “I’m so happy to see you.”

When he finally let me breathe, pulling me back to hold me by the shoulders, I asked a bit breathlessly, “Is Fi here with you?” My late mate’s mother, practically a surrogate mom to me after I had moved in with them when I had met Dominic.

“Of course, and she’ll want to see you,” he stated happily, dark eyes searching my face until he seemed satisfied with his inspection. “You look well.”

“And so do you.” I patted his chest and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “I really have missed you.”

Preening a bit, he hugged me once more, then gestured to the others of his four. “As you can see, everyone’s here.”

I crossed my arms and raised my eyebrows, glancing at all of them. “So who won the most recent bet?”

Elder Fergus — ‘dirt boy’ as I had lovingly called him at King Cave — chuckled and flicked his finger in the air. “That would be me. I bet we would be shipped to the United States next.”

“Good payout?”

His hand teetered back and forth. “Decent.” He shrugged. “But it could have been a dollar for all I cared since I was just happy we were leaving,” he shuddered, “Moscow.”

“Not a fan?” All four Elders cringed, making me chuckle. “Guess not.”

Antonio tilted his head at them. “They arrived this morning and they’re already trying to take over.”

Elder Nelson rolled his eyes, sitting back on his chair. “Elder Fergus and I were only saying that the Elemental and Mage Commanders could be overhauled here at King Shadow.”

Elder Jacobs chuckled, showing camaraderie with his fellow Elemental as he glanced at Elder Fergus. “Good luck with that. Queen Ruckler already attempted to change the Elementals and,” a glance at Elder Nelson, “Mages, but King Zeller didn’t think it was needed.”

Elder Merrick snorted. “That’s not exactly what he said, but that’s the polite version.”

Elder Nelson peered at me. “Tell me your thoughts.”

I knew that expression. Ezra was going to get an earful from him. I literally had to pinch my lips to keep from sticking up for him…but Ezra was wrong not to even read the files. So I went to the shelves at the end of the room where the books and other files were while King Kincaid stated, “I have no issues with the Shifters here. With the additions Lily brought in yesterday, the group’s strong and the numbers are right.”

Sifting through the gold folders first, I was distracted hearing Ezra enter the conference room, so I didn’t notice anyone come up behind me. I was startled when Elder Venclaire — the one Elder I hadn’t really glanced at yet — spoke quietly directly behind me.

“Hello, Lily.”

I didn’t jump, but I froze. “Elder Venclaire.” Hello, biological father.