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A Claiming Novella

by T.A. Grey

For years, Penelope Farris, has narrowly escaped the soul-searing gaze of General Ryon Amadeus Ward. No other in the village has the kind of reputation he had: for being a true dominant. When she learns that the overly-possessive Ryon plans to fight any male competitors on Penelope's first Claiming Day—she is not happy. To win the Claiming is to win the female as a mate. Immediately following the male winning the female, he then consummates their partnership with a wild coupling filled with dominance and mind-numbing pleasure.

But Penelope doesn't think she wants Ryon. He's too big, too strong, too dominating, too everything for her. She wants someone a touch more submissive in her life. The days preceding her Claiming Day offers Penelope and Ryon the opportunity to test the bonds of their attraction to each other. Her greatest fear is of being caged by a man, but can Ryon let her run free even if it tears out his own heart to do it?




For this he needed to be face to face, so he readjusted her in his arms so that he cradled her to his chest like a baby. She reluctantly wrapped an arm around his neck—and resumed glaring at him like she wished he’d drop dead.

“You shouldn’t frown like that,” he told her.

“Why not?” An instant, snapping response.

“Because it makes me want to kiss you.”

Her breath hitched. He’d surprised her. Who knew he was a man of surprises, aside from using his cleverness in military strategies. He’d never thought before that he could use those same skills toward wooing Pen. But the idea sounded better and better the longer he thought about it.

Slender fingers toyed with the hair at the nape of his neck. He nearly stumbled a step when she pressed her cheek again his. Gentle breath teased his ear and his grip tightened around her reflexively. She always managed to catch him by surprise. Just one of the many things he appreciated about her.

The effect she had over him had been there from the moment he first saw her. Any move she made touched him like a bolt of energy, left him aroused and edgy. Even the simplest touch such as her wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling closer made his vision hazy.

From how they must look you’d think she’d asked to be carried out of the club and not forced. He didn’t have much further to go.

They were nearly there. Not much longer, then he could put her down—a bittersweet thought.

“Do you want to kiss me?” A teasing whisper blew across the shell of his ear with each word.

He didn’t hesitate. “You know I do.”

The quiet woods surrounded them in solitude. Only the light from the stars guided them on this fortuitous night.

She caressed his cheek with hers, rubbing like a cat, grazing the stubble on his jaw with her soft skin. Chills swept down his spine. As always her touch aroused him, hardening his cock.

Thank God. They finally made it to his destination. Ryon set her down near the edge of the pond. Their pond.

Pen looked around and laughed, her smile lighting up her face.

“The pond? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.” She kicked off her heels and stepped into the water before he could say a word. “Do you want to see me get wet, General?” A playful light graced her sparkling eyes.

He stifled a groan, or maybe a curse. “You are a tease, Pen. Always have been.” Here he came to talk privately about the royal missive he’d received and she was already taking control of the situation. She always managed to rip the power from him with careless ease.

Or maybe he allowed her to take control, he supposed.

Her face lit up with delight at his proclamation and not with a touch of shame. He loved that about her.

Tossing her head back, she laughed throatily. “You make it sound like a bad thing. Look at you all grumbling about because you heard about my Claiming. You know you’re my favorite. Surely you know that.” Her pretty, almond-shaped eyes softened.

“That’s as close to a confession as I’ve ever heard. I suppose I’ll take what I can get,” Ryon said.

Pen looked away avoiding his gaze. “You received the missive then?”

“You should have told me yourself.”

The statement hung out there like an accusation.

He wasn’t afraid to admit what she did bothered him. She should have come to him, should have told him. Everyone in the kingdom knew he’d been trailing after her scent for two years. He had thought that he simply needed more time to break down her defenses.

Not for his lack of trying. But he could only get so far while trying to tamper his aggression. His tightfisted nature shook her up and he’d yet to soften enough for her apparently.

She already thought he was too dominant for his own good. Or so she’s said. Didn’t she see how badly he wanted her? He needed her to end his torture and finally put him out of his misery.

“I suppose I was too nervous to tell you myself. I only learned that I’d been chosen last week.” She waded deeper into the water, raising her sequined dress higher to reveal shapely thighs. The water level rose to lap at her tantalizingly milky calves, shapely with muscle from years of dancing. He watched her move gracefully through the water on the tips of her toes, riveted.

“A cowardly move,” he chastised.

“Perhaps. But I’m not the only one here who’s a coward. Am I, General?” Her teasing banter was punctuated with a heated, low-lidded look. She looked at him from dazzling copper eyes.

When she had fun it was contagious. That laughter threatened to weaken Ryon’s own defense; his mouth twitched to laugh. Something he couldn’t let happen.

“I’m here right now. I don’t think that makes me a coward.” He was daring her to be honest. But would she rise to the bait?

“Do you like my new dress?”

The question took him by surprise. But no more than what she did next.

With a laugh, she flicked one of her dress’s strap off her shoulder. The material slipped down to reveal a whole glimpse of overflowing mounds of supple flesh. This sight of her breasts barely being contained by her tight top had muscles tensing in his neck until they felt ready to snap.

He advanced toward her. “Stop this and come out of there. We need to talk about this.”

“My darling General, why don’t you join me instead?” She took one long look at him and that was it—she had him pinned. Nothing was worse than a beautiful woman getting the hold of you and Penelope had him lined up in her sights. Gentle, taunting laughter almost succeeded in coaxing a smile from him. Almost.

“No,” he answered, the denial not coming easily.

“Now who’s the coward?” Her chin lifted in challenge. She squared her shoulders like a soldier, all the while fighting a smile.

“You shouldn’t taunt me with how I feel right now, Pen.” Like a string too tightly wound, that had been cranked and cranked beyond capacity. The pressure was full to overflowing. All it would take was the faintest crack for the pressure to burst. He’d explode.

A crash of water sounded as she dropped down into the water then surged up to her full height. She looked like an exotic enchantress with water cascading down her body in the moonlight. Already her magic was weaving itself around his bones, beckoning him to do her will.

“Taunt you? Why, oh why, would I ever do that? General.” She added the last part like she couldn’t help herself.

His muscles coiled like a loaded spring. “What did I tell you about calling me that ridiculous name?” He recognized that dangerous glint in her eye; it was the same look she wore before chaos ensued.

Ryon stepped into the water, moving to stop the impending destruction.

That didn’t stop her. “It’s what I want to call you, so I will. There’s no changing that. Why do you continue to fight a war with me that you can’t possibly win?” she asked.

He closed in on her, mere feet separating the distance between them. Warm supple female to hard aching warrior.

She slipped the second strap off her shoulder.

Bare skin, mounds of palpable flesh with hardened tips bobbing gently from her chest. Her sleek ribcage flared out to wide hips. Beckoning him like a magic spell. Exquisite. She bared her breasts to him like an ancient offering. The mouthwatering sight didn’t stun him as he might have expected, but empowered him instead.

Ryon charged forward, catching her startled intake of breath a moment before he snatched her by the shoulders and pulled her into his arms.

“Say my real name,” he demanded.

He couldn’t catch his breath; neither could she. His control was a thin piece of thread tethered to an anvil, fragile strands softly snapping as the weight proved too great to hold. She knew what he wanted to hear, but refused to give it.

“General.” A breathless hitch hung in her answer.

Bare breasts pressed against his crisp shirt and he captured one with his rough palm, snatching it. It felt incredible. Better than he could have imagined—soft, warm skin and a mound that filled his hand. His fantasies couldn’t live up to the real thing, not even close. He palmed her with growing intensity, molding her and learning her shape, the texture of her skin, the firmness of her tit and nipple. His shaft throbbed with undisguised longing.

Indecision skewed across her face: the need to obey and disobey warring in her mind. He could see her thinking, struggling to choose the right path.

Her breast heaved in his hand, yet she kept herself tightly guarded against him. He could see it in her hesitant scrutiny. He’d need a battering ram to strike down those walls—and he had only a few days to do it. He had to make his mark now.

Ryon pinched her nipple between two fingers, applying pressure until her eyes snapped back to his. Then, as he held her attention, he gave her an order as he had to many a soldier.

“Say my name.”

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