Bloodlust Page 25

’’He could try,’’ Cade said quietly. ’’He\d have to come through me first. I\ve got you both now, Jax, and no one will ever hurt you again. You have my word on that.’’

A shout from the stream made them both glance up at Rayce just as his feet went out from under him, and he crashed back into the rocks. He must have hit his head pretty hard, because he wasn\ moving, and his head began to slip under the water. Mason started to climb over one of the rocks to get to him as Cade and Jax both jumped to their feet and waded into the icy water. Cade reached Rayce first and hauled his head out of the shallow depths, pulling him up on the banks. Jax turned to tell Mason to come with them, and found he\d disappeared. Frantically, Jax looked for him by the rock he\d last seen him clambering on, but there was no trace of him. A choked scream made him jerk up his head.

Mason must have fallen off the back of the rock he\d been climbing on to get to Rayce, and he\d slipped into a small eddy that had swiftly taken him to the middle of the stream. The rapid current had caught him up and was swirling him away right in front of Jax. Without giving it a second thought, Jax launched himself over the rock and dove into the rapids after his brother. He heard a startled cry behind him, but all his focus was on Mason\s bright red T-shirt as it bobbed along ahead of him and then disappeared over a little rock fall in the middle of the stream. Jax went sailing over it too, and landed in a pool with torrents of water cascading over his head. There was no sign of Mason, and fear gripped him so hard he thought he might be sick. He dived under the water and finally caught a glimpse of color in the churning pool. He swam toward it and found Mason, his white face floating just under the surface, his arms splayed out in front of him and his eyes wide open and panicked.

He reached him in only seconds and wrapped an arm around him. Bursting to the top with Mason, he pulled his little body over to the edge of the stream, surprised to find Cade there before him. He splashed out into the water and gathered both boys in his arms, taking them to the bank. Mason was already sputtering and coughing up water, so all Cade and Jax had to do was support him and make sure he got it all up. Soon he was breathing almost normally again, if a little too fast and excited. Jax stood up, weak in the knees now that it was all over, but before he could reach for Mason, Cade picked him up in one arm and hauled Jax up to his side with the other. ’’Can you walk, or do I need to carry you too?’’

’’I can walk,’’ Jax protested, but stumbled when Cade released him, so Cade slung an arm around his waist and half-carried him back up to where Rayce was still sitting on the bank, sporting a huge bruise on his temple.

Rayce leaped up when he saw them coming and made a huge fuss over both Mason and Jax, calling them both silly names in French until Cade told him to take Mason back to camp and get him warmed up. When Jax started to follow them, Cade pulled angrily on his arm.

’’You stay here. I\m not through with you yet.’’

Jax widened his eyes and looked up at him, shivering in the cool breeze. The water had been freezing and he was still feeling a little numb. ’’What did Ido?’’ he asked resentfully, pulling away from Cade\s tight grip on his arm.

’’What did you do? You threw yourself into danger again, without any thought to the consequences. ’’ He took Jax by the shoulders and shook him. ’’Is it a death wish, Jax? Is that what it is? Do you have any idea what I felt like when I saw you disappear over that falls?’’

’’Well, God, Cade, it wasn\ much of a fall it couldn\ have been more than six feet... and hey, when do we get to the alpha pairpart of this relationship? You promised me we\d both be in charge.’’

’’Of the pack, yeah. But not in our relationship. I\m still your alpha.’’

’’Nicky is so right about how you wolves just change the rules to suit yourselves.’’

’’I\m not changing anything and that\s not the point! Damn it, what if I lost you? Do you have any idea how much I love you? Hell no, you just get in the car with strange men, offer yourself up to rapists and crazy f*king rogues and jump in front of men with guns and now you throw yourself overwaterfalls. F*k, Jax, how badly do you want to die?’’

’’Wait a minute, what did you say?’’

’’What? What part? The part where you take stupid f*king risks or the part where you\ e trying to kill yourself?’’

’’No.’’ Jax shook his head firmly. ’’The part where you said you love me.’’

Cade looked at him in complete confusion. ’’Of course I love you. What the hell has that got to do with anything?’’

Jax threw his arms around Cade\s waist and buried his face in his chest. ’’Oh, Cade, I\ve been waiting so long for you to say that.’’

’’Is this an attempt to change the damn subject? Because we\ e going to have this discussion. And what do you mean so long? We\ve only known each other a few weeks.’’ Cade set his jaw firmly, his dark eyes flashing.

’’You can fuss at me all you want to, so long as you say it again.’’

Cade narrowed his eyes. ’’I love you, okay? You already know that.’’

’’How in the hell do I know that? You\ve never said it! I tell you every time we make love, which is like every night and every time you catch me with my pants down in the morning, and then once you woke me up in the middle of the night and...’’

’’Okay, okay, I got the point. And of course I\ve said it.’’

’’No, you haven\ . Not once.’’

’’Well, okay, I love you. Satisfied?’’

’’ you mean it?’’

Cade rolled his eyes. ’’I said it, didn\ I?’’

Jax stepped closer to him and wrapped his arms around his waist, tilting back his head. ’’And it\s not just the blood lust?’’

Cade pushed his arms down and tangled their fingers together as he pulled him down to sit on the bank of the stream. ’’I can\ separate my feelings from the blood lust, baby. It just can\ be done.’’

Jax pulled away and proppedhis chin on his fist. ’’Then how do you even know if it\s me you love?’’

’’It\s you.’’

’’But if it compels you...’’

’’Look, I go to sleep at night and dream of those damn freckles of yours, and the first thing I reach for in the morning is that cute little bubble butt. I walk through a roomful of beautiful, dark, voluptuous women, and all I\m looking for is a cute little blond boy. Yeah, Jax, I think I got it pretty bad.’’

A silence fell between them as Jax thought about what Cade said. He angled a look over at him. ’’So you like my freckles, huh?’’

Cade sighed. ’’Apparently so.’’

’’Well, if you\ e really into \em, I got this one it\s right here,’’ he said, pointing to the hollow between his thigh and his groin. I\ll let you look at it if you want to.’’

Cade sat for a moment, fighting to keep the smile from his lips and losing. ’’I just might take you up on that,’’ he said, and turned toward Jax, pushing him down on his back and going after him.


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