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Authors: Jenika Snow

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BOOK: Animal Instincts
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“Well,
brother, I’m glad you’re back, done fighting, and now maybe you can settle
down.”

Damien
nodded after Tyler spoke. The truth was he wasn’t looking for a woman to have a
life with and a family. A few hours between the sheets with a female
was
all he needed. The isolated and solitary confinement of
his own home, a cabin in the mountains he had purchased years ago, was what he
craved. Having someone live with him, sleeping beside him in his
bed,
wasn’t what Damien had ever envisioned for himself. He
was a pretty dominant man, hostile and used to having his way in all things.
What woman would put up with a male that was possessive and territorial of her?
And that was exactly how Damien would be, to the nth degree even.

“I’ll
worry about the female population later. Right now a few hours with them at a
time
is
sufficient.”

Tyler
chuckled and lifted his beer to his mouth. He finished off the alcohol and
nodded. “Well, if you want a churchgoing woman, this town is full of them.” He
grinned, and Damien shook his head, feeling amusement.

“I
don’t think a religious woman is what I need, unless she wants to be screaming
out ‘God’ all night in my bed.”

Tyler
burst out laughing, and it was like old times when they were lying in their
bunks, trying to focus on other things besides the death they had seen. “I
haven’t seen your girl,” Damien said and brought his drink to his mouth. He
glanced around the backyard, saw the young girls swimming and the boys
splashing each other, but couldn’t smell the blood relation to Tyler from any
of them. Tyler’s home was out of town, tucked away on two acres, with a large
in-ground pool, thick trees adding privacy to the property, and a beautiful
two-story home. It was something maybe Damien would have one day. Right now he
would be content just living in his one bedroom cabin in the woods, relying on
the wood burning fireplace for heat, and the silence to keep him company.

“I
saw her running off with her friend Hayden. I’m sure they’ll be back shortly.”
Tyler flipped a few of the burgers. “She’s growing up, man.” He shook his head.
“I can’t believe she’s already sixteen. Damn, in just two years she’ll be
eighteen, off to college, and starting a life for herself.”

Damien
wished he could know what it was like to have a child of his own, one that was
of his blood, who looked up to him, and that he protected. But his life had
gone in a different direction, and his duty had called. Fighting hard for his
country was what fate had planned for him, and a woman and children hadn’t been
in his cards. He was older now, knew that he probably would never have the
latter in his life, but he was content with how things had played out.

“Listen,
I’ve got to take a piss, but maybe when I’m done I can finally meet this
daughter of yours.” He had seen pictures of Danika as a little girl, maybe five
at the most, but he had been overseas, fighting in the trenches, and mail had
been scarce. But she was the light of Tyler’s life, and because Damien thought
of the other man like family and a brother, Danika was family, too.

Chapter
Two

 

Danika
followed Hayden through the side entrance of the house, into the kitchen,
continued moving through the living room, and finally slipped into her bedroom.
She shut the door behind them, and although she wasn’t allowed to have boys in
the house without adult supervision, let alone in her room, Hayden was the
exception. Maybe it because they had known each other for so long, or maybe it
was the fact that Hayden lived next door and spent as much time at her house as
he did his own? Either way, right now, this worked for them.

He
sat on the edge of her bed, grabbed the lighter and joint he had put back in
his front
pocket,
and grinned at her. But then he
grabbed a toilet paper roll, minus the toilet paper, and she saw it was filled
with lint from a dryer. Although they certainly didn’t get high a lot, they
hung out with friends that did, and smoking in their rooms required some kind
of ventilation system other than a window. The toilet paper roll and lint would
filter out the smoke and smell of the marijuana when they exhaled into the end.
It was crafty and makeshift, but got the job done.

After
patting the spot next to him she moved away from the door and sat beside him.
While he brought the joint to his lips and lit the end, Danika glanced at the
window, could see the pool from her bedroom, and also her father and Damien. He
was slightly facing the house now, and although she could see his profile,
could tell he was gorgeous and had the classic square jaw and masculine
features, she was too far away to see specifics like eye color.

“Here,”
Hayden handed her the joint, his voice strained as he held in the smoke.

Danika
looked away from the window and grabbed the joint. She inhaled, watched the tip
light up orange for a second,
then
handed it back to
Hayden. He shook his head and exhaled into the end of the toilet paper roll.

“Take
another hit.” He handed her the roll, and she exhaled into it. After taking one
more hit off the end of the joint she handed it to Hayden, already feeling the
pot work through her body. After exhaling once more, she felt her eyes become
“fuzzy”, felt her mouth dry, and glanced at the window again. She couldn’t see
Damien, but she saw her dad by the grill again.

“I’m
fucking thirsty, Danika,” Hayden said and lay back on the bed, this goofy smile
on his face. He took another hit, handed her the joint again, and although she
should have said no, she took it. “
Thattagirl
,”
Hayden said and started chuckling. “It’s your birthday, after all.”

After
she took another hit and handed it to Hayden, she said, “That’s it for me or my
dad will for sure be able to tell I’m high.” And she was stoned, pretty damn
stoned actually.

“I’m
thirsty as fuck, Danika.”

“Yeah.”
She needed to get some Visine
for her eyes, too. She got off the bed, left her room and shut the door behind
her, and felt her cell vibrate in her shorts pocket. After grabbing it, trying
to focus on the keys and chuckling at the fact she was really fucked
up,
she started to text her friend Madeline back. Madeline
texted her saying she was sorry she couldn’t make it to the party, but that
they’d get together next weekend. Danika glanced up, saw the corner of the
hallway where she would need to turn and go into the bathroom, and looked back
at her phone to send the message. But just as she turned the corner she slammed
into a very hard wall. For a second, because her brain was moving slower than
normal, Danika thought she had literally run into the wall. She’d dropped her
phone, and when she went to pick it up she saw the pair of big, black boots in
her line of vision.

Slowly
Danika started to stand, her head feeling light and dizzy as the blood suddenly
rushed away. Then she was staring at her father’s friend, a lion shifting SEAL,
big and tall, and looking pretty damn intimidating. He inhaled deeply, his
nostrils flaring, his pupils dilating, and she swore the air around them became
charged. The hair on her arms stood on end, and for some inexplicable reason
she felt this protective pull come from this man. She stared into his face,
taking in the way his eyes were this strange amber color, and the fact his
short blond hair was perfectly styled, almost severe in its perfection. He had
one of those square, masculine faces, not beautiful or classically handsome,
but sharp, all male in appearance, and lacking any kind of emotion. But it was
the low hum, almost a purring
sound, that
left his
throat that had her taking a step back. He followed, advancing like an animal
stalking his prey, and Danika felt like she was the meal he was about to
devour. She didn’t know what was happening, why she felt this weird tingle in
the base of her spine, or why this man was tracking her like this, but she
couldn’t find her voice to try to stop it. And then the wall had her retreat
coming to a halt.

Her
heart thundered behind her ribs, and although she wouldn’t consider herself a
shrinking violet, she felt very small compared to him. “You’re my father’s
friend,” she said on a soft voice.

He
made that weird purring sound again, a mixture of softness, but also having a
hard edge to it. She felt like it was a dangerous sound, like something he
might make right before he slit someone’s throat, but despite feeling that she
couldn’t find any fear inside of her. He had yet to respond, and this weird
intensity slammed into her from him, like a hot poker moving through her belly.
It was a strange sensation, not unpleasant, but not exactly comforting either.

“You’re
Danika,” Damien said with this growl in his voice. His pupils kept contracting
and dilating, and when he looked down, closed his eyes, and shook his
head,
it was like he was trying to control himself. “You’re
Tyler’s daughter.” Again he didn’t say it like a question, but almost like he
was speaking to himself. He took a step back, breathed in and out heavily, and
she saw the way he clenched his hands at his sides. “You’re Tyler’s daughter,” he
said again, this time with a little more determination in his voice.

Danika
had no clue what in the hell was going on. She was high, confused, and felt
like she was standing on a tightrope, and beneath was a black abyss. “I’m
sorry. I don’t know what’s going on.” Her lips were dry, her mouth feeling like
it had a wad of cotton in it, and her pulse felt off the charts fast. When her
door opened and she looked over to see Hayden standing there, his expression
kind of goofy and his eyes bloodshot, she wished she could be oblivious to the
situation right now, too.

“Who
are you talking to?” Hayden asked, and then glanced at Damien. His eyes widened
as he took in the sight of the other man.
“Um, Danika?”

Damien
made this low growly noise again, but this time it was deeper, more
threatening, and directed right at Hayden. Damien took a step toward Hayden,
and it was like everything stalled. “She’s mine,” he said to Hayden in a deep
voice that had Danika’s heart stopping.

“What?”
Hayden said, knitted his brows, and looked at Danika. “
Your
what?” maybe it was because Hayden was so high, but he wasn’t acting as though
this beast of a man was staring him down. Before anyone else could say anything
Damien looked at her once more, held her gaze with his own, and then turned to
leave. But his movements were tense, and it was like he was trying to force
himself to walk away.

After
he left she stood there, still pressed to the wall, and Hayden standing in her
doorway.

Her
father came in only a few minutes later, stopped at the end of the hallway when
he saw the two of them, and pointed his spatula to the front of the house. “You
know what happened to Damien?”

She
shook her head and swallowed.
“No, why?”
It wasn’t a
lie because she had no freaking clue what in the hell had gotten into him.

“He
just said he wasn’t feeling right and had to leave.” Tyler shook his head when
she shrugged, then turned and headed back outside.

For
several minutes the silence stretched between her and Hayden.

“What
in the hell was that?” he asked.

She
stared at the hallway where Damien had just left, shook her head, and tried to
get her thoughts in order. “I have no clue, Hayden. But that was the most
intense situation I think I’ve ever been in.”

****

Damien
had gone back to his cabin, slammed the door shut behind him, and roared out.
He was pissed, anxious, and his lion wanted out. He had just found his mate,
imprinted on her, and she was the daughter of his best friend. When he had seen
Danika for that first time the scent of her had ingrained itself in his cells.
She was young, but he didn’t imprint on her in a sexual way, but a way that
wanted to protect her, make sure she was safe and happy.

He
paced his living room, ran his hands over his short hair, and cursed out. “
Fuck
.” When a shifter male found their
mate they imprinted on her, but it didn’t happen until both of them were
physically mature. Even when a male imprinted on a female, and the female was
young, as in this case, the urge to keep his mate safe overruled everything. He
didn’t see Danika as a sexual object, not yet anyway, but more of a younger
sister.

But
either way this was a hard, complicated situation. His body wanted to be next
to her, make sure no one hurt her, but his mind told him that she was Tyler’s
daughter, and having anything to do with her was wrong. He knew she was too
young for him, that even when he would want her sexually, when his animal would
see her as a sexual object and one that needed to be claimed, she would only be
eighteen and still too young.

He
walked over to the window in the living room, stared out at the trees that
surrounded him, secluded him, and felt his animal pace beneath his skin, He’d
run out this angry, anxious energy. Lowering his head and closing his eyes, he
could have torn his cabin to hell, destroyed everything because he was so angry
over how the situation had played out.

He
had lied to Tyler when he’d said he didn’t want a mate, hell, didn’t want a
woman for more than a few hours. In truth he had thought about what it would be
like to have a female that was only his, that was made especially for him
alone. It was a heady and intoxicating realization, but with that came the fact
he knew he could never be with another woman again, could never move on in that
regard. His body, his mind and heart, and
fuck,
even
his lion were now tied to Danika. She was his, and he was hers, yet she knew
nothing about the imprinting a shifter went through, wouldn’t understand where
he was coming from. He didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to go away from her.

BOOK: Animal Instincts
10.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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