Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series) (13 page)

BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
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“Okay, I think we’re far enough away now.”

Instantly, the deer became a woman. Ari. With a happy squeal, she leapt into his arm. He caught her and held her close. Kissing her hair, her face, her lips.

“That was amazing. Oh my God, Dane, how did you just walk in there like that?”

He showed her his tattoo and explained his strategy. Her mouth fell open as she listened. “I…I can’t believe you did all that…for me.”

He frowned. “You’re my mate.”

Tears filled her lashes. “I love you,” she blubbered and kissed him again.

They made love, right there in the woods. Dane backed her against a tree and unzipped his pants as she wrapped her legs around him and opened her body to receive his first desperate thrust. He entered her and groaned. It was like coming home.

She clung to him, riding his body, clinging, accepting him into her.

“I love you, I love you, I love you,” he chanted with every pump of his hips. She repeated the endearment and together, they crested the peak of release.

Resting his forehead against her shoulder, Dane breathed out his relief. “I thought I would lose you again,” he admitted, noticing the delayed tremor in his hands.

Ari cupped his face. “Never,” she swore. Setting her fingers over the center of his chest, she added, “As long as both of these hearts beat, they’ll always find one another.”

Dane grinned and kissed her hard, realizing he’d finally found the part of himself he’d lost twenty years ago.

* * * *

It was midday by the time they neared the cave. Ari was hungry and in desperate need of a long, luxurious bath. She had no idea how her home or her entire town had fared the night. At the moment, it didn’t matter. What mattered was being with Dane and making sure both their families were okay. But with Dane at her side, she knew she could handle anything.

Her father appeared from the opening of the cave almost as soon as it came into view.

He cried out her name and sprinted forward, scooping her up into his encompassing arms. “You’re alive.”

“Daddy.” She closed her eyes and sank into his comforting smell. “How’s everything else?”

Knox pulled back to smile at her. “Your mother was waiting inside the entire time. Stubborn female wouldn’t leave the area entirely.”

As he spoke, Jaycee popped her head from the boulders marking the beginning of the cave. As mother and daughter embraced, Ari noticed her father turning toward Dane.

“For what it’s worth, I apologize for trying to take you out. I never meant to bring such a mess to us.”

Dane studied him a moment before he shrugged. “So you went a little insane out of love for your daughter. Big deal. I’ve seen my father do some crazy shit for my sisters and me, sacrificing himself and putting his own life in danger to keep us safe. As far as I’m concerned, we’re cool.”

Knox nodded. “Shaw Griffin is indeed a noble man. It was wrong of me to assume his son would be anything less than he.”

“After I saw Jaycee give birth, I didn’t know if she was going to live or die.” Dane low’s voice quivered through Ari. “I though
t linking my life force with Ari’s would give her a better chance of survival. I just wanted to protect her. I didn’t understand—”

Setting a fatherly hand on Dane’s shoulder, Knox nodded. “Don’t worry about it. I know all about doing something insane in the name of protecting those you love, remember?”

As the two men shook hands, Ari sighed out a breath of relief. “Thank God,” her mother muttered next to her. “Who knows what would’ve happened next if the enmity between you two had persisted.”

Dane grinned at Ari as he swept toward her. Once she was in his arms, he glanced toward Jaycee. “Where’s my family?”

Jaycee bit her lip. “Well…there’s been a slight problem. After you left to find Ari, your parents waited and waited for your sisters to arrive but…only Rhea made it back.”

Ari’s face drained of color as Dane tensed against her. “Where’s Brynn?” she demanded in a low, barely controlled voice.

Wiping the tears that began to fall off her slick cheeks, Jaycee shook her head. “We don’t know.”





Brynn Griffin gained consciousness with a pained gasp. The strong odor of wolf assaulted her senses. It lingered everywhere, coating the room, her body, the swaying and cold metal floor under her cheek.

Tensing, she kept her eyes closed as she tried to orient herself. Either her equilibrium was so off whack it couldn’t steady itself or she was lying on something hanging suspended from the ground. Something that rocked slowly like the pendulum of a clock.

“There’s no need to fake it, human. I know you’re awake.”

The deep voice jarred through her, making every muscle in her sore body spasm with fear. Tentatively, she lifted her face. Okay, so she was most definitely hanging above the ground…in a huge birdcage, something a stripper would sit in and pose on a swing to entice the men watching her.

Staring past the gilded metal rungs capturing her inside her domed confines, she studied the dark room around her. Chilly and cave-like with a humid, underground quality, she was surprised the walls and floors weren’t made of stone. A tacky bright red shag carpet covered the floors. The walls were painted a warm, golden brown. Shelves and desks lined the walls, crammed into the room and filling every available bit of space.

The owner obviously liked to collect things, hoard them. She had a bad feeling she’d just becoming his newest possession.

When her gaze found his, she froze…as in she stopped moving
dropped about twenty degrees in temperature.

A pair of almond-shaped, nearly glowing eyes studied her from the dark. He stepped out of the shadows, a massive form, shaggy midnight hair hanging down his face and over his shoulders, which were as thick as boulders.

His skin gleamed a bronzed chestnut, no doubt seeing plenty exposure to the sun. He didn’t wear clothes but draped some kind of loincloth thingy between his legs.

Savage and earthy, he was no kind of shape-shifter she’d ever encountered before.

He was an absolute pureblood.

Brynn shuddered and licked her parched lips. His yellow-brown eyes tracked the movement. “Please,” she whispered, her voice cracked dry and hoarse. “Let me go.”

He smiled, showing off a mouth full of wolfy teeth. “And why should I do that, precious? I’ve always wanted a human for a pet.”

She sniffed, straightening her back rigidly. “I’m far from pure human.” She’d tried too hard to be nothing but human. She’d fallen in love with a human and thought she could live the rest of her life without ever changing into her hairy form again. But she’d made the tactical error of trusting her human lover with all her secrets. When she confessed her jaguar side to him, he’d scorned her, repulsed and horrified.

So no, she could never fully be human, not for as long as she lived and no matter how much she wished it to be so.

Her captor tossed her a wicked grin that should’ve looked threatening but somehow also manage to send a bolt of awareness roaring through her.

“If you’re not human,” he countered, “then why does all your fur melt away when you’re unconscious?”

She blushed, humiliated about every inch of skin he’d no doubt seen when she was vulnerable and passed out. Curling her arms and legs more tightly around her and making sure all her privates were covered, she glowered. “Just because I’m a half-breed doesn’t mean—”

“Yes, it does!” he snapped, his eyes flashing with hate. “You’re an abomination to our kind.”

“I can’t help what I am,” she shot back, her own temper flaring.

He was at the cage before she’d even realized he’d moved. Arms snaking between the bars, he grabbed her throat, clutching with his unbelievably strong fingers, and yanked her close until their faces were a scant inch apart. Though she feared him, his heat was soothing.

Another tremble seized her.

“Little human should know better than to talk back to me,” he warned, his breath—smelling of fresh apples and making her stomach cramp with hunger—wafted across her cheeks.

“Just…let me go.” Her teeth began to chatter. “You don’t want me here. I can see the hate in your eyes, smell it seeping from your skin. Let me go.”

His yellow eyes took on a mocking smirk. “And what would I get in return for doing you such a service,

“I…” She frowned, uncertain of what he meant. “I don’t know. I…I’d give you anything. Money?”

He snorted. “I have no need for your human money. I don’t associate with those pathetic
homo sapiens
. Or their traditions and forms of bartering.”

“But…but…there must be something I have to barter,” she tried. There had to be. Otherwise he would’ve already killed her by now.

“Yess,” he hissed out the word in a reptilian sneer. His gaze roamed her from head to toe, touching her body in the most intimate kind of caress. “I believe you do have something to barter.”


Coming up next in the Half-Breed Shifter Series:
Body to Barter
, featuring Brynn Griffin


The End

About the Author


Miranda lives with her wonderful, Brad-Pitt-lookalike husband (hey, they're both blond-haired and blue-eyed) and adorable still-needs-to-learn-the-meaning-of-NO toddler daughter on their spacious corn-field-and-cow-pasture-front property in Kansas.


Librarian by day and author by night, she is also published in YA and contemporary mainstream romance under a different pen name.


Find your favorite fantasy at…


Whispers Publishing



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BOOK: Mates Since Birth (Half-breed Shifter Series)
6.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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