Authors: Aline Hunter
He didn’t relax until Taylor’s limo pulled away.
Sneaky little bastard.
Looked liked his master’s plan had backfired. So sad, too fucking bad.
After a sharp turn around the corner, Wolfe climbed the stairs to the apartment above Greyson’s bar. He cursed when a thought struck him, leaving him feeling like an utter ass
Of all the questions he’d asked his mate, he hadn’t bothered to ask the most basic and fundamental one.
He dug the key from his pocket despite the burning agony of his wounds. Finishing the task, he opened the door with a flick of his hand, closed it with the heel of his foot, and carried her inside. The tiny apartment wasn’t suited for long-term occupancy but it sufficed as a place to crash. Even though he hadn’t planned it to occur this way, he felt incredibly lacking as a male when he placed his mate on the large mattress without a headboard
She deserved fresh linens on a bed large enough to allow them to play properly. It was his job to see to her comfort, to cater to her every need.
She didn’t stir when he situated her on the pillows. Her breathing was deep and steady, the dark bruise along her jaw troubling him. He brushed the back of his hand against the softness of her cheek. His tanned fingers were stark against her fair skin, his hand as large as her head.
With a soft exhale, he brought his hand to his chest.
Leaving his mate to tend to his wounds wasn’t an option. She’d flee the instant she woke. He had to explain the situation, allow her to understand just how important she was to him and tell her why he’d interfered in her private dealings with Taylor. Hopefully—when the facts were laid out and the truth was on the table—she’d understand.
He tugged at his shirt, finding it caked with blood, and walked to the phone by the bed. Pulling the receiver from the cradle, he pushed the pound key. The line clicked over and started ringing. After several chimes, the other end came to life.
“Calling already?” Greyson drawled.
Son of a bitch.
“You knew,” he growled as the pieces fell into place. “That’s why you told me to stay away from her. You recognized my reaction. You knew what it meant.”
“I’ve been around a long time. Seen a lot of things. So yeah, I knew.”
“Why in the hell did you tell me to stay away from her?” If he had listened to Greyson, he wouldn’t have known his mate. The notion pissed him off. “Why in the fuck didn’t you tell me?”
“Since when have you ever listened to me? You were going to do whatever you wanted. I figured if I told you no, you’d be too curious to leave her be.” Greyson paused. “Is she all right? I heard the gunfire but figured it was best to lay low until things went quiet.”
“She’s fine.” Wolfe peered down at the ragged holes in his chest. Damn it. Silver hurt like a bitch. “But you need to bring me a few things.”
“She shot my ass full of silver.”
“Can’t say I’m surprised.” Voices in the background nearly drowned Greyson out. “Give me a few. I’ll be up shortly.”
“Wait,” Wolfe ordered before the line went dead. “I need to know her name in case she wakes disoriented or confused.”
He studied her peaceful heart-shaped face. The bruise marring her chin was stark against her porcelain skin, deepening to a mottled purple along her jaw. Shame hit home, a reminder that he’d put the mark there.
Clearing his throat, he answered evasively, “You could say that.”
“Did you remove her weapons?”
“No.” Wolfe glanced at the guns beneath each of her arms. “Why?”
“When she wakes up, she won’t be disoriented or confused. That girl will empty a magazine in your hide for coming between her and those vampyren. After she decorates the carpet with your blood, she’ll kick you while you’re down to remind you not to fuck with her again.”
He peered down at her face, so angelic in sleep, finding the idea laughable. “You’re joking.”
“The hell I am. She’ll own your ass sure as shit.”
Bending down, he unsnapped the fastenings that kept her weapons in place, starting with the leather around her shoulders.
“What?” he blurted, lifting her torso to pull the holster from her delicate shoulders. His mate was beautifully built but so slim he could break her in two if he wasn’t careful.
“That’s her name.”
The line went dead, and Wolfe plopped the phone into the cradle. He carried the holster full of weapons into the small kitchen and placed them in a cabinet. Then he went to the sink, tossed his ruined shirt atop the counter and removed a dishtowel from one of the drawers beneath a crusty old microwave.
He swiped at the wounds on his chest, dreading the removal of the shells from his flesh. It figured the injuries would be caused by the very female fate intended for him. Nothing ever went as planned. Things always occurred when he least expected it, catching him totally unaware.
He turned, bracing his hands on the counter, and gazed at the small form resting peacefully across from him. Moonlight shone from the window and cased her in a soft white glow, causing her lush blonde hair to appear almost white. A debilitating longing surrounded him. He wanted to go to her, hold her closely and lose himself inside the moist and inviting heat of her body. The connection would sustain him, empower him and make his wolf stronger. He wanted what every lycae did.
She’s a dhampir.
Could they have children? Was it even possible?
He forced aside what he wasn’t ready to deal with and wrestled with the uncertainty between the two of them. When a lycae found its mate, it wasn’t long until he or she claimed the other piece of their soul. It was natural and necessary to ensure a lifelong bond. In this situation, his female would probably sever his dick off at the hilt with one of her silver daggers before she willingly submitted to him.
Her name suited her perfectly, beautiful yet mysterious. He couldn’t wait to unravel her like a present, discover her every secret. He’d take her to bed every night and wake with her every morning. Sure, they’d have problems. She’d pissed off powerful people. Not to mention her line of work. An assassin—someone who killed people for a living.
Damn it to all hell.
He shook his head and settled back.
His life had just gotten a
of a lot more complicated.
Something incredibly soft brushed the tip of Arden’s nose. She shifted on the warm, lumpy padding beneath her head to avoid the somewhat annoying contact. When she felt the softness sweep against her face a second time, she slid off the hard pillow and shifted away from the disturbance interrupting her sleep.
A delectable woodsy scent lined her nostrils, the fragrance so heady and alluring it burned the back of her throat. Her hunger emerged, flaming the miserable ache churning in the pit of her belly, worsening the cotton dryness in her mouth.
How long had it been since she’d fed?
She struggled to remember. Logic and time faded. Nothing mattered but the delicious ambrosia that sang to her—taunting the canines in her mouth, which extended and throbbed, yearning for appeasement. A decent feeding would keep her sated for days. And the blood calling to her was unlike any she’d tasted before.
She darted out her tongue and lapped at sultry bare skin. The hot and incredibly smooth flesh quivered at the first salty taste, pressed closer to her eager lips. She detected the strong, steady drumming of a heartbeat just beneath.
After so long.
No more pain. No more hunger.
With eyes closed, she moved upward, following the promise of the richest blood imaginable. The silky skin beneath her lips changed, growing softer as she found the vulnerable hollow of a bared throat. A rhythmic throbbing met her mouth, the steady pulse increasing as she bathed the area with her tongue. She pressed her palms against the sinewy chest beneath her hands, sliding her body up and over a firm set of hips.
A throaty groan rumbled against her ear, the sound husky and deep. Large hands grasped her hips to guide her closer. She straddled the waist that flattened beneath her, getting comfortable as she hovered above her prey. The pounding heartbeat against her lips thrummed in her ears, growing louder, until the pain in her fangs became unbearable.
Sharp incisors scored flesh and sank past the giving softness of skin. A thin veil of muscle parted and gave way, allowing her to pierce the large vein beneath. The blood that coated her tongue was everything it promised to be—delicious, rich and unbelievably addictive. Behind the intense fulfillment of the first swallow was something completely unexpected.
She ground her pussy against the muscular stomach beneath her, craving more than the blood offered. The lust was tangible, making her nipples hard as a rush of wetness coated her panties. Encouraged by the hands that guided her to follow a rocking motion, she groaned as she swallowed. Her body burned with the need for release, her breasts heavy, pointed nipples sensitive. Her wet sex clenched, the very center of her being aching for something more.
“Christ,” a hoarse voice croaked.
The fingers along her hips squeezed, moved and raked across the fleshy portion of her ass and stayed there. She swallowed once, twice, a third time. Each swallow provided the strength she didn’t realize she lacked. The rush was consuming, overcoming reason.
Have to stop.
Her hunger refused to lessen, taunted by practiced hands that trailed up her torso. Her breasts were cupped and palmed, her nipples brushed so softly by large thumbs she wanted to scream. She pressed her aching pussy into the hot skin beneath her, undulating and grinding her mound against the hard bulk as she drank.
Erotic images of being taken from behind on her hands and knees—her lover bracing his hands on her ass—flashed in her mind. Her skin flushed in excitement and anticipation, and she pressed her lips against the wound that nourished her. Fresh and hot. So delicious and strong.
To hell with it. I’ll give myself over to the lust, drink until the hunger is no more. For once, I will experience the forbidden. It’ll be perfect. Divine.
She drew harder, taking more blood. As she did she rubbed up and down the abs beneath her, making sure to get just the right amount of pressure on her clit. It wouldn’t take much longer. Just a little bit more and she’d be there.
Dear God, no.
Stories of bloodlust suffocated those of pleasure. She yanked her teeth free and jumped away from the man beneath her as she opened her eyes. Light blinded her, burning like fire. She rushed to a blurry corner and crouched, covering her face with her hand. Since her vision was shot, she focused with her ears and nose. She couldn’t see danger. She could only hear and smell it. The fresh blood she’d taken assisted her senses. Each sound was crisp and distinct, but the scents inside the room baffled her.
The entire space smelled like Greyson.
Please say I didn’t feed from him. I’d never live down the humiliation.
Then she caught another scent. Leafy trees, woods, grass and earth. A subtle hint of smoke. The person she’d fed from was not the one she trusted. Not even close. His smell was headier, positively provocative. Whereas Greyson smelled like alcohol and smoke, this male smelled clean and fresh, like he’d recently gone for a run in the forest.
She heard the slow approach of footsteps and reached for her daggers. Her heart sank when her fingers skimmed over bare cloth and she learned she was defenseless. Her muscles flexed as she tensed and braced herself, prepared to fight whoever it was she’d fed from, blind and without a weapon.
“Easy,” a man—voice laden with desire—murmured. “Take it easy.”
“Where am I?” Her question was terse, leaving her sounding far more unsteady than she would have liked.
The floor creaked as he moved closer. “Somewhere safe.”
“Who are you?”
“Trevlian?” She tried to pry her eyes open and hissed when light met her retinas. Immediately she slammed her lids shut. Although she attempted to mask her fear, she wasn’t certain she succeeded. No one fucked with the Trevlian pack. It seemed she’d put her hand into the wrong cookie jar. “As in Adam Trevlian?”
“Not exactly.” He chuckled and added, “He’s my cousin.”
She pressed her hand into her face, grateful for the small shield it provided.
Could things possibly get worse? She was in a strange place—with a lycae related to the alpha of the renowned Bacchus pack—without her weapons. Her nose flared and she felt a growl of fury rising in her throat. This was the asshole werewolf’s fault—the one from the evening before. The stupid son of a bitch had come between her and her mission. If not for him, she could have gotten what she’d come for and left.
No hiccups. No complications.
No feeding from men who made her hot as the Sahara.
Her fury increased, licking at her skin, making her temperature rise. “Where the hell is he?”
“Where is who?” The laughter in his voice had evaporated.
She rose and shook herself, unwilling to remain in a position of submission. “The stupid fucking lycae who came between me and the vampyren chew toy.”
He hesitated and asked, “What do you want with him?”
I want with him would be a better question.” Feeling around, she stumbled past a chair and became entangled in plastic mini blinds. “Damn it! How small is this place?”
“Calm down.” He moved as he spoke, no doubt crossing the distance. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
Angry and embarrassed, she allowed him to guide her across the room. “If you’re so worried about my state of being,” she snapped, “close the fucking blinds!”
The stranger’s nearness brought on another surge of hunger, his blood as intoxicating as the finest Bordeaux. She breathed through her mouth, grinding her teeth. What was going on? Drinking from an immortal meant the thirst should be completely appeased, not increased. And this one was definitely immortal—a friend of Greyson’s, and a lycae.