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Authors: Stephane Julian

MoonlightTemptation

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Moonlight Temptation

Stephanie Julian

 

Book four in the
Lucani
Lovers series
.

 

Evie Simmons has major issues.
She’s got magical powers she can’t control, she’s living in a house that isn’t
hers, and her best friend is a seventeen-year-old werewolf. It’d be hilarious
if it weren’t just so damn depressing. Add in the sexy shifter she can’t keep
out of her mind and his hot-as-hell friend and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Dr. Dane Dimitriou knows Evie has
had a hard time adjusting to her new life as part of the Etruscan magical
community—almost as difficult as his denial of his feelings for her have been.
And he’s got the perfect cure—his best friend, Ryan Maguire. Easygoing Ryan is
the complete opposite of stick-up-his-ass Dane. He can act as a buffer. Dane
can get close, but not too close. Yeah, good luck with that.

Together, these sexy men may be
just what the doctor ordered for Evie. And the doctor himself may discover the
cure for what ails him has been right in front of him all along.

 

An Ellora’s Cave Romantica
Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Moonlight Temptation

 

ISBN 9781419932885

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Moonlight Temptation Copyright 2011 Stephanie Julian

 

Edited by Grace Bradley

Cover art by Syneca

 

Electronic book publication January 2011

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or
distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without
the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including
infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. 
(http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print
editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of
copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

Moonlight Temptation

Stephanie Julian

Trademarks Acknowledgement

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

 

ABBA: Polar Music International

Aeropostale: Seropostale Procurement Company, Inc.

Captain Underpants: Pilkey, Dav

Coke: The Coca Cola Company

Chanel: Chanel, Inc.

Converse All Star Chuck Taylor: Converse, Inc.

Happy Meal: McDonald’s Corporation

Hollister: Abercrombie & Fitch, Trading Co.

Hot Topic: Hot Topic, Inc.

Jagermeister: Mast-Jägermeister AG

Jeep: DaimlerChrysler Corporation

Junior Mints: Tootsie Roll Brands LLC

Lincoln Navigator: Ford Motor Company

Mercedes: DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation

Nancy Drew: Girl Detective: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Ruger: Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.

Superman: DC Comics

The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers: Simon & Schuster,
Inc.

Toyota Highlander: Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha TA Toyota Motor
Corporation

Vicodin: Abbott Laboratories Corporation

Victoria’s Secret: V Secret Catalogue, Inc.

Volkswagen: Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Glossary

 

Arus
: magical power inherent in the
Fata
and
Enu
,
races of Etruscan descent

Boschetta
: Etruscan coven, traditionally comprised of
thirteen
streghe

Candela
: Etruscan sprite, tiny magical beings with
wings and a certain glow about them

Decurio
: legion rank of commander

Eteri
(pl.
eteri
): Etruscan for foreigner,
used to describe regular humans without magic

Enu
: humans of magical Etruscan descent

Fata
: elemental beings of magical Etruscan descent

Folletta
(pl.
folletti
): Etruscan female fairy

Linchetto
(pl.
linchetti
): Etruscan night elf

Malandante
: descended from the Etruscans but born
with a bent toward evil, with a taste for power and wealth

Praenuntio
: Goddess Gift of foresight

Pugio
: a Roman dagger

Quercioli
: the offspring of a
folletta
and a
linchetto
,
always female

Salbinelli
: Etruscan satyr

Sicari
(pl:
sicarii
): assassin

Silvani
: one of the three original Etruscan
Fata
;
always female, protectors of fields and forests

Speculator
: spy

Strega
(pl.
streghe
): Etruscan witch

Versipellis
(pl.
versipelli
): literally “skin
shifter”—shapeshifters including Etruscan
Lucani
(wolves), Norse
Berkserkir
(bears) and French
loup garou
(wolves)

 

Chapter One

 

“Cat, come on! That’s cheating.”

Evangeline Simmons stumbled through the brush, seeing no
recognizable path in the forest or…well, anything that looked remotely
recognizable, actually.

She’d been following a small, dark bundle of fur for what
seemed like hours, trying to keep up. Trying to use her “senses” to follow
along.

“Training, my ass,” Evie mumbled under her breath. “More
like ‘Let’s torture the stupid
eteri’
. Like I don’t get enough of that
at home.”

Of course, home was a relative word right now. She didn’t
really have a home. She and her brother had been sharing an apartment in
Reading before…

Well, just before.

Now she lived in a house that wasn’t hers, situated
somewhere in the wilds of Oley Township, Pennsylvania. Not far from the city
where she’d lived her entire life. Just far enough for her to feel isolated.
Cut off.

Not that it wasn’t a great house. It was airy, open, bright.
Even now, in late January, it was always temperate. Never hot, never cold.

Guess that’s what you got when you lived in a house built by
witches.

No, not witches.


Streghe.

Even after several months, just saying it aloud still made
her heart beat faster and her lungs tighten.

Not only had her house been built by a
strega
, but
she was a
strega
as well.

An Etruscan witch who could control magic. Actual freaking
magic
.

Who would’ve known that one little Italian grandmother a few
times removed could wreak such havoc a hundred years down the line?

Shaking that thought out of her head, she took a deep
breath.

“Fine,” she muttered, knowing Cat was close enough to hear
every word she said, even though Evie wouldn’t see her unless Cat wanted to be
seen. “Be that way about it.”

And now she sounded like a two year old throwing a tantrum.
Ugh.

With a sigh, she thought about just giving up. She had no
idea what she was doing, how to control that wild energy she felt in her blood,
even though Cat had been trying to help Evie with her training for the past few
months.

Seventeen, brilliant and beautiful, Catene Rossini Ferrante
had become one of Evie’s closest friends. Only five years separated them by
age, though Evie sometimes thought Cat was way more adult than Evie would ever
be.

In her human body, Cat stood nearly a head taller than
Evie’s five-one and had at least a cup size on her. The girl was built like nobody’s
business.

Bright blue eyes framed by thick, light brown lashes and
hair the color of a copper penny that fell down her back in waves so gorgeous,
Evie would’ve bet she had to curl it.

Of course she didn’t. Cat didn’t own a curling iron, had
never worn makeup and used no skin care product that wasn’t made right here by
the
streghe
.

If Evie had been just a little more bitchy, she would’ve
hated the girl.

As it was, Cat was too nice to hate. And she appeared to
worship Evie, for some unknown reason.

Since Evie had moved into Su Belludi’s vacant home, Cat had
practically moved in with her. She spent the night with Evie more often than
she stayed with her mom and dad, who lived just a few houses away, or with her
other dad, Kyle, who lived in the next township, several miles away.

At first, Evie had wondered if Cat was there to spy on her.

Evie had been an unknown quantity. The women who lived in
this little village had been taught from birth that outsiders meant trouble. At
first, most of the older women had flat-out refused to even consider Evie
coming to live among them.

Only Cat, Margie, Nica and Tira had fought for Evie to stay.

Those same women now tortured her on a daily basis. Only
they didn’t call it torture. They called it
Strega
Training 201. The crash
course.

At the end of most days, Evie felt as if she’d gone a few
rounds with a Navy drill instructor.

Some days, though, Evie slipped outside with Cat for
“practical application”.

Which usually involved Evie fumbling around in the forest
trying to find Cat. Like today.

Fine. Cat wanted her to train. She’d train.

Blowing out a deep, cleansing breath, Evie put her back
against the nearest tree and closed her eyes.

The rough tree bark bit into her skin through the fabric of
her thick wool sweater and dull green cotton cargo pants. She no longer wore
anything that wasn’t made of natural fibers. Polyester, rayon, spandex…they
irritated her skin.

She’d given up processed foods, though her brother John kept
her supplied with contraband boxes of Junior Mints.

Of course, drugs and alcohol were out of the question. With
her history and these new powers… Well, who knew what Evie might do?

“Shit.”

Shaking those thoughts out of her head, she focused on what
she
needed
to do.

She placed her hands flat on the sides of the tree and
attempted to push out all thoughts of everything but Cat.

Her best friend. The one person who didn’t treat her like a
ten year old with a dreaded disease.

Cat wasn’t a worried brother hovering over her or a
well-meaning new sister named Kaine, the love of her brother’s life, an intense
young woman who made her normally taciturn brother laugh. Evie had found it
hard at first to get to know Kaine. The girl still harbored some major guilt
where Evie was concerned.

And thinking about that was sure to scatter her brain.

Concentrate. Breathe.

Evie’s body relaxed more fully against the tree as the
birdsong grew louder. She heard squirrels chattering, their claws scraping as
they climbed trees or chased after one another here and there.

A breeze ruffled the tree branches. The low rumble of a
tractor in a neighboring farmer’s field distracted her for a second before she
focused her attention lower, on the frozen ground beneath her feet.

She barely felt the presence of other tiny animals around
her because most had hidden themselves as soon as they sensed the predator
lurking among them.

They didn’t know Cat would no sooner hurt them than stab her
own mother with a blade.

Cat. Where was Cat?

A rustle of brush to her left drew her attention and she
opened her eyes.

Which was not what she was supposed to be doing. She was
supposed to track Cat with her powers, not her sight.

Her
strega
powers.

Which she wasn’t sure she wanted to know how to use in the
first place.

But the danger in not knowing how to control them… Well,
that could be more dangerous than actually using them.

“All right, all right,” she spoke aloud, knowing Cat could
hear her. “Here I go.”

With a huff, she snapped her eyes shut again and let her
body relax.

At least, she tried to get her body to relax. After the
kidnapping, she’d had a really hard time with the dark. Even though she felt
the sun shining through the leaves above, her lack of sight threatened to throw
her into a panic.

She fought the tightness in her chest, the tensing of her
muscles.

You’re safe here. Nothing will happen to you.

And if she believed that, she might as well buy the Brooklyn
Bridge off the internet.

A rustle of brush behind her made her draw in a sharp breath
and she fought to keep her eyes closed, to
feel
whatever the hell it was
she was supposed to feel.

Damn it, when had she become so damn skeptical?

Before, she’d been the one to believe in ghosts and physic
energy, to trust in fate and let karma be her guide.

“Fat lot of good that did me.”

With a sigh, she opened her eyes. She felt nothing except
the dappled winter sun on her skin and the weight of defeat on her shoulders.

“Cat, I’m—”

A gasp escaped her as she heard footsteps in the brush. She
turned to look over her shoulder, her hands clenched into fists and lifted into
a ready position as she saw a man leaning against the tree behind her.

For the past few weeks John had been working on her
self-defense training. She refused to be as vulnerable as she’d been when she’d
been kidnapped last year. And even though that threat had been “neutralized”
according to John, she didn’t want to ever feel that helpless again.

“Who the hell are you?”

The guy didn’t answer right away, just stood there staring
at her as if she were some fascinating bug he’d never seen before.

She couldn’t help staring back. Even though fear made her
jaw clench and her muscles ache with tension, she registered the guy’s beauty.

Shaggy hair fell below his ears in all different shades of
gold, white and wheat with hints of red and light brown and… Damn, the guy had
gorgeous hair. He looked as if he spent his days lounging on a beach somewhere
fighting off women.

His features reminded her of a lion’s—straight nose,
uptilted eyes that glinted green in the sun, a pointed chin and broad, flat
cheekbones. And full lips with just a hint of a smile.

His body held the lazy grace of that same big cat. A denim
jacket covered a white t-shirt stretched over broad shoulders and chest. Faded
jeans clung to his muscled thighs and running shoes added to the laidback image.

He was a freaking masculine work of art. Which didn’t mean
he wasn’t dangerous.

The
lucani
were amazingly beautiful people. Even in
their wolf forms, they were gorgeous.

They were also powerful and deadly.

Still, this guy didn’t fit the Etruscan mold. And she’d
never seen him before.

“I don’t know who you are,” she said, “but you need to leave
right now. You’re on private property.”

The guy’s gaze narrowed as his head shifted to the side.
“I’ll be damned. Dane was right for a change.”

Evie blinked. Did he mean Dr. Dane Dimitriou? “You know
Dane?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” Then the guy smiled and Evie felt her
heart do a funny little flip. “Hi, I’m Ryan Maguire.”

She tried to ignore the rough silk of his voice but it
rubbed against her skin, raising goose bumps that had nothing to do with the
low forty-degree temperature.

The reaction startled her. The past few months of her life
had been a jumbled mess. Fears she’d thought she’d conquered years ago had
returned to plague her in the dark. She’d taken to sleeping with a light on.

And now her sex drive wanted to kick in too?

Christ, what the hell else could life possibly throw at her?

No, she’d better take that back. She didn’t want to tempt
fate. She’d actually met her. The Etruscan Goddess of Fate was one scary female.

Tightening her fists, she took a deep breath, hoping to
douse the unwanted attraction. “Is your name supposed to mean something to me?”

She tried to force some strength into her voice but it still
came out shaky.

His half-assed grin let her know she wasn’t fooling him.
“Not unless Dane told you to expect me. And knowing Dane, I’m sure he didn’t.
He’s the master of the sneak attack, isn’t he?”

Okay, this guy
did
know Dane because, yeah, that was
Dane to a T.

She lowered her hands a fraction. “So you are…”

“Very pleased to meet you.”

Her lips tried to curve into a smile, something she hadn’t
done a lot of lately. “That doesn’t tell me why you’re here.”

The guy’s grin widened. “To tell you the truth, I’m not
quite sure either. But when Dane asks me to come meet a beautiful woman, I
don’t typically turn him down.”

She blushed. “He told you I was beautiful?”

“As a matter of fa—”

A low growl rumbled behind Ryan, freezing her in place one
second. In the next, she silently cursed her reaction.

She’d lived with the Etruscans long enough to know that the
growl of a wolf should not make her want to run screaming.

Her gaze automatically sought the animal that’d produced the
sound and found him sliding out from behind the trunk of a massive pine a few
yards behind Ryan.

The large gray wolf moved so silently, she knew she never
would’ve heard him if he hadn’t growled. Lean and muscled, the animal had to
weigh at least a hundred pounds.

She lowered her hands all the way as the wolf stopped at
Ryan’s side, his dark eyes glued to hers. Those eyes were human, eyes she knew,
and that same shiver of sensation raced through her again.

She shook her head, trying to ignore it as she stared at the
wolf she’d come to recognize on sight.

“Didn’t trust me, did you?”

Ryan’s voice held an edge of amusement that made Evie frown
and pull her gaze back to Ryan’s.

“Trust you to do what?” she asked.

Ryan’s smile made her stomach do curious things but it could
have been the second growl from the animal at his feet.

“Trust me to seduce you.”

* * * * *

“So, Ryan’s coming for dinner?”

Cat hopped up onto the kitchen counter, crunching away at a
carrot as Evie tore lettuce for a salad.

She’d never been much of a cook. Her brother John had been
more than kind when he’d referred to anything she had to cook as “edible”.

But really, how could she screw up steak and salad?

Maybe she didn’t want to know the answer to that question.

Lately, she hadn’t wanted to know the answers to a lot of
questions.

And she still didn’t know how she’d gotten talked into
making dinner for a man she’d just met today.

“It wasn’t like I invited him,” Evie said. “He caught me off
guard and basically told me he’d see me later.”

“And Dane didn’t give you any hint that Ryan was coming?”

The knife thunked against the wooden cutting board, harder
than she’d planned. Her nerves were more than a little frazzled.

“Of course not. Dane doesn’t really like to talk to me. You
know that.”

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