Authors: Moira Rogers
Copyright Â© 2009 by Moira Rogers
Previously published by Changeling Press. All rights have reverted to the author.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Zahra has devoted her life to serving Luna. The savage needs of the werewolf warriors can take their toll, and she serves as a healer, treating not only her fellow priestesses but anyone in need. Still, she's never seen anyone so wounded as Jarek, an old friend who's been through hell--and who doesn't seem to remember her.
Jarek was always considered the most civilized wolf in his unit, a rare healer trained in werewolf magic as well as the medicine of their human enemies. When an injury shatters his self-control, the beast inside him takes over, leaving only the wolf. A wolf who remembers the scent of the mate he always needed...and is determined to claim her at any cost.
He doesn't remember his name.
He remembers blood, and the men who spilled it. Dozens, hundreds, a river of life flowing into death. He remembers the screams, hardened men with mangled limbs and the sure knowledge of their own mortality in their voices. He remembers guns and bombs and the ways men kill, cold metal tearing through flesh and machines crushing their bones.
He remembers pain. He remembers death. But he doesn't remember his name.
He doesn't remember her name, either. Words are jumbles of sounds that hurt his throat anyway, but her name... Her name would taste like peace. Would feel as good on his tongue as the pleasure that heats his body every time he catches her scent. Soft. Female. Familiar.
Even if Balthasar hadn't been standing guard by the wall, Zahra would have known better than to go near the man in the corner. His eyes were more animal than anything else, and she shivered, remembering the intelligence that had once shone from their ice-blue depths. "Hello, Jarek."
He didn't speak, but his gaze stayed fixed on her face as a flash of
flickered across his features.
"It's been a long time." She moved slowly to sit in the chair in the center of the room. "That research elective, yes? With Dr. Bautista?"
His lips parted. When he spoke, the words were hoarse. Gravelly. "I'm a medic."
"Yes, Jarek." She leaned forward a little. "We went to school together. Do you remember me? My name is Zahra."
He lunged so fast the stool he'd been seated on crashed against the far wall at the same time his hands curled around the back of her chair. Strong arms formed a cage, trapping her within a circle of masculine power and heat. She choked back the shriek that welled in her throat and steeled herself for an attack.
But none came. He inhaled deeply, drawing in her scent. In a mere moment, Balthasar dragged him away. Then Jarek grew violent, twisting to attack with an angry snarl and a blow strong enough to send the guard reeling. He turned and backed toward her, putting his body squarely between her and the guard. "
Hot, possessive magic filled the space between them. He may not have remembered her, but something about her was familiar enough to draw him close, and she could use that to reach him.
Zahra signaled to Balthasar to stand down, and eased up beside Jarek. Magic flared again, chafing her nerve endings and heating her skin. "Do you need me?" she asked quietly.
She was the King's niece. It was the guard's duty to keep her safe, and he knew it. "Out of the question. He's feral, Zahra. If he needs relief, he needs a senior priestess."
Jarek growled and edged to the side, placing his body in front of hers again. "Stay away."
"He doesn't need a senior priestess." She raised one hand to his face. "You need a healer, don't you, Jarek?"
He turned his head and caught the tip of one finger between his teeth, a gesture of dominance and claiming. On the other side of the room, Balthasar hissed out a curse and reached for the com unit clipped to his belt. "I'm calling the high priestess. Your uncle will snap my neck if I let you do this."
"Call her," Zahra urged. "Will you wait, Jarek, if I promise to return soon?"
"I don't want another woman." Jarek turned to face her, one hand coming up to trap her fingers against his cheek. There was no hint of recognition in those frozen eyes, nothing of the brilliant, civilized healer she'd known. He was as wild as any warrior and twice as hungry.
And all his attention, all his
, was focused on her. He'd take her, sate that wild hunger in the depths of her body. Zahra could barely breathe, and her cunt tingled in reaction. "No other woman," she swore, ignoring the guard's incoherent protest. "You have my vow as a priestess of Luna."
"Priestess." He seemed to be testing the word. He shook his head. "What's your name?"
"Zahra." Doubt almost made her falter. She couldn't lie to herself and think that he knew her deep down, under the trauma that had left his psyche in jagged shards. He didn't know her. "My name is Zahra."
His hand came up and his fingers touched her lips, traced their shape as if trying to memorize it. "You'll come back."
"Yes. Balthasar will take you to my room. Please go with him and wait for me there. Can you do that for me?"
Balthasar protested again. "Zahra, I can't--"
Fury seized her. "I am a royal daughter, and you will do as I say!" She fixed him with a glare and took a deep breath. "I know my duties and my place. Do you know yours?"
Balthasar's face closed off as brittle resentment filled the room. But he nodded. "Yes, priestess."
The tension in Jarek's body eased a tiny bit. His fingers ghosted over her cheek, over her hair and the line of her throat. "Zahra." From his lips, her name sounded like a benediction, a prayer.
"Yes." She backed away slowly, keeping her gaze on his. "I won't be long."
It echoes inside him, a whisper like silk over skin too used to rough pain. Maybe he remembers it, maybe it's a dream. But it suits her beauty, the softness of her skin and her scent.
In the quiet of her room he rolls it over his tongue and lets his mouth give it form. His voice is scratchy and raw, too ugly for a word that makes his heart pound and his cock ache. But it doesn't stop him from saying it again and again, as if it's a spell that can ward off the madness licking at the shattered edges of his mind.
He wants to lick her. Shape her body with his mouth and hands until she cries
name, and if she does it enough times maybe he'll remember what it is. Maybe he'll remember the way her pale green eyes look when she comes, the way her full lips look parted on a gasp, the way her dusky skin flushes with pleasure.
Zahra. He's surrounded by her scent and it isn't enough, isn't nearly enough because the beast is hungry for her ecstasy and nothing else will satisfy the craving.
Zahra paced in front of the plush chair where the high priestess was seated. "He's a brilliant doctor, Celine. And he's always been intense, but something--something broke him. Now, I know what the rules are, but I got through to him. I won't abandon him."
Celine drummed her fingers against the arm of her chair. "And your solution is to take a feral wolf to your bed? A man so wild no one who hasn't earned her silver robes could hope to handle him?"
If she told Celine the truth about their history, the priestess would most certainly bar Jarek from Zahra's bed. "He knows me. It isn't about rutting. He needs more than that, and that
something I'm trained for."
"It doesn't matter if he knows you, my dear. He may not be a warrior, but right now he's reacting like one. One who won't get on his knees and obey your every command based on the strength of your royal connections."
Zahra groaned. "I don't think I'm indestructible, if that's what you're implying."
"I'm not implying anything." Celine leaned forward suddenly, her green eyes hard. "I'm telling you flat out that if you try to control a feral wolf you could end up dead."
"I understand that." She would
shiver. Zahra clenched her hands into fists. "I promised him I would be back, and that he'd have no woman but me. I made a vow, Celine."
"If you're determined to do this..." The high priestess pointed to a chair. "Sit."
She held her head high as she followed the instruction.
Celine nodded and crossed her legs. "Tell me what you know of the most important rules for dealing with a feral wolf."
There was only one, as far as she knew. "Submission. I have to be ready and willing to submit to him, one hundred percent. If I struggle, his instinct will be to use force to dominate."
"He won't be able to help himself even if he wants to. Not everyone can earn a silver robe, Zahra. It's not about skill or experience or even patience. Those who submit because they have no choice will never get one. You need strength to deal with the wildest men. I know you're strong, but you're also used to being in control of your own domain."
She'd never aspired to the silver robes, had always known her first and greatest value to Luna was as a healer. "I don't plan on making a habit of this, but it's a special case, Celine. I've known Jarek for years. If I have any hope at all of helping him, I have to try."