“Damn,” Hunter breathed.
For some reason, she pictured him saying the same thing, just as softly, against the skin of her throat. Her br**sts. Her inner thighs.
As if he knew, his dark gaze sparked. He swore again and inhaled raggedly. “You okay? How have you been?”
“Do you really want to chitchat?”
A low, pumping growl vibrated the air and rumbled through her in an erotic wave. “What I want to do is strip you, throw you onto the counter, spread your thighs, and lick you until you scream. That’s what I want to do. I want to be the male who takes you for the first time. And every time after that. The thought of you being with someone else tonight is killing me, to the point where I’m tempted to have Riker lock me up so I don’t do something stupid. I don’t understand it, and frankly, it’s pissing me off. But there it is.”
His stark, raw honesty stole her breath. She wanted all of that, too, could relate to everything he’d said. Here he was in front of her, and she couldn’t have him. And in this moment, she was ashamed to admit that if he offered her even the smallest scrap of his attention, she’d take it. Without thinking, she reached for him, but he stepped back with a hiss, his massive fangs bared.
“If you touch me, I’m lost.” His big body trembled as he continued backing up. He took panting breaths, and his eyes were as wild as a cornered cougar’s. “I… have to go.”
“Hunter, wait.” She moved toward him. He stopped, and she had a feeling he was fighting a battle with himself deep inside. Good. Now he knew how she felt every time she saw him. “Don’t have sex with her. Not tonight.”
He barked out a laugh. “Really? Just yesterday you told me to get it over with. Now you get jealous?”
“This isn’t about jealousy,” she said. Okay, it was, but there was also the fact that Rasha mentioned getting pregnant. “You can’t…” You can’t trust Rasha. Aylin didn’t say it. She couldn’t. As true as it was, she wouldn’t sell out her sister like that.
Aylin closed her lids. “Nothing. Just trust your instincts.”
“I got news for you,” he said roughly. “I can’t trust myself right now.”
He took off in a rush, and something told her he was heading straight to Rasha.
Hunter had always been one to play with fire, had never minded the burns. But Aylin burned hotter than any flame, and if he hadn’t left when he did, he’d have turned to ash.
Holy Spirit, she tested his self-control. Samnult’s trials were a piece of cake compared with the challenge of keeping his hands off Aylin.
He bolted through the halls, the moon fever licking at his heels. He wasn’t sure where he was going, and he didn’t care. As long as he got away from Aylin before the demands for blood and sex became too much, he didn’t give a shit where he ended up.
Except that somehow he found that he’d circled back around to the lab, where Aylin’s scent still lingered inside. Like an idiot, he peeked in, but she wasn’t there.
Lifting his face, he inhaled, caught her grass-and-sunshine aroma, and started to track her.
Dammit! Panting, he dug his heels into the ground. He bent over and braced his hands on his thighs in a desperate attempt to get hold of himself. It didn’t work. He could smell her. See her in his mind. And practically taste her in the back of his throat.
His fangs throbbed with the desire for blood – her blood. Maybe Rasha’s would be the same. Maybe it wouldn’t taste like battery acid the way he imagined.
You have to try. Aylin is lost to you. She’ll be with someone else shortly, if she’s not already.
He straightened with a snarl. Made a mental note to tell Riker never to reveal the name of the male who spent the night with Aylin. As much as Hunter would like to say he could be objective and logical… yeah, when it came to Aylin, his civil side was pretty much nonexistent.
The need for blood began to cloud his thoughts in a haze of red. It was time, and he couldn’t put it off. Most vampires could miss a moon feeding… two or three if they really had to. But as a second-generation vampire, his instincts were too strong, and he’d learned the hard way that missing a feeding on the full moon meant a month of viciousness he sometimes couldn’t control. Fourteen years had passed since the last time Riker had been forced to chain him in the prey room, and he didn’t want to end that streak.
His father, as a first-generation vampire descended from the Originals, had been even worse. When he missed a feeding, he’d been the epitome of the word monster. He’d even changed physically into a horrific skeletal creature with a gaping maw of sharp teeth and serrated claws that could slice through steel. It had been terrifying, a beast so mindless and bloodthirsty that it had once tried to eat its own infant son.
Sometimes Hunter wondered if he’d have even cared about killing his son when he turned back to normal. And as much as Hunter despised his mother, he had to give her credit for her willingness to go to the creature on the next full moon and allow it to use her.
He questioned whether Rasha would have done that, but he had no doubt about Aylin.
With a nasty curse, he headed toward his chambers. Rasha wasn’t expecting him yet, but he didn’t give a shit about inconveniencing her. He needed to get this over with while he still possessed a thread of self-control. He’d take her blood, but he wouldn’t take anything else from her.
But what if, in the fever madness, he thought she was Aylin? What if he was so far gone with bloodlust that he couldn’t control himself? Again, normal vampires were better with self-control, but during the moon fever, Hunter was little more than an animal feeding its basest desires.
Even now, his senses were zeroing in on what he needed, identifying the location of nearby females with the accuracy of Doppler radar. There was one in the room he’d just passed. Six gathered in the common room. Two – with a male – in the storeroom ahead. The scent of blood and sex billowed from it like steam, ramping him up a dozen notches. Sweat bloomed on his hot skin, his mouth watered, and his c**k ached like a son of a bitch.
He shoved open his chamber door. And went on instant alert.
The scent of blood and arousal was coming from the rear of his quarters.
A chill of foreboding rippled up his spine as he eased his way through his office and living area toward the bedroom. He instinctively palmed the hilt of a dagger as he shoved the door open.
He stepped through the doorway and came to a sudden, stunned halt.
Rasha was pinned against the wall, panting softly at what Hunter was pretty sure was the edge of orgasm, her barely clothed body undulating against the big male whose teeth were buried in her throat.
Hunter couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His vision went ebony and crimson, like blood dripping down a black wall, and rage awakened the primal beast inside him. A male he hated on a good day, wanted to kill on the bad ones, had invaded Hunter’s den and was feeding from Hunter’s female. Didn’t matter that Hunter didn’t want the female. She was his, like it or not, and as clan chief, what was his was sacred.
With a roar, he seized Myne by the back of the neck and ripped him away from Rasha. Blood sprayed from the torn wound in her throat, but he barely gave it a thought.
She’d recover. Unfortunately.
Surprise flashed in Myne’s coal eyes as Hunter bashed his fist into his jaw and slammed him into the wall before the guy could recover. “Bastard.” He wrapped his hand around Myne’s throat and pounded his fist into Myne’s face again, savoring the crack of his nose breaking.
Myne pitched to the side to avoid another blow. “It’s not what you think.”
Crack. Fist to the face. “Were you feeding from her?”
Myne spat blood – Rasha’s and his own. “Yes, but —”
Crack. Myne was going to need a good dentist. Maybe the one who had given him the titanium fangs. “Then it’s exactly what I think!”
“He… he forced me,” Rasha said from behind Hunter. Myne’s head whipped around to her, his incredulous stare telling Hunter all he needed to know. Rasha was lying. Myne was a bastard, but he wasn’t a ra**st.
“You understand what you’re saying.” Hunter ground out the words between clenched teeth. “If Myne forced you, it’s a death sentence.”
She lifted her chin. “I’m the firstborn daughter of a second-generation vampire and clan chief.” In other words, she was daring him to call her a liar. Her hand came down on his shoulder, and he shrugged out from under her touch.
“Stay here,” he told her, as he hurled Myne out of the bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
Myne wheeled into the couch, his heavy body cracking the frame. “Dammit, Hunter, listen to me.”
“You were feeding from my mate!” Snarling, Hunter dived, hitting Myne with a full-on tackle. They crashed onto the floor in a tangle. Myne tried to get up, but Hunter was faster, flipping the male onto his back and slamming two hard blows into his ribs.
“She’s not your mate,” he wheezed. “You don’t even want her.”
The truth of that was as infuriating as it was humiliating. And leave it to the one male in the clan Hunter hated most to voice it out loud. In one quick, seamless move, Hunter straddled Myne and decked him hard enough to feel a bone crack. “You disrespected me in my own f**king chamber! We took you in when you were broken. I trusted you. And this is how you repay me?” Fisting Myne’s T-shirt, he shook him hard enough that his skull cracked on the floor. “Did you f**k her?” Say yes and die. And why in the hell was Myne not fighting back?
“You told me that once before. Remember that, ass**le?” Hunter slipped a dagger from his harness, the soft hiss of metal clearing its leather housing the sound of impending death. “You lied then, so why should I believe you now?”
Myne’s black eyes went dead. “You shouldn’t.”
Hunter put the tip of the blade to Myne’s jugular. There was no fear in Myne’s gaze, no resistance in his body. He expected to die and was prepared to go out like a warrior.
And for all of Myne’s faults, he was a warrior. A damned good one. An image of Myne as a boy flirted at the edges of Hunter’s anger. A boy only a few years older than Hunter’s ten-year-old self, standing at the edge of the forest with his brother, both waiting for a decision that would determine the rest of their lives.
Hunter had had to make that decision. To this day, he wondered whether he’d made the right one all those years ago, and it was that doubt that stayed his hand now.
Sheathing his blade, he popped to his feet and stared down at Myne. “Get the f**k out of my sight, because I don’t know how long I can keep myself from eviscerating you.”
Myne didn’t look at Hunter as he staggered to his feet and out of the chamber.
The bedroom door whispered open, and the soft sound of footsteps came toward him.
He smelled fear.
“Please, don’t kill him.” Rasha’s unsteady voice rang with alarm. “And please, don’t let this affect our mating. My father will only blame you.”
“Well, that’s one hell of an apology,” he snapped. “And why in the ever-living f**k would he blame me?”
She had the decency to look away while she explained away her behavior. “Because you’ve ignored my needs. I was forced to do what I must —”
“Forced? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” he said, mimicking a character in one of his favorite classic movies. Gotta love The Princess Bride. So many good lines, so many cool ways to die.
Rasha slid the spaghetti straps of her dress off her shoulders. “Let me make it up to you.”
“Make it up to me?” he sputtered. “You’ve made me look like a fool in my own house!”
“No one has to know.” The skimpy slip slid down her curvy body and pooled at her feet, leaving her na**d and nowhere near as beautiful as her sister.
“I’ll know.” He couldn’t deal with this, couldn’t deal with anything right now, and he headed for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“To feed.” Looking back over his shoulder, he gave her his coldest, cruelest smile, the one his father had had down to an art. “I came to be with you, but it looks like you’ve already been used.”
The tremor started so subtly that Riker didn’t notice until the pictures on the common-room wall began to rattle. He looked up from the pool table, where he, Jaggar, Bastien, and Baddon had been finishing one more game before they went their separate ways to feed.
Well, not Bastien. He hadn’t blooded yet – a miserable event in a young vampire’s life, when he or she felt the first yearnings of moon fever.
Jaggar put the eight ball in a corner pocket. “Earthquake?”
The ground shook under their feet. Baddon’s head whipped up. “I don’t think so.”
“Hunter,” Riker whispered. “Shit.”
He tore out of the room and jogged down the hall toward Hunter’s chambers. Myne, bloody and holding his ribs, came around a corner and slammed into Riker. He snarled and shoved Riker into the wall.
“What the f**k?” Riker held his fists at his sides, but only because someone had already beaten the holy hell out of the other male.
Myne stared, his gaze as empty as it had been when he’d first come to the clan. For a long time, he just stood there, his eyes haunted, his face pale.READ MORE >>