Myne released Riker and stumbled backward. “Sorry,” he rasped. “I…” He shook his head. “Sorry.” He took off, leaving Riker baffled and staring down the hall.
A sudden, dark suspicion spurred Riker on faster now, but he skidded to a halt when the door to Hunter’s chamber flew open. The clan chief stormed out of his quarters, his knuckles shredded, his dark eyes radiating a crimson glow. Instantly, Riker’s suspicion was confirmed. Hunter and Myne had gotten into it.
But this wasn’t like the other times, when both Hunter and Myne walked away with similar injuries. This had been one-sided, and where Myne had smelled like shame, Hunter smelled like murder.
“Hunt.” He grabbed the vampire’s arm, halting him in his tracks. “Obviously, you’re pissed —”
“You have no idea,” Hunter snarled.
Oh, Riker had an idea, all right. “What happened?”
A rumble boiled up from deep in Hunter’s chest. “He fed from Rasha.”
Riker sucked in a sharp breath, his thoughts immediately going to what he knew about Rasha, which was that she was an evil skank. Maybe she’d lied to Hunter. “Who told you that?”
“I saw them!” he roared. “They were in my f**king bedroom.”
Holy shit. So it was true? And Hunter had let Myne live? “Hunt, listen to me. Myne didn’t mean to disrespect you.”
“He betrayed me!” Hunter’s expression was thunderous, his eyes flashing like lightning from a summer storm.
“I know. But I guarantee he’s punishing himself harder right now than you ever could.”
“I doubt that.” Hunter jammed his hand through his hair. “What was he thinking?”
“He was thinking he was hungry.”
“And of all the females he could choose from, he chose mine?”
Riker cursed this situation, not wanting to betray Myne like this but also not wanting Hunter to destroy the guy. “He didn’t just decide at the last minute to screw you over. He’s been feeding from Rasha for years.”
“What?” Hunter’s voice throbbed with warning. He wasn’t happy that this had been kept from him, and Riker didn’t blame him. “Why?”
“No one else will have him,” Riker said carefully. He didn’t want to end up with a rearranged face and broken ribs à la Myne. “Myne’s bite is too painful for other females. No one in our clan will feed him. I’m not sure how he hooked up with Rasha, but it’s the only way he’s been able to feed.”
Hunter scrubbed his hand over his face. “Why didn’t he – or you – say something when Rasha first got here?”
“Because he made arrangements for a female at the Velvet Fang. One who didn’t know how painful his bite is. But when he went into town today, he found out she was killed by a hunter. He got back an hour ago.” Myne had been snappish and jittery, and Riker wished he’d stuck closer to the guy. “He was going to try to find another female. He wanted to stay away from Rasha, but he’s missed a couple of feedings. He was starving. I should have known he couldn’t resist.” Riker squeezed Hunter’s biceps. “Hunt, you need to know that he wouldn’t have approached Rasha. She would have gone to him.”
A muscle in Hunter’s jaw twitched. “Did he lie about not f**king her?”
Riker shook his head. “He knew her father would rain down hell on our clan. He refused to put us in danger.”
Hunter closed his eyes and breathed deep. When he lifted his lids, his eyes no longer burned with anger, but Riker wasn’t sure the icy composure was any better. “Keep him away from me, Rike. Keep him away, or so help me, I’ll kill him.”
The only thing worse than feeding from the chief’s mate would have been to sleep with her. The fact that Hunter and Rasha weren’t formally mated wasn’t important. According to vampire law, touching a clan leader’s potential mate without the leader’s express permission was a grave trespass.
It was within Hunter’s rights as clan chief to slay Myne for what he’d done. He probably should. Many would simply see it as putting down a rogue cur, and no one would question it. Hell, killing Myne would send a strong message to the clan that betrayal wouldn’t be tolerated.
Myne was such a piece of shit. It didn’t matter that his blood feud with Hunter went so far back that no one in the clan was even aware that he and Hunter had clashed long before he became MoonBound’s chief.
Shame tore at him. He had betrayed a pureblood chief. Betrayed the clan that took him in when was barely alive. He couldn’t call himself a warrior. He didn’t deserve that title. Honor gave him only one choice, and that was to leave.
Well, he could kill himself, but that wasn’t going to happen. Myne had learned a long time ago that his sense of self-preservation was extreme.
He shoved the last of his clothes into a duffel and looked around his chambers. Nothing here belonged to him. It never had, he supposed. Hunter had merely allowed him to stay here. Myne had never lived here.
Which, really, was Hunter’s fault. If Hunter had made a different decision all those decades ago, things would have been different. Myne’s brother would still be alive, and Myne wouldn’t be the titanium-toothed freak he was now.
So, really, he could lay the blame for all of this at Hunter’s feet.
Yep, he’d go with that.
There was a light tap on the door, and then it whispered open, and Rasha slipped inside. Mother. Fuck. Seriously? At least she’d changed into a much more modest outfit of jeans and a fluffy blue sweater that matched her eyes.
“Get out,” he growled. If Hunter knew she was here, there’d be no second chances for Myne.
Her demeanor was uncharacteristically subdued, her gaze averted, her stride hesitant. “I only need a minute.”
“Just long enough to make sure Hunter kills me?”
“I’m sorry about that.” She moved forward, her eyes pleading, which had to be an act. “I panicked.”
“So you told him I forced you,” he said flatly. “What the f**k?”
“I said I’m sorry!” she snapped, her moment of contrition expired. “I freaked out —”
“And have you admitted that you lied? Have you told Hunter the truth?” Her pursed lips and silence were enough of an answer. And it wasn’t the answer he’d wanted. “So even now, Hunter could be rounding up a team of warriors to drag me to my execution ceremony.” He had to get the hell out of there. Now.
Rasha shook her head. “If he’d wanted to kill you, he’d have done it in his chamber like any other chief. And even if he was still thinking about it, don’t you think he’d have you chained in the pit right now?”
Or maybe he was trying to make Myne sweat a little before he hauled him off to the chopping block.
“Why are you here, Rasha?” He zipped his duffel and tossed it onto the chair by the door. “To apologize for being a lying bitch? Mission accomplished. So get the hell out.”
Rasha’s cheeks flamed red. “How dare you?” she snarled. “I’m the daughter of a chief, soon to be First Female of a clan. You do not speak to me that way.” She sniffed, going from batshit pissed to calm in a heartbeat. “I came here to apologize. But I can’t have you ruining my future. You need to leave.”
Had she missed the fact that he was packing to do exactly that? But her command rankled, and he found himself pushing back. “And if I say no?”
One corner of her mouth curved into an evil smirk as she grasped the collar of her sweater and ripped it far enough down to reveal cle**age. “I’ll tell everyone you attacked me.”
“You… bitch.” In an instant, he had her by the throat and shoved against the wall. “I despise Hunter to my very marrow, but you know what? I actually feel sorry for him right now. You’re poison, Rasha, a scorpion that can’t change its nature, and not even Hunter deserves to be mated to you.”
She hissed, her fangs extending as her eyes glittered with crimson flecks. “Leave now, wenputi, or I will see to it that you’re executed before sunrise.”
He’d never liked Rasha. Had only tolerated her because she liked pain, and he gave that in abundance when he fed. But whatever small part of him had allowed him even to tolerate her died the moment she called him wenputi, a vampirized Nez Perce word that combined several insults. Orphan. Bastard. Outcast. Beggar. Parasite. Burden. Untrustworthy. Freak.
It had taken him years to accept a place here at MoonBound, and while he’d always remained detached from the other clan members – with the exception of Riker, whom he considered a friend – he’d recently begun to settle in, to participate in clan functions. Riker had played a huge role in that, but so had Bastien. Myne had become the kid’s mentor, teaching him to fight and hunt and ogle females without getting caught. And in return, Bastien had taught Myne how to laugh again.
For the first time ever, Myne had started to feel like he had a home.
Now that rug had been yanked out from under his feet, and, just like it had been for more than two centuries, he was going to be homeless and alone.
Way to feel sorry for yourself, wenputi.
A wintry void hollowed out his chest, ruthlessly scouring away all the warm fuzzies that had been filling the empty places inside him. With a vicious shove, he pushed away from Rasha and slung his duffel over his shoulder.
He didn’t look back as he opened the door and walked out of his chambers. Didn’t look back as he exited clan headquarters and stepped out into the cold night air. Didn’t look back when someone called his name.
Because the truth was that someone would only call after him in his dreams.
The tap on the door almost made Aylin cry. Someone was here to feed from her, and the joy was almost overwhelming.
But so was the anxiety. What if the male on the other side of the door was only here because he was ordered to be? Riker promised that he’d find a willing partner, but what if this “willing” male didn’t know about her birth defect? Would she feel his disgust radiate off him while he took her vein? Could she stand the humiliation?
What if, by some miracle, he’d agreed to more than blood? The moon fever wasn’t just about feeding; it was about breeding. Sex. Putting all pretense of civility aside to assuage carnal hungers that couldn’t be contained.
Aylin wanted that so badly.
Right now, he was probably rolling around in his luxurious bed with Rasha, his fangs in her throat, his na**d body moving with hers.
Nausea bubbled up from her belly, and the tears that had threatened earlier stung her eyes.
Stop it. He isn’t yours. He never was. He never will be.
Ruthlessly, she banished his name from her mind. The knock sounded again, this time louder. Harder. More urgent. Someone was hungry.
Inhaling deeply, she opened the door.
Baddon stood there, his shiny sable hair shoved away from his face in wild waves, his mocha eyes gleaming with barely contained hunger, his fangs glinting through full, parted lips. Erotic energy pulsed from his leather-clad body in waves she could feel on her skin and deeper, all the way to her core. She nearly swayed with the intensity of it.
This was what a male in the throes of moon fever was like.
Obviously, she’d been around males on the night of the full moon, but she’d never been the focus of a male’s attention. She’d never known what she was missing.
Damn, but she’d been missing.
“Hi,” he said. Such a short, simple word, but behind it was a whole lot of promise. “Can I come in?”
She swallowed. Instantly, Baddon’s gaze snapped down to her throat, and his fangs lengthened even more, until they were putting dimples in his lower lip.
“Um, y-yes,” she stuttered, feeling like a fool.
Slowly, with a casual swagger that belied the intensity in his expression, he sauntered over to her, his black boots striking the floor with heavy thuds. When he was mere inches away, he hooked his finger under her chin. Was he going to… surely not…
Dipping his head, he pressed his lips to hers. For a long moment, Aylin was too freaked out to be anything but shocked. Eventually, her senses came back online, and the warmth of Baddon’s lips penetrated her stunned brain. His kiss was firm, not gentle, but not brutal, either. Not that Aylin had much in the way of comparison.
And oh, Great Spirit have mercy, Hunter could kiss.
Baddon’s mouth moved over hers as he backed her up against the wall and covered her body with his. “Don’t be afraid,” he murmured, his husky voice rolling through her like the first stirrings of orgasm. “I won’t hurt you.”
You already have. I want you to be someone else.
Baddon couldn’t have known what she was thinking, but he pulled back and frowned down at her. “If you don’t want this, tell me now. The moon fever is rising, and it won’t be long until I —”
“Can’t control yourself?” She’d seen males at ShadowSpawn turn into little more than animals during the full moon.
One corner of his mouth turned up in a lazy, lopsided grin. “I was going to say I get grumpy, but whatever.”
Charmed, she relaxed enough to nod. “I want this.”
“What about Hunter?”
She started. “What about him?”
“He’s my chief, so if this is going to cause problems, I need to know now.”
Oh, sweet Maker, what did Baddon know? “Why would this cause problems?”READ MORE >>