She was being much gentler than he thought she’d be. Rasha had always struck him as the sex-is-a-battle type of vampire, a female who would never give any male an inch of advantage, even in bed.
Especially in bed.
Cradling her head against his throat, he smoothed his hand up to her slim waist and over her rib cage. Her warmth radiated through her T-shirt, and her desire radiated from her entire body as he swept his thumb across the swell of her breast.
She gasped, breaking the seal on his throat, and a wet rivulet flowed down his skin. Her tongue flicked out to catch the stream, licking upward in a lazy, sensual stroke. When she reached the puncture from her bite, she latched on again, drawing like she was starving. He shouted at the ecstasy of it and thrust against her as though he was already inside her.
“Keep doing that.” His voice was a guttural rasp he could barely hear over the sound of his pulse drumming in his ears. “Harder. Suck me harder.”
A petite snarl rose in her throat, and if he thought he’d been hard before, now he went painfully rod-stiff. His balls joined the party, throbbing and aching inside the prison of his denim pants.
“That’s it, Rasha.” He closed his palm over her breast. “Fuck, yeah, just… like… that.”
She went taut. Her lips quivered against his throat, and then suddenly, she was wedging her hands between their bodies and shoving against him. “Get off me.”
Baffled, his brain clouded by lust, he blinked. “What?”
“Get off me!” she shouted.
Whoa, what had triggered her psycho switch? He reared back onto his knees, and she scrambled out from under him until she was backed against the log wall. Panic and fear and… hurt?… turned the blue of her eyes murky.
“What’s the matter? Did I hurt you?” He reached for her, but she rolled off the futon and landed awkwardly on her feet.
Her hair was as wild as the feral look in her eyes as she stood there, panting and staring at him as if he were a grizzly bear and not the male who had saved her life and would soon be her mate.
“Dammit, say something.” He stood, and his sudden movement sent her scooting sideways toward the bed, as far away from him as she could get. Her limp made him curse inwardly. He had hurt her. He was such an ass**le. “You’re still in pain. With the feeding, I figured your wound would have been mostly healed by now.”
“It’s not the wound.” She swallowed hard, and he abruptly got a very bad feeling. “It’s me.”
The bad feeling widened into a cold, dark, gaping cavern, and his temper, fueled by unquenched lust, jumped in to fill the void. “Explain!” he barked. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?” She made a harsh sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “It’s the same thing that’s always been wrong. I’m not Rasha. I’m Aylin.” She jabbed her finger into her sternum. “You’ve been making out with the wrong twin.”
Aylin couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so humiliated. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so stupid.
She’d always prided herself on the fact that out of everyone in the clan, she was the most educated. Most of the other clan members, even those who had been born human, were too old to have benefited from modern education. But even those few who had gotten a decent education didn’t have a chance to keep their minds sharp. Her father didn’t permit anything but the most basic literature to be brought into the clan.
Aylin alone had been allowed to have books, and that was only because her father couldn’t read English beyond an elementary-school level and wanted Aylin to be useful. But when she’d started questioning his decisions, the clan’s dependence on the Raven way of life, and the world around them, he’d suddenly forbidden her to read.
Rasha had smuggled books to her every time she went to a human settlement. It had always been worth the beatings when she got caught with a book, whether it was a dime-store Western or a college text about physics. Aylin might not have been able to understand everything between the covers of the technical books, but she read every word. Ultimately, just flipping through them gave her pleasure.
So no, she’d never considered herself to be stupid.
She’d just been so happy to find a male who wasn’t completely repulsed by her. She’d been so thrilled, in fact, that she was prepared to take things as far as Roger would go. Especially because if she lost her virginity, there was a chance – a slight one, but a chance nonetheless – that her mating with the chief from NightShade would be called off.
“Aylin?” Roger stared at her, obviously horrified. “You’re Aylin?”
Then his horror and surprise veered sharply to anger, and in a move so fast she could barely track it, let alone prepare for it, he had her by the throat and backed against the wall.
“What game is this? A ShadowSpawn plot to derail the mating? Or is this some twisted twin prank?” He squeezed so hard she coughed, and then he let up, allowing her a huge gulp of sweet, fresh air. “Answer me.”
“How dare you,” she ground out. “How dare you accuse me of being deceptive. I thought you knew who I was. But you…” She sneered. “You believed I was Rasha. So what game are you playing? Either you’re disloyal to your clan and are willing to bed the female who is going to be Hunter’s mate, or Hunter wanted you to screw her so he could call off the mating and save face. So which is it, Roger? Were you risking death by betraying your leader with his future mate, or are you following the orders of a coward with no honor?”
“Coward? No honor?” He released her and stepped back, his expression a deadly mask of cold rage. “Maybe there’s another explanation.”
“Such as the fact that I thought you were Rasha… and I’m Hunter.”
“But I heard…” She trailed off, her argument unformed and unimportant at this point.
She’d just done something she’d never done before, and she’d done it with the one male on the planet she shouldn’t have done it with. The male who would, in a few short weeks, belong to her sister.
It didn’t matter that it was to be a mating of convenience and that Rasha didn’t even like Hunter. Hell, Aylin had overheard Rasha and their father planning for the future of MoonBound after Hunter’s death – and it hadn’t sounded like they were thinking far into the future.
No, none of that mattered. Rasha might not even care about the fact that Aylin damn near screwed her mate-to-be, but their father… if he ever found out, he’d kill her. Literally. Without Rasha around to moderate his punishments, he could very well end her.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t know. I thought your name was Roger.”
He scowled, and it wasn’t fair that he was handsome doing even that. “Why the hell would you think that?”
He made it sound like she’d pulled the name out of thin air. “I heard Riker call you Roger,” she said, a little irritably.
“Not Roger. Roger. As in, affirmative.” Hunter dragged his hand over his face. “He was giving me a positive response to my order.”
Well, sure, it all made sense now. Now that they were away from her human captors and she was no longer afraid for her life.
Hunter shifted his stance, and Aylin made the mistake of dropping her gaze. It was impossible to miss the impressive bulge behind the fly of his jeans. Part of her wanted to groan with embarrassment. But a larger part of her wanted to puff up with pride for being the one to put it there.
“Why did you tell that human scumbag that your name was Rasha?”
Ah, so that was why he’d thought she was her twin. “I hoped that if he thought I was valuable enough, he’d let my sister go to arrange a ransom payment.”
“And then your father would come and rescue you.”
“Exactly.” Although, to be honest, she wasn’t sure Kars would have done that. If he had, it wouldn’t be to rescue his precious daughter. It would be for the opportunity to butcher humans and to punish the people who took something of his. Even if that something was Aylin.
“Is that why you were traveling with Rasha? To act as a decoy?”
Yes. But she wasn’t going to tell him that. Who wanted to admit to being disposable? “I’m attending her until your official mating ceremony.”
“Fuck.” Hunter swiped the open bottle of whiskey from the table where he’d left it. He drained fully a quarter of the deep amber liquid before finally lowering it from those full, sensual lips. He held it out to her. “Want some?”
With the electric effects of his blood coursing through her system, she didn’t need the alcohol. But she snatched the bottle anyway and took a sip.
She might as well have been swallowing kerosene. She coughed and wheezed, her eyes watering madly.
“Not used to drinking, huh?” He took the bottle from her.
“What was your first clue?” she rasped. “The choking or the crying?”
He laughed, a deep, masculine sound that vibrated the air and her blood. “The whiskey face. Best one ever.”
“I’m not used to whiskey,” she said. “At ShadowSpawn, everyone drinks hollywine.” Everyone but her, anyway. She had so little control over her life as it was; she didn’t need to give up more by drowning her senses in alcohol.
Hunter’s laugh died away. “Hollywine?” He shook his head. “That shit is bad news.”
Yes, it was. Made from holly berries that were toxic to humans, hollywine hit vampires fast and hard, and while it had the effect of delivering a massive dose of euphoria and enhancing sexual appetites and performance, it made some vampires rage out. She was pretty sure the liquor was also responsible for making a few of their clan members insane.
“So MoonBound doesn’t make it?”
“Hell, no.” He swigged from the bottle, and she wondered if he realized the irony of scorning one type of alcohol while scarfing another. “You need to stay away from it.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “And there we go again with you ordering me around.”
His gaze dropped and flicked back up to her eyes, but she could have sworn he’d been looking at her br**sts. And dammit, the very thought made them ache all over again. “Nothing’s changed,” he said gruffly. “You might not be Rasha, but I’m still responsible for you while you’re a guest of my clan.”
“Yes, well, since you already said your clan doesn’t serve hollywine, it’s pointless to order me not to drink it, isn’t it?” She cocked an eyebrow. “Unless you think your order will stand after I leave. Which is pretty arrogant.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, and she wondered if she’d just pushed him too far. “I don’t care what you do after you leave. But while you’re with my clan, you do as we do.”
She sank down onto the futon again, hoping to ease the throbbing in her leg. “And what is it that you do?”
One shoulder rolled in an easy shrug. “We hunt, feed, train, play… we do what everyone does.”
“Play” was what ShadowSpawn members did with their food. “I don’t like to play.”
Hunter frowned, the dim light putting deep shadows in the hard-cut planes of his face. “How can you not like to play?”
She shrugged. “I just don’t.” Best not to explain that she didn’t like to see anyone or anything suffer. Not even humans. Too many years of being at the mercy of others had given her too much insight into how terrifying it was. She was a terrible vampire.
“Then you’re doing it wrong.” He pivoted around and opened a cabinet that held a small television and something called a Nintendo 5th Dimension. He tossed her a controller thingie. “Let’s kick some classic Super Mario ass.”
Video games? That was what he meant by playing? She couldn’t help but laugh.
Oh, Rasha, you are really going to hate this male.
And didn’t it figure that Aylin really liked him?
Myne strode through the candlelit cavern with purpose, thinking that the only way there could be more tension in the cave was if they were sharing it with a bear. And actually, Myne would rather deal with a bear than with the ShadowSpawn wench.
Riker and Katina had laid out supplies from one of several stashes hidden throughout the system of tunnels that MoonBound had long ago appropriated for use during emergencies, and while a blizzard counted as a crisis of sorts, Myne figured it was nothing compared with the chaos that Hunter’s mating with Rasha would bring. Myne wasn’t sure if his ability to sense impending doom was a gift, a curse, or just his imagination, but he was sure that the pressure in his chest was a warning. Of what, he had no idea.
She was crouched down in the dirt at the rear of the cavern, pawing through a backpack. As always, the sight of her kicked off a Pavlovian response, and his mouth watered. He hated that about himself, that his body could betray him so blatantly.
Standing, she smiled. At least, he was going to call the slight baring of her teeth a smile. “I was wondering when you’d acknowledge my presence.”
“Had to happen eventually.”
“And best not in front of Hunter, right?” She brought her hand up to her throat, where she trailed her finger along the pulsing vein in her neck. “How are you feeling, by the way? Coming up on month four without a moon feeding, aren’t you?” She flicked a fingernail against her throat, and a drop of blood welled on her lightly tanned skin. “Moon-blood deprivation is setting in, isn’t it? I’ll bet you get cramps at night and your vision is starting to blur. You feel like your body is caving in on itself.”READ MORE >>