Words seem to evade me as I just stare back at Ryder. He adjusts himself and I can see the bulge from where his dick is already hard. I close my mouth so that I don’t drool all over my expensive, designer heels. A smirk plays across his face as he realizes I’m just as turned on by him as he is by me. None of this makes any sense. Our heated conversations shouldn’t stir lust between us…but it does.Read More
Though she didn’t believe him, Jeff promised Sara he’d read to Trista tonight, taking no more than two hours reviewing surveillance. He worked his schedule to spend the first hour watching the Gatekeeper in real-time as he arrived, and the second hour emailing and speeding through the day’s feed.
The Gatekeeper came into view as Jeff’s doorbell rang. Jeff stepped out of his office and got to the door in time to see Sara peering through the peephole. She scowled at Jeff as she opened it, revealing Steven dressed in a Star Trek t-shirt, leather jacket, steel-toed boots, jeans, and a ridiculous purple bandanna around his neck.
Steven waved. “Hi, Sara.”
“Steven.” She glared at Jeff. “Two hours, Jeff, and not one minute more.”
Steven grinned and made a whip-cracking motion with widening eyes as Sara returned to the living room.
Yeah,” Jeff muttered, “I’m lucky I’m still in the house. Come on in. I’m watching the gatekeeper.”
“Sweet!” Steven followed Jeff back into the office, setting his backpack down and pulling up a stool while Jeff returned to his chair. They huddled around the television. “Man, we haven’t done this in a while.”
Jeff cracked a smile. “Yeah, it’s been months since we’ve had a good ole fashioned sit-down. Aren’t you supposed to be out cruising the wild?”
Steven shrugged while glancing about the office; empty wrappers and gadgets strewn about. “I was in the neighborhood. I’m still on my vacation time though, so I’ll be headed back out for parts unknown.”
Jeff nudged him. “You were feeling guilty.”
Steven tilted his head. “Yeah, maybe a little. But I was serious when I said that I needed some time away from all this s***. The open road is the open road, and I got an urge I need to satisfy.” Steven pumped his fists and rocked his hips.
Jeff laughed while tucking away some unpaid bills on his desk.
“I decided to go south to the Carolinas,” Steven continued. “Through Tennessee and Missouri, then Ohio and back here. Tomorrow I’ll head out north, possibly all the way to Canuck-land. Who knows? I’ll figure it out when I get there.”
“Meanwhile…” Jeff began.
“Meanwhile, you’re fightin’ the good fight,” Steven added in a southern accent while eyeing the television. The Gatekeeper lounged in a brown leather chair, watching the fire as he did every day. A small table stood to his immediate right and another leather chair on the other side. His black leather fedora rested on the middle table.
Forty minutes into the video, a young man approached the Gatekeeper. Jeff leaned forward, snatched a notepad and mini pen from his back pocket, and scribbled notes on the paper.
Steven scrutinized the unfolding scene. “Easy, killer, just watch.”
The young man tried to sit before jerking still. He stood back up.
“I wish we had audio,” Jeff muttered.
“Shhh, just watch.” Steven strained to read their lips. The camera angles shot out both ways from the fireplace, giving them the perfect view. The Gatekeeper and his new friend began a conversation. Then the young man grabbed hold of the fedora and set it on his head, tapping the edge.
“Holy s***,” Jeff said. “That’s the Gatekeeper’s hat. He either knows exactly what he’s doing, or he has a death wish.”
“Mmmhm, we’ll see.”
They knew what would happen after the Gatekeeper verified the Soulstealer’s identity. They had learned about the procedure back when a much stronger Solis America infiltrated the Raptor’s former headquarters in Boston. Still, they could only guess at what words the two exchanged. The Raptors guarded the secret with a foolproof method: memorization.
The young man sat in the chair, back erect, and continued their dialogue. He took the Gatekeeper’s hat off and returned it to the table, tapping it again. The newcomer said something else, prompting the Gatekeeper to snatch his fedora, stand, and stride toward the VIP section.
The young man made no motion to follow, which they knew wasn’t part of the procedure unless the exchange failed. When the Gatekeeper left the room, the young man exited the bar the way he came.
Steven frowned. “That’s different.”
“What just happened?” Jeff asked.
“Looks like a failed attempt.”
“Yeah, but the guy knew what to do.”
“Or he was just a dumb drunk. It’s probably the Raptors messing with us again.”
“How could they know we’re still watching them?”
Steven gave Jeff a long look. “Jeff, they’ve probably been in your house a dozen times this year alone. I’m pretty sure they know.”
Jeff drew back, his voice trembling. “That’s not funny, Steven. I have a little girl in this house.” His eyes darted around the room as paranoia enveloped him.
“C’mon Jeff, they’re the Raptors. They have dossiers on every one of us, down to what kind of ice cream we like. We’ve been playing Spy vs. Spy since we figured out they supported the Soulstealer.”
“Is that your new name for it, the Soulstealer?”
“Catchy, isn’t it? I came up with it on the ride back. Sounds a lot better than ‘Stealer of Souls,’ or ‘Dracula.’ And Satan.”
As he stepped up, Olivia rolled down the window and placed both hands on the steering wheel as Brent had taught her to do. The officer removed his sunglasses and tucked them into his shirt pocket. Olivia jerked, taken aback by the vividness of his deep blue eyes. A tidal wave of heat gushed over her cheeks as she took in his rugged features. She was mortified at the attraction that pinged through her. Why did he have to be so dang good-looking? And why did he have to exude such a bad-boy, reckless vibe that called to her inner soul? It didn’t hurt that he filled out his cop uniform well with his cut biceps and masculine forearms. Great gravity, he was nice to look at.
His gaze lingered on her a moment too long, and then he seemed to catch himself. “Good afternoon,” he began in a brisk tone. “May I see your license and registration?”
It happened again. Their eyes connected, sending all rational thoughts flying out the window. When a tiny smile tugged at a corner of the officer’s mouth, Olivia found herself grinning back like a goober.
His quirk of amusement gave her the jolt she needed to return to her senses. Good grief, she was acting like a moonstruck idiot! She’d always been a sucker for cops. Add in his stunning good looks and sense of arrogance, and she was a goner for sure.
“Your license and registration,” he prompted
She snapped out of her daze. No way could she get involved with another cop. Hadn’t she had enough heartache over Brent to last her a lifetime? Danger followed cops, or rather cops followed danger. She owed it to Ryan and to herself to find a guy who had a stable, predictable job.
What the freaky Frankenstein was she thinking! Here she was contemplating a future … or squelching any chance of a future with some guy who probably wasn’t remotely interested in her. He was simply doing his job. The eye-locking thing was probably a figment of her imagination—proof that she was in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. She was getting twitter-pated over nothing. Was the guy even single? She glanced at his ring finger and felt a curious blip of relief when she saw the naked strip of skin over that all-important finger. Of course, just because he wasn’t wearing a ring didn’t mean that he wasn’t involved with someone.
“Uh, sure,” she stammered as she turned to find her purse. She glanced down at the floorboard and Arden’s feet only to realize that her purse was in the back seat. She was twisting around to get it when Arden caught hold of her arm.
“I’ve got this.” Arden’s voice rang out both confident and indignant.
Crumb! Arden was about to get on her high horse. This was bound to end poorly.
“Officer, do you have any idea who this is?” She looked at Olivia as she spoke.
He raised an eyebrow in faint amusement. “A woman who was speeding in a school zone,” he quipped dryly.
Olivia’s jaw dropped. “I was not speeding! I slowed down.”
He didn’t back down in the slightest. “When you saw my car. And for the record, you didn’t slow down soon enough.”
“I never saw your car.” Anger blanketed her, hot and furious. “I slowed down the instant I saw the sign. That sign should be displayed more prominently,” she added defensively.
He smirked. “If it had been a snake, it would’ve bitten you. License and registration,” he demanded, looking her in the eye.
It went through Olivia’s mind that the guy was a jerk. She should be outraged about the snake wisecrack. But right now, she couldn’t think straight. She was feeling things she never thought she’d feel again—the stir of ribbons through her stomach, the flush of warmth over her skin, the heady sizzle of energy pulsing through her like a fireball.
“Fine,” she spouted as she turned to get her purse. Placing it in her lap, she reached for her wallet and slid out her license. As she handed it over, her hand brushed against the cop’s, rustling awareness through her. Okay, this idiotic attraction was out of control. She turned to Arden, her discomfort spewing out in irritation. “Don’t just sit there like a ninny. Get the registration out of the glovebox.”
A sharp click echoed in the room, and everyone froze. The Russian’s cocked pistol pointed at Tato. “Are you resisting orders? If you are, we will have to label you an enemy of the people. We all know what happens to enemies of the people. I could shoot you right now, and nobody would care.”
Katya’s head buzzed. All the anger she’d felt morphed into sheer terror as she stared at her Tato. His beet-red face glistened with sweat and his hands curled slowly into fists, the anger crackling off him like a hungry fire seeking fuel. If someone didn’t intercede, he would be shot for attempting to murder Prokyp with his bare hands.
Mama, too, saw his inner struggle, for she stepped in front of Tato and spoke calmly. “I apologize for my husband’s behavior. He’s overprotective of his daughters. He didn’t mean what he said. We’ll cooperate, I swear it.”
The Russian smirked and lowered his gun. Dropping Alina’s hand, Katya pulled her father into a hug and spoke in his ear. “Please, Tato, there is no harm done, but we can’t lose you. Please.” She felt the tension lessen from his body, but vibrations of anger still throbbed like the veins on his neck.
Prokyp watched the scene with amusement, then sauntered back over to his cohorts, smiling. The Russian turned to him and asked with complete sincerity, “Have you been offended by this man? What would you like to do, Comrade?”
Prokyp glanced at Tato and then at Alina, who was white as a sheet, but holding her head high as Mama had taught them to. Katya’s legs wobbled, so she locked her knees and held her breath as they waited for this fool to decide the fate of their family.
“I suppose I can overlook it this once, as long as he and his family promise to cooperate fully in the future.” His gaze lingered on Alina. “But we shall have to check back here often to make sure they are behaving.”
Another activist pushed into the house with a large sack of wheat balanced on his shoulder. “I found this, and another just like it, hidden in the barn loft.”
Katya’s heart sank. She’d worried the wheat in the barn wasn’t hidden well enough, but Tato thought it safe out of sight beneath the hay.
“You can’t take that!” Tato shouted. “It’s my seed for planting this fall!”
“This will pay your quota. For now.” The Russian Soviet waved a hand dismissively, as if suddenly bored by them. “Come, we must move to the next house.”
The woman cast an apologetic look toward Mama and hurried behind the men as they left. The door swung wildly in their wake, and none of them moved until Tato strode forward and slammed it shut, though not before Katya saw the activists’ cart stacked high with sacks of grain, just like the ones they’d taken from the barn.Read More
“Lasses, there’s plenty o’ me to go around.” Kin held his hands up and smiled.
The three succubi sank into each other on a sigh.
“Did you hear that voice?” Pink-hair said with a dreamy smile at her sisters.
The shorter, brunette female swayed towards her. “Did I? When was the last time we had a Scot?”
“Makes me ache just hearing it. Do you think he knows how to put it to good use? I could probably feed off him just talking to me!” The older of the three, a pretty button-nosed blonde, edged her hand towards him.
Kin grinned down at them, aware they were saying whatever it took to lure him under their spell and make him part with his coin, but enjoying it nonetheless. “I’m here on business, but perhaps I could be enticed to take a small break from my hunt… if you would be so inclined to help me.”
“Be so inclined?” Pink-hair swayed towards him now, hunger lighting her eyes. “Darling, I’ll do whatever you want if it will get you into my bed for the night.”
“Our bed,” Brunette snapped.
“Yes, our bed.” Blonde licked her lips.
All three of them sidled closer, crowding him as they gazed adoringly at him, as if he had just fallen out of Heaven or a dream. Their scents swirled around him, fogging his head a little, and he focused his mind, on his guard against them because he had no intention of parting with his coin or indulging these succubi in any way.
Mostly because he would probably end up parting with his life.
As strong as he was, he wasn’t sure he could handle three succubi feeding on him.
He drew down a breath as he tried to decide how to ask them about Hella and the fog in his head grew thicker as an intoxicating scent filled his lungs.
Like a blend of fresh rain on heather moorland faintly spiced with cinnamon.
Kin breathed deeper, unable to get enough of the scent, and his muscles clamped down on his bones as his blood heated. His wolf side lunged to the fore and his fangs lengthened, his claws emerging as hunger rolled through him, fiercer than he had ever felt it before.
It was a trick.
A power the succubi were wielding to pull him under their spell and into their bed.
Only when he bent his head to sniff their necks and scent them, it wasn’t any of them who smelled so enticing.
He groaned as his cock stiffened in response to the scent as it grew stronger and seemed to invade every cell in his body and hijack it. His head clouded more rapidly, thoughts blurring and fading to the background as instinct stole control. He desperately scanned the crowd on the promenade, seeking the source of the scent.
And froze when his gaze landed on a stunning, blue-haired lass with emerald eyes.
A chill skated down his spine and his shaft went hard as stone.
It was her.
She was the source of the scent.
She was his fated one.
He felt it in his bones. His soul. This female had been made for him, was meant for only him, and she would be his. He shoved the succubi aside, unaware of them now, the world narrowing down to the beautiful lass fate had created for him.
MacKinnon drifted towards her, powerless to resist her pull. The need to be close to her was strong and she hadn’t even noticed him yet. How desperate would he be to be near to her, pressed against her and holding her in his arms when she did see him? The urge to gather her to him was already overwhelming, his awareness of the world coming back as instinct growled that his female was parading down a busy street in a black dress that highlighted her figure.
Drawing the eyes of other males.
She stiffened, her body locking up tight.
Was she aware of him?
He tracked the path of her gaze as she tossed a look over her shoulder.
To a group of bare-chested nymphs.
Her panic hit him like a shockwave, rocking him back on his heels, and he growled and kicked off as the dozen blond males made their move, launching towards her. He wasn’t sure what his female had done to deserve the wrath of a witch or a pack of nymphs, and he didn’t care. Every fibre of his being howled at him to protect her and he would do just that. He charted an intercept course, shoving men and women aside, not caring where they landed as he locked his gaze on the two nymphs leading the charge.
He sensed the female move.
Felt her fear.
Instinct demanded he go to her, had him twisting on his heel and barrelling into two shifter males. The black-haired men went down hard and he leaped over them, ignoring their yells, his gaze wild as he sought the witch.
A larger nymph had her in his clutches and was holding her tightly despite her attempts to break free.
Kin snarled and gnashed his fangs when her fear cranked up a notch and he spotted the reason why.
The bastard had cuffed her.
The bright silver band of metal around her delicate wrist glinted in the sunlight as she desperately struggled.
Kin grabbed a female and pushed her out of his way, into a group of males, his heart hammering as the other nymphs reached Hella.
Her green eyes shone with terror as she looked up at the male who held her, one who towered as tall as Kin and probably weighed as much in muscle. Not that it was going to stop Kin from tearing the male a new one and teaching him the error of his ways.
No one touched his fated female.
Kin cocked his fist as he lunged towards the bastard, aiming at the back of his head, determined to knock his teeth out from behind.
He threw the punch as soon as he was close enough.
And hit nothing but air as the fiend teleported.
Taking his wee witch with him.