“I stay in California. He stays in Mexico.” A pause. “For the most part. We stay behind our boundary lines and no one gets ripped apart.” His fingers lifted and brushed down her cheek. “When shifters tangle, the blood flows fast.”
Every part of him seemed to surround her then. His body was too big. His eyes too intense. The wild, woodsy scent that clung to his skin filled her nostrils.
“Jess had a few stories to tell about you.” His finger slid under the curve of her chin, forcing her to keep looking into those bright eyes. “And now I’ve got some more questions for you, Sarah.”
Oh, she just bet he did. But he wouldn’t be able to spot a lie now. Her heartbeat was already racing hard enough to shake her chest.
“Did you kill one of Jess’s men?”
“What?” Not the first question she’d anticipated.
His fingers trailed down her neck. He leaned in close and his lips pressed lightly against the base of her throat. “Did you kill a coyote on your way to find me?”
The tip of his tongue lapped her skin. Her hands flew up and caught his shoulders. Held tight. “No.”
His fingers eased down her shirt, pausing in the hollow between her breasts. “You sure about that? Jess seemed pretty certain you and your charmer lover murdered his coyote.”
Her charmer lover? “John wasn’t . . .”
The back of his hand brushed her breast. She sucked in a sharp breath and realized she had a death grip on his shoulders. Sarah forced her hands to ease their tight hold. “He wasn’t my lover.” Her voice came out too husky and soft.
“But Rafe was?”
“Yes.” So she had a weakness for bad boys. A weakness that was lifting its head again. Didn’t you learn anything before? Bad boys were fun for a while, until they turned on you.
His hands were on her body, steady, strong. He eased her back, walking slowly, until her legs bumped against the bed.
“Your lover put a bounty on your head.”
“He didn’t take rejection well.” True, but he also hadn’t wanted her to get away from him, not when she knew so much.
“Um . . .” That growling rumble vibrated from deep in his chest. “How much are you worth to him?”
His fingers skated down her bare arms. The flesh seemed hypersensitive to his touch. “Two hundred grand.”
One brow rose.
“Th-that’s what the coyotes said, you heard them in the park—”
“Coyotes lie.” His lips brushed the hollow of her throat. “And I think you do, too, babe.”
True. But was lying to protect yourself so wrong? “Three hundred grand.” That really was the truth.
“Dead?” He asked quietly, the whisper at her throat. “Or alive?”
She flinched. “Does it matter?”
“To me, it matters one hell of a lot.” Then he moved, fast, pushing her down and Sarah’s back hit the soft mattress. She didn’t have time to twist or jump out of the way because he was on her instantly, covering her with his body and trapping her on the bed.
“Playtime’s over,” he told her, no sensual heat in his eyes. Just hard, cold wolf.
His voice might have been arctic, but the body pressing against hers seemed to burn with fever, and there was no mistaking the fierce bulge of his cock as it pressed against her.
Sarah’s hands shoved at his shoulders. “I don’t know what you—”
He caught her wrists, held them tight in one hand, then he twisted and his right hand shot down to the bottom of her jeans. Oh, shit, no, he knew.
It only took about two seconds for his fingers to find the ankle sheath. His eyes glittered down at her.
Fear dried her mouth. “L-Lucas . . .” I can explain stuck in her throat.
He pulled out her knife. The light glinted off its sharpened edge. “I’m guessing the blade is made out of silver.” He turned the knife a bit, inspecting it. Then he stretched over her again. The strong hand that held her wrists jerked high, forcing her hands over her head.
And he brought the knife in close. “It is silver, right?” Not the handle, or his flesh would be burning, but . . . “Yes, the blade is silver.” The knife was way too close to her throat for comfort.
What do you know about him? The voice of doubt she’d heard all during that long drive to LA.
What did she know?
That he was a killer.
That he led the most vicious wolf pack on the West Coast. That he’d fought a band of vampires to free his brother. Loyal. He might be a walking nightmare to some, but Lucas had protected Jordan. She’d heard that story about him, managed to steal that tale from the minds of the wolves. Lucas had attacked a Born Master Vampire—and Born Masters were the strongest of those blood-sucking vamps—for his brother. He’d risked his life to save Jordan’s.
A guy who did that couldn’t be all bad. Right?
But that blade was so close to her throat.
“Have you ever used this knife on anyone?”
He already knew the answer. He’d known that she had the knife, so that meant the coyotes had told him about her and Rafe. “Yes.”
“On your lover?” He shook his head. “Tell me, did Rafe put the bounty on your head before or after you tried to take his heart?”
This wasn’t looking good. She sucked in a breath, tried to exhale, and realized her breasts were crushed against his chest.
“Before . . . or after, Sarah?” Harder now, angrier.
His gaze seemed to bore into hers. “So you come here, you tell me that a rival wolf is out to kill me, that he’s put a bounty on your head, but you neglect to mention that you drove a silver knife into the guy’s chest?” He rose above her and his fingers tightened around the knife. “Is this some damn setup? Do you get off on pitting two wolves against each other?”
Oh, hell. “Lucas!”
He threw the knife. It flew, end-over-end, and embedded hilt-deep in the far wall.
“Why did you attack him, Sarah?”
“Because he was trying to kill me,” she snarled because she was afraid and she was tired and she was angry. Why? Why’d this hell happen to her? “When a six-foot-four asshole comes at me with claws and fangs, I’m going to fight back.”
“And you just happened to have a silver knife? Handy, having that.”
“John gave me the knife.”
“He told you to use it on Rafe?”
And on you, if it comes to that. She nodded.
“The coyotes just swore they had my back,” he told her. “The alpha killed the two men who attacked you—he wanted to make amends for their actions.”
Death was the way to make amends? A shiver worked over her flesh.
“Rafe has never come at me,” Lucas said, “Never attacked. I haven’t even heard a whisper that he’s eyeing my territory.”
She couldn’t see anything but him. He was all around her. Hard muscles. Angry eyes. Dark, rumbling voice.
The faint lines around his eyes deepened. “But you come here, and you sneak in a silver knife. What were you planning to do? Wait for a moment when I’m weak? Maybe try to stab me when I sleep so you can take me out?”
His head lowered and his mouth feathered over hers in the lightest of kisses. She hadn’t expected the sensual touch and heat flooded through her. Even now . . . want him.
The adrenaline in her blood was spiking. The anger and fear mixed with the need the man could stir too easily. His mouth . . .
Sarah tried to pull back.
His tongue licked her lip. “Tell me . . . did you think you’d fuck me and slip past my guard?”
Her head lifted. She caught his lower lip with her teeth. Nipped him. Hard. Time for him to see that she could bite, too. “No, dammit.” The driving need trembled in her voice.
His tongue swiped over his lip, as if tasting her mark. “Then tell me what the fuck is really happening.”
“I have! Rafe is coming after you. He’s coming after me. He won’t stop until we’re both dead.” The hard length of his aroused flesh pressed against her sex, and Sarah couldn’t control the small arch she made against him.
His gaze searched hers, probably saw too much. Then he nodded, the move quick and grim.
Oh, great, now what—
“I guess we’ll just have to make sure we kill him first,” Lucas said, and then he gave her what she’d wanted—he pressed his mouth to hers. A hard, hot kiss.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a woman had set him up to die. Pretty women were used as bait by all sorts of paranormals and even by humans.
So maybe Sarah was screwing him over. Maybe he’d be a fool to trust her, but right then, one thing was clear to Lucas.
He fucking wanted her.
Her scent filled his head. Drove him crazy. She was all curves and silken flesh beneath him. Her hands were on him, holding tight to his shoulders as she urged him closer.
Sarah wasn’t shoving him away because she was afraid of the beast he carried. She knew just how deadly he could be, and the woman still wanted him.
He could smell her arousal in the air.
She twisted beneath him, her hips pushing against his aroused flesh.
Was this the kind of response she’d given to that bastard Rafe? His hands flew away from her. He grabbed the bedcovers, and his claws sliced right through the fabric.
But he kept kissing her because he couldn’t let her mouth go. The woman’s taste was addictive.
She moaned low in her throat and the sound vibrated in his mouth. Her breasts stabbed at his chest, the nipples tight and tempting.
Sarah turned her head, tearing her lips from his. “I shouldn’t . . . want you.” The words were gasped out.
And they really pissed him off. “Because of what I am?” Maybe it was there, after all. Hiding beneath her surface. Fuck a monster, but fear him.
But she shook her head, sending those thick locks of hair sliding back over her cheeks. “Because this isn’t me.” Whispered now. “I don’t . . . I don’t respond this way normally.”
Were her cheeks red? Her heartbeat drummed so fast it shook her chest. He stared down at her, claws still in the bed, and wondered what the hell he was supposed to do with her.
Both were instincts from the beast. The same instincts he’d had from the beginning. Those instincts made him nervous. Humans were supposed to be prey to him. Easy pickings. He wasn’t supposed to care what happened to them.
But he cared about her.
Even from himself?
Lucas sucked in a deep breath. He caught her scent—wanted more. Not now. Can’t. Time was running out.
He shoved away from her and managed to rise to his feet. Her breath came too fast, making her chest heave as she stared up at him. “I told you we’d have sex,” he said because they needed to be clear about this.
Her chin lifted. “And I told you sex wasn’t part of our deal.” Her lips were red, swollen from his mouth.
“No, it’s not.” His cock was so heavy and hard that the damn thing ached. For her. “But you want me, I want you, and even the monsters at the gate aren’t going to stop me from taking you soon.”
“Lust is fleeting.” Her gaze seemed to look far away. Not even seeing him. “It’s just a need, just a—”
She blinked. Her gaze sharpened on him. Good. He spoke deliberately, wanting her to know what would come. “I don’t know what sex was like for you before, but I can tell you this . . . it won’t be fleeting with me. The need will be so strong it will feel like it’s ripping you apart, and when you think you can’t stand it anymore . . . that’s when the pleasure will come, and it’ll make your whole body burn.”
The rasp of her breath seemed loud in the room. Or, shit, maybe that was his breath. What was she doing to him?
Take her. The beast was growling in his head again. But Sarah rose from the bed. She crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him a bit nervously. Did she think he was about to pounce? Again? Tempting.
“Next time, you come to me,” he said. “Come to me, and I’ll give you all the pleasure you can handle. And it won’t have a damn thing to do with our deal.” The attraction between them was a bonus, or maybe a deadly temptation. He really wasn’t sure which yet. Time would tell.
He turned away from her and headed for the door.
“I don’t sleep with every wolf I meet.”
That froze him. He looked back at her, aware that his jaw had tightened. “Good to know.”
“I’ve only been with one wolf. Just Rafe.”
And me, babe. You’ll be with me, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
“That didn’t end so well,” she murmured and he saw her blink quickly. Wait—was she blinking back tears? Tears?
His gut clenched.
But she spun toward the window, her shoulders straight and tense. “What kind of deal did you work out with the coyotes?”
Not the question he’d expected right then. Lucas didn’t answer because, really, there wasn’t an easy way to put this.
“Lucas?” She waited a moment, then, when he didn’t answer, she turned back to him. No tears were in her eyes. Just determination. “I know they didn’t just bow their heads and leave. They knew I was here—”
“So what deal did you make with them? How did you get them to walk away?”
He exhaled on a hard sigh. “You’re worth a lot of money, lady.”