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Can a loner vampire and outcast wolf find love in Lori Devoti's Moon Rising?
The discovery of lost treasure imperils the fragile peace between the vampire and werewolf populations. Especially when werewolf Cece Parks and vampire Marc Delacroix arrive at the remote site with the same agenda?to claim the loot. But when suspicious deaths begin occurring, the enemies must band together to solve the mystery.
The truth proves far more complicated ...
Can a loner vampire and outcast wolf find love in Lori Devoti's Moon Rising?
The discovery of lost treasure imperils the fragile peace between the vampire and werewolf populations. Especially when werewolf Cece Parks and vampire Marc Delacroix arrive at the remote site with the same agenda—to claim the loot. But when suspicious deaths begin occurring, the enemies must band together to solve the mystery.
The truth proves far more complicated than either can imagine. Especially when Marc finds himself inexplicably drawn to Cece. For once in his long life he wants nothing more than to be with—and protect—the werewolf. Now loyalty to his race and his forbidden desire are about to collide .
The human lived in squalor.
Not exactly what Marc Delacroix had been expecting from a man who claimed to have found a fortune in hidden treasure.
He flicked his tongue over one fang and plucked a rotting banana peel off the table beside him. Holding the thing with two fingers, he frowned. If the man had found the vampires' treasure, he was hiding it well.
Or perhaps he was spending it now.
The blog article had appeared on the internet only this morning. Still, by now the man could be in another city. Or he could be hiding in the cellar. It was the only part of the house Marc had yet to investigate.
He dropped the banana peel onto the floor.
Behind him a door creaked.
Instantly alert, he slid into the shadows. Ideally, he didn't want to encounter the man. Of course, ideally, the man would have been fast asleep with his stolen goods sitting conveniently by the door.
But few things worked out ideally.
With a grimace, he made sure his appearance was cloaked, that he would blend into the background should the treasure hunter look in his direction, and waited.
Two people entered the room. The first, despite an athletic build, was most definitely female, the second male. Both moved slowly with the stealth of an animal stalking prey.
Marc slowed his heart almost to a standstill and stood completely still. Then he inhaled.
The telltale scent of woods and wild greeted him.
If he hadn't been afraid of discovery, he would have cursed. Wolves weren't known for their technological prowess, and Marc certainly hadn't expected them to be monitoring RSS feeds. He had hoped the vampires had a jump on them.
He had hoped they would miss the significance of the man's supposed "find" entirely, but obviously, they hadn't.
"How long do we have?" the male asked.
The female pulled out a flashlight and switched it on. "How drunk was he?"
"Four beers and three shots."
"The bar was packed. I doubt anyone has even spotted him yet, much less done the Good Samaritan thing and called him a cab—if they even have cabs in Cave Vista."
The male grunted.
"To be safe, we need to be out in thirty. I'll do the other rooms. You check here." She motioned with her flashlight for him to search the area where Marc stood hidden.
He stayed calm and still, waited for her to leave, and then focused his energies on the male she'd left behind. The wolf passed him twice, taking a step toward him each time, but then paused and turned.
After ten minutes and two more close calls, the female returned.
"You find anything?"
The male wolf frowned. His jaw jutted to one side. Marc could see that he was struggling with what had happened while he was alone in the room.
The thrall Marc had cast had worked on the werewolf, but not entirely. Marc filed the information away for future reference.
He hadn't dealt with werewolves for sixty years, not since the war. And stealth hadn't been an issue then; speed and strength had. His job at the time hadn't been spying on wolves. It had been killing them.
A much simpler task.
The female stepped around the male. She was tall for a woman, close to six feet with dark hair that reached the middle of her back. Despite her simple clothing and lack of makeup she was striking. An interesting choice of emissary if the pack wanted their arrival in Cave Vista to go unnoticed.
Standing in the middle of the room, she spun slowly on one foot, assessing the space. When her attention turned to the area Marc occupied, he doubled his efforts at deflection.
A line formed between her eyes. They were hazel, with shadows that shifted as she moved. At one moment they appeared green, the next gray. As she stood still, focusing on where he hid, they settled on gray.
Thinking it fit her indecision, he smiled.
The break in his strict stillness cost him. She blinked and took a step forward.
"CeCe." The male who accompanied her grabbed her by the elbow. He pointed toward the cellar door.
With another frown, she followed him, but as he opened the door, she hesitated.
The scent of damp earth flowed out of the underground space. Marc resisted the urge to inhale deeply and pull the smell into his lungs.
"I'll wait here." The female, CeCe, took a step backward.
"Are you sure?" The male paused with one foot through the doorway.
Her hand tight on the flashlight, she nodded.
The male disappeared down the stairs.
Marc waited, content to let the wolves find his treasure and bring it up to him. Even more content to spend the moments in the meantime taking in the female werewolf's form.
As he had first noted, she was athletic. In her shorts the muscles in her legs were easily visible. She was a runner, but more than that. A swimmer or a skier, he guessed. She had that kind of all over toned body, with some bulk in the shoulders and thighs.
As if feeling his focus, she spun. Her gaze was on him, so intense he couldn't trust that she didn't see him. He ran his tongue over the back of his teeth and wondered how she would taste.
Feminine and wolflike. Sweet and wild. Like berry wine, he guessed. He inhaled, testing her scent. She smelled of forests and fresh-turned earth, but with something else, something he hadn't expected a spice. Vampires smelled of spice. He hadn't realized werewolves did, too.
Without shifting her gaze, she crouched and plucked something off the floor. Then, in one fluid movement, she pulled back her arm and flung the object toward him.
The banana peel Marc had dropped earlier smashed into his favorite black shirt. His jaw tensed.
Lights shone through the front window. She spun again, this time toward the cellar. She threw the door open. "Russell. Company," she called.
In front of the house gravel crunched under the tires of a sedan pulling into the driveway.
For a moment, Marc didn't think her companion would reply, but just as he thought whoever occupied the vehicle would arrive inside before the wolves could exit, toenails sounded on wooden steps and a giant black-and-tan dog, a Rottweiler, shot out of the cellar.
CeCe cursed and widened her stance. Her hands in front of her in a protective manner, she stared the beast down.
"Russell?" she called, but low.
The dog lowered its head and growled.
The male wolf appeared in the doorway. His shirt was torn and there was blood on his arm. "He was locked in a room—"
CeCe waved his response off. "No time. Get out. I'll keep him busy."
To Marc's surprise, the male didn't argue. He moved to the dog's left and, sticking to the walls as much as possible, worked his way out of the room. In a second a door banged shut.
"Vampire?" The female werewolf didn't move her attention from the dog, whose low growl had changed to snarls. A tiny ridge of hair now stood along the creature's backbone.
"Vampire? Do you hear me?" the female repeated. "This dog doesn't like me being here because I'm a wolf and in his territory but a vampire?" She shook her head. "He'll like that even less."
Still staring at the dog, she lifted her lip and made a low barking noise. The dog's snarls shifted, still there, still warning, but less intense. Her hand reached to the side and closed over some object Marc couldn't see.
Before Marc could formulate a plan, an object flew through the air toward him.
He dove to the side, completely ruining his efforts at blending.
One hundred and forty pounds of dog crashed through the crowded room. Busy rolling out of the animal's trajectory, he didn't see the werewolf leave, but he heard her muttering something as she did.
The dog would slow him down, but it wouldn't stop him. He hoped she was smart enough to realize that.
He rolled over and faced the animal. Every tooth in its mouth appeared to be visible. Drool flowed from its gums. It lunged forward, jaws snapping. Marc dove and grabbed it by the hind legs, then he spun his weight to the side, sending the creature sliding and skittering across the floor. Furniture and beer bottles crashed.
The animal roared to a stand, but back on his own feet, Marc was ready. He leaped onto a nearby table and jumped from one solid surface to another, the dog snapping at his heels.
Only a few feet ahead of the animal, Marc grabbed hold of the door's frame and swung out of the room. Safe in the hall, he slammed the door shut behind him.
The dog's body thudded into solid wood. A human's heart would have been pounding. Marc's barely changed its beat. He smoothed his hands over his shirt, frowning at the tears and stains.
Down the hall another door smashed against a wall, the front door to the house being flung open by the sedan's occupants. Some Good Samaritan, Marc guessed, who had found the human treasure hunter after he had succumbed to the wolves' liquor.
The dog slavering on the other side of the door, completely immune to any thrall Marc tried to cast, ruined any chance he had of blending back into the shadows killed any hope he had of waiting for the man to pass out so he could continue his search.
The werewolves had assured that his time here was wasted except, perhaps it wasn't. He had seen the wolves, knew who and what they were. They, however, had not seen him; at least he didn't believe the female had had a chance to spot him before sprinting out the door.
So, for now, the advantage was his and he had every intention of using it.
As the drunken homeowner stumbled into the hall, Marc retreated again, but this time with a goal in mind a sweet, wild, athletic goal that he couldn't wait to taste.
CeCe Parks paced outside Russell's motel room. She'd knocked twice and he hadn't answered. Finally, as she balled her fist to pound again, the door flew open.
She pushed past the younger wolf and into his room. He hovered near the entrance for a minute, then pulled the door closed but left it unlatched.
She continued her pacing, wearing a path in the already worn and stained carpet. Russell seemed equally tense. His gaze darted around the room, traveling to the bathroom and back to her, only to shift again when she tried to meet his eyes.
Finally, losing patience, she came to a stop in front of him. "A vampire was there, watching."
His head snapped up. "A vampire? Are you sure?" His fingers tapped against his canvas shorts. He ran the back of his hand over his forehead, swiping away sweat.
The temperature in Cave Vista, Kentucky, had topped one hundred and five degrees today. Even now, with the sun down, it couldn't be much under ninety-five.
"Yes. I—the dog sensed him." All she had seen of the vampire was a blur of dark movement. "After you went into the cellar, I felt something strange, but I couldn't see anyone." It annoyed her that she had doubted her own senses when the dog had been so confident in its. But that came with having a human half, having a more logical brain that at times interfered with the senses of her wolf.
"What did he want?"
She frowned. "The treasure, I'm sure. I need to call Karl."
"No." Russell placed a hand on her forearm. "Not yet."
She pulled her lips into her mouth. She understood Russell's reluctance. They had been given a simple job—take back what was theirs—and they had failed.
Russell shifted so he stood sideways to her. "You know they don't accept me."
"You won't be blamed." She said the words with confidence because she knew they were true, knew who would be blamed—her. This trip had been a chance for her too. A chance to prove that she was worthy of being a good mate for Karl, the alpha, that she had more than her genetics to offer the pack.
"Maybe not." He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his shorts. He looked young and vulnerable and CeCe wanted to console him, but werewolves didn't console they toughened. Another wolf might have ridiculed him for his lack of confidence. She couldn't do that, but she couldn't play nurse to his feelings, either.
She swallowed the soft words that had formed and turned away.
"Karl will want to know the vampires are here."
"Vampires? Or vampire? There is a difference." Russell still sounded sullen, but at least his fight was back.
She walked to the window and looked out. It was still dark. The vampire could be out there right now, watching.
"Does it matter?" she asked.
"Yes. If it's only one, he's probably just an opportunist. He saw the blog and came looking for easy money."
CeCe closed the curtains back over the window. "Coincidence that we're here too? That it's the pack treasure the man found?" She couldn't buy that, and she didn't think Karl would either.
"Maybe not, maybe he had a vendetta."
"Hates werewolves?" It wasn't impossible. Despite the fact that the war between them had been over for sixty years, there was still no love between vampires and werewolves. Her father had taught her of their dangers, shown her how one had tortured and killed her mother.
Russell interrupted her dark reverie. "The point is, if it is just one vampire there's no reason to call Karl. It will make us look like we're afraid to make a decision on our own. Like we need his guidance on every little problem."
What Russell said made sense. One vampire CeCe could handle on her own; she had been trained. Plus, she needed to prove to the pack she could solve problems, be of value; calling Karl and getting his advice would undermine that. They would only hear that she had failed and needed the alpha to bail her out.
"It was only one," she said, confirming the idea in her mind. Vampires didn't work together like werewolves. They didn't have packs to depend on. They were antisocial, even with their own kind, like cats. It made sense that one would be here alone.
"So, we fix this ourselves?" Russell asked. He leaned forward. CeCe could almost feel him pulling the agreement out of her.
At the younger werewolf's relieved smile, CeCe smiled too. They could do this. They could find the treasure and if necessary, fight off the vampire to get it.
If she couldn't, she didn't deserve the position at Karl's side.