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Wolf Tales VI
By KATE DOUGLAS
APHRODISIA BOOKS Copyright © 2008 Kate Douglas
All right reserved.
Chapter One "You bitch! You're nothing but a cock-teasing bitch."
Eve Reynolds twisted to one side and tried to duck, but the big guy kicked the motel room door shut with his foot and slammed her against the bedroom wall. His buddy stood to one side, watching with a salacious smirk on his face.
She aimed a kick in his direction. The smaller guy jumped out of the way before she could connect. Eve twisted in the bigger man's grasp, felt her T-shirt stretch, heard it tear. The shredded top drooped to her waist, a meaty hand surrounded her exposed breast, thick fingers dug into soft flesh. It hurt, damn it, but not as much as when he shoved his thigh between her legs, lifting her feet off the ground while he groped her other breast.
She twisted, but couldn't break free. He was taller and stronger and totally enraged. Adrenaline poured into her system. Eve's vision blurred and she fought the need to shift. It would be so easy-so utterly satisfying. Just be the wolf long enough to take them out, both of them-the big guy assaulting her and his smarmy buddy, too. She could change in a heartbeat, all slavering teeth and powerful jaws tearing into her attackers. Eve pictured the blood and the rewarding burst of terror. She felt the first frisson of change course through her body.
The man's thigh ground against her sensitive pubes. She tensed, preparing for the wolf. Then Anton Cheval's words of warning leapt into her mind. The leader of the Montana pack had been deadly serious and his warning was branded in her mind.
Our identity as Chanku is a closely guarded secret. Take care no one learns what you are.
These men would know, if she let them live. Eve wasn't ready to kill a man, much less two, which she'd have to do if she shifted. Leaving witnesses wasn't acceptable, damn it all, but she really hated to do the girlie thing. Then a hand snaked down the front of her shorts and rough fingers scraped at tender flesh, forcing entrance. She screamed, loud and long, her voice powered by anger, not fear. Then she bit into the man's thick bicep, the only body part within reach of her teeth. Her human jaws lacked wolven strength and sharpness, but the combination of scream and bite, of nearby doors opening and people yelling, was enough to stop the attack.
The big guy shoved her to the floor, yelled for his buddy, and the two of them raced out the door and climbed into their truck. The shiny red Chevy 4x4 fishtailed out of the parking lot, spewing gravel and dust in its wake. Light from the garish streetlamps turned the dust to gold and the gravel twinkled like precious gems. A perfect example of things not always being as they seemed.
Eve held on to the doorjamb and gasped for air as she watched them leave. Neighbors on either side of her ground-floor room spilled out into the night. She clutched her torn shirt across her breasts, waved off their concern, and apologized for the disturbance. Then she closed the door to her motel room and leaned her head against the warm wood.
Heat and moisture engulfed her. Heart pounding, breath still rasping in her lungs, she concentrated on the thick, humid air and the silence, now that the truck was gone.
And the fact she'd managed not to shift.
Eve rubbed her left arm, well aware she'd have the jerk's fingerprints imprinted in her flesh for the next few days. Her crotch hurt where he'd shoved her with his thigh and violated her with his filthy fingers. Both her breasts were bruised.
Moving on unsteady feet, Eve limped into the bathroom. She glanced only briefly in the mirror before looking away. She didn't need to see the tangled blond hair or the bruise along her left cheek to know she looked like a wild-eyed tramp. Hands shaking, head pounding with the onset of a headache, she stripped out of her clothes, stepped into the shower and turned on the water. All she got was a tepid spray, but it was enough to wash the man's stink off her bruised body.
Eve let her mind go blank as water sluiced over her head and shoulders. When she finally got out and dried off, though, her head still ached. She grabbed a washcloth, rinsed it out, held the damp cloth to her forehead ... and thought of Montana.
Clear skies and dark, cool forests. Trails leading into magical places where wild things ran and the water tasted clear and fresh against her tongue. Thick grass beneath her paws, the sound and scent of her packmates beside her. The sense of belonging, of being one with nature and the pack.
She'd known that closeness for such a brief time, but the feeling hadn't left her. The sense of brotherhood, of family. Of belonging. Still, she'd had a good enough reason to leave after a mere taste of what her life could be, hadn't she? Discovering she was a shapeshifting Chanku with the ability to switch instantly from woman to wolf had opened her life to freedoms she'd never imagined but always craved. Freedom she would have given up had she stayed with the man who wanted so badly to claim her.
Adam Wolf. Damn, how she missed him.
She brushed the unwelcome sting of tears from her eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly regained control of her shattered emotions. It had to be the adrenaline from the attack. That's all it was. Adrenaline and nerves. Not Adam. Never Adam.
Talk about sucky timing. She'd wanted independence her entire life. When it was finally handed to her, even beyond the amazing power of the wolf, she was every bit as trapped by love as she'd ever been by circumstances. Recognizing her unhappiness, Anton Cheval, the uncontested leader of the Montana pack, had given her a beautiful, cherried out antique Ford pickup to drive, credit cards with unlimited funds, and a pocketful of cash.
The fact the truck was supposed to go to his packmate, Stefan Aragat, as a birthday gift, hadn't seemed to bother Anton a bit. He seemed certain Eve would have it back in time.
So what had she done with his largesse? Driven clear across the country to the town she'd grown up in, parked her butt in a nicer motel that she'd ever been able to afford before in her life, and waited to see what would happen next.
So far, nothing good had come her way, and she had no idea what had drawn her back. No idea what was good enough in Tampa to lure her away from the beauty of Montana and people who loved her.
What kind of fool was she?
Eve freshened the washcloth under the faucet and wrung the excess water out of it. This time she held the cloth against the bruises on her left breast where the flesh had been so cruelly twisted. She had no one to blame but herself for tonight's little episode, but damn, she hurt all over and felt like a fool. A very lonely fool.
She'd had such a short time in Montana with Adam Wolf. The name alone should have warned her, but he'd been everything she'd ever wanted in a man ... and more. They'd found a connection unlike anything she'd experienced. When he'd brought Oliver, the quiet young man who worked for Anton Cheval, into their bed, the sex had been little short of mind-blowing.
So, what did she do? She ran. Fast and far, afraid of the overwhelming emotions, frightened as much by the changes in her body as she finally embraced her wolven, Chanku heritage, as she'd been by her attraction to Adam.
Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to leave her libido behind. Tonight, she'd lost control, and along with it, what little respect she thought she'd held on to. She'd wanted sex. She'd wanted a repeat of that amazing night with Adam and Oliver. Every night since coming to Tampa, she'd found a quiet place to run as the wolf, to learn more about her new body. The downside of the exhilaration she experienced on four legs was that damned Chanku libido. Desire, hot and potent, streaming like a living entity through her veins, and needs she really couldn't satisfy on her own, no matter how fresh she kept the batteries in her electronic buddy.
Each night she returned to this room aroused beyond belief, her blood racing, sexual desire taking precedence over all other instincts, all sense of caution. How else could she explain what she'd done tonight? She'd gone trolling for a man.
The two men from the bar had seemed nice enough at first. She'd led them on, invited them back to her room. Eve thought she wanted both men and all they promised, but when it came right down to it, she'd not wanted them at all.
She'd wanted her own kind. Her body still thrummed with the dark cravings, the sexual needs unfulfilled these past three weeks since she'd left Adam. Cravings that intensified each time she shifted, each time she raced through the night on four legs, searching for others of her kind even though she knew there were none here.
Needs she'd thought she might satisfy with the two men she'd brought home with her tonight. Except, once again, it had felt all wrong.
They'd both kissed her, a man on either side in the front seat of the big pickup truck. The larger of the two had been the most aggressive. He'd stroked the warm folds between her legs, rubbing her through the soft cotton of her shorts, and her body had responded. Her breasts tingled, her pussy clenched and creamed and she'd thought it might work. She'd hoped her body would continue to react, but his kisses weren't Adam's. His touch wasn't as loving as Oliver's. He didn't understand the needs of the wolf and his mind was closed to her deepest desires. Would it always be this way? Would she only find satisfaction among other Chanku?
Sighing, Eve stretched out on the bed and held the damp washcloth against her breasts. It didn't do a thing to ease the all-consuming ache between her legs. The constant throbbing, the clenching of muscles too long denied, the desperate need for penetration, for sexual release.
She lay there in the dark, naked and sweating. The little air conditioner hummed and rattled, but it didn't touch the thick Florida heat. She retraced the past month of her life, the three weeks since leaving Montana. So much had happened in those few days after she'd met Keisha Rialto and Alexandria Olanet, when their wonderfully protective mates, Anton and Stefan, had rescued her from an abusive relationship turned deadly.
Why was she always drawn to losers? Probably for the same stupid reason she'd walked away from the finest man she'd ever known. She was an idiot, pure and simple. Too stupid to live ... wasn't that how the saying went? TSTL? It fit her perfectly.
Her life was spinning out of control, twisting pointlessly in a maelstrom of need and arousal, of desperate cravings and unfulfilled desires. And she was lonely. So damned lonely. Eve rolled her hips against the bed, imagining Oliver beneath her and Adam between her legs. The memory brought forth a rush of fluids and a hollow, empty feeling deep inside.
She clutched the bedspread with both hands, accepting her needs, her powerful desires. Accepting, yet wondering how it could happen, how she could take this woman's body and become a wolf?
How she could take a man like Adam Wolf into her bed, into her heart, and find real love? The kind of love in fairy tales. The kind of love she'd always been denied.
Take that love and then stupidly walk away from it.
Once she'd discovered her heritage as a shapeshifter, a member of an ancient race that somehow appeared on the inhospitable Himalayan steppe so many eons ago, everything had changed. It was hard to say what was the biggest thing that had happened-shifting into a wolf, or meeting Adam, a man so tender and loving he made her ache with wanting. A man who claimed his only desire was to fix things.
Eve wondered if it was too late, if now that she'd left him, would he ever be able to fix her? Would he even want to?
Not if you keep running away, you idiot.
Nothing quite so sensitive as an inner critic. Eve moved the washcloth to her right breast. Her nipple tightened almost painfully when she scraped the sensitive tip with the cotton cloth, so she repeated the motion. Again. And again.
She shifted her hips against the wrinkled bedspread and her body felt all itchy and achy. She wanted to run. Wanted to shift and become the wolf and race through the forest. She hadn't run tonight. She wanted the wild and cool forests of Montana, not the hot and humid parks and gardens around Tampa, Florida.
She wanted to hunt for rabbits and deer, not worry about stepping on a cottonmouth snake, or running full tilt into a hungry alligator.
What the hell was she doing here, anyway?
Idly rubbing at her taut nipple, Eve reached between her legs and stroked her clit with her other hand. The tiny nub stood upright, hard and slick with her cream. She bit back a frustrated moan. Her fingers weren't enough. Her needs were too great, her body too desperate, aching for the heat and weight of a man.
She thought of the new vibrator in the table beside the bed. She'd never even used this one. Big and thick and perfectly formed to give her release, according to the advertising. Crap. Who was she trying to kid? It would take a lot more than plastic and batteries to ease the ache building inside.
Why had she even come back? When she was eighteen, she hadn't been able to get out of town fast enough. Away from the foster care system, from abuse and emptiness and a sense she was always searching, always looking for something just out of reach. Keisha had referred to it as quiet desperation, that knowledge buried deep in the heart, always calling to those who shared the Chanku genetics. Hinting at more, at something just out of reach, some visceral knowledge yet to be discovered.
She'd found it in Montana with the pack of Chanku shapeshifters. Once she'd started taking the big, ugly brown capsules Anton gave her, once her body had received the nutrients it needed, completed its changes and she'd finally been able to shift, Eve discovered a side of her life she'd never imagined. Never dreamed existed.
She should have been happy there, finally at home. She could have been happy with Adam and Oliver, if only she'd been able to ignore the tugging sensation deep in her heart. She'd thought it was her need to be her own woman, to succeed entirely on her own. Now that she was here, living alone and feeling lonelier than she ever had in her life, Eve knew that wasn't it at all. There was something more, something still unexplained.
For whatever reason, it had called her back to Tampa. Until she knew what fate held in store for her, Eve knew she couldn't leave.
She sat up on the edge of the bed, her mind filled with thoughts of Adam. She missed him. Damn, she hardly knew the man, yet the image of his tall, rangy body filled her heart and her mind. Made her body anxious and miserable with wanting.
Did he feel the same? Had he missed her over these three long weeks? Would he come to her? Why should he? Her shoulders slumped and she sighed. He's just found his sister and his mother, and a new family in the Montana pack. Why would he come after me?
She glanced toward the window. Through the slightly parted curtain she saw the cherry '51 Ford pickup parked outside her room. Black and shiny beneath the parking lot lights, it gleamed with lots of chrome and expensive paint. The truck had been a loan from Anton Cheval, but he wanted it back by July 20, in time for his packmate-and lover's-birthday.
Stefan's birthday was just a little over a week away, and Eve still wasn't sure why she was even here. She really didn't want to go back without finding out what had drawn her to Florida in the first place, but she'd promised Anton she'd return the truck.
Unless, of course, she couldn't. Maybe because it wasn't running?
Grinning broadly, Eve grabbed a fresh cotton gown and slipped it over her head. She went outside, lifted the hood on the truck and stared at the myriad bits and parts of whatever made the darned thing run.
She shrugged, looked around to see if anyone was watching her. Then she reached inside and pulled a few wires loose. For added measure, she tugged a couple of unidentifiable things completely free and tossed them inside the cab. Then she went back inside her motel room and placed a call to Montana.
Adam threw an extra pair of clean jeans into the sports bag and zipped it shut just as Oliver walked into the room. He glanced up. "Are you ready, Ollie? Got your bags packed?"
Oliver shrugged and sat on the edge of the bed. Small and dark, yet always meticulous in both dress and action, he took a moment before answering. "Are you certain you want me to come? I invited myself along when you said you were going after Eve. I did it without thinking, but I don't want to intrude."
Excerpted from Wolf Tales VI by KATE DOUGLAS Copyright © 2008 by Kate Douglas. Excerpted by permission.
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