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In part three of the new Dark and Dirty Tale serial by New York Times and USA best-selling author Kristin Miller, the time has come for Red to choose. But things are not always as they seem…
Before the night is through, I’ll join the Arcana wolf pack, declare a mate, and transition into a wolf for the first time. I must decide between Reaper, the devilishly sexy huntsman, and Lukas, the fiercely controlling Alpha. Both pleasure me senseless, taking me to heights I’ve never known. But I can’t have both.
Time is up, and I must choose.
But Lukas just dropped a bombshell. If I declare him as my mate, no other person is allowed to touch me. Ever. Not a handshake or a good-bye hug. Talk about stifling. Not to mention, the Omega has all but forbidden me to choose Reaper. As I stand before the pack, I must decide…the man who unleashes dark desires inside me, or the man I’m forbidden to love.
Get ready for scorching hot Alphas, a spitfire heroine, and a breathtaking ending!
The Dark and Dirty tale series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Desiring Red
Book #2 Dominating Red
Book #3 Dangerously Red
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About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristin Miller writes sweet and sassy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and steamy paranormal romance of all varieties. Kristin has degrees in psychology, English, and education, and taught high school and middle school English before crossing over to a career in writing. She lives in Northern California with her alpha male husband and their two children. You can usually nd her in the corner of a coffee shop, laptop in front of her and mocha in hand, using the guests around her as fuel for her next book.
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A Dark and Dirty Tale: Part Three of Three
By Kristin Miller, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Kristin Miller
All rights reserved.
Arcana Wolf Pack
Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest
I'm going to die.
A few minutes ago, I thought my body was going to shut down from orgasm overload. Can you imagine how my obituary would read? Twenty-five-year old woman dies from getting her brains fucked out by two of the hottest guys this side of the Rockies.
Yeah, that sounds downright blissful.
But that was before Lukas, the Alpha of the Arcana Wolf Pack, burst into his office and caught me having sex with Reaper, his cousin.
As Lukas and Reaper shift into two of the gnarliest werewolves I've ever seen, I clamber around the desk to put space between us.
I'm not going to croak from orgasm overload — as I'd secretly hoped — after all. I'm going to get caught in the middle of their fight and die by wolf bite, claw, or however two hulk-like werewolves kill when they're really pissed off. I don't really know. I'm not a werewolf yet — although I was born to werewolf parents, I have yet to shift. I don't know if the change is going to be painful or scary, or if I'm going to turn into a raging lunatic.
That's why I'm in Castle Arcana in the first place.
I'm preparing to join their pack so I can have their guidance and protection during this critical time in my life. If my parents were still around, I'd ask them what to expect, but they're not, and their deaths are a touchy subject.
Reaper, the wolf with the inky black fur and burly legs, uses his body to make a barricade between Lukas and me. Lukas's dark fur is short and spiky, sticking up on the ridge of his back. He's slender but muscular, and gives off an air of dominance as he lowers his head and glowers through narrowed eyes.
Pawing at the ground, Reaper growls. The sound reverberates off the walls, issuing a challenge. I don't need to be a wolf to pick up what he's putting down.
If Lukas doesn't back off, Reaper is going to tear through him.
I squelch a whimper by covering my mouth with my hand. I'm completely torn and don't want either of them to get hurt. Reaper is passionate and mysterious and tugs on my heartstrings, but Lukas picked me out from a lineup of other pre-shifters to have his way with before January's Wolf Moon Ceremony. Before I bond for life with another werewolf. As Alpha, he's earned that right.
Technically, I'm his until I declare a mate.
Although I knew that Reaper and I were forbidden to touch, I was too weak to fight the chemistry sparking between us.
This is my fault.
Widening his stance, Lukas lets out a thunderous snarl before lunging forward and striking first. His thick paw slices right across Reaper's furry cheek. The force of the blow jerks Reaper's face toward me. I gasp at the sight — claw marks mar his skin, blood drips into his mouth, and fury darkens his onyx eyes.
"Stop," I force out, though I only manage a hoarse whisper. "Don't do this."
As if he didn't hear my plea, Reaper's lips pull back to reveal his glistening fangs, and he slowly returns his gaze to Lukas. Low vibrations fill the room and seep up from the hardwood floor until the walls seem to throb from the strength of the sound.
It's coming from Reaper.
Adrenaline screams through my veins. This is really happening. Two wolves — the Omega's only grandsons — are fighting over me. And I'm going to be caught in the middle. Retreating further, I smash my backside against the windowsill and grip its cold edge tight.
Reaper springs toward Lukas like a bullet and attacks with both paws on either side of his muzzle. Jumping away from the strike, Lukas knocks into a bookshelf. It wobbles, teeters, and then crashes to the ground beside them, scattering books over the floor.
Reaper growls into a twisted sort of laugh that rings through the office.
Charging forward with lightning speed, Lukas leaps, snapping at Reaper's side. I gasp, covering my ears as the sound of teeth tearing flesh splinters through the room. Reaper roars, spinning on his hind legs, and pounces onto Lukas's back.
He has him from behind.
Reaper claws into Lukas's flanks. Bites the back of his neck. Thrashes with intent to kill. They tumble over one another in a heap of fangs, fur, and blood.
This is wrong.
I've slept with both men in the last few hours and witnessed sides of them that have aroused and frightened me in the most erotic way. I've seen them vulnerable and protective and have felt their strength swell inside me.
They shouldn't be fighting. Not over me.
"Stop!" The voice isn't mine, though I'm screaming the same word in my head. The door bursts open, and the Omega, "grandmother" and the oldest werewolf in the pack, strides inside, a burgundy shawl covering her shoulders. "What the devil has gotten into the two of you?"
Reaper and Lukas separate, each as if the other is on fire, and bow in front of their grandmother. Bending their front legs, they lower their muzzles to the floor, and I can finally breathe again.
Relief sinks to the pit of my stomach, and my legs suddenly feel as if they weigh a thousand pounds. Must be the "adrenaline dump" I've heard people talk about.
As the Omega measures Reaper and Lukas over the rim of her glasses, she sighs disapprovingly. "You think spilling each other's blood is going to solve anything? Ivy has the choice, remember? It's her decision whether she wants to be bonded to you" — she nudges her pointed chin at Reaper, and then Lukas — "or you. And she's already made up her mind."
She nails me with an expectant glare, and the blood drains from my face. "I have," I answer quickly, unable to meet Reaper's eyes. "That's why I came — to find Reaper and tell him good-bye. I've chosen Lukas."
It wasn't like the choice was entirely mine. After talking with the Omega earlier, I faced the reality of the situation. I'd already had sexual encounters with Reaper — three oh-my-orgasms, to be exact. And then, after I'd lined up with the other pre-shifting females, Lukas chose me to dominate and control.
I loved every blissful second of each sexcapade.
But I've been forced to swallow the bitter truth. Lukas may have chosen to whisk me away to his private chamber and seduce me, but the decision over who to bond with rests solely on my shoulders. If I declare Reaper as my mate after being seduced by the Alpha, I'd be rejecting him in front of his pack. Humiliating him. As retaliation for my choice, he'd banish Reaper from Castle Arcana, and he'd be alone, never allowed to return to the only family he's ever known.
I can't bear to do that to either of them.
Lukas lifts his head slowly and glares at Reaper through coal-black eyes that are so narrowed, they're nearly slits. From the way he's standing, with his shoulders pulled back and his chin lifted slightly, he seems to think he's been victorious over his cousin.
As if I'm no more than a trophy.
If he were happy about my choice, truly thrilled at the prospect of being with me for the long haul, wouldn't he be looking at me?
Is that all I am to him? A conquest? A way to prove his dominance? The possibility sickens me. I want — and deserve — so much more than that.
"See?" the Omega snaps, standing between the cousins. "It's over and done. Her decision has been made." And then she turns to me. "You will declare Lukas as your mate in front of the pack in thirty minutes and be bonded for life."
My skin crawls as her words cycle through my head. Why did it suddenly feel like a jail sentence? Is it because the choice isn't entirely mine? Or because I truly don't want him?
"Head back to your chamber and clean up," she says. "Ready yourself and get your thoughts in order. You are about to declare to the entire wolf pack that you are fit to rule beside my grandson. If you pass out on the stage again, it will show weakness. As his future wife, you shouldn't ever appear powerless or frail. Don't you agree?"
I nod and lower my head respectfully.
Having another panic attack was not an option. Check. It wasn't like I planned to pass out at the ceremony the first time.
"And forget about any reservations that might be spinning in that pretty little head of yours." Her voice is stern. Commanding. And by reservations she means the undeniable pull I feel toward Reaper. "You may excuse yourself now."
I dart from the office on shaky legs, nerves scattering over my body like gooseflesh, and hug my crimson cloak against me. Candles, perched on sconces and set in chandeliers, cast a warm glow through the main hall as golden moonlight spills from the rectangular windows and onto the glossed floor. Although the castle was bustling with wolves not thirty minutes ago, there's not a single canine in sight, and for that, I'm grateful. I don't want their eyes on me, witnessing my walk of shame. Pre-shifters in vibrantly colored robes huddle in the corners, laughing and whispering as if all the pressure has been lifted from their shoulders.
Each of them has already declared their mate.
I'm the only one left, thanks to my panic attack that stopped the show.
Charging between two leering gargoyle statues, I lift the front of my robe and lumber up the grand staircase. My feet are still heavy, my legs trembling from the lingering effects of the adrenaline that slugged through me. But I'm almost there. My room is a few doors down, past a suit of armor and into an alcove on the left. I steal inside, lock the door behind me, and sag against it.
I should be relishing in the peace and quiet, but the satin tie of my cloak suddenly feels too tight on my neck, and the fabric too sticky against my legs. I've never been claustrophobic, but the realization that I'm about to choose Lukas as my mate has the walls closing in around me. My spacious private chamber is suddenly too small, with not nearly enough air.
I can't breathe.
Thunderous knocks rattle the door at my back. I spin around with a squeal and clutch at my cloak as my heart drums double-time.
"Who is it?"
A shiver rolls up my spine at the steeliness in his voice, and I can't summon the words to welcome him in.
"Open up," he commands.
I reach for the handle instinctively but then pause, my hand lingering in midair. My mouth goes dry, as if I've been sucking on cotton, and I realize he's here to punish me. I've betrayed him, perched on the edge of his desk with my legs spread wide, and begged his cousin for sweet release. To add salt to the wound, it was minutes after I left his arms.
"I need some time alone to get ready for the ceremony," I say, letting my hand drop to my side. "What do you need?"
The doorknob turns quickly, as if he'd planned to shove his way in, but the lock holds. I take a step back, and then another, and I can't catch my breath.
"I want a few minutes alone before you stand in front of everyone," he commands. There is no question in his tone. No wiggle room to do anything but what he says. "You owe me that much."
He's right. Of course he is. For what I've done, I'll be lucky if I don't end up in the dungeon with the rats. I slept with Lukas, and then pretty much ran into his cousin's arms.
Maybe I deserve to bunk with the rodents ...
Sighing, I lick my lips and will the right words to escape them. "All right."
As I pull open the door, my heart stutters and the air catches in my lungs. Lukas stands in the doorway in a stark-white dress shirt and slacks, his arms folded over his chest. I can't deny how strikingly handsome he is, even now, as anxiety ratchets up my spine. Muscular frame, broad shoulders, clean-shaven jaw and plump lips. I'd be dead if I didn't have a physical reaction to the way he's standing in front of me now.
But this time, as I stare into the depths of his dark eyes, warmth doesn't flood my middle. Desire doesn't sweep through me. And I don't yearn to be thrown onto the bed and pleasured as before.
Is it fear or nerves putting a stop to those feelings? Or maybe it's something else ...
I search the hard angles of Lukas's face and try to predict what he's going to say. But he wears the mask of a controlled Alpha well and gives nothing away. "You made me look like a fool in front of the only family I have left in the world," he says, his dark voice cutting through the stillness of my chamber. "Making me appear inadequate is not an easy feat, but you seem to have done a fine job of it."
"That's not what I meant to happen, Lukas," I plea, twisting my hands in front of me. "If you let me explain —"
"You don't have to say another word." His black eyes blaze with anger. "And I don't have to listen."
"But you have to know one thing."
He leans against the doorjamb, his jaw clenching into a solid swoop of bone. "How sorry you are?"
I nod quickly and place a hand over my heart. "I'm so sorry for not telling you sooner." I keep my tone stern, without a hint of weakness, and choose my words carefully. I'm not going to apologize for sleeping with Reaper, because I don't regret it. But I totally agree it could've been handled differently. "I don't know if this is any consolation, but I met Reaper in the garden before you chose me. You had so many gorgeous women lined up in front of you, the chances of you selecting me were small, so I thought — it was wrong, anyway, but you must know I didn't run from your bed and jump his bones the second I met him."
No, actually, I jumped his bones the third time. The first two times I ran into him, he pleasured me with his hands and his mouth.
Yeah. Totally different.
Merely thinking about the time in Reaper's arms sends waves of delicious heat flooding through my veins. The way his strong arms wrapped me up and made me feel protected and cherished. The way he kissed me deeply, his lips working over mine, his tongue sweeping along my cheek, as if he never wanted our mouths to part.
My heart flutters in my rib cage at the memory of the passion we shared and I flush with desire, nearly quivering from the thought of staring up into his smoldering eyes again.
But we can't be together.
Being with Reaper isn't even a remote possibility, and I'd do well to remember it. A relationship with him is a dead end. Even if the Omega hadn't shed light on the grim reality of my choice — how my only real option is Lukas — Reaper has made it perfectly clear that he doesn't want me. As long as his parents' murderer is on the loose, life at his side is too dangerous. Even if I were to welcome the risk, he won't allow me to paint a target on my back. He told me so.
Despair settles over my shoulders like a wet cloak as I think about choosing Lukas and letting Reaper go.
"The Omega warned me that you had a decision to make — that you were wavering," Lukas says, jarring me back to our conversation, to him. "Until that moment, I didn't know there was another." He pushes off the doorjamb, snatches me around the waist, and tugs me against his chest. He's hard as stone, and the coldness of his hands seeps through my cloak as he presses his palms against me. "But when I fucked you in my chamber, you said I was the only one. All yours, I believe were your exact words."
"You're right. That's exactly what I said."
"Then you're a bold-faced liar."
"But in that moment I was lost in you." I suck in a clipped breath as he bends me against him. "Completely and wholly, I was yours. This may sound terrible, but I was saying good-bye to Reaper in your office. That's all it was."
Oh, it was so much more than that. It was heat and passion and something more, simmering just below the surface — something I was trying to grasp with both hands before it was ripped from me forever.
I can't say the L-word because, come on, what kind of sap would I be if I truly believed that I'd fallen in love at first sight? But that's sure as hell what it feels like.
Lukas's lips curve with sinister distaste. "I hope that's not your customary farewell."
"No. It's not."
"Right answer." He lowers his mouth over mine, breathes in deeply, and then sucks on my lower lip.
Excerpted from Dangerous Red by Kristin Miller, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2016 Kristin Miller. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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