Hunger for You: Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts

Hunger for You: Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts

by A. C. Arthur

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466857100
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/10/2014
Series: Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts , #3
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 632,193
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently lives with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn't stopped since. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters, and fresh dialogue—thus keeping the readers on their toes!


A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently lives with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters, and fresh dialogue—thus keeping the readers on their toes!

Read an Excerpt

Hunger for You


By A.C. Arthur

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2014 A.C. Arthur
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5710-0



CHAPTER 1

Caleb


I'd say she was like a breath of fresh air, but I don't talk like that. I don't think along those frilly little lines. Still, I was too observant to miss the fact that she was different, that my reaction to her was different.

For the six weeks I'd been in D.C. I'd been coming to this little bar just about every night of the week. Five of those nights, six if I was really lucky, she was here. The tight miniskirt and even tighter T-shirt that was the waitress uniform didn't really go with her quiet smile and soft brown eyes. The black hair that fell in wavy strands down to the center of her back, elegantly arched eyebrows, and pouty mouth, did in fact match the sultry ambiance the bar reeked of. Contradictions — there were so many of them where she was concerned. I'd begun keeping a mental list.

For instance, she served everything from domestic beer to top-shelf liquor eight to ten hours a day and yet I'd never seen her put a glass to her lips. On her breaks she had water or soda, never liquor. Sure, that could be because she wasn't allowed to drink on the job, but that wasn't it. She wasn't a drinker, I was sure of it.

Another one was that I knew she made good tips. Hell, I gave her at least twenty to thirty dollars a night when I was here, but she drove a beat-up old car and lived in a shabby room she rented from an old drunken man who was probably charging her much more than the shack was worth. Yeah, I'd followed her home a time or two, on those nights when she'd closed up the bar and was driving home alone at three in the morning. I just figured it was safer that way, figured if anything happened I'd be there ... to protect her I guess.

All those years of training that I'd detested so much didn't seem to go away, no matter how far I'd run.

Two weeks ago I'd landed a job at a warehouse, filling orders of computer equipment for what seemed like long hours on top of hours. It wasn't a career, it was a paycheck, and a damned good one at that. I had an apartment, my truck, and I came to the bar at night for hot wings and cold beers. Life was good.

Except she was too damned pretty, too damned innocent-looking for me to ignore. I craved the sight of her more than the beer and wings I always ordered. Needed to see her, be near her, more than I needed to breathe on most nights.

"Another Blue Moon for you?" she asked in that low, sweet voice she had.

I did a double-take because for the last hour or so another waitress, the "hot-and-I-know-it" one with the blond braids, had been waiting on me. Her short skirt, fishnet stockings, and tits falling over the rim of her low-cut T-shirt definitely fit her "whatever-you-want-I'll-provide" attitude. I didn't care for her much, but that didn't matter. She wasn't the one I'd come to see.

"Sure," I said, instantly happier now that the pretty one, the one I couldn't get out of my mind no matter how much I drank or how hard I tried, was waiting on me. "I mean, yes, thank you."

I thought I should smile but I didn't do that often. Then again, I didn't feel this way often. She had that effect on me. She made me want to do things I didn't usually do, didn't usually even think about doing. Although I was taught proper etiquette for the human world, I didn't use "please" and "thank you" much. Hadn't met many humans that actually deserved good manners in my travels. As for the females, well, there wasn't a lot I tended to say to them beyond, "Yeah, I got a condom," and "No, I'm probably not gonna call you." I did, however, believe in honesty. I'd much rather hear the truth, good or bad, right up front, than be hand-fed one lie after another. But with this female, I was always clearing my throat to make sure my voice was steady and concentrating so that my accent didn't make it hard for her to understand whatever I was saying.

I made eye contact with her, listened intently to whatever it was she was saying, even if I didn't need her to run down the nightly specials, since they were always the same.

"Are you finished with that plate? I can get it out of your way if you are," she offered, nodding her head in the direction of the half-eaten plate of hot wings sitting in front of me.

I'd been starving when I got off work two and a half hours ago, couldn't wait to get here and get the piping hot and heavily seasoned wings that I'd come to favor. But after eating only half, I'd lost my appetite. Or rather I realized my appetite had actually been centered on seeing her again, being close to her providing a different type of sustenance than the food had.

"Yes, I'm finished. Except for the beer," I added because I didn't want her to forget to come back.

"No problem," she said, giving me a half smile. She leaned over the table a bit to pick up the plate.

I could see down the V of her blouse, the swell of her breasts that looked soft and creamy. Her complexion was almost as dark as mine, but everything about her skin looked smoother and much more enticing than my own. As if that weren't enough to jump-start an erection, the fresh and store-bought vanilla scent of her wafted into my nostrils and I had to grit my teeth. My hands fell to my lap as I moved a little to make the appropriate comfort adjustments.

"I'd like some nachos and cheese too," I said impulsively.

When she looked at me this time her forehead had the cutest wrinkle and she leaned back a bit before asking, "Are you sure? Because you didn't finish your wings."

I was sure that ordering more items would ensure her return to my table at least two more times tonight. That meant this insane urge I had to be close to her would be sated, sort of.

I nodded. "I'm positive."

She shrugged, but didn't offer me the smile again. When she walked away, even though the view of her tight little ass in that too little skirt was more than arousing, I found that I really wanted to see that smile again.

I liked the way it made me feel inside, the swirl and plummet effect it had on the pit of my stomach, the spreading heat it solicited between my legs. She was definitely hot and I definitely wanted to taste her, what I wasn't so sure of was if one taste would be enough.

***

This time I'd managed only a third of the nachos and half the beer in forty minutes. I couldn't stop staring at her, couldn't wrap my mind around anything else but the way she moved, the way she flipped her hair back behind her shoulders whenever she approached a table, and the adorable way she bit her bottom lip as she wrote the larger orders in her notepad. Each time she walked past me and I caught a whiff of her scent I thought I was going to jump up out of that chair and grab her. My palms itched with the desire to touch her, my mouth watered with the thought of tasting her.

I wanted this female with everything I was, everything I never wanted to be, and I didn't even know her name.

Pathetic. I know. And I'd just reached into my back pocket for my wallet so I could pay and take my pitiful self home when he came through the front door and headed right for her. A growl rumbled deep in my chest and it was all I could do to keep my body — and the cat raging with jealousy included — in the chair.

He was about six feet tall, long arms on a mildly built frame. He wore faded jeans, steel-toed boots, and a long-sleeved thermal shirt. His hair was cut really short, almost bald but not quite and he had a straight, sharp jawline that ended with a goatee. I'd never wanted to be like anyone else in my life. In fact, due to circumstances beyond my control, I knew that was impossible. Still, I admit to having considered cutting my light beard and mustache into a goatee, thinking maybe that's what she liked. Thankfully, I'd changed my mind. I liked the completed look better and before now hadn't thought twice about my facial hair or how anyone else would react to it. The inconsistencies about her had spilled over to me. That made me uncomfortable, really, damned uncomfortable.

I watched him walk straight to the bar and stop. Her back had been turned as she punched keys on the cash register, but it was like she knew he was there because she immediately turned to see him. A small smile appeared. It was tentative and possibly rehearsed as she held up a finger telling him she'd be with him in a minute. His hands clenched on the bar railing as she turned her back and my teeth gnashed.

It wasn't any of my business I knew, but nothing short of an earthquake would move me from this seat. I picked up my beer and took a small sip, keeping my eyes trained on the bar. Hair rose at the back of my neck as the front door swung open again and another guy came in heading for the bar to stand right next to the bastard that had quietly summoned the pretty girl. It would help if I knew the names of all the players, but until this very moment that hadn't seemed important. Actually, it didn't seem important now, all that mattered was that she remained safe, because the eerie feeling I was getting from these two wasn't a good sign.

She turned away from the cash register and walked over to the two guys. My eyes followed her every move. The second guy gave a wicked smile to the first, patted him on the back, then moved away. The first guy instantly reached for her, grabbing her by the wrist until she was leaning over the bar close enough so that he could roughly kiss her lips.

I put down my beer with a hard clank.

"You finished with that, baby?" the blond waitress asked.

She was back. Her voice was like nails on a chalkboard. Okay, maybe that wasn't fair. Her voice wasn't that high, it just irritated the hell out of me because I was so focused on that guy touching the girl I was just slightly obsessed with. He was touching my girl.

"No," I replied without even glancing at the other waitress. I hated how they would switch off tables throughout the night without any rhyme or reason. When I thought I was sitting at a table that she would wait on, I'd get the blonde at least part of the night. They didn't do that in any other place I'd been; then again, I didn't go anywhere but here.

"Okay. Well, then can I get you something else?" she persisted.

He was still kissing her.

"No," I said more emphatically. "I've already had nachos and beer."

"Well, if you're finished, you can't just sit here and stare at people all night, you know." I could hear the irritation in her voice but didn't really give a damn.

"Either you order something else or you'll have to leave."

I didn't want anything else. All I wanted was for him to get his fuckin' hands off of her.

"Fine," I told the blonde, still not bothering to look at her. "Get me another beer."

She sucked her teeth and mumbled something else and then thankfully she was gone.

My girl finally pulled away from him, which was another reason to give thanks. He said something, I couldn't tell what because his back was to me, but she immediately declined, saying she had to close tonight. Being such a solitary person since leaving the circle of my two older brothers and sister, I'd become really adept at reading lips. Just because I didn't like talking to people didn't mean I didn't want to know what they might be saying about me.

He must not have believed her or didn't care because she insisted it was true, said she wasn't getting off until the bar closed at three and that she would be too tired to come to his place afterward. Very good decision. The guy didn't think so. She was coming around the bar and out onto the floor when he reached for her again, this time wrapping his arm all the way around her small waist and pulling her back up against him. My shoulders tingled at the sight, my teeth clenching. When he used one hand to tilt her neck and then kissed its length, I wanted to peel that bastard's hands and lips off her. Her sweet scent was shifting, melting into another aroma that I detested and I'd already stood, ready to move, ready to act. But her manager stepped in front of her and had words with the guy.

"Fuck off, old man," he said to the manager, but he had let her go and she'd quickly moved away.

Without hesitation, I walked over to where she stood on the other side of the room flipping through her receipts. Fear engulfed her as her fingers shook and she ended up dropping several to the floor. The scent was thick and threatening to choke me, or push the cat inside, until I ended up choking that bastard guy she liked instead. Determined to keep her close, to keep her safe, I bent down to pick them up at the same time that she did and our hands collided over one particular receipt.

She looked up instantly, jerking her hand back as if my touch had somehow burned her. I tried not to be offended even if a part of me knew she'd done the right thing. She shouldn't be near me, shouldn't touch me because I wasn't what she thought. I couldn't dismiss feeling some sort of electric fission when we'd touched. It was followed by a flow of heat that moved straight to my groin, pooling into a pleasurable erection, so I couldn't bring myself to complain. Needless to say I was a little more reluctant to pull away, but figured it was the right thing to do.

I handed her the receipt as she continued to stare quizzically at me.

"Thank you," she managed finally and stood up.

She was moving so fast, about to walk away, but I wanted her to stay. I knew it was wrong but I wanted it anyway. I wanted her regardless.

I touched a hand to her shoulder. It was a soft touch, in no way as rough as the way that asshole had grabbed her and yet she'd turned around fast as if she planned to punch me in the face.

"What are you doing?" she asked me.

"I wanted to make sure you were alright," I replied honestly, and a little too quickly.

"I'm fine," she replied, rolling her eyes. "Just keep your hands to yourself."

Right. Keep my hands to myself while jerk-off over there can maul you in public. Those words I kept to myself even though I figured she really needed to hear them.

"You're right," I said tightly instead. "I should keep my hands to myself." I was digging in my pocket as I spoke and when I found the money in my wallet, I pulled out some bills and thrust them in her direction. "This should cover my check," I told her before moving, being absolutely certain not to touch her in any way and headed for the front door.

I stopped right there, my hand hovering over the handle and inhaled deeply, letting the breath out slowly. There was something here — in addition to her previously sweet scent and now the tangy stench of her fear — something more than the liquor and cigarette smoke. It was something that was not quite right. I turned, looking over my shoulder and saw that the bastard had made his way over to her once again, rubbing his hand over her ass as she tried to clear off the next table.

I felt like an idiot because it was right there in my face as if to say I was probably the dumbass for attempting to intervene in what was obviously an acceptable relationship between the two. She wasn't my girl just because I liked looking at her or because she invaded my dreams every night, my thoughts every waking moment.

It was obvious that she belonged to him. He had permission to touch her, to kiss her, to want her. I did not.

With a frown so potent my temples ached I yanked open the door and walked out into the brisk fall air. To hell with her if the jerk-off was who she wanted touching her. I didn't give a damn anyway. I really didn't.

CHAPTER 2

Zoe


I'm a victim of abuse, some sexual, a little physical, but mostly psychological. I accept that. Years after the offenses, I can even admit they happened without breaking down completely. Sure I may shed a tear or two here and there at the painful memories, but I am not a victim.

By that I mean that for the three years, since I walked out of my mother's house in Suitland, Maryland, on the morning of July 4, I have been an independent, self-sufficient female. I don't need a boyfriend, but I don't shy away from the opposite sex either, regardless of the horrible things I was forced to see sexually. I've never been to any type of counseling, unless you include the detailed diary I'd kept since the first night he'd entered my bedroom. Whenever things became too quiet in my mother's house I reread pages in that diary to remind myself how sick the man my mother had married really was and to never let down my guard around him, no matter what.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hunger for You by A.C. Arthur. Copyright © 2014 A.C. Arthur. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Cover,
Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Chapter 1: Caleb,
Chapter 2: Zoe,
Chapter 3: Caleb,
Chapter 4: Zoe,
Chapter 5: Caleb,
Chapter 6: Zoe,
Chapter 7: Caleb,
Chapter 8: Zoe,
Chapter 9: Caleb,
Chapter 10: Zoe,
Chapter 11: Caleb,
Chapter 12: Zoe,
Chapter 13: Caleb,
Chapter 14: Zoe,
Chapter 15: Caleb,
Chapter 16: Zoe,
Chapter 17: Caleb,
About the Author,
Copyright,
More from A.C. Arthur's Shadow Shifters series,

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Hunger for You: Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
asgoodrich More than 1 year ago
5 stars = I freaking LOVED this book Hunger for You is the third installment in the Damaged Hearts series and brings us Caleb’s story. Caleb is a half-breed, born to a shifter mother who was raped by his human father. Because of his half-breed status, he feels as though he doesn’t belong in either world and has done his best to withdraw from the world around him – despite the love and affection he received from the Sanchez family, who took him in as a child and raised him as their own. He’s done quite well in avoiding connections with those around him, until he meets Zoe. But Zoe is human and even if he was looking for something more, Caleb knows that it’s pointless to pursue anything with Caleb as it is forbidden to let humans learn about Shadow Shifters.  Having read Mine to Claim and Part of Me, I was already familiar with Ms. Arthur’s writing style and had certain expectations when I picked up this book. Of course, the author wasn’t concerned about my expectations when she wrote Hunger for You, yet she still managed to blow them away. Because Caleb’s refusal to join the Shadow Shifter force comes from a different place entirely than that of Aidan and Lidia, his story seemed sadder to me. The fact that he was trying, unsuccessfully, to connect with someone who was so insistent on not needing anyone, merely magnified the loneliness that Caleb exuded. While I don’t wish assault on anyone, I was relieved when Dex finally went too far, thus pushing Zoe to Caleb for help and finally jumpstarting that relationship. Again, the sex is hot between Caleb and Zoe, but it doesn’t occur until well into the book.  As with the previous novellas in the Damaged Hearts series, this a quick and action-packed read that kept me entertained from beginning to end. As Caleb represents the final Sanchez brother (that I know of), this may be the final novella in the Damaged Hearts series. While I hope that this isn’t true, I can at least take comfort in the fact that this a side-series to the Shadow Shifter series and I can check out the series and indulge in more of Ms. Arthur’s writing.  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
mshoni More than 1 year ago
Caleb Ramsey grew up with the Sanchez family after his parents were murdered, training to take his place in the Shifter community. Never feeling like he quite belonged, he leaves at 19 to find his own way. He gets a job, an apartment and relishes the “normal” life he has created for himself. He eats dinner at the same bar every night hoping to see a waitress that has caught his eye. Zoe Fallon, the waitress, has been abused for most of her life. With no one to save her, she lost herself in romance books to escape the trauma surrounding her. This causes her to over romanticize men sometimes in a way than can be dangerous. After witness her current boyfriend touching her a bit roughly in the bar, Caleb’s natural protective instinctive as a Shifter kicks in. Zoe’s naiveté about her boyfriend was annoying at times, but I understand it was needed to move the story along. Her desire for a hero was exactly what forced Caleb to accept who and what he was. These novellas were the perfect placeholders to help us wait for the next full Shadow Shifters novel coming up.
Flowergirlzmom1SW More than 1 year ago
'I received a copy of this book from the Publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review' Caleb is a half blood shifter who doesn't feel that he belongs in either world. The Shifter World or the Human world. Even though he loves the shifter family that adopted and raised him he took off when he turned 18 to try to find a place in the human world. Then he happens to go into a bar and see's a girl who knocks him off his feet. Zoe is so beautiful and he cannot stop going there just to look at her. But she has a boyfriend who doesn't seem quite right and he knows that he will end up hurting Zoe physically. He finally gets the nerve up to talk to her and let her know he is into her but she turns him down continuously. Zoe grew up in an abusive home and she swore she would never be in that situation again. Yet she finds herself there without even realizing it and realizes she has been making excuses. When a customer from the bar that she has secretly been attracted to starts coming on to her and trying to warn her about her boyfriend she is still in denial and is continuously rude to him. Yet when the situation goes from bad to worse Caleb is there for her. What will happen when the ex gets mad and during a showdown between the two men and Zoe finds out Calebs Secret? My Opinion: I really enjoyed this book. Although I really did get annoyed with Zoe's Character. From the description of the men I would have went with Caleb in a heartbeat. It was a Well written short story. Even though it was a short story it covered the bases for me. It had a background for both characters and their current situation. It kept me engaged and made me want to read more books in this series and from this author. I definitely recommend reading. 'Read and Reviewed by LSK Sweetheart Reviews'