The desire-and danger-heats up to a scorching degree in HUNGER'S MATE: Part Three (Shadow Shifters) from popular romance author A.C. Arthur.
In Hunger's Mate: Part 3 by A.C. Arthur, Jewel has plotted and schemed for months, hiding her knowledge of a top-secret operation-and keeping Ezra guessing...and hungry for more. Captivated by her passion, skill, and courage, Ezra wants to help Jewel on her mission. But can she be trusted? Is his desire for her worth the risk?
"The shifter universe just got sexier...sizzling!"-RT Book Reviews
Read all four parts of this sensational novel-and look for the full volume of HUNGER'S MATE in February 2015 from St. Martin's Paperbacks.
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's Mate Part 3
By A.C. Arthur
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 A.C. Arthur
All rights reserved.
"Hello, I'm here to pick up my father."
"Oh yes, Ms. Jenner. We had him ready yesterday when you called. He was a little upset that you didn't show up, but he'll be so happy you're here now," Gail said, pleased that neither she nor any of the other evening staff would have to explain to Mr. Jenner why his daughter hadn't shown up again.
The old man had been up all night asking after somebody named Dawn. When she'd corrected him at least twenty times, telling him his daughter's name was Jewel, he'd grown even more agitated. He'd yelled for her to stop calling him Mr. Jenner, but he did that whenever they used his last name. As long as they called him Thurgood, he'd been as sweet as candy to the staff. Last night and this morning had been the first time he'd gone off the way he had so that at one point they'd considered sedating him. So yes, Gail was more than glad to see Jewel Jenner here to pick him up.
"He was a bit fussy last night but luckily we didn't have to sedate him. He's very excited about the trip to a new home. He's been talking about the beach." When they were standing outside of Mr. Jenner's door Gail stopped herself from rambling, opened the door, and hurried inside.
"Mr. ... ah ... Thurgood, look who's finally here," she said, then clamped her lips shut. Of course he wouldn't be able to look, she berated herself. It had been such a long night and it seemed like all too soon she'd been back in this place again. Shaking her head she went to the window where he sat and touched his shoulder.
"Your daughter's here to pick you up," she told him.
A smile spread across the old man's face. It was so warm and so genuine she couldn't help but smile herself. When she looked up at Jewel she almost expected her to be smiling as well, or at the very least coming closer to embrace her father after knowing he'd had such a rough night, but she didn't. She still stood just inside the doorway wearing those dark shades she always wore, her hair draping over her shoulders.
"He's all ready to go," Gail added once again.
The woman finally took a few steps inside the room, reaching down for the suitcase that was near the dresser. "Great. If you could get him in a wheelchair and to the door we can get going."
"Well, ah," Gail said. "There's some paperwork to be signed at the front desk. Just formalities we do when a patient checks out."
Jewel had already made her way back to the door, when she turned slightly. "Oh that's right. I apologize, it's been a really rough day. I'm just in such a hurry to get Daddy to our new home. I'll meet you at the front desk," she said, giving Gail a nod and a smile.
The questions Gail had had about Jewel's reserve today melted away at that point.
"No problem. I'll just get him into the chair and we'll meet you up front."
She left the room with another smile on her face, this one more devious as she carried the raggedy old suitcase in one hand and pulled out her cell phone with the other. A press of a button and she was hearing the ringing tone as she put the phone to her ear.
"I've got dear old dad," she spoke the moment the man on the other end answered. "We'll be there in a couple of hours."
Fifteen minutes after disconnecting the call Bianca climbed behind the wheel of her white Hummer and slid the large-framed sunglasses from her face. Before starting the truck she looked into the rearview mirror and plucked the green contact lenses from her blue eyes. There had been no need for a wig since her own hair was dark and long, its only enhancement to make her look more like the Jewel Jenner that frequented the Sunset Brooke Convalescent Home had been done with her flatiron earlier today.
Now, there was no need for a disguise, the old man was blind as a bat. He couldn't see she wasn't his daughter, he had no clue.
"He finally caught up with her, huh?"
She'd just started the truck and pulled onto the old dirt road when she realized he'd spoken. "What did you say?"
He chuckled, a rough sound that led to a second or so of coughing, before he removed the hand he'd used to cover his mouth and spoke again. "You ain't foolin' nobody. That bastard that was using her finally figured out where she was. But it don't matter what he does with me, I've lived my life and my Dawn, well, she's a fighter. He's never going to own her, no matter how much he tries."
With a smirk the man couldn't see, Bianca settled back in her seat and looked at the open road in front of her, glad there were no pretenses between them. He knew he was going to die even if he was totally off base about his precious daughter. She wouldn't get away, she wouldn't even try once she found out they had him. And once they both figured out that Boden was now calling the shots, well, wouldn't that be a lovely day.
* * *
"I can't give you what you want, Ezra," Jewel said the moment she stepped out of the bathroom. "I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I know I can't give it to you."
She was in the room with him again. Ezra knew this not because he'd heard the door open, but because her scent overpowered him. It was mixed with something else now, something entirely too familiar to him and it made his temples throb.
He'd pulled on his pants, not buttoning them or bothering with anything else, for that matter. For the last ... he didn't even know how long ... he'd been sitting on the side of the bed, bent over so that his elbows rested on his knees, his head held between his arms. It rippled up and down his back, running alongside an already agitated cat. That darkness that he was so afraid of returning to was back without a doubt.
The return of her scent, however, had caused it to still.
That's why he lifted his head to look at her, not her words. He'd barely registered them. The one thing prevalent in his mind at the moment was the stillness of everything within him, as if it were waiting for something to happen, or for someone to do something.
"Why are you here?" he asked through the fog that hovered in his mind. "Why are you here with me?"
She stared at him quizzically, her eyes narrowing then opening fully as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"I don't know why you brought me here," she said with a huff. "You should have just let me go my own way before. As long as I'm around, Larry is going to follow. I'm sorry about Jacques but there's nothing else I can do. I can't go back to Larry and he's not going to stop hunting me. So the best thing for me to do is to get my stuff and leave like I was planning to do all along."
Once she'd said that last sentence she moved to the dresser with its one drawer missing a handle and scratches all along one side. She picked up her backpack and headed for the door.
"Don't go," he said slowly, closing his eyes once more to the haze in his head. He wanted to stand up to stop her, to go to the door and block her exit, but wasn't sure his legs would hold him.
Surprisingly, she stopped at his words and turned back to face him.
"Don't go until you tell me what the hell is going on." He looked over to her as he spoke this time, his vision crystal clear, magnified so that she looked like she was standing much closer to him. Her breasts looked larger, softer, and his mouth watered, the hunger still not appeased.
"What do you want me to say?" she asked impatiently. "I already told you I stole the diamonds from him. What else is there to tell you?"
"Tell me what the bastard did to you to make you run. Tell me why you changed your name and your appearance and why you're prepared to do whatever you have to do to get away from him again," he insisted.
She was shaking her head as he spoke, denying him this knowledge, the explanation that he felt might help him to better protect her.
"It doesn't matter what he did to me. All that matters is that I got away. I needed to get away and I did. Now, I need to stay away. That's all you need to know," she insisted.
"No," Ezra replied, gritting his teeth and inhaling deeply. "No, that's not all. I won't allow it to be all."
She snickered. "Are you kidding me? You think because of what we just did you can allow or disallow something in my life? No!" she yelled. "Never again! You don't control me and neither does any other man! Now, I'm outta here," she snapped, turning and reaching for the doorknob.
She was leaving him, just as he'd tried to leave Acacia. He should let her go. It was safer that way, he knew. Yet, the sight of her back to him had something inside snapping. He was moving before he even knew it, catching up with her before she could even turn the knob, slapping his palm on the door above her head.
"This is not a fucking game!" Ezra roared. "You don't get to play your hand and then walk away while I deal with all this ... this ... shit inside!"
His teeth chattered as he finished, his eyes closing, burning.
She used that moment to slip around him, going back into the room. Ezra stood absolutely still, holding his head down, wondering when one of them was going to win and the other surrender. They'd gone to Dagar to prevent this from happening. The possession had been just a myth. He and Eli had laughed at the bent-over old man that always lay across the way from Acacia's cottage. He'd tried to warn them after their first night in there with her, tried to tell them what would happen. "She's evil, that one. You think her body is all there is." He'd shaken his head, the thinning strands of hair dangling down the sides of his dirt-riddled face. "But there is more. So much more and it is evil, deep down to the root, evil."
They'd laughed at him, called him jealous because Acacia wasn't inviting him inside and having wild, crazy sex with his old ass. But they'd been wrong, they'd been so wrong.
And the old man had been absolutely right. Acacia had done so much more than control their bodies, she'd made certain they were addicted, craving all the sadistic pleasures she so enjoyed until they were hard-pressed to do anything else. It was that addiction that ultimately led them to Dagar, begging for any type of freedom from what felt like a horrific spell. What they received in return was an implosion of every part of themselves, good, bad, and totally fucked up.
The deepest, darkest part of Ezra, which came from his Shadow Shifter genetics combined with the anger he'd had for Acacia at the time of inhaling the shaman's drug, was free. It was horny and wanted desperately to fuck Jewel again. The human part of him, on the other hand, was confused, but not so much that he couldn't see what was about to happen.
Unfortunately, Jewel had no idea what was going on inside him. All she saw was the man that now threatened her, and her reaction was swift and astonishing.
Ezra felt something pelt him against his back, a bunch of tiny somethings that slapped against the door with a click, then fell to the floor. He looked down, focusing on the glint coming from the puke-green carpet. They sparkled like glittering raindrops around him.
"I know it's not a fucking game, you moron!" she screamed.
Still reeling from the inside out, Ezra turned slowly, looking at her as she stood with a black velvet bag in hand before tossing it onto the floor. He inhaled deeply of her scent, letting it wash through his system, once again tempering the turmoil inside.
"Do you think I didn't consider every possible way there was to escape his clutches? I'm not a thief, I'm a survivor! I did what I did to save myself, to save ..." She hesitated. "I had to get out and I needed a safety net. I needed something to hold over his head should he ever come back for me."
"You needed insurance," Ezra said, hearing a semblance of control return to his voice. "You took these diamonds so that if he came looking for you, you could tell the world where he got them. He's a commander in the United States Marine Corps. There's no legal way he would come to own this many diamonds."
She was biting her lower lip again and when she looked away, Ezra knew what he'd just said to her was right on point.
"I need you to trust me, Jewel. Trust me with the whole truth and trust that I will protect you from him." The words "trust that I will not kill you" echoed in his head like they were being shouted through a bullhorn.
"Trust you?" she yelled back. "Trust you, the man who's been lying to me since day one? The one who is a part of a group of people that lie for a living? Why the hell should I trust you, or any of your kind?"
Ezra hesitated only a second before crossing the room and lifting her off her feet. He tucked her legs behind him so that her pussy was flush against his throbbing dick. When she tried to swing on him, he grabbed her wrists and when she opened her mouth to say something, he stuck his tongue inside. Stroking hers once, twice, then suckling it into his mouth, he felt her moan and groaned in return.
Tearing his lips away momentarily, he murmured, "You should trust me because I'm the only one that can make you feel like this." Not waiting for another reply, his lips crashed down on hers again.
He was trying to devour her, to capture every nuance of her taste, her scent, anything he could grasp, before it was too late. Inside was like a vicious storm, twisting and turning, sending mixed signals and some that were loud and clear. Those, the ones that blasted in his mind, repeatedly pushing, urging, were the ones he had no choice but to act on right now.
His hands cupped her ass, palming and squeezing the generous globes tightly. She gasped and arched her back and struggled with the urge to rip off the clothes she'd just put back on. Instead, he continued kissing her, running his tongue and teeth along the fresh-scented skin down her neck. At some point she'd pulled her arms from his grasp, lifting them to wrap around his neck tightly. She held on as he took the first steps that would end when he had her back against the wall. Her hungry mouth found his and once more their tongues dueled, reuniting in a connection that threatened to scorch his very being. Slipping a hand around to the front of her pants he unbuttoned them, urgently pressing his hand down, past her panties until her warmth and dampness greeted him.
Ezra growled as his fingers slid through the drenched lips of her pussy, loving the feel of her tightened bud beneath his fingers. But he needed more and he needed it now. He pressed farther until two of his fingers sank into her waiting heat. Farther and farther he inserted his fingers, until her essence dripped down onto his hands. She'd bucked in his arms, rotating her hips as if sending him a message. But there had been no need, Ezra and his cat knew exactly what she wanted. The darkness within him, the part of him that Ezra wanted to stay far away from her, also knew what she wanted and planned on being the first to take her there this go-around.
He wasn't about to let that happen.
He pumped his fingers inside her faster, deeper, loving the little jerks of her body at the motion, the sound of his name so quiet on her lips. Damn, but he loved the feel of her so tight and hot, sucking his fingers inside hungrily. Her legs were clasped around him, his other hand still cupping her delicious ass. His teeth chattered with his need for her and in the next instant he'd pulled his hand from between her legs, pushing them down so that her feet now touched the floor. He didn't waste a second but pushed her pants and those cute little shoes off her feet. Freeing his rigid cock, Ezra had her legs around his waist once more as he slid his dick into her slickness.
She accepted him without qualm, her blunt nails digging into his shoulders. Ezra pumped and pumped, pressing deeper inside of her and trying to go farther still, to thrust until their bodies were as one. He realized in that moment how much he needed the connection.
"When it begins to awake again, which it will, there's only one thing that can quiet that hunger," Dagar had told Ezra and Eli as they'd both knelt before him that long-ago night in the forest. At the time they'd had no idea what the old shaman was telling them, how genuine the warning would turn out to be.
That night their chests heaved, palms splayed flat on their naked thighs. They'd both decided that they needed this relief. In order to stay and complete their training after Acacia's betrayal was known and their grandfather had been thoroughly embarrassed by their actions, they'd had to find a way to stop the desire and the pain that denial ultimately caused them.
Despite the warning they'd decided anything was better than this sexual hell that kept them from focusing totally on their training and their future. They'd been so young and so caught in Acacia's web of desire that they had almost lost track of their true purpose. Angry and embarrassed by her debauchery and determined to make amends to their grandfather, they knew Dagar was the only option.
The shaman's potion had helped, the heavy smoke they'd inhaled had given them instant relief, but at what cost?
Excerpted from Hunger's Mate Part 3 by A.C. Arthur. Copyright © 2015 A.C. Arthur. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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