Blue Moon Brides: The Complete Series (4 page)

BOOK: Blue Moon Brides: The Complete Series
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The digital clock beside the bed blinked midnight, and she needed to go back to sleep, but the dreams were too vivid. Instead, standing up, she headed for the window, fanning herself against the sultry nighttime heat. The world outside was as unfamiliar as the dreams, the yard bathed in an otherworldly blue light that cast sensual shadows.

Unfamiliar but strangely beautiful.

She pressed her fingers against the window screen. She wanted to go out there, bask in the light. Mama Jolie had promised the blue moon was coming—and come it had. If she stepped out of her house, what would happen next?  Her bare feet slapped against the floor, and she was moving before she realized it. A handful of seconds later, she’d opened the front door and slipped onto the porch where the heat gathered, thick and wet, full of night scents.

The creamy-white magnolias filled the air with a lush fragrance. Fallen flowers covered the ground with a carpet of soft petals, and a doe lifted her head from her midnight snack when she sensed Lark’s presence. The sensuality of the night was like a lover stroking her. Preparing her. Opening her up for his touch.

Her toes curled into the old, smooth wood.
They gon’ eat you up
. Could the stories be true? Did she want them to be? The house was at her back, waiting for her, but the bayou spread out before her. Promising something.

Something sweet and hot and raw.

She fingered the gris-gris, then dropped it over her head, between her breasts. Her hands skimmed lightly over her ribs, cupping the sleep-warmed skin. She wanted male hands on her skin. Male hands pressing her down.

But she was alone.

The dark shouldn’t have been so lonely. Not when the night-blooming flowers opened beneath the moon’s silvery-blue light. Everything was different. Her senses came alive and she could think. Breathe. The moon rose up over the Gulf, spilling its clear blue light over the bayou’s surfaces. There had already been one full moon that month, which made this one special. Unusual. The blue color could have been the result of fires or ash or a volcano erupting somewhere. Somehow, instinctively, she knew this moon was none of those.  This moon was something out of the ordinary.

Beautiful.

A long, low howl filled the air.

A dog, out hunting. The feral, determined note, still several miles away, had her head jerking around instinctively, searching for the source. That cry was pure predator, hungry.
Hunting
. That wasn’t a dog.

The sound barreled towards her, the volume increasing, and she backed up instinctively.

Wolves
.

The
loup garou
were a story. She’d go out there and, ten to one, she’d find animals, not men. Certainly not shape-shifting men. Yet Rafer’s dark face haunted her. That face had contained an animal hunger—and something more. He was one sexy beast, and she’d wanted him. Maybe she’d run for Rafer Breaux.  Make him work for her. Make him catch her.

Ducking back inside, she grabbed her running shoes and changed quickly. There was more than enough moonlight to see to run. She’d go out. Stretch her legs.

Rafer’s voice replayed in her head.
Don’ run, chère. Not unless you wan’ me to chase you.
Maybe that was exactly what she wanted tonight.

Stepping off the porch, she began to run.

 

Chapter Four

 

Rafer moved swiftly upwind.

Exultation pounded through him. He’d shifted, and for the first time in centuries, the man controlled the beast. He ran on all fours, but his mind was still clear. In control. He knew that scent, knew to whom the blue moon pulled him so inexorably.
Lark Andrews
. He’d warned her—and she’d run. She’d
chosen
this path.

His Lark wasn’t making this an easy run. He’d closed the gap between them until she ran only a mile ahead of him now. He pushed himself faster, the ground a rocky blur beneath his paws. The deliberate, heavy rhythm of the run mimicked another, more primal act. Man on woman. In and out. Up and down.

The Pack split up, fanning out to cut off her exits as they surrounded her. Only way she could go now was forward, and then she’d hit sand. He threw back his head and howled, calling his brothers, calling the Pack together.

Lark Andrews was the one. She was strong and she was caring, both qualities his Pack needed, and her laughter lit him up inside. He liked the way she looked at the world, looked at him. She hadn’t judged him, when he’d tied up at her dock, barefoot and shirtless. Simply asked him what he needed—and given it to him. Her flowers were waiting for her, a welcome feminine note in the all-male camp. And there was no denying the heated attraction between them—his memories of that almost kiss in her greenhouse were killing him. He wanted more than that one taste.

Half a mile now. Her scent grew stronger, and the damned moonlight was one intense wave of color.

That same moonlight picked out the path she’d taken, but he wouldn’t have missed the honey-and-sage sweetness of her even without the soft blue lighting up the headlands. She smelled of growing things and earth, as if that part of the day she spent planting and digging stuck with her. The blue moon built the fragile connection between them, feeding him the emotional impressions of her earlier passage along the trail. Here, she’d stopped to touch that piece of yellow lupine, stroked the long yellow spray of flowers with her fingers before moving on. By tomorrow, when the moon had set, that tenuous connection would be gone, replaced by a more raw and primitive connection.

She’d have chosen a mate and bonded with that lucky male.

She’d be Pack.

His wolf reveled in the sensuous beat of the moonlight, the delicious scent of the female.
Mine mine mine
. So Rafer collected the emotional scraps, the teasing impressions of a woman who was earthy and sweet and lonely. Learning what might please her so she chose one of them instead of none of them.

She meant everything to his
famille
.

So he’d bring her home.

Focus
. Dag brushed past him, moving fast. He ran in his wolf form as always, a creature of primal beauty and raw power. But not human. They all needed mates, but Dag most of all. There was almost nothing left of the man inside that body, just the wolf running hot on the trail of Lark Andrews.

Rafer raced his brother neck and neck. The part of him that was still man was losing the battle to stay in control. His wolf side insisted he get there first. Be the first. The man didn’t like those possessive images and remembered the blue-moon bride always had a choice. She might have run, she might be playing this game with them, but she could end it all with one word.
No
.

Yet the erotic heat thrumming through his body demanded only one possible ending for tonight’s chase. He wanted to catch her. Pin her. Mount her and take her.
He wanted
.

Exploding out of the brush, he spotted his prey.

 

~*~

 

The presence of a wolf pack on the Louisiana headlands was impossible. There hadn’t been wild wolves in Louisiana in decades but, undeniably, the bloodcurdling wolf howl filled the air behind her. That sound warned her all too clearly that the wolf pack had her scent and were beating feet to catch up with her. They would, too. If she cut off the narrow path, she faced an uphill run on a slope covered with a thick carpet of lupine. She’d be slower, and she couldn’t afford slower right now. Not if she wanted to draw this game out.

That left down, where the bayou ended, spilling towards the beach and the ocean.

A wolf growled, closer, and adrenaline shot through her. Running through the night was a dark thrill. A leap of faith. She ran, and fuck the consequences. She’d never felt so alive. Probably this run was stupid and she’d regret it tomorrow, but right now she had this moment.

The trail took a sudden nosedive, and she glanced behind her. No wolves yet, but they were definitely driving her somewhere. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears, while her breath tore from her in hoarse, ragged gasps. Stopping wasn’t an option. The path dropped abruptly and she slid, rocks and scrub tearing at her hands as she cartwheeled in a futile bid to stop herself.

She was briefly airborne and then her feet and butt hit sand. Hard.

Her eyes had adjusted to the dark at some point, enough to make out the pocket beach where she’d landed. The howl behind her warned her she hadn’t shaken her pursuers, either.
Game on
.

Pushing to her feet, she turned, trying to find an out. No luck. She might not be done running, but there was nothing here but sand and dunes and the steep rocky side of the headlands shutting in the strip of beach. Her lungs burned, and the stitch in her side had her doubling over as the cramp tore through her. No way to be quiet, so she gratefully sucked in deep, gulping breaths of air while she could.

A heavily muscled body shot in front of her, cutting her off and jolting her back to awareness of her surroundings. She screamed as fur brushed her, and went hard left.

Dead end.

God, let Mama Jolie be right. These had to be the Breaux brothers, or she was in trouble. Her fingers grasped the gris-gris, and heat surged through her body. She’d brought along her taser, because insurance was a good thing, but against this many wolves the taser would be almost useless. Still, she’d come out here to take a chance because she was done with sitting around, unable to stop the bad shit from coming. Helpless to change her life.

The Breaux brothers—if these wolves were them—would be one hell of a change.

“You boys had better not be toying with me,” she said and took a step forward.

 

~*~

 

Lark Andrews
knew
.

Satisfaction roared through Rafer. Never mind that she promptly raised the taser she held like the device was a wineglass and she was toasting her guests. She knew or she’d guessed, or she’d connected the dots between his veiled hints yesterday at the farm. And she’d come out to play with them.

“You all come meet my insurance policy,” she invited.

He had every intention of doing
something
.

His wolf moved forward swiftly.

Hair fell over Lark’s face as she scrambled back instinctively to avoid him. Brown eyes flashed, and she tucked her chin, tightening her grip on the taser she hung on to like a damned lifeline. His wolf adored the fierceness of her face, even as her small, delicate hands aroused his protective instincts. She might be running, but she was stubborn. Defiant. Whatever she’d fled from on her farm, she'd decided to run towards the Breaux brothers. Towards him.

Rafer wanted to lick her from head to toe, taste her pretty skin. Learn where she was warm. Where she burned, because when he inhaled, his senses were flooded with another, more intimate scent. Feminine, sun-kissed heat. He threw his wolf at her, pushing her backwards, crowding her smaller body with his own.

She went, because he was bigger. Stronger and meaner.

She went, but she cursed like a trucker, and her taser was perilously close to singeing his fur. Hell. He didn’t mind playing the game by her rules, but she needed to tell him what those rules were. He was dominant here, and if she wanted to go head to head with him, he’d push right back. Her behavior was almost that of a wolf challenge. Maybe she was hunting his Pack on her own terms and maybe he’d enjoy coaxing her to submit to him.

Clearly, he had his work cut out for him because the Pack’s newest mate was no submissive. Shoving at his wolf, damned if she didn’t try to get past him and launch herself at the other wolves. As he placed himself between his Alpha and the human woman, Rafer couldn’t help but notice that curvy body. She was petite, her head no more than shoulder high on him when he was in his human form, and rounded in ways that made a man think about touching and then touching a bit more. Soft and sweet.

Unless, of course, she got herself killed challenging their Alpha. She should have backed up and dropped her gaze. Instead, she’d palmed a taser and thrown herself into the fight. Luc was the only wolf not in the running for the title of mate. He’d already found his—even if he’d lost her. She’d run, and run fast, and Luc hadn’t bothered going after her.

Yet.

So Luc wasn’t shopping for a mate, and Lark Andrews needed to back the hell off before she accidentally triggered the wolf’s aggressive instincts. Deliberately, Rafer bumped her, and she staggered back a step. Another curse word left her pretty pink lips, and he suddenly wanted to show her
exactly
what that word meant. God. He was a dirty bastard. But he could smell her excitement, and he knew Lark wasn’t afraid.

She was playing the game with them.

Still, she didn’t drop the taser, and there were some rules here. He didn’t want to spend the night with all that voltage amping through him. Nor was he letting her attack his Alpha. When she surged forward, time was up. He wished he could introduce her more gentle-like to his world, but she needed to understand a few basic facts soon. So he shifted, crowding her back with his larger body because if he slammed into her with the full weight of his wolf form, he’d hurt her.

“You need to stop,” he growled, working through the Change, his voice hoarse after hours spent as the wolf. “You don’ want to take on Luc there.” He fought for control, to overcome that fluid sensation of being suspended in-between. Stretching. Reforming. Tonight, finally, it felt so very right to sink back into his human body.

Because she was here, touching him. Those stolen moments in her greenhouse had only whetted his appetite. She’d given him a taste, and he wanted more. Lots more.

“Oh, my God.” She froze. He watched her visibly connect the dots and come to the conclusion that he’d been the wolf. She’d seen the shadows expand and contract and spit his ass out as a man. A six-foot plus, naked man. Maybe she wasn’t a screamer, but her whole face advertised shock. “You really are shifters.”

“Sure,
chère
,” he drawled, tension thickening his Cajun accent. “And I thought your
nannan
warned you about the Breaux brothers.”

“You look in the mirror lately? I thought she meant you were sex on a stick. Bayou shifters are a whole different league of trouble.”

Her back hit the unforgiving hardness of the cliff, and there was nowhere to run. Her breasts rose and fell nervously, and when her gaze suddenly moved from his face to the space over his shoulder, he knew the Pack was shifting. Her pretty brown eyes widened.

“Good man,” Dag called from behind him.

She stared straight back at Rafer, though, and his wolf liked that intent look. Wondered what else would put it on her face. “Now what?” she asked.

“I warned you,” he said, taking a step forward. “I told you what would happen if you ran from us tonight.”

When she turned, eyeing the cliff’s too-far top and the pale sprinkling of faraway stars dotting the black sky, he made his move. Two seconds had him at her back, one hard arm wrapped around her chest, up against her throat. If he’d wanted, he could snap her neck in a handful of seconds. He didn’t want to hurt her, though. He’d never hurt her. She was his, his female. Possession was a drumbeat in his veins.
Keep her safe
.

What he wanted was to bury his face in the soft skin beneath her jaw and drink in the scent of her. Wanted to lick her slowly, from top to bottom, because holding her like this felt so very right, and yet he knew things were all wrong. Her heart pounded against his arm, like a bird trying its damnedest to escape an unexpected cage. He understood the need to fight free too well.

“We need to lose the taser,” he whispered against her ear. She’d had them pierced with thin gold hoops that circled the tender lobes. Pretty.

Her answer was to kick him in the shins and buck hard. That was okay with him. He liked the feel of her ass driving against his cock and she must not have figured that out, because she didn’t stop the rodeo action, just fought harder.

The taser still had to go, and she needed to understand who was Alpha here, so he slid his free hand down her arm. The T-shirt she wore left most of her arm bare, and her skin was the smoothest thing he’d ever touched.

He could have touched her for hours, but instead he got his thumb on her wrist, his fingers on the back of her hand. He carefully pried the taser from her grasp, one finger at a time.

BOOK: Blue Moon Brides: The Complete Series
12.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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