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Authors: Rhyannon Byrd

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal

Edge of Hunger (3 page)

BOOK: Edge of Hunger
4.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Saturday Morning, 3 a.m.

IAN WAS DREAMING OF HOME. Dreaming of the Deep South in the late fall, when he was young. It was the same strange dream he'd been having since he'd run away at sixteen.

He sat huddled around a crackling fireplace with his small family. Dinner simmered on the stove, filling the weathered house with the rich scent of beans and corn bread, while young Riley sprawled on the threadbare rug and little Saige cuddled on his mother's lap, begging for another story about their ancestors.

"Many years ago," his mother murmured, "before this country was even discovered, our ancestors walked the earth, but they weren't like us--"

"They were Merricks, weren't they?" Saige interrupted, all but bouncing with excitement.

"Yes, sweetheart," his mother answered with a smile, "they most certainly were."

"And they kicked butt, didn't they?" his brother added, grinning a little.

His mother winked at Riley. "That they did."

"Until the Casus massacred them," Ian inserted drily, sitting on the floor by the fire. He wrapped his thin arms around his scuffed knees; his lip curled in a snide expression his mother had always said was too scornful to belong to a twelve-year-old.

"That's not true!" Saige protested, sticking her tongue out at him.

"Oh, yeah? Why do you think they're all dead?"

"But they're not all dead," his mother said softly, and all three heads turned sharply toward her, big eyes curious and uncertain. This was a strange twist, for the stories had never taken this direction before. Not once, in all the countless tellings.

"What do you mean they're not dead?" he asked quietly, though his words sounded belligerent and hard against the heavy silence of the house. He fought the urge to flinch as a log cracked sharply in the fireplace, the wet wood popping, then splitting.

Their mother's slim brows arched high on the worry-wrinkled span of her brow. "Did I ever say they were dead?"

"If they're not dead--" his eyes narrowed in suspicion "--then where are they?"

"Right under your nose," she explained with a small smile that made him feel a little sick inside. She held his stare, the corners of her mouth curving just the tiniest bit--a strange glow warming the deep, dark blue of her eyes. "And one day, when the darkness calls to you," she whispered, her voice so low he could barely hear the words, "when you can feel it in your bones, feel it roaring through your veins, in the beat of your heart--when your dreams are no longer your own, Ian--you're going to meet him."

Trapped within the oppressive layers of sleep, Ian stared at his smiling mother until his vision became cloudy, the silhouette of her body hazy against the thickening darkness. He knew what would happen next--but he couldn't stop the recurring dream from bleeding into a nightmare. His throat hurt as the beginning vibrations of a feral growl shivered in his chest, his body aching as every muscle went rigid with a painful, gripping tension.

He tossed beneath his sweat-soaked covers, struggling to throw off the thick curtain of sleep, but he couldn't shake it, as if the dream had lain itself out over his body in a wash of warm, wet cement, binding him in place as it hardened. His teeth gnashed, grinding and angry, but the dream kept going, like a film clip set on continuous replay.

The dream was changing...sucking him deeper...pulling him into darker, treacherous waters, where danger lurked in the thick, murky depths beneath his feet. Gone was his childhood home, his mother, his freckle-faced sister, Saige, and scrawny, pain-in-the-ass little brother, Riley. Now the ripe scent of the forest filled his head, humid night crowding around him like a falling sky, smothering and dark and too close for comfort. The heavy weight of midnight black surrounded him while the tension in his gut wound tighter, knotting and coiling...and then he saw it. The small, flickering glow of a campfire in the distance, its shivering light just visible through the stygian darkness. The wind surged, bringing with it the rich, provocative scent of sex, while a deep, rhythmic pulse of music suddenly began to fill the unnatural quiet of the woods.

He stood silent and still, aware of the slow, heavy thudding of his heart, of the intense surge of blood swirling through his rigid body. His hands flexed at his sides, the tips of his fingers burning with sharp, piercing sensations, while the thick wave of hunger rolling through him settled heavily in his cock. He breathed in, and broke open in some weird metaphysical way, aware of something unfurling from deep within him, stretching to existence within his fevered skin. Something that felt at home there in the clinging web of darkness. His senses sharpened, acute and predatory, while his body swelled, growing stronger, the muscles buried beneath his burning skin bulging with a primitive, animal craving that demanded freedom.

That wanted to answer the provocative call of the darkness.

Suddenly he was aware of the warm wind against his now-naked flesh. Of the damp air in his lungs, the fertile ground beneath his feet, too many smells assailing him with a chaotic swarm of information. The details consumed him, crowding his mind, battling for supremacy, until one need conquered, dominating all others.

The urge to hunt.

Lifting his nose to the wind, he searched for the thing he craved, just so that he could chase it and take it down. His nostrils flared and he sniffed, sorting through the sensitive data intake rushing into his head, and then he found it.

Yes, the creature within him hissed with thick satisfaction. Right there.

The change was almost complete. Some inherent part of him struggled against it, but the hunger was too strong. He exploded into action and felt himself running, charging, lungs heaving, thighs and calves working with preternatural force as he raced through the thick tangle of foliage and trees, their leaves and branches whipping against his face and arms and legs, leaving bloody scratches on his skin...and he knew what would happen next.

He'd been having this nightmare for weeks now. And each time it ripped something inside of him open a little more. Cut him just that little bit deeper.

No! Ian roared from the darkest depths of his unconscious psyche, while the dream kept going, each moment pissing him off more than the last. Goddamn it! No! Wake up, you idiot!

Wake up!

But he couldn't shake it. No, something dark and hungry in his gut wanted this too much--

needed it--and an ugly, twisted feeling cut through him. Shame. Bitter and foul and consuming. But the craving was too huge to ignore--to overcome.

He needed what was out there.

Ian thrashed in the tangle of his damp sheets, drenched and aching as he struggled to throw off the infuriating bonds of the nightmare. But its claws were sunk too deeply into his flesh, trapping him in place. It was the same as it had been in all the other dreams. He saw himself breaking through the edge of the forest, rushing into the middle of a gypsy campfire. He saw the rapid, sensual swirl of the dancers as they spun around the rioting flames, the rich colors of their skirts flapping rapidly in the breeze, long hair flowing behind them in a wild explosion of curls. Along the shadowy edges of the campsite, couples writhed in ecstasy, the ripe, musky scent of sex filling the air while the pulsing music grew louder. Around the fire, the dancers moved with increasing urgency, clapping and stamping their feet, singing and laughing in their decadent revelry.

And a low, eerie chant began to hum beneath the music. Something thick and husky that sounded like Merrick...Merrick...Merrick.

They knew he was there. Dark sloe eyes caressed him, ruby-red lips curling in feline smiles of invitation he couldn't deny. He reached for the one who first dared to dance too close to him, taking her down to the ground right there, aware of the sizzling, searing looks as the others watched.

Clothes were shredded in seconds. Then he took her the same way he did in each dream, spreading her long legs, thrusting into the slippery entrance nestled there within her crimson folds, the ebony curls above glistening with her juices, and he hammered her into the hard, damp floor of the forest.

Ian fisted his hands in his sheets until the fabric ripped, his body taut upon the mattress, his weight resting solely on his head and heels--and in the dream, his hands clawed at the rich soil, eyes narrowed and hot as he ground himself into the panting, dark-eyed girl. He slammed into her harder, with a viciousness that shocked him, but he couldn't get deep enough, as if he were trying to reach something that she couldn't give him. The need raged through him, savage growls crawling from his throat, like something wild and predaceous, but she wasn't afraid of him. Sharp nails clawed his flesh, her voluptuous body arching and writhing beneath him, low, moaning pleas for more flowing from her lips while the others cheered them on.

The music grew louder...swelling with each pulsing beat, until his head roared with it.

He thrust himself into her giving flesh, searching...aware of the pain his size brought her, but he couldn't find what he needed. He snarled, throwing back his head, an animal roar ripping from his chest, the desperate sound slicing through the music and raucous laughter. His eyes screwed tight, the tendons in his neck bulging while his temples throbbed. His heart thundered, threatening to explode...building and building and building. And then he felt it.

Something...different. Something that had never happened before within the terrifying landscape of his nightmares.

It was the small, shy touch of a hand against his chest, pressed right over the painful thudding of his heart. Ian froze on a hard downstroke, sublimely aware of the delicious change in the body beneath his own, his rigid cock buried thick and deep within an impossibly snug, cushiony feminine channel that gripped him so tight it actually hurt.

He swallowed, his eyes burning from the sting of sweat as he lowered his head and stared down at the woman now lying beneath him. The gypsy was gone, and in her place was a shy, petite honey-blond gazing up at him with big brown eyes.

Oh, hell. It was her. Molly. Something in Ian's chest snapped, making him jerk on top of her.

He didn't dare breathe or blink or speak, terrified of breaking the spell and losing her. He couldn't let that happen. No, suddenly the most important thing in his world was holding on to the dream with everything that he had.

Holding on to the woman.

With the sound of his blood roaring in his ears, Ian shifted, grinding against her, making sure she had every inch of him buried inside of her, the base of his shaft rubbing against the pulsing heat of her clit. Her eyes went wide, full of shock and surprise and the hazy kind of pain that could only be seen in a woman's gaze when she was being thoroughly taken. A strange, voluptuous kind of pain sharpened by the biting edge of pleasure. Her lips parted, and he read the word that slipped silently from her mouth.


She knew. Knew who he was. Knew he was the one penetrating her, staking her to the ground.

He wanted to smile at her, wanted to run his dirt-covered hands over her face, along the trembling pulse at the base of her throat and tell her it was okay, that he wouldn't harm her, but he couldn't say the words. His blood was raging, his body hot, streaming with sweat, and he knew his eyes looked wild. Savage. The intensity riding him was too violent to disguise--

too ripped open and raw, stripping away whatever thin veneer of civilization he normally managed to pull around himself.

She stared up at him, panting and soft and rosy, pale skin gleaming and flushed. He knew, without any doubt, that she was as innocent as she looked. Not virgin, but...close. Whatever experience she'd had with men was limited, brief, fleeting.

That was about to change.

Watching her closely, he pulled back, then sank back in. He could have come just from thrusting into her--but no way in hell was he going to let it happen. He had to savor it...savor her. Make it last and wring from her everything she could give. Had to demand it, make her crazy. He wanted her screaming and clawing and crying with pleasure by the time he was finished with her. Wanted to break her apart, scattering the pieces until she had to have him put her back together again.

Shifting to his knees, Ian pushed up on his hands, muscles bulging and hard in his arms, and stared down at the tender place where his body joined hers.

"Watch me," he growled.

She shivered and lowered her gaze, her shock at seeing his possession unmistakable in the thick look of lust that clouded her warm brown eyes. It rushed through him, the destructive power of that look, trashing his control, tearing some kind of violent, primitive sound from his throat. She was tight and he was big, too big to just slide in, no matter how slick she was. He had to put his strength behind it and drive at her, slamming her into the ground, the keening sound of her pleasure making him see red.

With a hoarse groan, Ian lowered himself over her, needing the tight tips of her velvety nipples against his skin, needing to cover her, to own her...and he suddenly realized that they were alone in the forest. The music was gone, the gypsies, the wild celebration--the churning noise replaced by her husky cries and the wet, slapping sounds of his body thrusting into hers.

He drove her across the ground with his hips, taking and claiming and letting loose every hard, tight emotion that he'd always kept locked up, hidden away--and then she undid him.

He watched, dazed, as the damp, silken beauty of her mouth curled, lips lifting to form an incandescent smile that lit her up, made her glow, and something powerful and terrifying ripped through him. His control snapped, and he went over the edge, digging one hand around her thigh, lifting her leg up high as he shoved deep...then deeper still, his other hand fisting in her hair, pulling her head to the side. She sobbed, a sound more pleasure and anticipation than pain, and he lost it. His gums burned as he felt the terrifying length of his fangs slip free.

She cried out, stiffening beneath him, but he couldn't stop. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, breathed a damp patch of lust against her throat, and greedily sank his teeth into her.

BOOK: Edge of Hunger
4.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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