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Authors: Rebecca Airies

HerMatesEmbrace

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Her Mates’ Embrace

Rebecca Airies

 

Part of the Primal Attractions series.

 

Cami’s hunted by two vicious men
from her past. It’s the only reason she follows her newfound visions to the two
powerful Santir shapeshifters, Linc and Colm. Intense attraction and
uncontrolled magic draw her closer to them despite reservations. As much as she
wants to fall into their arms and bed, she knows her past and Colm’s beliefs
make any kind of relationship impossible.

The desire to get closer to Cami
surprises Linc and Colm. It’s different than anything they’ve ever felt. Their
need to uncover her secrets is only surpassed by their hunger for her kiss and
touch. They soon realize their feelings are far more than sexual attraction.
She’s their mate. To claim and keep Cami, they’ll have to earn her trust and
protect her, or the danger stalking her will steal their chance at happiness.

Her Mates’ Embrace

Rebecca Airies

 

Chapter One

869 Neshan Calendar

 

“They won’t hurt you.”

Cami didn’t even glance over at Avan. She recognized the
unspoken message, but was a little surprised he didn’t just come out and say
it.
They wouldn’t hurt her like Laed and Kynar had.

The auburn-haired man seemed to think that if he kept
telling her that, it would make her believe it. Not going to happen. She didn’t
doubt that Ardin Linc Arinin and Ardin Colm Tarvis were as honorable as men
with the power to rule over others could be, but they were men with power.
These two men had more power than most. Ardin ruled a group of Santir
shapeshifters. Sometimes it was a small number of people, but from what she
knew, Linc and Colm led a large group of Santir.

The sun streamed through a gap in the clouds above, giving a
glimpse of the yellowish sky. Cami thought she was doing great in trusting them
enough to stop Laed and Kynar. She couldn’t trust completely. For merely
irritating them, she’d been beaten with their fists and a large leather strap.
Before Laed and Kynar had finished, they’d cut her face and her leg to provide
a visual warning to others who thought to defy them. Even coming to find these
two Ardin hadn’t been easy.

Laed and Kynar had been the Ardin of
Scali
Thent
,
but not true Ardin with real magic. No one realized that until it was too late
to stop the two men from taking control. They had ruled with cruelty and fear.
No solid reason was needed to draw their fury. Cami was one of many victims of
their vicious behavior. She didn’t know if she’d ever be able to trust anyone
completely again.

“You’ll find safety at Tobai
Thent
.” Avan’s voice
softened.

As if she’d believe that tale. She knew what
Thent
was
supposed to be.
Thent
was often used to refer to a specific clan or
group of Santir, but could also be used to indicate the buildings that made up
the clan’s home. In the old stories, being part of a
Thent
meant safety
and protection from enemies. Home, family and prosperity. What everyone wanted.
Not in this case. Cami had been far safer alone and on the run than she’d ever
been under Laed and Kynar’s rule.

“Cami, try to give them a chance,” Avan said with a little
bit of annoyance.

She raised a brow, but kept walking. Avan didn’t seem to
have any problem putting his faith in Linc and Colm. She remembered too much
from
Scali Thent
to believe in Ardin without proof. Still, she trusted
him. If she didn’t know Avan would be with them, she doubted she’d be here.
Avan was a good man and had lived through Laed and Kynar’s reign at
Scali
Thent
just as she had.

It took much too long to discover how Laed and Kynar
acquired their magic. When she had realized a crystal gave the men power, she’d
grabbed it and run. Not long after she’d left, she’d broken the crystal. She
had wanted to make sure they could never use it again, but had succeeded in creating
an entirely different situation. Magic escaped from the gem and had flowed into
her. It wasn’t stable and it grew almost every day. She needed help managing
her newfound power.

The energy from that crystal had done more than give her
magic. Only a day later, she’d begun having dreams and visions. That was how
she knew about Colm and Linc. At first, it had been visions of Avan with them
and then a vision of them fighting Kynar. More scenes of Linc and Colm had
followed. She’d learned things about them she was certain they never would have
shared with her.

At first, she hadn’t realized why she was getting so much
intimate information about two strangers. She knew about their love life at
their
Thent
and their problems. Eventually, she’d realized they were
connected to her. Admittedly, it had taken seeing herself with them in a few
dreams to solidify the knowledge. With the sometimes erotic turn of the dreams,
it didn’t take long to guess just how they were linked together. That
connection to two powerful men terrified her.

She followed the visions to Linc and Colm only because Laed
and Kynar wouldn’t stop hurting others. The opportunity to control the magic
was simply a benefit. One she knew she needed. She anxiously waited to start
learning to control the magic welling up inside her. Especially since it seemed
to be growing more every day.

The magic building within her scared her. She didn’t know
anything about using or even suppressing the power. The fight to keep it
contained exhausted her. Fear of what the unrestrained energy would do to
anyone near her if it was released kept her on edge. She didn’t know how long
it would be until the power escaped her hold. It had happened once before. The
magic had exploded out of her. Luckily, she’d been in the middle of the forest.
No people had been affected, although the animals hadn’t fared so well.

She’d come across the animals after the wave of minor
dizziness and weakness had faded. They’d been alive, but unconscious. She
didn’t want to see what disaster would happen in a city, even a small one.
Conflicting feelings kept her from approaching Colm and Linc about her fears,
but she knew time was running short.

“Cami, don’t be stubborn. You hardly talk to them and you
keep as much distance between you and them as possible. How are they supposed
to help that way?” Avan’s voice was pitched low as they strolled down the
street of yet another village.

Keeping a distance between her and them was the sane
decision. She’d told them about the magic when she’d met up with them, but they
didn’t seem to be in any rush to teach her to handle it. Maybe when they did,
the dreams would stop or decrease. The magic and those strange vision dreams
had to be connected somehow. She never had them before she broke that crystal.

The dreams. She didn’t mind the ones that gave her warning
of danger so much. Sometimes, she didn’t understand what they meant until some
event clicked into place. At least they served a purpose other than tormenting
her. She could live without the dreams of Linc and Colm. She hated seeing them
with other women even if she felt they were images from the past.

They didn’t want a mate. She heard it in those dreams almost
every night. Knowing that, dreaming of them making love to her became even more
of a torment. She knew it couldn’t come true. If it did, they’d only resent
her. The two men were close as brothers, although she knew they weren’t
related. If one of them was miserable, the other man would be unhappy as well.

“I’m not being stubborn.” She looked over at him and met his
eyes briefly. It was caution, fear and experience, not simply a desire to do
things her way.

Getting close to them only increased the pull of the mate
bond. All of the herbal teas and lotions she used to mask her scent couldn’t
change that, even if it did keep them from recognizing her as their mate. That
didn’t stop the attraction and the connection from growing. Nothing except
staying away from them would do that.

He raised an eyebrow in clear doubt. She looked back up the
street. The houses and streets all seemed to look alike now. The travel-gates
made moving to other worlds easy, but every planet had more than one gate and
each led to different worlds. Sometimes, they had to travel overland to the
gate that would lead them to the right place. Simply traveling with Colm and
Linc’s men, they’d passed through five worlds. That was nothing compared to the
number she’d gone through when she ran away from
Scali
Thent
. She
was tired and wanted a real bed for more than a night. At least, the journey
would end soon. They were getting close to the world where Colm and Linc held
their
Thent
, although they still had a little traveling to do.

“I know they haven’t even raised their voices to you. You
need to talk with them if you’re ever going to trust them. You’ll see they’ll
keep you safe. We’re making sure you’re seen. Laed and Kynar will be able to
find you and Linc and Colm will catch them.” Avan leaned in close so that his
voice would carry only to her.

“They were after Laed and Kynar before I joined you. My
being here only makes it easier for them to do that.” She shook her head. The
reassuring litany wasn’t going to work.

Although she didn’t know the full reason why, they were
following her. Without a doubt, Laed and Kynar hated her. She’d suffered enough
abuse at their hands to realize that. She took their crystal, but they couldn’t
know that for certain.

They were coming. Knowledge of their pursuit thrummed
through her. It wasn’t only the visions. She felt hunted and had almost since
she’d left
Scali Thent
.

“Are you still afraid of them?” Avan’s hand clasped her arm
and pulled her to the side of the street.

She stared at his green shirt for a moment before lifting
her eyes to his. He wouldn’t have tried to stop her physically even days
earlier. Her calm reaction to it surprised her a little. After the beating by
Laed and Kynar, she hadn’t wanted to let anyone close, but slowly that was
changing.

“Laed and Kynar? No.” She frowned, but not only over the
question. She wasn’t so sure the change was a good one. Being aware kept her
safe.

They were a threat to anyone weaker, but this time they
faced men who knew real magic. She’d feared Laed and Kynar when she was under
their power. After they’d beaten her, even the fear changed. She didn’t want to
die, but she wanted to hurt them. She didn’t know what she’d feel when they
found her again.

“No, Colm and Linc, the Ardin.” Avan glared at her as if she
should have realized that was who he was talking about without clarification.

“If I thought I had reason to be scared of them, I wouldn’t
be here. I’m cautious of them. They’re big and they have power. Men with power
like wielding it and that’s not always the best thing for people near them. And
I didn’t know you’d decided that your place was with them, because they’re
definitely not my Ardin. I doubt I’ll ever stay under the rule of Ardin again.
This is temporary and will only last until we manage to stop Laed and Kynar.”
She slid a glance at him. She didn’t know how he could so easily follow their
orders. He’d seen what had happened in the
Thent,
even if he hadn’t felt
the worst of it.

“They won’t turn on you as Laed and Kynar did. You’re safe.”
Avan’s voice remained low as he began guiding her down the street again.

“They won’t because I’m not giving them the chance. After
everything, I can’t do
Thent
life on the long term. Just being around
the people with us is enough to make me want to find somewhere I can be alone.
And that’s not even taking into account the fact that I won’t ever be able to
trust Ardin as most expect their people to do.” She stared at the people
walking toward them. Cities and towns weren’t her favorite places either. Too
many people and buildings crowding around her.

She’d spent too much time alone before she found them. Not
that she regretted it. The time moving through forests and running in her
animal form helped ground her when so much else was spinning out of control.

“That’s how you feel now, but when you’ve had some time to
see that these men aren’t power-hungry and vicious, you’ll see that you can
live with others. You have to give it a chance. You’ve been alone since you ran
from those two. It’s going to take a little time for you to adjust to being
near people again.” Avan smiled and patted her shoulder.

She glared at him and stepped away from what she knew was
supposed to be a comforting gesture. “Do you seriously think that this is the
first time that I’ve seen and experienced the betrayal of someone who was
supposed to know and do what was best for everyone? It happened before, not as
severely, but still essentially the same. People in power lose sight of the
fact that others matter. I won’t put myself in that position again.”

“Those men, the false Ardin and the other, that’s not the
way most men with power act. They’re extreme examples of how not to act.”
Avan’s voice rose and he stopped, but hurried to catch up when she didn’t stop.

“Look, I don’t know why you’ve given them all your trust,
but that’s you. I’ve got permanent scars as proof that those with power can’t
be trusted.” She knew he couldn’t understand her problem. She couldn’t see how
he gave them his loyalty and complete confidence so easily. “You’re not going
be able to persuade me that I can count on them for anything more than help
catching Laed and Kynar.”

“All right, we’ll talk about this some other time. Maybe
after you’ve had a chance to learn more about them.” Avan’s hand lifted in a
gesture of acceptance.

At that, her eyes narrowed. She had a feeling he’d been sent
to discover just what her feelings were about life in a clan, living within a
Thent
and about Colm and Linc. It was beyond her why it was necessary. Of course, she
didn’t trust them. The answer should be obvious to anyone who thought about
what had happened. She’d been beaten badly for no reason other than Laed and
Kynar were mean
tamaurgi
. She’d like to come up with a few words other
than bastard, but couldn’t think of anything bad enough to really describe
them.

“Shouldn’t we get what they asked us to get? The cloth?” She
looked pointedly at the market ahead of them.

“We’re going. The cloth is for you, you know. They saw that
you only have that small bag and wanted to make sure that you have extra
clothes and all the comforts you need.” Avan edged closer to her as they walked
into the market area.

“Let me guess. You’re supposed to guard me in case someone
attacks while we’re here.” She slid a glance over at him.

“I’m supposed to make sure that you’re safe while you’re
away from the main group because you’re more at ease with me. You won’t
immediately try to move away if I have to get closer.” Avan shrugged.

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