Authors: Angela Addams
Tags: #werewolf;shapeshifter;rock star;Hunter;Huntress;tattoos
Coloring outside the lines can sting like hellâ¦
The Order of the Wolf, Book 4
Shot by a Huntress, his wolf trapped within him, Dyami Storm is battling a poison that is eating him alive. His only hope is finding his mate, but without his wolf to guide him, he doesn't know where to look.
The second the sexy bad boy stumbles into her tattoo shop, smelling of booze and oozing attitude, Summer Sinclair knows he's trouble. She should turn him away, but a strange magnetic pull compels her to help him out with a little ink.
When Summer's boyfriend walks through the door, Dyami senses he's in the presence of a Hunter, and the Hunter recognizes him as a wolf. With hackles raised, a weapon coming at him, Dyami's only choice snaps into place. Bite Summer, marking her as hisâand unleashing her powers as a Spell Weaver.
On the run from Hunters and losing his fight against the poison, Dyami is in a race against time to convince Summer her power could change the course of the warâ¦and that his fate is in her hands.
Warning: Sexually explicit. Tattooed, rock star drummer with a tender heart seeking his one true mate. Tough little tattoo artist with a special talent for spells. Lots of hot and heavy, wet and sweaty.
When you get to this point in a series with the same folks sticking around to help, you know you've got some great cheerleaders. Dianne Waye and Tammy Crosby critiqued
with brutal honesty, just like I want, need and love. My tattoo artist, Kelly Mason, gave me some valuable information as well as wicked ink during a few of our marathon tattoo sessions. My wonderful, and amazingly supportive editor, Holly Atkinson, keeps offering me these darn contracts and saying really cool things about my writingâhow can I possibly not keep working with her? My kids and husband tolerate every moment that I'm busy working, supplying me with quiet and Tim Hortons coffee when needed. Thanks to all of you, without your support this job would be really difficult to accomplish with my sanity intact.
Dyami stood on the precipice, high atop a rocky slope, his toes resting just over the ridge of a bottomless drop. The wind gusts were intense, but he'd been holding strong for what seemed like an eternity, wracked with pain so intense that at times he wept. He straddled the realms of consciousness and unconsciousness. Shot by a Huntress, fatal in all circumstancesâ¦except he wasn't dead. Not yet anyway. His mind drifted in a coma and he fought for control knowing his wolf was doing most of the battling for him, punching back the poison as it ate him alive.
By all rights, he should be dead. But he wasn't and that was because his wolf had some help. Somehow, somewhere, someone was trying to scoop away the poison and it was workingâat least, it had been working until the moment he'd opened his eyes and found himself here, one step away from oblivion. Never before had he seen his wolf face-to-face, never before had they occupied the same conscious space. It was daytime that the wolf normally ruled, and nighttime when Dyami did. But now his wolf was at his back, snarling and growling, keeping the poison at bay, urging Dyami to jump into the abyss. Not a suicidal commandâhis wolf didn't want him to die, Dyami knew thatâbut with the jump would come loss. A great and terrible loss. His wolf would stay behind to fight. Locking his body in a battle that would halt his transformation from man to wolf. Working against the natural cycle and trapping him in human form.
Dyami glanced over his shoulder, wincing against the pain as the poison licked at his head. His wolf snapped his teeth, devouring the tendril at its base, then yelped as the poison bit back.
They locked eyes.
his wolf commanded.
Dyami was drunk. Maybe not
puke all over your shoes, fall on your ass
drunk, but drunk enough not to give a shit. Drunk enough not to feel as much of the pain. Mayhem, his alpha, didn't like itâthe self-medicatingâbut the
hadn't been working as well lately and after weeks of playing tough, Dyami had hit the bottle and hadn't looked back. It was way better to be numb.
Barely feeling his legs as they carried him down the boardwalk, Dyami slipped on his sunglasses. He was unused to being human during the dayâand in a weakened stateâbut sick to death of sitting in his hotel room. What city were they in? He wasn't entirely sure, but he knew if he walked long enough, he'd find what he was looking for. He wanted to get some new ink. Experience some pain that was in his control rather than the constant battle waging within.
He could feel his wolf weaken each day, no longer having the strength to transform when the sun rose, and that in itself caused more trouble for him. Shifting was supposed be a natural cycle, giving an outlet for both man and beast. Even with the help of his pack brother's new mate Aubreyâa healer who'd been treating himâthe change still didn't come. The strain of a halted transformation was driving both him and his wolf to near madness.
To make matters worse, Aubrey's treatments didn't seem to be working as well anymore. Her magic was no longer potent enough to keep the surging toxin at bay. The poison was winning and his wolf was growing distant, detaching from Dyami's awareness and focusing more and more on keeping them both alive. Everyone knew if his wolf died, he would as well. With Aubrey's magical help waning, the pack was out of answers. Things seemed to be as bad as they could get and Dyami figured it was just a matter of time now. He should never have survived a Huntress wound, anyway.
Dyami ambled along, his mind wandering until his gaze fell on the exact thing he was looking for.
Looked like the typical tattoo shopâboardwalk style, flashy, overpriced to be sure. He pushed open the door and stepped inside, inhaled a nose full of pine-scented air. Clean. He took another whiff and smelled antiseptic. Not that it mattered. His werewolf physiology meant no worries in the disease department, but the pungent disinfectant aroma was a good sign. Usually if a place was clean, it meant the artists gave a shitâ¦and if they gave a shit about cleanliness, then the art probably wasn't half bad either.
The shop was dead, not a customer in sight. Dy stepped fully inside and closed out the rising humidity. The air conditioning's frosty welcome blasted his skin, making him shiver.
“Hello?” he called. Seeing no one at the counter, he wondered if the place as actually open. It was a little on the early side for a tattoo, but what the fuck, right? It wasn't like he had anything else to do and the door had been open.
He walked to the opposite wall, glancing quickly at the flash thereâpredesigned artwork that allowed the average customer to point, pay, and get inked on with little deliberation, hassle or imagination. The prices were high. Tourist prices. Seventy for a small Celtic butterfly, ninety for a cross. Custom art would probably run him quite a few bills. Whatever. It was just money. Therapy too. Getting inked always helped him deal with shit. Pulled the inside pain out. Usually, needles pounding flesh was his method of choice for dealing with depression, but this time he was just hoping for the distraction. The battle between his wolf and the poison was tearing him up insideâliterally. He felt like shit, he looked like shit, and he'd do just about anything to make it stop. Even if it was just a little slight of hand.
“We're not open yet.”
He turned toward the counter. The girl standing there was petite, cute. So not his type. “The door was open.”
She shrugged, slipped a hand through her hair, blonde with heavy pink streaks framing her face. “I forgot to lock the door behind me. I'm not ready for walk-ins.”
Dy trailed his gaze over her. She was tattooed shoulder to wrist on both arms, the designs intricate quality work, mostly black. She was tiny though, young looking too. He'd always heard of women described as pixie-like, but had never really known what it meant until now. “Aren't you the counter girl?”
Her eyes blazed, green lit with fire, defiance. A silent
with just a look. He perked up.
She crossed her arms. “No, I'm not.”
“Piercer? Apprentice? You're pretty young. Shop help?” He moved toward the counter. He was goading her but found himself unable to stop.
She shook her head minutely. “No.”
He smiled, knowing it was predatory. “I need some ink.”
She glared back, jaw clenched, eyes blasting him.
“Script.” He reached out. “Like this.” And touched her forearm.
His wolf reared within, a jolt snapping through him. Pain flared, his knees buckled and he braced himself against the counter, a moan escaping his lips.
“Oh my fuck! Are you okay?” She was at his side in an instant, not touching him but hovering, hesitating, like she wanted to but just wasn't sure.
Deep breaths. “I need some ink. Script,” he said through clenched teeth, pain ripping him apart. “You gonna help me out or what?”
“I'm going to ignore the fact that you reek of booze, and that you're a bit of an ass, and do this for you.” Summer backed away, circled behind the counter, her eyes still locked on him. “I need the cash.”
He was hot, in a disheveled kinda way. Scruffy jaw. Intensely dark eyesâprobably a deep brown. It was hard to tell with that dirty blond hair covering his face in a mess. He was attractiveânot as in pretty boy more like an
I'm gonna fuck you up, but you'll be grinning when I do it
kinda way. Bad boy for sure. And he looked familiar, which was odd since she knew practically no one in town. There was something about this guy that stirred her up. It was probably just the boredom getting to her. A few months in town and she hadn't yet built up a regular clientele, and it was too early in the season for the heavy tourist drop-ins. Not to mention too early in the morning for most tattoo shops to even be open. Noon was standard, and here she was taking on work at ten a.m. She gave a mental shrug. She'd come into work early for some crazy reason and there was nothing else to do. So what the hell, right?
“Thanks.” He lifted his hand from the counter to run through his hair.
She scoffed as she pulled out her laptop. “Oh, you'll be paying out the nose, so you can keep the thanks and just hand over the cash.”
He chuckled, a sound that both surprised and tantalized her. She wanted to make him do it again.
What the fuck?
Her computer finally loaded and she pulled up the database she often used for locating script. “What do you want it to say?”
He was silent for a moment and she glanced up at him, her fingers poised over the keyboard.
“We face death alone.”
She shivered as their eyes locked, his look so intense that it left her cold. “Hmm, cheery.” She snapped her gaze back to the computer, suddenly feeling like the last thing she wanted to do was get lost in those eyes. Definitely brownâlike chocolate, dark, richâbut a little on the bitter side. “You sure you don't want something more positiveâ¦like strength, power?”
“I thought it was policy not to offer an opinion about a client's tattoo.” His voice was gruff, like he was offended.
She knew better. This guy liked to play games, wanted to get her riled up like he had before. She learned quick and was a good judge of character. She shrugged. “I have a feeling you're not going to be like the average customer.” She turned the screen toward him. “Like this?”
He glanced down and nodded. “Yeah, perfect. Across my shoulders.”
Summer pulled the computer back toward her and nodded. “It's gonna take a couple of sits.”
“Nah, one sit. Whatever you need to do. Just do it.”
“Okay, suit yourself. It's gonna be at least four hours.” She clicked print and shut the computer. “Hold tight, I'm gonna go get set up. I'm Summer, by the way.”
Strange. She cocked her head, eyebrows raised.
“Short for Dyami,” he said. “It means Eagle.”
“Huh, cool. Dy. Never heard a name like that before.” And it felt great on her tongue. She liked saying it. “Why don't you come on back to my room while I prep?”
Dy smirked, ran his hand through his hair again. “Can't get enough of me already, eh?”
Summer rolled her eyes and gestured toward the back. “Nah, I just don't want any folks outside seeing someone in here. Like I told you, the counter guy isn't in yet and I'm not interested in dealing with walk-ins.”
And I can't get enough of you.
He followed her to her little room, which was painted a vibrant blue to match the flashy dÃ©cor of the rest of the shop. She flipped on the light and motioned for him to sit in the chair. “Just give me a few.”
“Take your time,” he said as he moved to the black vinyl table, leaning more than sitting, in close proximity to her.
“Now an eagle. That would be a cool tattoo.” She snapped on a pair of latex gloves and started prepping her station.
“You don't say.”
She glanced in his direction as a flurry of moment caught her eye. Eyebrow cocked, she beheld his finely sculpted absâeight pack, cut just right, with a fine line of manly hair trailing downâ¦
He cleared his throat and she snapped her gaze up to his pec. An eagle in flight spanned his chest.
“Nice detail work.”
This guy had money. She gave a nod and a quick smile, refusing to look him in the eyes. She turned to her work as if she couldn't care less that he was half naked and within a foot of her.
Geez, drool much? Ugh. So unprofessional.
She felt her cheeks burn, knew her pink highlights would only make it worse and cursed her fair skin.
“That your work?”
He was pointing at the back wall of her station where she had a corkboard filled with potential tattoosâ¦some abandoned by folks who chickened out before any ink was started, others who were still trying to cultivate the cash.
“Well, good thing you know how to draw. I'm kinda takin' a chance here.” He chuckled.
Summer bent down and retrieved her portfolio before tossing it on the table. “See for yourself. The most recent are at the back.”
He perched himself against the table again and started flipping though the photos of her finished work, nodding and grunting his approval as he went. “You been working here long? I mean”âhe glanced up with a smirkâ“you look like you're eighteen, how long have you been slinging ink?”
She ignored his jab. “I'm twenty-five, been tattooing since I was sixteen. Only moved here a few months ago. I don't usually stay rooted in one place for long.” Which was a problem for a young tattoo artist. She didn't have much of a reputation yet, didn't go to conventions or anything, didn't even have a website. Just carried her tattoo kit and portfolio around with her, settling on one place for a whileâa month, six months, sometimes a yearâbefore moving on again. Which made it sound like a leisurely existence when really it wasn't. It was stressful to go from shop to shop, travelling all over the country, relying on her portfolio to sell her ability and get a spot in a shop. But she couldn't help it. She was always restless, on the search for somethingâ¦someone. This was the first place she'd ever lived where she was actually thinking of taking root.
“What do your tattoos mean?” He motioned to her arms. “Those symbols? They stand for something?”
She snapped off her gloves and tossed them in the biohazard container. “Yep.” She walked over to the stereo and pulled down a stack of CDs. “Any preference?”
“Secrets, eh? Cool, I can dig that.” Dy snorted, arms crossed over his chest, seemingly unfazed that she hadn't answered his question the way he'd wanted her to.
She shuffled through the music, paused when her eyes locked on one cover in particular.
With a smirk of her own, she held up the latest release from Riot. “I'm not the only one with secrets.”
“You gonna charge me more now?”
She laughed as she slipped his disc in. “Drummer for one of the biggest rock bands in the country? Hell yes, I am!”