Authors: Delilah Devlin
“Did I hear you right?”
Max jerked at the sound of Phil’s voice as he stepped through the door. He’d been so engrossed in the scene before him he hadn’t heard Phil’s approach.
Phil’s eyes widened. “Shit!” His face tightened as he took note of the bodies strewn around the floor. “The rest of the house is secure. Only dust bunnies left.”
“When did werewolves move into the neighborhood?” Joe asked, his hands fisted at his sides.
Phil, his gaze still glued to the floor, asked, “Am I the only one who didn’t know werewolves existed?”
Max shook himself. He had a job to do. “I’ll start the teams on a sweep of the area. See what we find.” As he turned to leave, he cast a scathing look at Dylan and Quentin.
Joe, he ignored.
Dylan sighed and
stood up as Max left the room.
“He’s not going to change—voluntarily, that is,” Quentin murmured.
“I know,” Dylan said. “I’ve already made the call to Navarro.”
Quentin nodded. “We can’t let anyone stand in the way of our setting up the southern council.” He waved his hand at the room. “This only makes it all the more vital we handle him quickly.”
Dylan glanced at Joe to see his reaction.
The younger vamp was still torn by old loyalties—trying to ride the fence between his new “life” and his old friends. Joe took a deep breath, his face a grim mask. “Well, shit. How are we going to keep a lid on this mess?”
Max pushed through
the door of the bar determined that tonight he’d either get shit-faced or fucked. Which, didn’t matter so long as he could blow off the steam that had been gathering a head since the botched mission hours before. The bar was a regular haunt—only a block from his house. If need be, he could crawl home. The smoky air, the loud grinding music, and the smell of stale beer appealed when he had an axe to grind.
The SU had swept the area for signs of the wolves that killed the vampires before turning on the humans in a mutilating frenzy. Their bloody paw prints lead beyond the house to a gravel road where they’d disappeared. The pack had made their getaway in cars. This hadn’t been a roaming band’s target of opportunity, but a takedown.
The grim faces of the vampires telegraphed their worry. He hoped they were shaking in their boots. Not that the thought of a rogue wolf pack wasn’t just as unsettling to Max.
But seeing the cock-sure Quentin lose his perpetual smirk was gratifying. Dylan had been grim-faced and pale. Perhaps the bastard saw his own fate in the house.
However, Joe’s silence had been the most telling. He hadn’t looked the least bit surprised.
Max made his way through the tables ringing a small dance floor. The place was nearly empty, save for the men hovering near the bar for the night’s last drinks. The tension in his shoulders knotted tighter. All it would take would be one smart-ass comment. He hungered for an excuse to drive his fist through something.
The crowd parted, and a flash of a slim white ankle snagged his attention. Every trace of anger, bitter regret, and frustration coalesced into a single, burning need.
The men blocking his view shifted, and the ankle drew his glance upward to a bare knee. The woman’s legs parted, and one slid atop the other. Her foot sawed up and down, and a slender, functionless sandal dangled from the tips of her painted toes. God, he wanted to help her lose the shoes altogether.
He advanced toward the men standing between him and his goal. Their faces registered annoyance for only a moment before they stepped aside. The hard hunger that rode his belly must have turned his face into an implacable mask.
As he drew near, her shape was revealed one tantalizing curve at a time. Sweetly turned hips were clothed in a stretchy black skirt that ended at the top of her thighs—not a hint of underwear marred the smooth fit. Conveniently tied behind her neck, a miniscule top bared the gleaming, supple skin of her back and midriff—again, no sign of a bra. Her nipples puckered invitingly against the black fabric that barely contained the apple-like curves of her small breasts.
Finally, his gaze rose to her face. She could have been a whole lot less than appetizing, and he’d still have wanted her on the merits of that ride-able frame. But her face only made him more determined to have her.
Large, doe-like eyes, framed by thick lashes, blinked as she caught his stare. Her upper lip was a fraction fuller than the lower and inspired delicious, succulent fantasies. Her face was round, her jaw small, and a thumbprint dimple carved her chin into two delicious halves. His tongue itched to slide along that little notch.
As he reached the bar, he drew a deep breath, eager to catch the scent of her perfume. He wasn’t disappointed. The woman smelled like sex. Hot, nasty, spicy sex.
His body hardened along with his intentions. With only a fleeting thought for how aggressive he might appear, he loomed over her, his gaze sweeping downward. When he glanced back up to her eyes, he schooled his expression into something shy of predatory. He didn’t want to frighten her away before he’d even learned her name.
Instead of looking intimidated or frightened by his intensity, as so many women would have, she raised a single dark eyebrow. She didn’t say a word, just returned his stare. Somehow, her bold action felt out of sync with the wariness lurking in her eyes.
Then he noticed the movement of her throat as she swallowed. Did he make her nervous?
Her expression betrayed no such fear. Part amusement and part calculation, it changed as her gaze dropped from his face to sweep down his chest and lower. Interest with only a hint of alarm flared her nostrils and tightened her jaw, causing her to open her mouth to take a deeper breath.
She had good reason to be wary. If she told him to back off, he’d be hard pressed to obey. Every male chromosome in his body screamed at his groin to take her.
His gaze never leaving hers, he took a deep, calming breath and forced himself to follow the ritual. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“I’m not thirsty.” Her voice pleased him. Feminine, but not too dainty, with a hint of aged whiskey.
Undeterred, he nodded to the bartender hovering behind her. “Two draft beers.”
Her brown eyes narrowed, but she remained silent.
He raised an eyebrow. “Maybe I’m just thirsty.”
“Or impossibly arrogant,” she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.
He bit back a grin. “I haven’t seen you here before,” he said, and then cursed himself for using such a tired line.
“I’m new to the area,” she said, sounding bored. Her foot sawed faster.
Great! They sounded like trained parrots. How could he think of conversation when all he wanted was to slide his hands around her naked back? “What’s your name?”
Cute name, a little sassy like she was. Or rather, like he thought she might be if he could just figure out how to get her talking.
At least she hadn’t tried to bolt. He leaned past her to reach for one of the beers the bartender laid behind her on the bar. He held it out.
Her hands remained in her lap, her expression defiant.
Well, hell. His luck wasn’t running any better. He lifted the glass and gulped the foam.
She watched him, her eyes following the movement of his throat. Her tongue licked her full lower lip.
Before he gave it a thought, he handed her the same beer.
Rather than pouring it on his shoes, her hands slid around the glass. Her gaze remained on the beer.
Satisfaction throbbed in his belly. She’d probably like an introduction before he asked her to go home with him. “Name’s Max.”
Her lips pressed together, and then curved into a smile that stretched the full lower lip. The lady had a rather large mouth. It was perfect. “As in maximum?”
The smile warmed him while giving him confidence he hadn’t totally blown it. He shifted his feet and stepped closer, bringing her crossed legs between his. “Do you doubt it?” he asked, his voice low.
Her head tilted back, and a frown drew together her finely arched brows. “Do you think I’m impressed with your caveman tactics?”
His glance slid down to her breasts. Her headlights were erect little points that stabbed toward him. “Damn right,” he said, hoping he hadn’t read her body language wrong.
With a toss of her hair, she uncrossed her legs, her knee caressing the inside of his thigh. “Sorry about that,” she murmured, although she didn’t look sorry at all. She’d just checked him out.
His heart kicked into a slow, thrumming throb. The lady knew where this was leading. She’d accepted his beer.
The part of him that had tensed in pursuit relaxed. She could be his if he didn’t overplay his cards. And he had a decision to make. Savor a slower rise to climax or take her hard and fast? “Dance with me.”
She shook her head, which swept the ends of her curly brown hair across the tops of her bare shoulders. “I don’t dance.”
He reached for the beer she held in her lap and set it on the bar. His fingers closed around her slender wrist, and he tugged her up from the stool.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She tottered on her heels for a moment, and her nipples brushed his chest. Her gaze, wide-eyed, set his heart thumping in a slower, heavier beat. He swept his arm around her waist and pulled her along to the dance floor. He needed her in his arms
They were the only couple on the small square of parquet-printed linoleum. Max didn’t give her a chance to protest, he simply pressed his body to hers—chest to hip, and slid his leg between her thighs. The heavy, grinding rhythm of the rock music suited his mood just fine. He shifted on his feet from side to side, not so much a dance as foreplay. His body introducing itself to hers.
She stiffened inside the circle of his arms. “Do you ever pay attention to what a woman tells you?” she asked, her words clipped.
Encouraged she hadn’t hauled off and slapped him yet, he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Sweetheart, I was listening, but not to what your lips were saying.”
Her head jerked back, and her gaze bored into his. “Perhaps you should.”
The look halted him in his tracks. He’d pushed her too hard. “All right.” Sighing his regret, he stepped away. “I’m sorry. I misread the situation.”
But she didn’t walk away as he expected. Instead, her head tilted to the side, and she studied his face for a long moment, her teeth worrying her lower lip.
He wiped his expression free of hunger, hoping for another chance.
Finally, she looked around the bar and shrugged. “Well, seeing as I’m here…”
He didn’t wait for her to change her mind. He pulled her into his arms.
She nestled her face in the crook of his neck and groaned. “This is happening too fast.”
Relaxing to savor the sensations, he chuckled and pulled her closer. “I know what you mean,” he murmured. A dark, musky floral scent rose from her hair and skin, wrapping him in heat.
Her arms snuck up around his neck, and her small, firm breasts pressed against his chest.
Once again pretending to dance, he shifted her slightly to glide her nipples across his chest. They’d been erect before their bodies met—they were hardened little bullets now.
“Do you think you’ll overcome every one of my objections as easily?” she asked, her breath gusting gently in his ear.
“I promise you won’t have
when the time comes.” He lifted his leg and rubbed his thigh against her crotch.
Her head fell back, and her chocolate eyes glinted with amusement. “Sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
He was getting there. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I smell your arousal.”
Her breath gasped, but she didn’t pull away. A tremor shook her body. “Do you think you’re just going to get a quick—”
Placing a finger over her lips to shut her up, he said, “Whoa, sweetheart.” He nuzzled her cheek. “Nothing about this’ll be quick. This is just the appetizer.” He bent and kissed her sleek shoulder.
Her head fell back exposing her creamy throat, inviting him to slide his lips along her throat—which he did.
“You sound like you’re going to eat me,” she said, half laughing, half moaning.
Max stiffened and spoke between tightened lips, “I will, if you ask me sweetly.”
Again, she gasped, following with a burst of soft, strained laughter.
Not the outright “yes” he hoped for, but promising just the same. He wished he had a glib tongue so he could put her at ease, but his body was too insistent, too ready to pounce for him to think straight.
Every sense tuned to her. Her body draped languidly across his chest. Her legs slid along either side of his thigh, and he wondered if she wanted another rough caress. He decided to test her by rubbing his thigh against her sex.
She moaned—a sexy sound that made his dick throb.
His hands glided over her back, then smoothed to her sides. With his thumbs, he caressed the edges of her breasts. She didn’t stiffen in his arms. “Look at me,” he said.
Her head tilted back. Her eyes were wide open.
He swept his thumbs beneath the fabric of her top and went straight for the ripe little berries at the center of her breasts.