Scarlet Heat (Born to Darkness)(8)

By: Evangeline Anderson

I looked down at my jeans, which were still tented, the ridge of my shaft showing through the denim. My cock was so hard it ached and all from letting that little vamp sink her fangs into me—what the hell was that all about?

It’s not fair, muttered a voice in my head. She’s fucking gorgeous and she’s got that scent too. How am I supposed to live with that for three months?

By not laying a hand on her, that was how. She was a vamp and I was a were—we would keep our distance. And anyway, it wasn’t like Taylor wanted me anywhere near her.

I remembered the proud, hurt, defiant look in her big blue eyes when she’d told me someone had broken every bone in her body and she’d still managed to heal. What kind of sick bastard would do something like that to someone as beautiful and delicate as her? Whoever it was, they had really done a number on her. I flashed on her reaction when I’d gotten too close while she was trying to feed from me. She’d flinched away and the fear in her face was so raw it made my gut ache.

She must have been hurt—fucking horribly abused. I didn’t want to think how, exactly. I remembered Roderick, the ancient vamp Corbin had asked me to stand down right after Taylor and I were bonded. He’d wanted her back, badly enough to challenge the blood-bond between us—something unheard of in either vamp or were circles as far as I knew. What did he do to her? What did that sick fucker do?

Just wondering that was enough to make a low growl rise in my throat. I knew Roderick was dead now—Corbin had killed him using some kind of dark witchcraft I didn’t understand and didn’t want anything to do with. But part of me wished he was still around so I could rip his throat out. If he had been the one to put the fear in Taylor’s eyes, he deserved to have his guts carved out and served to him for supper.

Just listen to yourself, the little voice scoffed. Getting all fucking protective and possessive of a vamp. Get over it and let the Change take you…let it take you before it’s too late.

I felt the brand on my lower back burning again and knew the voice was right. I couldn’t delay any longer. If I did, I risked bringing down the curse. It hadn’t happened to me in months, not since I’d moved to Tampa, but that was no guarantee of anything. It was one thing to get stuck in my animal form—that didn’t bother me except for missed work. Since I owned my own company, it was more of an inconvenience than anything else. But if I got trapped in my other form, the one the curse made me take…

I shivered all over and began shedding my clothes. Far off to my left in the dense woods I could hear the long, liquid cry of another of my kind. The local pack sometimes ran on the land abutting mine—something I wished I would have known before buying. But so far, except for a few brief meetings on full moon nights and one or two overly friendly gestures by some of the single females of the pack, they left me alone and I left them alone. That was exactly the way I liked it—as a lone wolf, I had no interest in joining them.

Not that they would have me if they knew about the curse.

The brand burned again, aching, throbbing. It was invisible except on a full moon night or when the curse was about to become active. Then it glowed, outlined in a dull reddish light like someone had tattooed me with fire. In fact, that was sort of what had happened. It was glowing now as I stripped off my shirt. I was glad I had privacy as I undressed.

At last I stood naked in the woods, feeling the moonlight caress my skin. People talk about the “man in the moon” but we weres know the moon is female—a great, round goddess riding the night sky, always calling to those that can hear her. Sometimes her call is soft, sometimes, like tonight when she’s full, it’s almost deafening.

The call was strong this evening—riding me, urging me onward. Thinking past it was almost impossible. Still, I made a conscious decision to stay far from the house tonight. If I did get stuck in my animal form—which happened often—I wanted to have plenty of distance between myself and Taylor. She reminded me of a wounded creature—a bird with a broken wing. Easy prey for my wolf if I let myself get too close, especially when the animal inside me would see her as an enemy—something to be hurt and destroyed.

Come, whispered the silver voice of the moon. Come…run…hunt…be free…

Putting both the little vampire and the local pack out of my mind, I closed my eyes and answered the call. I felt my body shift and change, the joints bending in different, inhuman directions, my skin flowing with fur. My wolf was coming forward and I let him, reached for him and his mindless instinct eagerly with all that was in me.

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