Nick flipped him off before he wrapped the blanket around his waist.
Ash ignored his hatred. "Just so you know, Gautier, I have a couple of Dark-Hunters and Were-Hunters who want a piece of your ass because they think you attacked Sanctuary."
Nick gaped. "I haven’t been near it since the wolves attacked."
"I know. I’m just updating you on what’s going on since you were kind enough to loan your body to someone who’s been masquerading as you and turning your protectors against you."
Nick cursed, then glanced at Artemis as if remembering her presence. He actually blushed before he returned to glaring at Ash. "I’m going to kill Stryker."
"Stay away from him. You haven’t mastered enough of your powers yet to even think about taking him on. Trust me. All you’d do right now is make him a nice mincemeat pie."
Nick fell silent before he said something to betray himself. He had more abilities than Acheron knew about and for some reason they seemed to be growing exponentially. He wasn’t the weak-kneed neophyte. But Ash didn’t need to know that.
Nick flinched as a peculiar surge went through him. He’d been getting them a lot lately and he didn’t know why. Sharp and intense, they took his breath. Another one shot up his spine, driving him to his knees.
"Nicky?" Artemis ran to his side.
Nick held her back as weird images danced in his head. He saw things from his past rearrange…. People he didn’t know and others who’d died…
"You all right?" Ash asked.
No, but he wasn’t about to admit that to Ash. No one would ever again know his weaknesses. What was going on was his business. Ash had already betrayed him once. He wasn’t about to give him another chance to damage his life, such as it was.
And in his head, he heard the voices that had been getting louder lately. Voices that wanted him to hurt the people around him. They were so seductive and with them came a power so fierce it was hard to resist.
He felt his eyes turning red.
There was a raw, primordial power coming and it was out for blood. The only question was, whose?
Sam jerked awake at the sound of a very small voice that was just learning to speak. She lay in bed, wondering if she’d dreamed it.
"Shh, munchkin, not so loud. We have guests." Kerryna kept talking in that sweet octave mothers reserved for their children as she walked out of hearing range.
Sam cursed under her breath. If she heard or saw one more child…
It seemed like the gods were taking pleasure in punishing her lately. And she wanted to weep as her grief choked her. Why couldn’t she have raised her own children? Seen them grow and held them all the days of her life? That had been the plan. She and Ioel, growing old together…
Damn you, gods.
No. She had her sister to blame for their loss and it changed nothing. The pain was still there and it was raw and bleeding.
Suck it up, Amazon. You’re a Dark-Hunter. Mother to the entire human race she protected. She saved their lives even while she’d been unable to save the lives of her own family. The irony of that had haunted her for centuries. And it was what had given her the strength to tear out her sister’s throat even while the petty bitch had begged her for mercy.
Mercy, my ass…
That wasn’t in her. Not anymore. It hadn’t been since the day she’d crossed over and seen the real horrors life had heaped on not just her, but countless others. Images of the past burned her while she lay there and they left her aching. Wanting.
Please help me….
A light snore behind her drew her attention away from the past to realize that a heavy, muscular arm was draped protectively over her. To the fact that a warm body was pressed up against hers.
The bear held her like she was unspeakably precious. Like her husband had once done…
Tenderness swept through her. How she’d missed waking up like this. That feel of a man’s body entwined with hers. Of his prickly hairs rough against her legs. His hard c**k resting against her hip. She didn’t know why she liked being with Dev. He drove her straight up the walls with no stop sign in sight. He manhandled her, which she hated with a passion, and was the epitome of a male horn dog at times.
He was arrogant. Hard-headed…
And he risked his life to keep her safe. Even now he didn’t have to be here and yet there he lay.
Like a teddy bear. She silently laughed at the thought. There was nothing cuddly about Dev. He was all sinewy muscle and he was huge.
Her gaze went to the bow-and-arrow tattoo on his arm. He hadn’t made the sacrifice she had, but he understood the call. Sam swallowed. I don’t want to be dead anymore….
She’d been alone for so long. Had hurt and sucked up her tears for centuries. Nothing had ever eased it.
Until now. For what ever reason, Dev took away the pain she felt. He somehow made things better with his screwed-up humor and peculiar outlook.
It was so wrong. She was a Dark-Hunter and he a Were-Hunter. They were supposed to be enemies.
Yet it didn’t feel that way. And right now with his breath falling on her skin and his arms wrapped around her, she wanted him. She wanted to bathe in the warmth he gave her. Breathe him in until she was drunk on his scent…
Dev came awake to the sweetest kiss he’d ever been given. Tender and hot, it set fire to him as Sam draped her nak*d body over his. Her br**sts were pressed against his chest, reminding him of why he was so glad he was a man.
She nipped his lips with her fangs before she pulled back to look down at him. Her nightgown was gone, she’d thrown it on the floor before she woke him, and her curls spilled around her creamy shoulders. Her eyes were once again dark brown. She was the Dark-Hunter and right now, he was her willing victim.
He smiled at her. "Now that’s the way to wake a guy up."
She shook her head, causing those curls to bounce beautifully. "No…this is the way to wake him up."
Before he could ask her what she meant, she slid down his body and dipped her head to take him into her mouth. His mind spun as pleasure ripped through his entire being.
Yeah, she was definitely right on that account. This was a much better way to wake a guy up. Ah, hell, he’d gladly wake up in a good mood every day if it started out like this. He sucked his breath in sharply as her tongue darted down the length of him before she took him completely into her mouth. His eyes rolled back in his skull as he shook all over.
He sank his hand in her soft, honey curls as he watched her savor him. Damn if she wasn’t the most incredible woman he’d ever known. He loved the fact that she wasn’t shy or inhibited in any way. She loved him like it would be the last time she’d ever touch a man. Like they would be dead in a minute and this was her last chance to live.
Her intensity and skills were incredible. He laid his hand against her cheek as his powers surged. What was it about her that she could feed his abilities the way she did? More than that, she touched him in a place no woman ever had before.
All his life, he’d been alone. Yeah, he’d been around people, but no one had ever seen him. He’d never allowed people, not even his brothers, to get that close to him. Not after he’d lost Bastien and Gilbert. As a young cub, he’d worshiped his older brothers and when they’d died protecting Aimee…
He’d never gotten over their loss. Not really. It was why he’d always been so protective of his sister and mother. He’d wanted to make his brothers proud. To let them know that even though they were gone, the snot-nose cub left behind could hold his own.
Life was shit. He knew that as well as anyone else and he hated just how much it had crapped all over Sam. He wanted to take her away from the pain that had been thrown at her. Take her away from the hostile world they both lived in.
But right now, she was the one taking him away from the hurt and the misery.
Sam growled as she nibbled on Dev. She’d always loved the way a man tasted. The way he smelled and felt. And Dev…He was sweeter than anything.
Hungry for more, she gave one last lick before she crawled up his body and impaled herself on him. He gave a deep, manly growl. She lifted his hand from her breast so that she could nip and tease the pads of his fingers while she rode him soft and easy. Oh, how she wanted to stay with him like this forever.
But they had lions tearing at the doors. Enemies after both of them and a world that depended on them to fight for it. She understood her calling. She believed in her cause. Yet right now, she wanted something for herself. A moment of peace and connection.
Was that too much to ask?
"You are so beautiful," Dev said as he slid his hand between her legs so that he could heighten her pleasure.
Sam hissed. "Are all bearswain so gentle?"
He laughed at her question. "I don’t make a habit of sleeping with male bears, so how would I know?"
She joined his laughter. Then her laughter died under a wave of supreme pleasure. She let it flow through her, making her shiver and tremble.
Until her gaze accidentally fell to the door and reality interrupted her mood. It would be dark soon. She could sense it. Then she’d have to leave him and hunt the Daimons who were after her. For his sake as well as for hers. She couldn’t afford for the Daimons to return to Sanctuary. Not when it endangered his family.
She wasn’t worth it.
Why can’t I have one moment of peace?
Because she’d sold her soul for the sake of the world….
Dev sensed that something about Sam had changed. A wall had come up between them even though they were nak*d in each other’s arms. He pulled his hand back. "Did I hurt you?"
"No, baby. You definitely didn’t hurt me."
But there was a shadow in her eyes. One of pain. How he wished he could take that from her.
Dev sat up so that he could hold her while she continued to grind against him. He buried his face in her neck and tasted her as he continued to stroke her in time to her thrusts. The scent of her made the bear in him feral.
Sam reveled in the sensation of Dev holding her. She ran her hands through his long hair, letting them tangle with his curls. Gods, he was gorgeous. It wasn’t every day a woman was lucky enough to find a man like him.
With a sharp growl, Dev pulled back from her and gave her a look so hot, it made her blood sizzle. Before she could ask him what was wrong, he shifted their weight and had her on her side in the bed. He used his thigh to separate her legs and entered her from behind. Completely wrapped around her, he drove himself in deep.
She felt exposed and at the same time powerful. "What are you doing?"
He cupped her breast in his hand before he breathed in her ear. "This is how a bear takes his woman."
She couldn’t think as he quickened his strokes and her pleasure mounted. She didn’t know if it was his powers or what, but she’d never in her life experienced anything like this. Every thrust was a study in ultimate ecstasy.
And when she came, it was the most intense orgasm she’d ever had.
Dev laughed softly in her ear until he joined her. Then, still hard, he stayed inside her, holding her close as he breathed raggedly. His warmth enveloped her and made her feel blissfully safe and strangely sane.
Sam could feel his heart thumping against her shoulder blade as she savored this moment and his heat. "No wonder you’re a horn dog. You’re really good at what you do."
He brushed her hair back from her cheek before he placed a tender kiss there. "Don’t cheapen this moment, Samia. I’ve never done that with any woman. It’s something we reserve for our mates."
"Then why did you do it with me?"
"Because, as stupid as it sounds, I care about you in a way I’ve never cared about anyone else. As a rule, I don’t really like people much. I tolerate my family, but at the end of the day I much prefer to be left alone. You’re the only woman I’ve ever sought out."
Did she dare believe that? It seemed impossible and yet…
She wanted it to be true because she understood it too. She felt the same way about him. "Why?"
He kissed her nose. "I have no idea. Aside from my little sister and nieces, you’re the most infuriating woman I’ve ever met. All I can figure is that I’m either sick in the head or a total masochist."
She elbowed him in the stomach.
"Ow!" he groused at the same time his phone started ringing. "See what I mean? I have to be addicted to abuse to put up with you." He reached over her to the nightstand to grab his phone so that he could answer it. His hair fell over her as he gave her a look that managed to be both adorable and vicious. "Be nice to me, Amazon, or I’ll touch you with my phone and give you visions."
"You probably would, too."
Smiling, he rolled away before he answered it.
Sam wrapped the sheet around herself as she realized that her powers were back and that the sheets weren’t contaminating her….
What was going on? Why wasn’t she picking up on other people?
"Are you sure about that?" Dev brushed his hair back and scratched his head as he listened to whomever was on the other line. "Yeah, okay. I trust you. We’ll be watching and I’ll let you know if something happens." He hung up the phone and looked at her. "According to Ash, that wasn’t Nick who let the Daimons in."
"He swears it was someone pretending to be him."