Authors: Jennifer Dellerman
A Ravenous Romance® Original Publication
A Ravenous Romance™ Original Publication
Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Dellerman
100 Cummings Center
Beverly, MA 01915
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.
This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Dean Kinigos rubbed his cock through Kaylie’s wet folds, teasing them both. Her whispered plea was music to his ears, and with a grunt of lust, he hitched her up against the cold tile of the shower wall; her legs wrapped around his waist. As the water rained hot and heavy over them, he slid into her welcoming warmth.
Like a fucking light socket
, he thought irrationally as he tunneled through her tight sheath. He was finally inside Kaylie Gentry, his mate. He let out a growl and began to pound in earnest, stretching her to accommodate his girth, his hips pistoning between her lush thighs.
He wanted to come; God did he ever. But somehow he knew not enough time had passed for her to finish too, so he kept on, almost by rote, sliding in and out of Kaylie’s pussy. Each plunge deep and sure. He knew just how to make a woman scream in pleasure—how to shift his weight and angle his cock to rub over the sensitive flesh. He’d done it for years. You might say he was a professional.
Suddenly Kaylie’s body stiffened and she let out a sharp cry as she came, her inner muscles fluttering deliciously around his throbbing shaft. He trembled violently as his own orgasm rushed up from his toes, but he held it back. “On your knees,” he hissed out.
Kaylie hopped off him in an almost robotic movement, dropping to her knees in front him. Dean ripped off the condom and tossed it carelessly onto the shower floor. One hand held the base of his cock, while the other stroked over the hard flesh that pulsed with impending release. Kaylie knelt on the unforgiving tile in front of him, her eyes mere slits of exhausted acquiescence, her mouth open to receive his seed.
Though part of him screamed in denial at the shear
of the situation, the other part was too far gone with lust to stop it.
His hand tightened, sliding faster over his cock, and then, with a harsh groan of self-hate and pleasure, he came, spurting his release over Kaylie’s uplifted face.
Shaking, he nearly dropped to his knees, in fact felt himself start to fall, when the sound of applause reached his ears. Jerking straight up he swiveled to his right, and gaped in shock. There, not ten feet from him, sat over a hundred humans, shifters, and God knew what else. Hundreds of pairs of lustful eyes had feasted upon his mate’s naked body, had witnessed an act of such intimacy, that for a moment he couldn’t really comprehend what had happened.
it had happened.
Horrified, he swung his eyes back to look down on Kaylie, still on her knees. His come covered her face, her body drooped with … satisfaction or resignation?
The exploding roar of fury woke him from the nightmare, the sound full of rage and devastation, inhuman in its horrific pain. Sweat coated his leanly muscled body, now tangled in the cotton bedding torn by his claws.
Dean leaped from the bed, his heart thundering, breathing ragged. Cursing and gripping his head with both hands, his extended claws digging into his scalp, he glared at the bed, as if the inanimate object was the source of his nightmare. But he knew it wasn’t. Now that Kaylie had moved back home, back to Woodcliff, the memories he’d tried to suppress were appearing more often in his dreams. And the woman he wanted with every breath in his body had become a star player.
Granted, most times his dreams of Kaylie were so pleasant he didn’t want to wake, and when he did he cursed the day. But as the weeks had passed, his desire and frustration had grown. The need to touch her bare skin, even just her hand, was taking over. They shared an intense attraction that went beyond the normal. Which only meant one thing. Kaylie was a potential mate. And if the way both man and beast inside him ached just to hear her voice, or to catch a glimpse of her walking along the street, her tawny hair pulled back in a jaunty ponytail like a lure, she was
And the bitch of it was: Dean couldn’t claim her. Not because she was unattainable, but because Dean didn’t deserve Kaylie, true happiness, or a future. His baggage, his regrets, and his past deeds had seen to that.
Anger and frustration gnawed at him as he jerked on a pair of sweats, T-shirt and sneakers. He needed to run. His emotions were too wild, his beast too close to the surface to control. He had to get out and run until he dropped from exhaustion. Experience had taught him that if he didn’t curb the fury boiling his blood, he’d do something he’d regret. And he had enough of those to last a thousand lifetimes.
Minutes later he was deep in the forest that surrounded his apartment, the early morning sunlight barely filtering through the dense canopy. The scent of wet leaves and sounds of scurrying animals filled his senses. He jumped effortlessly over a thick, fallen tree, never breaking the grueling pace as he tried to outrun his memories.
His wolf pack had been destroyed nearly thirty years ago. Small in numbers but powerful in strength, they had fought hard against the marauders: a group of rabid shifters that had been able to take them down by shear numbers. Dean didn’t know even now if any of his pack had managed to survive. No more than a young pup, he’d been protecting his younger brother while his mother had fought viciously to save her sons, when he’d been attacked from behind. Excruciating pain had exploded along his neck and back, and he’d blacked out. When he’d woken days later it was in a strange bed, an odd metallic ring on his left ankle. And no sign of his mother and brother.
A group of females, vampires, had happened upon his weak and bloody body. Finding him the only survivor, the women had taken Dean to their home and tended his wounds. Children were sacred to vampires, even those of a different species, and once he’d healed they’d employed him as a sort of indentured servant. He had duties and free run of the house and grounds, but the shackle around his leg prevented him from shifting when he reached puberty, and every full moon thereafter. It also dampened his superior speed and strength in human form. But the worst thing, for a shifter, was that the hated ankle bracelet somehow kept him from leaving the estate completely. He’d been their prisoner.
Using a combination of praise and mild punishment, the vampires had begun the lengthy process of teaching a terrified and stubborn Dean respect and control, and later, the secrets of a woman’s body and sexual pleasures. Vampires were, he found out, highly sexual creatures. The estate had doubled as a brothel.
Then it had happened again. One fateful night in his seventeenth year Dean had once again been embroiled in a violent attack, his home taken by blood and death. This time from vampires. Bound by the metallic ring, he hadn’t been able to help his foster “family” fight the attackers, but when one of the vampire females had sacrificed herself to save him, and a couple of the other young vampires, his beast had finally broken free.
All the pent up magical and wild shifter energy from years of confinement had slammed into him with enough force that he’d nearly blacked out. Dean had unleashed all the rage and fury of his kind, and channeled it into his first shift. Something that had never been done by one so young outside the pull of the full moon. But he hadn’t known that, not then. He’d wreaked a terrible revenge on the marauding vampires, and he’d saved two of the females from his “family” in the process.
Dean tried to shake off his thoughts to concentrate on his run, cutting across the woods, picking up speed, his heart pumping as he coasted along the path. His memories of his first shift always filled him with a sort of nauseated awe. Much like the dangerous thunderstorms that whipped through the mountains he called home. The power unleashed was magnificent, the possible destruction left in the wake, sickening. Such a storm had rained down upon Woodcliff only weeks ago, luckily causing very little damage.
He leaped over another fallen tree, this one old and rotting, and made a mental note to start clearing procedures. As the mayor of the town, he had a responsibility to keep its inhabitants safe and eliminate any threat of forest fires. As the Alpha of the wolf pack, his duty to protect both shifters and the animals of the forest was second nature. An instinct that had once been buried so deep that he’d almost lost his wolf to ignorance and selfish greed.
They’d stayed together for close to a year, Dean, Micha, and Tally, shifter and vampires, healing and adjusting to the world they found themselves in. With limited experience, but a strong back and quick reflexes, Dean took a job as a handyman-slash-bouncer for a nightclub. As fate would have it, it hadn’t been just any nightclub, but one that catered to shifters only, and in a very specific fashion. Each night, barring Sunday when the bar was closed, the club, Eros, presented their guests with a sex show. Live sex.
Shortly after he’d found the handyman job, he and the vampires, Tally and Micha, had amicably gone their separate ways. Six months after that, the owner of the sex club had approached by Dean with a surprising question: One of the men was leaving the show and would Dean like to take his place? Guaranteed sex? Check. Wads of cash thrown his way? Check. Oh, and did he have the control and experience to pleasure a woman? After all, the show wasn’t just geared to the male shifters. Double check. Dean had jumped at the chance.
The staged sex shows had led to additional “work,” women who wanted a private session. If they smelled clean and unattached—he had some morals after all—he agreed, and they’d paid handsomely.
About five years into Dean’s stint as a sex performer and handyman, feeling vaguely discontent and restless, he’d sought out the club owner, Max Kent, for a chat.
Even now Dean could picture Max sitting behind his desk, his brown eyes weary, his short hair more grey than blonde. The stink of cigarettes and stale perfume might have been less noticeable in Max’s office, but the ravages of a hard life lay heavy in the older shifter’s face. A thick manila envelope had sat on the desk in front of him.
He gestured for Dean to sit. “When you started working for me I never dreamed you would stick for so long. Most performers leave after a few months, when the shows turn from exciting to sickening, making their wolves whimper or howl in protest. A shifter loves sex, loves to watch it, read it, think of it, and most especially, have it. But day after day, performing with someone you don’t give a damn for, it turns into a disease, sickening your wolf. I’ve seen you change over the months, turning colder, edgier. You should have come to me a long time ago.”
Max paused and looked away briefly. “Actually, I should have come to you, but I didn’t and that’s my fault.” He jutted his chin to the unopened envelope. “I put this together for you this morning. I was going to seek you out when you knocked on the door. If nothing else, the coincidence proves this is the right thing to do, for both of us.”
At Dean’s questioning expression Max explained. “Each hundred dollar bill in that envelope represents one of your shows.” He shoved the envelope toward Dean. “Open it, take out the money, and count it out, remembering with each bill you place on the table exactly what it represents.”
With a brow raised in youthful disdain, Dean had done as requested, making stack after stack of bills in one thousand dollar increments. Each movement was calculated, his face devoid of any emotion. There was nothing wrong with using his body to get money. As long as he took every health precaution, he was golden.
That thought stubbornly repeated in Dean’s head until he reached one hundred and eighty bills. Then his stomach slowly began to knot. Another fifty bills piled one after another on the desk, and for the first time since escaping from the vampire estate, he felt physically ill.
He stopped counting at two hundred and sixty, staring down at the piles of money littering the huge mahogany desk. He still had a fist full of bills he had no desire to count out, and what he saw spread out in front of him was only a fraction of what he’d put himself and his wolf through. His wolf was once again a prisoner, this time by Dean’s own hands. No wonder his beast slept. Dean wasn’t worthy of him.
“Take the money and do something important with it.”
Struggling for control, Dean swallowed. “I’ve only known this life. Bars, clubs, sex. I don’t know what else to do.”
Max nodded. “You’re a smart man. You’re good with your hands, and I don’t mean sexually. If the business is all you know, use that knowledge to start again. Buy a bar, fix it up nice, with a welcoming atmosphere. Create a safe place for shifters. No sex, no violence, nothing that would harm or provoke the beast that resides in a shifter. A haven were both males and females could go without fear of humiliation or aggression from others.”
Dean tilted his head in curiosity. “Why didn’t you?”
Max shrugged. “I was stupid and weak, greedy too. Too willing to conform to the desires of others, no matter how wrong I thought it. I should have left years ago, when I still felt my wolf. Now, well, now it’s too late. My beast is dead and soon I’ll follow.” He sent Dean a sad smile. “Too many shifters died during the Pack Wars and not enough cubs have been born. There’s been a change in thinking over the years, but not enough. Do something to help your species before we become extinct. Do something positive, healthy. Create peace and learn to enjoy life. And for Christ’s sake, don’t follow in my footsteps.”
Dean’s chest clenched in panic at losing his wolf, a part of him he really never had a chance to know. He’d immersed himself in his physical freedom and had never given a thought to what was his to protect. In that way he was no better than the vampires who’d attacked his adopted family. “I think it’s too late for me. I can’t feel my wolf.”
“No,” Max shook his head. “I can still sense him in you, buried under the ice that you’ve built around your heart and soul, but he’s still there.” He leaned his scrawny forearms on the desk. “But you don’t have much longer. Go. Now. And don’t look back. Your past is behind you. Look to your future, otherwise the regrets will haunt you forever.” He handed Dean a folder from a drawer and began replacing the cash in the envelope. “Inside there is information on a run-down bar in a rural town in Maine. A small but friendly pack resides there. I’ve made some phone calls to set you up. All you have to do is take that first step. Something I can’t make you do, Dean. Buy the bar, fix it up and make it a wolf haven. Find a nice girl and try monogamy for a while. Try sex without money. Try to awaken your beast before it’s too late.”