Bad Moon Rising (Page 6)

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Bad Moon Rising (Dark-Hunter #18)(6)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Vane caught Fang before he could approach the wolf to attack and forced him away from Stefan. "She-"

"We don’t owe him an explanation," Fang snapped, interrupting Vane. "He can kiss my hairy ass."

Stefan rushed at him.

Vane growled at both of them. "I swear to the gods that I am sick to death of breaking you two up." He pushed Stefan back. "And you-one more time and I’m not stopping Fang. One more insult, one more cockeyed stare, and I’m standing back and turning him loose to break ass all over you."

Stefan’s nostrils flared. Instead of pushing the issue, he snapped his fingers for the others to follow him. Turning into wolves, they bounded back toward the den.

Vane faced him with a penetrating stare. "What is going on between you and the bearswan?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing? She came out here into the middle of nowhere to hand you back a pair of sunglasses for what purpose?"

To keep anyone else from being able to use his scent to track him. Aimee’s kindness wasn’t lost on him.

But if Vane couldn’t figure that out, he wasn’t about to clue him in. "I don’t know. Since when do women of any species make sense?"

Vane’s features softened. "Good point. All right then, I’m heading back. You coming?"

Fang nodded.

Flashing into a wolf, Vane took off. Fang was just about to join him when he saw something on the ground a few feet away from him.

It was a camera.

What the hell?

He went over to pick it up. The moment he did, he smelled Aimee all over it. He started to chuck it toward the water, but curiosity got the better of him. Turning it on, he scrolled through the digital pictures of the Peltier bears, sometimes in human form, other times as bears. He paused on one of the busboys he’d seen in the bar who was feeding a pet monkey peanuts. She’d really captured the way the neon light highlighted him and the monkey in a most unusual way.

But it was the landscape shots she’d made all over New Orleans that were truly breathtaking. The bearswan had an amazing eye for light and shadow. Even a wolf like him could appreciate it.

Just toss the damn thing and let it go. . . .

He couldn’t. It was as if he were looking at her private diary and he knew instinctively Aimee wouldn’t want this to be lost. These were more than mere pictures. They were like a part of her soul.

Give it to Vane to return.

It was what he should do. Common sense told him to stay as far away from her as he could.

"Since when have I ever had an ounce of sense?"

It was true. Common sense had waved bye-bye to him a long time ago.

Tightening his grip on the camera, he flashed himself from the bayou back to the bar. He paused as he realized he’d managed to jump into the top floor . . . weird. It was hard to manifest into a place he hadn’t been to before. The bears must have some kind of filter to direct them to a "landing pad" of sorts.

Which explained why the jackals had come from this direction earlier. Nice move on the bears’ part.

Fang made his way down the stairs to the bar where Dev or one of Dev’s identical brothers was tending it. "Where’s Aimee?"

The bear tensed. "Who the hell are you?"

Definitely not Dev. "Fang Kattalakis. I’m returning her property, not that you have any reason for knowing that."

The bear raked him with a hostile glare.

Another bear with short black hair . . . one who was Arcadian if Fang didn’t miss the tangy smell, nudged Aimee’s brother gently. "Relax, Cherif, he’s the one who saved her earlier from the jackals."

Cherif backed down, but not by much. "You want to run him back to her?"

"Sure." The Arcadian flashed a friendly grin at Fang. "I’m Colt," he said good-naturedly. "If you’ll follow me . . ."

Fang did, but not before he gave Aimee’s brother a go-to-hell glare.

Colt led him through the kitchen and past another Dev lookalike to a door that opened into a house that was decorated in a turn-of-the-century Victorian style. The walls were painted a soft yellow while the furniture was a mix of burgundy and black. The dark wood gave it a very regal appearance.

"Peltier House," Colt explained as he kept walking. "You weren’t here earlier when Papa Bear toured your brother around. This is where the Were-Hunters who call Sanctuary home live when not working in the club. There are four floors of bedrooms total, but most of the Peltiers are on the second floor."

Colt headed upstairs. "Carson’s the doc and vet and his office is here." He touched the first door they passed on the second floor and kept going to the end of the hall.

He stopped at the last door. Tapping lightly, he leaned close to it. "Aimee? You there?"

"Trying to nap, Colt."

"Sorry, but there’s a visitor here who wants to see you."

The door opened so fast Colt almost fell in. Aimee looked surprised, then pissed to see Fang standing behind him. "What are you doing here?"

Fang shrugged. "Come to inadvertently insult you some more apparently. Who knew?"

Instead of being amused, which is what he’d been hoping for, she narrowed her gaze on him. "I really don’t like you."

Fang leaned forward to smirk. "You’re really not supposed to."

Colt’s eyes widened. "Should I leave you two alone? Or stay and referee?"

"You can leave. I’m just returning this." Fang held up the camera. "And then leaving myself."

Without another word, Colt headed back the way they’d come.

Aimee snatched the camera away from Fang’s grasp. "Where did you get this?"

"You must have dropped it."

She leaned out the door to make sure Colt was gone before she whispered in a low tone. "Did you tell anyone I was there?"

"No. Did you want me to?"

"No." She looked extremely relieved. "Thank you." Then, in the blink of an eye, she turned angry again. "Did you look at my pictures?" That was more an accusation than a question.

"Was I not supposed to?"

She screwed her face up. "Oh, you’re such a pig! That’s my privacy you’ve invaded. How dare you!"

Fang felt blindsided by her rapid mood swings. He was definitely going to need a signal light to keep up with her. "Are you always this high-strung?"

"I am not high-strung!"

"If you say so. But really, they need to put a collar on you that changes color with your mood swings."

She curled her lip as if his words disgusted her on the highest level. "Oh, you are feral."

"Yeah, duh."

She rolled her eyes.

Fang started to leave, then swung back around. "By the way, I did not overreact earlier in the bayou. You could have been torn apart."

Shaking her head, she blustered before she finally spoke again. "Enough already with your macho bullcrap. I am sick to death of men telling me how to run my life. In case you didn’t notice, I have a whole bevy of men downstairs just dying to tell me how I don’t measure up. The last thing I need is another one."

"Maybe you should listen to them once in a while."

"And maybe you should mind your own business."

Fang had never wanted to strangle anyone so badly in his life. Every part of him burned with fury and at the same time, he couldn’t help noticing how beautiful she was with her cheeks glowing from her anger. The red in her cheeks made her eyes a sharp, vivid blue. "Maybe you should learn to say thank-you once in a while."

She closed the distance between them. "And maybe you-" Her hands touched his chest and the most primal part of him came alive.

Before he even realized what he’d done, he’d pulled her into his arms and silenced her tirade with a kiss.

Aimee couldn’t breathe as she felt Fang’s arms close around her body. Her rage died the moment his lips touched hers and she tasted a sweet, raw power the likes of which she’d never experienced before.

His tongue danced with hers as he fully explored her mouth. Every hormone in her body turned hot and she clung to him, wanting to devour every inch of his hard body with her mouth and hands. Both the woman and bear inside her turned savage and wanton. Never had she tasted or felt anything like this.

It was all she could do not to strip him nak*d and make him beg for mercy.

Fang left her lips to finally bury his face against her neck so that he could breathe in her scent. It was the most delectable thing he’d ever smelled. And it awoke something inside him that wanted to experience every part of her. Every hormone in his body sang with need.

And that horrified him.

Pulling back, he stared down at her dazed expression.

Her senses must have returned to her in that same instant. She balled her fists into his jacket. "You need to leave. Now."

He tried, but something about her . . .

Go!

Forcing himself away, he teleported himself back to their den in the bayou.

 

Aimee slumped against the wall behind her as she tried to steady her senses.

She’d just kissed a wolf.

A wolf.

Her family would kill him. Hell, they’d kill her. It was forbidden to dilute the bloodlines, especially when they were Omegrion members. Her duty was to maintain and purify their lineage. To strengthen it. As bears, they traced their lineage through the female and she was the only daughter in their clan. It was why her brothers were so protective of her.

Yet . . .

Aimee shook her head to clear it. She could never see Fang again.

Ever.

Never, ever, ever.

Ever.

And this time she was going to listen to her reason!

She hoped.

CHAPTER FOUR

Three weeks later

"Well?"

Aimee looked up from the book she was reading while lying on her bed to see her mother standing in the open doorway. Her stomach tightened in response. She’d been dreading this visit all day and hoping her mother had forgotten about it.

She should have known better. Maman had a memory that was second only to Aimee’s.

"I felt nothing, Maman. Sorry."

Maman made a sound of disgust deep in her throat as she came fully into the room and shut the door.

Aimee got up to make room on the bed so that her mother could sit down beside her and set her book on the nightstand, taking care to not lose her place. She’d met with the other bear clan this afternoon, as hopeful as ever.

And as all the times before . . .

Nothing.

"I tried, Maman. I swear I did, it’s just . . ." She sighed wearily as she remembered the look of expectation on Randy’s extremely handsome face. He’d wanted her to accept him as much as she’d wanted it, but it was followed by a look of extreme disappointment when she’d shaken her head at him. She’d felt nothing for the other bear.

Nothing at all.

"Maybe I felt the quickening and just didn’t realize it."

Maman gave a low laugh. "No, ma petite. There is no mistaking the sensation. Every part of you is awake and alive. It burns like fire through your body. The urge to mate is so strong that there is little you can do to fight it. It becomes an all-consuming necessity."

Aimee looked away as a wave of terror consumed her. The only man she’d ever felt that way for . . .

Was a wolf.

"I shall tell their Regis that you’re not interested. However, they may request a mating try."

Aimee cringed at the thought of bedding a guy she didn’t really know and one she wasn’t lusting after. "Randy was nice, but . . ."

"But what?"

I don’t want to sleep with him. And there was more than just that. She also held a bitter secret that she dare not share with anyone.

Aimee bit her lip, afraid to tell her mother the truth.

I’m Arcadian. . . .

She tried her best to say those words out loud. She’d been trying to say them for years. Yet once again, she choked on them. Her mother would be crushed to learn the truth. Aimee had been born Katagaria just like her mother. But during puberty, she’d converted over to Arcadian like her father.

It was the most guarded secret she had. Absolutely no one knew the truth of her base form.

No one.

For that matter, no one outside of the immediate family knew Papa Bear Peltier was Arcadian. The scandal of that had scarred her mother, and yet Maman had mated with him so that she could have the cubs she’d always wanted. So that she would be able to continue the Peltier seat on the Omegrion-a seat that had been held since day one by her mother’s line.

It was the animal in her mother that pushed her to mate and procreate.

But the proud human in her rebelled at the thought.

Her mother leaned forward. "You are about to be in season again. For decades you have spurned suitors. It’s time-"

"Maman, please. I know my duties." And she did. The problem was bears were different from the other animals. Even when in season, the female picked out the male. If he didn’t appeal to her, win her over as it were, there was no sex and therefore no chance of mating.

If they didn’t mate, there could be no cubs.

Her mother’s illustrious lineage would die out and another clan would take the Peltier place on the Omegrion-yet another reason her family was so incredibly protective of her. If Aimee could mate with a Katagari bear, then there was a chance she could have a Katagari daughter who could take her mother’s place at the Omegrion when Maman grew too old for those duties. Then no one would have to know the truth about Aimee.