“Max,” she called softly, hurrying their familiarity by using his first name.
She looked over her shoulder. He was following her. Stalking her. Reminding her that he was the predator here.
Oh, he could be fun. If he wanted to play.
“Have dinner with me.”
“My place,” he agreed.
She moved to the wet bar and retrieved two glass bottles of milk, a deliberate choice that showed her cognizance. Certainly he knew how she worked. But did he know why?
Did Westin know that with Darius’s dying breath he had transferred his magic to her, making her far more powerful than the average Familiar? Did Westin know that she’d been loved by her warlock, and that it was that love which gave her the ability to make her own choices now?
Before Darius’s gift, she had been like other Familiars. The High Council assigned the pairings between her kind and their magical counterparts, regardless of their wishes. Some Familiars were unhappy with their partners. She had been lucky the first time, finding a love for Darius that transcended time. Now, because of that love, she was too powerful to be taken against her will. In the two centuries since she’d lost him, no other warlock had succeeded in collaring her. Westin would fare no better. She had loved once, and deeply. There would never be another warlock for her.
Swaying her hips and offering a seductive smile, she returned to him. “How about my place?”
“No.” He took the bottle from her outstretched hand, his fingers deliberately curling over hers and staying there. Pinning her in place. “Victoria.”
Her name, just one word, but spoken with such possession she could almost feel the collar around her neck. Hunters did not keep Familiars, they caught them and passed them on to lesser warlocks. She would never allow herself to be distributed in that manner again.
So they stood, touching, sizing each other up. She tilted her head and allowed her interest to show, not that she could hide it with her ni**les hard and obvious beneath her green silk shirt. Her chest rose and fell with near panting breaths, her blood heating from both his proximity and his darkly seductive scent. He was so tall, so hard, so intense. Only the silky lock of dark hair that draped his brow softened his purely masculine features. If he weren’t a Hunter, she’d be crawling all over him, she wanted him that badly.
As his gaze dropped to the swell of her br**sts, his mouth curved in a carnal smile. “I bet I’m the better cook,” he rasped softly, his fingers stroking hers, sending sparks of awareness through her.
She pouted. “You won’t know if you don’t come over.”
He pulled away, his charm vanishing in an instant. “My place or I’ll have to decline.”
Victoria wished she were in her feline form so she could flick her tail at him. Max Westin was most definitely accustomed to getting what he wanted. He was a Dominant, as were all Hunters. Too bad she was, too.
“A pity.” And she meant it, her disappointment was painful. His place was not an option. Who knew what spells he’d cast there? And what toys he had . . . ? It would be akin to walking into a cage.
She ignored the thrill the thought gave her.
“You changed your mind?” His surprise was a tangible thing.
The man definitely didn’t hear “no” often enough.
“I asked you to dinner, Mr. Westin, and you placed restrictions on the invitation.” She waved her hand toward the door in a gesture of dismissal designed to rile him. “I don’t tolerate restrictions.”
A return warning to him.
When he made no move to leave, she purred aloud, a soft rumbling sound that made the muscle in his jaw tic.
So . . . the raging attraction was reciprocated. That made her feel slightly better about waiting longer to have him.
With calm, deliberate movements, Westin lifted the bottle and drank, the working muscles of his throat making her mouth dry. The implied threat in his actions was not lost on her.
Then he set the empty container on the edge of her desk and came toward her, buttoning his coat before clasping her hand. His touch burned, even though his skin was cold and wet with condensation. His gaze was as icy as his grip. He’d regroup and come back, she knew.
And she’d be waiting.
Victoria brushed her fingers across his palm again before releasing him. “See you soon, Max.”
Max stepped out of the St. John Hotel and cursed vehemently. Gritting his teeth, he fought off the erection that threatened to embarrass him on the crowded sidewalk.
Victoria St. John was trouble.
He’d known that the moment the Council had summoned him. Taming ferals was a task for lesser, newer warlocks. The request had startled him at first, and then intrigued him. When he’d met his prey, however, he understood.
Sly and playful, Victoria moved with the natural grace of a cat. Short black hair and tip-tilted green eyes made her a heady temptation. He’d seen her picture a hundred times and felt nothing more than simple appreciation for a beautiful face. In person, however, Victoria was devastating, all sensuality and heat. She was a bit thin for his tastes, more lithe than curvy, but those legs . . . Those impossibly long legs . . . Soon they would be wrapped around his hips while he stroked his c**k deep into her. But it wouldn’t be easy. She made that clear with her smile.
She knew who and what he was, which meant the rumors of her power were true. She was no ordinary Familiar.
He shook his head. Darius had been a fool. Familiars needed the strong hand of a warlock or they turned feral. Victoria was a prime example. She was already too wild, defying the High Council at every turn.
She’d also defied him.
Both intrigued and attracted, Max mentally ran through the information he’d gathered before approaching her. Victoria was one of the most prominent figures of their kind, her shrewd business dealings taking her from franchising a motel to owning one of the largest chains of upscale hotels in the country. Up until the death of her warlock, she’d been an esteemed member of the magical community. Her wildness since Darius’s passing solidified the Council’s position that it was best if the pairings were made with mental calculation, rather than through affairs of the heart. Occasionally, love grew anyway such as happened to Victoria, but this was far rarer with Council intervention.
Max rounded the corner and stepped into a side alley. Using his powers, he bridged the distance across town to his penthouse apartment in the blink of an eye. There he paced the acid-washed cement floors restlessly, every nerve on edge. He had no doubt Victoria St. John had stolen her own necklace. It would have been impossible for a human to accomplish the theft.